Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Sometimes it’s nice to take a little side step out of our daily routine.
To take a little RDO.

Homeschooling mamas can take a Rostered Day Off too you know!
When was the last time you did something that made your heart sing?
What is it that triggers that happy hoppity skip of delight for you?
For me – it’s colour.

Playing with flowers or splashing some paint just makes me feel brighter.
I did that today and it was just what I needed.
The housework, the bookwork, the dishes and the duties of every day routine will still be there tomorrow. But today, I took a day off.
It feels quite delicious having a Saturday kind of a day mid-week.
I have found a key to me remaining steadfast, is to pace myself and take time out now and then.
I think it is healthy for us to experience the delight of enjoying an interest. It models a love of learning for our children and keeps our enthusiasm fresh to instil that motivation in them to stretch and grow with developing skills and interests.
I only have two out of our eight students left to finish our home schooling journey. It is a challenge for me to stay focused and content when I occasionally chaff  to run ahead into the next era.
I inherited a distinctly restless nature from my dear dad. And I really have to rein in that urge to take off and explore. One can’t just go adventuring any old time!
But hey! A day off can make all the difference to help me settle back into routine again.
I cringe when I see quotes like “do more of what makes you happy”. But honestly? When WAS the last time you did something that actually.made.you.feel.happy?

There’s nothing like dropping some turquoise, bright yellow or pink ink onto some wet paper to lift off the slough of despond. 
Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Go ManGo

We have a little mango tree on our property that has been laden with fruit this summer.
Mangoes are deeeelicious
I remember sitting on the beach at Byron Bay in a bikini one teenage summer (a looooong time ago) slurping fresh prawns and whole mangoes.
The essence of summer.
I have really relished fruit this season.
What is your favourite? Watermelon? Sweet pineapple? Juicy peaches?
Alas, our orchard full of stone fruit has gone to the birds.

But the mango tree up the back was a secret they didn’t discover!

A singular possum must have, because we found evidence each morning that one mango at a time was picked and eaten, leaving a clean seed stashed under a nearby tree.

I came up with quite a spectacular dish that combines all the yummy flavours capturing summer in a salad.

Arrange the following on the biggest prettiest platter you can find.
A mixture of greenery – Cos and Frilly lettuce, baby spinach and rocket leaves, avocado, chopped red capsicum, cherry tomatoes ( I halved some of those cute little orange ones) snow peas, diced cucumber and mango chunks. Blanched florets of broccoli plus chopped asparagus if you like too!
 Then sprinkle with roughly chopped toasted macadamia nuts.
Chicken breast fillets – I used three – slice and fry in a pan until nice and golden. If you find this dry, you could poach and shred the chicken.
Set the chicken aside. Using the frypan, stir in a squidge of lemongrass, a generous squirt or two of ginger (you can find tubes of these in the veggie section at the supermarket) then add the juice and zest of a fresh lime. Stir in half a cup of coconut cream too if you like and add salt to taste.
Mix well over low heat, then stir in the chicken and leave to cool and marinate as it soaks up the sauce.

Drizzle and plop the saucy chicken over the salad. It messes it up a bit to toss, but it mixes the flavours better. Wait for people to admire it suitably, then toss it and serve it up!

Friday, January 6, 2017

young energy

Home is not just a house.
It is not just family who lives there.
Home is a place for the heart. A place to belong. A place to feel comfy.
When my older children come "home", it isn't just to see us. 
It is to be where their hearts belong until they establish a home of their own.
I am learning to step back and let them take charge of their own ideas.
To detach and not feel responsible for making all the action happen.
Or even feeding everybody all of the time!
I love it when they take the initiative.
Their ideas are so fresh and so fun!
Our outdoorsy celebrations for Christmas and New Year felt like stepping into instagram.
It was beautiful to see everything unfold.

Sparks flew!

New faces and new friends change the dynamics.
It keeps my heart young.
I don't need to keep up.

It is interesting to step make more as an observer.
I love the vibrant energy of young people.
 I don't need to be in the center of the action.
 I get to cuddle the grandbabies!

Having little ones in our home brings back the wonder and delight of giving gifts.


My soul feels saturated after an intense few weeks of feasting and merriment.
We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner outside in the garden and a celebratory gathering in the paddock to see in the new year. It was fun to shake up the dynamics and set up the tables outside with fairy lights and candles.
Our hearts and home full with family and friends coming and going.
Dear little grandchildren have come and gone now.
While the house echoes quietly with orderly space once again, there are empty places in our hearts. Having young children filling our home reminds me how life bursts at the seams with little ones. Every day is chockablock with LIFE. And life is loud and messy and ... marvellous.
It is intense. It is tiring. It is...beautiful.

Though our home is far from empty, I am taking the opportunity to press the pause button before life snowballs along with a different routine for 2017.

I picked up a wonderful pod chair on my road trip. We have rigged it up to swing in the breeze on the verandah and it is so comfy to curl up and tuck myself away.
This very welcome cool change in the weather is much more condusive to contemplation than the oppressive energy-sapping heat.

How do you recalibrate?
To re-set a "new normal" before launching into a fresh new year full of possibilities and potential?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

tasting beauty

It seems surreal to step into the pictures of instagram.

That's what it was like to walk in the door and be enveloped by the warm welcome and tangible atmosphere of Tamsin Carvan's home.

To be seated at that table. 
Tamsin's Table. 
With that glorious view.

Experiencing Tamsin & Melanie's Field & Flourish workshop not only whet the appetite, but it was food for the soul.
The afternoon at the long table lunch were hours to be savoured.

