Monday, April 29, 2013

the school series : painting a forest

School holidays - so much better than school.

There will probably be a stage in my near future where I regret such a statement but for now I'm quite happy to sing it from the rooftops. For the past few weeks we've relished in rhythm rather than routine, it's been a nice breather. Our days have been pretty spontaneous; slow mornings followed by beach visits, late lunches, and an afternoon movie or two. Che spent every second day playing with the kids next door; climbing trees, jumping on the trampoline, discovering an overgrown cubby down the back -  the essential ingredients for a good childhood, I believe. 

When he wasn't squealing from the garden or running through the trees, he was at the table requesting food or a paintbrush. We've been using picture books as inspiration for paintings (A Forest, in particular) and when paper gets boring we move onto the driveway, a box of chalk in hand. 

Tomorrow morning it's back to school; the uniform is ready, I am not.

Our favourite art supplies include the most luscious Lyra pencils, vivid chalk from chalk chook and the entire Micador range; especially their watercolours and green eARTh products. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: In the garage, sorting through boxes of miscellany.
Poet: The mischievous spark of an almost-two-year-old sitting on her bookshelf.

Might I just say that I'm finding it difficult to choose only five favourites. This week I was completely enamoured by Charlie and Rufus in the woods; children within nature, a wonderful thing / I adored the nostalgic quality of she and him / siblings on a windswept hilltop, unforgettable silhouettes / little girl, you have the sweetest ice-cream smudged face / and the waking and sleeping beauty; gorgeous Bo

Last week Emma mentioned that whilst photographing her baby is easy, capturing her older boys is proving difficult. During 2012 I wondered whether I could do another year of 52 with Che; simply because he was turning from the camera so much. But, his reaction proved inspiring. I started taking photos of him immersed in a project or his footsteps as he walked in front of me. It's when I started to really value the "unportrait" and I quickly learned that a portrait isn't just a photo of a face or expression; it's about capturing gestures, traits, artistic creations, shadows and silhouettes. I had to get sneaky though - photographing through windows or door frames, around trees and from above. 

This year I've taken an entirely different approach and so far it's working. When I'm not capturing him in the midst of an activity I engage him in conversation by talking about the light and how it's helping me create the photo. Afterwards we look through the pictures I've taken and chat about each shot. Sometimes, if he's not in a rush to run off and play, he'll take a few photos with the camera and I'll talk him through the process (his composition is impressive!). 

Do you have any inspiring tips for photographing older children and teenagers?

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Thank you for all your beautiful and honest comments on my last post. It was such a pleasure to read through your stories and learn a little bit more about you and your 'home'. 

Whilst Daniel and I will spend the next few months mulling over our move, I'm mindful of enjoying the present, too. Change is inspiring but there's also a lot to be said for a merino wool cardigan and a steaming bowl of buckweat noodles in chicken stock. Creature comforts are one of life's true joys and I'm indulging in the autumnal kind; wrapping myself in layers, slipping into knitted bed socks, warming my hands around a hot tea cup. 

This weekend will be low-key for us as we prepare for a busy week ahead. Che returns to school on Wednesday, I'm finalising my preparations for The Creatives on Friday and Daniel and I will spend a night in Sydney, sans children (for the first time in, quite literally, years).

What are you up to this weekend?

Monday, April 22, 2013

by the sea

Poet on our local beach in her sweet arti pants / aztec storm scarf in ocean hues c/o scout & catalogue

We live near the ocean and its palette of sea spray, salt and sand. This is, and always has been, home. But lately we've been thinking about leaving; packing up and searching for a different scene.

I'm equally challenged and inspired by the thought of moving. But I've noticed, in the past year or so, that I'm ready for change; I want to live differently, if only for a while. At the very top of our priority list is the family experience - we want to immerse ourselves in a new pace, a culture unlike our own. 

At times like this our true nature comes to the surface. Daniel, the keen adventurer, is researching and making lists whereas I'm procrastinating, wondering what it will be like to leave everything I've known and leap into a very new way of living. 

In the midst of it all I've been wondering; why do people live where they do? No doubt work is one of the main deciding factors, as is proximity to family and affordability. But what about lifestyle priorities, rare opportunities, a simple desire to live your ideal.

Why do you live where you do? 

Saturday, April 20, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: Just. So. Happy in the ocean - clothes 'n all.
Poet: In amongst the plants she found a bird bath. Oh!

Blonde and blue-eyed - they are looking more alike and I think I captured it here. 

My beautiful friend, Claire, started The 52 Project this week with an adorable shot of Eulalie and her first set of piggies / Megpie's portraits of Eleanor and Felix are soft and sweet / Lola, Pearl and Stella in a palette of ochre, gold and crimson leaves - pretty as a painting / I really like this "near and far" - if you're looking for new perspective, this is a simple yet inspired idea / and Stella in Sulawesi; she's not impressed.

