Friday, June 29, 2012

winter daze

Winter light is so moody. And magical. At times dull and heavy, and then crisp and sharp; shades of grey and pink and then a welcome tease of winter sun streaming from a cloudless blue sky.

I interrupted our game of kick to kick (football) yesterday afternoon to take Sol and River out on to the road outside our house and admire the winter sun setting in the distance and the warm golden spotlight it was casting on the moonah trees. For me it was a slice of winter wonder. I am looking hard to find and savour these warming moments.

Today school's out early today. The holidays are here! Must be time to make a list:

- Seeing snow is high on River's wishlist, as is ice skating. Seeing snow means going to a mountain which may happen for a day trip but I have found a cheeky alternative until that happens. The ice skating rink at Docklands in Melbourne holds Ice Fun sessions for Under 8's including ice and snow play. Perfect! For readers visiting Melbourne over the holidays there are other school holiday activities for other age groups on at the skating rink.

-Winter is perfect for long hot baths and as we live about 10kms from The Peninsula Hot Springs this is definitely on our holiday list.

-In the kitchen, I am inspired to make this cinnamon, vanilla and sunflower butter on the fabulous 101 cookbooks site.

-Next to food one of my other great loves is flowers. The colours, flowers, photography I stumbled upon by Amy Merrick is quite exquisite if you feel like gazing at beauty for a moment.

Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to sharing more winter moments, school holiday fun and some recipes to try with your children, including Jude Blereau's excellent almond, oat, choc chip biscuits - sweet and nourishing. Thanks Jude!  'See' you back here next week.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

current pantry favorites

The absolute key to eating well is having good food in your pantry and fridge. It really is one of the easiest ways to make sure you and your family are eating delicious nutrient dense foods and are not being tempted to eat highly processed non foods.

Nutrient dense foods satisfy not only hungry tummies but keep our beautiful brain cells and delicate nervous systems happy too. Non foods do the exact opposite, they keep our bodies hungry as they search for nutrients that don't exist in processed foods and throw in additives, preservatives, artificial colours, flavours and numbers to stress our digestion and upset overall well-being.

For people who are used to buying processed foods, especially snacks, making the switch to eating whole, real foods can leave them wondering what can I eat in place of muesli bars, chips, sweet or savoury biscuits.

Two of my current pantry favorites (in case this matters to any readers, I am going to name brands, I haven't been paid or asked to do so, they are brands I buy and use and I think it is helpful sometimes particularly when starting out on a new path to have some recommendations of where to start) are:

Macro almond spread. 
This is a fantastic alternative to peanut butter of which many brands contain sugar and salt and probably a few other undesirables, this is made from 100% almonds. I know that some health food stores press peanuts into paste and don't add anything, however almonds are a better choice of nut over peanuts and in fact over most other nuts. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorous and also contain selenium, zinc, copper and niacin. I spread almond spread on toast or on corn thins for breakfast, morning or afternoon tea, it goes well on celery or carrot sticks too. I buy this in the health food section at my local supermarket.

Niulife creamed coconut 
Our beautiful friend Dave who we stay each winter when we go to Byron Bay put me on to this. Dave is a naturopath and owns the Brunswick Heads Health Food Store (do visit if you are in the area they serve the most scrumptious wholefoods lunches and cakes made lovingly by wholefoodie whizz Kristina take a peek here) he is always a wealth of health and information when it comes to good things to eat. Creamed coconut is not the same as coconut butter or oil, it is the actual flesh of the coconut that has had the moisture removed and is then whipped into a creamy paste. When I tried it in the balmy Byron Bay climate is was creamy, in chilly Victoria is sets solid! Either way the flavour is deliciously sweet and surprisingly it is not intensely coconutty. Dave actually doesn't enjoy the flavour of coconut but he does like the creamed version. I have to admit, my favorite way to make a snack of it is to eat a spoonful straight from the jar. It is also a delightful addition to porridge, just stir in a spoonful and it melts through. Dave likes to put a generous spoon into smoothies. Adding it to curries and soups is also a good way to enjoy it. If you want to read up on the myriad of health benefits of the good fat in coconut go here.

I look forward to sharing more from the pantry soon x

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

what if?

