29 June 2014

Creative nooks...

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I've been examining creativity and how it sits in my daily life a bit lately, thanks the course I'm doing right now. I've always had little spots around my nest which serve to offer some inspiration, cheer things up or encourage creativity on the fly. Emergency craft stations are something I've made sure to have over the years for those times when I need to steal a moment of creative time without having to spend time setting it up or clearing it away - important with three-year-olds in the house, I find!

So this is a collection of nooks around my nest where I work, rest and draw inspiration. Right now my little secret desk is full of little things that inspire or materials I like to work with. Lots of sketchbooks to fill… potential.

There's a little space for owlet inspiration, an emergency owlet craft station and a resty magazine and knitting spot by the couch too. All these things help to remind me to keep looking, thinking, creating.

Do you have creative nooks in your nest? 
Do you keep emergency craft stations at the ready? Just in case? 
What keeps you inspired, day-to-day? 


27 June 2014

A cup of tea with me...


I've been up a couple of hours already today, starting my day in the dark with Tiny Owlet, before sneaking back to bed with Huz, and a cuppa, to watch the sun rise. I start most days like this now that Winter days are so short and it's dark for much of the time Huz is at work. We make the most of beautiful, quiet moments like this…

Other things I'm loving right now…

Mild, sunny winter days. I know they won't last, but they make things easier when you're spending so much time stumbling around in the dark… Sitting in warm, sunny windows or spontaneous walks to the beach to look for stones and beach glass are up there with my favourite things about winter in Tasmania.

Spending time with a little community of friends who feel like family… They make long days easier. We've begun organising kids swaps during the week so us home-educating mamas can get all the things done. And have a little creative headspace. It's magical. We're absolutely blessed.

Wearing primary colours. I was born in Melbourne and worked in fashion. We wore lots of black. This is big. I'm wearing lots of green, always, but brighter blues and red too. It feels cheery.

My garden is growing beautifully and as I'd imagined it would, despite winter's chill and the extreme neglect. I love that we're still eating from our garden everyday. Even if it's just a handful of herbs for a salad. Cooking with food you've just picked seconds earlier is the best.

Earlier this month I finished the wonderful Pip Lincolne's e-course, Blog with Pip. It was after reading Pip's blog, Meet Me at Mikes, all the way back in 2006, that I began blogging. She's always been supportive and generous with her knowledge and time, so I had a hunch it'd be helpful. I wanted to re-invigorate this space and find a little bit of flow again. It's been marvellous for that. I've tidied up a little and updated my About page so it tells a little more about this blog and who we are. Pip also held my hand while I finally figured out how to fix up my blog address - look at it! That took me years and one hour with Pip to figure out. Huzzah! Also wonderful are the bunch of bloggers I've connected with. One of the loveliest things about blogging is finding out how others view the world and that everyone has a completely different perspective and voice that we can learn so much from. It's been a great reminder of that.

Sensing my need to get creating again, Pip was super generous and gave me a scholarship to her current e-course, Inspiration Information*. I'm loving that and the space it's giving me to re-inspire and find my way back to doing the creative stuff I LOVE. If you find some time and cans spare a little bit of cash, I'd highly recommend Pip's courses, whether you're new to creative pursuits and blogging, or a bit of an old hand, like me, you're never too experienced to learn, listen and find out how others do what they do. Learning and sharing are great like that. I'm on a bit of a journey with all this learning, creating and sharing of ideas. I still have NO IDEA where it will lead yet (although I have some ideas), but I'm so glad I've made time to do it.

This post is part of a linkup Pip's running with other Blog with Pip graduates. You can read all about them, who they are and what they are up to over here. 

*Disclaimer: there was no condition that I rave about the excellence of either course in order to participate. Pip's just genuinely generous and the courses really are great. You should totally look into them. 

22 June 2014

Celebrating the Seasons :: Yule

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Creating new traditions is something we love to do. A little ritual and seasonal nourishment help mark what's going on around us and put a little rhythm in our days… We tend to celebrate the biggest festivals at all the wrong times in the Southern Hemisphere and the meaning and tradition of them can be lost. Halloween and pumpkins when all around us are blossoms and berries… Or Easter eggs and spring chicks as we're harvesting pumpkins and apples. It just doesn't make sense and it feels so totally disconnected from nature. So, alongside the regular festivals, we take a leaf out of our pagan ancestors books and celebrate seasonally too. We figure you can never celebrate too much.

We've celebrated Beltane and Samhain before with great enthusiasm, but this year is the first time we've  properly celebrated Yule. 

So Yule totally makes sense in the middle of Winter! Who knew?!

