Documenting Life

Light catching your son’s dinner. The steam absolutely mesmerizing as you know it will last fleetingly, just as that particular tilt of the afternoon sun will do.

Friends stopping to chat. Really chat.

Seed saving. Slowly wrinkling up, ready for storing, ready for growing another day.

Tiny exhaling pauses in the week.

Surprise coffee and cake spent with people who make you laugh.

Long deep talks with strangers who make you think long after the conversation ends.

Sourdough fruit loaf, which was supposed to be panettone, but when it came to the crunch you simply decide there are other things to do in life and you really… just couldn’t be buggered.

Gardening that makes the crooks of your elbows sweat. Not the regular kind of things you usually take note of, but you are today as it’s a kinda documenting life day.

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Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it- FERRIS BUELLER

 

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Out of the garden, grows hope

When you neglect your garden for a month over an incredibly dry period, the outcome is fairly predictable. Even so, it can still be a bit of a surprise at just how bad on a big scale it can all look.

With weeds running rampant, potted trees standing defiantly dead, and every leafy green edible gone to seed in an attempt at preserving itself for a later date. We did the most logical thing we could, and set to work.

Gathering shovels, hoses and unfailing enthusiasm, it was all bundled together with as many hardworking hours as I could manage to squeeze out of the day, to try to get this city garden back up to the functioning level it should be.

Several weeks later, while it’s still a work in progress, as I look around now, there are slow changes taking shape. No longer a backyard palette of baked brown, there are now green tinges that might just continue. With newly sprouted seedlings, tomatoes emerging from all corners, and two new editions that I’m tickled pink to be looking after.

From the dry overgrown mess that it had been, is growing something that often comes in many forms, and amongst the dedicated gardeners out there it’s also an old favourite… hope.

 

 

For the love of Pasta

 

For the savvy pasta eaters amongst us, you might have been aware that it was World Pasta Day this week, and while I seemed to have gotten this far in life without having acknowledged it, for 2017 that was going to change.

It was time to pasta up.

With no clear idea of what to make for dinner besides a generic pasta dish, I decided to keep it easy. There are many reasons for this. The primary one? I have no interest in spending half a day cooking a dinner that will be consumed in three and a half minutes flat. (Obviously longer if the kids hate it on sight.)

But they didn’t, of course they didn’t. It’s pasta. Number one crowd pleasing dinner time plate. Have pasta, can cook. They key to a rocking simple pasta dish is a great olive oil, great parmesan and a toothsome pasta. If you have those three rockin’ things, well the rest of the dish is up to you.

 

Quick and Easy Pasta Additions

Pangritata

rocket, garlic and lemon zest

cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella

chilli, garlic and parsley

Italy, it’s woven into my heart beat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed to go back and to find a piece of my heart. It was still there where I knew it would be, I just needed to go back and find it again. 

Rejoin the jigsaw.

 

Seventeen years it took me to get back to Italy. Seventeen years that had been filled with life, a deliciously full life, but now it was time to go back. This time I would be returning not alone as I had done in previous times, but with a family. My family that was ready to embrace all things Italian.

And weave a little of Italy into their heart beat.

 

Loving Spring

Loving…

Noticing the tomato plants, poke their head up again, after a brief winters sleep.

Stopping to actually chew food rather than gulp. Who knew that could be so enjoyable.

And adventures.

New adventures. While this space will keep quietly ticking on over, I’ll also be over on insta, hopefully giving a sneaky peak into a few other things that are also happening.

Loving…

The soft scent of spring in the air, the air not as cold. Growing surprise jasmine that along with wild freesias, completely infiltrates the house with its soft fragrance.

New blossoms growing from sleepy branches.

And bees, so many bees. Get the morning light right, stand still and watch the whole garden come alive with tiny buzz of busy insects.

