Sunday, June 25, 2017

Winter memories

In the last month we have been up early every single morning.  We have taken note of the sunrise, the frost and the occasional fog.

We have joined our local horse community in all the dust and grit of campdrafting and gymkhana events.

We have ambled along behind mobs of sheep at a pace just right for observing our world and discovering treasure, such as an emu nest.

We have eaten no nonsense food in the paddock, washed down with warm drinks while everyone takes a break from the sheep work.

I have picked green things from my garden and rescued chillies from frosted chilli bushes.

On the evening of the winter solstice, Annabelle skilfully manoeuvred a mob of sheep, all the while singing and talking to her horse while the final rays of light filtered through the dust.

After school George has cleaned troughs and worked alongside the men on his small motorbike.

We have laughed, cried, talked, planned and possibility had a few too many drinks with friends on Friday nights. 

Last Sunday we tragically lost a mate who will never get the chance to do any of these things again.  I have not mentioned this to ask for sympathy, quite the opposite.  I have written this post to remind myself that life is out there to be lived to the fullest.

Ride the horses, listen to the music, take the photos, keep in contact with your friends, make that wood stack, wear pretty things, renovate the caravan and share what you can with anyone who appreciates it.

Happy Sunday, friends x

Friday, June 9, 2017

Winter, taking stock

Winter has arrived with a sudden drop in temperatures, frosty mornings and a full program of farming, schooling and family commitments.  The days are short, the nights are long and quiet and it seems like a good time to take stock.  Thanks Pip.   

Making : endless meals
Cooking : sourdough pizza bases and old school crunchy chocolate slice

Drinking : tea, followed by one coffee at 9am and then back to tea
Reading: Frankie Spaces and I even found a very creative ex-Broken Hill local amongst the pages
Trawling: the second hand shops for cheap but sturdy timber chairs
Looking: at new beds
Deciding: on a new bed
Wishing: my little pear tree had produced more than one pear this year.  There is always next year. 

Enjoying: My Open Kitchen e-course  
Waiting: for the school holidays
Liking: the jars full of seeds I have collected from my garden

Wondering: how to make the most of the limited family time we currently have 
Loving: that my children already think like practical farmers
Pondering: launching back into selling my sourdough, one of these days
Listening: to my local ABC radio, always
Considering: where I might start with my caravan renovation
Buying: a beautiful set of old but perfect children’s alphabetical animal stamps
Watching: the frost quickly kill off my basil and zucchinis

Hoping: my daughter never loses her love of chasing cows and dogs and riding horses

Marvelling: at The Shady Farmer and his clever use of Instagram, amongst other things. I love this man
Cringing: at the news, it is a crazy, frightening world out there
Needing: more scissors, sticky tape and glue in the house, where does it all go?
Questioning: small people about the above
Smelling: quinces, so many quinces
Wearing: snow socks and many layers
Noticing: the bubbles in my sourdough starter

Thinking: about something sweet I can bake quickly, before the weekend
Admiring: all the warm things from Icebreaker
Getting: ready for visitors on the long weekend
Bookmarking: Australian made ceramics on Etsy, it is a slippery slope let me tell you
Opening: doors and windows briefly        
Closing: them again when the cold afternoon air moves in
Feeling: grateful for the opportunities that working with Graziher has presented 
Hearing: a small motorbike buzzing and the occasional dog barking
Celebrating: two special family birthdays in June, our boy George and my mum
Pretending: not to notice that my windows need cleaning
Embracing: my woolly scarves that I had almost forgotten about over the summer 

I hope this weekend you are lighting a fire in the paddock or reading something beautiful.

Happy Friday friends x

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Community connections

Originally I was going to write this post about my community but I find my specific community difficult to pin point.  Instead I have been thinking about the small moments of contact that add up to make my life feel meaningful and happy. 

A friend who doesn’t question my craziness when I ask her to help with photo locations, autumn leaves and afternoon light.  She just quietly supports and listens to me ramble on about quinces and life. 

My visits to our local vintage and second-hand shops.  These trips aren’t about filling my car with material things; they are more about observing the social history of our town, chatting with the shop owners and sometimes coming away with a special piece. 

