January Monthly Nine

billie on bed 2

What a lovely month January was. It felt like the whole neighbourhood was on holidays and even though it felt  much longer than thirty one days, I wanted it to go on and on.  The quiet streets, ABC Radio’s summer programs, long days of sunshine and gentle evenings made for a peaceful, contemplative month.  It is amazing how quickly I forget what happened from one month to the next. That is why I love joining in with Linda from Greenhaven and others with the monthly nine: I like the record it keeps but I also love to be inspired by what others have done with the month just gone and the categories that Christine came up with are great goalposts for me in bringing my hopes and intentions just a little closer to practice.


january nourish apricot chia

Lots of salads and less time cooking definitely contributed to the relaxed feeling that was January.
Preparing for a morning tea gave me the chance to try out some new gluten free snack recipes.  These two were my favourites: barbecue flavoured popcorn and apricot and chia balls.  With the later I substituted quinoa flakes for rolled oats to keep it gf.  Stored well both keep fresh and delicious for quite a long time (popcorn in airtight container and apricot balls in fridge).


january planning Collage

I used a Christmas voucher to purchase a yearly planner and some other planning stationery.  I cut up on old calendar with photos i liked to make monthly dividers. At the start of each month I have a ‘to do list’, then for each week there is a weekly layout for meal planning, with a tear off shopping list, then a weekly goal planner for each week of that month with tick boxes for tasks related to these goals for each day.  These goals are more the aspirational ‘big picture’ intentions rather than the day by day ‘need to do’ things.  Then there are the pages that have a section for each day, with a view of the week.  I use bullet journaling in this section  – though mostly it is a list of what I need to get done each day.  It is working really well for me. I am finding having all these planning tools together and in such an easy to use format means that I use them.  I love ticking things off from yesterday at the start of each day.  I’m sure this is the most organised I have ever been in my life.  I hope it contributes to  a sense of living intentionally and well.  I have also added pages in each month for the monthly nine categories.  At the start of the month I list some of the things I would like to accomplish in each of the nine areas,  and then as the month goes by I add things I might actually have done.


A bag of clothes were removed from the wardrobe and put into a charity collection bin. I have decided that this is a much more achievable way of culling (for me); to do it in small bites rather than in a big effort.   I know there are way too many things in my wardrobe but when ever I decide to have a big clean out I get caught up by “that might fit me again one day” or “I could make that into something else” or “I might need that if x/y/z/” or  “I love that even if I dont wear it”. And it all becomes overwhelming.  The same with books.  So the discipline of finding a bag/boxful of something I no longer need each month seems manageble – both in terms of actually finding things I can part with and in passing them on.  It is easy to take 1 bag/box  to a collection place when I am doing grocery shopping.  A regular check up like this also means that clothes that need mending or remaking are also only a few each month and can be dealt with straight away rather than going on to an evergrowing pile.  My fabric stash had better come under this scrutiny too.  For the year ahead I should have no trouble finding things to go each month.  (Easier said than done, I’m sure)


january beeswax

My intention for this month was to make some beeswax impregnated fabric for covering/protecting food.  I ordered the beeswax and it took a while to come.  I ordered it from Rooftop Honey, a project that has bee hives on the tops of city buildings, in an attempt to increase the global population of bees.  You can read about it here if you are interested.  It is a great scheme. I also ordered some honey which was collected just streets away from where I live.  And it is totally delish.  The wax is beautiful. Hopefully, I will be able to report next month that I have actually have got around to using it.

january soda

We love fizzy water in this house but have found it goes against the grain to buy it.  All that plastic.  And if you buy it in glass it is so expensive.  I have had it in mind to buy a Soda Stream since I heard that you could buy glass bottles.  In January Soda Stream offered the glass bottles at half price and the machine that uses them at a greatly reduced price.  We bought one and now we can have ‘green’ fizzy water when ever we like.  Yah!