Do you ever allow "what if?" to hold you back? To keep you in your comfort zone, stay surrounded by the familiar. You have an idea, a flash of inspiration or a long held dream and any step of action is thwarted by a negative answer to "what if?" Hard to admit but I am guilty of this and it has taken me until almost 40 to even realise!! I had until recently, told myself that by thinking about the 'what ifs?' I was being a realist, thinking things through. Not so at all.

I have had some fantastic opportunities come my way and on recent reflection I feel like I haven't really lived every inch of them. I've played it safe and small. Ouch, again hard to admit. Why have I done this? Because, what if it doesn't work out? what if people don't like it? what if I lose money and time? what if I start and then don't know how to continue? what if I had to say no to someone? ...what if? what if? what if?

Well, the truth is this sort of thinking is completely crippling. It is also a habit. A habit that can be broken. Thankfully this new found awareness was lovingly brought to my attention by some nearest and dearest and I can make changes to free myself from this affliction starting with returning to yoga to clear my mind and calm my nervous edge, by taking my friend Bron up on the offer of a massage and turning off the negative 'what if?' button in my brain, and then getting on with as the saying goes 'feeling the fear and doing it anyway'. 

For me this feeling has not coincided with motherhood, it existed long before; but I know for some women it does coincide with motherhood, as becoming a mother can simultaneously expand a woman's creative and loving heart and mind in the most wonderful ways and reduce it painfully in others. The reducing can also take away confidence. If you can relate to this, I always find the analogy of thinking about life in seasons so helpful, that you are in a season and the season will change. It is also very important though to seek out and surround yourself with people who will support you to step into the next season when it arrives.

Now if you will indulge me a little further, I'd like to finish this post with the lyrics of a song written and performed last night by River who is one month away from turning six and like most parents do with their children I marvel at his view of the world and how he puts words together. To give context to this song, we are not raising our boys to follow a particular religion or faith, we talk about the spirit world and the natural world, so with that in mind I soaked in River's song when he performed it for the first time last night.

Standing before his audience of Sol and I with his toy electric guitar around his neck he introduced himself, "Hello my name is River and this song is called 'God'". And then proceeded to sing:

God is special
because they are always there for you
and they help you if you are sad
they are in your head when you dream
they are special and bright
they are special because they are there
forever and ever and ever and ever.

I love that God is plural. I hope this post has been a helpful start for those who are wanting to move forward with their dreams and passions. Or even with just folding the washing. What if we never folded the washing again?!

Monday, June 25, 2012


If you're looking for something to do with empty 1 litre juice and milk containers perhaps you could build your own 'igloo'. The fun creation pictured above, shows River and Sol sitting inside the igloo at River's school where students spent the best part of a term collecting the empty containers to go towards this project. One of the grade one teachers, her partner is a sculptor who visited school and with little more than a glue gun and a creative vision joined the containers together to create this very fun igloo style cubby house. Just make certain the containers are well washed and you keep the lids, the lids create the colourful interior and the thorough washing reduces the risk of stale milk making it one very smelly place to play. Clever, huh?

Friday, June 22, 2012

happy weekending

I'm still doing my best to embrace winter, especially because winter has well and truly embraced Victoria. Rain has been falling day and night, the chill factor is high and snowflakes are floating onto the mountains. Sol and I spent this morning watching the ferry sail off from Sorrento to Queenscliff and then wandered around our local organic farm.

I do love a list of links, here is one to inspire you to get crafty, cook and give a big squeeze to your loved ones. Happy weekending x 

-It makes perfect sense I have a thing for books, I am a writer after all but I especially have a thing for handmade books such as the gorgeous ones made by the Hungry Girls. So, I was fairly excited to find this bookmaking tutorial on DesignMom with words and pictures to guide me through making my own!

-If textiles are more your idea of getting crafty visit Prints Charming and then take a look at Imogen Eve's gorgeous embroidered heart quilt

- Researching bread stories and recipes to share with River's class next week took me to this recipe for Ethiopian spiced honey bread. Sounds good to me.

