all chill, no guilt… sort of…
















Can you believe it’s been a year since our little tree change? A year of ‘life on the farm’ with all the big and little changes that come when you move to the country. Although my ‘to do’ list overwhelms me I feel the need to write you… I really want to share some moments as I know time fades the details and my memories.

The fog blankets that roll up and down these mountains are some of the thickest fogs I’ve seen in my life… at times you can watch it roll in, gently yet persistently moving across the land, hugging the ground tight and gobbling up trees and hills until the landscape completely disappears into the white… I’ve seen midnight look so bright outside when the moon is full and the fog is thick… the moonlight bounces through the fog illuminating the dense white blanket … it’s eerily beautifully… and treacherous to drive in.

As I sit right now we are due for rain and thunderstorm… so far the rain has been minimal, a few heavy spits that last for a brief minute or two… but the thunder is rolling up the valley below which creates an echo, making the thunder so loud and deep you feel it in your bones. It’s a sound so big and the energy it brings is electrifying… all the sheep are taking cover under the trees, they seem to know the weather is about to turn… they hunker down together in groups and as soon as it passes they will come out and do their ‘furious munch’ as I call it, where they eat frantically like they’ve been starved for days… as they do every evening before dark falls.

Summer has bleached the green out of the mountains and left a golden shine during the day… at sunset or sunrise the mountains come into their own… it seems the light golden hue of the grass reflects the colours in a sunrise or sunset beautifully… I can look out and see dusky pink mountain tops against a dusky pink sky, or peachy hill tops against a peachy sunrise… It’s exquisite and I hope to capture the delicateness in a photo one day.

I have a basket of quince, a basket of juicy sweet pears, some delicious quince jelly, quince paste and zucchini butter from our lovely neighbours and I can’t help but feel so lucky we landed in such a friendly country road… Our veggie garden has produced more juicy sweet rockmelon that I can eat and share, so I’ve taken to freezing it chopped up and will use it for smoothies. I probably should be picking my cucumbers right now and learning how to pickle them… I’ve bookmarked so many different types of pickle recipes but none that feel just right – call me Goldilocks. We’re not quite sick of zucchinis just yet, but thanks to my neighbour I can step away from the zoodles and fritters and have a go at making zucchini butter. I’d never heard of it until I was gifted a jar. And onions, we’ve had heaps, can’t remember the last time I bought some actually. But the potatoes, well they’ve been the biggest disappointment so far, not just for the measly harvest they produced, but the effort vs harvest ratio… we don’t know what happened to them, but there were hardly any to dig up and when we did there were plenty of rotten ones unearthed too. The beans were ok, plenty of delicious ones to start with but they turned woody and tough quite quickly… pretty sure we either left some too long or didn’t water them enough… or both. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we’re getting a reasonable amount but not as much as I had expected for the amount of plants we put in. There is much to learn – that I know… and I suspect the very exposed nature of our veggie garden is playing her part too… the fierce winds we get up here on our hill are the strongest winds I’ve experienced… I think this is stunting the plants a little and hindering their efforts to excel… I have added ‘develop some sort of screening’ to our ever growing overwhelming threatening to swallow us whole ‘to do’ list.

Of course the ‘to do’ list is taking a little longer to get through too as I’m now working. Locally. Part time. Another piece of the puzzle that fits exactly how we dreamed it would. Ridiculously lucky I know. And feeling so happy and grateful that’s it all worked out, pretty much just how we wanted it to (short of wining tattslotto!). It’s just going to take a bit of time to balance what needs to be done around the farm and making sure we squeeze in some chill out time to rest our weary bones as the ‘to do’ list seems to go a bit like the one step forward, two steps backwards thing. I’m ticking off the chill out time today though, writing to you… and next I’m going to make another batch of ‘Grandma’s Butterscotch’ (so good!), then I’m going to nibble on that whilst I have a go at some knitting or crochet … I’ve decided the rest of today will be all chill and no guilt… I may not succeed in either of those but I’m sure going to have a good go at it.

Wishing you guilt free chill out time with your favourite candy x

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gluten free cinnamon biscuits









Oh my, I just had to share my latest little kitchen experiment with you, they are too delicious not to. It all started when my dad developed this yummy gluten free biscuit that my mum and I can both eat. (mum and I have many similar food intolerances/allergies). Anyway after eating Dad’s scrummy bikkies that taste just like a classic Nice biscuit I was reminded how having a cuppa and biscuit is just about the best thing ever, one of life’s sweet little simple pleasures. It got me thinking, if I can’t make the time to do some experimental biscuit baking whilst I’m on my lovely precious sabbatical, then when can I? So I got to it and these are the results… they are easy and only need basic ingredients that are most likely staples in a gluten free kitchen anyway.


