This week we have been recovering from our Open Day. It’s a wonderfully big day filled with supporters new and old, and it’s our biggest fundraiser for the year (Wollangarra is a not-for-profit, so fundraise we must). This day takes a huge amount of organisation and preparation, and a massive on site week of build up and set up and then about that of pack up too. I didn’t take too many photos but I did make a little video that I shared on Wollangarra’s Instagram account.
Last week I was reminded on my love of spinning wool when I took 15 minutes on Open Day to sit with our amazing demonstrator, Marion and have a refresher.
This week we all jumped in the mini van, Alby and headed up and over the mountain to visit Ian and Liv Stapelton who built Wollangarra. There’s something special about Wollangarra, the way it was built, with the help of the community is quite remarkable and Ian and Liv still hold a special place in all of our hearts (I have to say when I first met them it was definitely a fan girl moment). So we put Elliot’s car seat into the van, we packed up food and bedding for 8 and jumped in the van for three big days of driving.
We stopped in opshops along the way, we ate ice cream and stopped for dinner at the Omeo Hotel, where we played pool while waiting for our meals. We camped at a road side stop and Jay looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, “we are at work” he said. We woke to the most spectacular sky, and then drove on for some snow play.
Our visit with Ian and Liv was wonderful, great for our staff to meet the man behind their all consuming place of work and hear the stories about the original ‘why’, to hear that life moves on afterwards is also super valuable.
Last week my sister came to visit. It was the craziest week on the flat we’d had all year, with a program out in the field, another on the flat and Open Day preparation in full swing, she took it all in her stride. Hannah had been through the Wollangarra program as a young person but hadn’t been back in lot 11 years. I think it was great for her to see the place really doesn’t change that much and so wonderful for the young people to see what it’s like to move on from Wollangarra. I loved having Hannah up so so much, she headed up baking about 30 trays of cake for Open Day, and that’s no easy feat when we only have 9 trays and 7 oven spaces. We were baking from breakfast until dinner!
I’ve been reflecting on some things I’m loving in life these days and I wanted to share some of them with you. Life is good, great in fact, the days are long and full, and I go to bed with a full heart and wake with a smile. I hope you are doing the same.
The app Pocket – we don’t have internet where we live or work, or even for about a 30 minute journey from our front door. This app can save webpages to your phone offline. I’m finding it particularly excellent for recipes from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial because Celia’s recipes are so perfect for this place.
Two day old pony tales – there’s no mirrors here, there doesn’t need to be. It something we’ve talked about a fair bit, having young people, particularly young women, come up on camps here, the need to conform, or to confirm to feminist ideals. What we’re trying to share is the idea that we have the option to wear whatever we want; skirts hiking, dresses on a small farm, jeans etc, and have the choice to not shave or shave our arm pits and legs. I generally put my hair up in a pony tale to keep it out of my way and it stays in the same pony tale for a few days, until it gets too unruly. And do you know what, it doesn’t bother anyone.
Yeast over sourdough – you never thought you’d hear me say it but I’m enjoying baking with commercial yeast. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with sourdough and the process but it’s tricky here, trying to find the timings between long work days and young people in the kitchen, the wood fired oven never gets quite hot enough. I’ve been baking yeast loaves of bread, pizza scrolls for Elliot to take to occasional care, even stuffed focaccia.
Wild by Sarah Glover – It arrived in the mail last Friday and I had the whole weekend to devour it. The book is stunning and perfect for what we’re doing at the moment, I can see us baking quite a few of the over the campfire recipes out here. But more than that it is an inspiration, I would love to road trip around Australia after our time here and cook just like Sarah does.
Weekends – novel I know, but we work 6 days a week, Sunday through Friday. But 9 times a year we get a full 2 day (and sometimes even a 3 day) weekend. We bundle up some food and cross the river once again to escape to our cottage, Tussocky. We have two (or three) whole days of family time, pottering and watching the odd sneaky movie, relying on the computer battery to hold out until the end.
Our local Library – I’ve always loved a library. I love requesting any and every book that I see someone devouring on Instagram to have a peruse.
Furoshiki – Celia posted me a couple of cotton wraps and I am loving using them. Our town missions end up with piles of bits and pieces and it wonderful to be able to contain them to carry across the flying fox.
Cooking: stew with root veggies and a deer shank. I cooked it on our tiny gas hob for 7 hours. It was delicious and even better the next day.
Drinking: All the tea and weekend red wine
Reading: I Am Pilgrim – it’s oh so long and I’m sort of done with it but I just want to find out what happens.
Wanting: to bake some sourdough. I miss the process!
Looking: Out the window at the snow. We’re just driving over Mount Hotham on the way home from some lovely visiting.