- 'She said YES!' If you're a sucker for a real life love story go here

- I can't let today's post go by without sharing with you some links about my late and Great brother-in-law Peter Malcolm. It is three years today since Pete left this earthly life and I feel really blessed to have known such a vibrant and loving soul. Ah, sigh. We miss you Pete! Read about some of Pete's life work here and here.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

bread winner

This month at River's school each class is 'investigating' food. For a couple of hours each week the students are involved in various activities centring on food, where it comes from, how to cook it, how to grow it and so on. The call came home for parents who would like to be involved so next week I will be talking to the prep classes about bread and we will bake some too. I have fond memories of River making bread at his Steiner kinder, all the children loved the tactile experience of kneading the dough, the smell of the bread baking and of course the eating.

Last week I went to Melbourne for the day and called in to Phillippa's Bakery and Provisions store to have a chat with owner Phillippa Grogan about slow fermented sourdough. You see, not all sourdough breads are created equal. Sourdough contains lactobacillus culture, and when the fermentation process is slowed down the culture has more time to break down the grain including gluten present in wheat, rye, and spelt flour. The end result is a sourdough bread that is easier to digest than those that are fermented for shorter lengths of time.

In this article 'Sourdough bread and health' by Mark Sircus writes about the commercialisation of bread baking in the 1950's seeing bakers switch from traditional slow fermentation processes to creating quick rising bread and the correlation with this change and the increase in gluten sensitivity. Sircus writes,

"Very basic sourdough bread that had once been fermented for a healthy 8 hours or more is not to be found anywhere except in ones own kitchen today. In commercial bread yeast levels are dramatically increased, accelerants and proving agents introduced including bromide, a known thyroid poison that was insanely substituted for iodine in the US. Fast-made bread is one of the most destructive implementations into the modern diet. It has become normal fare. Poorly-prepared and poorly-digested wheat is the chief contributor to the current plague of “gluten-intolerance,” obesity, diabetes, Candida diseases and many allergenic conditions all of which contribute to the conditions that cause cancer. 

       Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented is it healthy for human consumption. When not it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. It is similar to the controversy with soy which also can only be considered a health food if it is fermented long enough. Correctly fermented wheat contains 18 amino acids (proteins), complex carbohydrate (a super efficient source of energy), B vitamins, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium, and maltase."

I left Phillippa's with plenty to think about and research and also a quarter organic sourdough boule made with stone-ground organic flour and local wild yeasts (boule is French for ball), wrapped up in a raw linen teatowel (pictured. I did iron it) plus a loaf of 100% rye sourdough. The dough for Phillippa's boule begins 2 days before the finished bread is sold, the fermentation process is around 30 hours. Phillippa's sourdough starter was first created in 1995, beginning with a mix of sultanas and water in a jar placed in a warmish place upstairs in their Armadale store for 10 days until the telltale bubbles showing fermentation appeared. The starter has been lovingly fed flour and water daily ever since.
Since Pete and I cut wheat out of our diet last year we have been eating minimal bread, when we do  it has been Wuppertaler's organic sourdough rye, which to be honest I don't find very exciting to eat at all. So the real bread from Phillippa's was very well received at home. Pete's comment when he could smell a slice of the boule toasting "It smells so gutsy" sums it up for me. It is indeed dense, sour and yes gutsy. Dare I say, the way real bread is meant to be. The fact Pete used the word gutsy made me smile too because unwittingly he is referring to gut-health which is central to the discussion of fermented foods.

'Bread' that is highly processed and mass produced is just one of the many food items on a long list that would be virtually unrecognisable to our ancestors and that is compromising our health. So in honor of our ancestors who grew their food, hunted and fished, and made real bread I will visit River's school next week to show and tell them just as it says on Phillippa's teatowel:

'Good bread is made from simple ingredients: flour, water, salt and a little yeast or sourdough. What separates good bread from great bread however, is a fifth ingredient. Time.'

For Melbourne readers Phillippa's organic sourdough boules are available whole or cut into halves or quarters at their Armadale and Brighton stores or St Kilda Farmer's Market 1st Saturday of the month or East Hawthorn Farmer's market 3rd Saturday of the month.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

snack on

When River tells me, 'Mum I'm hungry' I think, again?!! Keeping up with the voracious appetites of growing children is a full time job. Thinking of and preparing an after school snack has been added to my to do list this year and I do enjoy coming up with food they are excited to eat.

Popcorn we pop on the stove and a warm cup of chocolate made with rice milk, cocoa and stevia is a current favorite with both boys. 

As is brown rice and seaweed crackers smeared with butter and a thin wedge of pecorino pressed on top with a bowl of marinated, pitted kalamata olives on the side.

