Numbing

For the last, well ever really, I have used my phone and social media as a numbing tool. I always claimed, ‘I don’t have an addictive personality’, I’m just using social media for ‘work’’, ‘I’ve got a community on there.’ And these things are true, in part.

I mean as we all know, and all keep saying, last year was like nothing we had ever known and I know, that during that time I was using my phone to find a connection, to fill a void.

Recently I’ve read Sarah Wilson’s This One Wild and Precious Life and Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and it’s opened my eyes to, well so much really but one thing is my use of my phone. Sarah told this story of a man reaching for his phone before saving his children from a house fire and Brene told many stories of people in the service industry being completely ignored while people pointed out their orders, refused to have eye contact all while remaining on their phones.

In an episode of The Happiness Lab podcast, that I listened to in early pandemic days, I recall hearing that small moments of incidental contact are something that contributes greatly to our happiness. So why are we so incessant on staring at the screen in the palm of our hand?

Early January this year, we went to visit friends. This women is someone I’ve know for upwards of ten years, we lived together at uni, we meet our now husbands during the same week (but under completely different circumstances), and our only children are born within two months of each other, but I know, and am happy with the fact that she will rarely answer her phone when it rings. If fact she’s so bad with her phone, that her answering machine says so, and asks that people send her a text. Spending a few days with her really made me rethink my phone usage.

We actually chatted about it, as a group of adults once the kids were in bed and talked about apps that I could use to reduce my time on my phone. When I looked at my screen time, I saw that I was spending upwards of 8 hours a day on my phone. Most of that on Instagram. And most of that time, I was picking up my phone, opening Instagram, only to find that there was obviously no new stories or posts uploaded since I last picked up my phone 30 seconds ago.

So once home from that visit, I added a screen time limit for Instagram. Deleted facebook off my phone, because the only thing I really like about Facebook is Marketplace and I find that if I check that on my desktop then I look and walk away. Since that visit, I have read more books, started meditating again, spent more time playing games with Elliot, I have been listening to podcasts and actually calling friends. Honestly, I’m still spending around 2-3 hours on my phone, most of that Instagram. I’ve put a limit on it so that I essentially get kicked out at 45 minutes, sometimes I leave it at that and sometimes I go for another 15 minutes. The rest seems to be incidental picking up, phone calls, calendar, messages etc. And I have to be honest, I really like Instagram. I like the actual real connections I have made with people I’ve never met, or when I finally do meet it feels like we’ve known each other for years. I love the beautiful pictures I get to see from creatives all over the world. I really do love the community feel, the DM chats and the recipes I’m inspired to try or books I add to my reading list. I am very conscious of needing to be in control of my viewing of Instagram. 

Here’s some things I do to reduce the amount I pickup my phone. I by no means am the best at this, as I’ve said above but I am working on it.

  • We never have our phones in our bedroom. We have a charging station in the kitchen where phones get plugged in before bed. We don’t have a clock in our room, we’re early risers and tend not to need an alarm. We both read on kindles, and often I check the time on that if I need to.
  • Have something else near by to pick up instead of picking up your phone. To get out of the habit, carry a book around, or have a colouring book at the dining table, or a fidget spinner.
  • I’ve been utilising the timed limits you can create. For me it’s 45 minutes on Instagram. Some days I give myself an extra 15 minutes, or ignore the limit completely but it’s a conscious choice I make.
  • In the past I have deleted the app of my phone after using it. I’m not doing that at the moment because I’m loving creating Reels and have  bunch saved in my drafts which will all get deleted if I delete the app. I know of a lot of people online (Venetia LaMana and Jess Quinn) who delete all social media apps off their phones every weekend.
  • Use the mute function on Instagram. As I went through stories (arguably one of my favourite elements of Instagram) I took note of whose stories I was just quickly flicking through and muted them. If I was flicking through their stories and posts I unfollowed. If I felt icky about unfollowing I simply muted. People don’t know if you’ve muted them, used this function to its fullest!
  • Don’t get stuck in the explore or Reels page. Look at and engage with who you follow and get the hell outta dodge!

