Saturday, August 31, 2013

the day before spring...x

The last day of winter was my favourite day of winter because it was so much like spring.

Brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine and not a breath of wind.

It was a perfect bee flying day.

We drank our coffee outside. My farmer boy read to me from The Jew in The Lotus and I knitted a blanket square called planting seeds. The smaller girls made dolls, then they made doll's clothes and then finally they made a house for the dolls from a cardboard box. Miss Indi woke up late and then sat with us and drew.

Sometimes my farmer boy took a break and flew his remote control quad-copter.

And then we did some gardening. The soil is still cold but the days are growing longer and the leaves and roots are moving, it's time for us to get moving too I think.

Later on we all went to collect the eggs.

And on the way home we collected arm fulls of daffodils for the kitchen table.

We wore tee-shirts all day. We didn't come inside until dark. And we didn't light the home fires until we came inside.

All my fave ingredients. All my fave peeps.

More of the same tomorrow I hope.

How did you spend your day today?
Was it warm or wintry?
Slow or bizzy buzzy?
I hope you had fun.

Bye for now


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Topping out

The photos in this post may be a tad overexposed but stick with me because the story is an oldie and a goodie.

Topping out is a building custom that can be traced all the way back to the ancient Scandinavians. It is a custom that takes place when a building has reached its highest point and is a celebration of the completion of the frame and a job well done. 

Topping out acknowledges the building achievements so far, the safety of the builders and it bestows good luck on those who will live in the building in the future.

This afternoon we had a Topping out ceremony at my parents' place at the bottom of our hill.

It was my Dad's suggestion. He said he's seen buildings with branches nailed to them over the years and done a little research and loved the idea. His builders had never been to one but knew exactly what it was and loved the idea too.

The story starts with the fixing of a small tree to the highest point in the building.

The tree is a symbol of respect for Mother Nature, a symbol of new growth and an announcement to the world of how far the building has come.

Mum and Dad's builders, Scott and Andrew fixed an evergreen tree, which is the traditional tree used, a eucalypt because we are surrounded by them here and because Scott and his partner Tamela's business is called Eucabuild, and a wattle because it is August and they're in blossom. 

Then we sat around a table the builders had just knocked together and my Dad gave a speech explaining the custom and thanking the builders for the great work they have done so far.

He explained that according to the custom the builders were entitled to beer but that they had asked for a red and a white wine instead.

Then we cheersed to the builders.

 And we ate a celebratory meal my folks had made. How great are my Dad's bagels!!

Our contribution was a rainbow cake we made using all natural food dyes. Would you believe they were all the colours of the rainbow when they went into the oven? We renamed it the sunshine cake.

It felt like such an honor to be included in this little ritual today. We're so busy, busy running around and around in our lives, it's so great to stop sometimes and be reminded of achievements and to celebrate and to sit and drink wine and eat yummy food outside on a sunny winter's day. Yay!

Don't you think?

Have you celebrated, are you celebrating, will you celebrate a grand or tiny occasion soon?


Saturday, August 24, 2013

sunshine & sisters

And then the sun came out from behind the clouds and changed everything.

For the first time in weeks we left the house without a gazillion layers of clothing. For the first time in weeks all three girls came with us to collect the eggs. And for the first time in weeks, with no real threat of rain, I took the real camera out with us.

The light was so bright, the colours were so clear and we all just stood there in a pocket of sunshine for a while soaking it in. Feeling it on our skin. Feeling happy.

The girls played and laughed and sang and wrestled. Their joy was contagious.

Even the wood piles looked pretty and decorative, rather than the usual desperately necessary.

And we realised that there's only one more week until spring. Thank goodness.

And even though we didn't get to see our feature in today's Herald Sun magazine because it doesn't come to the country, we received loads of gorgeous messages and we feel very full and grateful and lucky. Thank you!!

I hope your day was filled with sunshine and happiness.
Did you get up to anything special?
Did you see our feature? Did you run? Did you take photos? Did you play fight with your sister?

Loads of love to you peeps.
The countdown to spring is on.


Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm running....x

I am running.

Not away, or from, or really to anything, but running all the same.

My feet hit the black rubber, my arms swing by my sides. One holds my phone which is connected to my earphones and my ears. I try my hardest not to look at my phone, not to think about the timer that tells me how much longer to go. 

I just want to run. To get lost in the run.

My earphones play loud music that drowns out my thoughts. JT and Katie and Pink and Gaga, when I run I listen to music that I would never listen to in my normal life. The beat pushes me forwards, the words fill my brain, the melodies keep me going.

I watch as the rain pelts against the windows. The yellow wattles sway violently from side to side. And I run. It is arctic cold out there but in here I feel hot. Hot enough to take off my hoodie, one sleeve at a time, passing my phone from hand to hand. Trying not to overbalance, my fear is falling off.

Now I'm wearing a singlet and a skirt, and runners. Somewhere I have an expensive pair of running socks that I was talked into buying once upon a time. I sometimes think about purchasing proper running gear, but do I really need to look the part in my lounge room? Would it make me run faster? Feel fitter? Maybe if I keep this up for a while longer I'll think about it again. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to wear lycra though.