The beetroot dip with brown rice and seaweed crackers pictured above was a hit with Sol, River not so much. Ho hum.

I was thrilled to discover Sherlyn Palmer's blog 'Wholepromise - wholesome food to live by' and her posts on the wonderful, nourishing snacks she prepares for her young sons. See here and here

And another wholefood blog I stumbled happily upon is Wholesome Cook, worth a visit.

Here is the recipe for the beetroot dip, see how it fares in your house. If you want more of my dip recipes go here. What snacks are current favorites with your family?

1 medium beetroot, boiled til soft, peeled and diced (sorry I didn't weigh it. It was slightly larger than a tennis ball)
200 grams cooked chickpeas
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened yoghurt
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tablespoon tahini
juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt to taste or Bragg's all purpose seasoning

To make
Place all ingredients in food processor and whizz til smooth. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste and preferred texture. You can add a splash of water if it is too thick and then adjust seasoning to suit.

Friday, June 15, 2012

happy weekending

photo by Pete

This weekend I am looking forward to:

- Reading up on fermented foods and in particular fermented sourdough to share with you next week.
- Experimenting with more recipes from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar cookbook.
- Working on my own recipes for snacks and lunch box fare.
- Making knights helmets with River and Sol.
- Perhaps rugging up and making the trip to Melbourne to go to the Emerge World Music Festival where there will be an Ethiopian coffee ceremony, cultural workshops, story telling circle, and of course lots of live music.

Around the web:

- For readers who have children age two and a half, this post written by Nicole Avery from Planning with Kids about behaviour at this age and stage is worth a read
- And if you are looking for a good alternative to 'time out' this post also by Nicole explains what to do
- If you live in Melbourne or Sydney here is your opportunity to hear American journalist and author of The Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan speak next month. Thanks Phillippa for the heads up
- If you are hungry for beautiful food photography and stories check out Sated, a new online food magazine
- And for those feeling the chill of winter, Jude Blereau's Soul Version Red Beans and Rice will warm you body and soul.

Have a good weekend and enjoy the pleasures of whichever season you're in, be that winter, summer, testing times with teenagers, or fun times with two and a half year olds who exude in equal measure mischief and magic.

photo by Pete

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

pumpkin, tofu and ginger curry

Ah curry. With your aromatics, your warming spices, you are a perfect winter meal. I think curry is one of those dishes that is often misunderstood, and therefore unfairly disliked by some. Curry is made with spices, but does not have to equal chilli hot. The best part about making it yourself is you can tailor the spices to your taste. Having said that, in this recipe I have used a spice mix made by gourmet organic herbs and then just added extra spices to my liking. I am looking forward to experimenting further this winter with the myriad of flavours and styles of curry, so expect more curry recipes and feel free to email me if you have a favorite curry recipe that your family enjoy.

Pumpkin, tofu and ginger curry


1 knob butter, ghee or coconut oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 4cm piece of ginger, finely grated
2 tbsp curry powder of choice (of course grinding your own blend is special but I do find this handy)
1 dessertspoon cumin
1 small carrot, grated
1 can coconut cream
1 cup water or stock
1 stick celery, sliced diagonally
3 cups large dice pumpkin
200g firm tofu, diced
2 star anise
2 tablespoons Bragg's all purpose seasoning

To make

Melt butter and saute onion and ginger over low heat for about five minutes until onion soft.
Add spices and cook for 3 minutes.
Add carrot and cook for 2 minutes.
Next, add the pumpkin and celery, tofu, coconut cream, water or stock and Bragg's.
Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer for approximately half an hour or until pumpkin is tender.

Serve with rice, steamed green vegetables and natural yoghurt.

The next curry I am dreaming of includes Thai sauce, lime juice, lemongrass, coriander.

I hope you enjoy this one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

everything is yoga

painting by Poh Ling Yeow

In the early weeks after giving birth to River I was floating with love and joy and simultaneously bewildered by lack of sleep and the relentlessness of breastfeeding my newborn babe; a mantra came to me "everything is yoga" and I breathed more deeply. Those three little words danced around my head and somehow just thinking of them, breathing them in melted the tension in my neck and shoulders, made me feel lighter in body, mind and spirit.

