While we’re getting snow photo’s from The Netherlands, we’ve been enjoying some storms of our own. Including the white stuff, nothing soft about it though, some real big buggers pounding on the tin roofs and making veggie mash in the garden. 
Game over for the cucumbers...
No other damage thankfully, down in the valley they turned into cannonballs tennis ball size. 
Dented cars are very fashionable at the moment...

 To stay with the cold and Frozen theme: Sophie’s birthday cake.
The last two months have been busy on the granola front with over 100 kilograms baked and bagged (or bottled) in orders and stock for the markets.
Especially the bottle side of things has been an awesome fundraiser for the local womens shelter, resulting in a $650 donation for this year. That's over 260 bottles and jars sold!!!
Tim and Alex have now progressed to climbing brick walls...
Alex: ”I’m not a monkey, I’m a gecko!”
We had hoped to plant out our dam with water plants from the waterholes further down in the gully, wanting to go with plants that naturally occur here, diminishing the chance of introduced plants becoming a pest.
Only they all got washed away with the wild weather at the beginning of the year!
In the last couple of weeks, new plants have been popping up, different to what we’ve seen so far.
A quick dash to the local environmental centre: friend or foe?
We have a friendly swamp lily. A relief, I rather like them,
they will give plenty of shelter to all these new little creatures that are now calling this their home.
So far we’ve have a rather cool Spring and Summer, but change has rolled in with the storms, temperature predictions are going towards the forties now... Salad time!
Kids had their last week of school.
With many graduation and end of year parties in their wake
Including a dress up party thrown in.
We’ve got 6 weeks to recover before school starts up again.

December always gets a little crazy,
I’m looking forward to a deserted beach...


Blind date

15 years ago, we went out for a blind date...

We were off on a rough start (long story short: I’m not a fan of doctors),
we quickly managed to get past that, when we started talking about our travels and travel plans.
That we shared a birthday and a love for camping.
It became one of those evenings where you have become completely oblivious of your surroundings.
Chairs had gotten stacked up around us and staff had to ask us to leave at closing time, we had been talking for hours!

Both busy with our studies and further hampered with living in different cities the next date took a bit longer, but we stayed in contact over the phone.

For our second date he asked me to go to Cambodia with him.
And I said yes...*

We have travelled lots together, found our home on the other side of the world.
This amazing friend, lover, father and partner.
I hope to do a lot more travelling together in the future.
But I’ll always be home, when I’m with you.

*(Turned out I had exams for the only weeks Sander could get away, but we ended up in Cambodia on our 3 month honeymoon, backpacking through South East Asia).


November was...

A shared birthday
Birthday cake,

Colour Fun Run at school

Art in the paddock
The bathrooms and toilet are getting an overhaul in February.
We’ve started the painting, no more pink!
Car VS Kangaroo
Score 3-3
The last time we had front on damage, I drove it into town the next morning to get the damage assessed. I ended up stuck in traffic with two kids and a smoking bonnet. The lesson of the cracked radiator has been learned, no need to repeat, tow truck please.
Doing research on roo whistlers now.
Rock hopping in the local park, while waiting for an appointment.
Tackling the bookcase with my friend Erin, my go to person for everything book related. A decent purge of books that weren’t inspiring, damaged beyond repair or the kids had grown out of.
Tim got all exited when he got home from school, tidy books!
The kids spend the rest of the afternoon with books on their laps. 
Thank you Erin, I’m all inspired to tackle the toy box and puzzle cabinet next!
Sophie turning 8.
Very happy with Tim’s old bike (it’s blue after all),
with a basket, horn, spoke beads and streamers to make it her own.
And many little presents.