janaury christmas gum tree Collage

We had Christmas in our little house in the country and used a gum tree in a pot as our festive tree.   On New Year’s Day, with great ceremony we planted it out into the ‘garden’.  The last photo was taken towards the end of the month and shows lots of new growth on the little tree.  It will be a compact gum tree (2m x 2m) with lovely red flowers and ornamental gum nuts.  I will enjoy watching it grow.

january growing Collage

I am eagerly watching and waiting for peaches to ripen.  Lettuces, basil and tomatoes have been much enjoyed.  Rhubarb is looking good and ready to pick.  The citrus trees all have fruit forming on them.  Kale, spinach and chard have grown apace and will soon be ready for eating.  I need to plant more lettuce seedlings.  I notice that some lettuce has gone to seed so should make sure I save some before it all blows away to chance its luck on where the wind takes it.


january create Collage

I made the Style Arc Lola pants out of lovely soft, cool, cotton double gauze fabric.  These are the. most. comfortable. pants. ever (that can be worn in public).  I love them.  The fabric is designed by Tomotake for Japanese company Kokka and comes from a range titled “Muddy Works” .   It has been in my stash for a couple of years because I really couldnt decide what to make out of it.  I wasnt  sure I would like pants with such a large print. But who woulda guessed it – I do!


january reading kindle

I lived most of my life in South Australia. Not surprising then, I am drawn by some sort of nostalgia to all things that bring back happy memories of the place.  That must have been what attracted me to this book.  It is a journal of a woman in her 70’s establishing a garden in Adelaide.  I couldnt have predicted how much I was going to love this book. I learnt so much about gardening, plants, chickens that it wouldnt have mattered where the book was set.  I am looking forward to reading some more of Kate Llewellyn’s gardening journals.  By chance I discovered that Kate was going to be speaking at my local library in March.  I rushed home and booked a ticket when i found that out.

I have made a commitment to read (at least) 12 books by Australian writers this year, so this is the first.

january letters Collage

Inspired by Pip from Meet Me at Mike’s , I have undertaken my own 52 letters project.  Ideally, I will write one letter each week.  By hand. A couple of these will be letters to my future self, about what is important to me now, – to be opened in say, six years time. The majority will be to friends and family.  One of these dear people has already written back. Some might even be to politicians (these probably wont be by hand, but they wont be email!)


shady garden Collage

This month I have enjoyed our shady city garden and I have enjoyed planning our country garden.  It will definitely be more edible than ornamental, in contrast to our city garden, which I did not plant.  I have enjoyed a meal with special friends going through a really hard time.  I have enjoyed watching the second series of “The Fall” and the first series of “Rectify”   I like the pace of January and wish it could be the same for the rest of the year (but then I wouldnt notice and appreciate it, I suppose).  I hope your January was just as you would have liked it to be.

December Monthly Nine

Dec dining

What a lovely month December was!  Three weeks holiday helped to make it so and gave the opportunity to think about the monthly nine away from my city home and garden.  On the last Friday in November we collected the keys to our little house in the country and camped in it that weekend.  Then on the second weekend in December we returned, on holidays, and with plans to make the little house homely. While we had numerous trips back to Melbourne to catch up with friends and family over the Christmas period we accomplished much and loved being in our little house. So, to recap on December, I am joining in with Linda  and others here.


Dec mango and bberries

Almost everyday while we were on holiday we ate mango, blueberries, yoghurt, nuts and seeds for lunch.  It was delectable.  I have never been fond of mangoes, so I am surprised how much I am enjoying them this season.  Perhaps it is a particularly good year for mangoes?  Anyway, I have also used them in a few different salads and am enjoying the taste and aroma of fresh mango. Of course, you would expect that a round up of December would include Christmas fare but the truth is, I didnt eat any of the traditional Christmas foods – apart from cassata, which is a tradition from my childhood – an icecream dessert for the kids who didnt like plum pudding.  I still make it each year.   Fresh prawns were a treat enjoyed in the park with family.  Each time we returned to the city for an event, and went home, I picked lettuce leaves from my garden to take back to the country house.  Sometimes there were ripe tomatoes as well but they are really only beginning to ripen now.