In his book The Tree of Yoga BKS Iyengar writes:

"Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirit is yoga...I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul".

I came to yoga at a time of deep grief some sixteen years ago. I knew very little about what yoga actually involved but I knew if I were to ever feel lightness again I had to find something to take me there and yoga turned out to be that something.

I am tremendously grateful that the first class I went to was led by Louise Goodvach, who in one class conveyed to me the essence of yoga with her strength, grace, compassion, humour and light. The space Louise created, the poses we held, lifted my spirit immeasurably. That class was the beginning of a long association with Louise and her yoga school and a lifetime love and appreciation of yoga and all the great things that come with regular practice.

Since having the boys I have practiced yoga at home with varying regularity. Now that River is at school and Sol is heading towards turning 3 the time has well arrived for me to seek a class and go!
So looking forward to it.

Do you have a mantra? A daily practice for your body, mind and spirit?

Whatever your something is I hope you manage to weave it into your day.

Monday, June 11, 2012

the sugar thing

Even though I gave up sugar in all its forms for 12 weeks last year and continue to have minimal sugar in my diet, there is something about the media spin on the 'quit sugar' movement that annoys me and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I tuned into 60 Minutes 'Sweet Poison' story last night with interest to see their angle on the sugar thing.

It made for interesting viewing featuring interviews with American Endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig, Sarah Wilson an Australian blogger and author of the ebook 'I Quit Sugar', Aimee Gibbs mother-of-three who quit sugar, lost over 20 kilos and in doing so reduced her risk of diabetes and heart disease, and Professor Jennie Brand-Miller  an Australian nutritionist who introduced the Glycaemic Index to Australians.

There were a couple of moments in the story that made me cringe, such as the final question to Aimee Gibbs that was something along the lines of 'does it feel good to know you'll live to see your daughters get married?' I know I shouldn't be surprised. I think it was listening to Aimee's story that brought me closer to seeing what annoys me about the way 'the sugar thing' is discussed in the main. Aimee explained that before quitting sugar, she would in one week eat four litres of ice cream and 7 or 8 blocks of chocolate. By not eating those foods, yes she is taking sugar out of her diet but she is also taking out large quantities of highly processed foods that contain a vast range of nutritionally bankrupt ingredients, sugar being the main one.

I think I'm coming to the conclusion that while I agree wholeheartedly that over-consumption of sugar is a massive contributor to ill health, I think the message should be to reduce consumption of all processed foods. Real food, vital food comes from the earth not from factories.

In this Australian Guide to Healthy Eating written by The Department of Health and Ageing, it states 'consume only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars'. What is a moderate amount? The good folk working in these Departments may be nutritionists and scientists but their guidelines are open to interpretation and are not guiding people to good health.

Did you watch 60 Minutes? What did you think? Where are you all at with the sugar thing?

Speaking of nutrition, these sites are recent finds via The Little Gnomes Home and I thought you may find them interesting too:

Nutrition by Nature
Wheat Belly

Look forward to reading your comments on sugar.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

lentil as anything

Red lentil soup has been our tonic this week. My cold has lingered, River woke in the night with croup and Pete has a big wedding to shoot on the weekend so absolutely wants to remain well. Sol is being his smiley self and trying to invent a cough or sniffle for himself to get an even bigger dose of TLC than usual. Bless him.

Red Lentil Soup

1 cup split red lentils (we like to soak them for a couple of hours. you don't need to though)
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
2 ltrs water or stock
1-2 bay leaf
1 generous teaspoon dried thyme
cracked pepper
2-3 tablespoons of Bragg's all purpose liquid seasoning (or your desired amount of salt)
a splash of olive oil

To make
Heat the olive oil (or a knob of butter) in your favorite pot to make soup in and then add the onion, carrot and celery and gently fry for a couple of minutes.
If you soaked the lentils drain the soaking water and then add lentils and remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to boil.
Turn heat down (or transfer to the top of your wood heater if you have one) and allow to simmer for at least two hours until lentils have broken down and flavours have all found their place in the mix.
You may like to add a splash more Bragg's at the end and a crack of pepper.

You can serve as is or if you prefer your soup pureed go ahead and blend til smooth.

