Monday, December 6, 2010

A gluten-free experiment

My new naturopath-enforced diet says that I can't have any bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and obvious sugars. The first four are proving to be ok, but my sweet tooth is starving!

I decided today to make a banana cake that is as close to what I'm allowed to have as possible. I combined a couple of recipes and tweaked it a bit due to ingredient availability. I'll need to use an different loaf tin next time because the one I used today made it a very flat loaf! Taste wise though, it was really, really good! And the kids like it too - WIN/WIN!

Sliced and served with butter, it is going to satisfy my night-time lolly pangs quite well, I think.

Here's the recipe -

Gluten and Sugar Free Banana Loaf

90 grams butter
1/3 cup honey (or sugar, if you'd prefer, but then of course it couldn't be called 'sugar free')
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large banana
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 ¼ cups of gluten free self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup plain yoghurt (I only had a tub of Vaalia French Vanilla, so I used that)
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (I didn't have them, but they would be a great addition)

Beat the butter and honey together until light and fluffy. Add lightly beaten eggs, the peeled, mashed banana and the lemon juice. Fold in dry ingredients and yoghurt. Stir in half the chopped walnuts, mix until smooth. Spoon mixture into greased and greased paper lined 25 cm x 8 cm (10in x 3 in) bar tin, sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Bake in a 180 degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Grateful List

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie

There's a lot to be said for gratitude, and it's a virtue that's getting a really good wrap lately. Earlier this year I caught the tail end of a radio interview where the announcers were discussing Oprah's gratitude journal. I filed it away as something to look into later on, but I didn't think of it again until I was playing around on my iPhone and came across a gratitude diary application. Curiously I downloaded it, and quickly got into the habit of listing at least five things I was grateful for each day. It wasn't always easy though. It took me a while to change my mindset from searching for the big things - the 'meaningful' parts of my day. However each evening as I broke down my activities, it became clear that it was the little things that made it memorable. Things like getting all the green lights on the way to work, or the extra hug from my son after I'd already started walking through the school gate. It's those little things that create the big memories. They keep us humble and they open our hearts to receive love.

When we are grateful for something, we instantly change our energy into a positive vibration, and as we increase our acknowledgement of things to be grateful for, we automatically start to see and create more of the same. We experience more happiness, more abundance, more prosperity, more well-being, more love, more joy and everything else you have chosen to be grateful for. It all boils down to something I'm utterly passionate about - The Law of Attraction. What we focus on, expands...

Recently my co-worker decided to post only positive status updates on her Facebook profile, and so begun her daily dose of gratitude. It caught on, and pretty soon her friends - me included - joined in on the act. On the weekend Mandy took it a step further and has now created The Grateful List as a community page on Facebook. Now we have a wondeful place to share gratitude, and to admire and inspire each other.

Gratitude is my heart's response to something that has moved me, and the act of being grateful has now become an intentional ritual in my life. It has transformed the way I live, the way I think, and the way in which I respond to others - for that I am thankful.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Real food....

As my husband just pointed out, the term 'real food' means different things to everyone. To us it means food in it's most purest state. Dr Tickell often talks about the HI factor of food, and recommends that we eat food that has the lowest HI factor possible. HI meaning 'human influence'. For example, food with a low HI would be organically grown fruits and vegetables, and on the flip side, food with a high HI would be something completely processed such as soft drink, or a fast food burger. This kind of food is not appetising to me at all these days! Especially not after watching Food Inc the other night.

Tonight I collected my first Food Connect box, and I am impressed! I opened it and laid it all out on the kitchen bench, and my kids went crazy! Cherry tomatoes, strawberries and pecan nuts disappeared before my eyes, and my oldest son told me that we needed to make sure we bought this 'farm stuff' every week! I tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your children get excited over such wonderful things. This is 'real food', and just as importantly, this 'real food' comes from farms within a five hour radius of Brisbane. This means that not only are we supporting local business, but we are able to eat food that is FRESH! If you care about what goes into your mouth, and into the mouths of your children, you really should check out their website. They don't just supply fruits and veg either. You can buy raw milk (I can't wait to get some of this!), organic sour dough breads, cheeses and an array of other delicious things.

Check out what was in my box tonight. All this for $48. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I am pretty certain that you would not get this for the same price in a supermarket!

