Friday, September 25, 2015

weekend reading

Let's have a quick power catch up.

I haven't been able to post this week because for some unexplainable, frustrating reason my mobile modem and mobile phone reception have decided to stop working at the unit where we are based in Alice. I am taking it as a cosmic sign to have some down time from social media and the internet.

I've made it to the library today so I am powering through all things internet related so I can head home and meet up with Pete to go and view some Indigenous art at a local art buyers home. The buyers have had an on-going relationship with artists here for over 20 years. I missed the opportunity during the week to go and visit the community and meet the painters because Sol woke with croup which meant an all nighter staying awake to make sure he was breathing!! That's motherhood right?

Anyway, Sol is on the mend and I get to seeing the paintings and hear the stories tonight.

We only have about a week to go in Alice and it feels all too short. Every day is an adventure here. As one of my girlfriends at home said after telling her of some of our adventures, "How are we going to keep you entertained when you get home?!" Luckily I have a few colourful friends and a very unboring husband who keeps me on my toes.

It is looking like the boys will miss the first week back to school because Pete's project has run over time and we want to stop at Uluru on the way home. I had a little neurotic moment about them missing more school and wisely rang a good school teacher friend who put my mind at ease and reminded me to 'relax and enjoy the pace'. Enjoy the pace. Gee friends are good aren't they?

Time has run out but before I go, one link to share with you.

I want to do a more detailed post on this but I'll get started here. I've finally set Pete up on Instagram to showcase the beautiful prints from his online gallery. The collection of work was 20 years in the making, so great to be able to share it literally with the world now. You can see his gallery at RIVER&SOL and please follow on instagram @riverandsol.

Have a great weekend and if I go missing in action you'll know its not because I don't love you anymore its because internet access isn't easy. More soon x

Sunday, September 20, 2015

stills collection

1. When people ask "how's the homeschooling going?" I say "great. the boys are learning to read and write and cook kangaroo tail".

2. Making a necklace by the fire. "No talking when beading. You'll burn your fingers" our friend Leonie Palmer tells me. Wire is heated in the fire to pierce holes through the seeds. It takes great concentration.

3. Desert jewels.

4. "I'm so happy out here (out bush), the happiness of the land gets into you." - MK Turner.

5. Night falling driving back into Alice after being out bush.

6. I turned 41! Happy Birthday to me.

7. Lorna Hendry and River at the N.T. Writer's Festival this weekend. I'm reading Lorna's book Wrong Way Round to the boys. River in particular is loving it and didn't want to miss the opportunity to meet Lorna in person. River's birds nest hairdo took Lorna back to her family's traveling days when her son's hair was the same. "Just leave it" she told me. My Virgo sensibility is struggling!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


A man I'd never met before arrived at our door yesterday afternoon with an injured River on his back.

River had been playing footy at the little park four houses away in the court where we're staying. I'd been down to check on him about twenty minutes before he was returned home with a swollen, bruised and scraped right knee.

I'd agreed nervously to let him go down to the park with the other kids who live in the street, I'm usually one for keeping my boys within sight. But the park here is bordered by the homes of the children that River was with and the day before they'd been at the park and there were other parents around. What could happen I thought? Gotta let him have some independence some time. All those kind of thoughts were going through my head as I walked back from the park after checking on who was at the park. There were no adults when I went down there, just four boys. "Come straight home when the others go home" I instructed River. "Yes Mum" he answered immediately.

Instead, some of the other kids parents and uncle joined in the footy match and when one kicked the ball to River he was so busy focusing on the mark he forgot about the knee high fence behind him. Bang went his knee into the fence, he flipped over the railing and landed on his back. He was extremely lucky to get out of it with a bruise.

Ice packs and arnica cream seemed to help. Although, he went to bed with a throbbing leg wondering how he was going to sleep. "Remember that time Archie fell out of the tree house at Van's and landed on his arm and thought he was ok and then woke up in the middle of the night in bad pain and it was broken? Well what if that happens to me?" River asked.

I did my best to reassure him that if his knee was broken he'd be in too much pain to be going to sleep. As mothers do best I kept my thoughts to myself that wondered the same thing, what if he'd really damaged himself? I had visions of returning to Melbourne with River in plaster.

He slept soundly as he always does and despite laying straight as a board when he first was in bed, by morning he was tangled in his sheet legs bent and splayed in opposite directions. Clearly his knee hadn't bothered him overnight.

Pete set off at 6.30am out to a community where he is building a women's healing shelter. He had a long hot day in the sun ahead of him and wanted to get started early.

