Friday, July 31, 2015

weekend reading

Jodi's post about her feelings on her post baby body struck a chord with many readers

Two of my favorites in the one place

I love a good chia breakfast bowl

Chocoholics this one's for you

Jay popped back in to blogland, I've missed her!

Seeings our trip to Alice Springs has been delayed I've been reading up about local art online

We'll definitely be shopping here in Alice

And now to find a yoga class in Alice. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Have a great weekend xo

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Week one of home school is in.

A game of scrabble may not be what you'd expect as part of the curriculum but it covers spelling, vocab and maths so that's a win!

River and Sol's teachers are very supportive of our trip to Alice Springs and provided me with detailed home learning programs for the boys.

Home schooling is not something I could do for the whole year, for a few reasons, but I'm more than happy to for the next 8 weeks. Reason one is River loves school. He loves being part of the school community, he loves his friends and his teacher. It took Sol a while to settle into prep but he has really found his happy place with going to school and it seems a shame to take him out for this time but there is an adventure to be had bigger than the school grounds and he will love that too.

When it comes to taking children out of school for an extended period lots of people say things like, "oh its only prep". I don't see it that way. I see prep as the foundation that sets them up for their schooling. They learn all the important elements to build on in later years, so I am focused on giving Sol the same opportunity as his school buddies by being diligent and consistent with what I teach him. Another reason I don't think I could home school year round is that both my boys enjoy having someone other than their mum teaching them!

"Mum, what shall we call you?" they asked on Monday morning when I announced it was time for home school. "Mrs Fisher?" they suggested. Cute. "We have assembly on monday mornings remember," they told me. I suggested we wait a week for assembly as there wasn't much to report yet! "You have to call the roll," was the next instruction.

It seems that 'playing' schools is by far the most effective way of engaging them. We are covering the foundations: reading, writing, spelling, grammar and maths but we get to do it in creative ways and cover topics that the boys are interested in. Sol wants to learn about the moon and find out if snakes have ears. River's favorite subject is writing so we are going to do lots of different styles of writing. Today he wrote a letter to his best friend. Yesterday he wrote a fiction story titled 'The Cheeky Mouse', we will look at poetry, non-fiction writing, persuasive writing and so on. I will get him to interview someone he meets on the trip. And both boys will keep weekly journals of our trip.

For this week as the three males in my house recover from their coughs, headaches, earaches, fevers and chills it really is home school because we are at home. Once we hit the road, it becomes road school.

Do you home school? Would you like to? What stops you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

a mushroom recipe & going with the flow

We were meant to leave for Alice Springs on Friday. And then it changed to Saturday and now we just don't know exactly what day we will leave.

A chesty cough coupled with fever and headaches for River and Pete, and croup and ear pain for Sol (and a whole lot of loving kindness going out from me!) mean that our trip is delayed. And that's just how it goes.

Today my sister-in-law Davini was to join us for lunch (that's us in the pic, celebrating last year with a ladies lunch before Davini and her now husband Scott's wedding).  Davini coming for a visit is a big thing because we only see each other a few times a year, partly because of the distance between our two houses and the fullness of our lives, particularly Davini who has a blended family of six teenagers. So even with sick relatives she didn't mind, she wanted to see us before we head off. With her big family Davini is no stranger to what it takes to nurse your family back to wellness, so it was nice for me to have the moral support!

You can thank Davini for today's recipe, there's a few things she can't eat and she's a great cook and food lover, so during the week I pondered what to prepare for our Sunday lunch and came up with baked mushrooms with pesto and goat's cheese, and a roasted vegetable salad. Only problem was our Sunday lunch plans changed as we both had to go with the flow of family life.

Davini's morning began with chasing her twins school camp bus 100km up the highway because after waving the twins goodbye at the bus she went home to find that her daughter, our darling niece, had left her bag of clothes and other essentials at home. "I'll be later than 12pm, enjoy lunch without me" came Davini's text.

Meanwhile at our place Sol woke at 5.30am with ear pain. Off to the local emergency he and I went. An ear infection brewing was the last thing we needed. The doctor checked him over and as Sol didn't have a temperature and there was no redness in his ears we went home with pain relief.

The ear pin subsided and then returned with a vengeance by the early afternoon when Davini arrived. Between packing, loading the trailer, shopping for River's birthday present I'd managed to roast the vegetables for the salad and that was about it. All Sol wanted to do was lay with head on my lap so I could rub his ear. Fortunately Davini had a late breakfast and wasn't hungry but was keen to run some errands for me to help out. Thankyou Davini!

After some more pain medicine Sol fell asleep for the afternoon. Davini returned from running my errands and had bought some ear candles for Sol. After a bit more of a chat we said our goodbyes and Davini headed home. After she left and while Sol slept I finally got to make the pesto and bake the mushrooms!

