Monday, 30 May 2016

Liebster Award: Part One

There's plenty of time to ponder life's big questions while walking the beach.

A big thank you to Fiona, of the wonderful blog, Life at Abordale Farm, for nominating my blog for a Liebster Award. How lovely! Fiona set some tough homework though with ten questions for me to answer. I had to ponder a few of them for a couple of days! 

Here are Fiona's questions and my answers. I wonder what your answers would be???

1. If you had to choose 3 charities to give $100,000 to which charities would they be and why?  Tough question straight up ! How is one to decide who is more worthy than another? 

Oxfam is a definite inclusion in my list as a very significant amount of every donation goes to the people who need it and doesn't get swallowed wholly up by administrative costs. In his thought-provoking book, The Life You Can Save, Peter Singer (Australian ethicist) identifies Oxfam as one worthy charity that does a lot with the $ it receives. Oxfam works in some of the most impoverished nations in the world; with some of the poorest and neediest of people. Every dollar that gets directly to them makes an incredible difference. 

The Salvation Army is another charity I'd love to give a lot of money to. I don't think there could be a circumstance much harder and lonelier than homelessness. No home; no place to shelter safely and no arms to offer a warm and welcoming embrace. The Salvos offer that embrace to some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our communities.

My third choice would be The Wilderness Society. I have been a member of this environmental organisation for many years now. I believe in their work, around Australia, in protecting wilderness. I made that decision after a trip to Tasmania in which my husband and I got lost and ended up on a logging track. On one side of this "road" was a scene of destruction. Shards of trees littered the ground, the Earth looked broken and churned up and the silence; no bird calls, no rustling of leaves in the wind or at the feet of creatures; was deafening. I knew then that I wanted to support an environmental group that stood up for nature. I want there to be some nature left for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Hence, an environmental charity made it into my list of three.

2. What is the worst job (at home or work) you have had to do?

A teacher's life is filled with endless paperwork. Ugh! It is something which I do not miss at all.

3. What strange food combination do you love?

I love apricot jam and cheese sandwiches. I was introduced to this yummy sandwich combo by a housemate at Uni (so many years ago). I practically lived on them then and I still enjoy this occasionally for old-times sake. 

4. What is the one skill you don't have but would love to master?

Any loaf of bread I attempt to bake is a dismal failure! I so need to work on my bread-making abilities!

5. If you could create a new law what would it be?

I would love to see a law in Australia that protects everyone's right to clean air, water and soil as these are fundamental to health; both ours and the planet's. I think some Canadian provinces have laws like this.

6. If you could change the perspective for every person on the planet about one issue what would it be?

Climate change!

7.  If the shops closed tomorrow how long could you feed your family for? 

Three weeks or so because I have steadily built up a little stockpile,  in my linen cupboard of all places, where I store basic ingredients like tinned tomatoes, passata, rice puffs, cereals, dried fruit, oats, chickpeas, crackers, oil and dark chocolate. My sister-in-law gave us a large freezer a while ago so in there I've stockpiled things like meat, pastry, frozen berries, fish, flours, nuts and meal portions that I've frozen for quick dinners (soups, pasta sauce, stews).  And then, there is our garden. Currently, we are eating silverbeet, lettuce, Asian cabbage, Egyptian spinach with beetroot, leeks and more lettuce to come. The mandarins are ripe now too and we've all been enjoying those. Even Sir Steve dog likes a few segments of juicy mandarin! Guess I could also bake bread at a pinch. Not sure my family would eat it though! 

p.s. The inclusion of chocolate in my stockpile is no accident. I'm sure it's essential for survival or, at the very least, my sanity in somewhat trying times!

8. What do you think the 3 biggest environmental issues are?

* Climate change
* Loss of good agricultural land to mining
* Loss of biodiversity

9. Which famous people would you have over for dinner and why?

I'd love to share a meal with the Dalai Lama. I once attended a conference at which he spoke and his impact upon his audience, including me, was profoundly felt. He has an infectious giggle and clearly radiates a happiness that comes from within. I think we'd all benefit from his wisdom while having a jolly good time, with much deep belly laughter,  if he were a guest at our table.