Warming food, egg nog, fire, gifts and celebration when daylight hours have dwindled and it's cold outside and you need something to brighten the days… Totally logical. Yule in summer - not so much. But this weekend we had THE BEST Yule celebration. And it was so simple and fun and lovely. Here's how we do Yule - rather spontaneously I might add… we almost never plan ahead. I'll be referring back to this next year so we can do it all over again.

How to have a fabulous Southern Hemisphere Yule weekend:

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1. Go to the Winter Feast at Dark Mofo. Get there early so as to avoid huge crowds. Eat all the food while bumping into everyone you know, warming by the fire and listening to music. Get home and snuggle into bed with hotties and cups of tea.

solstice bush
sculpture trail

2. The next morning, spend a little time tidying your nest and then go for a walk and look for fungi and art in the bush.


3. Have a picnic in the sunshine and a smooch with someone you love, as the sun goes down.

candle rolling

4. Back at home, make a little Winter alter. Bring in a tree branch or two and hang some simple decorations from them and little wintry reminders nearby.
5. Hand roll some beeswax candles together

candle maisie

6. Light candles around a spiral in the garden (lucky we have one already!) Tea light candles in jars will do, with a special candle at the centre - we used the candle we light at our dinner table each night.
7. Walk to the centre of the spiral with hand-rolled candles and light them ceremoniously. Have a little chat about mid-winter and weathering winter's coldest days. Being a light in the darkness and that sort of thing.
8. Start a discussion about the stars and lights from Dark MOFO, then madly dash inside while the family carries on chatting and stargazing.


9. Sneak some handmade and simple gifts into everyone's Christmas stockings. Note that stockings  suddenly make so much sense, hanging by the fire place!
10. Invite everyone inside to open stockings and eat a hearty meal by the fire. We had a curried root vegetable pie and a pear and walnut salad with pomegranate juice, followed by fruit cake with vanilla bean ice cream and spiced, poached pears. And gingerbread and spicy apple cider before bed. Retire to bed with warm tummies and happy hearts.

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11.Wake the next morning and welcome the morning sun with a family yoga session. Sun salutations are totally appropriate. Then set the table for a breakfast feast of sunshiny things -  We had oranges, bananas and yoghurt with lemon flavoured water.
12. Send the family off for adventures while sneaking a quiet afternoon at home - phew!
13. Welcome everyone home, light the fire, have sunshiny eggs for an early dinner and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.
14. Tuck happy and exhausted owlets into bed early and snuggle by the fire with a loved one and a cat or two… Look forward to bed and festivals to come.

Yuletide blessings, friends. I hope your weekend has been gorgeous too. xx

16 June 2014

Working at Creativity

The other night I dreamt that Pip was working in a corner of my bedroom putting an excellent new workshop together and there was a surprise permaculture seminar in my lounge room. I couldn't work out where all the people were coming from. Pip thought it was happening because I'd started blogging again. Huz and I mused on that with her for a while… and the people flowed in through the front door. I was SO UPSET about how dirty and dusty my house was. But it was happening anyway and it was exciting. 

The message wasn't lost on me… Just put pen to paper, needle to fabric, hook to yarn, ink to squeegee and begin. It's been so long since I allowed myself to make anything for me, other than words for this blog or Spiral Garden. In a nest with three busy owlets and a list of jobs and chores longer than my arm… Plus my lovely Huz who I can never have enough time with… I'm always putting everything else first. I really have to battle (mostly with myself) for creative time. It seems frivolous. But to make time for creativity is key to my happiness and health. It's one of my favourite and most important forms of self-nurture. It's what gets me dreaming about what's next, pushing me forward. There's an excited little creative ball of energy stuck inside me and I really need to do something about it. Just for me (and possibly those I live with - ha!). Regardless of the state of my nest. And it's time to commit to working on my bigger permaculture plans because there really is no better time. I'm hopeful the two will combine. 

Huz will begin his PDC in a couple of weeks, which will be HUGE for him in terms of thinking outside the work/life box and finding out about all things permaculture. I'm very excited for him. I'm hoping it'll be the beginning of some exciting future thinking for us, in which we give back to our community. 

For me, my focus will be extracting some of those seeds of ideas I've had forever. Getting my creative juices really flowing and MAKING ALL THE THINGS! Not just the ones that I can put in our shop or make to order, but the ones that make me happy. Who knows where they will lead? Somewhere exciting, I hope. 

Do you have creative plans that you struggle to let out?
How do you make time for creativity? 
I've been looking at this e-course and I think it will be really fantastic. I can't quite afford it this month, but if you do, let me know how it went, ok? 