Here's the recipe for you. They are extremely delicious. I will have to cook them for you Davini when we get back in the spring time. Thanks for the back up today xx

Baked mushrooms with dairy free pesto and goat's cheese

(not sponsored I just like this goat's fetta and the people who make it)

For the dairy free pesto

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 tablespoon savoury yeast
1/4 cup olive oil (plus a splash more depending on the texture you like your pesto)

Place all ingredients in high powered blender or food processor and blend until it is a texture you like, chunky, smooth or somewhere in between.

For the mushrooms

4 large field mushrooms
4 tablespoons of goats cheese (fetta or not is fine)

Heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Place a splash of olive oil in a baking tray and cover the tray with it.
Cut stalks from mushrooms and finely chop.
Mix the stalks with the pesto.
Place mushrooms on the tray with inside of mushroom facing up.
Spoon pesto mixture into each mushroom and bake for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and crumble fetta on top and sprinkle with extra pine nuts, return to oven for a few minutes until cheese is melted and nuts are toasted. Be careful not to burn the nuts!

Enjoy with salad and your favorite sister-in-law if you're lucky to have one like mine :)

What's happening at your place? Is everyone well? How do you deal with ear troubles in children?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

weekend reading

Last weekend we had an early birthday celebration for River. I gave these Orgran gluten free pizza bases a go (not sponsored), that was my idea of taking a short cut. The pizzas were a hit. Not something I'd make a habit of, I'm sure there are plenty of easy gluten free pizza base recipes that use fewer ingredients I will have to research some.

The rest of the week I spent looking after sick kids! Sol has had croup and now River has some sort of chesty cold complete with fever and headache. No fun for them or me. And tricky timing as we prepare for our road trip to Alice Springs.

We're going to be home schooling, or road schooling as I like to call it, I've been reading Guerilla Learning How to Give Your Kids a Real Education with or without School

During the week I went out for dinner with a couple of school mum friends, such a luxury to have a few hours of uninterrupted conversation, oh and good food and wine at Cakes and Ale.

From Sprouted Kitchen: Roasted banana coconut ice cream. Wow!

Have you met Blender Girl? Lots of yummy, vegie filled recipes.

Don't we wish it were summer

Interesting relationship reading

Try out slow parenting

Ok. I better get back to the packing. Not much more to do but it will be midnight before I know it!

I hope you're having a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

steve biddulph: raising boys

A couple of months ago Pete and I headed out one evening to hear renowned author, psychologist and speaker Steve Biddulph share his insights into raising boys.

Like every other parent in the room I was hoping that Steve's words would allay my fears of the teenage years and reassure me that if I do x,y and z everything will be alright.

But no. That's not how it works with human beings. Each one of us unique, with a different 'soul map' to reveal and live from.

Steve offered us some universal truths, the main one being spend more time not money with your children but then there are those curve balls and variables that as parents can leave us feeling unprepared and out of our depth. What to do about those?

From his first sentence Steve had the audience engaged, leaning forward in their seats, laughing at his anecdotes and reflecting on their own childhoods and relationships with their fathers. He also let us know from the word go that while people refer to him as a 'parenting expert', he isn't. Steve doesn't want to be put on a pedestal and be expected to have all the answers.

He opened the presentation with the very grisly news that one of the biggest challenges parents of boys face, is keeping their sons alive. This struck a deep chord in me having lost my nineteen year old brother to an alcohol related car accident. In his book Raising Boys Steve writes,

"By fifteen years of age boys are three times more likely than girls to die from all causes combined - but especially from accidents, violence and suicide."

Steve's talk could only get cheerier from here right?

Yes. And no.

On the upside, in the three decades that Steve has been public speaking the number of Dads coming to the talks has increased markedly. (Sorry don't have exact figures for you, but about 40 percent of the audience at the talk we went to were Dads). This can be read two ways, one that Dads are more involved in raising their sons and/or mothers are more vocal about getting their partners to step up.

Loving, present Dads who are interested in finding out who their sons are - as opposed to just trying to turn their sons into younger versions of themselves - and who are clear about setting boundaries and consequences when sons cross those boundaries, these Dads are what every son needs and deserves. But we all know that, sadly more often than not it doesn't work out that way.

When this is the case, that Dads aren't around, Steve spoke about the importance for mothers to seek out great male role models for their sons in uncles, grand-fathers and friends. He also encouraged Dads in the audience to include their sons friends who don't have their Dad in their life when they are going out with their sons.

In a letter to Steve included in his book, a mother writes sums it up,

"Put good men in the path of your son"

I think this can be done even in the stories of men's lives throughout history that you can share with your sons, be they great artists, musicians, activists. Parenting requires us to be creative in our approach. 

Reflecting on Steve's talk as I write this, what I came away with was confirmation that Pete and I are doing all the things we believe will hold our sons in good stead in their life, many of which Steve covered in his talk and covers in more detail in his book. 

Things such as getting our boys to contribute consistently around the house from a young age. No point in waiting until they're fifteen to start helping out, by then you've become their slave! Also, demonstrating to them the values we believe in, being compassionate, respect for self and others and the world we live in, the importance of family and friends, valuing health and well being through the food we eat, through yoga and meditation. Words spoken are not always heard, but actions and experiences are remembered and felt deeply.