In last week's comments Nikki shared a beautiful lesson that she learnt in a photography workshop. "...I still remember the best tip from that class; the teacher told us that great photography comes down to light, lens and love." I couldn't agree more - look for intriguing light, a good lens makes all the difference and, lastly, photograph because you love it, capture someone or something that you love. 

Kate also shared an idea to ensure everyone doing The 52 Project receives comments each week. "Each week when I leave my link I go and look at and comment on the two links before mine. Of course I look at more if I can but you know how it is, there's not always time for comments. Every blogger knows how lovely it is to receive comments, so that is my way of making sure I spread some around each week." Feel free to take up her suggestion, if you like.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

the wholefood kitchen : little steps

Since I wrote my post on the wholefood kitchen I've immersed myself in what can only be described as an ancient food movement experiencing a renaiisance; a back-to-basics, as nature intended, simple way of eating.

However, simple isn't always easy and in changing our eating ways we are actually going full circle, finding inspiration in tradition and, ultimately, the seasons. In my reading I have discovered the wise elders of wholefood cooking and their fanatical followers as well as a group of young, stylish homemakers who are making their own mark on kitchens worldwide. There are recipes that take minutes and those that take much forethought, there are conflicting opinions and tried and tested methods for a multitude of stocks, broths and milks. The knowledge out there is plentiful, it's also highly subjective. And so, as I've dog-eared pages and bookmarked blogs I have maintained a strong and straightforward intention - feed my family well (it doesn't need to get complicated).

There are some facts and recipes that have, I suppose, become the foundation of our wholefood journey. Here's what has really resonated with me so far:
  • fruit and vegetables are essential in a child's diet but just as important for growth and wellbeing are proteins and good fats. "Saturated fats help to develop the nervous system in the early years, the immune system in the school years and aid with hormonal and sexual development for teenagers," - Jude Blereau, Wholefood for Children (a doorstop of a book but it has sat on my table for months now and I reference it every day). Healthy fats can be found in a variety of food including nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish, eggs, milk, coconuts and all animals...
  • ...which leads me to stocks and broths. There's good reason behind the saying "chicken soup for the soul" - indeed, it's soul food, heartwarming and equally nourishing and nurturing. Chicken stock has become a staple in our diet and I always have some in the freezer for the 'emergency meal' (it's particularly good in autumn as we aim to strengthen our immune system for the coming winter). I buy a whole organic chicken, pop it in a deep pot with onion, celery, carrot, a few bay leaves, some fresh parsley, thyme and sage, black peppercorns, a good dash of apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover the lot. I bring it to just below boiling point and then simmer for about 7hours (sometimes I roast the chook first, place the carcass with veggies, herbs, vinegar etc in the slow cooker and leave it on for 24hours). Jude Blereau recently wrote a fabulous post about stock as a core ingredient - there's some wonderful info there. Just today, Sarah posted a great article about using the whole chook - the frugavorian way - and Beth looks into the benefits of eating organic chicken
  • for optimum health it's essential to have a healthy digestive system so nurture and support it with whole, unrefined foods, easy-to-digest grains, coconut (oil, milk, cream) and lacto-fermented foods (I adored Vanessa's recent post on the subject). Choose sourdough over yeast bread and indulge in some raw, unrefined honey.  
  • coconut oil, it's the oil du jour, but gosh it tastes good, can be safely heated and it's so good for you. I use it for everything.
  • make fresh juice every day - it's a lovely ritual, a simple pleasure, and regardless of what you put in there, the kids drink it (especially if a fancy straw is involved).
  • soups are a constant in the kitchen at the moment, especially a creamy pumpkin, chicken noodle and lemon, lentil & coriander (perfect for autumn or spring)
  • for a sweet treat I am besotted with this apple, oat and maple slice (try it straight from the oven with a good dollop of cream)
  • wholefood is never pretentious and it's always worthwhile
I think what has been most enlightening and perhaps a little daunting on this journey is the realisation that supermarkets don't sell much in the way of real food. There have been many times over the past few months where I have stood dumbfounded at the checkout; trying hard not to become disillusioned. I remind myself that this food journey is an ever changing and always evolving one; baby steps, baby steps. 

Wholefood is not just about eating either - it's about preparing, cooking and storing food, which sparks a whole new set of questions and the exploration of new ideals. What has become apparent as I've come across new recipes is the need for a food processor - and I don't own one. Do I need one? What's your most used kitchen accessory? Where do you get your glass storage jars from (aside from your recycling bin!)? What's your favourite wholefood recipe? Let the conversation begin...

I'm currently reading Seasoned and eagerly anticipating the arrival of Petite Kitchen - it's lovely to find women who are self-publishing their culinary tales. Inspiring!

Monday, April 15, 2013

lilac & honey

sage tea to help dry up the milk / sweet floral clothes from printbebe

It's raining here today, for breakfast we ate porridge with maple syrup and banana and I can't see us getting out of our pyjamas for a good while yet. 