Ingredients

1 Egg
120g Butter
1/2 cup Rice Flour
1/2 cup Potato Flour
1/2 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Hazelnut Meal
1/2 cup Caster Sugar
1tsp Baking Powder
2tsp Cinnamon
Slurp of Maple Syrup

Method
Cream the butter and sugar til fluffy, add the egg and maple syrup and mix well.
Sift potato flour and rice flour then mix all dry ingredients together.
Add dry ingredients to butter mixture then stir and mix until combined.
Spoon dollops onto a lined tray and dust with extra sugar and cinnamon.
Bake for 18-20 minutes at 160c degrees (fan forced oven).
Allow to cool, if you can, then demolish at least half the batch just to make sure they are ok.

I think they taste a little like those yummy cinnamony bikkies Speculaas, but I’ve also tweaked the recipe with molasses instead of maple syrup, lots of ginger and a dash of nutmeg and cloves and this version reminds me of Gingernut biscuits. Yum yum, so many biscuits, so little time! I’m off to put the kettle on for another cuppa and biscuit session.

May life’s simple little pleasures fill your heart with joy and your bikkie tin with your favourites.

ginger & turmeric syrup





‘Cup of tea or coffee? Ginger Syrup?’ Chances are if you visit me that’s what I’ll say. Followed by ‘I make this homemade ginger syrup and use it like cordial with sparkling water. It’s a lovely refreshing drink, would you like to try some?’ … I guess it’s quite the sell job really but unless you are a ginger hater you will probably love my ginger syrup. Well that’s been my experience in offering it so far anyway. I thought I’d share how I make it as most people that try it usually ask for the recipe. This version is the turmeric one but just leave that out if you’d prefer a plain ginger syrup.

I’ve been making ginger syrup for years and it’s become one of those things that I hate to run out of. I tend to make a couple of litres every couple of weeks as it’s the main thing I drink apart from cuppas. I found the inspiration for my original recipe at this fabulous blog by the lovely Rhonda. Of course me being me I tweaked the recipe somewhat, partly due to the fact that I can tolerate limes better than lemons and partly due to laziness. I no longer grate my ginger, and I don’t peel it either. I just wash it and scrub it with a firm brush to remove any dirt. I’ve taken to adding fresh turmeric in my ginger syrup over the last few months and am loving both the subtle flavour and the health benefits of consuming turmeric regularly. Be warned though, the fresh turmeric will stain everything it touches so don’t use your favourite chopping board! I use gloves so I don’t have yellow/orange fingers for days.

This isn’t a recipe as such, more of a guide. It’s only cordial so you can’t go wrong really! Oh and all you ‘no sugar people’ best look away now, this is not a low sugar drink, it is a cordial/syrup after all.

Ginger & Turmeric Syrup

INGREDIENTS
Ginger – approx 3-4 pieces the size of your hand
Turmeric – approx 1 piece the size of your palm
Raw sugar – approx one mountain equal in size to the mountain of chopped ginger/turmeric.
Limes – approx 3 to 6 (depending on availability and price!)

HOW TO MAKE IT
Scrub the ginger and turmeric to clean any residual dirt.
Chop as finely as you can be bothered, the finer the better.
Pile into large pot forming a single mountain, I use a big 6.7 litre pot (I think!).
Pour in sugar to make roughly the same size mountain as the ginger.
Peel or zest limes and add juice.
Fill the pot with water.
Bring to the boil then simmer for an hour or three.
Turn off heat and allow to steep for another hour or three. (or overnight if you run out of time/can’t be bothered)
Strain into bottles or jugs and keep in the fridge.

That’s it, simple hey? I’m not sure how long it lasts as ours doesn’t make it beyond a couple of weeks. I like it served with sparkling water but tap water is fine too.

Let me know if you make some? Or if you have any questions about my vague guide?

May your cup runneth over x

mushrooms, weaving and tasty failures


















We enjoyed our first flourish of mushrooms, they inundated us for a week or so then vanished! Charlie says they’ll pop up again as it’s only early in their season. Hopefully they do as wandering around our very own paddocks (and yes I still pinch myself when I say that!) collecting a basket full of fresh field mushrooms for breakfast with my hubby and my son was one the best Sunday mornings here so far.

