Friday, March 17, 2017

baskets filled with hazelnuts + other miscellaneous chatter

Hello loves,

How are you?

It's Friday morning here, the girls are all off at school, Bren is somewhere outside (I think I can hear some kind of power-tool), and I'm sitting up on the green armchair in the corner of our studio, wrapped in a colourful crocheted blanket. The house is quiet except for the howl of the wind outside and I should feel calm and be able to concentrate, but instead I feel scattered and in a hurry.

Most weeks by the time it gets to Friday I pretty much know what I'm going to write about. Most weeks I have a bit of a theme of thoughts, so the writing is just a matter of getting them into some sort of order. I read in Rachael Treasure's book Down The Dirt Roads the other day that 'according to neuroscience expert Dr Joe Dispenza...of the thousands of thoughts we have per day - around 50,000 to 70,000 of them - 90 per cent are the same thoughts from the day before.'

Unusually, this week hasn't felt like that for me. This week I can't really pin point a point of view or a perspective that has dominated, but instead have found myself stuck in the practical world of picking and preserving and putting on a smiley face despite the sudden turn of the season, the house full of emotional girls and the fact that I feel a bit scattered and unsure at the moment.

So this morning over our porridge with honey I asked the family what they thought I should write about.

Bren said he'd like me to write about spurtles
Over the past few days he's gotten his pole lathe up and running and has a new found fascination with all the possible forms that he can now create. He said he'd like me to find out how they came to be, why they are round and why people use them instead of their spoons.

Indi asked me to ask you guys about your stress management techniques.
There has to be a better way to deal with life in her second last year of school than feeling constantly overwhelmed, teary and not sleeping. Unlike Bren and I at school, she has made a personal commitment to complete everything thrown at her and give it her 100%. It's tricky because she's starting to get a glimpse of the big wide world beyond school, and that excites her and makes her question what it's all about and for, but it doesn't free her from the stress.

Gosh I could write a whole blog post about how much I dislike the way the current senior school system robs our kids of the love of learning, with all the emphasis being placed on assessments and assignments and essays and exams. At 16 and 17 our kids are wide awake and open to the world, shouldn't we be encouraging them to fall in love with subjects, to follow pathways of their own interest, to ask all the hard questions and to challenge what they're taught? Shouldn't learning be about more than preparing for tests?

But in the end it's not about what I think. Indi has five school assessed courseworks (SACs) over the next few weeks and if you have a fave meditation app, herbal tea blend or breathing technique, she'd be ever so grateful.

Jazzy wants me to write about her.
When she saw that Jackie wrote this on my last blog post - 'When did Jazzy grow up? She has become a very attractive, elegant and tall young woman. That smile and those dimples are to die for. I haven't noticed many photos of Jazzy perhaps that's why it hit me so hard this time.' she was thrilled!! And then she proceeded to trawl my blog for mentions and photos and stories that she featured in. She wasn't impressed at the outcome over the past year.

Funnily enough, way back when I wrote my book, Vantastic, in 2013, my designer Michelle Mackintosh, herself a middle child, counted every single photo and made sure there were equal numbers for each of the girls.  

But in the present day, in my defence, our early teenage Jazzy has spent most of her home time in her bedroom rather than with us outside on the farm. And if you're not out in the orchard picking apples, then you're not in the photos of picking apple, then you're not on my blog.

Having said all that, since this is her bit of my blog I want to acknowledge how happy we are when she joins us around the farm, how she makes us all laugh like crazy, how much we love her stories, her ukulele playing, her outfits and hairdos and how lucky we feel to have her in our gang.

Pepper suggested I write about the first apples.
She wouldn't elaborate on what specifically she wanted me to write about the first apples, but I guess that living on an apple farm in apple season with fruit hanging from the branches, sitting in crates and baskets and bowls and stewing on the stove, it makes sense.

My mum thought I should write one of those blogs where I tell you what I'm reading, listening to, watching etc.
But honestly I'm really not a fan of the book I'm reading, I don't have any particular podcast I'm loving and I can't think of the last time I sat down to watch anything. Better fix that.

And me? 
I guess I'd like to mention the fact that even though we're having a pretty crappy fruit season, there's still so much fruit to be picked and preserved. I guess that's the great thing about biodiversity. Apples, pears, hazelnuts, nashis, tomatoes, they're all ready and ripe and filling up space around the place. Not to mention the vegetables.