At about 7.30am I heard River hobbling his way out of bed. He still couldn't bear any weight on his knee. I helped him to the couch where it looked like he was set to stay for the day. Without a car and with River injured we were house bound. As it turns out, a day at home was just what we needed.

With so much to get involved in in Alice Springs and knowing we are only here for a limited time, I had forgotten the value of having a day at home.

Sol stayed in his pj's and ate buckwheat pancakes in the morning sun. River read for the best part of the morning and relished having a rooibos tea with milk and sugar because we'd run out of honey. We raided the bush camp bag that had sugar in it for when we made billy tea.

We did manage to do some school work, River wrote three songs and Sol created imaginary worlds and battles with his Star Wars figurines. I even let them do some maths games on the computer! A very rare event.

By the afternoon we'd all earned some down time, a movie for them and a cup of tea and time reading 'Wrong Way Round' a fabulous true tale of a family who packs up their life in Fitzroy, Melbourne and hits the road. Written by Lorna Hendry I'm aiming to finish it before the weekend when I'm going to a workshop Lorna is presenting at the Writer's Festival. I've been reading it to the boys too, they get totally lost in the story asking for one more page, one more page.

As I sipped my tea and soaked in the quiet of the house and the rhythm of Lorna's story I felt a slight pang of guilt that I should be doing something else, something more 'productive'. To stave off the guilt I told myself that essentially reading the book was work. I am a writer after all and I needed to 'study' the book before the weekend. The guilt also stemmed from thinking about Pete building in the blazing sun while we were in the cool comfort of the house. Guilt, it is so pointless isn't it?

By the end of the day River was back on his feet. At 4.30pm when the boys' buddy Jacob and the other kids in the street arrived home from their school day River's injury was a distant memory. "Who wants to play hide and seek?" they all scattered to find their hiding spot.

Have you forgotten the art of staying home? Are you caught in the busy loop too? Take a day off!

Monday, September 14, 2015

desert mob alice springs

Desert Mob is one of the many celebrations of Aboriginal art and culture that happens here in Alice Springs. We've been lucky to coincide our visit with the 25th anniversary of Desert Mob. 

A week ago on Friday evening we joined the crowd pictured above at the Desert Mob Dancesite where Aboriginal women from a number of Central Australian communities sang and danced their traditional songs and dances.

The magnificent women pictured above dressed in yellow skirts and white feathers are from Tennant Creek they are dancing the Munga Munga dreaming, looking for water in the Dreamtime. (I was scribbling this down while keeping an eye on kids so if I have any of that incorrect apologies! Let me know and I will update it).

Desert Mob is hosted in partnership with desart the association of Central Australian Aboriginal Art and Craft Centers. The annual Desert Mob exhibition is a highlight at the Araluen Arts Centre as is the Desert Mob marketplace held on the Saturday. Pete and I managed to have a morning without our boys (thanks Jodie, Scott and Jacob!) to visit the marketplace. Market goers were in a buying frenzy as you can see from the last few photos. The art market is a unique opportunity to buy Aboriginal art at remarkably affordable prices (the majority of work on sale is under $500) and if you aren't in the market for a canvas there is jewellery, cushions, scarves and t-shirts.

Don't you love the t-shirt? The artist who painted this is the youngest artist from the Minyma Kutjara Arts Project, he is 6! 

The design on the first cushion cover pictured above is owned by Mary Anne Nampijinpa Michaels. It tells the story of a sheltered rock basin where the rockhole Lappi Lappi is a permanent source of water. It is surrounded by country rich in bush tucker. The rockhole is home to a warnayarra, a rainbow serpent that travels underground between various rock holes. You can read more detail of this story here.

The second cushion cover, the design is owned by Betsy Napangardi Lewis. This design tells the story of all a group of women of all ages who travelled to the east gathering food, collecting 'ngalyipi' (snake vine) and performing ceremonies as they travelled. You can read more about this story and purchase this cushion cover from Better World Arts.

Winter is a perfect time of year to visit Australia's red centre because the weather is perfect, blue skies every day, and there are so many festivals and events that provide a great opportunity not only to learn more about the art and culture here but also to meet Alice locals.

Now that it is Spring, the temperature has jumped up into the low 30's. Cannot imagine living through summer here!

Happy Monday everyone x

Friday, September 11, 2015

weekend reading

I'm reading two books at once, gearing up for the NT writer's festival. I can relate to much in Lorna Hendry's Wrong Way Round, I'm reading it to River and Sol we're loving it. And I'm only a few pages in to Kim Mahood's craft for a Dry Lake.

Here's a practical and positive approach to supporting asylum seekers in Melbourne.

New study released today shows the negative impact of eating a junk food diet on the brain.