Maybe in summer when I run outside. If I run outside. I'm not certain I could handle the distractions and the needing to be alert at all times. I think my running is about tuning out.

I've been running now for six weeks.

I can feel the difference.

I have more energy. My clothes fit me better. I am more even tempered and feel like I am coping with life in a happier way. I sleep well at night. I don't own scales so I don't know what they would say if I stood on them. And I am fitter. I always thought farm fitness was enough, but now I can see and feel that it's a different fitness.

This fitness had me chasing and catching 50 escaped chooks yesterday without even breaking a sweat.

I'm not saying that after six weeks on the treadmill I'm ready to add 'runner' into my profile, but I am starting to understand why people do.

And I'm starting to understand that endorphin thing.

I had always thought the endorphins kicked in when you had been exercising for a while, but now I feel myself getting happy just thinking about it. When I put on my sports bra and singlet under my clothes on a running morning, as I'm tying my laces, choosing the music tracks, turning the machine on.

It's hard and part of me dreads it, but part of me loves it too.

I run.

I've built up fitness so I don't really get out of breath so much, but sometimes I hurt. Knees or ankles or calves. Sometimes I try to block it out. Sometimes I try to focus in on the pain. Zero right in on it. But I always keep running.

I never for a second think that I can't do it. I don't have to do it and no one would ever know or care if I didn't. But I do it. For me.

Run. run. run...

And then afterwards I stretch. And I feel good about myself. And a bit proud and healthy. And I find that running is making me eat better and drink more water too. And it's making Indi run.

I hope I can keep it up. Or get back to it if I don't.

It's so good for me.


The pictures have nothing to do with the words. Obviously.

The squares are for my new blanket project.

The winners of The Starting School books are; Annshar, Sarah and Sampling. Yay!

So tell me peeps, are you an exerciser?
Do you get what I'm saying?
Do you run, swim, walk, yoga, pilates...........??
Or are you laughing a little? Don't worry, the me of a year ago is laughing too.

Whatever the weather, I hope your weekend is wonderful.

Big love


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The cutest kids book giveaway!

Last week the peeps at Penguin sent me this gorgeous book in the mail.

The night it arrived, I read it to Miss Pepper about six times.

The next day she took it to show and share at school and her teacher read it to the class a few times.

And since then we've read it a few more times together and she's taken it off and read it by herself a couple of times too.

It really is the most gorgeous book.

The words, the details, the pictures, the characters, the emotion....(yes I might have cried a bit the first time I read it).

And it is thorough! It covers so much of what we have experienced when our three have started school. And then it covers so much more than I ever thought of.

Like, it never occurred to me that going to the toilet at school might be a big and scary thing. Miss Pepper says she always knew where it was because we showed her, but that it is really confusing sometimes to work out which toilet is actually empty.

And I never thought of practising opening and closing a lunch box.

Or that there would be so many names. And personalities. And ways....

This book is filled to the brim with cute little preppy things.

Miss Pepper can relate to almost all of it. And the bits that she hasn't personally experienced, she can tell me stories about the kids who have.

Miss Pepper's teacher said she thought it was a really realistic picture of what starting school was like. 

I think the teacher in the book looks like Miss Pepper's teacher and I was pleased to see a little girl in the book's class with long plaits down her back.

We love this book!

We think it would be great to read to children preparing for school and also to those already there.

If you think you know just the child to share this book with please leave a comment below.

We have three copies to send to three lucky people!
(Australian residents only. Sorry.)

Please make sure you include a way for me to contact you.

And we'll announce the winners on Friday. Yay!

Happy Tuesday lovely people.

You gotta be in it to win it!


Monday, August 19, 2013

How to make your own pickled beetroot

This beetroot pickle is so yummy and such a fave in our house that we try to have a jar in the fridge at all times.

We planted this bunch of beetroot way back in February. The ground is so cold at the moment that it acts a type of fridge, stopping it from growing but keeping it fresh for us to pick as we need.


1 biggish jar, sterilised 
7 fresh medium beetroots
1 and 1/2 (375ml) vinegar (we use apple cider vinegar)
1 and 1/4 tablespoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar


1. Wash the beetroot and place them in a saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the beetroot. Bring to the boil and cook until the beetroot are tender.

2. Drain beetroot reserving 1 and 1/4 cups (300ml) of the cooking liquid.

3. Once the beetroot are cool, cut off the tops and bottoms and peel.

4. Slice the beetroot and set aside.

5. Mix together the reserved cooking liquid and the vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

6. Add the mustard, salt and sugar to the saucepan. Stir occasionally and bring to the boil again. Remove from the heat.

7. Place beetroot slices in your jar and pour hot vinegar mixture over the top.

8. Screw on lid and refrigerate for a few days before use.


Will last for a while after opened if refrigerated.

Tell me peeps, are you a fan of the beet?
What's your fave way to partake?

Happy new week!
Happy canned beets!


Thursday, August 15, 2013

The yarn basket

The yarn basket

In the middle of all the book craziness last week I remember thinking to myself that I missed my life. That I missed kneading bread and dirty finger nails from gardening and days without appointments and deadlines and city clothes. 