With the help of medication, we have her epilepsy well controlled. Compared to last year, she has a lot more energy, the spasms have all gone. She hasn’t had any (large) seizures for the last year and a half. There are still the absence seizures, when very tired, but she can feel them coming on. The ideas for an operation have been shelved. 
She still tires quickly, concentration is patchy and her reading and writing a challenge, but acing her maths. She has caught up at school and is doing well. Our stubborn little girl, with a large smile, she’s getting there.
Mister Alex, our little gecko, is getting ready for school next year. Although he’ll be young to start (turning 5 in his first week of school), he is very ready for the next challenge. Already studiously practising to write and to read, keeping him home for another year will be drive us all batty!

With all our kids deep sleepers, night nappies are still a fact for some of them. With a little encouragement (read: a bribe), they’ve been doing their very best to get without.
Including ditching the dummy.
Yes, a dummy. I was that woman before kids, who didn’t want any dummies in the house.
With a very colicky first baby, that quickly turned into, “no dummies past 6 months”. 
Sophie was a thumb sucker, with a thumb all swollen, red and infected. Enter baby #3: “here, have a dummy!”, #4 never stood a chance.
Sleep was bad, anything to survive, you do whatever gets you through.

And I’m pleased to say David has given his up.
But with that also his afternoon sleep. 
He has turned into a monster. A screaming, biting, throwing, obnoxious monster.
My sanity patience is wearing thin, my hairs are turning grey rapidly, why did we want him to loose that dummy again? 
But David, has his eyes on the price now, only two more nights and he gets to have his bribe trophy, a little bag of xmas chocolates. 
I admit, I’m tempted... Hoping he goes to sleep soon and lets his siblings sleep, we’re all a bit crabby this week, too much excitement and not enough sleep.
But I know he’ll be my little sweetheart again in the morning and we’ll get through this period of change.
Just these afternoons...
“Come get me mum”


From the kitchen...

I’m still making bread my daily rye sourdough, but I’m trying to bring in a little more variety (read, veggies), when it comes to lunch. The kids are great fans of salad wraps. But just to spruce things up, I like to keep trying out some new things on them.
Pizza is a favourite and any leftovers are great for those after school munchies.

Make them as large as your baking tray and call them a pissaladiere (French pizza).
This one we made with homemade dough, tuna, capers, feta, red onion and prawns.
But nothing beats a quiche. Perfect to use up eggs (chooks lay five eggs a day, the pressure is real!) besides it’s Sophie’s favourite lunch. Fresh greens up from the garden, onion, mushroom, a little organic bacon and a sprinkle of parmesan.
Use store bought puff pastry, or make your own.
Hot or cold. Lunch is sorted for the next couple of days.
Comfort food: laksa. Simple and fragrant. I love this recipe
By swopping the chicken stock with fish stock and fish and prawns instead of chicken, it becomes a whole new level of awesome.
My busiest time of the year for granola.
With Simone, catering lots of events and extra markets, she’s keeping the sales ticking over very nicely.
I’ve just done a count for the Second Chance Jars we’ve been doing these last couple of years.
In the last 5 months alone, we’ve already sold 124 jars! That’s another $300 raised and donated to the local womens shelter.
 Making cupcakes, with a smile...
 ...and sprinkles...
To share at school.
Sophie’s birthday yesterday, so her choice for dinner:
“Blue pasta with blue cheese sauce”.


Not wanting to be the the one to crush creativity, I delivered.
A couple of drops of colouring in the pasta water. 
And a basic sauce spruced up with bacon, peas, mushroom, garlic and a big dollop of gorgonzola.
Looks disgusting interesting, but actually tasted amazing (just keep your eyes closed).
Blue cheese, our kids love it. Amazing, right?