Jane Goodall, world-renowned environmentalist and a Messenger of Peace, would be an inspiring guest to have over for dinner. She dreamed as a young girl of living and working in Africa, with its animals, and that is exactly what she did! I'd love to hear her tales of life as a young woman in Africa studying the chimpanzees in Tanzania. What a life to have lived!

David Holmgren, would get an invite too. As the co-originator of Permaculture, he has so much knowledge that I'd love to tap into. I'd take him on a tour, before dinner, of our little suburban garden, and ask his advice. I'd promise to feed him well afterwards with food from our garden!

Last, but definitely not least, no guest list would be complete without a musician (for after-dinner entertainment, of course). In my eyes, the music and lyrics of Neil Finn (from the now disbanded band, Crowded House and earlier, Split Enz) are without equal. Anyone who writes a song that asks, "Can I have another piece of chocolate cake?" is worthy of a place at our table. (For your listening pleasure, the link above takes you to Neil Finn's official website and four videos of recent live performances. Enjoy!)

10.  What is your guilty food pleasure?

Like many thousands of others, I'd say chocolate here. I love dark chocolate. Bitter, not too sweet, rich and dark. The best thing about loving this food is that my husband passionately dislikes it. All the more for me!

Feel free to let me know, in the comments, what your answers would be. Do you share the same guilty food pleasure that I do? Is there anyone on my dinner party guest list that you'd have over for a meal at your place?


Friday, 27 May 2016

Bees Happy

My teeny tiny native bees bring us so much joy. It is such a calming thing to sit on the grass and watch them go about their work. I love to go down in the early morning, when the sun lights up the entrances to their hives, and watch as the first bees take flight into the morning.

Our hives face north-east so they "catch" rays of warm, early morning sunshine.
(Those warming rays are a signal for the bees to start work.)

A hive of activity!  
(The busy entrance to one of our hives.)

Busy little native bees don't fly as far as honeybees to collect their pollen. Our native bees don't have to fly very far at all! They are very happy among some choice blossoms in our garden only a very short flight from the little entrances to their hives. 

Here are three of their favourites:

The tiny blossoms of Alyssium are just right for a tiny native bee.

The tall flowering spikes of Basil planted just outside their hives.

The beautiful star-shaped blue flowers of Borage are a favourite too.

These plants are growing just a few steps away from where our little native bees live. The Alyssium forms part of the border planting for my veggie patch, borage is growing at the back of my veggie patch and the basil is planted just outside their "front doors". Native bee heaven!

Growing these plants is an open invitation to these beautiful, tiny bees to spend time in our garden. In doing so, they help to pollinate our veggies but also provide a source of endless fascination. Something soothing and calming happens to one's spirit when watching these special little creatures.

Have a lovely weekend.


Monday, 23 May 2016

My Late Autumn Veggie Patch

We are only a few weeks away from the official start of Winter where I live. While the extreme heat of the long Summer has faded now, our Autumn days have still been unseasonably warm. Later this week, we are forecast to have a 30C day, which leaves one wondering what kind of Winter we will have.

Out in my garden, I held off on Autumn planting for as long as possible to try to avoid the heat. I'm glad I waited as long as I did! The tiny seedlings, which I planted in a happy jumble a relatively short while ago, are now healthy and thriving.  Delicious!

 The bright green leaves of this non-hearting cabbage are delicious in stir-fries.

 A small tomato plant offers up the promise of ripe, red fruit.

 Young silverbeet leaves are so versatile and nutritious.

 The leaves and stalks of beetroot are wonderful in salads.

 The serrated leaves of Egyptian spinach are perfect for tossing into omelettes.

 Young Tuscan Kale is one of my favourite veggie patch heroes.

A young lettuce shaded by the taller leaves of silverbeet.

We are picking small baskets of this freshest of foods for our table and have enough to share with our family, neighbours and friends too. It doesn't get much better than that!

What are you growing and eating at your place?


