19 May 2015

Wild Tiny

We had a rough day with Tiny Owlet yesterday. She can be so strong and uncompromising at times and yesterday she pushed all of us to our limits. She can be physically demanding, intimidating, and her four year old self struggles with respecting boundaries, or prefers not to. Tiny Owlet is fierce and wild. She tells us tigers are her spirit animal and we believe her. Her exuberance, humour and joy are balanced in equal parts by sudden anger and aggression, testing us more than any owlet has before. Combined with dynamics with other owlets, there is often fighting and frustration. It's tough being smallest. There have been parenting moments we're not proud of and others where we've been thankful we could smooth things over. Those evenings where we're relieved everyone is tucked in bed asleep and there is finally peace.

There's another side to Tiny. It reveals itself a little less right now she is very clearly four, but we're looking forward to seeing it more as she grows. It's the soft, gentle side she shows beetles and small animals - almost anything smaller than her. There's a tenderness when she realises her strength is unchallenged. We're hoping that as she grows in size, her tender side will shine through a little more clearly. That beautiful gentleness that we see as she's drifting off to sleep. As the tiger becomes a small kitten again.

In the middle of the night last night, Little Owlet woke Big Owlet, and then me, every ten minutes for a number of hours, swapping between the two of us. Company as she visited the toilet, a nightmare, wondering what time it was, how many hours until morning… these are the things that race through Little Owlet's mind in the middle of the night. Tiny had climbed down from the top bunk earlier in the night, to nab the spot in the bed next to me, so Little Owlet felt alone and frightened. Big Owlet, who likes her space right now, had run out of patience. There was exhaustion, exasperation and confusion in those wee hours of the morning and no-one quite knew what to do. 

Eventually, Tiny got up to see what all the fuss was about. She saw a sister feeling fragile and small and saw in that moment her own strength and assuredness. Tiny took my hand and looked up at me with the same, gentle, understanding eyes in the photograph above, and said "I can do this, Mama. You sleep." So I did. Tiny climbed into bed with Little Owlet and soothed her back to sleep, waiting until she was peaceful again. Then she slipped out and snuggled silently into her usual spot, beside me. When we woke two hours later, we were glad for the rest and so glad that Tiny had saved the day (or night, rather). We were grateful she felt she could step up and help and that the balance in those wee hours, where everyone is their true, honest selves, shifted to allow her that space. We saw the Tiny we look forward to spending more time with in years to come. The Tiny we've always known was there.  Fiercely loving Tiny. 

Are there many sides to your owlets? 
Are you nurturing a fierce owlet right now?
What's your spirit animal? 

~ Lauren. xx 

15 May 2015

Apple Jelly

In amongst all our rambling, wandering adventures of late, we've kept an eye out for roadside treasures. Tasmania is full of gorgeous little farm gate stalls, but for the adventurous, there are also plentiful finds, growing wild along the roadside. A drive through the Huon Valley turns up baskets full of apples, haws, edible weeds and the occasional late berry, if you're lucky to find a spray-free patch. All that food, ready for the eating if we keep our eyes open, slow down and stop the car from time to time. 

A lazy walk home from co-op one day left me with a bowl full of rosehips. The following day we took a huge drive down to the far south and pulled over from some apples from an ancient wild tree. The owlets offered to taste test the huge apples and, upon finding them rather tart, we decided to make some jelly. We're loving the delicate flavour of this batch and I think next year I'll aim for more rosehips to really boost that flavour. Jam and jelly aficionado, Little Owlet, tells me her favourite is the Quince and Orange Jelly we made last weekend, but she'll happily eat either with a spoon - and does! 


Apple and Rosehip Jelly

1kg apples, or thereabouts
2 cups of rosehips 
Sugar - we used organic raw sugar, but rapadura, juice or honey or a mix of sweeteners would be fine. 

Chop the apples up roughly , core, stems and all. Pop them in a large pot with the rosehips and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until the fruit is soft. Place a colander over bowl and place some muslin or old stocking over the colander. Strain the fruit - leave it overnight if necessary. Try not to squeeze the fruit as the jelly will be clearer if it drains naturally. 

