Friday, October 22, 2010

Rummage Style in Peppermint mag

I don't talk about my business very much and this blog is actually meant to be a bit of a break from all things "work" but every now and again there are times when I like to share a little bit with friends and family. One of my dresses is featured in the current Peppermint mag! Sometimes these little things happen and I give myself a little pat on the back, feel a little proud, and then get back to it!
I love the way I can now separate my work from my personal time. It has taken a long time to be able to do this because when you have your own business and work from home it can take over your life. I made a decision a little while ago, however, that along with the rest of my life I am going to keep things simple. I don't want the stress of trying to push and push to grow something that is too big to handle and not enjoyable anymore.
As the time goes by I value my work more and more. It has given me the freedom to spend every day with my son and also given the family more freedom financially. I do feel lucky that things have worked out as they have, even though it has taken some time and caused stress in the past it has been worth it in the end.

My dress is the blue one with the floral ruffles... all 100% recycled materials and handmade!

Chocolate face

Jonty and I have had a few rough days together over the last week. I think those two year old molars are causing some grief.
So, we find that making chocolate cake makes things just that little bit better!

Friday, October 15, 2010


When we first bought this house we had big plans. There were plans to basically double the size of the original house with many bathrooms, guest room, office, etc. We were going to get a bigger mortgage, get it all done and then be blissfully happy in our renovated and big house. A little while ago after thinking a lot about this I realised that I was feeling quite overwhelmed and stressed about the idea of such an undertaking and I was really uncomfortable about perhaps losing the history, quirks and feeling of our place through the additions of shiny and new things. You see, over the last two years of living here I have fallen in love with our house. There is nothing exceptional about it but it is just the way that it makes me feel. When I walk down through the garden I relax, I feel happy and very lucky. I feel like this every single time I come down the stairs. And I realise that it is enough for me. I discussed all this with Dave and he is completely comfortable about reassessing our plans. As long as we can replace all that needs to be replaced like our roof, shower and driveway and we continue to work on things like the landscaping, and building a deck, he is happy. And if we find that in ten years we need to extend then we will probably be in a much better financial situation to do that.

I don't know why we created this pressure for ourselves. Perhaps it was a societal pressure of striving to have more than others (or the same as others), or maybe we just hadn't given ourselves the time to love what we have first. I think that today people get so caught up in aiming to get what they don't have that they stop looking at what they do have.

I think that we all know deep down that more stuff, bigger houses, better cars, etc aren't actually going to make us more happy, but the feeling of thinking it will somehow make our lives better takes over. We get that thing that we wanted and then there is something else we want and when you think about it you are no happier than before. But, if we just get that other thing then we will be happy...and so it goes on, and on...
The funny thing is that all it takes is for you to tell yourself that enough is enough and you give yourself freedom from the cycle; the pressure lifts. It did with me anyhow.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Savoury muffins

This recipe is a trusty favourite of mine. I have a sweet version as well which I will post soon. This is one of those ones that you can put whatever you want in, I made cheese and herb but you can use ham or bacon, ricotta, spinach, etc. I like to freeze these individually and Dave takes them to work throughout the week.

2 cups self raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder)
125gms melted butter
125mLs milk
3 eggs
salt and pepper

This is the base so just throw it all in a bowl and mix, just make sure that your butter is cooled. Then add your flavourings. If it seems a little bit too thick just add a little milk to get it to a consistency that can be spooned easily into a tin. Cook at 220C until nice an brown on top (about 20 mins). Make sure that they get a little crispy on top, soft, pale muffins are not very nice!

Spoon herb markers

It's my birthday on Wednesday and my friend Bec from The Little Shop of Handmade in Melbourne gave me these fantastic recycled spoon herb markers. Thanks Bec!

They are from Kabwares and will soon be featured in Bec's shop. They are handmade in Melbourne from recycled materials so it's all good in my book!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sharing produce

When we bought this place it was always our intention to become as self sustainable as possible. I feel that living on such a big piece of land warrants a commitment to at least growing some of our own food, after all, our footprint is so much bigger than someone living in the inner city and we do have to drive quite a lot for work. The future for our population probably is high density living with good public transport and green technology. So, making the decision to live on a space that could house many more people came with, what I think, is the pay off; you have to be more self sufficient to lower and pay back that footprint. I'm hoping that we can more than cover our environmental impact and over time cover some of our friend's and family's as well.
We can do this by sharing our produce.

A friend of mine lives in inner city Melbourne with no backyard or growing space. And, every Friday I am on the road driving around the city working and delivering stock for my business. So on the way past her house I dropped off a little bag or surplus produce that we had. She gave me $5 for it which I will put in a kitty to pay for chicken feed, mulch, etc. This little bag of eggs, herbs and veg will be more than enough for her for the week. What's better, though, is that she is able to access locally grown organic produce which is normally so expensive that it is often out of touch for many people who want to do the right thing and make good choices. Another plus is that by giving the $5 to me (instead of a supermarket) to put back into the garden and chickens that provide the products she is eating, she is feeling connected to the garden and part of the process. She can come and visit me and walk through the garden she is eating from.
This is all part of my little plan! Once we are at full growing capacity we could sustain not just ourselves but also some friends and family with the opportunity to eat great, fresh, local, organic produce. This is a bonus for them but also for us as we know we are using our space for sustaining the amount of people that it should and therefore reducing our carbon footprint! It also gives others the chance to eat heirloom varieties that I am concentrating on growing and other more unusual vegetables that you would normally never be able to buy from a standard grocery store.
I just thought, that I guess this is an extension of the farmer's markets. The only difference is that I am personally known to the people I am giving my produce to and it is not a money making venture.
The revolution of farmer's markets all over the western world at the moment is amazing. It shows that the move and drive towards accessing good, local, organic food is here and strong and as more and more markets pop up it will become the norm to purchase your fresh produce in this way. It gives everyone more choices.

Rhubarb jam

On Saturday it was time to harvest some rhubarb that had been growing beautifully lately. I had done some reading on rhubarb jam recipes and came up with my own using the ingredients that I had on hand. I really avoid going to the shops to pick up one or two things for a specific recipe and so prefer to adapt to what I have. I find that if I pop into the supermarket all week I end up spending lots more money than what was necessary so I stay away except for my weekly shop. If I forget something it just has to wait to the following week.

So, rhubarb jam...

500gms chopped rhubarb
500gms sugar
rind and juice of one orange
dash of vanilla essence or vanilla bean

throw it all in together and simmer for about half an hour, To test if it is ready drop a little onto your kitchen bench and when it cool if it is all sticky like jam should be then it is ready!

The smell when it was cooking was divine and Jonty and I couldn't resist trying some straight away...

He gave it his seal of approval!