Friday, August 15, 2014

the floury baker

Dear Olive,
One of the loveliest things about having Shane off work right now, is the number of meals we're getting to eat together as a family. We put away our phones and toys, put on some music, and try not to pay any attention to what you are - or most likely aren't - eating. (Your currently limited eating habits, however, are a whole other story!) This week has been extra special because we've had the delicious pleasure of dining on food from The Floury Baker, an online provisions store who now offers a home delivered dinner service. What a treat it was to find such a yummy package on our doorstep Monday morning! Anna Simamora makes all the meals with seasonal, Australian grown whole foods, without any preservatives or additives. The meals are frozen, then delivered to customers doorsteps all around Sydney. Anna's a professional chef whose food philosophy really resonated with me - she's all about flavour, texture, seasonal and sustainable produce. And her meals really do taste like hearty, home cooked food - albeit, hearty home cooked food cooked by a really great cook. (She also baked Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garners wedding cake once!) 
To celebrate the opening of their home delivery dinner service, The Floury Baker is offering free shipping on all orders placed before September 8 with the code dear olive. (Get the steak and mushroom pie! And the pork ragu! Actually, get anything, it's all good.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

cottage point weekend

Dear Olive,
We had a beautiful weekend away; bushwalking, fishing off a tinnie, hanging out with mates in front of the open fire, and eating waaaay too much good food. Sadly, our friends daughter ended up in hospital so a few couldn't make it, but the rest of us soaked it up. (Thankfully, it looks like our little friend will be ok. You made her a get well card that said "Dear Quincy, I love you. Naughty pain. Love Olive".) I found such a welcome inner quiet looking out onto the river through the gums. 
I haven't been able to go near the Hawkesbury without thinking about the traditional owners of the land ever since I read The Secret River a few years ago. It tells a devastating and haunting story of the first white people in that area and it's really had a lasting impact on me. Shane and I were moved to tears when we went past red hand cave on our bush walk and saw the hand prints left by the people who lived in that beautiful and rugged place first.

Friday, August 8, 2014

weekend menu

Dear Olive,
We're going away with a bunch of friends this weekend (we're staying here - doesn't it look fabulous?). I'm looking forward to a few slow bush walks (I hope this weather holds!) and relaxing in front of the fire.  And possibly a spa. There's an allocated roster for food and we're on duty for one breakfast and one dinner. I'm thinking this lovely sounding baked fetta with walnuts and honey as a starter (or an afternoon snack) would be great. A friend made Pete Evans Balinese roast chicken and said it was the best chicken she's ever had, so I'll make that for dinner with a salad and roast potatoes. I haven't made a tarte tatin in years and I think it might be time again! Or perhaps a trusty Stephanie Alexander crumble? (I've always loved the ground ginger in her crumble topping.) I'm looking forward to enjoying a champagne, too! (For anyone interested, here's the ABA's take on drinking alcohol and breastfeeding.)
Happy weekend, friends.

Monday, August 4, 2014


Dear Olive,
I've been absent from this space (physically, and even more so, emotionally) for so long, that I barely know how to re-enter it. Do I recap the past couple of months? Or do I creep back in, acting like I never left it at all? I think I'll opt to creep back in, at least for now. (In part because, as lovely as they've been, the last few months have actually been rather boring in their repetitiveness.) 
We've just returned from a trip to Coffs to visit my Dad and my sister and her family. It was Clancys first trip away from home - it was funny to think that at the same age, you'd already been to Coffs twice, Melbourne and Byron. I was relieved to discover that Clancy's a pretty great traveller and it was a really wonderful week and a half for us all. The wifi reception at my Dads was kind of sketchy, and I used the time to switch off from most of my social media - it felt like an important break. I didn't have an iphone when you were born and having time away from it at Dads made me realise how much time I spend holding the phone, whilst also holding Clancy.
Unfortunately, we arrived home with some kind of lergy in tow, which we've all had to varying degrees over the past week. The worst hit was Shane, he's still down the poor fellow! (Even Clancy caught a slight sniffle *sob*. ) Is it just me, or are there some truly nasty bugs going round this season? (As an aside, I heard a discussion on the radio suggesting that coughing into the palms of our hands isn't a good way to prevent spreading infection because the virus can still be passed on to somebody who touches something you've touched. A better way is to cough into the crook of your arm. Interesting, no?)
Photos from a late afternoon spent wandering at jetty beach, barefooted and barelegged ... winter, what winter?

