I have a pocket advent calendar that my mum made when we were little and wanted to use it for Elliot this year. We’re trying to reduce the waste we produce and increase our kindness activities and try to teach Elliot how being kind can be fun. So I decided that in each pocket I’d put a foil covered lolly/chocolate, so that we could make a ball to put into the recycling and a written activity. So if you’re thinking about doing something similar, and need some ideas, here’s the activities I put into the advent calendar.
I love music festivals. I’ve been to a lot over the years. One summer when I was at uni, I think I went to eight festivals. I’ve also always done everything on a tight budget.
Last weekend, while enjoying the festival vibes at Queenscliff Music Festival I was marveling at how we were able to enjoy the festival while spending less than $50 ($100 if you include the baby sitter) including our tickets to the festival. So I thought I’d share my tips to enjoying a music festival on a budget.
1. Bring your own food. No matter if it’s a single day festival or a full weekend, it’s easy to pack snacks. In the past, for multi day festivals, I’d pack esky’s full of snackable food. Dips, crackers, carrots, bread, cheese, things to make sandwiches etc. This weekend we packed Elliot’s lunch box as though he was off to kinder, a few pieces of focaccia and I took myself a salad. All food that we already had at home.
2. Don’t drink (alcohol). Seriously, it’s the most expensive part to any festival. And if you’re going to, just enjoy a couple and really get into the music. That’s what our money went to, 4 alcoholic drinks over the 2 days and churros, because they’re delicious.
3. Get a free ticket. Most festivals are looking for volunteers to help set up, pack up or help out during the festival. Check out the website for more info.
4. Get into the free stuff. Often there will be other gigs, activities or events in or around the festival. We spent most of the weekend in the kids sections where there we workshops, face painting and free rides for kids.
I’d love to hear your tips on festivalling on a budget.
You know you’re doing something right when you keep getting comments on how great your skin looks.
Prior to getting essential oils into my life I wasn’t a face washer, that’s right, I’d always just used water to wash my face. Honestly, I didn’t even really wash it.
I started more out of self care than any great need and now I love it. I use face wash, face masks, skin serums and a myriad of beautiful floral oils on my face.
So here are my favourite oils for my skin:
Made from Pomegranate seed oil and Yarrow essential oil, this powerhouse aromatic oil is designed to be added to your morning routine. It promotes the appearance of a glowing complexion and may help revitalise the appearance of skin. One of the main chemical components in Yarrow/Pom is Chamazulene, which contains a higher antioxidant value than both Vitamin C and E, it’s incredibly beneficial for the skin and immune system (it’s also what makes the Yarrow/Pom its beautiful blue colour).
Lavender is a beautiful oil to support your skin. It’s frequently applied to ease skin irritations and imperfections.
Geranium oil is often a love or hate oil but so delicious for your skin. It is reputed to eliminate dead cells, tighten the skin, promote the regeneration of new skin, and diminish signs of aging.
Tea tree is best known for its cleansing properties. It can be used to cleanse and revitalise the appearance of the skin.
Is a gorgeous beauty blend, a combination of Frankincense Resin, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Lavender Flower, Myrrh Gum Resin, Helichrysum Flower, Rose Flower essential oils, in a Fractionated Coconut Oil base, is designed to help reduce the appearance of skin imperfections.
Not only can Rose Touch can be applied to pulse points for an uplifting aroma throughout the day (it’s the oil of divine love after all). It can be used to moisturise the skin, reduce the appearance of skin imperfections, and promote the appearance of an even skin tone and healthy complexion. I love to roll this over my face once I have patted in Salubelle and Yarrow/Pom, then use a rose quartz gua sha.
Being The King of Oils, this beauty is wonderful for so many things but skin is what I love to use it on. Its soothing and beautifying properties are used to revitalise the appearance of the skin and help reduce the appearance of imperfections when applied topically.
Is a beautiful cleansing oil. It’s naturally high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress and disease-causing inflammation. It’s great for reducing fluid retention and cleansing the body. I love to use two drops of this on my dry body brush each morning.
Not only is Magnolia incredibly calming (it contains higher amounts of Linalool, the calming constituent, then Lavender) but it’s wonderful and soothing to the skin. It offers cleansing and moisturising benefits to the skin. A wonderful oil to add to your night time routine.