Dec front deck

One day we plan to live in our little house in the country, so the three weeks that we were there felt like we were making inroads into a dream we have held for quite a while – that it was really going to become an eventuality.  We spent the time, in a sense, preparing for our future, both near (when it will be a weekender) and distant (when we will live in it permanently).  There has been lots of talk (and dreaming) and a little research into what we could and can do with this house.  We washed windows and scrubbed the stove, bought a fridge, added some furniture and some window dressings.  The house is not very energy efficient so that will be one of our first priorities.

REDUCEDec tramping down the weeds

Weeds, undergrowth, dead plants/grass were all removed from the yard. It took a few weeks to do and it filled up this massive bin.  There are still plants that need to be removed from the block – hawthorn bushes in particular.  The motivation for clearing away undergrowth was to remove any hiding places for snakes. We know they are around, and would hate our inquisitive little dog to get bitten.  I did some research into a solar powered vibrating thing that is supposed to keep snakes away but after watching a youtube video of a snake catcher demonstrating that it didnt work, I figured I would save my money and do the best we could to make the yard less desirable to snakes.

GREENDec handscrub

This month I made sugar scrub from white sugar, coconut oil and essential oil. Really simple.  I love the exfoliating, moisturizing effect it has and how good my skin feels after using it.  I have been expecting ants to come and enjoy it too but so far they havent.  Hopefully the essential oil deters them.  I decided to put scrub into attractive containers and give it to all our neighbours for Christmas.  I hope they will like using it.

GROWDec planting

I  propagated a number of Pelargoniums several months ago and planted these to provide a spot of colour.  Also, once an elderly woman with an amazing garden told me that she used Pelargoniums to make soil more friable and conducive for other plants.  These hardy plants send their roots down into the hard soil.  Once they were well grown they are removed and a more desirable plant is put in their place.   My challenge is to find plants that will grow without attention, or watering, since I dont live there to nurture anything.  Later this year we will plant some species that are indigenous to the area, which should grow well unattended but when I actually live in this house I want to have a lot of the garden providing food. I guess there might be some fruit trees that will grow without much attention. I am thinking a fig tree, at the very least. But perhaps even these need nurturing while they are young?  Inside the house I have a sword fern in a self watering pot and lots of succulents.

Dec succulents


Dec sofa

This month my creating has gone mostly gone into making things for the house, though I did sew up some undies for myself – but I’m not showing you them!  I made a cover for the sofa from beautiful dotty Nani Iro    fabric. I hand stitched linen fabric into serviettes at night time while watching TV.  I made placemats and covered a stone with a crocheted doiley for a doorstop.

Dec doorstop


In December I read My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn.  I couldnt wait to go to bed each night to discover more of what this amazing woman was up to.  While there were physical challenges ( building a shelter, making fire, finding food) , it was the emotional journey Claire made that interested me most. Who are we without all the external structures that shape our lives and  frequently define us?  How do we connect with our inner wisdom in a way that it guides and sustains?  I loved reading about Claire’s crafty pursuits and how satisfying it was to tan hide to make clothes, to weave grass baskets and make clay eating utensils.  I was awed by her bravery – walking around barefoot in the dark.  One night she woke during a nightmare to find a red bellied black snake poking and prodding the mosquito net she was inside.  Since reading the book, I have found myself much more observant of the sounds that birds make.



