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]

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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. 

 

 

 

Oranges, lemons, limes…oh and meatloaf

I’ve been given rather a lot of citrus in the past few weeks. Bags shoved into idle hands, baskets left at front doorsteps, ‘do you want some oranges/limes/lemons/grapefruit’ added in at the end of casual conversations.

So where does that leave me? Tickled pink, I tell you as this is M.A.R.M.A.L.A.D.E season, and I need to ensure that I make enough for a year of toast and teas. While also allowing enough spare jars to be popped into hampers and needy hands for those that might like the eating, but less of the making.

With all that in mind, I found myself cooking up 6 kilos of chopped up fruit, water and sugar. Now six kilos is a fair whack to be cooking in one batch, ambitious even.

Why? Because cooking up that amount takes a while, and when ‘a while’ happens, my mind can wander. Wander to the garden, wander to the laundry, wander to the computer, wander to instagram, wander to children with multiple demands of x,y,z etc, etc. Which made the sticky question extra pertinent… Could I keep this precious cargo from,

a) Sticking to the bottom of the pot?

b) Overflowing?

c) Over or under jelling?

Answer? Well as Meatloaf once said (as yes, I know he probably wasn’t singing about his marmalade making) two out of three ain’t bad.

Citrus Marmalade Ratio

2 kilos of finely chopped citrus mixture

2 kilos of sugar

1.5 litres of water

(Everything you ever needed to know about marmalade and jam making, right here.)

In the garden…

In the garden…

thoughts are slowed,

and breath is deeper.

Gentle hands brush past fragrant lavenders,

winter light catches on petals,

highlighting a beauty that often goes unnoticed.

With a kind sun warming your back,

there is a pause,

external noises muffled to the internal slowing beat

A soft sigh,

thoughts not as worrying, concerns not as pressing, what to do next,

definitely not as important,

out here, in the garden. 

 

For the love of a good book

With school school holidays round these parts recently, while I’d like to say I ripped through a couple of books in two short weeks, I, err, didn’t. However I have puttered through a handful of them since the start of the year and am always open to other suggestions, (even if it takes awhile to get to them.)

The last weeks I haven’t even bothered opening a book because The Handmaids Tale happened. Have you watched it? Did you blitz through it in a haze of tightened stomachs, and firmly held breath? Of course you did, that’s how everyone seems to have been watching it. If you haven’t I highly recommend hot footing to your local streaming service and get viewing. I. can. not. recommend. it. enough.

But for now, it’s back to the books.

On the ever-increasing wobbly tower of must have books by the bed side table…

The Summer Book- Tove Janssen

Lombardia

Speaking Out- Tara Moss

Truly Madly Guilty- Liane Moriarty

Humans of New York- Brandon Stanton

First we make the Beast Beautiful- Sarah Wilson

How not to Die- Michael Greger

Womankind Magazine

Earth Garden Magazine

…and of course a few a others

 

Any suggestions? What else should be added to that pile?

What are you reading at the moment?

 

Damn straight your coffee makes a difference

So you plan your coffee drinking, you take your reusable cup everywhere just in case, (and you obviously drink organic fairtrade locally roasted beans.) Now if by chance you do forget to bring that when the caffeine call goes out? Well, you decide to sit down and drink it, or simply do with out.

Which is all rather excellent. But what next? How can we go that step further in reducing the 1 billion coffee cups that Australia goes through each year?

Talking with a friend recently who held a chai market stall, and was offering a discount if you brought your own cup. Not one person did throughout the day. Which is pretty disappointing really. Speaking again with another friend, I was appalled to hear that in recent times she had been charged extra to get her take away coffee, in her own cup.

There’s obviously still a fair amount of misunderstanding and opportunity for education still to take place.

Which is where you, the humble consumer gets to step in. While your individual coffee habit is clean as whistle, there are still multiple opportunities to step and lead the community. The ABC’s War on Waste is still a talking point for many people, so it’s created the perfect vehicle for conversation, and if you didn’t happen to see it, or know of the program at all, well, all problems highlighted on the show are going to be relevant for some time, so jump on in.

But how?

Start by hitting up your local community.

Here in Australia we have a great website called Responsible Cafes. Simply type in your address and it will show all the cafes around you that give a discount on your take away coffee if you bring your own cup.

To me this illustrates a few things. One, you are spending your important dollar on a business that is making a conscious decision in making an effort (albeit a small one.) Two, there’s a dramatic reduction in needless landfill, and three, hey, you get a discount.

If you find there are cafes in your area that aren’t listed, why not start that wonderful conversation at your local.

Ask if it’s possible. Generally cafe owners will respond to customers demands, if enough people ask for bowls of green diana-berry smoothies. Well they are going to fill that demand.

Same goes for those takeaway coffee cups. The way you drink it makes a difference. What it comes in makes a difference, and those conversations that you start?

They make a huge difference.

 

Helpful Links 

Responsible Cafes

War on Waste

Fixing your coffee Habit

 

 

 

Loving…sea mist, weeds and odd hats

Loving…A rolling sea mist at sunrise, that brings a full heart feeling that’s hard to describe. Quiet squeals of delight in the cold, but also at the sheer beauty of it all.

Loving…People speaking passionately about things they care about. That kind of care on subjects close to the heart, it’s inspiring.

Loving…Radishes straight from the ground, destined for fermenting. Because, really you can never have too much fermented goodness surely?

Loving…Second hand finds that have been on ‘the list.’ Oh let the odd hatted play begin. (Surely you can never be too old for dressing up? Never.)

Loving…Hot tea and weeds. In the quiet of the morning, when small needing people, are not needing in that hour. Quiet, methodical work begins. Bugger meditation on a mat, this is how I still my mind.

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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]