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[“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE]

Life Skills

A few years back my small boy had one of the best teachers I’ve ever had the good fortune to come across. Seriously this man was incredible. Along with keeping the kids up to speed with all the normal school curriculum, he used to throw in a few extras like a regular Dance Party, and Life Skills with Mr P. While I’m a huge fan of any dancing in a regular day it’s the Life Skills one that stuck with me. How it worked, was he wanted to teach the kids some of the things that he wished someone had taught him when he was a kid.

Pretty simple right? The kids loved it. They hung on every word he gave them and with the stories that were told, my son placed his young teacher a little further up onto his complete and utter hero pedestal. Was their parent support? You betcha.

Fast forward to now, and lately I’ve been thinking about my own life skills I’m passing on. Some are formed by osmosis, and others I have to make a concerted effort to make sure they are taught. For me making time for this important. It doesn’t always happen at the time I would like, but it’s still important.

While there aren’t set lists, (besides knowing your food, cooking, growing, reading and how to swim of course.) Those small moments in the day can often create huge amounts of opportunity for spontaneous life lessons. Things that come about after a conversation being had, an opportunity that’s jumped out, or perhaps it’s just something that might have been thought of as we are trucking along one day.

Different environments present different learning possibilities and while I would love to be showing my kids how amazing building your own rocket stove is, or the consequences of damming up a small body of moving water, for the moment I have to work with what I have.

There are so many things to be learnt in life, and I know I’m not ever going to even begin to cover them all. How could I when I’m still learning myself?

What’s important for me is cultivating an environment for questions. Eternal curiosity, creating big and little things, reading, making stuff, and always growing something. By doing this, hopefully it all just continues to build from there.

To those teachers whether within a school or life teachers who make learning exciting,  passing on lessons in fun accessible ways, making kids/people just want to know more, are gold. Bloody gold. While I can’t replicate Mr P, I can offer my own version of lessons in life skills, and with that I’m hopeful those steps are something that my kids in turn will be able to build up from.

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What’s on your list for necessary Life Skills? 

How to have a conversation?

How to open a can without a can opener?

What kneading dough until smooth looks like?

Manners?

Knowing what to do when there is nothing to do?

What to do with mushy bananas?

How to take a pallet apart?

Public speaking?

How to sprout things?

How to light a fire without matches?

When wild daydreams sneak in

There is a soft scent of wild freesias in the air here at home. Not heady and over powering like a rose, or perhaps a lily. Instead, a soft subtle scent catching your senses. Giving a contented pause to thoughts with that long inhalation, and even a little slowing of the day.

With daydreams on pause lately, lists have been written, tasks getting crossed off and plans for a family adventure are nearing. Those wild daydreams are simply being relocated to another time slot.

And yet, after a mornings walk, coming home with a surprise bunch of incredible smelling freesias I had found scattered through the gully. It was impossible to not let the mind wander. Those wild daydreams had found a way to briefly sneak in again.

Nostalgic thoughts, and forward thinking thoughts. Daydreams that had been cast aside for another day, they were all still there, they just needed a little dusting off.

Wild freesias remind me of my mother. Collecting them from the sides of cold wind-swept hill tops. As kids, we would collect them in haphazard bunches. No concern for the length of stem, the amount of other gathered foliage, or perhaps leaving a little for another time. Grab it in large bunches, and then run back down the hill with the prized bunches in freezing cold hands. It would get you a guaranteed smile of love and affection. With eyes half closed, she would drink the soft delicate scent in. Perhaps for her too, that smell would take her away to another place, a place where dusted off daydreams roamed.

While commercially grown freesias are far easier to obtain, it’s not something I ever buy. It just wouldn’t be the same. Sure with the similar green stems and an assortment of coloured flowers, I could pretend they might be. But that soft scented evocative smell isn’t there at all, and that means those wild daydreams?

Well they just aren’t attached.