We've been enjoying this with garlic butter toast made by crushing fresh organic garlic into butter and mashing it together then spreading on the hot toast. Raw garlic is a fantastic natural 'antibiotic' and the thyme in the soup is there not just for its flavour but for its antibacterial properties (thyme tea is great for soothing coughs). If eating raw garlic is a little too strong you can toast one side of the bread then spread the garlic butter on the other side and place under the grill.

The title of this post is inspired by a vegetarian restaurant in Melbourne of the same name. 'Lentil as Anything' operates on a 'pay what you feel' principle with diners deciding after their meal what they think it was worth or what they can afford to pay. There are three locations - St Kilda,  Abbotsford and Footscray. I haven't been to one for a few years but when I have I've loved the food. They are worth a visit if you are in Melbourne.

What's happening at your place this weekend? It is a long weekend here in Victoria we're meant to be celebrating the Queen's birthday. My cold has replaced my generally strong appetite for home-baked cake with a solid desire for soup and not much else. So no cake for the Queen's celebration here. I'm not much of a royalist, lovely as they all seem her Royal Highness and all the Princes and Princesses.

Happy weekending!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

give a little: open family

I've been thinking for a while now that I want to give space here to humanitarian and social justice work and campaigns. It is a digression from real food and motherhood but I believe so much in remembering daily that life can be really tough for a lot of people and most of us have it so good, giving back in some way is important. And so this post is the beginning.

I hope these posts bring perspective if you've lost it, and inspiration to give a little or a lot in some way. Giving doesn't necessarily mean money it can mean making a phone call to check in on a friend or relative, donating clothes, blankets or furniture to your local op shop, or if the cause really does strike a chord with you you might be motivated to create a fundraiser or give up your coffee budget this week and donate it.

Driving home from Melbourne yesterday I listened to a radio interview with a youth outreach worker from an organisation that operates in Victoria and New South Wales called Open Family Australia. A conservative statistic on the Open Family website tells us 'more than 32,000 young Australians will sleep on the street tonight and young people aged between 12-28 are the largest group experiencing homelessness'. The overnight temperatures in Melbourne at the moment are hovering around six degrees. The outreach worker being interviewed explained that many homeless people try to find a place to sleep during the day as they are more vulnerable sleeping at night so it is better to stay awake. An emerging trend the agency is seeing is young homeless people with children.

Since 1978 Open Family have been working with homeless and at-risk young people providing the skills and support they need to break the cycle of poverty and build better lives for themselves.

You can read 'A day in the life of an Outreach Worker' for a detailed insight into the work Open Family workers undertake and the support they extend to at-risk young people.

Open Family is funded to support young homeless and at-risk people through corporates, donations, trusts and grants, government support and events such as their Longest Night Appeal. The 21st of June is the longest and darkest night of the year in the Southern Hemisphere, not one that anyone would volunteer to spend sleeping on the street.

If you'd like to read more about the Longest Night Appeal go here.

Is there a cause or campaign you'd like me to write about? Leave a comment or send me an email -

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

book talk: parenting with soul

Sally Colling's book Parenting with Soul - Practical ways to find calm amidst the chaos brims with heart, humour and spirit.

If you're feeling like your soul, your spirit, whatever you like to call it, is lost beneath dirty dishes and crumpled washing then this is the read to fill you up.

Sally and her family don't live in an ashram or have extra hours in their day to dedicate to prayer or meditation. They live in Brisbane where Sally and her husband run their own publishing business working from home and they share the parenting of their two daughters. Sally writes from her own experience of finding ways to connect with deeper thoughts and feelings even when life feels like it is racing along.

In nine neat chapters Sally shares situations and anecdotes that every parent today can relate to, and then follows them up with reminders and ideas to foster and weave spirituality into your family's everyday life. Chapter titles give you a feel for the direction of the book - 'This messy life', 'Gold in the laundry basket', 'Six soul aches and how to cure them', 'Decorate your inner room' and 'Top ten soul practices' were among my favorites.

Each chapter contains a number of mini 'essays' one to two pages in length, making it easy to dip in and out of. Within each chapter there are also a number of highlighted boxes containing practical ways to put soul into your day. Such as, "How to let go today. Meditate on change today: when your thoughts turn to The Thing that would make you happier (...a better relationship with your sister), see yourself in ten years time and imagine your current frustrations and yearnings being a distant memory, as the issues that concern you now are resolved or have become less painful."