What beautiful days Autumn gifts us with, foggy crisp mornings and warm golden afternoons. I just can’t tell you how beautiful the hills look now, my photos really don’t do it justice. They are blanketed in a gorgeous shade of lime green as the fresh new grass grows thanks to the sun-rain-sun autumn weather. If you pick out the bright mid blue in a pack of coloured pencils, you could draw the sky, it’s been picture perfect. The morning sky has been peachy oranges and as the sun drops in the late afternoon it usually turns a soft pastel dusky pink.

The fire has been roaring through the chilly evenings and keeping us toasty warm. The weekends are full but we are making sure to squeeze in our craft/sanity time. This lovely long weekend just gone I finally took my weaving off the loom. It’s been finished and waiting for its freedom hanging, for over a year – maybe even a year and half. So slack! Of course I couldn’t string up (or warp for you weavers) the loom quick enough to have another go. I’ve had this idea floating around my head since we’ve been here, of trying to capture the vibe of our rolling green hills into a weaving. I’ll let you know how I go, could be a year or two! Some craft happens quickly, other craft takes forever.

Just like sometimes things work out perfect, yet other times there’s epic fails. I had a big fail on my first attempt at Crabapple Jelly recently. Admittedly I didn’t use crabapples so there be my first error I suppose. And I’m a bit loose on following recipes to say the least. I won’t bore you with the other stuff ups I made like not measuring how much water I used to cover the apples, therefore ending up with twice as much as liquid as I should have for the weight of apples etc etc. I did enjoy a glorious afternoon of ignorance as I photographed my pretty little jars of blush coloured jelly before I realised they were still very liquidy after many hours and not jelly like at all. They were a little cloudy despite me being super careful not to squash the pulp and allowing it to drain overnight, but I was ok with that as it was my first time making it after all. I lived in hope overnight, thinking maybe by morning they’ll be set. Um no, this soft pink apple syrup would not become jelly no matter how long I waited and how hard I wished. So, with my make lemon curd when life gives you lemons attitude, I dug out the ice-cream maker and turned my flop into a delicious sweet and tart apple sorbet. I even popped some stewed rhubarb in a batch and made an apple and rhubarb sorbet. Quite the tasty failure. Not what I had planned, but then life’s like that isn’t it?

May your kitchen flops reincarnate as something tasty too x

field and flourish


















Back in November I got to enjoy my August birthday… a gift to attend the fabulous Field and Flourish workshop run by Tamsin from Tamsin’s Table and Mel from Cecilia Fox. I adore Mel’s flower arrangements and I’ve long been a fan of Tamsin’s Instagram feed, her images feel like they’ve been plucked from my dreams – rolling green hills, beautiful farmhouse, lots of fresh homegrown produce, and so many pretty flowers and table settings not to mention delicious food… just gorgeous. Funnily enough I didn’t seem to capture any food shots, I guess I was too busy eating it, all of which was homegrown and homemade, sprinkled with pretty flowers and love.

The day began with a wander through the Rose paddock…. yes paddock! Tamsin planted a whole paddock full of Roses, not just any Roses either but a carefully curated collection of Roses that not only travels through history as you travel down the hill, but blows your socks off with perfume and petals and colour. Then it was time to wander through the veggie garden, collecting all sorts of lovely foliage and veg that was purposely left to go to seed. Did you know Leek seed heads make for a stunning addition to an arrangement? They do! Most of us ventured beyond the veggie garden to collect some grass seed heads and other goodies and of course to check out the free range Turkeys and their babies. Who knew baby Turkeys were so cute?

We prepared our flowers and dethorned our roses under the cool shade of the magnificent old Ash Tree that graces the garden surrounding Tamsin’s farmhouse, listening to the lovely stories Mel shared about all sorts of things including becoming a florist in New Zealand. All the while Tamsin and her friendly team were busy preparing our lunch, the smells wafting out of the kitchen were amazing. Back inside and under the gentle guidance of Mel each student made a posy and a large arrangement, whilst delicious snacks were served and we sipped rose syrup spritzes. Freshly dug heirloom radishes, with a generous slathering of butter and a sprinkling of salt and deep-fried onion anyone? Oh my that was a taste sensation that had to be eaten to be believed. Divine!