One of the hardest parts of parenting for me is the consistency, especially when I'm tired. It is easier to just do the task myself or 'give in', but I know in the long run that doesn't do my boys any favours.

I remember speaking to a husband and wife who raised two sons, the sons now in their mid-twenties living great lives, I confessed my fears about the teenage years and asked for their top tips for raising happy healthy sons. The Dad talked about finding a shared interest, for him and his sons it was playing guitar. And the mum reassured me by saying "that each stage prepares you for the next".

I recommend Steve's book, and to see him speak if you have the opportunity.

I know all the answers aren't found in a book or in another person, they are in ourselves. We can ask for help, look for new ideas but we must trust our instincts as parents, know what's right for our own children by getting to know them and resist getting swept up in the tide of video games, ipads, mobile phones, processed food, alcohol and AFL. It is ok to say no.

Oh, and most importantly remember to make time to have fun and enjoy your children. The washing can wait. x

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

mister jones, bermagui

We stumbled upon mister jones at 7.3oam one morning a year ago.

Pete, River, Sol and I crept out of our sleeping friend's house to explore the local beaches and Bermagui township.

For those who haven't been to Bermagui, the postcard perfect coastline gives you much to be enchanted by. Throughout the seasons sun sparkles on the sapphire coloured water, Mount Dromedary stands strong across the bay and towering pine trees line the foreshore.

The town itself is changing. Until recently the fifteen or so shops have been about satisfying basic needs - butcher, baker, pub, post office, bait shop and so on - mister jones brings not only coffee worth driving a long way for but a welcome dose of character and originality.

Owner Matt Chun is a talented painter and illustrator who, as a traveller, wandered into town almost six years ago and noticed a for rent sign on a little shop window. A perfect place to paint.

Matt is also a coffee nut. "I always knew good coffee would need to happen to keep me in the town, so setting up to make coffee here was more to feed my own addiction. I thought I might make a couple of coffees a day for people coming to look at the art. And then the coffee took off," he says.

On the morning we visited we sat on cushion covered milk crates in front of the open shop windows and while waiting for our coffee, chai and hot chocolates we got chatting with locals. This is standard issue at mister jones. It is a meeting place.

"It's been a process getting people to step over their discomfort about coming into a place they're not used to. We don't do strawberry milkshakes and toasted sandwiches. The hippies were the first to embrace what I was doing here and then a tradie came in and realised the coffee was good, so then the tradies started coming in, and now it’s a diverse crowd," says Matt.

There's a buzz here that many city cafes would pay to have. I think part of what makes it work is Matt's clarity about what he will and won't do. Despite the small population and impact of the changing seasons on the economy here, Matt doesn't try to be all things to all people. 

Coffee is the focus there's no grey area about that. Every coffee is a work of art, from the sourcing of the ethical, organic beans, directly-traded with small roasters to the local jersey milk and the collection of vintage French glass, and handmade ceramic crockery - no detail is overlooked.

A brief breakfast menu offers exceptional local sourdough bread toasted and served with butter and jam, granola with yoghurt and stewed fruit, organic porridge with poached pear and honey or a green smoothie of almond, banana and wild greens. 

mister jones opens at 7am and closes at noon. Originally the noon closing time was so Matt could paint in the afternoon. The business has grown to the point where Matt hired fellow coffee afficionado Mikey which means Matt is no longer chained to the coffee machine.

I took these photos and interviewed Matt last year when we were there. I know, it has taken me a long time to share them! Last month when we visited again we saw that mister jones has spilled over to the shop next door. It seems the love for what's on offer here continues to grow...

mister jones espresso bar + open studio + drawing workshop + performance space
4 bunga street bermagui

Have you been to mister jones? Tell us your favorite country/coastal town cafe worth driving a long way for.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

mad women in the attic

You can't make old friends. It takes years to become one.

On Saturday night I celebrated the fortieth birthday of my dear long time friend Clare (for some reason I look like I have combat make up on in the photo. I don't).

Clare's birthday dinner got me thinking about long time friends. As the saying goes, new friends are silver and old friends are gold. Nothing can replace the ease and the shared history that you have with a friend who has known you for a long time.

Clare and I met in the Women's Room at Melbourne University when we were 19. We both majored in Women's Studies and were, like most leftie arts students, firmly convinced we could change the world by the end of our degree.

Clare took me on my first Reclaim the Night march through the streets of Melbourne. Over the years we met up in cafes in Carlton and various share house parties to talk politics, relationships, family dramas, feminism and everything in between.

In our mid twenties Clare and a few other friends started a group called 'Mad Women in the Attic', once a month we would get together and talk more of the same politics, feminism, relationships, we'd drink, eat and try our hand at something creative, sketching, painting, knitting and the like. We were ahead of the craft is cool revolution happening now!

Clare always had and continues to have an incredible magnetism and ability to gather people from all walks of life around her and rally them together to achieve greater good.