 Melanie Stapleton,from Melbourne's Cecelia Fox floral studio and her lovely assistant Morgana coached each of us in the art of arranging flowers, while Tamsin pottered away in the background, rolling, kneading, chopping, stirring ...and smiling.

Tamsin's cooking was a work of art. So simple and so delicious.

A sip of rose syrup in champagne to tingle the tastebuds before we roamed the rose paddock, gathering armfuls of flowery abundance from Tamsin's rambling old fashioned scented rose bushes, garden and even the veggie patch!

The rooms were filled with flowers!

It was an honor to participate in Field & Flourish 2016.

Dreams were nourished and ideas blossomed in such an inspiring atmosphere with the company of new friends.


Australian Country Style Magazine has been a constant source of inspiration over decades.
My bookshelves are groaning under the weight of so many back issues, but I cannot bear to part with a single one.
The stories have become part of my own history.

I have dogeared quite a few articles and tucked them aside in the hope of following up on ideas and destinations.
I highly recommend it as a travel guide! Seriously. The places I have discovered off the highway have been some of the best times of my life.
My husband & I had a wonderful trip to Tasmania five years ago and the highlight was staying in a beautiful stone cottage on the coast near the Freycinet Peninsula all because of an article I had spotted and tucked away.

I have dreamed of horseriding in the high country of Victoria or the snowy mountains ever since I was a teenager.
A few years down the track now and I wondered if I would actually be able to walk for a week if I hopped on horseback!
I am chuffed to say, not only did my bones hold up, but my muscles didn't ache after half a day in the saddle. I am sure it had something to do with the horses. They were a dream to ride.

When I booked in for a special workshop this month, I also made it a priority to book a special experience for my children & I to share together. Horseriding in the high country of Mt Bogong.
We drove 12 hours to make it to the property Spring Spur for our Bogong Horseback Adventures in time to stay the night. We jumped out of bed early to hop on our horses and ride before we had a hightail it to the next destination later that afternoon.

I read about the Baird family a few years ago. It was a pleasure to meet them and to experience their beautiful property, the horses born and bred and trained in natural horsemanship and see what they have poured their lives into these past 30 years. It was inspirational what a family can do together! What a team. We were made to feel very welcome.

Clay Baird, above, saddled up and ready to lead.

It was the most perfect clear spring day. You could just glimpse snow on Mt Feathertop through the picture windows. Below is our lovely accommodation on the property.

I loved meandering through the smaller towns off the main highways and showing my children some of my favourites. Kyneton, Daylesford and Trentham are so interesting I just want to wander and gaze and absorb the lovely details.

Even though it was after hours, I wanted to show our aspiring chef the famous bakery we had heard about. We shall have to taste the sourdough another day! Clay Baird is actually quite a cook. He shared some stories of his travels with Daniel over dinner which was a bonus for my young son.

Next up will be....the workshop!

new vistas beckon

Now I know where Poowong is.
It is one thing to see the jot of a spot on a map and another to immerse yourself in the locality.
Poowong, a pretty little place in the Gippsland, now has a place in my heart.

We stopped and stayed and meandered in the Gippsland area for three days on a recent jaunt to Victoria. 
The vibrant green grass was soothing to our parched eyes. Where we come from is shaping up to be the driest season in 60 years!

Our Air B&B bolthole

It is so refreshing to change the scenery. I get a bit restless at this time of year...keen to replenish my own soul to prepare to be hospitable over the holiday season. 

After visiting the UK three years ago, I came home with a hankering to explore the beautiful areas of my own country. We have our own green rolling hills in the right season and some lovely gardens to appreciate. Especially in Spring.

The excuse to go south hinged on a wonderful workshop I signed up to do for my own interest. The bonus was deciding to make it a road trip and take my children along for the ride.

I wanted to give my youngest three homeschooled students an overview of Victoria and southern NSW.  A geography excursion to experience the beauty of our country and a taste for the history in a tangible way. To walk the streets of Ballarat, not just look at photos and read dates in a one dimensional lesson. To feel the blustery wind as they looked out over the bay where the whalers kept watch in Eden. To be awed by the scope of the wild coastline along the Great Ocean Road and to dip their toes in the Snowy River. 
I must admit I am still reeling after a whirlwind 4865 kms in two weeks flat, but I hope it whet their appetites to go back and explore at a later date. I am already looking forward to returning to some favourite areas and slowing down enough to meander more.

                 Contemplating the education of a garden. Food for the soul - 11 year olds included.

                             Red Cow Farm in the Southern Highlands was exquisite. My children enjoyed it as much as I did. Truly! 

 The roses! Oh the roses. The fragrance of these old fashioned beauties enveloped us as we wandered.

There was a wonderful mixture of structure and cottagy blowsy beauty.. A plant collectors treasure trove.
This exquisitie rhododendron and the weigela below were species variations I had never seen before.

I love getting off the beaten track. The road less travelled. Especially by trucks!
This treasure of a spot was where we camped in a state forest on the banks of the Snowy River near Orbost.

You really get to experience a sense of place. Even better if you hop out and walk around the little country towns and explore. The beautiful historical architecture makes my fingers twitch to sketch all those little details. Carpenters were craftsmen in those days. The scrollwork is a work of art.
You don't need to go to Europe to find beautiful vignettes that make your fingers twitch to sketch.

It beats me how to actually make time to sketch when one travels. I popped my pad and pencils in my bag, but I don’t quite know how to stop and sit still long enough to capture it all. Perhaps the art is in the quick draw. I admire the pen and ink sketches people do on the run. I must figure that out.
Meanwhile, as a mere beginner,  taking a photo gives me a second opportunity to sit and savour the building later when I have time to dabble and draw slowly.