Friday, 20 May 2016

Nature in our Neighbourhood 1

The spaces where we live are open, wide and safe and draw us outside to explore. Our daily walks, accompanied by Sir Steve dog, lead us down familiar paths but there is always much that we find, from the natural world, that draws us in to look more closely or invites us to stop a little while and just watch.

On our most recent walk, in our neighbourhood, this is what we found:

 The transparent skeleton of a leaf.

Fluffy yellow flowers beginning to form on wattle.

A lone fungus in the grass to the side of the path.

 A colourful and beautiful rainbow lorikeet. 

 A red grevillia bloom.

Spiky, golden grass heads.

Greenish-grey lichen on a tree trunk.

All this is just a very short walk from our front door. All this to wonder about. All this to remind us of nature's ever-present beauty.

I hope you have time for a walk in your own neighbourhood this weekend. I wonder what you might find!


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Tiny Weaving 2

Sometimes, all one has to offer is just a little bit of beautiful. 

Woven on my tiny circular loom, with threads of light blue, aqua, purple and rainbows, this little project left me smiling. As I wove over and under, around and around, my mind focused on the threads and their colours and let go of everything else.

I hope you find lots of beautiful colours in your day today.


Monday, 16 May 2016


My passionfruit vine is finally in flower! It seemed late to bloom this year but perhaps that was just me ... or the weather!  Other vines climbing up and over neighbourhood fences seemed laden with ripening fruit while my vine looked lush and green but bare at the same time! 

The unusual but beautiful bloom of the passionfruit.

This vine's intriguing purple and white flowers, with the help of busy bees, offer up the promise of golden, seed-filled fruit. Happily, green unripe fruit is beginning to form which means bees are doing the hard work of pollination in our garden. (The common problem of vines producing flowers which drop off without fruit setting is often due to a lack of pollinators in the garden.)

A small, unripe passionfruit on our vine.

I can't wait for that first ripe passionfruit to be ready. I fully intend on picking it straight away, splitting it open and slurping up the pulp, right then and there, while sitting on the green grass in the sun. This daydream becoming a reality relies, of course, on the possums and sulphur-crested cockatoos not getting to the fruit before I do!


Friday, 13 May 2016

Here & Now 1

There are so many ordinary moments that make up one's life. Each day in my life feels full...sometimes overflowing...but I have much that I feel good about and much that I find hope in as I move through my days.  

Blue beginnings ... 

Sarah, over at her beautiful blog, Say Little Hen, has a Here & Now link-up happening and I thought I would join in. It seems such a lovely way to become more mindful of what may be ordinary, small things but that, in their own way, may also be big or important or simply special and close to my heart.

The best of friends out for a walk ... and a scoot!

Loving //  Early morning or late afternoon walks with my boy and our beloved Sir Steve dog.
Eating //  Fresh, speckled lettuce leaves from my garden. Yum!
Drinking // Water! (And pepperminty hot chocolates with my boy, occasionally!)
Feeling // Somewhat tired but less tired than I have been lately. Hooray!
Making //  A new washcloth in a beautiful, french blue organic cotton is on my needles. 
Thinking //  How special it is to see my boy and his Dad tinkering at the piano together.
Dreaming //  Of a much-anticipated trip home, to the far north of Australia, to see my family.

                         A red Grevillia bloom ...  a reminder of nature's beauty.

What are you doing in your here and now?


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Beach Walk 2

A beach walk under cloudy skies can be just as lovely as a wander under sunny skies. I love the less intense light and the more muted, shadowy sea. I took such a walk yesterday ...

 Grey clouds and a rain shower out to sea.

 Heavy clouds above the tree tops.

A few less sparkles on the surface of the sea.

Do you like to walk under cloudy skies too?


Monday, 9 May 2016


In between the pages of a rather heavy old book, A Treasury of  Masterpieces by Charles Dickens no less, my young boy has gently tucked two tiny treasures he found recently on a rambling walk around our neighbourhood. 

My boy's treasure!

Crouching down at every opportunity, he carefully examined clumps of bee-friendly clover hoping to find one with four leaves just like the lucky ones he had read about. You can imagine his excitement and joy upon finding these! Carefully counting and counting again (to double check) he has proudly proclaimed these as four-leaf clovers and himself as lucky. 