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Unshackling ideas and the art of daydreaming

 

The Lemon Meringue Cake Crisis

 

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A lemon meringue cake, that was the brief. Decorate it however you want mama…

No problem what so ever kiddo, of course I can do that. With three obvious components to the recipe, this should be an easy one, and not something to be worried about at all right?

Right??

Cake, done and dusted. I made that the day before. Curd? Yep, being the efficient person I can be, I made that one two days before. On the celebratory day, it’s just a simple Italian meringue and assemble the thing. Easy peasy.

I was using a new candy thermometre, which I thought was particularly adult of me, instead of the usual guess work that I normally do to get to hardball stage. The thermometre didn’t seem to work out so well though.  I burnt the sugar syrup before it had even gotten close to the magic temperature it needed to get to. Which as I’m sure you can image, burnt sugar is a pure joy to clean off.

Start again, new eggs, new sugar, clean pan. I didn’t move a muscle, no distractions what so ever. Just my full attention in the pot, and yet it seemed to be heading in the exact same damn direction as the first failed lot. Why oh why? No time to wonder, I had to slap this all together quick sticks and make do with what I had.

And it’s at this point, where a good cake, that had lots of potential just began to look sadder and sadder. Three upturned waffle cones, with piped (slightly burnt tinged, but we can ignore that) italian meringue with pretty cachous and rock sugar sprinkled throughout sounds like a good idea.

Well turns out it looks like a snow-capped earthship. Even the smallest declared I might have put a bit too much ‘icing on’. I kept adding to it, hoping it would get better.

It didn’t.

I added tall beautiful beeswax candles, that did help a little as a distraction technique, and then all we had to do was cut into it.

All was ok again once more, it really did taste great.

Lemon and olive oil cake with lemon curd and italian meringue is a combination that works, that part is definitely tried and true. It’s the decorating bit that needs an overhaul, unless you are wanting a snow capped earthship building cake of course, and then hey, I’ve got you covered.

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Lemon and Olive Oil Cake recipe here.

Three Blue Ducks Lemon Curd recipe

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A Cacophony of Thoughts

Ponders, musings and rather ignited thoughts. That’s the state of things round these parts at the moment. I’ve flitted from one topic to another in an effort to write a post this morning. With thoughts dancing all over the shop, I suspect it’s just easier to run with what I really have in there.

Unordered, and certainly not perfectly word formed. Not this week anyway, today I’m not going to project that into a calming post. Instead a cacophony of words and thoughts in a stream of conscious writing style. I’d love to have your thoughts on any of them that might resonate, (or feel free to add your own- obscurities most welcome, or maybe you’ve had something you’ve been mulling over during the week that really could use an airing.)

WIKIPEDIA: In literary criticismstream of consciousness is a narrative mode or method that attempts to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind.

 

What’s your story? (Not what do you do, because that’s one of the most tiresome question surely.) But what’s your story? If you were free to describe yourself to a stranger in written form, what would you write? How do you define yourself when there are seemingly no parametres? 

What is freedom? How do you speak of freedom? What does it mean to you? For each person depending on their circumstances that answer is going to vary of course. But for you…what does freedom mean for you? Are you free? (I took quite a long time to get a wobbly answer for this one.)

Is challenging yourself a curious human trait, that other animals simply don’t do, because they don’t need to? Why do some people challenge themselves mentally, physically, creatively and others, this will be of no interest what so ever. An easy contentment with what they have surrounding them… Why rock the boat unless you have to?

Creativity and silent gender narratives, how do they impact your life? Can you put a price on your creativity if it’s to be sold? How do you speak of your creativity and all its many facets? Own it, or a little apologetic? Why?

While it truly has been a cacophony of thoughts the last week, it’s been a good thing. I’ve liked the challenge, the why’s, the push, the questioning, the pondering, and it’s certainly caused a rejig of a few things round here.

For that I’m grateful.

 


Stream of conscious writing is also great method for unlocking some of that creative goodness, that on occasion can get a little stuck. No rules. No time frames. Just get in there.