It’s always best to use a range of oils because your body can build up a tolerance to essential oils, over-use of oils can diminish their therapeutic effect, just as with a drug or medication. So I recommend keeping a range of beautiful oils in your bathroom and mix it up each day.
Waking on my final full day, my first solo day in Bali, was such a treat. I woke in my beautiful bungalow, moved to the day bed and meditated for 20 minutes, my new daily practice.
After an amazing self love retreat, my theme for the day was of course self love. After meditation, I read my book while eating breakfast. One of the many easy-to-read love stories I read while in Bali.
This gorgeous spa was the treat I had been waiting for. For $78 Australian dollars, I was treating myself to a foot ritual, full body massage, gentle turmeric body scrub, facial, fragrant floral bath, and full body moisturise. It lasted for 3 hours, and I loved every minute of it.
Once finished, I wanted to continue to honour loving myself. So I caught a scooter to the other side of Canggu, and took myself to Ubud Raw Chocolate for a ceremonial cacao. I sat, enjoying the drink slowly, reflecting on the version of myself that would be leaving Bali. Reflecting on life when I returned home. I purchased a block of ceremonial cacao, so that I can continue this ritual at home.
From here I jumped on the back of another scooter to head back to my street. I got off at The Loft, I ordered lunch and pulled out my book. I sat slowly enjoying my lunch, and reading my book, what a treat!
By now it was mid-afternoon, and I wandered back down the main street to the Love Anchor Market. I bought a hanging macrame to use to decorate our home and perused the market.
Once back in my bungalow I jumped in the pool, then set myself up on the day bed with a couple of Bintang and some chocolate. I alternated between watching something on Netflix and reading yet another love story for a few hours before venturing out for dinner.
I had mentally committed to a restaurant I had heard rave reviews about and the food looked delicious on Instagram. But when I took my seat, and looked at the menu it didn’t feel right for my last night in Bali. So I got up and walked out.
I slowly dawdled back towards my room and came across a restaurant serving Balinese food. All the food is presented in a glass cabinet and to order you simply point at the dishes you’d like to try. I ended up paying $8.50 for my dinner and beer.
When I got back to my room, I crawled into bed and set myself up with a movie, my favourite way to end the day.
What a delightful day. It was the perfect way to spend my last day in Bali. I’d love to hear your dream day in the comments below.
Something happened last year that shook me to my core. It made me questions everything about who I was, and I had never liked myself less. I had really lost my way, my sense of self and I felt stuck, I couldn’t find my way out. I wrote a bit about it on Instagram.
Under a cloud, I booked myself a spot on the Mindspo Self Love Retreat in Bali. I had a long wait, so I started the work myself, using essential oils to support my emotions, and half heartedly meditating.
Arriving at the Mindspo Mansion gave me heart eyes 😍. You may know that I’m used to roughing it and even our holidays are budget, adventure type. This mansion is in the most epic location, and gorgeously decorated!
For me, the theme of the week was ‘letting go’. Letting go of those stories, letting go of the hurt and letting go of the lies I was telling myself.
The incredible wealth of information poured into our souls from Rochelle Fox (@rochelle_fox) and Chris Soll (@chrissoll) is indescribable. Each day there was another thing, another activity, another workshop or ceremony to help with the letting go, the healing. We let go through ceremony, through fire, through water, through talking, hugs, tears and laughter.
On Letting Go day, guided by Rochelle, we answered questions until a rich tapestry had been woven. Stories from our hearts were down on paper. We cried together, we sought and gave advice, we hugged each other when their were no more words, and created a #mindspogirlsquad, a bond that can never be broken. That evening, in our burn ceremony we took responsibility for the stories we’d been holding on to and with that we burnt the shit out of them.
For me, the continuation of letting go and washing away was evident in our water activities. I questioned going into the water temple blessing. It wasn’t my religion, but the reason I was in Bali was to wash away and forgive myself. Each fountain I went under washed away tears from months, years of built up pressure on myself, all that time of so strongly disliking myself. As I came out from each fountain, I felt slightly lighter. I felt as though I was washing away my tough outer shell and finding myself.