November Garden

My November garden is a chaos and I’m blaming it all on the pumpkins.
Somehow I missed pulling out an emerging pumpkin seedling (or two), I mistook them for the rockmelon that I actually planted there, marked with a stick for exactly this reason...
We had a bit of rain and the rest is history, there are pumpkin vines everywhere...
Keeping them off the path, out of the fruit trees and pond is a daily job.
Those pumpkins better be bloody delicious!
But the corn is poking through it all,
not sure if there is enough to get it pollinate though.
The beans are popping up everywhere as well.
And aren’t fazed by the zucchini plants. Five plants was a bit much to put in.
Who needs eight zucchinis a week?
The weather is still mild, as long as it stays under the 35 degrees, the peas will keep doing their thing
Chooks are doing good too.
Six eggs a day keep us very well provided in the kitchen.
Cabbages, spinach and the kale have survived the attack of the cabbage moth (without any sprays).
The cabbages will end up as sauerkraut. From the rest we keep picking the outer leaves, making them last for a year easily. And they team up well with the eggs, for quiches.
Like I said, chaos.
The elderberry is keeping the grape vine upright, which then gives shade for the ginger, asparagus and my salad violets. The salvias and lemon grass are providing a windbreak for the young mulberry and chillies. And any space left is taken up by the rambling cucumber vines and zucchini.
Space well.
Beans, pumpkins, choko, silverbeet, zucchini, tomatoes, beetroot, melons, lettuce and cucumbers are battling it out between each other.
I just have to chuck a child in, (fully clothed for a change), to find the harvest,
And a bowl of tomatoes every day!
The dragon fruit has decided to grow after all.
Having grown a full meter in the last couple of months, the frame can already do with an upgrade.
Bananas haven’t decided to show just yet. The kids have started to sing songs for them.
Silverbeet (spinach), comes in many happy colours.

The cucumbers are going crazy this year, the mild temperature (25-30 degrees) is keeping us in 30 cucumbers a week!!!
And going by the flowers, we still have many more weeks to go...


Clearing my head

For the first time in many years, I’m feeling that my baby brain is starting to disappear. It’s getting rare that the kids need me during the night. Sleep, proper deep sleep. It’s amazing.
It also makes me want things...
I’m using blogging as a way to clear my head, like journaling. If you’re just after some photo’s, or recipes, come back later this week... ;-)

I’ve been stepping up my exercise in the last couple of weeks. Partly because I like to be fitter, but mostly because it makes me feel better. A couple of weeks have passed, I can start feeling more energised. The increased focus and efficiency are major perks too.

I dislike treadmills with a vengeance and I quickly get bored with lifting weights. I’ve got issues with my knee, strengthening will improve this, but it limits the types of exercise that are suitable (right now).
I however thrive in group classes. The set time, the social aspect and the thrill of the music combined with a good program. Childcare is a must, so is an instructor you feel comfortable with.
I’ve found an option for every day of the week, a mix of yoga, weights and cardio.
That doesn’t mean I go every day, things happen, appointments, work, sick kids and school stuff makes sure of that. But there is now a good chance I actually get three sessions in a week.

The garden is doing great, all the textures and colours are great ways to brighten the days and to tingle the creative side of my brain.
It does however mean that my sewing has gone to the back burner. When it starts heating up and Summer starts drying everything out to a dull brown, I won’t be surprised to find the urge again.

I have dealt with emotional eating for a large part of my life, I want to understand it, work through it. Hopefully even find a way to break the cycle. For the last couple of months, I’ve been talking to a dietician/therapist who works with the HAES approach, because the last thing I need is a diet, cut out certain food groups and start counting calories.
If there is something that I’ve worked out in my life, besides that’s a great way to make yourself miserable, it just doesn’t work in the long run.

Like for most, my triggers are stress, tiredness, boredom and loneliness. Emotional eating is just a coping mechanism, we all have our own ways to deal with them. This is mine and I’m ok with that, it’s a survival mechanism. Trying to restrict it, is only going to make it worse, it can become an obsession.

My biggest steps I’ve made, were with the mantra: “I’m allowed to have it, do I really want it?”.
Have it, if it feels like you need it to cope, or might there be something else you really want?
Like a walk, a cuddle, someone to talk to, a challenge or a break.
It can be pretty confronting, but mostly very liberating.