It was a lovely way to spend a beautiful, warm Autumn morning with my boy. Among swathes of clover with a blue sky above, a happy dog for company, the odd bee or two (probably wondering what on Earth we were doing) and all the time in the world to spend with each other. Magical ... indeed!


Friday, 6 May 2016

A Simple & Scrumptious Slice

Rolled oats, macadamia nut butter, apricot jam and coconut ... all  mixed together in a scrumptious slice that's quick and easy to make and perfect for a morning or afternoon tea treat. Yum!

Moist and delicious slice.

I chanced upon this recipe, for an Oat Slice Sweetened with Jam, in the pages of a healthful magazine. Eleanor Ozich's recipe, which can be found in the online version of said magazine here, is simple and nutritious. I didn't "tinker" with it very much but I did adjust quantities and the method so that I could use my Thermomix for part of the process. You could use a blender. Here's how I made this slice:

Oat and Jam Slice

180g rolled oats
80g dessicated coconut
180g macadamia nut butter
120g apricot jam (*preferably unsweetened*)
2 free-range eggs
60g butter

*Contains nuts so is not suitable for anyone with a nut allergy.*

1.  Preheat your oven to moderate 180C.

2.  Combine rolled oats and coconut together in a bowl.

3. Whip together nut butter, jam, eggs and butter in Thermomix or blender until light and 

4.  Pour frothy nut butter mixture into your dry ingredients and mix lightly until combined.

5. Transfer mixture to a lined slice tin. Spread out evenly with the back of a wooden spoon.

6.  Bake for 20minutes until it is golden on top.  Cool in the tin before slicing it. 

7.  Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3days ... if it lasts that long!

I recommend a slice or two with a cold glass of creamy milk. The slice will leave you smiling and the milk may leave a milky moustache above your top lip but that's what morning and afternoon tea dreams are made of!

Enjoy your weekend! 


Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Vibrant Little Violas

Vibrant violas greet us whenever we venture out to the garden. Like their cousins, the larger blooming pansies, their bright colours and little cheery "faces" are simply a delight. This season, I have many little violas opening up with deep purple petals alongside contrasting petals of crisp white and deep yellow. I adore them!

Violas may be small but they are beautiful! I often bend down to gaze at their blooms. I am hoping too to press some of their dainty flowers this year to preserve them for making gift tags like the ones here.

 I hope they have brightened up your day!


p.s. Do you press flowers from your garden?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Hand Rolled Soap Balls

We made these soft pink, fragrant soap balls over the weekend. They are easy for children to make and involves them in a wonderful sensory process.  The feel of the soap in their hands, the deepening colour as food dye is added and the uplifting fragrance of essential oil and fresh rosemary make for a lovely experience.

Oatmeal and Rosemary Soap Balls

Based on the "recipe" I found here, I experimented with different quantities of grated soap, oatmeal and water to find a mixture that was easy for a child to measure out, combine and shape. The quantities below made two small soap balls. 

Oatmeal and Rosemary Hand Rolled Soap Balls

1/3 cup grated soap 
1/4 cup organic oatmeal
2 Tablespoons water (approximately)
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
3 drops essential oil (*Optional. Make sure it is suitable for use on the skin.*)
food dye (*Optional)

To make these soap balls:

 Gather all the "ingredients".

 Measure out and mix together the soap, oatmeal, rosemary and essential oil (if using).

Gradually add water, a little at a time, while mixing with your fingers.
*Add a few drops of food dye to the water first if you want to colour the soap balls.*

Begin to form a ball when the mixture sticks together easily. 
Keep adding mixture, pressing and rolling it together, to shape it into a ball.

Allow soap balls to dry for a couple of days then package up and tie with pretty string.
Add a tag with a list of ingredients too.

These hand rolled soap balls make sweet little handmade gifts. I'll be making some with a group of young children during the week. I know they'll really enjoy the process and will feel joy in making something special to give to their Mums for  Mothers' Day next Sunday.

Do you make handmade gifts for special occasions?