Throughout all the letting go, I was honoured to be able to look into the eyes of 16 women and really see them. To have people you just met really see into your soul, we had a week long women’s circle, with soul sisters, so we could come together and share.
I can’t speak highly enough of this experience. It was exactly what I needed and more. A reminder to be my own cheerleader, speak to myself as I would my best friend, to be authentically myself, and rock it! I have now meditated every day since and have absolutely no intention of stopping.
For more information about Mindspo Retreats have a look at the website, I really can’t recommend them enough.
Sitting and waiting in my 6 monthly routine neurology appointment makes my stomach turn. What has gone wrong this time? What new lesions will be lighting up my brain. The longer I wait, the worse it is and my neurologist is reliably an hour late. When I’ve driven over 5 hours to get here I have nothing to do but wait, and if I walked out, I wouldn’t learn my fate.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I had been having excruciating back pain, most days would end with me lying on the kitchen or lounge room floors. My walk got funny, a gait, my legs wouldn’t do what I wanted them to. So I went to a physio, then an osteo, a spiritual healer and finally my GP. Who almost without skipping a beat, sent me to a neurologist.
Multiple Sclerosis is a funny disease, presenting so differently amongst it’s prey, it’s often hard to diagnose. It’s an auto-immune disease, where the immune system attacks itself and eats away at the protective covering of nerves. ‘Lucky’ for me I was a text book case, after a lumbar puncture (seriously one of the most un-fun things I’ve ever had to do) and an MRI, and the 6 weeks I waited, before my diagnoses, to be informed if I had a benign brain tumor or MS (yes, that’s what my neurologist said to me. Sometimes smart people just aren’t that smart), my diagnoses was certain.
The painful back was mid-flare up, when things are particularly nasty in the life of someone living with MS. How does my MS present day to day? It varies. One day I can be relatively pain free, the next I need to hold on to things (benches, backs of seats, the wall) to help support my walking. Extreme temperatures effect everyone’s neurological path ways, particularly those with MS, so my symptoms are exacerbated when it’s hot and find that the cool change usually brings a ‘hot day hang over’ when I almost feel worse. Some days I have a sore back, some days my legs ache, some days I feel ok but my walk looks not-quite-right, and I’m always tired. My balance is terrible and standing for long periods of time doesn’t work for me. I squat a lot, and subsequently my staff teams have all gotten really good at it.
Work, you wonder? How can I possibly be running an Outdoor Education center with MS. With really bloody amazing support. Jay, there isn’t enough ways to describe how he helps me. Our 3 sets of staff teams so far have been so understanding and helpful. And our council (Wollangarra is over seen by a board), are super supportive and know that I’m capable of doing my job. Which is, honestly, mostly admin. I spent a lot of time sitting in front of a computer, and a lot of time sitting and talking to staff or community members.
How do I manage it? I take medication twice daily. A drug called Techfidera. It is an immunosupresent, stopping my over active immune system from attacking myself. The only side effect I get is a ‘flush’ (hot red face, décolletage and upper arms, and itchy like I’ve been sun burnt) if I eat anything sweet after taking the medication. I use essential oils, of course. And I take DoTERRAs LLV supplements. I try to watch what I eat as much as I can, but don’t stress about it, because along with extreme temperatures, stress has the biggest effect on anyone with MS’s symptoms. Apart from that, I just get on with life. I take it easy when I need to, I enjoy wine, cheese and cake, I use oils and dance! I have an outrageously supportive group of people around me, on the end of the phone, to come to appointments, and to chat about it when there was so many question marks. Gosh, my Mum and Dad have been bloody amazing!
Why now? Why tell everyone now? I haven’t told many people I know IRL. It’s been something that I’ve had to learn, understand and see how I could cope. I really didn’t want people feeling sorry for me, while I was still feeling a bit sorry for myself. I wanted to prove myself in the job of my dreams, before people judged or assumed that I couldn’t. So now it is, I’m sick of not talking about it, I’m sick of keeping it a secret, and I also thought there might be someone out there who this story might connect with. I mean Selma Blair has given me all the courage, and it would have been nice if there’d been someone who I could relate to when I was going through the messy start.
