When I first began my conscious living journey, I felt deep inside something was missing. I'd open up one of my favourite books, Velvet Pears and revel in Susan's amazing garden, Foxglove Spires and I'd feel something stirring within, something that felt like tiny butterflies. I kept coming back to that feeling, trying to pinpoint what it was and seemed to be the way she described her connection to her garden and her journey, especially in it's early beginnings with her herb garden.
At this time in my life, we were getting our little cottage ready to rent and finding a way to get out of town. I wasn't in any position to go putting my heart and soul into a garden. I did however, have plenty of work to do outside, paving the court yard, pulling weeds and making our backyard appealing for renters. It was during those few months in 2012, I started to dream about creating my own little patch, a sweet herb garden with a picket fence and wildflowers. And every time I thought about it, those little butterflies would re-emerge.
Over the next few years those feelings continued. A knowing that something in my life was missing, but slowly and somehow consciously, I began quietly filling the space. As I walked the beach, bare feet in the warm sand, on the humid summer days when we searched for rock pools in the Byron Bay Hinterland, when I planted the seedlings in my very first little veggie patch, those butterflies emerged and took flight. I wanted to bottle that divine energy up, I wanted to feel it everyday.
It's been exactly three years now since my journey began, what I think of now as my reset to life. And after much searching, thinking, dreaming, meditating and wandering, I've now come to realise what it is I was missing all those years of my life was a real dialogue with the Earth and my own place in the natural world. In the busyness of my 'previous life', I didn't allow myself any real time to connect with Mother Nature. If I did it was behind the lens or only on superficially. I had forgotten how to tune in to nature and truly be in the moment, something I always used to do as a child.
These days, my life is very different. These days I endevour to embrace those moments. I no longer search for things to photograph or blog about, I live my life, surround myself with the natural world and those beautiful things that I want to share find me. I take my days slowly and whenever possible spend time outside. I've realised that there is so much to be learnt by observing and engaging with Mother Nature, she is the most incredible teacher. And when Tallow is making mud pies and splashing in puddles and I'm watering or weeding, or harvest veggies for dinner, we are both in that elemental moment, using all of our senses, grounded by the Earth.
And that is where I have have found my place. Right there in my little patch, as I watch the bees, harvest kale by moonlight, pick dandelions and mint to dye yarn. I know I have found what I was longing for.
I'm new to foraging, very new.. In fact I'm still a little bit of a worry wort about the whole, pick something off a random bush and eat it thing. Blame it on my childhood growing up in the tropics, where there were quite a few things you really didn't want to touch or eat, especially in the rainforest. This season though, I'm shaking off my childhood fears of 'wait a while' and 'stinging trees' and I'm starting to find the whole foraging experience wonderfully exciting. I feel like a kid on a treasure hunt!
Now I must begin by saying we didn't go far to forage our Lilly Pillys, in fact, to my surprise, we had a whole hedge of them growing in our front yard. Talk about a win! After Ben reassured me for the twentieth time that these beautifully hued pink berries, were in fact, not only edible but could be made into sparking wine and jam, I couldn't resist giving it a go. So off we went, with our little basket, for our first family foraging adventure.
Making jam has always intrigued me. It was one of those things I imagined was incredibly complex and took a great deal of patience and skill to master. And although it can be a bit fiddly and takes a little while, I'm beginning to realise, once you gain a bit of confidence and just play practice, the world is your jam jar. There's just something so romantic about preserving the season. I found this River Cottage Bites episode so helpful for preserving tips & tricks.
For my Lilly Pilly jam I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, so I found a basic strawberry jam recipe, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And you know what.. it worked! There's no waiting, minimal boiling and beautiful, tasty results.
Easy Lilly Pilly Jam
(this recipe made two medium jars and one little jar)
500g of Lilly Pillys*
500g of jam setting sugar
3 tbsp of water
A knob of butter
Wash and sterilise your jars. I find the oven method is nice and easy and works really well.