I guess the strange thing about all of this book stuff, is the feeling that I've taken a little break from my real life and now I'm finding it a bit difficult to find my way back again.

With all the fuss and fun and excitement I've drifted off somewhere.

I used to bake bread almost everyday for our family and now I can't seem to get back into that rhythm. Bread baking needs time and forethought, but now I never seem to remember until it's too late.

I've lost confidence in my writing. I've never called myself a writer which made writing easy. But now for some reason things have changed. I still know that I'm more of a recorder than a writer, but my writing is traveling further than blog-land now and I am feeling self conscious and sticky and uncertain.

The square by square blanket

There are some aspects of mothering that I am feeling on top of; reading, seeing, cuddling, adoring, listening...But there are others than I am losing at; school notes, dates, organisation, finger nails, laundry...

It's been weeks since I did anything but harvest in the kitchen garden. Spring will be here any minute and I have a list a mile long of what needs to be done between now and then.

 Another hottie

I've mostly always had a one woolly project at a time rule but now I can't seem to stick to anything. Last night I found myself alternating between rows of a knitted blanket square and rows of my long, long scarf. Two rows of this, then two rows of that. Three projects on the go and I'm about to cast on a size one Milo to make it four. 

The long, long scarf

Ugh, I want to delete this all and start again. I think it might sound negative and yet it's really not. It's just different. 

This morning I've sent off some photos for a magazine and an article to a newspaper and now I'm sitting here with time. It feels a bit strange. Like a holiday. Like luxury.

I think I'm going to press publish on this, mix up a bread dough and leave it to rise, and then head out into the hot house to prick out some onions. Hopefully my farmer boy will come up from planting the food forest and join me soon.

The winter sun is shinning, my book is out in the world, I am happy to be here on our farm and I feel optimistic. 

(And just between me and you, I feel happy that I've got this all down, but that it'll be in my archives in a few days time.)

How about you, are you enjoying the sunshine?
Are you making something colourful?
Are you between things, or are you missing things, or are you there?

I hope you are happy today, I really do.

Bye! xx

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Coffee and paste...x

I think these last few weeks have been amongst the biggest of my life. The book, the interviews, the feedback, the film, the signings, the reviews and of course the Daylesford launch.

I have been so overwhelmed, I have been humbled and I have been grateful. I feel like I've been running on adrenaline for so much of it. It really has been huge.

And over these big book weeks my blog words have woken me up at night whispering descriptions and explaining goings on and feelings. My nighttime blog words always feel so articulate and honest in the dark.

And yet my days have been so full that I haven't had a second to get those words down here. 

And now that I finally have a little bit of time, they're gone. Actually I don't think they're gone but I think there are so many of them that I don't know how to make sense and order out of them. I feel like they're all jumbled up and all over the place.

I hope I will get all that stuff down here soon because it is important and because I want to remember it, but for now I thought I'd try something completely different. Something I found on Pip's blog. Something I feel might help me take stock and ease my way back in.

So here goes;

Making : Another crocheted hot water bottle cover, knitting a looooong scarf and squares for a blanket.
Cooking : Wintery breads and soups and cakes and bakes.
Drinking : Freshly picked beetroot, carrot, kale, ginger, orange and lemon juice.
Reading: The List Of My Desires. The publisher sent it to me. I've only just started but I love that she's a blogger.
Wanting: Warmth in the air and a bit of sunshine on my skin.
Looking: At the chooks through the mist in the forest.
Playing: A feeding a plant game on my phone that tracks how much water I drink during the day.
Wasting: Time on facebook. I resisted for so long. Then I joined to keep an eye on Indi. And now I think it's fun.
Sewing: Buttons on a knitted onesie.
Wishing: I had more time to knit. And cook. And garden.
Enjoying: Reading chapters of The Famous Five with Miss Jazzy every night.
Waiting: For asparagus and the start of the spring veggie season.
Liking: Photos on instagram.
Wondering: how much our lives will change now we've made the decision to scale things down here and homestead instead.
Loving: That my folks are just at the bottom of the hill.
Hoping: Miss Indi feels better soon. Hate the flu!
Marvelling: That Miss Pepper can stand on her head for minutes at a time.
Needing: To go out and collect the eggs, but it's toooooo cold.
Smelling: The Daphne blossom at the front door.
Wearing: Jeans!!!! It's been years.
Following: An exercise plan. True story!
Noticing: The first signs of spring. More daylight, almond blossom, jonquils...
Knowing: That I shouldn't wear my shoes inside the house but I do anyway.
Thinking: That the bunnies are super messy.
Feeling: Calm for the first time in a while.
Bookmarking: Recipes. I need to menu plan again.
Opening: The stove door to add more wood. Constantly.
Giggling: About Miss Jazzy's suggestion that I should write a book called BUMtastic.
Feeling: Like I could sleep for three weeks if I had the chance.

So how about you? 
What's going on in your life?
Do you want to play Pip's game too? 
Coffee and paste the blank list from her blog.
And let me know so I can come and see what you're up to.

We're off to get the eggs.
Happy days my friends!


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