So, that’s me. Well part of me, a pretty significant part really, because although you can’t see it, I feel it every minute of every day. But I’m good, and I’m loving/living life. I’m happy to talk about it, so if you see me, feel free to ask, or curious, send me a message.
I’ve never been a skin care kind of person, but with the introduction of essential oils into my life, I seem to be drawn more and more into looking after my skin. And I can’t say that this is a bad thing.
So I thought I’d share the simple DIY recipe with you and a few reasons about why coffee grounds are so good for making a scrub.
Coffee grounds are economical. If you have a coffee drinker in the house you can just leave a container out for them to collect the grounds in.
Coffee grounds are a great exfoliator. Using course coffee grounds on your skin is the perfect way to remove dead skin cells naturally and makes way for new skin cells. Exfoliating your skin regularly is a great way to improve circulation.
Coffee is good for your skin. I have read that using coffee in this way may help reduce the appearance of cellulite and give your skin a firmer appearance. Caffeine is also full of antioxidants which may help fight the signs of ageing.
Notes on this body scrub:
I have used wet/used coffee grounds that I’d collected over a week or so. I used it all in one go.
I used a liquid coconut oil to make this mix and I used enough to have a wet mix.
I added skin loving essential oils, pink pepper, geranium and grapefruit.
Mix coffee grounds (I used about 1 cup) with equal parts soft coconut oil (or other carrier oil of your choice). Add essential oils (about 6 drops all together).
How to use:
Jump into the shower to apply, this stuff is messy. Massage over a damp body (jump under the water, then out again). Start at your feet and massage gently in a circular motion, slowly towards your heart. Don’t rush, take a few minutes if you can.
If you patient, or have some time, try to hang out in the bathroom for 5-10 minutes before rinsing to let the ingredients do their magic.
Once out of the shower your skin should feel soft and silky. Follow up with a beautiful blend of essential oils in some carrier oil to moisturise for even more silk.
Do you have any favourite home-made scrub flavours?
We’ve lived here almost 2 years now. I can’t believe it and it’s coming to my realisation that it’s coming to an end. Our contract, two years with an optional third, has a flexible end to accomodate the incoming directors, could end before we know it and I wanted to share with you some things that I love about our little cottage Tussocky, that we have called home.
So in no particular order…
I love the toilet. It’s composting, has a great view, needs no flushing and means that you have to go outside everyday. I don’t love that in the night I have to go outside to go to the toilet. But it’s closer to our cottage than the one at the camp and I chatted to someone last year about how they designed their house with their toilet just outside their main door, so that each day they would have to go outside. How often do you realise you didn’t leave the house some days?
It’s remote, quiet and peaceful. I can spend days not talking to anyone and sometimes that’s so lovely. I do get a little lonely and have days where I just need to go into town so that I can talk to someone other than the people who live here.
Our river. Gosh, I do love our river. We pump our drinking water, showering water, bathing water, cooking water etc up from the river. It’s also the perfect way to relax after a big day, great way to spend summer days and perfect way to cool off after those crazy hot days.
Our bath. I haven’t been utilising it much recently. Lying out here with epsom salts and essential oils, my book, whatever weather I am surprised with and the birds is pretty spectacular.
Using fire to warm us and create ambiance. We have a little pot belly stove inside that we light to warm the house up in winter. We also have a fire pit outside that we sit around and even cook around when there are more people here. It’s lovely, we call it bush TV, and for some reason is the bearer of beautiful conversations.
Elliot just turned 5 and because we’re living and working where we are, he has never been to kinder, he did go to occasional care when we were in Portarlington and for a term or so when we were up here. It’s at least an hour each way to town including the flying fox, or the walk around, so daily driving to and from town is just not really an option for us.
We knew when we signed up for this job that it’d be likely we’d be homeschooling for part of our experience because we want Elliot to go to our local primary school when we finish up. I tell you what, I’m glad it’s a now, as we have a bit of knowledge and understanding about our job, because it’s tough.
It’s tough to fit in amongst a full time job. It’s tough to spend so much time offsite to access the internet. And it’s tough to have that relationship with Elliot.