Occasionally we eat meat that we haven’t slaughtered ourselves and when we do it comes from a proper butcher shop.  The sort of shop where the hardworking man who owns the business is behind the counter chopping, cutting and slicing as he subtlety reveals a little of his butchering knowledge to the cooks who visit him. 

Speaking of shops, a new pop up shop in town has completely captured my imagination.  The creative lady behind this venture has put her heart and soul into this previously unused space and her enthusiasm is infectious.  Every empty shop front in every country town needs someone like this! 

Last Sunday a friend and orchardist generously gave us oranges, corn and seed potatoes because he knew they would be put to good use and appreciated.  Really, is there anything better?   

An early morning text message from a friend who had thought of an idea for our upcoming Fire and Flour Day while she was preparing quinces for her cafe.  Thank you Summa for always believing in all the crazy schemes. I love that nothing is ever too difficult for you! 

This week I also hugged and chatted with a neighbour in the sunshine when her mix of work, life and kids all started to spin. 

While my community is rather random, these moments fill me with gratitude. 

Do you have these moments?

I hope this Sunday you are chatting with a friend or swapping some vegetables or baking something that warms your heart. 

Jane x

Friday, May 12, 2017

Autumn thoughts

My mind drifts across many things as I go about my days parenting, schooling and farm watching.

Autumn isn’t all traditional carpets of crunchy orange leaves at our place because we just don’t have that many deciduous trees.  My fruit trees put on a little display but right now they are still looking quite green.

Fresh chocolate chip biscuits can solve almost everything. 

Our horse’s whiskers capture the light so nicely, making these big animals even warmer and nicer to touch and smell on a cold afternoon.

I need to learn some safer, more effective knot tying for when farm things need to be dragged, towed, hitched together or fixed up with rope.  Girl Guide friends, I know you are out there. 

The two men in my life melt my heart, particularly in tender, reassuring moments like this one.

At the end of a big social day in the outback, in amongst the big trucks and utes a grandmother and her precious granddaughter stepped in front of my camera at the right time. 

I wonder how many quinces I can cook this season.  With the branches dragging on the ground it is time to get busy peeling, chopping and processing.

I have noticed that an early dinner time during the week is the secret to our success, or not.  When I have dinner planned and on the table early our whole week flows better.  On my less organised days when dinner is late it means late cleaning up and late bed times which overflows into every other part of our lives.   Sometimes it is the small things.  Actually, often it is small the things that count the most.

I am reading and slowly experimenting with bread from this beautiful book.

This song is on my playlist.  It is unapologetically American but I have been listening to this music since my teenage years and I still love it.  It reminds me of road trips, wide open spaces and the good stuff.

What are thinking or wondering or pondering?

Dinner times, autumn leaves or warm horse hair?

I hope you might be cooking or creating or sitting in the sunshine somewhere in amongst the day to day routine.

Happy Friday, friends x

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our island home, for a week

We only take a proper holiday once every few years so when we do, I like to put a fair amount of effort into booking accommodation that will hopefully enhance our overall holiday experience. 

Character and charm always win over generic, shiny spaces for me.  Although sometimes there is a fine line between charm, character and bare basics. Thanks to the world of Google and a little intuition I discovered Walden on Flinders Island.  

Walden was possibly one of the cosiest, character filled yet practical holidays rentals we have ever had the pleasure of relaxing in.

Constructed from a thoughtful mix of recycled building materials with uninterrupted mountain views from the main shower and a beach within strolling distance and we couldn't have asked for a happier island base. 

The memories of drawing, chatting, reading and cooking in this sun filled space will stay with us as a family forever. 

What do you look for in holiday accommodation?
Warmth and character or simply five stars?

Happy Sunday, friends x

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Flinders Island escape

If you are contemplating a holiday that involves bargain flights, glittering hotels and endless shopping opportunities Flinders Island is simply not your dream destination.

If on the other hand you are looking for deserted beaches, welcoming locals and endless walking and exploring opportunities Flinders Island could be for you.  

Island life is a lot like outback life in some respects.  To live on an island requires a certain amount of resilience, self sufficiency and organisation.  Council services are limited, many roads are unsealed and all supplies need to be shipped in either by barge or airfreight. Getting on and off the island requires planning for locals and tourists alike.  