Her heart and head are currently immersed in her work with asylum seekers, some of who are now her friends and were at her birthday dinner. Their story of seeking asylum and the daily pain of being separated from their young children who are still back in their country of origin is unimaginable. Beautiful, humble people who it was a pleasure to meet and for who I pray are reunited with their children. They are blessed to have Clare and her team in their corner.

I'm immensely proud of Clare for the way she lives so solidly by her values and lives life so wholeheartedly. And while we only see each other once or twice a year now instead of every second day our friendship stays strong.

I'm blessed with a good collection of long time friends like Clare. Sure the seasons of life can change the look and feel of friendships, some are cut unexpectedly short, some turn out not quite what you thought they would be, there are the stayers, you can count on them no matter how high the tide rises or falls. And then there are those rare and special friendships you make where it feels like an old friendship from the start.

Happy birthday Clare x

How about you? Tell me a favorite friendship moment in the comments, or a lowlight!

Friday, July 17, 2015

weekend reading

Well, we made it. Week one, term 3 done.

Can you believe it is snowing in Queensland?

So sad to read about the tragic passing of Nick Cave's son.

Wishing I had bought Mamacino's birthday party ebook before I made so many chocolatey things for River's early birthday celebration tomorrow.

I've made Sonia's healthy chocolate crackles.

And Mona's chocolate bliss balls. And we're having chocolate cake! Can you overdo chocolate?

Once we get through all the chocolate, we're heading to Melbourne to celebrate one of my dear long time friend's 40th birthday at the Afghan Gallery restaurant. I was reminiscing about celebrating her 21st the other day, I'm feeling old now!

A friend and I were chatting during the week about books we love, we both read pretty much only non-fiction, I love Joyce Maynard's memoir 'At Home in the World'.  I discovered it when I was just starting out having my writing published, it was a very timely read.

Speaking of starting out, my friend Alarna is a talented graphic designer who is just starting out on Instagram showcasing her divine wedding stationery designs take a look @arch_and_co

And while we're on the topic of talented friends :) how yummy does my friend Lucy's recipe for spicy sweet potato and lentil soup look?! Perfect for this Arctic cold snap we're having.

Still life paintings, yes or no? (I didn't paint that one by the way) I love Margaret Olley

Think of me tomorrow standing in the park in the middle of winter, with a pack of kids kicking the footy to celebrate my footy mad son turning 9. Brrrrrr! We're usually away for River's birthday so this year I said he can have a party before we go. I know Mother of the Year :) he's worth it.

Have a great weekend. Stay warm, or go somewhere warm!

Thanks for visiting here, god knows there's no shortage of blogs out there to visit so I do appreciate you all stopping by.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

is your partner a bully?

I'm jumping totally off topic today to talk about things that are not easy to talk about.

And the not talking is part of the problem. Keeping secrets, give secrets power and allow problems to grow instead of shrink.

This post was prompted by a newspaper article I read this morning that stated 80% of people surveyed in a recent VicHealth study don't understand why women in abusive relationships don't leave. This statistic highlights how misunderstood the complexities of family violence are.

It is hard to bear even thinking about the fact that right now there are women and children living in homes with fear in their hearts, fear of physical, emotional, financial and/or sexual abuse.

As I walked back to my car from the cafe where I read the paper I thought about what I'd read, what can I do? How can I contribute to change?

Often we hear about something happening in the world and think "Gee that's terrible. There's not much I can do though". Wrong. The smallest changes can add up to a huge difference.

I can write a blog post I thought. And perhaps by writing this someone reading might recognise some of what I'm writing about in themselves, a friend or family member and take the huge step of finding a way out.

I'm no expert in this topic but as a woman and mother it is a topic that tears at my heart. And because in my own family my grandmother endured years of abuse at the hands of my grandfather who was an alcoholic, their four children including my father suffered. And in turn my mother, my brother and I suffered because due to my father's upbringing he could not be present as a husband and father, leaving when my brother and I were toddlers. So why did my grandmother stay? Because, in her words, "In those days there was nowhere to go".

It is no coincidence that my aunt, my Dad's sister, grew up to become a crisis worker, and who now forty years on from that era that my grandmother spoke of, works with women and children in crisis: still without place to go. The fact that the support system is broken and lacking has already been highlighted at this weeks hearings in Australia's Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Why women stay

The reasons why women stay are as many and varied as why men are abusive. All too often the question is 'Why don't women leave?' instead of 'Why don't men stop being violent and abusive?'

All change begins with recognising the signs and symptoms of the problem.

But for some women and men they don't even acknowledge that they are part of an abusive or violent relationship especially when abuse and violence is inter-generational, the next generation learn from the previous generation that what it means to be in relationship, to be 'loved', is to be treated badly. Violence and abuse is normalised in this situation.

Men and women who grow up with no internal compass to tell them otherwise, to tell them this is not acceptable, keep the behaviour going: men continue to be abusive and violent, and women stay.

This is not to say that all people raised in abusive and violent families grow up to repeat the behaviour.