He’s never been one for sitting still, holding a pencil, never really been into books, drawing, colouring etc. He’s loud, busy and active. We’re about 6 weeks into the year and each morning he says something like, ‘do you know was a doesn’t make me happy, school work.’ And I know that it’s mostly because he finds english (reading and writing) hard, but it still breaks my heart.
But I’m finding every day that it’s just a little easier, I have switched form a “god damn it, we’ve gotta get the school work done” mindset to a ‘this’ll be fun’ mindset and I’m noticing that he is too. He’s able to sit still for longer, something has just clicked with his reading and writing and he’s starting to recognise more words and we’re both finding a bit of a groove.
This year is to get him prepared for when he gets into a classroom next year. I always thought of it as being kinder. But after a chat with our local school and the possibility of him going into grade 1 next year, I feel like we’ve got to take it seriously.
So he’s enrolled in Distance Ed, he has teacher, I am his supervisor and we get sent packages of school work. He has a curriculum and gets marked school work returned each week. We have to do a lot of the work offsite as it mostly requires a computer and the internet. We’re working it out and it’s starting to feel fun, and I’m so proud of him.
Did your little one start school this year? How are you finding it? Do you or anyone you know homeschool or do distance ed? I’d love to hear your stories.
I love doTERRA essential oils. We have quite the collection, maybe 80 or so but doTERRA is not just essential oils and while sitting here with the mud mask on, I thought I’d share some of the other products that we love.
I’ve never really been into skincare but in my effort to take a little more self care I’m loving using these oils on my skin. So I try to do the mud mask once a week, usually on our day off, then I use a beautiful blend of Frankincense, Lavender, Cedarwood and Yarrow/Pom with Jojoba oil afterwards. I’ve had so many complements recently on how great my skin is looking. Must the all the fresh air, and mud masks and essential oils.
I’ve written before about how much I love the doTERRA LLV supplements. We’ve been out of stock in Australia for a few months now, so I have been without them since January but I have recently placed a US order and I’ll be getting these babies back into my hands soon!
We do a lot of hand washing have no electricity and I happy and confident to pour the water we’ve used for washing over the grass. It’s also so concentrated and is such great value for money, a bottle lasts us months.
So for the most recent round of 9v9 I bit the metaphorical nutra-bullet and paid the $75 for unlimited access. I went to Officeworks and printed off the two cookbooks that we get access to throughout the challenge and did a big grocery shop.
The idea was to eat mostly above ground, lighter vegetables. Breakfast recipes offered were mostly various smoothies and as we have no electricity they were not an option for me, so I stuck with my usual brekkie fry up. In the jar below was my take to work brekkie from our cottage, Tussocky to Wollangarra. A fry up of zucchini, mushrooms, grated carrots, and peas, topped with feta, quarter of an avocado, hemp seeds and dulse flakes. About 3 cups of veggies for breakfast, we measure raw veggies.
This cabbage and roast chicken salad was so delicious. Crunchy, sour from the squeeze of lemon juice and creamy from the little bits of pine nuts and chicken. I made it multiple times throughout the 9 days.
We have a super fun tradition with our 2019 staff team, Deli Dinner at Tussocky whenever we can fit it in. And seeing as this one was in the middle of my 9v9, I stocked up on veggies throughout the day and then served freshly made veggie dips and veggie sticks. As well as a delicious array of delicious deli foods.
Another fry up above and below the cabbage and chicken salad again. Served with kale chips and a secret veggie macaroni and cheese.
One of the things that both Jay and I found is that we just weren’t that hungry. We wake quite early, but weren’t ready to eat breakfast until mid-morning, and then we’d generally both be happy to hold out for dinner. I raised this with Helen and she said that this isn a great result, as we were feeding ourselves with such nutrient dense foods that we were satiated for longer and weren’t snacking on carbs and sugar. Others mentioned that they weren’t getting full after breakfast and (one of the things that I loved about this ‘program’) she was encouraged to snack if she needed to but snack of veggies. Carrot with a veggie dip etc.
I started to get creative with the ways we could all eat enough veggies and this one tray Okonomiyaki from Simplicious. Meant each serve of this slice had about 2 cups of raw veggies and then we added homemade beetroot dip, some olives and a 1/3 of a steak (we share one between the three of us).
