Self Care – A Poem

“Self care, what buzz words they’ve become,

and it feels like a whole lotta fun.

Take care of myself you say, 

eat right, drink water, meditate each day.

Hashtag self love, hashtag epsom salts,

hashtag have you seen the results.

Dance like no body’s watching,

keep doing all the things, without those balls

dropping. 

But,

in fact, we all know, the reality is,

the act of self care, can find you in a tiz.

Real self care, real self love,

it doesn’t necessarily fit like a glove,

it’s hard work, it’s some effort,

and often you want to say “eff-it”

I’ll stay in bed, no exercise today,

spend all the money, who needs that pay.

Spend time with those people who feel exotic,

only to find out they are actually toxic.

Self care often means looking your failures in the

eye

and realising that you are the guy,

the guy that can change that

reality of yours, that needs a little reformat.

Sometimes self care means no instead of yes.

No to the spending, the cake, the dress.

Sometimes you must say yes,

yes to that workout, yes to that abscess.

The abscess the dentist found that you are

avoiding.

So one day instead of yourself doing the spoiling,

you’ve realised that the self care you need

is in fact in a dentist seat.

Self care can be fun, 

and should be done

every day, in fact,

and we should do it with a little tact.

Self care means making the hard decisions,

putting in the previsions,

for you to live your life in the simplest way.

Just a little time each day,

Self care maintenance,

For that life balance.”

– Clare Reilly

Preserving Olives

We’ve been preserving food for a while now. It’s such a great way to take advantage of the abundance of produce you get at certain things, at certain times of the year, and gives you access to produce year round. It’s also delicious! And you know what goes into it!

We are so lucky in Portarlington where we have so many fruit trees, with so many people willing to share.

For now we’re finding ourselves preserving other peoples excess, until we get our veggie garden up and running, and we love it.

Yesterday Jay went and picked some olives with a friend and today it was my job to make sure they got preserved.

A few years ago I went to get olive oil from a local olive grove and was told that the best way to preserve olives is the following way. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Once you’ve picked your olives, you need to wash you jars and sterilise your jars. I wash them in hot soapy water, while preheating the oven to 180°C. Once jars are clean, pop them open side down, and the lids into the oven. Turn oven off and leave them in until it’s cooled.

Make sure you wash your olives and get out any sticks and leaves.

While jars are sterilising, make your brine. The ratio for the brine is 1 litre of water to 100gm salt. For this lot I used about 2 litres of brine. You put the water and salt in a big pot and bring to a simmer, make sure salt has dissolved.

Carefully get the jars out of the oven and put in your clean olives, then pour over the hot brine. Put the lids on tight.

Doing olives this way takes about 6 months. So you’ve got to be patient. Pop them away somewhere, but make sure you remember them to add to your festive season platters.

My Bike

Let’s talk about this bike. This might look like just a regular bike to you. It might even look like someone who’s taking its easy, riding an electric bike along the beach side track. But to me it’s freedom.

This bike means is so much more than just this bike.

In November 2019 I applied for NDIA funding. Pretty quickly I was denied. I felt disheartened and alone. I’m pretty lucky in terms of my MS, I’m still mobile, I can do most things for myself, and from the outside you may not even know I have it. BUT I spend a lot of time at appointments to maintain what I can do, the physio, the psychologist, the continence physio etc. If I clean the bathroom, I’m wiped out for the rest of the day. And walking is getting tricker. So when I got denied by the NDIS, I was resigned to the fact that I’d just be doing it on my own.

I reapplied, and so quickly, at a moment I really needed it, got accepted.
I got funding for proper shoes, orthotics, physio, psychologist, a regular massage for my tightening muscles, a cleaner and an ebike. It was a huge weight off my shoulders, it was a huge weight off emotionally and financially.

This news came right at the start of Covid-19 isolation, so the first thing I jumped on was getting this bike before shops closed. I wanted to have some freedom, to get out and exercise while the gym was closed. I wanted to be able to leave the house without having to get in the car. And I really wanted to, once schools opened again, to be able to ride with Elliot to school.

