Saturday, December 21, 2013


It's an annual event; the crazy final few days before we head north to Sydney to share Christmas with our extended family (my mum and nine siblings, and their families; it's a little busy!). We rush about finishing gardening chores (one last weeding session, sugar cane mulch applied, a little harvest here and there), last minute gift gathering and making, one more report/meeting/event to attend to for Dada, pet care to be arranged, gift wrapping, packing and more packing and, best of all, sharing some precious time with friends before we see them next in the new year. So, well, it's rushed, it's a little stressful and it's also fun and FULL, which might explain the quantity of photos in this post. It's a good, rich, full feeling.

Another order of lions heads for the hills
 (I'm ever so close to reopening my etsy store!)

40 degree days require a swim or two in the pool, so what if Mama
 can't find the swimsuits

Some of us LOVE the extreme heat

Beginnings of cherry jam

cherry and sultana kebabs by Elsa

Hot weather picnic in partial shade

Always helping

Our adventure seeker

Thankful to my sister for this nifty cherry-pitting tool which
 made it that much quicker to pit 3 kgs of cherries

A visit to Daiso...great for stocking stuffers

Harvesting some silverbeet

Green rhubarb, truly (tastes the same as the red variety)

The corn has sprouted

Helping and collecting worms

Our first lemons are on their way!

Our first blueberries on their way!

Guess we'll have an olive harvest in 2014!

Pretty sage flowers

No room in the garden for these remaining tomato plants...
we hope they'll enjoy the pots just as much

A recent annual tradition, a coconut before Christmas

Making labels for the cherry jam

Another 'D.E.A.R garden box' (Dino, Elsa, Ange, Raf) containing items from our garden including rhubarb, garlic, sage, coriander, dill, bay leaves, mint, rosemary, spinach, silverbeet and tomato plants (did we really grow all that!) accompanied by a jar of cherry jam, of course!

Thanks to Sally Wise for the recipe

Friday, December 20, 2013


We've had gardening fever of late, particularly over the past week as we rush to fill all the (reasonably) new vegetable beds in the front garden and transfer all my long-nurtured seedlings to the ground. It was truly all hands on deck. It's difficult to see from these images as all the new plants are still small but, we're done. For now. Tomorrow we head to my home town of Sydney for Christmas with family and cross our fingers that all the hard work we've put into the garden of late will result in some wonderful surprises upon our return. Thankfully our kind neighbours will water all those fragile new plants and thankfully we were home this week when the hot days hit so we could water them more than once. Yesterday was 40 degrees!

And school might be over for the year but, I've had many requests for gatherings with school friends and one of the ways we met these requests was with a day out at a relatively nearby farm (20 minutes away). We laboured the decision of whether to pick cherries, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries but when a farm worker told us that the cherries were literally dropping off the trees and that the branches were low enough for the kids to easily pick, we were sold! And cherries were literally dropping off the trees as we walked along the rows of trees. Beyond our group, we hardly saw a soul making it feel like a private, joyous pleasure. Such a wonderful We've booked in another with the same school friends. I have a feeling these school holidays (Elsa's first summer type) are going to be fantastic.

And if anyone's interested, the kids hats were made from a pattern in this book. They're a few years old now and, since the pattern is so great and I have quite the stash of fabric, I might just make another pair this summer). 

The boys on the bus driving away from the cherry-tree paddocks

Thursday, December 19, 2013


So, this time of the year is simply busy, no? And sometimes not so much 'simply' but chaotic, crazy and mind-blowingly so! (blowingly isn't a word is it but, I like it!). We also had a Dada (our 'dada') overseas for the first few weeks of December working along side fellow MSF members in New York and with a short visit to family in Toronto, Canada; his Mum who he hadn't seen in person (only on Skype) for five years and a sister who, likewise, he hasn't 'seen' for seven years (since we last visited Canada a month before I was pregnant with Elsa!). Given the great work that MSF does (and my husband does with MSF) and his deep desire to see family, how could I begrudge the trip, even at this time of the year. But, there were many moments in the craziness of Raf and Elsa's end of year activities when I wished he was home, just to have him home. Well, and to share in necessary logistical arrangements, feed the chickens (those broody chickens that object to the daily egg-collection), 

 At times the two weeks went incredibly slowly! In moments when I wished desperately he was closer, I thought of the situation in Syria (a topic he was in N.Y. to discuss) and, well, really, that gave me the perspective I needed! I also recalled how often he used to be away in either Laos, Burma or China and felt grateful that, for the large majority of time, he's home.

AND, look at the gifts I received on his return. The Taproot 2014 calendar (bliss!) and some of my favourite toothpaste from a former life in Canada. Seems serendipitous that it's also from Maine, the home of Taproot, or pretty close. Or is my limited knowledge of American geography letting me down? Anyhow, I am so happy to have this calendar in my home; as happy as I am when the associated magazine arrives each issue! It's a real treat. The image below is perhaps my favourite from the calendar. We also used our remaining Air Canada points to purchase a new camera, which arrived home with D. I feel so grateful that the option was there because, how I've missed photography. Not that I'm the greatest photographer but, the passion is there!

So, that little overseas jaunt certainly dominated the start to our Advent celebrations but hardly stopped us enjoying the beauty of this time of year. On to more of our Advent activities....

With some help from my little Christmas elves, I put together these little 'garden boxes' as Christmas gifts for Elsa's teacher and her assistant. They contain things from our garden (eggs, garlic, cherries, bay leaves, oregano, mint and sage) along with a lemon from our neighbour's tree (ours is just a baby) and almond-cranberry biscotti made by us.

Some little gifts for the children to celebrate the end of  school year/yearly activities; cards from Winterwood, little angels from Annie and a parcel of 'jewels' from a local shop. The angels look very sweet on the Christmas tree.

Some new Christmas decorations using air-drying clay. This was fun. 

And oh so much Christmas card-making! And this Mama even had a moment to make some more 'Christmas windows'.

And there's been a perfect amount of outdoor time, one day in hail! Weather wise, post the strange start to December, where it felt more like winter than Spring or Summer, it's glorious. Even the beach tent has made an appearance in our back yard.

At a nearby farm checking out some potential pets. Not sure how the dog would respond so all plans for a rabbit and guinea have been put on hold for now. But the cuddles were nice.

And personally, at this point in December, this photo pretty much sums it up! Still, there's life in us yet and plenty more fun to be had before Christmas day. Fun and one 10 or so hour drive!