Before we knew it first course was served and my taste buds were in heaven again. Tamsin kindly accommodated all my tricky food allergies and blew me away with a flavoursome 3 course lunch. Everything looked pretty as picture and almost too good to eat. Blue potatoes with pretty little blue flowers scattered throughout the fresh greens may give you an idea of the kind of pretty I’m talking about. But it couldn’t convey the deliciousness. Nor could my description of a quince syrup sorbet with sweet tangy poached Rhubarb (so fresh I saw it being carried from the veggie garden whilst we were eating first course!) and sprinkled with the tiniest but most divinely flavoured fresh rose geranium petals. I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I say the food was as pretty as it was delicious and fresh. We ate our fill and chatted around the beautiful big table, surrounded by gorgeous old windows with views to die for.

What a lovely day it was. Mel’s stories and helpful advice with the flowers and arranging, and Tamsin’s welcoming hosting and delicious food made for the most perfect combination. I learnt about arrangements having ‘ins and outs’ and giving each bloom room to breathe. I learned that the right variety of zucchini will make the most amazing noodles you’ve ever tasted and you can grow a huge amount of produce in a relatively humble plot… and of course so much more than I could eloquently share with you here… If this dreamy day sounds like your kind of cuppa tea, then you’ll be pleased to know Tamsin and Mel run this workshop every year, but they always sell out within days of being announced so you’ll need to be quick if you want to book into this gem of day.

Wishing you dreamy days flourished with delicious prettiness x

podcasts and craft wagons












The other week I felt like I was the last person on earth that hadn’t opened the Podcast app on their phone. So I decided I was going to investigate this whole podcast thing that I kept hearing about, and a few days later this great post appeared on one of my favourite blogs, Meet me at Mikes. Put it out to the universe and suddenly it comes to you hey? Well after a great head start thanks to Pip, I soon found a few more subjects that piqued my interest and I’ve been ‘podcasting’ ever since. On the drive to and from work, when there’s crap on tv and even when I get outvoted in the tv watching stakes, and there’s some sort of ruby/hunting/fishing show on. I pop my little earplugs in and I’m off in another world learning about amazing people, what makes for good design and why we like to swear. It’s brilliant! Have you tried it yet? What do you listen to?

The first week of spring has brought with it all sorts of beautiful and not freezing mornings, sparkly sunshine on jasmine and dewy raindrops on blossom. My maybush is flowering, the birds are extra happy and chirpy, and it’s a teeny bit lighter when I get home from work. We’ve picked and eaten lots of fresh greens from the garden this week and I’m looking forward to the veggies growing a bit faster than the slow mode of winter. Cakes were baked and eaten in celebration of all the Leo birthdays plus one early Virgo birthday in our family. I made a flourless zesty citrus cake with sweet potato, loosely based on this recipe, a decadent chocolate chip cookie cake loosely based on this recipe (thanks Reannon!).

In other news I’ve been struggling to fit in craft time of late – unheard of for me as I’m usually pretty good at prioritising this, I know my sanity suffers if I don’t. But for some reason it’s taken a back seat for the last few weeks while things got a little chaotic around here in the wardrobe/declutter/move furniture in every.single.room to a new spot mode. Finally we’re settling back into a regular state of slightly ordered chaos, only a bit of furniture rearranging to go, and most of the crazy chaos is gone (some of it just moved outside to the garage!). Anyways, as a result of the lack of craft, unsurprisingly my health has started to suffer and I’ve been feeling a bit average / stressy / overwhelmed… so I got to fixing that by casting on a beanie at the beginning of the week and casting off by the end of the week. It felt so satisfying and so good to be crafting again. I used some fave chunky baby alpaca which was a delight to knit up. The squishyness is impossible to describe or see in the photo but trust me, you’d want to curl up and sleep in this beanie if it was big enough. I talked my son into modelling it for photos again, ‘just pretend you’re a pixie in the flower garden’ I said… you can probably guess which photo is the one I said this in?

Don’t you think it’s funny how even when we know what’s good for us, we still fall off the wagon and forgot/stop to prioritise the things that bring us peace and make us feel good about ourselves and life in general. I’m back on the wagon again and even cleaned out my yarn basket and got myself a few new projects to play with. Bring on the craft and spring sunshine I say!

Wishing you a gentle cushioned landing if you fall off your wagon, and giving you a leg up to get back on again.