Monday, October 23, 2017

sunday afternoons

When was the last time you pulled up a chair and sat in the sunshine? 
We are meant to enjoy being in our garden. To simply be. Not do. I am pretty good at turning a blind eye to 'to dos'. I think that's a gift, just quietly. If I waited until everything was ticked off, I would never relax!
This sunny spring weather beckons me outdoors.
Last week was big. I actually wrote down everything that happened and nearly hyperventilated. It wasn't busy. It was big. A friend's death and then funeral, extended family visiting leading to my dad's 80th birthday party, family issues and even the dog getting pregnant from Jo Blo up-the-road. (stressful) There's always something going on! Saying farewell to my daughter going off to Africa for nine weeks in the midst of preparing church music, having young adults to stay and hosting a homeschooling afternoon sharing a lesson in watercolour painting. Phew.
Sunday afternoon was a time to breathe.
I kicked off my shoes and sat outside with a cuppa and a book. Then opened my art eyes and got inspired by this gorgeous Vulcan magnolia in all its magenta glory. I actually did some sketching!
It was bliss.

pretty imperfection

Heavy rain - as in ONE FOOT of rain (300mls) this month has been fantabulous.
It was so hot and dry in September that we were desperate. The season forgot it was spring and thought it had skipped ahead to summer!
The little patch of delphiniums was parched and struggling. We bought half a tank of water for the first time since we moved here 18 years ago, just to keep the garden alive and hoped to pull through the flowers we had invested in.
Then it rained and I thought they would drown!
They sprouted in all directions and became so sodden, the heavy stems bent under the weight of the flowers.
I picked up two soggy stems that had snapped off short and put them in a tiny vase. The colours were surreal. Beautiful shades of blue tinged with mauve.
They made my fingers tingle to capture them in this little watercolour painting.
They remind me not to underestimate the beauty of imperfection.
We tend to reject something if we compare it to what it should look like.
Appreciate something on its own merit.
It can stand tall alone.
It doesn't have to measure up to something else.

I am just a dabbler in art. There sure is plenty of room for improvement!
I have given myself permission to appreciate all that I am learning and practicing. 
To enjoy the journey.
It is so much fun to splash gorgeous colours around.
I don't want to spoil my own enjoyment by comparing myself to others - especially experts who have studied art and painted for years. 
It just makes me happy!
And I am surprised how it touches others with a breath of fresh air because it is loose and light and breezy.
Do something that makes your heart sing this week. 
You don't have to be an expert in whatever it is you want to try.
Relax and enjoy the process.

rugosa roses

Rugosa roses are lovely. The rich colour and scent is something special. I remember reading in the beautiful cookbook "Rose Petal Jam" by Beata Zatorska, that her Polish grandmother made rose petal jam out of this variety.
I noticed a different kind of beauty here once the petals fell and before the blooms turned into a rosehip.
I like these quirky spiky bits.
We get so fixated on a finished product that we overlook the process. 
We disregard the different stages. 
The garden communicates all sorts of messages when I listen.
What is your garden telling you this week?

spring cleaning

We are doing a major overhaul here at our place.
Recently, I was head down, tail up, cleaning out disgusting, black mucky sludge from the base of the fountain. 
Not very elegant. And the smell? Hooeee! 
(Thank goodness for lovely Crabtree and Evelyn hand scrub for gardeners.)
Gardening sure ain’t  glamorous.
You wouldn’t think so, looking at this idyllic pic would you?

Maintenance is not my strong point. I’m an ideas gal. 
I like the theory of a pretty fountain. Long term practicality however, includes maintenance.
I'd noticed ours was not fountaining as it should be. I thought the pump was the problem.
Turns out, a fountain gets all clogged up with the go-slows when mucky sludge blocks the inflow and output.
It needs to be emptied, pulled apart and cleaned out before we can put it back together, fill it up and reconnect the power.
Does that sound familiar?
Sometimes we need to be emptied, pulled apart and cleaned out to be filled up and reconnected to the power source.
I think my heart might need a revamp.
The sludge of comparison, envy, insecurity and frustration is clogging my arteries. I feel weak and heavy laden.  I’d better take it to the Lord in prayer.
Spring cleaning time.