Slowly but surely my energy is returning and for the first time in months I feel grounded. Since Poet weaned she has been absolutely ravenous and as I prepare food and watch her devour, I'm mindful of what my body fed her for all those months. Retrospect is such a brilliant teacher and this week it's provided such wonderful insight. Put simply I've been tired this past while, my days have been unproductive and I've been uninspired. There is an undeniable sadness as Poet and I navigate this new stage but there is also a sweet calm that comes from renewed energy and a clear mind. 

As we bask in lazy holiday repertoire I'm revelling in a new kind of freedom. My days are slow and spontaneous, just how I like them. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: the morning light.
Poet: the afternoon light.

An autumn light diptych complete with blue and white stripes, one of my favourites from The 52 Project this year.

This week I loved the composition in these three portraits / I kept returning to Serendipity in Chaos' post - so much pretty in her photos / I think this shot of Amelie is destined for a frame on a wall / Dash, Nona and confetti - colourful, whimsical perfection / and a joyous cuddle (I can hear the giggles!).

Thank you so much for all your "get better soon" wishes. I'm on the mend now, taking it slowly and very much looking forward to two whole weeks of school holidays. Our plans? Lazy pyjama mornings, beach walks, a few movie sessions and a whole lot of not-much-at-all.

Monday, April 8, 2013

when nature decides

The past week has reminded me, with such clarity, that we are nature.

When Poet came down with a fever a few weeks ago she fed like a newborn. Day and night she would cuddle in and I, with all my concern and anxiety, obliged every feed. Our sleep was feverish and our days long, but by last Tuesday afternoon she was on the mend and I exhaled. Finally.

The next morning it was my turn and over the following days I shivered and burned, cringed as I swallowed and wished myself better. In the midst of it I accepted that the gradual, controlled weaning process I had planned was not meant to be. 

My body had decided that it just couldn't do it anymore and with a strange mix of relief and grief, I started to say no to Poet's requests. On Sunday night I lay in bed and listened to her pit-pat her way around the house instead of lying next to me. Every time she came into the room she would smile, ask for milk, and sob when I said no. "Milky's gone." Eventually she surrendered and came to lie down, but she wouldn't cuddle in, nor would she share my pillow. 

Instead of feeding her, I sang to her; nursery rhymes with a made-up line every now and then. When we got to twinkle twinkle she stopped crying, cuddled in, and started to fall asleep. Which is when I fumbled my way through the second verse and soaked the crown of her head with my tears.

It was over, just like that. The baby becomes the little girl.

The final breastfeed is such a pivotal "cutting of the cord" moment and this time, whilst I struggled with the fact that I wasn't in control, I found comfort in the natural progression that was occurring. Much like pregnancy and birth, the breastfeeding journey is beautiful, challenging, tiring and joyous. It requires so much from the mama; gratitude, acceptance, patience and, most importantly, the ability to surrender. 

Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high, 
Like a diamond in the sky.

When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night.

Then the traveller in the dark,
Thanks you for your tiny spark,
He could not see which way to go,
If you did not twinkle so.

photo: breastfeeding poet (13months) on a wild beach in Gerroa, captured by tim

Saturday, April 6, 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Che: I see a photo frame, a tree frame and a hair frame.
Poet: She's all better, ravenous for food and looking glorious in red and white (sweet merino knit c/o paul & paula).

I've been in bed for five days now with a nasty throat infection. It's been a rather challenging week for me, but there were a few of your portraits that really made me smile, including Andrea's homely captures, simple and pure / Archer and his graze, suspenders and watering can, gorgeous boy / a little dinosaur and his stunning mama / all of Atticus' excitement is in his hands / and this little boy running down the hollow - it made me breathe a little deeper.

Our clocks changed back last night so it really feels like autumn now. From the looks of the 14/52 portraits already popping up, it seems as though spring is peeking its way through the north. I suppose, in a way, our portraits capture so much more than just faces, don't they...

Monday, April 1, 2013

slow days, rest days

...get better soon days.

When your baby has a fever, time stands still. Since Wednesday afternoon Poet has been unwell, her eyes heavy and sad. She has had an on-again-off-again fever, general malaise and inconsolable misery. Just when I think she's improving she calls for me again, cuddles in and feeds for comfort and nourishment. 

I've been reading a lot about autumn, the season when our immune system struggles the most. Whilst I worry about the kids when they're sick I'm constantly reminding myself that they need to be unwell, every so often, to strengthen their immune system, to build resilience against the bugs of winter. Over the past few days, in between feeding Poet and writing stories (not the prettiest attempt at life/work balance) I've been jotting down recipes for immune strengthening and respiratory cleansing. I hear it's going to be a bad flu season so I'm preparing myself and hoping for the best.

Right now Poet is sleeping soundly, her belly full of roast chicken, roast garlic, cucumber and capsicum (I was so delighted when she ate dinner!). I'm hoping that tomorrow she wakes a little happier and healthier because there will be croissants to eat and birthday wishes to be made. Tomorrow I turn 29. I'd like autumn sunshine, a nice cup of coffee and no sneezing, please.