Meals out weren’t tricky to navigate, the lunch below was from Cafe Onyx in Traralgon, and during the challenge we went to dinner at The Long Paddock for our anniversary.
I also had a night on my own and this is what I really wanted to eat for dinner, so I just did.
Our final 9v9 dinner was Cauliflower and grape salad, gosh, this one was delicious! Again, served with a third of a steak, it was perfect.
I’d recommend the 9v9 Veggie Challenge to anyone, the recipes are delicious, there are no rules and its a great way to get back into the groove of getting more veggies into you. The lives with Helen Padarin are invaluable, she has so much knowledge in her brain. Thanks so much to Helen and Alice for running it and to everyone else involved.
It was our 7th wedding anniversary yesterday. We celebrated over the weekend with a five course dinner at The Long Paddock in Lindenow. We’d been there for lunch before and love their philosophy on celebrating local East Gippsland producers. And this year they have started doing five course dinners on a Saturday night.
We love a fancy meal to celebrate our anniversary (we went to Loam for our first wedding anniversary, Brae for our second, Oakdene for our third and Little Green Corner for our forth, IGNI for our fifth and sadly we let work get in the way last year). So when a beautiful local friend of ours was happy to have Elliot for the evening and then have us crash at her place (because getting back in to Wollangarra, late, after Elliot has already been asleep is not really a thing) we jumped at the opportunity.
We arrived and were seated in my favourite location, right next to the kitchen and I took the seat where I could see what was going on. There were these gorgeous cheesey tapioca balls for us to start with. We chose the obvious option, 5 courses and wine matching. But as Jay was driving he just had a taste of each wine and then poured the rest into my glass.
The wines were beautiful matched and we found so much joy in drinking a nice wine, not something from a cask (easy to carry in and out of Wollangarra). This One Block Pinot Gris was crisp and light and went beautifully with the pigs cheek croquette.
This was the plate I was given, beautiful, crisp and white, but Jay’s plate, the one below was cuter, so we swapped. The menu was quite meat heavy, my idea of heaven to be honest and it took everything in my power to not just devour every course.
I affectionately nicknamed the second course “fish and chips”, it was really Kingfish tartare with cultured cream and nori. It wasn’t whole unless you had a little of each element all together. The softness of the fish, the sourness of the cultured cream, the crunch of the chips and salt from the nori. Just perfection!
Possibly my favourite course with my favourite wine. Beef cheek wellington, Gippsland Pearls Oyster mushrooms, Riviera spinach paired with Amulet Barbara from Beechworth. The meat fell apart with your fork, the sauce rich and the pureed spinach almost creamy. The wine was deep, Jay said it took him places that he’d never been. That he could have bathed in it and that it was as enjoyable to smell as it was to drink and he didn’t want it to end.
I loved my seat. I watched the wait staff move smoothly through the 5 courses, serving wines and quietly doing dishes. I watched the chefs plate up, dancing around each other getting ready to move on to the next course. And I watched other customers come and go, enjoying the meals, laughing and celebrating.
The forth course was delicious but big. It felt slightly too big for a forth course, but I ate it all up. Lamb rump, braised borlotti beans and cavil nero. It was rich, deep and hearty.
This cocktail was divine, light, sour and refreshing. Bees knees it was called, honey syrup, gin and lemon juice. Jay’s done some research and found that honey syrup was used for cocktails during the prohibition era and is making a comeback. And it has now come back right into our kitchen, as he has replicated it and I am currently enjoying the fruits of his labour.
Dessert was individual apple tart tartin, cinnamon ice cream and creme fraiche. We both admitted that we’d never eaten creme fraiche and we loved it. The dessert was delicious, the cinnamon flavour wasn’t too strong and the flaky pastry, with the sticky sweet apples and the creamy condiments was the perfect way to end the rich decedent evening.
The food was delicious and I do hope we get to go back before our time in this area is up. But the best part of the evening was that Jay and I got to spend 5 hours together with no interruptions, we could converse about things other than work, in fact we tried really hard not to talk about work (tough when you work together), and to do something ‘normal’ away from Wollangarra.
If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend The Long Paddock in Lindenow.