Quotes from authors, philosophers and monks such as Thomas Moore, and Thich Nhat Hahn  pepper the text and provoke new ways of viewing your old thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

I'll leave you with this quote from the chapter 'Decorate your inner room'. It is something we all know at our deepest level but it is so good to read it so clearly and be reminded of what really matters.

"It is worth considering, too, that our good fortune doesn't lie in what we have. The real blessing lies in how we respond to those circumstances that are given to us. Our good fortune is not about clothes or houses of cars. It is the daily renewal of our capacity to connect, love, share, bless."

Parenting with Soul - Practical ways to find calm amidst the chaos by Sally Collings. Published by Harper Collins 2011. RRP $27.99

Monday, June 04, 2012

the wholefood mama

Big thanks to Fiona McKerrell for the design of my luscious new logo. What's not to love about the pomegranate? I spent some time with Fiona today watching as she so efficiently made design tweaks to this blogging space for your (and my) viewing pleasure. I discovered Fiona's work when I wrote a story about The Kitchen, a  cafe in Elsternwick serving up wholesome homemade fare, and fell in love with the design that graces their shop window, business cards and website. Following that trail led me to Fiona.

This here blog like the rest of life is a work in progress so while the style and tone of content will continue in the same way, the design will er, actually have some style! On showing my mother-in-law my blog for the first time tonight her first remark was "That's not a good photo of you. AT ALL." I can always count on dear MIL to be direct. So updating that snapshot of me just moved up the list of importance. Ahem.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment while you're here, I do love reading what you have to say.

be careful what you wish for

Early last week I was thinking about dropping River off at school, returning home with Sol and 'taking the day off'. Day off = instead of focusing all my energy into finding a way to work through my list of tasks and balance it out with activities with/for Sol I would just be. Instead of a 'to do' list, 'to be' was the goal (see I still need a goal). But when you are a parent you can't call the office and say 'I won't be in today' so this plan was going to be my next best thing.

What happened? The morning after I had the 'take a day off' thought, I woke up with a sore throat. As any mother will tell you, catching a cold when you are a mum does not equate to sipping lemon tea and quiet bed rest whilst your body does its healing work. No. Having a cold when you are a mum, well in my experience, equates to making a speedy recovery because domestic duties, family life and freelance writing with a sore throat, aches, chills and headache is no fun.

So while I didn't put myself to bed for a whole day I did sip lemon, ginger, honey and echinacea tea, I did have a nap one day when Sol had his (me sleeping in the day is unheard of, I relish that quiet time to be awake on my own) I also sipped chicken broth laden with garlic, I gargled saltwater, I skipped reading duty at school, cancelled a trip to Melbourne and basically I was on a 'go slow' for the week. Each of those small healing details - rest, remedies and saying 'no' - added up to me feeling better, feeling like I had nurtured myself and that I was recharged.

If you are in the midst of a cold I wish you the best with finding moments of renewal, ditto if you are caring for sickies. And if you're wishing for a 'day off' make it a very clear wish that doesn't include catching a cold!

What happens in your house when you have a cold? Who looks after you?

Happy Monday.

Friday, June 01, 2012


I hope you all enjoyed a steamy bowl of delicious porridge this morning for National Porridge day. This is a late in the day post as the whole day was taken up having my car serviced with Sol and I wandering the shops of Rosebud soaking up every ray of winter sun as we waited. So, a quick one before school pick up but I didn't want the weekend to begin without wishing you a happy one and to hopefully inspire you to make fruit crumble and custard this weekend or a fabulous, nutritious marble cake. Yes nutritious cake.

My inspiration came after reading Sophie Hansen's apple and hazelnut crumble recipe here. I stopped at our local farm on the way home from Rosebud and bought a swag of pears, pear crumble with custard tonight. I'll share my recipe as soon as I write it!

Look at this beautiful handmade book created by the ever delightful Soulemama.

There were more links I had bookmarked in my brain to share with you I know there were but my memory fails me at this moment (and many other moments) oh now I remember! I made this 'gluten free nutritious marble cake' last weekend and it was one of the best recipes for a cake I've ever made. Big statement I know but make it for yourself and you'll see. And the blog I found it on La Tartine Gourmande is pretty special too. Happy weekending :)
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