Awesome, hey?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Together for Humanity

I just watched 7.30 Report on ABC, and feel really hopeful.

The story that warmed my heart was about a not-for-profit organisation called Together for Humanity. They are a group made up primarily of Christians, Muslims, Jews and Indigenous Australians, and their mission is to "teach children and adults to replace prejudice, largely religious and cultural, with mutual respect and cooperation".

They travel throughout the country running school workshops about religious and cultural tolerance, and together they openly answer questions about their beliefs, their faith and their lifestyles. Despite their obvious differences, the workshops focus on the similarities they each share as part of their common humanity, and they have had huge success in reducing things such as bullying and racial conflict. Their aim is to reduce fear, and to replace discrimination with understanding.

How wonderful! And how refreshing it would be to be able to bring up a generation of children whose internal moral compasses have been tuned to tolerance and acceptance!

This is the kind of program I would love to see implemented by all schools, as this, to me, is education of the utmost importance.

What do you think?

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Monday moment....

The concentration and dedication to task, followed by the
satisfaction of doing it 'all by herself'.

Nothing tastes better, does it?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kahlil Gibran on Friendship

I love Kahlil Gibran. I've used his words in my wedding vows and in the namings of all my children, but today I came to him for his words on friendship.

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind,
nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence,
as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

How much food do you waste?

Did you know that Australian's waste about $5.2 billion worth of food in a year? That's more than we spend on electronic equipment such as our much loved flat screen tv's! Aside from the obvious environmental impact this has, think how much fuller our hip pockets would be if we ate what we grew and purchased! Of course, there is also the third world to consider. I've grown up with my grandmother telling me to, 'think of all the starving children in Kampuchea', as I refused to eat what was given to me. Funnily enough, I also remind my own kids of the plight of Africa's children when won't eat their dinner! I've always felt guilty throwing food away.

However, these days I can safely say that my family wastes very, very little when it comes to food. I know this because we use a bokashi bin, and our food waste is in my face on a daily basis. A bokashi bin is the perfect solution for those that want to compost but have no idea where to start. I've been using mine for about three years and can't sing it's praises highly enough.

For me it has a three-fold effect. The first is that I can monitor our food waste. I have a plastic lidded container on the sink and all food waste, including tea bags, egg shells, citrus and meat, go into it. My container is roughly the size of a large loaf of bread and takes about two days, give or take, for me to fill. Once it's full, it gets tipped into the bokashi, sprinkled with the special bokashi mix, and left to ferment.

The second of the three-fold effect is that it has reduced our household waste in general. Our green bin is only ever half full. This makes me feel good! Actually, on that thought, isn't it interesting that the recycling bin is only emptied once a fortnight, and the rubbish bins are emptied once a week? I wonder if we'll ever get to a point where it's the other way round? Hmmmm...

Lastly, the bokashi gives me the best fertiliser! The bokashi mix ferments the food waste rather than breaks it down, and the result of this is some rather smelly liquor, that we like to call 'liquid gold'. We 'juice' our unit at least twice a week and always have an ample supply of fertiliser, that is quite simply mixed one part to a hundred with water, and poured over the garden. When the bokashi is full, it needs to sit for a couple of weeks to ferment entirely (this is where two bins are ideal - one to use, and one to ferment) and then the contents are buried in the garden, where it eventually breaks down into beautiful compost.

There was a point in time where local councils were offering rebates for bokashi bins and other compost containers. If you are interested in purchasing one - and they are now available at Bunnings - keep your receipt and contact your local council. You never know, they might just give you back some money!

Monday, September 27, 2010

One last year in the stars...

You're six now.

Your little mind and body are slowly becoming your own.

Bit by bit you are finding your place on Mother Earth, and learning what it is that makes you who you are - what makes you different, and what makes you perfect.

The silvery ribbon that binds our souls together will soon loosen, but I will always be there to guide you and, of course, to love you.

Soon it will be time to make your own discoveries, your own plans and have your own adventures. But right now, you still have one last year in the stars.

Enjoy it, my darling, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.

Love Mummy x

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yum cha!

There's not much we love more than a massive yum cha feast!

Especially when it is shared with family.