Why depriving your kids of toys is a great idea

Have you made Georgia's healthy chocolate, coconut almond bars? They're one of my favorites.

I found this an inspiring read, one woman following her calling.

What have you been cooking lately? What's on for the weekend? It is my birthday on sunday!
"Two more sleeps and you'll be turning 24 right mum?" asked Sol. Bless him. More like 41 :)
I'm looking forward to it. Have a great weekend x

Sunday, September 06, 2015

stills collection: father's day

Today we're celebrating our man Pete, a wonderful Dad with strong values who is dedicated in every way to providing his sons with every opportunity to grow into great men. Tears as I type. Love these guys.

This collection of photos are mainly from our trip to Cape York last year where fishing and collecting mud crab happened most days.

Wishing everyone a happy father's day or just a very happy sunday if it is a day you'd rather skip!

See you back here next week x

Saturday, September 05, 2015

weekend reading

Have I told you lately how much I love Alice Springs?

The day we arrived here I was already thinking about how we'll be sad to leave. We're not leaving for a while but it has cast a spell on me as has happened to many, many people before me.

During the week Pete dropped us in town to go to the library, twenty minutes later after he'd driven off I realised the school book bag was still in the car. Instead of maths and writing we did a walking art gallery tour, spending time at Papunya Tula

On Friday night we spent time at Desert Mob to see some beautiful traditional dancing. I'll write more about that next week.

And enjoyed good coffee and friendly service from The Coffee Horse

I've added this cookbook to my collection since I've been here, I want to make so many of the recipes, I don't have an oven here though so some will have to wait til I'm home

I'm loving the Artful Parent, so many great ideas for art with kids

Winter is over here in Australia but for anyone still fending off the common cold here is a great post from Georgia, Top Five Foods to Reduce Mucus

I've mentioned it before but I'm really looking forward to the NT Writer's Festival

I've taken SO many photos this week, can't wait to share them with you. I'm hunting up recipes too!

I hope you're all having a beautiful weekend x

Friday, September 04, 2015

thursday recipe: chicken san choy bow

If you're looking for new ways of getting your kids to eat more veggies (who isn't?), then this dish is a good one.

I'm working on the rainbow method at the moment, which goes like this "how many colours of the rainbow have you eaten today Sol?" As you can see there is a rainbow of colour in this meal and by placing the ingredients in the centre of the table your family can wrap up the veggies in the lettuce cups that they pick out for themselves.

The choosing for themselves part is important because it makes them feel like they're in control which can be key with some kids. Frustrating as that is! Be nice if we could just say I'm the boss I make the rules eat your dinner (to some degree that does work!) but most people I know who have a fussy eater at the table realise that they need to be a little craftier than that.

Plus, this dish allows you to include foods that you know they will eat alongside new or not so favorite foods. Don't fall into the trap of thinking and then saying 'you don't eat carrot', the less said the better!

This is definitely not a strict recipe, whatever is in season, in your garden or in your fridge that is fresh and delicious will work in this.

Another bonus with this is the absence of carbs! I'm not anti carbs but lots of kids are carb addicts living on cereal, sandwiches and pasta. This is a great dish to break that habit.

Many san choy bow recipes call for things like oyster sauce or hoi sin sauce, I've made this without them because most of those ready made sauces are brimming with salt, sugar and additives. You just don't need them, there are far more natural ways to give your food flavour. I've kept the chicken part quite plain intentionally so that it is kid friendly and then you can add extra flavours at the table when it comes to the wrapping.

I hope your family has fun trying this dish out. Let me know how it goes.

Chicken san choy bow


1kg minced chicken
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cm ginger, finely grated
1 carrot finely grated
1 tbsp tamari
Half to one tsp honey
coconut oil

1 iceberg lettuce, leaves kept whole gently peeled apart and washed
1 carrot cut into sticks
1 avocado sliced
1 bunch coriander roughly chopped
1-2 red chillies finely sliced
3/4 cup dry roasted cashews chopped
10 snowpeas finely sliced on the diagonal
1/2 brown or red onion finely sliced
3 spring onions sliced
8 cherry tomatoes sliced
1 lime cut into wedges

To make
Prepare all salad ingredients and arrange on a platter.
Heat frypan or wok to high heat and melt about a dessertspoon of coconut oil.
When oil is hot add the chicken to the pan with the garlic, ginger and carrot.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until meat has just changed colour.
Add in tamari and honey and cook for another 2 minutes.
**Adjust the seasonings (tamari, honey, ginger, garlic) to your taste in this recipe adding more or less accordingly.

To eat
Place cooked chicken and salad ingredients of choice into lettuce cup, wrap and munch!

If you enjoy this recipe please share it with your friends.

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