Pop a saucer into the freezer. This will be for testing your jam.
Wash and de-seed the Lilly Pillys and discard the bad ones. They are really easy to open using your fingers.
Crush the Lilly Pillys in a large bowl using a potato masher. As the berry doesn't contain a great deal of juice, I added a few of tablespoons of water to help crush the berries and develop a juice (add a little more water if need be).
Once the Lilly Pillys are crushed add them to a large pot along with the jam setting sugar.
Heat the mixture on a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Add a knob of butter and then increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil. (You can tell when you achieve a true rolling boil when the boil can not be stirred down)
Boil for four minutes (I like to set a timer). You can gently stir the mixture, maintaining a clockwise motion. Be sure not to walk away at this point.
After four minutes, retrieve your saucer from the freezer and test to see the jam has set. Do this by adding a small amount to the saucer and pushing it with your finger. The jam should wrinkle and look like jam rather than syrup.
Continue the boil until this consistency has been achieved (It shouldn't take much longer and the jam will set more in the jars).
Take the jam off the heat and remove your jars from the oven.
Ladle the jam into a jug, then carefully pour into the sterilised jars and screw the lids on tightly.
Enjoy on fresh homemade bread or scones. Pot of tea essential!
*Of course if you don't have a random Lilly Pilly hedge in your garden you can replace them with any type of berry you like. Finally quantities may vary. Just be sure to use equal parts jam setting sugar to fruit.
What have you been foraging and preserving lately?
A portrait capturing our weekend, each week, in 2015."
Sunday 3:30pm: 'Come on Daddy, come on!' Taking the lead on the way to see the ducks at Junction Park..
(Note: She dressed herself for the occasion)
Much Love & Light
PS. I'm over at the gorgeous Maxabella Loves today, sharing a special guest post about one of my favourite local, hidden places to take kids, the beautiful and ancient Perry Sandhills. If you're ever in Mildura, it's definitely worth the a visit.
"Be a curator of your life. Slowly cut things out until you're left only with what you love, with what's necessary, with what makes you happy." - Leo Babauta
List #009.. A collection of blog posts, articles, short films & links to inspire and invigorate a more conscious way of life.
Spring is almost here. Well if you ask Mother Nature, I think she'd say that Spring has well and truly arrived. Today we began sowing our Summer veggie seeds and planning our garden for the new season, which I'm excited to say, will include some lovely new chickens soon. The change of season brings with it an invigoration, a calling, to get outside, to connect, to get things done. So I'm trusting my intuition, continuing to find that balance and embrace a slower pace, one that allows for afternoons to watch the clouds, make mud pies and enjoy the fleeting moments of Spring.
I'm trying to make mornings more my thing. With Winter winding up I'm looking forward to embracing the sun filled mornings of Spring and I loved this list of ten things to do before 10am.
This family is so incredibly inspiring. Such a beautiful example of blooming where you are planted and helping others to do the same.
The longing for belonging is something I think about often. As a society we have become so disconnected with everything around us, so totally isolated, it's wonderful to read articles like this one that help to show us the way home.
Taking our garden to the next level and sharing our produce always seems like a monotonous task that would require much more land and heavy machinery. This article, 'Earn a good living without a tractor' was such an interesting read and has really helped me see how it's possible to achieve our goals on only a few acres.
While we are chatting about homes, this might just be the tiny home of my dreams!
After making candles with Zara last month, I've fallen even more in love with beeswax and all it's wonderful possibilities. This article from Milkwood is a wonderful reference for some of the great things beeswax can do.
If you're feeling like you need a little kick start into Spring, the girls over at Wabi-Sabi Well are sharing all kinds of wonderful blog posts and videos.
I'm still working hard on reducing the plastic in our home and always love new and inspiring tips.
Solar cooking.. What a fascinating concept! And here in Mildura in the middle of Summer, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't take long at all to bake a batch of biscuits. So tempted to give it a try!