I bought an IKEA doll and had a lot of fun making her a skirt, jacket, necklace and head scarf.  She came wearing a t-shirt and undies.  Here she is wrapped in cellophane, ready to be put under the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre Christmas tree.  I didnt think to take a photo before she was wrapped up, which was a bit of a pity.  I hope some little girl is enjoying playing with her.


dec candles

So much was enjoyed this month.  Meals with friends and family. Morning walks. Satisfaction of tasks accomplished.  One highlight was catching up with movies I had wanted to see when they were at the cinema and are now on DVD.   The best  two were Locke and Reaching for the Moon, but I also enjoyed Calvary, All is Lost, Begin Again (fabulous soundtrack!), The grand Budapest Hotel, Still Life, A Most Wanted Man and Kill Your Darlings.  The BBC TV series The Honourable Woman was also definitely a highlight.

November Slow Living Monthly Nine

agapanthus bud

Here it is almost mid December but I do want to record some things about November. For the second month in a row I am pleased to be joining in with Linda from Greenhaven with the Slow Living Monthly Nine, begun by Christine in 2012. I’m really glad to have these categories, like goals, in my mind each month, even when I dont quite fulfill them.


kale pumpkin and pomegranate salad

This salad was enjoyed at least once a week in November.  It is made of roast pumpkin, kale and pomegranate and has a dressing of 3T olive oil, 1T apple cider vinegar, 1 T maple syrup and 1 T Dijon mustard.  We enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice most mornings.  And poached eggs many mornings.  Our breakfast used to be yoghurt, berries and seeds but once it dawned on me that this was very portable we started taking it for lunch.  Then I experimented and made lots of different things for breakfast.  Some more successful than others but I’ve got a bit boring, as poached eggs are so quick, easy and delicious.  I’m still trying to improve oven baked sweet potato chips for Friday night ‘Fish and Chips’. They usually taste good but I’d love to be able to get them nice and crispy.


front door

On the last Friday in November we collected the keys to our little house in the country and then spent the weekend ‘camping’ in it.  Throughout the month I collected cutlery and crockery and other bits and pieces for the house.

I also had all of my Christmas present shopping completed before the end of the month.  Probably meant I missed all the pre-Christmas sales. Never mind, it was a lot more fun taking time to plan and purchase.


books for op shop

Just a browse of my bookshelves to gather a pile I’ve read and can now  donate to the op shop.


spring flowers

Cant think of anything accomplished in this category this month


sprouts 2

Had sprouts on the go most of the month.  It has been years since I did this.  Quinoa was the first I tried.  And this was a disaster.  I havent tried them again but I think my mistake was leaving them uncovered – exposed to light in the first few days. I watched a few youtube videos and then used alfalfa and chickpea seeds.  These have all been successful. The warmer weather meant that the seeds  grew quickly.  So, I am confident to give quinoa another go.


cats pj's

This month I made the ‘cat’s pyjamas’ for me.  I couldnt resist the cute fabric. It is quilting cotton and has made lovely cool pj bottoms.  Also this month I made a dress, top and gathered shorts for a little girl’s first birthday.  Didnt think to take any photos before I wrapped them up and gave them away.


lake wendouree

I ‘discovered’ Lake Wendouree.  Circumstance meant that I had a morning to fill in at Ballarat.  I have only ever driven through here on my way somewhere else and had never been to the Lake.  Billie (the dog) LOVED it!  Although I couldnt let her off, the extending lead allowed her to swim, paddle and put the wind up a few ducks.  Not the swans though.  I saw one giving Billie the eye. She saw it too and knew to leave well enough alone.  It was a beautiful end of spring day and we spent a very pleasant few hours strolling around the lake, taking a rest under trees every now and then to consider ‘the state of the world’.

