I’ve been inspired by the city and all it has to offer this week.

My city. The city I often dream of leaving and forget to utilise it for the wonderful things that happen within it.

Happy chats with friends over coffee.

The Sydney Writers Festival. After waiting ten years to finally do something from it, I squashed in four sessions this week.

A wonderful workshop with Mark Dapin.

A funny talk on ‘Mirth of a Nation’– Has Australia lost it’s ability to laugh at it self? With Richard Glover and others.

An enlightening examination of  ‘The ten desires that drive us’ with social researcher, Hugh Mackay.

And a truly inspiring session on Family Politics with Ingrid Betancourt, Fatima Bhutto and Aminatta Forna, talking with Maxine McKew.

These women…. so much to think about. No photos were allowed, but I did scribble lots of notes to reflect on. To write of their strength and resilience, doesn’t even begin to capture the essence of these formidable women.

Add in a visit to the State Library to see the Moran Photographic Exhibition. Beautiful photographs, in a space that encourages creativity and thought.

The last week has encouraged me to take better photographs, write more, learn more, question things and simply take a minute to stop and just be.

I’m inspired.

incy wincy freakin’ spider

It’s true what they say about Australian spiders. They are bigger and badder than any you may have seen else where in the world. I know, because I live here, and there is one currently residing in my worm farm.  Sure it might not be the biggest I’ve seen, nor the deadliest, (apparently harmless they say….pfft.)

The problem is not so much the spider, it’s the fact that I have gotten a little…city-fied.

I am no longer the person that would happily exclaim, crikey, look at that little beauty and gaze lovingly at my new co-tennanting eight legged friend. That person is no longer, (and some would doubt that person was ever really there.) I am what I am, a city hippy farm girl, and in this instance the city well and truly comes first.

So what to do when I casually slip off the worm farm lid to feed my squidgey friends, and am met with a skittish hairy eight legged freak?

Do I…

A/ Gaze lovingly on to its ample body, marvelling at its intricate markings and upright leg hair engulfing all of its rather quick legs?

Or do I…

B/ Scream like a crazy person, grabbing the nearest hard implement to me, (probably a wooden spoon) wave it ruthlessly in front of its four eyes before pounding it to spider crumbs while yelling, Diiiiiiie eight legged freak!!!!

Or I could,

C/ Assess the situation. Survey the nearby land. Establish that the kids are inside and don’t need to know. Mr Chocolate won’t be home for another 12 hours, and do I really need to ‘man-up’ and do anything at all?

Answer= C

Let’s quietly put the lid back on and pretend I was never here shall we? The worms weren’t really hungry anyway.

Next day and I had conveniently forgotten about the pit of terror outside my kitchen door. Off to check on my worms and lo and behold… There it is again. I’m sure the little bugger winked at me, while waving four of it’s legs at me in a decidedly jazz hands fashion. Quick inward suck of air and clumsy step back from me and we eye each other off. Ahh, what to do.

I did what any self respecting blogger would do and went and got my camera. Followed by Monkey Boy, who I excitedly showed him the ‘lovely’ spider residing in our worm farm. He was enthralled, gave it some eyeball love “WOW Mama, and then left me with the eight legged freak. You see I’m not silly, I wasn’t passing on any preconceived ideas on how to act around spiders. I waited until he left before I made a small gag noise and all the hairs on my arms stood on end.

So why don’t I like them?

Because they run. They run really quickly… and they jump. They are like the crowned Kings of Parcour , and I don’t like it one bit. I can deal with them when I need to, but as Mr Chocolate was home, I didn’t need to. I encouraged him to join me next to the worm farm of terrors and then politely told him he wasn’t coming back inside until he had ‘dealt’ with it.

Do you want me to kill it?

What ever needs to be done babe…

As I quietly bolted the kitchen door behind me, leaving Mr Chocolate waving a flaccid looking roll of newspaper at a bemused looking spider.

* …and he missed it. The eight legged freak casually parcour-ed off and still remains at large.

a tiny gas meter box garden

This, to many people with lovely edible gardens, back yards, ample sun, and green fingers will probably not be the post for you. This is a story of a couple of happy pots that despite their partial sunny aspect, and unlikely sitting position (on top of a gas meter box) are surviving.

When we first moved here, I was desperate for some greenery. I spent quite a bit of money on containers, seedlings, soil, potting mix, mulch, and hangers to go off the fence. The Monkeys and I trawled the streets looking for more containers we could grow things in. Carting them back home with high hopes of a sea of green down the side of our flat. Time went by, and I did grow things. I tried to companion plant, I looked up seasonal planting guides and tried to make smart choices with what I chose to grow. Some things grew, some things were eaten to stumps by usually slimy creatures of one kind or another. I looked up natural ways to get rid of pests. I went out at night with a torch to protect my little patch of green. I would check on these same pots as soon as I woke, looking anxiously out my window to see if they had survived the night.