There are always some unusual delicacies for us to taste, and we get so much enjoyment watching the kids tuck into things that most people would just gape at. Our middle son is incredibly game when it comes to trying new things - his Asian genes must be in his stomach! He was so excited to be having yum cha, that he piled his plate up with at least one of everything. He then looked at me and with such sincerity, declared, "Mum, I have NO idea where to start!" But start he did, and he didn't stop until his plate was clean!

Our oldest son is not quite so keen, but won't say no to some siu mai or ma lai goh. Translated, these are pork dumplings and steamed cake, and they are divine! Little Miss loves her dumplings too, but is also a bit partial to her Daddy's childhood favourite,
char siu bao, or steamed pork buns.

I dare say we could quite easily eat yum cha everyday of the week!

Enjoy the photos!

His anticipation was palpable!

Daddy and daughter's favourite, steamed pork buns.

Yep, it's a chicken's foot! There was nothing left of this one bar a couple of knuckle bones!

Aunty proudly watching the chopstick action!

Siu mai, or steamed pork dumplings.

Ma lai goh. A delicious steamed cake that is supposed to be dessert.
It never lasts that long on our table!

The feast!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Lentil & brown rice chicken soup

Thanks for sharing this recipe, Kel!

I made this delicious soup on one of the last days of winter - a perfect soup day! It was absolutely divine, and made so much that we have enough for another two meals. It's tasty and extremely healthy. Could there be a better combination?


6 chicken drumsticks (skin on or off - I don't think it really matters)
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (I'd use less if cooking for children, as mine found it a little too spicy)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (I think this is my favourite ingredient of all time - so fresh and zingy!)
4 cups of chicken stock
800 g can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1 can borlotti beans, drained
1/3 cup brown rice
Juice of one lemon
fresh coriander leaves to serve

Add all ingredients except borlotti beans, lemon juice and coriander leaves into the slow cooker. Cook on low about 7 - 9 hours. Add the drained borlotti beans about an hour before serving to allow them to heat through. Remove the chicken skin (if you used skin-on chicken pieces) and bones. Shred the chicken into the soup, stir through the lemon juice and serve sprinkled with coriander leaves.

Your body will thank you!

Name this blossom!

This pretty little white flower is currently filling my home with it's heady scent.

Do you know what it is?

It's on a large bush that would probably be 5 metres high,
and about the same size in width.

Could it be a Murraya?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Don't hold back

My friend lost her husband a couple of days ago. Tragic and unexpected. They have three children, including a new born baby girl. I cannot begin to understand what she may be experiencing, but I can offer her my prayers, and hope that they may be surrounded by a cocoon of love and support for as long as it takes to ease the pain.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about them all, and it has made me realise just how transient this life is. We often forget that someone can be taken away from us at any moment, and quite often we put off doing or saying things because we think the time isn't right, or we are afraid of the reactions or the consequences.

But if you have something to tell someone, say it ...

If you have argued with someone, apologise ...

If you have something to give someone - a hug, a gift, a phone call, a smile - give it to them ...

If you have somewhere you want to visit, plan that trip ...

If you have always wanted to study something, enrol and start now ...

If you have always wanted to change something about yourself, begin your metamorphosis ...

If you're passionate about a cause, start a revolution ...

There's no time like the present, and none of us know what tomorrow will bring. Please don't hold back .

Monday, August 23, 2010

Slow Cooked Creamy Lentil & Tomato Soup

This is possibly one of the most delicious soups you will ever eat! It's rich, creamy, a little (or a lot!!) spicy, and is the best winter warmer I know of. My Mum introduced us to this one, and we eat it every winter without fail.

This recipe is perfect for a big 5.5L slow cooker, but you could easily halve it if you have a smaller one, or don't want to make so much. It's perfect to freeze too, so is a great meal for busy mothers like me.



2tbls olive oil
2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic crushed
chilli powder or fresh chilli to taste
6 cups beef or chicken stock (I use chicken)
6 cups tomato passata
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 1/2 cups cream
salt and pepper if desired

Fry onions in olive oil until golden brown, add garlic and chilli and cook for a minute.

Put them in the slow cooker and add all other ingredients.

Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low.

About 30 minutes, to one hour before serving, stir in cream and replace cover.

Allow it to heat through and serve with crusty bread!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Taking a risk

Some of you may remember that we had our house on the market a little while ago. It was for sale for 60 days and we had a total of 7 people come through! The real estate market in our area is DEAD! So we took it off and decided that we would make do here for a little while longer. That decision lasted about six weeks, and we now have itchy feet again. Really itchy feet!