Next, I'd love to thank you for your messages on my last blog post that came from everyone from mothers who felt like they had found themselves in motherhood and didn't feel the need to search for anything else, through to mothers who had a glimpse of their past selves and made a dash to grab hold of her and continue her journey before they changed their minds, and everyone else in between. I've had women suggest art projects that I might like to take on, books that explore this theme, and many expressions of feeling the same. I've also listened when people have told me that they felt like I do live an artistic life - 'The way you live, the way you raise your children, the way you write and photograph your experiences...' I'm taking this on, thank you!! I love this community in all of our various stages and phases.

And I suppose that over the past week, during the busiest time of the year on our farm, I've had to make do with finding art in the everyday: making small films on my phone of the dancing shadows on my bedroom door in the afternoon light, arranging cucumbers and herbs in the pickle jars and then spending time shaking them up and watching the herbs and spices fly around in the brine and then slowly settle like snow globes, gathering groups of colours of yarn for someday projects, dreaming of botanical themed water colours...

And then I feel like I should talk about the photos above. Last Monday I spent hours alone in the hazelnut orchard, stripping the trees of their fruit. Even though the sun often glared into my eyes as I looked up searching for the treasure, it was still a pretty idyllic way to spend the time. Just me and my basket and my pockets and my shirt to fill, podcasts to listen to and dreams of all the ways we could use hazelnuts in the kitchen in the months to come.

Later on, once I'd finished picking the three rows, the girls and Bren came down to help me carry them home. I snapped some shots of them and lucky I did, because they turned out to be the only photos I took all week.

So the hazelnuts are drying out, the photos are sitting here, and I've found myself going back to 2014 and another series of photos I took in that same orchard but that time under some quite difficult circumstances after I'd just found a lump in my left breast. Coincidentally, or maybe not, I'm booked in for an ultrasound and mammogram this coming Tuesday. Look how much my girls have grown since then. Oh and look Jazzy, there are lots of photos of you in that post too.

Oh gosh, and there I was thinking I had nothing to say this week.

I'd better sign off before I write another few hundred words.
And how about you? Has your week had a recurring theme? A problem to be solved? An idea to be built on?

Lots of love to you, honey bunches!
May you trust the process, and the people, and yourself.

Love Kate xx

PS To save you the work, Jazzy, I counted for you: Indi is in four photos in this post, you are in five, Pepper is in three and Bren in in two. x


  1. Hello Kate! For your Indi...I highly recommend her trying some PM yoga! I started about 7 years ago, not for exercise, toning or anything other than to help me channel my breathing and sleep! I was dog tired, but my mind would not shut down. It has helped me focus and breath and really learn how to quite things down.
    I am in my 30's and a mother of three robust young we are on completely different paths in life, however it might help. Best Wishes x

  2. oops, husband was signed in! Comment is from me, Sandra Jennings

  3. Just letting you know I have read and enjoyed your words this week. I will be back later to comment properly
    Cheers Kate

  4. Lovely photos Kate. As a mum of three, two who have finished year 12, my advice would be to surround yourself with like minded classmates. To work hard and do your best, but to take the time to enjoy your final school years. Seek out good teachers, there are some Amazing ones, and take their advice and help. Most importantly, remember the ATARI at the end isn't the be all end all. It you have done your best, don't stress. If you get less than you expected/needed, remember there are many other ways and paths to achieve your dream, whatever it may be.

  5. Oh I so hear you regards the school system and our precious 16-17 yr olds, so agree with you. When our oldest reached that age I had an panic attack, 'was I doing the right thing homeschooling her all the way through to Uni?' and so I did something I never thought I would, I seriously considered sending her to school, checked out the school fees, seriously considered it from all angles day but realised in the end, that I strongly didn't believe in the HSC, I really didn't. I believe strongly in a quality education but the last years just seem to be about an exam at the end, not education, and not the whole person, too much unnecessary stress, so in the end that idea was put aside. Working on graduating our 4th child sometime mid year and haven't changed my mind. So hugs to you as you help her navigate these last years.

    Giggling about the photos, that certainly resonates with me. I remember a time my older boys used to compete about who was on my blog header, back in the day, 'I've been on three times so she loves me more than you' boys, competitive, and all a joke but still, am conscious that they do notice.