I’d love to know your thoughts on using your phone/social media as a numbing tool. Have you looked at your screen time? What ways do you stop yourself from binging Instagram?

Lunch at Merne – 9th wedding anniversary

Each year for our wedding anniversary we like to celebrate in style and enjoy a multi-course dinner. For our first anniversary we went to Loam, our second we ate at Brae, for our third we went to Oakdene Estate, we celebrated at Little Green Corner for our forth, our fifth anniversary we enjoyed a meal at IGNI, we actually didn’t spend a night out for our sixth and our seventh we enjoyed dinner at The Long Paddock. And last year, for our eighth we spent a night in Melbourne and went for dinner at Lesa.

Things look a little different this year. Jay has been working night shifts for about 12 months now and our anniversary feel on the day between two shifts. So her drove home from Melbourne, arriving home a 7:30am, slept for 3 hours then got ready for lunch.

Merne is actually the same venue that Loam was for our first wedding anniversary, so that was fun to revisit. It was a Thursday lunch, Jay was heading back to Melbourne that night and we had to pick Elliot up from school. It wasn’t our usual ambling, boozy meal we had had in the past for our anniversaries but it was still divine.

I’ve been eating a bit differently and the crew at Merne were super accomodating. We got a vegan option and a meat option for Jay each course that it was necessary and we shared any fish and seafood options.

Our first course involved four tasting options, the delicious olives grown on site in a delicious herby marinade. Then we had two options with brick pastry, pickled watermelon, Jay’s had jamon. A delicious salad with charred seasonal fruit, walnuts, radicchio, mine was on a macadamia nut puree and Jay’s on a delicious creamy cheese. And finally, fish with avocado, radish and finger lime.

Our second course was two different dishes. Scallops with fennel, nori, capers, was a smack in the face of ocean flavour. Its as served with a creamy pea puree which has dairy in it, so I didn’t have that. The next course was a kangaroo with a herby buckwheat risotto and my option was roasted pumpkin, cabbage, macadamia nut puree and pickled walnuts. This was possibly my highlight of the meal.

By this point was full and we were yet to be served mains. We’d chosen a vegan option and a fish option so that we could share, these were brought out side as well. A seasonal charred veggie salad, to which Jay added halloumi, two options then as Jay was given corn bread and I was given smokey cabbage.

At this point it was just before 3pm and we had to rush off to pick up Elliot from school, so we packed up our left overs from our mains and got our dessert to go.

Jay headed back to work that night, and I could have eaten the left over salad after putting Elliot to be, but instead I dove straight into dessert.

An Abundance of Nectarines

Late last week I woke early one morning and after a study session I went back to our room to say good morning to Jay. I could sense something was off, so I poked and prodded and eventually found that the abundance of ripe nectarines on our tree was stressing him out.

‘There’s so much fruit on our tree and it’s rotting on the tree and it’s stressing me out. It was so much easier when there was only seven big nectarines last year. Why can’t they ripen one at a time, you know, this one’s ready to, the next tomorrow.’ He said, frowning, clearly exacerbated by our beautiful abundance of fruit.

We started picking a few to munch on, the white flesh juicy, dripping over our chins and hands as we devoured the over ripe fruit.

We had friends coming to visit in a few days, we knew their preserving experience was boundless, and we correctly assumed that they’d help us deal with our glut.

The fruit was picked, chopped and went into one of two pots. Those destined for chunky stewing, or those to become fruit leather. Each 10 Litre pot was put on the stove to cook down with a little water, one left to cook longer than the other. Recycled jars popped into the oven to sterilise, and once hot, the chunky stew fruit was poured in, lids removed from boiling water and expertly tightened.

The second pot had liquid removed, and was blended with a stick blender to a find pulp. Over days we spooned the puree onto plastic sheets in our dehydrator and made the years worth of fruit leather.