Maybe it's the gypsy blood, or maybe it's just this niggling little dream that we've both had forever. You see, we see ourselves in the mountains living as self-sustainably as possible. We've tried many times to get up there, but the timing just hasn't been right, and there's always been something that's gotten in our way. Yesterday though we decided that we are way too conservative, and that it's time to take a few risks. Safe risks, but nevertheless, out of our usual comfort zone. We talked all afternoon about ways we could make our dream attainable without having to rely on the sale of the home we are in.

Then last night, this aired on tv, and it sealed the deal for us.

How cool is that!?!? So we are now going to investigate the possibility of renting out our house, and we are going to search for our perfect block of land. We will build a yurt! We love them! They are quirky and a little eccentric. A bit like us really! And the design options they present are endless! It's not something we plan on rushing into though. We still have a bit of renovating to do on our house to get it rentable, and then there is the exciting prospect of researching how to actually build the house!

The dream is to start with a central yurt and gradually add more on to create enough space for everyone and everything. My ultimate dream is to be completely self sufficient in the way we power the home - complete solar for electricity, gas for hot water and cooking, and of course big tanks of gorgeous rain water! How amazing would it be to never receive an electricity bill!

This is a dream that is entirely 'do-able' for us. It is going to take some dedication, some huge leaps of faith and a lot of hard work. But I think we may have finally found a way to have our cake and eat it too.

NB. Edited to add - Sorry about the way the video doesn't quite fit on the page! I can't work out how to fix it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My little getaway...

Here are some photos....

Birthday cake before I left.

My sweet little cabin.

Stunning view of O'Reilly's

The Lodge - overlooking O'Reilly's

The front of the Lodge

What a sunset!

Sunset over Beechmont

The obligatory self-portrait!

Fairy caverns in the rainforest. The Fae were everywhere!

The enveloping canopy. Heavenly!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Birthday Bliss!

Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm going to be 37. Hard to fathom really, being so close to 40. Not that 40 is old these days, but it's a figure that strikes terror into the hearts of some. I don't think I'm afraid of getting old. It's a part of life that we all must face, and truth be told, this next phase is quite exciting. I know who I am now, and while I'm sure the odd demon will need to be slain at some stage, I'm pretty happy with the way my life is plodding along.

Tonight my two best friends are coming over for an Indian feast. It's something we've been meaning to do for some time, and what better reason to do it than to celebrate my birthday! We've got four curries and all the trimmings, a fire pit to toast marshmallows on later in the night, and plenty of music!

Tomorrow though, will be a different kind of celebrating. I decided this year that I wanted to spend my actual birthday away from everyone. Twenty four hours by myself. You wouldn't believe how excited I am about it! I've never spent time 'away' from my family. I've had the odd night at home by myself, but I've never taken myself away to somewhere special. So tomorrow I'm heading up to Binna Burra Lodge . I plan on not doing much at all really. Some reading, some listening to music, some writing, some photography, maybe a bush walk. But mostly I just want to be by myself. To listen to my thoughts and to really feel like me - with no external chatter! I think it's something that everyone should do at some point in their life. It's important to be comfortable with your own company.

I'm really feeling the birthday vibe this year, and maybe it's because I'm only thinking of myself at the moment. Sounds selfish, but if you can't be selfish on your birthday, when can you??

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Secret Women's Business - Part 2

I recently wrote about the benefits of cloth menstrual pads in one of my previous posts, Secret Women's Business.

Today I received my latest stash in the mail, and I wanted to show them to you. Aren't they pretty?

We have some fabulous Australian made pads, but for those of us on a tight budget, they can be a little bit expensive. My two super pads, three regular pads and four liners were only USD55.00. Not expensive when you consider that they will last me for years! These gorgeous little things come from Punky's Pads, a US seller on They are beautifully made and the service was second to none. I ordered and paid for them only 8 days ago, and I couldn't believe it when they arrived this morning.

It's always so exciting to get things in the mail!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Full moon antics...

By now I should know better than to let my 7 year old out when it's a full moon. The last three months should have taught me well enough. So what was I thinking this morning when I let him compete in his Joey Scout billy cart derby!?!?!