Then there are the practical barriers to leaving. Finding a safe, affordable place to live, finding employment and childcare, and facing custody issues.

It is a common experience for women in abusive and violent relationships to have had their self esteem completely eroded and to have become increasingly isolated so they do not have the confidence or social networks to make it easy for them to leave.

So, why do women stay? As Melbourne researcher Prue Cameron states in this article, "It's not much of a choice - a violent relationship or chronic poverty and homelessness."

Signs of an abusive relationship

Part of the problem in my opinion is the language we use to talk about this issue.

To many, the words violence and abuse sound extreme, they are not words anyone wants to relate to and therefore even when women are in a situation where they are being called names, being pushed or shoved, being restricted from seeing friends or family, having money withheld from them by their partner, when they hear the words abuse or violence they think "that's not me", so they adjust their emotions a little more, put up a little more psychological armour, so they can cope. All the while hoping things will change.

And that's why I started this post asking 'is your partner a bully?' you don't have to be at the extreme end to be in an abusive relationship.

Unfortunately the phrase 'from little things, big things grow' applies to good and bad. What starts out as name calling, pushing, shoving, jealousy, criticism, if left unaddressed can escalate. Even if the abuse stays at a comparatively low level, when a woman in a relationship doesn't feel safe, valued and free to be herself then there is a problem.

The flip side of knowing the signs of an abusive relationship is knowing what a healthy one looks and feels like. Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, who so tragically lost her son Luke to family violence, is calling on the government to implement compulsory respectful relationship programs in schools. You can join Rosie in campaigning for this by signing her petition.

The key aims of the Royal Commission are encouraging, I pray it is a turning point in how as a society we support women and children to be free of abuse and violence.

Where to find help

If you or a friend require support here are some services to contact:

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) This is the number for the national sexual assault, abuse and family violence counselling service open 24 hours 7 days a week

Relationships Australia 1300 364 277

If you know a doctor you trust and have confidence in they should have knowledge of services in your local area.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

recipe: meat + veggie pie for fussy eaters

I have some news you may not want to hear. 

Being committed to wholefood living, cooking from scratch and presenting your children with wholesome, delicious food...does not guarantee they are going to eat it!! 

My youngest, Sol, is five and is currently giving it his best shot at being a fussy eater. Problem for him is, his dad and I doing our darndest not to let him be! (There could be a lot of exclamation marks used in this post!)

While I'm all for presenting veggies in their whole form to kids, when it gets to the point that they just look at them, tell you they don't like them and go to bed hungry, no one is winning.

So last night I got out the trusty grater and returned to the age old tactic of grating as many veggies as I could into a dish every child will eat: pie.

Sol ate two serves of the pie with sweet potato/potato mash on the side. Little did he know he also ate carrot, zucchini, onion and mushrooms plus some other nutritional goodies that you'll see in the recipe.

I took a shortcut and bought the pastry.

Meat and Veggie pie


500g beef mince
1 medium brown onion, finely grated
1 medium carrot, finely grated
1 medium zucchini, finely grated
6-8 button mushrooms, finely grated
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons Bragg's All Purpose Seasoning (you could use a splash of tamari)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup beef stock or water if you don't have stock available
1 quantity puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make

Heat olive oil in heavy based pan over medium heat and add onion, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes then add the garlic and meat, cook until brown.

In a cup mix cornflour and water to a paste.

Add the stock or water to the meat and veg. then add the cornflour mix, tomato paste and Bragg's.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Put aside to cool.

Heat oven to 220 degrees celsius. Cut pastry: allow 2/3 of the sheet for the base and 1/3 for the lid.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface and roll out the base. Line your pie tin with the pastry.

Fill the pastry case with the meat and veg sauce. Cover the pie with the lid. If you find the lid is a bit small like I did! You can fold the edge of the base in and crimp the lid and base together with your fingers. Make a snip in the centre of the pastry to let the steam escape or make a few holes by gently stabbing a fork here and there in the lid.

Brush the lid with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden.

Serve with mash potato/sweet potato and if you're feeling really brave some broccoli too lol.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine did.

Happy cooking x

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Like seasons in the weather there are seasons in our lives.

As the rain fell in fat drops this morning Sol sat inside at Cakes and Ale looking so grown up drinking an apple juice while I tried to dodge getting wet taking this photo.

Each winter for as long as he can remember my husband has chased the sun. And now as a family when the chill hits Victoria we head north. This year to Alice Springs where Pete will work with Indigenous Elders and the boys and I will immerse ourselves in a place we have never spent time in before. There is nothing like travel for stretching our experience and view of the world.

While I've never been much of a winter person, I do my best to embrace the changing seasons. Sure I'm looking forward to soaking up some winter sun but over the past month I've been enjoying the winter light and colours here on the Peninsula, our wood fire, endless pots of soup and slow cooked meals, adding layers to my winter wardrobe with local op shop finds and generally hibernating and being a bit more 'inner'.