Measure the amount of juice and add half the amount of sugar along with it to a pot. For example, for 4 cups of juice, add 2 cups of sugar. Most recipes will suggest you need to have an equal amount of sugar, but we find it just too sweet - this will also depend on what sweetener you choose. There is enough pectin in the fruit to set the jelly anyway. Simmer the juice and sugar until it becomes jelly. Scoop off any foam that forms on the surface. Place some clean jars in a pot of water on the stove and boil for a little while. 

Place a saucer in the freezer. Test the consistency of the jelly every now and then by dropping some onto the saucer. When the liquid thickens and holds it's shape a little when you run a finger through it, it is ready. Have your jars ready and ladle or pour the jelly into the jars and pop the lids on to seal. 

We enjoy eating our jelly on toast, in cakes and tarts, with cheese, or (if you're like Little Owlet), with a spoon. It tastes and looks so jewel-like and decadent, but it only cost us about 50c per jar, just for the sugar! It pays to keep those eyes open and go slow...

What's your favourite way to use fruit at this time of year?
Off on any foraging adventures of late? 
Have a gorgeous weekend! 

~ Lauren. xx

10 May 2015

Forest Rambling

At least once a week, we like to go rambling. Sometimes it's just Huz and the Owlets while I'm working. Sometimes it's all of us. Sometimes it's hard and difficult, but it's always rewarding and educational and inspiring. Time away from our lives, where there is only earth, trees, sky and all the other amazing sights, sounds, smells and textures that make up a forest. Each of us sees something new. Each of us sees something different and in our own way.


Huz, of course, is most taken by the fungi and their many forms. He wants to photograph them and call them all by name and study their functions and appreciate their many colours and stages of life.

The Owlets enjoy the adventure and hunting for treasure - a new or beautiful fungi to photograph or a bird or animal. They love time spent together and learning new things.

Me, I'm all about texture, colour and pattern. Finding treasures to photograph and take home to use in a quiet moment. And spending time with my gang.


A typical ramble for us involves a hearty breakfast, up early and well rugged. We grab as many snacks as we can find and maybe fill a thermos. If we're lucky, the place we're going will have a fire or barbecue, so we go ready for that, stopping for supplies on the way if we need. We each grab a phone or camera and maybe some tools for viewing things up close or at a distance - magnifiers, telescopes… Then we pile into the car, drive to the end of the street and pick a direction.


Once we're at the forest, we walk slowly, often loudly, and point out what we see along the way. Sometimes this comes in the form of "Dad! I found a fungi!" or "There's a leech on my shoe!!!" (thankfully this isn't often). There will most likely be arguments about who goes in front. And Little Owlet will be reluctant at the start. She feels small entering the deep dark forest, But once we're in the forest, walking, talking, breathing… Then the forest comes alive.


In the middle of the dark forest, we'll find ourselves in a little patch and if we pause, it's like time stops and tiny little lights switch on all around us. We notice an intricate city of organisms, all interconnected and doing what nature does. We observe fungi and humus, poo and pseudostipes, lichen and moss. We see snails and beetles and all manner of tiny interactions.


Suddenly we feel neither small, nor big, but part of it all. Passive observers, collecting and recording. Learning alongside each other. Witnessing nature's beauty on that particular day. We know next time we visit, the forest will look very different. We wonder at the interactions that come into play, and we're rather grateful to have an ecologist with mycological leanings on hand.


We'll marvel and wonder at the stories the forest has to tell. About the people here before us. And we make sure to leave it beautiful for the people after us.


At some point we'll decide we've walked enough and turn around and head in search of warm drinks, snacks or dinner at home. Hot chips at the pub is our favourite, especially if the fire's burning. We'll look back through photos together, recounting where and what we saw. How the light was and whether we caught the shapes as we intended. We'll have a laugh over one of Tiny's hilarious up-the-nose selfies and wonder how it arrived on my camera. And we'll talk some more about the forest and what we found in it. Eager to return again.


If you happen to be in Hobart next weekend and you'd like to join us for a fungi ramble, you're most welcome. Huz is hosting his inaugural fungi ramble at Ferntree, along one of our favourite walks. You can see us rambling on it in more summery times in this video below. Huz will be sharing tips on how to photograph fungi, their ecology and more. We'll have a special little fungi spotting challenge for little fungi enthusiasts too. It's going to be heaps of fun! Book here if it sounds like something you'd like to do! 


~ Lauren xx