I read this article the other day, and it sums up pretty well al those thing that make you “hungry”: link
A recommendation for a non-diet approach, Zoe is great and does Skype calls: link

Social isolation and being a mother to young children often go hand in hand. Add the sleep deprivation, the lack of mental stimulation, the stress of never-ending responsibilities and don’t get me started on the mess! And you’ve got a great emotional cocktail.
How do you deal?

To tackle the lack of mental stimulation, I’ve been thinking on going back to work, part-time.
But somehow, whenever the thought comes up, I end up with sick kids for the remainder of the week.  Work between 9:30 and 2:30, for a few days (I’ve still got my two other businesses to run) and not during school holidays, or when the kids are sick. Something that is still mentally challenging and rewarding, and social with being part of a team. 
Not asking much, right? I’ve been out of the workforce for the last ten years, (I used to be a financial project manager, with a bachelor in technical business administration). Although I’ve been working as a bookkeeper for my husband and are running my granola business, my confidence has taken a hit. Fact is, we’ve been living on one salary for all that time, and we’re managing fine. Sander’s work is solid, there’s always going to be a need for doctors, and being part-owner of a large GP practice makes sure you have a say on how your work shapes up in the future. The extra income I would bring in would be just a bonus, not a necessity.

I like being part of the community and am not afraid to pull up my sleeves to do my part.
For the last year I’ve been coordinator for playgroup, I’d previously done several years as treasurer, but had to seriously step up my game for this new role!
We’ve just voted in a whole new committee, which is awesome, the more people are involved, the more we can establish. Even though I no longer hold an official committee position, I’m still involved and invested. It will be another 2 years before David starts school after all.

But it has made me think of other community committees that need help. The soccer club desperately needs a new treasurer... Work that would tick all my boxes in the work requirement, something that I could work on my own hours.
The P&F at school is always looking for help, with Alex starting school and David preschool next year, I might actually make it to a meeting. Help out a bit more at school, with four kids, you can say I’ve go an invested interest.
There a many more, groups and committees that need help. 
I would love to be an event manager, but just not right now...
Creating space in my head, often goes hand in hand with a clutter free house. 
I’ve been working on it from different angles. But more on that, another time.



The jacaranda’s are all in flower, the whole town purple and the jacaranda festival in full swing. 
We try our hardest not to run over all those tourist making selfies and petal angels on the middle of the roads... 
Today a public holiday for Jacaranda Thursday, with markets, a carnival, concerts, family fun all through town and lots of dress ups. 
How awesome is it to have a festival in honour of flowering trees?!?!?!
Yep, white jacaranda's too...
So we found a new bike for Sophie’s upcoming birthday. 
Only to see Alex riding away on it a couple of minutes later!
A bike swop that pleases everyone, for now.
Sophie on Tim’s blue bike, Tim the orange bike until his birthday in February, where it will then become Alex’s bike and Tim on a full size bike. David is happy to trade his balance bike for a pedal bike and is now practicing hard to ride it too.
A Dutch of the Northern Rivers gathering.
 Making apple&oats muffins for the hungry bears.
Picking the first cucumbers of many to come.
 A trial run of (bread & butter) cucumber pickles.
Making powerballs. They’re still a big hit for after school or sport snacks.
This weeks varieties: 
Lemon (lemon rind, macadamia, honey, coconut and sultanas)
Snickers (peanut, choc chip, cashew, sunflower seeds, dates and coconut)
After Eight (cocoa, dates, prunes, seeds, choc chip and peppermint oil)
You know it’s getting close to Summer when you have to swap the coconut oil over to cocao butter...
My favourite shopping sprees: plants.
Since my the veggie garden and border are now getting full and thriving,
I’ve started on the next bed.
The front garden.
In a couple of years we hope to see it full and thriving too, with lots of colour and happy birds.
With hibiscus, a flame tree, a waratah, grevillea and lots of smaller bushes and ground creepers.
A purple jacaranda would go really well with all that red...
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