My family entered a new season this year with Sol, our youngest, starting school. The baby/toddler/pre school years are officially over. Like any transition there's been some bumpy moments and we're all finding our new places but nearly 6 months in we're settling well. As with most seasonal changes it is rarely what your prediction might lead you to imagine.

Embrace the season.

Do you have a favorite?

Friday, July 10, 2015

weekend reading

(photo credit Peter McConchie)

One of the many hats I wear includes looking after the media and marketing for my favorite bistro here in Sorrento, Cakes and Ale, so I thought it is only right that I tell you for the whole month of July at dinner you can enjoy Milawa organic free range duck served 3 ways: starter duck broth, entree duck breast salad and main confit duck leg on potato rosti $55 per person. Book your next date night ph: 5984 4995. (Closed Tuesday).

Jody Vassallo's book Beautiful Food has been popping up on my radar lately. Do you have it?

Speaking of cookbooks, check this out

Work your way through this list: The 50 Best Food Memoirs

If you know anyone who wants to learn whole food basics and get to Torquay on Saturday August 1st, tell them to check Mamacino and Lia Burton's class.

Amidst all the fun of the school holidays I was lucky enough to have lunch this week with Joey and Heidi.

It's a long way off for me, however I'm not looking forward to the day I go through this bittersweet time

Have I told you we leave for Alice Springs in two weeks?! Not much to do really to get ready lol.

If you feel like baking apple pie this weekend try my friend Mette's delicious recipe

Have a great weekend and if you haven't already come say hi on Instagram and Facebook

Happy cooking x

Thursday, July 09, 2015

thursday recipe: gluten free vegetarian pizza, hold the cheese

River and Sol have had chesty colds so all dairy has been off limits. That didn't stop them asking for home made pizza for dinner.

I had some ready made gluten free bases in the fridge and some vegetarian pasta sauce left over so I said to the boys they could have pizza but it would have to be without cheese. "That's fine!" they said. "We'll have it with basil and olives". Ok then!

I found a container of nutritional yeast in the cupboard a friend had given me to try, so I thought I'd sprinkle that on for a cheesy effect. The first time I ever heard of nutritional yeast was about 10 years ago when I was at my sister-in-law's house and she sprinkled it on top of avocado on toast for my nephew and niece, I tried it and quite liked it but never got into using it. Now was the time!

The ready made gluten free bases were ok but not something I'd get into the habit of buying. If you read the ingredients list on just about any 'convenience' gluten free product there is a long list of additives and numbers. The bases I bought were on the passable scale as a once off. I prefer to make my own but I totally get that from time to time the ready made is an energy and sanity saver.

Gluten free vegetarian pizza no cheese

Gluten free pizza bases (here's a recipe to try if you want to make your own)
For the sauce:
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 cup organic tomato paste
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
1 medium brown onion finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons dried mixed Italian herbs
8 button mushroom finely chopped
1 small carrot finely grated

Black and green olives pitted and sliced
Chopped fresh basil
olive oil

Nutritional yeast (optional)

To make

Heat a fry pan over a medium heat add a splash of olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms and carrot until the onion is transparent.

Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste and herbs.

Gently simmer for 20 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool and then pour into a food processor and process until smooth.

You can skip this and use a ready made sauce that you like if you are really looking for the easy route! There are some good organic ones out there just read the label and avoid numbers, preservatives and heaps of sugar and salt.

Heat the oven to 190 degrees celcius.

Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza base.

Drizzle with some olive oil and then place the olives and basil on top and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast if using.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the base is crisp.

Of course you can add whatever toppings you like. Mine would have anchovies for sure!

So tell me, how do you do your dairy free pizza? If you have a favorite gluten free pizza base recipe feel free to share it in the comments.

Happy cooking :)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015


Just like the food I eat I like to keep what I read, view and listen to varied and most of the time nourishing.

A little bit of junk from time to time ie. trashy mags when I visit my nan or mother-in-law, a bit of mindless commercial telly now and then, commercial radio when I just want to sing along and be asked by River "is this song from the olden days?" and when I just can't stand another minute of talkback.

I'm not much of a fiction reader at all, never have been except for at high school when I had to be. I think people who write fiction are amazing to create characters and worlds but I think the reason I don't read more fiction is because I feel like I'm being lazy! Sounds crazy I know, but its like there is so much factual stuff I need to learn I can't spend a moment in fantasy land, even though I know there is much to learn about the craft of writing from fiction writers. It's pretty much non-fiction all the way for me, unless I'm reading River and Sol's books with them.

So today I thought I'd share the books I've been reading lately and if you feel like it tell us in the comments what you've been reading, always great to hear of fantastic books.

1. My friend Robin leant me 'Playful Learning', I've been reading up preparing ideas for roadschooling the boys when we head off to Alice Springs later this month.

2. 'Have You Got the Guts to Be Really Healthy' was a gift from my friend David. I haven't read the whole book yet but I like the directness of author Don Chisholm. Many people wait until they get sick to change their lifestyle and Don is an advocate for staying ahead of illness by making lifestyle changes while you're well.