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  7. Indi stick to your guns and the time will fly by. When I worked a corporate position and everything got too heavy, I would make up a cup of lemon balm tea and go and sit under a tree. I would take a note paper and write down everything that needed to be done. I would then organise those ideas into most urgent through to least. This gave me a working list that I could cross off as I completed each task. It gave a sense of accomplishment and lifted the weight off my shoulders. The lemon balm tea also helped in calming nervous energy.
    Jazzy you are truly becoming a beautiful young woman. I can see you are going to be tall. If your think you're not being seen pull your shoulders back and stick your chin in the air. Such a dignified stance will have everyone noticing you.
    Miss Pepper I live in the tropics and I can grow a tropical Apple that has tiny little fruits that are so tasty. They remind me of Pink Lady apples. Mind you it only takes three bits and they are all gone.
    Kate and Bren I hope what there is in your orchards provides you with all that you need.
    Much love.

  8. Hi Kate!

    I am a high school senior (USA not AUS), and I can empathize with Indi's struggle. School today - all over the world, not just where you are - discourages rather than encourages the proliferation of students' interests, which is truly sad. The most important things I've discovered about myself and the world over my high school life have been found primarily outside of the classroom setting.

    That being said, I too put one hundred percent of my effort into everything I do, and it can be exhausting. Here's what I've done to manage it: go running. Read books for fun. Keep hydrated. Spend time with friends, even if it seems like "wasting" your time. Allow a couple of minutes right before bed to reflect on things, writing or journaling or just sitting quietly. The biggest one for me, though, was shifting my schedule around. Teenagers are expected to go to bed late and sleep in late, but I figured out that I work best going to bed early and waking up early to do work in the mornings. It totally changed my perspective and re-energized my life.

    Hope that helps!

  9. I had been wondering about Jazzy also but becoming a teenager can make us hide as we adjust to the new step in our life. Love seeing photos of Jazzy again and of all the girls. Have a wonderful week!!!

  10. Photos are beautiful of course.....speaking of your breast cancer scare my family and I are still ever so grateful for the beautiful gift of the beanie you made for my sister who went through breast cancer.....a beautiful gift from a complete stranger since she had never read your blog. She has just finished in January her 3 year journey (hate that word but can't think of anything else) from operations chemo radium and reconstruction. There is more value in that beanie than just a knitted beanie and it's those acts of kindness that make you the person that you are and I thank you for that. Regards Kathy (Brisbane)

  11. PS........... your photos are getting prettier and prettier

  12. Clever clogs, you wrote about all of it.

    I have a spurtle which I use for soaking fabric in very hot water. I bought it in an antique sop in Glen Innes, a place in NSW renowned for it's Scottish Festival. Lovely photos of your girls, gee they're growing fast.

    And you've motivated me to harvest our pecans, so thank you. Much love, Rhonda xx

  13. Hello Kate,
    Reading about Indi's stress spoke to me as I was (and still am) the same way. I am currently in my third year of university in the USA and studying to attend medical school. My best strategy is running, but I also write one journal page every night before bed to clear every thought that is still buzzing around in my head. Once I have it down on paper I give my brain permission to stop worrying about it. With sleeping I find having a 30-45 minute bedtime routine really helps me slow my thoughts down before bed. My routine includes brushing my teeth, stretching, writing my journal page, reading a few pages in a book, and then putting a few drops of essential oils on my feet. When I am having a bad night and simply cannot slow my thoughts down I either count up to 200 by different multiples (2,3,7,13, etc..) or run through the alphabet and try to name five foods that start with each letter (I usually never make it past L before I fall asleep).

    Please tell Indi that now is such a wonderful time in her life as she discovers herself and her passions. I look back on my high school days and wish I had been a little less uptight about every exam score and every assignment and presentation and paper. I missed out on things because I felt like I had to be in studying, or I didn't enjoy things as much because I was so worried all the time. And years later I realize that a few scores below top marks would not have hindered me at all in getting into a good university or pursing my dream career.

    Hang in there Indi. The demands of school are overwhelming and it unfortunately steals some of the joy out of learning, but please know that grades do not define your intelligence, your self-worth, or your ability to be successful in the future. Follow your passions and what makes you feel alive and everything else will fall into place.


  14. Smiling Minds meditation app

    1. definitely try this out .. they have meditations specifically for teenagers of different ages. I use the app for myself and I use the age 7-9 program with my grade 2 class.