I’m loving how productive our garden is this year, and hopefully we can keep it up. I shared more on Instagram about this too.

In My Kitchen January 2021

Welcome to my kitchen. As everyone is thinking and feeling, can you believe it’s 2021! Another year has passed us by and what a year it was. I hope you have had a relaxing and stress free festive season and that you have many wonderful things to look forward to this year.

I love doing In My Kitchen videos and recently hd a request via Instagram, so thought I’d get back into it. I really enjoy making videos and would like to make more this year. Let me know if that’s something you’d be into.

Thanks so much for watching. Let me know what’s happening if your kitchen this month.

Christmas Pudding

It’s Christmas Eve and as I write this my Christmas pudding is boiling away. It’s wrapped in calico and resting on an upturned saucer in a pot of water. As it boils the bubbles cause the plate to go ‘plop, plop, plop’. The familiar sound of Christmas Eve, that lasts for three hours.

It’s my grandma’s recipe. One year, probably sometime around 2009 I happened to arrive at her house a few days before Christmas, before everyone else had arrived. I had been rock climbing at Mount Arapiles near Horsham, and went to my grandparents from there. So I happened to be at her house on Christmas pudding day. I helped, and without knowing, had the responsibility of the Christmas pudding handed down to me.

The following year, when she was asked about the Christmas pudding, she simply replied, ‘Clare’s making it from now on’. She had spoken, and I would be making the pudding.

I’ve made it every year since and every year I feel the pressure. The anxiety has been warranted.

Once you mix up the fairly simple pudding mix, you pour it on to a wet and flour coated piece of calico. Then you tie kitchen string around hold it together. The pressure point here is to tie it loose enough for the pudding to rise as it cooks and tight enough that water won’t get it.

One year I didn’t tie it tight enough and after three hours of boiling I undid the kitchen twine and a wet, mess of pudding collapsed onto my festive Christmas plate. Needless to say I was making a new pudding on Christmas Day, right up to the wire.

Another year, the calico that was hanging out of the pot caught on fire from the gas burner it was cooking on.

I’m feeling confident today, but won’t know how it goes until I open it up in approximately two hours.

I’d love to hear a wonderful, but stressful Christmas tradition that has been passed down to you. Merry Christmas.

P.S It was a success! Probably the best one yet.

My 35th Birthday Cake

It was my birthday during isolation 2.0 this year, like many people. I had been trying to live more lightly, and add a little joy into my life.

I was chatting with my sister when I decided to do something that felt so ridiculous and extravagant to me. I decided to make myself a cake. A big decorated, elaborate 35th birthday cake, that I could drop at people’s door steps, because at the time we couldn’t visit of have visitors.

When I asked my sister, if baking a 4 layered white chocolate mud cake was a ridiculous idea, her response was ‘Clare, I buy $300 dresses I’ve never worn and I’m at the hairdresser today because I thought it’d be a good way to spend the day. If you wanted to know about ridiculous, you’re probably talking to the wrong person.’

I laughed, and wondered why I don’t do more things just for the fun of it.

So I spent the next three days planning my cake.

Pinterest was my first stop where I came a My CupCake Addiction white chocolate mud cake, and it was the inspiration. I started buying white chocolate from the confectionary aisle, Tim Tam’s, Lindt balls, Lindt chocolate, little white chocolate covered cookies, wafers etc.

The day before my birthday I baked two white chocolate mud cakes, and let them completely cool. I also created some decorations from here. Then on the day of my birthday I started construction.

Learn from me, I made the whipped white chocolate ganache on the day, but wish I’d made it the day before. So you should do that. And my ganache ended up a little lumpy but it was still delicious.

And once it was constructed, the fun bit began. I love decorating the cake.

Then, as we were allowed a couple of guests in our home at that point my Mum and Dad popped over for the cutting and eating.