3. 'The Golem and the Djinni' is the first fiction book I've started reading in a very long time. My writer friend Jane leant it to me, it is one of her favorites and I have to admit that the writing had me immersed within the first few pages.

4. I found 'The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success for Parents' in my local op shop. I'm a bit of a parenting book junkie I have to confess.

5. I LOVE 'Australian Yoga Journal' it was my bible when we were on the road last year. I follow the home practice sequences that are included each month, this was fantastic for my sanity when I couldn't get to a yoga class when we were in remote areas last year and equally for mums at home with little ones who can't get to a class, the class comes to you! It is a great value magazine.

6. Sol is learning to read and Dr Suess is a great help! These books are fun and wonderful for early readers confidence as they pick up the words and rhyming quickly and feel like they're actually reading!!!

7. River and Sol love bookshops and buying books as much as I do. Given the price of books these days and my love of libraries, it is a treat when book buying happens. Sol chose 'The True Meaning of Smekday' when we recently visited the bookstore in Bega. He loved the movie Home that is based on this book.

8. And Pete purchased 'Birrung the Secret Friend' as a gift for the boys. We're yet to start reading it but I'm such a fan of Jackie French I'm looking forward to it. Jackie is ridiculously prolific, take a look at this for a reading list!

Now it's your turn. Have you got a page turner to share? A favorite trashy mag or novel? Parenting book? Or....cookbook?!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


I've been observing Sol and River over the school holidays. Enjoying their company and of course having my times of wishing they would just be quieter, not squabble, not throw balls in the house, and stop asking me for food!

They crack each other up. They wrestle. They argue over which chair they want to sit at at the kitchen bench. They play football together. They watch Slugterra. They read Dr Suess. They're growing so fast in so many different ways.

Pete and I want to raise them to be best friends. No pressure lol. Or at the very least, to like each other.

There's no guarantees though is there?

It always amazes me how different siblings can be and how some are best friends and then some can have a fallout and go a life time of not speaking to each other. That is unimaginable to me, though I know it happens. And then I guess there is the middle ground where sibling friendships ebb and flow like all friendships do.

Traveling together each year is great for strengthening our family bond and when River and Sol are all grown up they will have the road trip memories to share.

There's 3 years and 4 months age difference between them. I was never of the school of having babies close together. At this age and stage, River is almost 9 and Sol will be 6 in November, the gap is working just fine.

I think something that helps Pete and I in our parenting is being aware of the pros and cons of being the eldest and the youngest. In Pete's family he was the youngest, he has an older sister. And in my family I was the eldest, my brother the youngest.

I think sometimes that is where resentment and rivalry can come in. Regardless of birth order we all want to feel heard and valued.

How are sibling relations going in your house? Or your own? Do you think there were things that your parents did or didn't do that helped or hindered your sibling relationships?

Monday, July 06, 2015

taking stock

I'm joining in with Pip today taking stock. If you pop over to Pip's blog she's written a list for you to play along too. I could be dreaming but I've set myself a challenge to blog everyday for the month of July. I can't promise it is going to be quality over quantity but the challenge is to show up each day and gather momentum and see where it takes me/us. Bloggers feel free to join me in the challenge! Leave a comment if you're up for it.
Making : a mess baking a cake with my favorite 5 year old
Cooking : dinner in a little while and have no idea to cook and dreading the getting-Sol-to-eat-veggies hussle
Drinking : not enough water
Reading: The Golem and the Djinni courtesy of my friend Jane Cornelius
Wanting: a holiday
Looking: forward
Playing: with my hair
Deciding: whether to have an early night or stay up late
Wishing: my husband wasn't always dreaming of us living somewhere else
Enjoying: my family and friends
Waiting: to go and visit my friend and her baby in Sydney
Liking: stuff on facebook and instagram
Wondering: what it would have been like to raise children in my grandmother's day
Loving: my shiatsu massage today
Pondering: writing a memoir
Considering: writing a memoir
Buying: colourful clothes
Watching: The Voice. I know. 
Hoping: I don't get suckered into watching the whole series of The Voice
Marvelling: at how as a society we got ourselves into this processed food mess
Cringing: that in 2015 we need to have a referendum for Indigenous recognition in the Australian constitution
Needing: another shiatsu massage very soon
Questioning: why some kids eat veggies happily and others flatly refuse. same about those babies that sleep though the night
Smelling: essential oils: bermagot and lemon. not together
Wearing: mohair cardigan a lot
Following: @janecornelius @letlulu @therachelpapers
Noticing: the chill of winter. how could I not?!
Knowing: everything works out in the long run
Thinking: too much
Admiring: my girlfriends from overseas who married Aussie men and moved here and made lives for themselves from scratch and raise their children and miss their extended family and old friends every day
Sorting: socks. of course.
Getting: tired
Bookmarking: no time for bookmarking its school holidays!
Coveting: more essential oils
Disliking: how I manage my time
Opening: my mind to how life is rather than how I think it should be
Giggling: at funny text messages from girlfriends
Feeling: better after exercising
Snacking: on tamari almonds and chocolate. not together
Helping: my big boy to learn the craft of writing (I'm learning too) and my little boy to learn to read
Hearing: st kilda beat essendon on the tv in the next room

oh and by the way, the photo of me at the top, my friend Jane took it after she asked me to stain my lips with raw beetroot working on a new natural 'lipstick'. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

kale chips, bermagui and weekend reading

I'm packing a lot into today's post because I owe you a recipe and some weekend reading, I thought I'd roll it all together.