Monday, June 12, 2017

random acts of kindness

You cannot put God in a box.
He often surprises us and sometimes answers prayers that we don’t even utter.
The garden has had the upper hand this year. Big pruning and hedging work has needed doing for months and it has been so overwhelming, it makes me want to run away from home!
I look at all the work that is beyond me, sigh, and go and make (another) cup of tea!
There is a dearth of gardening help in our local vicinity. Those green VIP guys don’t come out our way. My capable son is working elsewhere and my hubby is out of action with a bung shoulder.
A few months ago, I wondered how I could find a WOOFer (workers on organic farms) – the only trouble is, we’re not really organic!
Then along came Nicolas.
God just dropped a new friend into our family, courtesy of our capable son who suggested I might like a hand in the garden in return for a place to stay for a week or two.
(I think Tim was relieved he didn’t have to do the hedges.)
Nicolas is from France. He finished his agricultural studies and is spending a year travelling in Australia experiencing various work opportunities. He met Tim working for friends on the cotton harvest.
It is amazing what an energetic young guy can do in a few days!
He has been so willing and enthusiastic, it has blessed our socks off.
Pictured below : Nicolas helping our youngest son with a bridge building project.

There are many fine young people in this next generation. Cheerful, honest and trustworthy.
Despite the negative news reports bombarding our senses, there is so much good in this world.
Let’s focus on the positives.

“There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.” William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

sit still

It seems surreal to sit still this morning.
As I prepare to share my stories with a roomful of younger mummies in the thick of babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, middle úns and teens, it does not seem so long since I was in such an intense season of motherhood.
I sip hot tea in the quiet and almost want to pinch myself.
How can this be? I am a mother of eight children!
All those years of clamour and being needed and woken by little ones, thinking it would never end. Now it is such a contrast. My youngest two are older and often sleep in. I let them. Our days tend to be longer at the other end.
I savour and soak in the morning peace.
 I have grandbabies to cuddle now, but not in the middle of the night.
I want to reassure these dear mums that "this too shall pass". Not with a trite platitude, but to encourage them to embrace this season and make the most of any moment to sit still. Not to fill up the cracks of time with distracted busyness, but to stop and notice the joy of today. Even while folding endless washing. Even if it is at four oçlock in the morning. It can be a gift to have that opportunity to relish the calm in the house and (sleepily) gaze into the face of this precious baby in your arms.There is always much to be thankful for. 
I don't miss those years. I treasure them. I loved the crazy, full days. Draining every ounce of energy, but fulfilled in believing that pouring into my family mattered.
I want to cheer mothers on. It is so worthwhile to love our precious little ones through a beautiful childhood. Giving each child a solid foundation. A springboard for the adventure of their lives.

"Home is where your story begins" 
Annie Danielson


 The golden autumn light has been exquisite this week.

The morning shimmers with a gentle glow through the mist until the sunlight shines everything awake. The soundtrack of whipbirds echoes their cracking calls around the hedges enclosing the secret garden.

It is quite balmy and still. 
Such a surprise for this time of year. It will be June in a handful of days. Even though it doesn't feel quite normal, I am relishing the reprieve of mild weather before the chill of winter bites. and happily venture outside in the not-too-fresh air to explore what is new in the garden today.
The fountain gently trickles a cheery greeting.

After a southern sojourn, I embrace here with renewed appreciation. tuned in to the positives and notice all the blessings right under my nose with fresh eyes.
Home. I am re-anchored where my heart belongs.
It takes going away to come back. Wholeheartedly. My heart is prone to wander. I inherited a restless nature that ebbs and flows. It is a relief to satisfy that pull away and gently return like a homing pigeon.
To dig back into my own backyard content to settle again.

Friday, March 24, 2017

let it ramble

Our garden is all rambly shambly. 
The grass has become unruly after delicious damp and drizzly weather for the past fortnight. 
The weed seeds are sprouting by the gadzillions and the kikuyu is running amok all through the flower beds.
The right side of my brain says it feels relaxing
The left side of my brain paces around in frustration that everything-at-once needs taming and tidying to bring a sense of order before things get really out of control.
There must be a happy medium. 
Calm, yet a little freedom round the edges.
It is appealing to see a neat, orderly garden. It is restful in a satisfying way.
However, a symmetrical, formal clipped garden with nary a leaf out of place makes me hyperventilate. to keep it that way!
No time to sit under a shady tree or stop and smell the roses.
Isn’t that like our lives? 
There is a difference between chaotic and calm. 
While calm doesn’t necessarily mean spit spot, there is a restfulness that is evident in an environment that is lived in, yet peaceful.
If we spend every spare minute to tidy and dust and clean the house, we don’t have time to sit still and relax with a good book or snuggle a little one with a story, because there are “things to be done!”
There is a difference between dirty mess and disorganised mahem versus the evidence of a little clutter from a lived-in and loving home.
Enjoy your home.
 Enjoy your garden.
 And make time to stop and smell the roses.

Photo by Mikaela Moseling

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

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?