It was a lovely way to spend the day, and I good lesson that I want to do more things just for the fun of it.

A really lovely weekend in photos

You know those perfect days, weekends of just normal, wonderful life? Well last weekend was one of those. The days flew by far too quickly, but if every day could be like these few days then I’d be a very happy woman. The had marshmallows, nibble platters, friends drop by, lazy mornings in bed with the cat wrapped around my neck, a birthday, s’mores, card games, a beautiful dinner in, beautiful, thoughtful birthday gifts, work done on our veggie garden and so much fun in the dirt. It was just lovely.

Make do and mend, or buy smart.

Elliot’s lunch box broke, on the second last day of term. We got him a lunch box from Stuck on You in 2017, it had his name printed on it and it was great for occasional care and kinder, and then the first 6 months of school.

But last week the hinges broke. and the top came completely separate from the bottom. The last day of school he went with an elastic band around it.

Jay wanted to fix it, but I wasn’t sure. I told him he had the weekend to fix it, because then I wanted to be able to buy a new one to replace it before school started.

So he drilled out the hinges, and popped a new metal part in and it was all looking great… until the plastic completely shattered in the hinge.

It’s now going to live in the shed to store screws and nuts and bolts.

So I have just purchased this planet box from biome stores. Because if we can’t fix something, we should buy better. And I think this new lunchbox will last years now.

Educating Myself

There’s been a lot of learning moments this year. The biggest one by far has been the movement around Black Lives Matter. It has become very apparent to me that I’m completely uneducated when it comes to our Indigenous Australians. And so, I’m learning, reading, watching and listening to everything I can. I came across a great list today that I thought I would share incase you’re trying to do the same.

I’d love to hear how you going navigating this, feel free to comment, or send me a message on Instagram, or send me an email.

Here’s the post that I loved today and below I’m listing some things I’ve been consuming.

I have also borrowed a large number of books from the library but I am yet to read. The Instagram post lists so many great ones.

Surrounded by a sea of library books

I’d love to hear your favourite movies, books or podcasts to help with our education.

I’m scared to commit to plastic free July

Over the years we have reduced our single use plastic and waste. We tend not to drink take away coffee and when we do we use our reusable mugs. We use reusable bags when we do our groceries. We buy a local veggie box once a fortnight that has no plastic. We use our soda stream. Don’t buy soft drink. I use a metal razor. And we have wooden toothbrushes. We do these things, we have for some time and to me, these no longer require any thought.

But there is still work to be done.

And it’s a bit terrifying.

The idea of buying our food in bulk, and not in plastic bags; the idea of eliminating foods like chips and seaweed crackers; the idea of exceeding our budget is all a bit overwhelming.

So I headed over to the Plastic Free July website to tentatively dip my feat into the waters.

I found some great information, things that made this whole task not so daunting. On the website it states that you can take a small step or dive in deep.

Now, I’ve decided it’s not too daunting, and we just need to take one more step in the direction of our rubbish reduction.

What step you do think you might be able to take for plastic free July?

Reflex

When Jay and I met, one of our first conversations was about how much I liked a good discussion. A conversation that you could really get passionate about. I wanted to talk about how the world worked, and politics and why we should save old growth forests. I wanted to learn from every conversation.

Over the years, I feel like life has taken away from these sorts of conversations. Now we debate more about what we should do around the garden or what should go in our next meal plan.

So when I stumbled across FlexMami on Instagram and saw Reflex the game I had to grab both game 1 and 2.

Each night at dinner we have been asking a question, answering on reflex, then analyse why we answered that way, exploring what has informed our opinions, then reread and analyse the question.

Some of the questions we’ve had so far are:

  • Do you respect people with views that radically oppose your own?
  • Would you rather be feared or appreciated?
  • Are you more motivated by money or praise/recognition?

It’s really interesting to have these conversations over dinner, and we always create a thoughtful ‘would you rather’ for Elliot.

What do you think? Is this something you’d be interested in?