Ramona-KovalWEB_Size4                           Desaix_600_dpi-2_Size4

The Wheeler Centre really enhanced my November.  What a fantastic venture this is!  It truly expands my world and gives much that enlivens my mind.  I went one day to hear Ramona Koval interview Robert Dessaix about his new book, What Days are For. Gosh, it was good.  They are always good to listen to, and especially good together.  Ramona asks brilliant questions. Robert says enticing things. Their conversation was funny, interesting and illuminating.  I look forward to reading the book.  The video of the interview is here

That’s the other amazing thing The Wheeler Centre does – not just have fascinating conversations with writers, which are often free but then sometimes, makes that conversation available to watch.  I had been unable to attend the evening when the Chaser’s Julian Morrow interviewed David Walsh (of MONA fame) I was surprised and so so delighted to find it online. I have watched this three times now and will probably do so a few more times yet.  David is amazing – quirky and totally non-conformist.  I am amazed and fascinated by him, inspired too.  There is a lot of uncommon wisdom in what he has to say.  I really like listening to the way he makes sense of the world and i love his uncertainty – or at least acknowledging that he frequently ‘changes his mind’.  That video is here.   Alice Waters, of the Slow Food Movement fame, was another video I enjoyed this month.

I know this category is really about how we, ourselves might contribute to and enhance the community around us.  I am disappointed to say that I cant think of any ways I have done that this month.  A goal for next month?


Harrietville 2

A lovely long weekend early in November was spent at Harrietville.  The village was so pretty, with spring flowers in abundance. Particularly Rhododendrons.  The Ovens River was sparkling and the shady trees inviting.  I sewed, walked, read and watched the whole of the second series of House of Cards. Totally indulgent.  I did cook some delicious healthy meals, as well.  Zucchini pasta, gluten free pizza, among others.

melbourne townhall

I also had a lovely day catching up with a friend in the city.  We had Bing Boy (Urban Asian street food) for lunch.  Notice the parsley growing in the flower boxes near the Melbourne Town Hall, along with Kangaroo Paw and marigolds. Fabulous!

Slow Living Monthly Nine

Today I am doing something I have wanted to do for a long time: join in with the monthly slow living nine.  This was started by Christine on her blog Slow Living Essentials in 2012.  It is now kindly hosted by Linda at Greenhaven.  I’ve been following along since 2012 but not joining in because, to start with, there was no way  I would have been able to offer something for all nine categories.  I have loved being inspired by what  other participants are doing in their ‘small corners of the world’.  Joining in now is a kind of celebration of all the small changes I have been making to my lifestyle and getting to this point where I can now think of something for each, or almost all, of the nine categories. I know some  are still pretty ‘thin on the ground’.  And I will go on being motivated by the focus of the nine areas, and by what others are doing each month.  I really do find the nine categories are compatible with the kind of lifestyle goals I want to set myself.  So the Monthly Nine…


zucchini fettucine
I have been enjoying Caffe Strada gluten-free quinoa bread.  This month I discovered that it makes delectable french toast, topped with raspberries and blueberries (from the freezer, heated a little) and a dollop of yoghurt.  Exactly the kind of meal I’d be likely to order if I went out for brunch.  Zucchini fettuccine has also been enjoyed on quite a few nights.  To make this you just use a veggie peeler and slice the zucchini into thin strips, then heat a little ghee in a pan, stir the zucchini until it softens, season with pepper and sea salt and serve with any form of pasta sauce.  Also this month I discovered my local green grocer selling Kombucha. I have wondered what this tasted like. I love it so think it would be worth investigating making my own.


zucchini fritters 2
We really enjoy haloumi cheese in this household.  Keeping a 200gm block in the fridge (it can have a super long time in the future use by date) is a great standby to make a substantial meal.  A slice grilled adds the wow factor to roasted vegetables, served in an attractive stack with a dollop of plum sauce.  But the best, yummiest, quickest meal I make out of haloumi cheese is fritters.  The original recipe was for zucchini and haloumi fritters but using just about any green vegetable chopped up works well. I’ve tried parsley and basil (together), spinach, silverbeet and kale.
Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters
300g zucchini (i use about 3 mid sized ones)
200g haloumi cheese
2 T chopped chives
1/4 cup flour (i use buckwheat coz it is gluten free)
2 eggs

coarsely grate the zucchini and the cheese (food processor makes this very quick)
combine all the above ingredients
heat a small amount of ghee or oil in heavy based frying pan
form fritters using heaped spoonfuls of the mixture and cook in batches – about 2 minutes each side or until golden and firm.  Drain on crumpled paper towel.  Delicious served with tomato relish and/or Greek style yoghurt.  Can be eaten hot or cold. Great for breakfast, packed lunch or dinner with salad.