Monday, July 14, 2014


Dear Olive,
Clancy: after noticing him running his hands over the thick corduroy of the lounge, we got the poor boy a play mobile.
Olive: cosy winter snuggles in bed with Clancy, every morning.

Linking up with Jodi.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: Pigtails. They really just add to your zany. (And my, I did a good job on that part, didn't I.)
Clancy: so not a newborn anymore. (*sob*)

Linking up with Jodi.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Dear Olive,
It's finally soup weather in Sydney! My gorgeous friend Ceinwen made us a sweet potato and corn soup when Clancy was born and it was so delicious that I got the recipe from her and made it yesterday. It came from one of the Moosewood cookbooks - if anyone is around my age and raised by vegetarian, hippy parents, they may remember Moosewood? The fonts and illustrations and everything about them are so nostalgic for me. One of the books is titled The Enchanted Broccoli Forest! (I'll be dusting off your Moosewood books and having a look next time I'm up there, Dad.)

Southwestern corn & sweet potato soup 
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 crushed garlic cloves (I used about 6)
1 small fresh chilli, chopped
3 cups stock (I used my chicken broth)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 2 cups)
1/2 red capsicum, finely chopped
3 cups corn kernels
salt & pepper to taste

a squeeze of lemon, a dollop of yoghurt, plus some coriander to serve

Basically, simmer it all up, puree half the mix, add the toppings and voila! A beautiful winter warmer.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Dear Olive,
I'm hanging on by a thread in this portrait project, and this week I'm too empty in the brain to think of captions for these ... so here they are without.
PS My friend Greer sent Clancy that pixie hat - so adorable! Check out her etsy store here.)

Joining in with Jodi.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Dear Olive,
Clancy: so many smiles (and laughs!); he has all of us well and truly under his spell.
Olive: "...and I already loved him" you said, describing to a friend the very first time you met Clancy. I don't know why it's surprised me, but in spite of him bringing so much change into your life, that love hasn't wavered once.

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: my Dads very old pony died last week, and when I told you, you said it would be very sad if she died because someone shot her with a gun when she was young, but she died of oldness, so it's ok.
Clancy: eyes on Olive, always.

Linking up with Jodi.

Friday, June 6, 2014

healing mastitis

Dear Olive,
Two weeks ago I came down with mastitis. After breastfeeding you for almost two and a half years without a single bout, it wasn't something I ever thought I'd get; and it was every bit as dreadful as I'd heard. At 4 in the morning, I woke up with the worst flu-type aches through my body, and an excruciatingly painful breast. I was shocked at how sick I was, and at how quickly it had come on. Having not taken antibiotics for about twenty years, they are always an absolute last resort for me, so I wanted to share what I did to resolve my infection here, in case anyone else is looking for ways they can treat their mastitis naturally - and effectively. Shane went to work and I was far too sick to get to a shop to get anything for myself, so I just had to use what I had on hand.
Straight away, I piled on the clothes until I was sweating (I was shivering and freezing when I woke up) and tried to get Clancy to feed as much as I could off the painful side, massaging it as he fed (OUCH). I got into a hot hot hot shower a couple of times throughout the day and massaged the painful breast, and I kept cold cabbage leaves in my bra, changing them regularly. I drank a couple of enormous cups of chicken broth*, and I dosed myself up on the immune boosting supplements that I had in the cupboard - cod liver oil and vitamin c, to help my body fight the infection. (Plus some herbs that Shane picked up from the naturopath later in the day for me.) I also drank lots of ginger and turmeric tea (a great inflammation reducer - and the hot cup doubled as a hot compress, as I held it against the painful site). Shane couldn't get away from work until late in the afternoon and my amazing friend Clare picked you up and took you out for HOURS so I could rest and look after the far less physically demanding Clancy. (Thank you, Clare, you amazing woman, you!) I actually couldn't believe the recovery I made - from the 4am wake up, I felt remarkably better by that afternoon, and by the time I woke up the next morning, all that was left was a little breast soreness. I kept up the cabbage leaves and the vitamins and herbs for the next few days to make sure the infection was well and truly kicked.
The only thing I'm left with now, is anxiety that it'll return! I never want to return to that hell! So I've been keeping up (in much smaller doses) the ginger tea and the supplements. And I'm going to keep a far closer eye on my breasts for any lumps in the hope that I can massage them out before they become infected. And, hopefully, with luck, that'll be my first and last experience of mastitis.
(Obviously, I'm not a practitioner, this is just my personal story. I'd love to hear what's worked for others?)