His run of full moon bad luck started with a broken arm, was followed the next month with swallowed magnets, and then last month in Malaysia he was almost hit by a motorcycle and then a bus! We were really tempting fate this morning, and true to his nature, the morning ended with a strained ankle after he lost control on the home run. It turned out that his pride was more wounded than his ankle though. His head is still drooping with the thoughts of his lost trophy, but thankfully this time he got off relatively lightly! Who knows what next month will bring....

It was a fun morning, even if cut short, and here are some photos. Hope you like them! Oh, and a special thanks goes to the St John's Ambulance crew who not only wiped away a few tears, but administered ice in a most professional manner!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let me paint you a picture....

"You are a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a sister. You only want what is best for your family, yet you struggle to provide even adequate shelter from the harsh weather. There's no shade during the hot days, and thread-bare blankets do little to keep you warm at night. Every day is a struggle as you search for food. The packages delivered by the allied forces are scarcely enough to fill those aching bellies, but you are grateful nevertheless. The wells are drying up, and clean drinking water will soon be just a memory. Each night is a hell like no other as you listen to mortar fire and bombs dropping in the distance, never knowing where the next one may fall. You feel blessed for the moment because your children are still alive, and guilty relief washes over you as someone else's child is found to be the next landmine victim. You envy those allied troops as they come through your village, and wonder what life is like for them, wherever it is they may be from. You are happy for their presence though, as it means that the bandits are kept at bay and the knife you keep under your pillow leaves less of an impression on your cheek each morning. You wonder why this is all happening. Why is your government persecuting it's own people? Why is there so much death? You have no radio, no tv and no way of knowing if this will ever end.

Then one day a stranger comes into your village, bringing with him great promises. Promises of escape. You wonder if this is really possible? Could selling all your possessions, leaving everything you have ever known, and travelling across wild oceans really mean that you may be able to find a new life? A life in a peaceful land? The idea hardly seems real, but you decide that the risk is worth taking. Your children deserve to live free from oppression and war, and you are willing to make this journey. The stranger has promised you Australia. Your knowledge of this country is small, but he tells you that it is a great land. A free land. The stranger tells you that you can seek asylum there, and in good time, it can be your new home."

Imagine living like this. And then imagine the courage and desperation it takes to put your life, and the lives of your children, into the hands of complete strangers. Imagine the fear and helplessness you would experience when faced with the rickety boat that is supposed to carry you to a new land. I find it hard to picture myself in that situation, and thankfully I will NEVER need to experience it.

So what is an asylum seeker? Many people believe that they are illegal immigrants, but that is incorrect. They will only become an illegal immigrant when and if they overstay any visa they may be granted. An asylum seeker is quite simply someone who has fled their own country, generally escaping war, violence and persecution. On arrival in another country, they then apply to the government for protection as a refugee. The are not breaking any rules and should not be punished with remote or indefinite detention. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 14 that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries, asylum from persecution".

I don't have the answer to Australia's immigration issue, but I do know that we accept far fewer immigrants and asylum seekers than many other first-world nations. We have signed treaties that assume we will take in our fair share. It is only fair that we do. I agree that arriving by boat puts many lives at risk, but in most cases this is the only chance these people have to be able to live the life we all take for granted. To turn those boats around and to send them back to their troubled countries, is no different than sentencing these unfortunate people to death. The idea of that is horrifying to me. Nor should we be sentencing them to lengthy terms of detention. They are not queue jumpers. They are still required to undergo the same immigration application as anyone else, and while that is being processed, they are entitled to asylum.

Australia needs to come up with a plan that is both humane, quick and the best for everyone. Whoever comes to power in the next election needs to find a solution that has 'human rights' as it's first priority.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jennifer's Lemon Curd

Here is a recipe shared with me by Jennifer, an old 'new' friend - ain't Facebook grand!? I made it today and couldn't even wait until it had cooled to try it out on some toast. Absolutely scrumptious! It used up another two of my excess lemons but I still have plenty left. When I get the time I think I'll whip up another batch or two for friends and family. Just need to get my hands on some jars....


2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons

Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth.
Place pan over low heat, and add butter, juice and zest. Whisk continuously until thick. Strain through a sieve into sterilised jar. (I gave up on the straining halfway through as my sieve is ready to go sieve heaven, and besides I don't mind a little bit of rind!).