Unfurl yourself slithery beast from those delicate green tendrils. Begone, and never darken my gas meter box again!

Time went by and I had got to the point where I was putting more and more money into my poor little pots. I was getting nothing back in return except for disappointment and frustration. Getting the right levels of acidity, sunlight, depth of potting mix was getting too tricky. Edible gardens in pots was just too hard for me with the partial sun aspect and resources that I had.

I gave up.

I planted flowers. Flowers that would hopefully attract bees. Maybe that would be something, a tiny something I could do.

Time went by and the pots slowly called to me again. I really wanted to grow something on that darn gas meter box and falling down paling fence. I didn’t have an acre, or a backyard. All I had was a bricked sideway apartment block.

I thought I would try with just one pot. Don’t worry about the rest of the pots sitting stacked up. Just focus on the one.

Rosemary. I popped in some worm castings, gave it some daily whispered love to its green stems… and bless my Birkenstocks if it didn’t grow!

It is growing, still growing. I tentatively added a blueberry, and it still survives. My dad gave me some mint. Despite being eaten to green stumps by minute caterpillars, it’s still with me too. (I went out and plucked the caterpillars off twice a day until there was none left.)

Mama, why are you throwing the caterpillar towards the road?

It needs to go for a WALK!

I got optimistic and planted some Italian chilli seeds, within a week green shoots were coming up. Big green leaves…hmm, I might not have the greenest thumb around but unless I’m wrong, Italians don’t grow chilli in the shape of cucumber leaves. (Presuming that’s what it is)

I also had a geranium in a fence container, two capsicums sprung up as a surprise package and seemed to suck out all of the life of the geranium while it looked pretty good. They then battled for top dog, couldn’t decide who was going to be boss so it seems they both have given up and are now looking a little exhausted from the whole ordeal and worse for wear. Never mind, I can console myself with my little patch of greenery to the right.

My little green gas meter box garden.


* If anyone can answer a couple of my ‘I’m not so sure’ questions, I would be very thankful.

1/ What should I do with my chilli/ cucumber plants? Should I haul one out? Which one? (Given, that it’s a miracle they both look happy, and I’m a little nervous about moving either while they look so…alive.)

2/ Is it really a cucumber? Zucchini…god forbid in that tiny pot, pumpkin?

Farmers Markets- a love story

Farmers Markets. Oh how I love you all.

Good ones that is. The ones where it really is locally produced food. Food that has been made with love and care. Food that isn’t mass-produced and tastes divine.

Be it a crispy celery picked the day before, a hand crafted cheese, some aromatic fair trade coffee, an organic free range piece of meat, a back yard grown punnet of strawberries or some lovingly tempered chocolate.

I love it all.

There is nothing that gets me happier than a morning spent in a great Farmers Market. I feel like a kid in candy store. The promise of all things delicious. I try not to clap my hands with glee, but I tell you, when its a specially good one. A little clapping with glee may happen.

Good food miles- check.

No unneccessary additives- check.

Different ideas- check

Supporting small businesses- check

Super fresh- check

All looks delicious- check

Having recently travelled north for 10 days, I was lucky enough to go to 3 lots of farmers  markets that were just beautifully timed for our holiday. (and yes, I may have planned our holidays around one of them..)

Getting to see what the locals are producing is wonderful, and it’s certainly not long before my purse is hemorrhaging money,  my fridge is looking bountiful, and my tummy is looking rotund.

One of the markets was in Port Macquarie for the Hastings Valley Markets, when a stall caught my eye…

Goat Meat. Now this red meat I had been wondering about for some time. The taste, the cost and where to buy it, as it sure as eggs isn’t bought any where near where I live. So whacked it in the freezer and to be cooked at a later date.

I was also was very happy to see some locally produced garlic. Why is it the beginning of April already and I’m yet to see any Australian garlic in the local shops? It’s the garlic season people! Come on. I don’t want my garlic to be chemically treated and come from Argentina, China, and Mexico if it doesn’t have to.

Some gorgeous tomatoes were bought. Tomatoes that actually taste like a tomato, and has not had the taste bred out of them in order to look good. These were knocked back as quick as I good get them out of the bag by the monkeys.

I love buying things that I’m not sure what they are, or have heard off but not eaten or cooked before.

Its the taste sensation possibility factor that I love the most.

I didn’t get any great sour doughs. They didn’t seem to be happening which was a bit disappointing as they are a firm favourite with us. However, I did get some knock out individual sticky date puddings the size of tennis balls. Even I, had to pause mid way through eating one of these little beauties that had a grand total of 57grams of fat in each serve. Oh sweet mama!….best not to think of it really. I didn’t, and bravely soldiered on.

I can see all our holidays planned in times to come, planned around when the local foody markets are on.

Farmers markets and possibly where to get a great massage… two very important things when thinking of ones next holiday.