A friend of mine has taught me to make my chicken broth with chicken feet - gross, I know, but it gives the most amazingly thick, gelatinous, broth; incredibly healing and healthful.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: our brooding teenager.
Clancy: he's been smiling at us since mothers day, but it's so very hard to capture a smile in a baby who just wants to frown at the camera and flap his arms!

Linking up with Jodi.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: I look at this photo, and I want to cry. For you, for how much you love Shane, for how much you need him right now. For how often he's at work.
Clancy: staring, always staring. (Usually at Olive, but this time at the bats or the trees, or something.)

Linking up with Jodi.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

a month of clancy

Dear Olive, 
Clancy turned one month old on the weekend. But honestly it feels as though he's belonged to us forever. I must admit, never in my wildest dreams did I envisage I'd be the mother of a son, but now that he's here, I couldn't possibly imagine how he'd be anyone else. And while some days do feel a bit like some kind of horror newborn groundhog day (a never ending cycle of crying/feeding/vomiting/changing/crying/rocking/catnapping, all while attempting to find reserves to stay calm and play vets/get thrashed at memory/build some wild fantasy lego construction for you), I can't quite believe how quickly we've settled into our new life as four (and in particular my new life as a stay at home Mum of two). I worked out early on that getting us out of the flat - ideally with friends - is the best thing for us all. Clancy happily sleeps for an hour or two in the sling or the pram, you get to release some energy (away from my side! What a relief!), and I get to bore a poor friend with a blow by blow account of Clancys sleepings and wakings and feedings of the previous day and night. 
Actually, even the harder times are really not as bad as they sound. Because it's all so filled with love. We are just exploding with love for our boy! You can't stop kissing him**, from the moment you wake up each day - and neither can Shane or I. And the amazing beauty of the second child, is the wonderful inner calmness within me; the absolute certain knowledge that it will all pass so soon*.

*Sometimes it just feels like an eternity at the time: the days are long, but the years short and all that.
**You've started carrying him around. He's always in a different spot if I leave the room (even though I've asked you not to lift him unless I'm there to help you.) Shit!

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: dancing up a storm in the autumn sun at a friends dance show (I couldn't just pick one this week!)
Clancy: so much like Olive, but also like your own little self

Linking up with Jodi.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

hop hop hop

Dear Olive,
I read an analogy on motherhood the other day that really resonated with me: on the one hand, becoming a mother is like losing a leg, but on the other hand, it's like winning the lottery. It's much the same way I feel. Would I rather have two legs but live in a caravan? Probably not. Because in addition to losing a part of myself, I have been gifted a whole lot more.
Here I am on mothers day, hopping around on my one leg - feeding Clancy in the sling, and trying to explain to an extremely uncooperative you why it would be nice for us to have a photo on my first mothers day as a mum of two. Feeling every part of that missing leg, but with the knowledge that I've been given a whole world of incredible love and wonder in the two of you.
I hope all the Mums had a wonderful mothers day (on one leg or two).

Monday, May 12, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: at least the dusk sky was a delight.
Clancy: feed, vomit, catnap, cry, feed, vomit, change, feed, catnap. REPEAT.

Joining in with Jodi.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Dear Olive,
Olive: whilst you adore your little brother and hold him several times a day, this face was because I said you could watch Bondi Vet that night on tv.
Clancy: the cuddliest little koala (and also the best dressed boy on the block in his Sapling Child outfit! Thank you Peta xx).

Linking up with Jodi.