Flights, accommodation and hire cars are all limited which means that crowds are non-existent even over a busy period such as Easter, when we visited.  All of these factors make a thoroughly peaceful holiday destination far from the usual, bustling tourist hot spots. 

If you have read some of my older blogs you will know that I love old beach shacks.  You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon these rough little gems hidden in thick, coastal scrub , up narrow bush paths or sitting out on their own tiny islands. 

We were welcomed home by gentle rain, flowers in the garden and all of those things that make home so special but our week of relaxed island living will stay in our hearts for years to come.

While on Flinders Island we:

Bought coffee and local treats from A Taste of Flinders.

Tested local wine from Unavale Vineyard.
If you are interested I will be be posting about our accommodation  separately in the coming days.   

I hope you have had a lovely weekend, friends x

Saturday, April 8, 2017


The last week of the school term can be a killer.  Patience and motivation seem harder to find when the holidays and Easter are both in sight.  On top of that, my enthusiasm is limited when it comes to Easter craft activities and discussions.

Midweek my frustrations must have been quite obvious when my husband questioned why I was letting it all get to me.  He told me to do something that I found inspiring instead.  Why is it that men have a knack of explaining things so simply?  Or is it just me who has a tendency to torture myself with the tedious points of life, when instead I should just get outside and dig in the garden. 

So, I did.  We packed up the books and momentarily stepped away from our distance education computer. 

I cleaned up some dying summer vegetables.

I spent some time admiring beans and sunflowers seeds that I am collecting from the garden.  There is just something about a jar of seeds don’t you think?

I fed my sourdough starter.

I listened to some music, this song and then this song

I messaged an old friend and a cousin who I haven't seen in ages and arranged some real life catch up time.

I baked a batch of Kourabiedes to give as gifts, if they last that long.

I spent some time daydreaming about coffee possibilities at this place and then this place. We are hitting the road very soon and it is getting rather exciting. 

Of course, I can’t always down tools when the going gets tough, but sometimes it is just good to reconnect with the things that make us happy. 

Do you have a favourite thing to do when life starts to boil over?  I know for some of you it is sewing.

Happy weekend, friends x

Sunday, April 2, 2017

My photography uniform

I am guessing that almost everyone reading likes to take photos either with their phone or on a big camera or with some sort of photographic device.   Sometimes my camera feels like an extension of my body and I reach for it constantly.  It feels so familiar and there are times when photos of moments passed bring a tear to my eye.   Not because I think my photos are particularly spectacular, I just get immersed in the memories. 

I find myself looking at the light wherever I am and imaging photographic possibilities.
My camera is almost always with me.  

Unusually for us, we have had two consecutive weekends of social activity, our local races and then a neighbour’s wedding.   On both of these occasions I have found myself a lot more dressed up than usual and I have realised that it is almost impossible for me to take photos when I am in a dress and heels.  For some reason I find it very difficult to be subtle and smooth, camera in hand at big social events.  I find it equally conspicuous and inappropriate to be glued to my camera phone.

Our neighbour’s wedding was a photography paradise.  There was a garden oasis, a glorious outback sunset, a huge sheep trough full of ice and sparkling drinks, a decorated woolshed, a perfect dust haze, genuine country smiles, gorgeous ladies and handsome men.  Yet, in my formal dress and makeup I felt unable to reach for my big lens.  Sitting here now I feel quite regretful but in some ways I know that there are times when it is good to step away from the camera.

For now I will stick to quinces, autumn light, vegetables, horses and scenery from home, captured while I am in my jeans, wide brimmed hat and work boots.  I will work on mastering photography in a dress. 

Do you have a favoured photography uniform?

Do you need to feel comfortable to get into that magical photography zone?  

What are you taking photos of today, I wonder? 

Since it is Sunday I will leave you with two songs.  There are so many big names, voices and songs all wrapped together beautifully in this package.

I know a lot of people who are seeing the Dixie Chicks live while they are in Australia.  This song is a favourite of mine and judging by the Instagram videos in my feed I think a few other people might like it too.   

Happy Sunday, friends x