My beautiful friend Kirsten Rickert has recently shared a lovely video about some of the questions she receives regarding home schooling. I just adore Kirsten's approach to life and just hearing more about her process.
As you can tell, I just love reading interviews with beautiful people, living conscious lives. One of my favourite sources is The Vista. There's always someone amazing sharing their passion and wisdom, like this interview with Kari Jensen of Poppy and Someday.
Don't you just love when baking experiments actually work! A few lovely ladies have asked for the recipe for my 'bit of everything in the pantry' slice last week, so here it is.. my new favourite picnic must bake.
This Happy Pantry Slice actually came about because I have totally misplaced my scales. I was all set to bake Michelle's amazing Chocolate Wheaty Biscuits (from her new book), when I realised kitchen scales had just disappeared into thin air. Desperate to bake a treat for our picnic, I rummaged the pantry and had a moment of inspiration. I knew I didn't need scales to make my Anzac Slice, so I wondered if I could combine the two, to make a yummy, soft, wheaty, oaty, chocolatey slice with a few extra good things thrown in. What I love about slices like this, is there's no fiddling around to make little perfect biscuits, just throw it all in a ball, mix and squish it into a tray. Feel free to add or subtract and of the extras, it's the ultimate anything goes slice.
Happy Pantry Slice
1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of plain flour 1/2 cup of wholemeal spelt flour
1/2 cup of dark muscovado sugar (brown sugar is also fine to use)
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of bi-carb soda
2 tablespoons of boiling water
125g of butter
1 tablespoon of good local honey
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
2 tablespoon of linseed
A handful of currants or sultanas
(feel free to add any other pantry favourites, nuts or seeds) 100g of good quality ethical dark chocolate for the topping
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a slice tin.
Combine oats, coconut, flours and sugars in a large mixing bowl.
Melt butter and honey in a saucepan on a low heat.
Mix bi-carb soda and water, then add to the butter and syrup and stir in well.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine.
Then add in the chia, linseed, currants and anything else you fancy.
Mix well to combine and then press the mixture gently into the lined slice tin.
Bake for 20 mins. You want it to be golden but still a little bit soft in the middle. This will give your slice a nice fudgy texture.
While slice is cooling, break chocolate into small pieces into a oven proof bowl.
Melt the chocolate by placing the bowl into the oven, (which should be turned off but still hot) for about five minutes.
Carefully remove the bowl and stir to combine and then drizzle generously over slice and smooth with the knife.
For extra goodness, use a fork to poke holes throughout the slice, which will allow the chocolate to go through the base.
Allow to cool in the fridge until chocolate is set and then enjoy with your favourite pot of tea.
A portrait capturing our weekend, each week, in 2015." Sunday 12:30pm - Enchanted by the landscape and trucks on the horizon..
Much Love & Light
PS. I'm back from my little social media break and am feeling so refreshed, connected and focused. As amazing and inspiring as all of this interaction, this constant source of words and images can be, it can also be overwhelming. A week away really allowed me to find my rhythm, focus my energy and remind myself that it's ok to step away sometimes. New adventures are on the horizon and I can't wait to share more with you soon.
A portrait capturing our weekend, each week, in 2015."
Saturday - 11am: My chief orange harvester.. She takes her job very seriously.
Much Love & Light
PS. Inspired by a few lovely kindred spirits on Instagram, I've decided to take a week's holiday from all social media, including my blog. It's something I've never done before, but have been thinking about for a while and I feel like a little step away from all the 'buzz' is just what I need right now, to focus on my family, my home & myself.
This Wednesday marks three years since we said goodbye to our beautiful angel baby Cohen Littlewing. And those three years feel like lifetimes and just moments all at the same time. They have been the most transformative years of my life and I'm looking forward to some quiet time to reflect, remember and also unfurl some exciting dreams for the future.
Thank you so much for all your support and love, especially over these past three years.