So this bike, while it may just look like a bike, every time I get on it, I think about how the government is doing something right in supporting some of us who need a little help. It’s freedom, it’s the wind in my hair, it’s a little bit of peace and quiet while we’re all still at home together a lot of the time, it’s financial and emotional support, and it’s really fun.

We Painted a Circle Headboard

We’ve been talking about doing this for almost 12 months, collecting inspiration on my Pinterest board. I’m not sure why it’s taken us so long but isolation was the perfect time to get a lot of little projects like this done.

When we built the house we were so nervous about doing something wrong. Now, with a little bit of experience under our belts, we’re happy to try something, knowing that we can mostly fix things.

If the circle didn’t turn out, we’d just paint over it.

So we finally picked the colour, matching it to the grey in our rug, and thought we’d go for it.

We, measured the centre of the wall, then worked out where we wanted it to come out from the bed and how high we wanted it and drew a circle. To do this we popped a nail in the wall at the middle point of all the measurements, used a piece of string and a pencil, and went for it. Like a protractor in primary school.

Once we were happy with the pencil marked circle, we started painting. The outside of the line is HARD. I’m not particularly steady on my feet and that made for a wobbly edge. Once I was sitting to do the lower part it was fine, and Jay did the rest of the standing section. We filled it in with a roller.

Our circle was about 2.14 cm2, and we used about 1 litre of paint.

We love it! We’re going to be putting a shelf across similar to those in the kitchen, which will house plants, pretties and art work. I can’t wait.

What do you think? Would you paint a circle headboard? Do you do mini-home improvements with confidence?

Stories Out Front

I came across Emma’s beautiful Stories Out Front Instagram account. It was a passion project she started while we were living in isolation. She decided to capture families out the front of their houses during these historical times we are living through. I sent her a message and said that I loved what she was doing, and she said she’d let me know if she ever came down our way. She did, and here are some of the beautiful photos she took.

Monday Night Dinner

I wrote about Monday Night Dinner in our meal plan earlier this week and thought it deserved some explanation.

Monday night dinner is a Wollangarra thing.

When you run Monday to Friday programs for up to 32 weeks of the year, it’s easier if you eat the same things for dinner each of those nights. It’s easier for food ordering, it’s easier for anyone to be able to cook, it’s easy for when you have tired staff and you don’t have to use your imagination to come up with something exciting for dinner.

So ever since I first went to Wollangarra in 2001, I knew that on the first night of the program we’d be eating ‘Monday Night Dinner.’

The funny thing about this is that as a young person, you mostly eat Monday night dinner on a Sunday. The stage 1 program, the most commonly run program starts on a Monday, then if you choose to return as a student, any subsequent programs start on a Sunday. So the staff eat it nearly every Monday, except when there’s a Stage 2 program on.

Monday night dinner is a hearty, easy, tomato based/Mexicanny sauce, packed full of veggies and served on rice with corn chips and cheese.

You’d think after eating it every Monday throughout 2004, when I worked at Wollangarra as a staff member and for two and a half years recently, I’d be over it. But I’m not, I really enjoy it.

Here I also add a spoonful of yoghurt and jalapeños.

I love it, it’s healthy, hearty and oh so simple and delicious. Simply delicious.

Let me know if you have a similar dish in your repertoire.

Opening My Eyes

You know when you can’t find the words?

Well I can’t. I’m struggling to find the words to write about this year. The fact that one blow is followed by another.

As of March 2020 18.9 millions hectares had been burnt, communities decimated and businesses and homes lost. Australian’s banded together to raise funds, and support communities in need.

Then so quickly this focus was shifted when the world experienced a global pandemic. With more than 383,000 deaths world wide, and varying degrees of social isolation happening across our globe, we have essentially been on house arrest.

People we stock piling toilet paper and you couldn’t buy flour or pasta. Where did the generosity of the nation go?

This week the death of George Floyd, and African American man, has brought white supremacy to the forefront of white peoples minds all around the world. This man was murdered by a white police officer, who pushed his knee into his neck for nine minutes, because he used a counterfeit $20 at a market.

I say ‘brought to the forefront of white peoples minds’ as from my understanding, this is something BIPOC don’t have the benefit of not thinking about.