11 June 2014

30 Ways to Enjoy Winter :: Beating the Winter Blues


Once upon a time I was a winter person. Always preferring to rug up rather than strip off, I liked winter's crisp air and stark light. Then I moved to Tasmania. Winter is very beautiful here, but it always takes some bolstering to be ready for the cold and the shortened daylight hours. Along with some vitamin D, we need to have a bunch of things up our sleeves to make it fun and keep us happy. Here are 30 ideas for keeping us (and hopefully you) active, warm and happy this winter.

UntitledMorning yum v.2 #chickensoup #leftovers #winter #bowlfood
In her element #arvotea #scones #tinyowlet

Wake up with yoga or some other movement that stretches your body and calms your mind.
Eat something nurturing, fresh and rainbow-coloured.
Try some different teas or warm drinks. Find one you like. Make a ritual of it.


Go for a walk in nature.
Spend time in a landscape that's bigger than you.
Find inspiration in beautiful things that are much smaller than you.
Find a pub with a fire and cosy up over food and drinks, while recounting a long outdoor adventure.

It took three years but I finally finished Little Owlet's ric rac doll #shes wry happy #stillhavetomakeitswardrobe #sigh  #babiesshiftprioritiesok #done
We love our local farmers market. Do you? WIN a gorgeous Phoebe Wahl "Support Local Farmers" print OR a super fun "Lets Go the Farmers Market" kit! Comment on this photo or send us a message and let us know how you first heard about Spiral Garden. Was it

Make something by hand for someone you love.
Send a letter in the post.
Go to a concert or a film. Come to Hobart for Dark MOFO.
Visit a farmers' market. Make it part of your week.
Spend some time in a book shop or oppy and find a book you like. Devour it. 
Do something that challenges you - like my brave and wonderful Dad, on the first day of Winter.
Learn something new or how to refine something you do. I've been doing this.
Take a course -  Maybe an e-course or something local… This looks good.


Plan a little getaway - visit a shack, go somewhere beachy, have a sleepover at a friend's place.
Light a campfire in the backyard.
Cook something in the coals.
Spend time gardening - plan, explore seed or tree catalogues, plant green manure, make compost.
Look for edible winter greens in your neighbourhood. Get to know your weeds. 


Spend time with people who make you feel happy.
Wear something colourful everyday.
Wear what makes you feel good (even if it's texta all over your face, like Tiny).
Buy or knit some warm woollen socks.
Layer up. “There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” ~ Ranulph Feinnes


Sort through your things. Think about what you need. Make space. 
Decorate a little corner of your home. 
Buy or make some art, then find a spot for it in your home.
Celebrate the dark. Turn the lights out and light candles and enjoy the quiet.
Take a long bath with oils, colours, candles… and someone you love, who makes you giggle. 

What are your winter survival tips?
Happy wintering! xx

6 June 2014

Blooming where we're planted :: Tiny house thinking

The other morning I was standing at the kitchen sink, craning my neck to try and catch a glimpse of the two-doors-down neighbours' new extension. In the years since we've lived here, as we've planted trees and welcomed babies, we've watched the two-doors-down neighbours' children grow up. The youngest is driving with L-plates now and her once home-based mother is part of the morning commute. We've watched and imagined a time like that in our future, when owlets have grown and money's less tight and maybe that longed-for extension, that studio or parent's retreat or extra living space… 

We've imagined waking up and looking across the river as the sun rises and warms our bedroom, overlooking the garden. We've imagined a breakfast bar and sweeping deck, or double-glazed family room and extended kitchen. We've imagined the suburban standard bedroom each and a studio. Oh the extra space! It was one of the attractive thoughts painted to us, on that first day we set eyes on our little green house, by an eager real-estate agent, playing the dream-making game.


Seven years in to our life here, we've begun building a garden that means the world to us. Our little nest is comfortable and well loved and lived in. We've spent happy nights with all our owlets squishing into our bedroom, sleeping on the floor if they must, just to be closer. Seriously, the amount of times we find ourselves in the same square meter of this nest is hilarious.We remember the large family who lived here before us and the childhood bedrooms we shared with siblings. The closeness, the company of shared quarters. How much space do we really need? 

Waking up in the morning, we sit up in our bed, overlooking the front garden and the river, as we watch the sun rise and start our day. We have a version of that dream already. And I'm back to craning my head to see the two-doors-down neighbours' extension and it dawns on me… 

We spend lots of time looking at and thinking about tiny houses. At life pared back to essentials and smart storage solutions aplenty. We imagine running away to an off-grid life and a tiny cabin in the woods. We think about it lots.  