We've been away for a week visiting our friends Stef and Adrian and their three children in Bermagui, otherwise known as Bermi, which is on the southern New South Wales coast.
We were blessed each day with hours of stunning winter sun.

Our two families always enjoy our time together because there is that rare magic where all the children lose themselves in games together for hours and the parents are all on the same page about many things and can happily debate about the things we're not.

I sometimes liken becoming and being a parent to that of a backpacker, you don't want to read the wrong guide book and just because we're parents or from the same country doesn't mean we're going to be friends! So when it all lines up it always feels like a bonus that I'm grateful for.

We took beach walks, drank coffee at the fabulous mister jones, ate the world's best sourdough made by Honor big call I know but you have to eat it to believe it (Mamacino my grain free effort is not going so well) and then there was the gelati made by a super lovely husband and wife team who live in Bermi for 10 months of the year with their gorgeous 3 children turning out beautiful gelati made with organic fruit that locals drop in, and then for the other 2 months of the year they head to Italy for time with extended family. I tried the rhubarb gelati, yes rhubarb, it was tangy and sweet and everything I hoped it would be.

One of the things that Stef and I connect with each other about is wholefood! I possibly enjoy cooking more than Stef does but the irony is she is so very good at it, she has a talent for making beautiful sourdough that Honor taught her to make and there is always a jar of kefir on Stef's kitchen bench that she turns into delicious smoothies. Adrian is a natural beekeeper so we are lucky to eat toasted sourdough with honey from his beehives. While we were there Adrian appeared in the Foxtel TV show River Cottage Australia, being interviewed about beekeeping and the Kenyan top bar beehives that he builds and favours over other hives. He also runs workshops in Bermagui and Melbourne that you can read about here.

On our first night there the Dads took the four boys to the beach to fish from the sand, they returned home with four fat, shiny Australian salmon. I'm told that there is some fish snobbery amongst fisherman and there are those who say that Australian salmon is not good eating, I disagree! The fish that arrived home just after the sun went down was of course spectacularly fresh and that in itself is a huge part in how amazing or not fish is to eat.

Adrian filleted two of the fish and then cut them into pieces, rolled the pieces in flour and cooked them in hot oil until golden. The children gobbled them up with home made chips. Meanwhile the other two were baked whole in the oven and eaten with salad and home made tartare sauce.

The next day the Dads and the oldest boys went to the nearby farm, that Adrian and Stef are part owners in, to bring home the following night's dinner: pork. It wasn't the first time the boys had gone to the farm and seen an animal killed to be eaten. Even as a meat eater I find the thought of it quite barbaric on some levels and question sometimes why I'm not vegetarian.

In these times where food travels so many kilometres before we eat it and is farmed so intensively, be that meat or fruit and vegetables, it is like gold to me to have the opportunity to eat food that I know exactly where it comes from, how it was reared or grown and to know the farmer. It is something that over the years as a society we have moved further away from but thankfully there is a resurgence back to finding out about where the food we eat comes from and to eat local, seasonal food.

The 'hunting' party arrived home with the pork that was to go on the spit and a group of local friends were invited to help eat the 25kg of meat

While the guys were at the farm, Stef made kale chips for an afternoon snack. Despite me being The Wholefood Mama I had never made kale chips. I've eaten them from a packet! I was keen to learn about making them from scratch. Now, this is the recipe so don't blink or you'll miss it...and sorry I don't have a photo of them.

Stef's Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale, leaves stripped from the stem and torn into pieces about 3cm long.
1 - 1.5 tablespoons olive oil (depending on how bigger pile of kale leaves you have)
Sea salt

Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius
Rub the olive oil into the leaves and sprinkle with sea salt
Cover a baking tray with baking paper and lay the kale in a single layer on the tray
Place in the oven and cook until crisp around 10-12 minutes, when you begin to smell them cooking that is a good time to check how they're going.
Stef did say it took her a few goes to get the ratio of oil to leaves right, they were either too dry or too soggy. Have a go, try different seasonings too. They're yum and a great way to get little people eating green food.

For more photos of our Bermi adventure you'll have to click on over and take a peek on Instagram @wholefoodmama and that's because I took so many photos on my phone instead of my camera and then I very cleverly put my phone on top of the car on the way home and drove off with it still on the roof!!! Smash, crash, oh no.

Oh and a shout out to Genevieve at Candelo Bulk Wholefoods in Bega, great to meet you! For anyone passing through Bega looking to stock up on a fantastic range of wholefoods this is your place. They even sell honor sourdough.

Happy school holidays everyone x
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