After everything this year has thrown at us, at me, the one thing I am really thankful for is that my awareness has been raised of my white privilege. So in this time that I have, I am learning. I am trying to keep my personal education sustainable, something I was speaking with a friend about earlier, because this is something that needs to last.

My white fragility has keep my from speaking about anything to do with any race other than my own. My fear of saying or doing the wrong thing has kept me silent. So now I’m reading, watching and listening to anything that can educate me on the plight that is experienced daily by BIPOC.

I’m learning about the 425 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people who died in policed custody since the RCIADIC was handed down in 1991.

I’m learning about the Aboriginal Flag being the only flag in the world that is copyright, and the exclusive rights are currently held by a company with non-indigenous owners. Meaning that Ingenious Australians are unable to use their own flag in their art work.

I’m learning about amazing artists, singers and authors that my eyes hadn’t been opened to before.

Gorgeous artwork from Matakupaat Arts

I’m learning about my inherent white supremacy, and getting out of my comfort zone because others don’t have the opportunity of getting in theirs.

I’m learning.

Meal Planning

Our meal planning habits have changed a lot over the years. But we’ve settled on something that is working for us now.

Every second Friday, grocery day, we sit down and come up with between 12-14 meals we would like to eat for dinner that fortnight. We look at what we have in the freezer, as we still buy our meat in bulk and we just use what we have, we have a look at the veggies we have and what we have in the pantry. And write a list, then write our grocery list, shopping for anything extra we may need.

Then we write the meals onto our freezer, where we have a chalk board decal, and as we have them we rub the item off.

This fortnight’s meals:

I’d love to hear what you do. Do you meal plan? Do you plan for all three meals of the day?

In My Kitchen June 2020

It’s been a long time since I wrote an In My Kitchen post and I’m glad to be back on the horse.

I’ve filmed a video, so feel free to check that out. It was seriously raining when I was filming so that’s what you can hear in the background. Gosh I love that sound.

My brand new lame – Jay made me this beautiful lame for holding a razor blade for slashing bread. Up until this point I had just been holding the bare blade in my fingers, and risked cutting my fingers every time I baked a loaf of bread. Who says bread baking isn’t extreme!?! I’m loving this though and feeling much safer.

Cheese knife – Jay made us a cheese knife. He’s been making them in his forge and uses all reclaimed materials. He’s been making a few and selling them and we hadn’t had one yet, so we finally got this beautiful knife. Check out his Instagram for more beautiful knives.

Thermomix – I had always scoffed at Thermomix’s. ‘I like cooking’ I said, ‘I like the process.’ We’ll now I scoff at myself. I love the Thermomix, we use it multiple times a day.

We bought ours second hand off Facebook Marketplace, it’s a TM5 and came with two bowls and I love it.

Jay baking up a storm – throughout ISO Jay, like a lot of people, started baking. He baked profiteroles, carrot cake, he followed the Arnott’s recipes for Monte Carlo’s and Scotch Finger’s. It was such a treat to have things baked for me to enjoy.

New shelves – When we originally built we put one layer of shelves across the top of the splash back. They were mostly used as decorative. And once we moved back home we decided to put a second layer of shelves in to hold the decorative bits and bobs so that the first shelves can hold more useful things like glasses.

Jay made the brackets from steel in his forge and the timber is from a friends scrap stash, we stained it to be the colour we wanted. And I love them.

Life Changing Food by Jo Whitton – We use this cookbook a lot. Each meal plan we do there is at least one recipe from this cookbook. Most of the recipes have a thermomix method, which we love but they all have a conventional method. The butter chicken is delicious!

Jo also has a great instagram account where she shares what she’s cooking most days, often with links to her delicious recipes.

Chilli’s from our local produce swap – I popped down to our local food swap to grab some of these delicious chilli’s. I’m going to save the seeds from a couple of them to plant for next year.

Thanks so much for checking out what’s in my kitchen, head over to Sherry’s Pickings to see what’s happening in a few other kitchens.

A Cuppa With Clare

With the isolation restrictions easing and Elliot being back at school, I was inspired by Celia to do a little blog post every day in June. So here goes. Some may be longer, some just short little snippets but I’d love to get back into the habit of blogging.