As Jenny says, "its meant to keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, but I've had some over a month and it's still yummy". I doubt mine will last that long...

While we are still on the topic of lemons, here is a picture of my fermenting Lemon Ginger Ale. I posted the recipe on yesterday's blog. I had to tweak the recipe slightly as I didn't have rapadura or organic, unrefined sugar! I used half a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of white sugar instead. I didn't get quite the half cup of whey that was needed, but hopefully what I did get will suffice. Now to wait the 10 days before I can drink it...

Monday, July 12, 2010

When life hands you lemons....

... make lemonade!

We have a beautiful lemon tree in our backyard, and this citrus season has proved to be extremely bountiful! We have literally had dozens. I've given some away and I've had to throw away a few that didn't make it. Yesterday the boys came inside with shirts filled to the brim of more bright, juicy lemons. They must have collected at least 30!

This morning I juiced 12 of them and got almost 800ml of juice! They really are delicious lemons - full of juice and not particularly tart. I made a simple sugar syrup, added the juice and then diluted it with filtered water. It is super yummy, but super sweet too! Definitely an adults drink, and I plan to have some tonight over ice with fresh chopped mint. I found the recipe here.

I have another recipe that I am going to try too. It was shared with me by a friend who also has a plethora of lemons to deal with! This one has ginger in it. One of my favourite ingredients. It's made with a slightly different method though and is probably much healthier! You can find the recipe here.

Here is my fruit basket AFTER the 12 lemons were juiced, and the tree still has some left on it. Looks like some lemon curd and lemon tea cake might be on the menu this week too!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For Lena....

I've been thinking a lot today about friendships, and the reasons different people come into our lives. Some come for a long time, others for a short time, but each one brings us a gift to be cherished. Sometimes friendships wither, and I know now that this is ok. It's part of the transient nature of humanity, and proof that with growth, comes change. Sometimes a friendship is eternal, regardless of how often we see one another. Some of my best friendships are like this, and I believe that these people are written into my life, to both teach me and to learn from me. True friendship is about give and take, in the least greedy sense.

Tonight I am going out for dinner with some of my dearest friends. Most of them I have only been friends with for a short time, but we have shared some incredible moments including the birth of children, the loss of loved ones, sick babies, our children's educational achievements, personal awakenings, the discovery of our creative pulses and of course, plenty of laughter. We are going out to celebrate tonight, as one of us is leaving. Lena is taking a very brave, but adventurous step, and is moving north with her family.

I say brave, because that's just what it is. It's no easy feat to move - to pack up everything you have, to leave friends and family, and to start again in a new town. I know. I've done it. It's hard, it's emotionally draining and it's very stressful! But Lena knows that it is a challenge they are all ready for, and I have no doubt she will love every minute. Life isn't meant to be mundane, and an opportunity like this needs to be grasped by the reins and ridden for the exciting thing that it is! I'm proud to have friends who recognise this.

Thankfully in this day and age of technology, none of us will ever be far away from her. We can chat daily, swap photos and enjoy Lena's escapades from the comfort of our own lounge rooms! I'm sure I don't speak only for myself though, when I say that I will miss seeing her smiling face at school in the afternoons. I'll also miss the craft evenings, where undoubtedly more wine was consumed than craft was made! I'll miss our dinners out, our True Blood swaps, our sneaky cigarettes when we both should know better, and our book chats. These are things that are always much nicer to share face to face, and I look forward to catching up on lost time when she comes back to visit us all.

As women we are all inextricably bound by the same thread. We all want what is best for ourselves and our family. Sometimes this means that other parts of our lives need to change, that we need to move on and create new truths for ourselves. Lena has gifted me with a wonderful friendship, and we have both grown immensely from the experience. We've learned new things together, and these things have shaped our friendship into what it is today. I have no doubt that Lena's friendship will be one of the eternal kind.

Thank you Lena. I want to wish you all the luck, love and light you will need on this journey. This is definitely NOT goodbye!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Calling all Wonder Women!!