Beautiful, quiet, winter morning. Just the owlets and me for a few days. Tiny has a cold. Endless hours of domestic chores beckon. This calls for a fire and umpteen cups of tea. #stillness #nestlife #owletnest

And then we remember Huz's job and the opportunity and potential it brings to create change. We remember the convenience of being near people and things we need, like activities for growing owlets and friends… And this garden. This house by the beach and bush, where owlets have been born, lost and grown…

What if we just stop here now? 

What if instead of expanding this house and imagining more here, we imagine less? 
What if we apply tiny house philosophy to our medium-sized house and just improve it?
What if our cabin in the woods has been here all the time
What if a mansion in the suburbs wouldn't create the connection and life we want


So we're creating for ourselves a tiny-house inspired nest. A little nest that we don't intend to grow, so much as improve. Slowly, we're refining and simplifying. The permaculture plan is slowly and steadily being implemented. The basic renovations we needed to do to improve the existing rooms are almost complete. A little touch-up here and there will see it feeling less tired. We just need to be smarter about how we fit us all in here. 

It means paring back. It means negotiations and long discussions with owlets about more and less and enough. It means simplifying. Giving away or selling whatever doesn't belong in our dream house. Because this is it. Here and now. We have what we need, now lets' make it what we want. Slowly. Steadily. This is home. 


A Memoir About What Happens When You Get Rid Of All Your Stuff ~ by The Minimalists
The Tiny House Family
Tiny House Living
Tiny House Swoon
Rhonda's fabulous book which has a chapter on this very sort of thing. 

1 June 2014

One Chook...


In our nest, we're all about trying to find ways to squeeze the absolute most from our money, food and time right now. If we can do it and produce zero waste, that increases the awesomeness factor x10. Our favourite way to do all of the above begins with one chicken.

Harking back to my childhood, where we'd have a roast every weekend, we've begun to do the same. It sets up our week with full happy bellies and a bunch of meals already begun for our week ahead. There are some wonderful people all over the place talking about how they do this (Gourmet Girlfriend is one), but here's our chook rhythm and how it all works...

So we start with roasting one chicken. I look for the biggest chook I can find, always free-range, preferably organic and pasture fed. I keep some of the juices for gravy and pour off some oil for cooking tomorrow. I also roast up a whole load of veggies (more than we need) to go with it and that's our first meal. Super yum.

Later, I remove all the remaining meat from the bone and pop it in the fridge for another meal. The bones go in the slow cooker with an onion, chopped in half (skin and all), some garlic, carrot, celery, pepper corns, a bay leaf, water and a slosh of apple cider vinegar. That bubbles away for 24hrs. So there's stock/bone broth good to go for meals during the week. I get about 2L which usually makes 2 serves for our family, enough for soup and to add to a casserole or something like that.


In the morning, the left-over veggies make a lovely simple frittata*…

If I was lucky and found a big chook, I'll have managed to have enough meat left over to add to the bone broth for soup. A big chook will do this. Otherwise we'll enjoy the broth with lots of veggies. There are a multitude of other ways I can use the meat too… chicken pies, quick stir-fry, curry, risotto… And of course, cold as is, or on a sanga.


A favourite right now is what we've come to know as Crispy Chicken Salad. Lettuce and a bunch of other yum green veggies (whatever's seasonal and available), some grated carrot and some left-over chicken which has been shallow fried in left over chook fat/olive oil/coconut oil/ghee until it starts to go crispy. We throw a handful of fresh coriander from the garden on top and some homemade thai-style dressing. Sometimes we throw sesame seeds and kim-chi in the bowl too, just for yum and probiotic value.


So what to do with the left over stock bits and bones? I pick out the onions and whiz what's left in the food processor. After 24hrs, the chicken bones are so brittle they crumble in your fingers. With the veggies in the stock, they make a super easy, nutritious food for our furry owlets. Full of minerals and good things. We feed the soft, whipped up left-overs to our three cats and chihuahua. It lasts about 3-4 meals. And best of all, it uses ALL the last of the waste. And saves us a HEAP of money - pets are expensive! Especially if you want to feed them good stuff, and we KNOW this food isn't full of preservatives and other yuck stuff they don't need.

So there's our week all set up. The rest of my meal plan fits in around that. Super easy and and affordable and helping to stretch everything a bit further. And some really great, healthy meals too!

What are your tips for stretching your meals and your budget a bit further?
Any great left-overs recipes?

Have a gorgeous week! xx

*Stay tuned for our super-quick breakky fritatta recipe next week. xx