Hearing: I’m currently listening to Shameless podcasts latest episode. I love their tag line of “a podcast for smart people who love dumb stuff”. With each episode I feel like my eyes are opened to so many smart things around the world.

My current favourite Spotify playlist is Divine Fem, and it’s on repeat, and I love it.

Drinking: decaf coffee every morning, a lot more water than usual for me (something I am really working on) and home-made kombucha.

Eating/cooking: a lot of bread. I’ve been baking a lot of sourdough bread. This delicious carrot cake that Jay made for afternoon tea yesterday. A lot of tray bakes, slow cooked food and soups.

Wanting: to eat something. It’s a late breakfast time. And I’m thinking freshly baked sourdough with eggs, and homemade sauerkraut.

Looking: at Pinterest for design inspo. Modern boho is my focus.

Deciding: on what to do next. I’ve never been one for a 5 year plan and it shows. Now that we’re home from Wollangarra and Elliot has settled into school, I need to find my next personal adventure.

Enjoying: redecorating our house on a very low budget. When we built our house all those years ago, we were so nervous to do anything to the very white walls. It’s been a few years now, and we’ve had a few experiences, and now we’re not afraid to paint walls because we know we can paint over it, we’re not afraid of nailing into the walls because we know we can patch it.

So we’re painting fun things, putting up new shelves and decorating with things we’re finding on Facebook market place.

Savouring: morning snuggles with Elliot. Now that he’s back at school (thank the teachers!), I savour the early morning cuddles.

Watching: Masterchef Back to Win. Seriously loving it! I have always been a Masterchef fan and I was honestly a little concerned when we heard the judges were changing. Well I was WRONG! The new judges have brought a breath of fresh air to the show. It’s almost a completely different show. Melissa Leong has brought a wonderful gentleness to the show as well as wonderful diversity to the judging panel.

Reading: Oh my gosh, I have been reading a lot this year. I’m currently reading The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel and I’m so enjoying it. The Hunger Games books are ones I return to regularly, when I need something easy to read, something familiar and to know the end, it’s comfortable. So last week I reread the trilogy and now I’m enjoying my early mornings nestled up with this book.

I have also just started reading the Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F Saad. I downloaded the PDF when it was originally available after she ran the very first free instagram journey. With everything that’s bene happening this week around the world and daily not in the public eye, it’s time for me to become an anti racist and do the work.

Wearing: a lot of drop crotch tracksuit pants and warm snuggly jumpers.

Buying: most recently, a bike rack for our car. At the start of iso, I got an electric bike and now it’s my most favourite thing. And during this time Elliot learnt how to ride his bike. So now that we’re allowed to travel, I’m excited to take our bikes away with us.

Planning: a weekend away in a few weeks to visit friends and take our bikes with us.

Craving: a wood fire, mugs of hot chocolate, blankets, ugg boots and movies.

Loving: reading. I’ve got my head in a book a lot at the moment. Mostly trashy love stories (you can see my 2020 reads in Instagram) and the occasional high brow book.

Playing: with Lego, a lot.

Feeling: proud, excited, tired, cold, inspired, sad, disbelief.

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow.

A Night in Melbourne

We were offered our friends apartment in Melbourne, they weren’t using it and I said no. It felt too self indulgent to just take a weekend away but when I put two and two together and found that it was the weekend of our wedding anniversary, the timing was too perfect. So I accepted the lovely offer and started researching restaurants.

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.

We don’t spend time in Melbourne, I never really have. I grew up in Geelong and am quite happy to never spend time in the city. So having one night, child free in the big city. So we asked our city going friends where they would recommend and took their lead.

We went to two different places for pre dinner cocktails, The Arbory and LoopRoof. This has inspired us to make more cocktails, and make pretty garnishes. Perfect for these times I think.

Then we headed to dinner. We chose to enjoy the tasting menu at Lesa. We had such a lovely time. Each course came with a matched wine. And as the evening went on the photos got blurrier and blurrier. I don’t have much recollection of what each course was, but I do know each was mouth wateringly delicious.