I got the job. Not sure how I really feel about it - bitter sweet, I guess. I'm looking forward to the independence it will bring, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous about the trials and tribulations that are ahead of me as a working mother. That said, I'm pretty proud of the fact that my employment hit rate was 100%! Two interviews and two job offers - not bad considering I've been seven and a half years out of the workforce! I turned the first job down because the hours were just not going to fit in with family life and it involved a rather lengthy full time training period. Some judged and told me that beggars can't be choosers, but I knew the right job would turn up, and it did.

So now I'm calling on all the other Wonder Women out there - all those fantastically brave and busy working mums - and asking for your advice. What tips do you have for me? How can I keep life running relatively smoothly, whilst still maintaining my sanity? Do you have a routine that helps you to get things done? Any easy meal ideas, or school lunch tips?

I'm new to this game and would really appreciate any advice you might want to share. Drop me a line and help me out. Please??

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gingered Beef with Bay

Recipe time! It's been a while since I've posted something food related. This one won't disappoint! I cooked this casserole yesterday and it was mouth wateringly delicious. The only problem I had was that there wasn't enough! I'm about to make another batch tonight and will freeze it for the week I start working.

Hope you like it!

Gingered Beef with Bay

2 tblspns olive oil
750g lean braising beef, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 tblspns plain flour
450 ml beef stock
1 tblspn tomato puree (I used tomato paste instead)
1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar (I used plain old brown sugar)
3 bay leaves
4cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
salt and pepper

1. Preheat slow cooker on low. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the beef a few pieces at a time, until all the meat has been added. Fry over a high heat, stirring, until it is evenly browned. Lift out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion to the pan and fry, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the flour, then mix in the stock, tomato puree, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

3. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker pot, pour over the hot stock, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serve with mashed potato and steamed baby carrots tossed with a little butter.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Malaysian Adventure...

We've just returned from a wonderful family holiday in Malaysia, and while we enjoyed the adventure of a different culture, ate the most delicious food, and saw some wondrous sites, we are really glad to be back in our cosy little Australian home.

Travelling with three children under the age of eight is no easy feat! And it most certainly is not relaxing! Trying to keep them occupied on four flights, and in tiny hotel rooms was completely overwhelming, and at times we wondered why on earth we had decided to put ourselves through the experience. Looking through our hundreds of photos though, I realised that while it might not have been the lazy, do-nothing kind of holiday we imagined, it certainly left our children with some experiences that other's may only dream about.

During this week away, our children experienced long haul flights and had to learn a hell of a lot about patience; they enjoyed discovering new 'favourites' in the hawker food bizarres we frequented; they learned the value of money as they bargained for their souvenirs in the night markets; they made friends with children from lands and backgrounds so completely different to our own (the ability to communicate in ways other than words, comes so naturally to children); and they experienced a culture full of religious tolerance.

Having our kids experience the beauty and diversity of the world we live in, is so very important to us, and despite our superficial hardships, we enjoyed a truly educational, enriching and heart warming experience together as a family. We are already planning the next one, but perhaps this time we'll choose somewhere that doesn't require overnight flights!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Winter Spiral

Happy Yule everyone! Last night we celebrated the winter solstice with a beautiful ceremony, lovingly created by Mama Moontime for all her Moondew babies.

For those not in the know, the winter solstice marks the longest night of the year. In the northern hemisphere this is celebrated in December, very close to Christmas. Of course, this is probably no coincidence, as Pagan cultures had been celebrating Yule for thousands of years prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, and to them it marked the rebirth of the sun. The winter solstice is celebrated with the giving of gifts and the sharing of food, and is a time to welcome the light back into the world as the days start to grow longer.

We celebrated with a shared feast of soup, bread and delicious desserts!

The feasting was followed by a hauntingly beautiful spiral walk. Each family took it in turns to enter the darkened spiral with their unlit apple candles. This part of the walk symbolises the exit of the dark, or the end of the long nights. On reaching the centre we lit our candles and started the walk out of the spiral, leaving our candles at a chosen spot, to light the way for others. Walking in the lit spiral symbolises the return of the sun, or the beginning of the longer days. It is always a magical experience.

After the solemn walk, the children were itching to light their very own lanterns. These were created both at home and at playgroup, and have been sitting patiently on the bench, just waiting for the winter festival. The lanterns lit the way back to the car, and journeyed home with us. One has even been taken to school for show and tell today, along with some of these photos to help explain the celebration. Such a wonderful experience for little children!

If you would like to read about my more personal solstice experience, click here.