  15. My stress management technique for Indi would be to grab her trainers and get out for a jog/walk/run. It works for me although I do wish I had youth on my side, on the other side of 40. Lol. Seriously though I am planni g on starting my eldest who is nine and taking her out with me.

  16. how did I find this blog? I do not know. Lovely peaceful pictures. And, I have never seen a hazelnut before!! So you write about parenting and mothering? About life. I will be checking in for a post about this almost 70 year old grandmother raising her three young grands...7,8 and 11...parents are Heroin husband died of ALS.. The sun still shines through my outdoor bottle tree and life continues...One day at a time is the only way to live...albeit a struggle...xo thanks for the visit

  17. Best of luck to Indy. Other people have already made great suggestions. I've never been good with the running but walking is a help. I have 'The Mindfulness app' for guided meditations but I find myself just as frequently, if not more often, putting on some favourite music to retune my brain. It's a while since I was at school, but I had to board during high school and sometimes just being able to drown everything else out and create my own little inner world with the headphones on was a life saver.
    I love all the photos on your blog, it's funny how you start to feel like you know people you've never met. Lovely to hear everyone's thoughts too, and I'll look forward to seeing what's next.

  18. My suggestion for Indi? Start every day with something you do just for you. A few pages of a book you love, a cup of tea, a bit of exercise. This has been a gamechanger for me because it means that in the middle of any harried day I can look back and see that I did something for me, put myself first even in just a small way, and it helps stave off the feeling of being pulled under.

  19. What a fabulous post. I don't think I've seen so many hazelnuts in one place at any one time. A good harvest I assume. Wow so Jazzy is a Ukulele player is she. Is there no end to her talents? Our son also plays the Ukulele as well as numerous other instruments. He says that the Uke is so easy to take with him and has played it all over the place even at the top of an outcrop in France. Why he would want to carry it there I have no idea. Hope you all have a great week. I always feel very twitchy and uncomfortable when it's windy so it must be something to do with the way the wind blows as to how you're feeling at the moment.

  20. What a beautiful, thoughtful and peaceful place your blog is Kate. Thank you x

  21. A lovely post as always Kate, your words speak such truths and your photos are some of the best I see anywhere and I really love photography, you have such a brilliant eye to catch the right picture and the skill to capture it just right too. Amazing to see those hazelnuts, I wish we could grow them so successfully, but we have red squirrels in our garden (who we love to see) and they have first dibs on the nuts every time! Have a great week. Elaine x

  22. Thanks for your wonderful blog - l love the photos and the words - they keep me sane in the madness of my weeks thank you- anyway a wonderful app for meditation in Andrew Johnson Relax + Jnr - my lovely niece used this to get back on track with her sleeping last year

  23. Something struck me as I read your words and looked at your photos: your girls are all such unique individuals. I know that sounds absurd to say on some level - of course they're different! They're not three pieces of the same person! But I think we possibly live in a world where being unique or individual can be scary, especially when you're a teenager, and the fact that your girls are so happy to be themselves is equal parts cheering and inspiring. Then again, they have wonderful inspiration in their parents!

    (My mum has a spurtle that lived in our house for years, complete with a little tag attached explaining its origin, but all I can remember is a vague mention of stirring porridge.)

    Katie @ Katie Writes Stuff

  24. I have just the ticket for Indi! This is one I was taught in a stress management workshop our school put on in Year 12, and I still use it 15 years later! Ideally, give yourself a 10 minute daily appointment LONG before bedtime to think about what you're stressed about and come up with your plan of attack for the next 24 hours. Straight after school is a pretty good time. This in itself is helpful, but it's even more helpful so that you know you're telling the truth when you do this falling asleep exercise: If you're struggling to fall asleep, do a four-breath exercise where you think to yourself 'I've thought about this today' (as you're breathing in), 'I'll think about this tomorrow' (as you're breathing out), 'but now it is time' (as you're breathing in), 'to go to sleep' (as you're breathing out). Start with your normal breathing, and keep repeating it, slowing your breathing down each time until you're taking loooong, slow, deep breaths. I've always found it a calming mantra and exercise to do.

  25. Hi Kate! I feel do guilty lurking here year after year and never posting, but I wanted to share something I learned recently. Have you considered thermography instead of a mammogram? I've read that it was a better diagnostic tool for breast tissue. Here's a link to the article I read:

    Hope that helps! Happy applesaucing! :)

  26. what a beautiful life you have, full of beuty, simplicity and soul!


Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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