Re-using yoghurt containers as pots.  Five am Organic yoghurt comes in a very sturdy plastic pot. This month I have used the pots to propagate a whole lot of  Pelagonia cuttings I acquired. Drainage holes were made in the bottom, using a heated skewer.  The lid is used underneath the pot as a tray.


bedroom plants 3

In the Australian Womankind magazine (launch issue), I was surprised to read that the good ol’ Snake plant was listed as one of the top 5 houseplants for oxygen, according to NASA scientists, and that it was particularly good to have in the bedroom because it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night.  They are also super hardy and virtually impossible to kill.  I bought one, and a few nice pots to put other plants I’ve propagated  in the bedroom.  The other four on the top 5 list are Aloe plant, English Ivy, Rubber Tree and Peace Lily.


seedlings oct

This month I planted lettuce seedlings, tomato and basil seedlings into four large pots.  I planted capsicum and tomatoes into raised garden beds.  In the herb garden the parsley has been flourishing and since reading on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar blog that parsley was 8th on the list of the most nutrient dense vegetables, i have been adding it to ‘everything’.  The list Sarah refers to is here



October has been the month of making and wearing kimono sleeve jackets.  I have made five of them.  Is that excessive? No wonder I am wearing them all the time.  They are just so versatile for this time of the year – I can wear long sleeved, short sleeved or no sleeved tops under them depending on the weather – and they are just so quick to make.  There is a tutorial here. I made one using this method. The others have all been made using Simplicity 1884  which I have made a little longer than the pattern.


pete evans cookbooks

For my birthday in September I was given a copy of Healthy Every Day by Pete Evans.  I have tried out many of the recipes from the book this month. It has become my go-to recipe book. All recipes are gluten, sugar and diary free and use lots of fresh veggies, nuts and seeds.  I liked the book so much that I pre-ordered Family Food which was released and arrived in the last week of the month.

Also this month I have been reading Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.  It is such a sad and shocking story but so well written. Helen Garner’s ability to bring to life what must have been many tedious hours in the courtroom, to tell a compelling story without sensationalizing, and to conjure compassion, is amazing.


seed crackers

i belong to an eco-feminist community (Sophia’s Spring) which meets on Sunday mornings at CERES Environment Park and one Sunday during October I took a turn to provide morning tea.  It was a great chance to test out a number of recipes from the Healthy Every Day book.  I made basil and parsley pesto and seed crackers, as seen in the photo above, which comes from the book as I didnt think to take any photos on the day. The seed crackers are unbelievably easy – basically just seeds and water.  And really yummy (IMO).  Cashew cheese and beetroot humous were other recipes tried from the book and served with fresh carrot, celery, cucumber and tomato sticks.  I also made a gluten free apricot and lavender cake and a totally unhealthy white chocolate rocky road slice.


back gate

i thought I was going to say weekends away for this section – but I have just realized that the weekend at Ninety Mile Beach was actually at the end of September and the weekend at Harrietville was the first weekend in November – so in October I enjoyed being at home!  I have really enjoyed Spring, the returning of leaves and roses, the warmer weather and day light saving which kind of tricks me into thinking that the days are a bit longer.  Winter is my favourite time of the year so I have been a bit surprised by how much I have enjoyed Spring.  I have really felt my spirit lift.  Also in October I have enjoyed watching the third season of Borgen  on SBS.  Oh, and I almost forgot. An evening spent in the opulent Regent Theatre listening to Julia Gillard early in October was a delight.  The questions from the audience were rich and thoughtful and Julia’s responses to them were generous and insightful.  I look forward to reading her book