Deciding: To make more of an effort to reduce my single use plastic. I’ve just bought bamboo toothbrushes for the next couple of years.
Wishing: I was sitting by our fire snuggled up with a bowl of soup and a glass of wine. Not long now though.
Enjoying: Being in the car with my boys. Car time has always been Jay and my real catch up time.
Waiting: For my mum and dad to visit next week!
Loving: Our new life!
Pondering: Only very occasionally, what we’ll do after Wollangarra.
Listening: To Elliot tell me he’s hungry every couple of minutes.
Considering: Birthday celebrations for my love.
Buying: Bamboo tooth brushes, op shop home wears and letter writing kits.
Watching: movies on our computer on the weekend evenings if we can get our computer charged enough.
Marvelling: At Elliot’s ability to adapt to our new life, and his language!
Needing: to figure out how to fit me time into this new life.
Questioning: how we got to be where we are
Smelling: smoke in my clothes, everything we do revolves around fire, cooking, warming and hot water.
Wearing: thermals, Red Back elastic sided boots and beanies
Following: fewer and fewer. My time with mobile service is so limited that I can’t scroll through all the things, so I’m reducing those I follow.
Noticing: how sugar effects Elliot and trying to be very mindful of that.
Knowing: that we are exactly where we need to be
Thinking: ALL. THE. TIME. My brain feels so full of all the things. I’m doing a lot of list writing.
Admiring: Ian Stapelton. He’s the man behind Wollangarra. He came up with this idea, devoted his whole life to it, then left it for others to run. If you want to know more about how Wollangarra was set up you should find the book Secondhand And Solid.
Getting: excited about checking the mailbox when we get home. Snail mail is my favourite.
Coveting: solo time.
Giggling: with Elliot. He’s such a character.
Feeling: so happy and a little tired
Helping: Jay learn about stay at home/work at home parenting
Mixing: work and pleasure.
Celebrating: life. It really is wonderful.
Forgetting: birthdays! And I feel awful about it.
Pretending: that I know what I’m doing.
Embracing: no internet, no electricity, and the occasional gas hot water shower!
We’ve spent the last three weeks packing. Madly packing. Because just over three weeks ago we found out that we were successful in our application for our dream job. Directing Wollangarra. You might have seen the news on Instagram or Facebook, but if you haven’t here it is.
For the next three years, Jay and I will be co-directing Wollangarra, working in conjunction with the staff, who we will live on site with and the council, the governing body. Essentially the job is an admin job, chatting with schools, paying bills etc and making sure the staff are having the best time and are able to be their best for the school groups.
As you know, I think the place is amazing and it’s always had a piece of my heart. Now we get to be amongst it for the next few years. There is a landline on site, no internet reception, no electricity, no mobile service, it has an amazing community and a divine place to grow up. When we leave there Elliot will be 6! It also creates the best letter writing vibes!
You might be wondering how I might fare with no internet, as you would mostly know me via the internet. Well, I can’t wait to switch off. Every time we go there, I relish in switching my phone off and often feel anxious when coming back into reception. Of late, I have felt myself taking a fairly large step back from social media, you might have noticed too?
I will still be posting on Instagram and Facebook, but instead of posts every few days, you’re likely to get bombarded with posts once a week. The subject matter may be slightly different, although I suspect there’ll still be food, nature and essential oil photos, as these are my passions. I’ll still be working with the essential oils, so if you’re keen reach out and I have an amazing team who will support you when I can’t answer immediately.
I can’t wait to see where this adventure takes us, how I go being back in full time work, and how things change for us as a family. And I hope you won’t mind me sharing it here.
I wrote a couple of monthly meal plans, but to be honest they just weren’t working for us. It’d take me so long to go through and imagine enough meals for the month. Then once I had done that, it’d be rare that we’d refer to it during the month.
With the new shopping has come a new way of eating. We are greatly reducing our carbohydrate consumption and are focusing much heavier on eating veggies and a small amount of meat with most meals. This helps with the monthly grocery shop because really I need to top up on are a some gluten free pasta, nuts and seeds, oils, butter, yoghurt, milk and some tinned tomatoes and legumes.
Throughout the month I have been inspired to pick up my cookbooks, mostly using Simplicious*, I Quit Sugar For Life*, I Quit Sugar Slow Cooker Cookbook* (I’m not quitting sugar, just love the easy, delicious, healthy recipes). And often I’m thinking a few days in advance about dinner, grabbing meat out of our deep freezer to defrost a few days in advance. But usually dinner ends up being mostly roast veggies or a salad with a small about of meat. We will often share two steaks between the three of us and have left overs to add to a toasted cheese sandwich the following day.
Rarely do I feel the frustrations I once did about ‘what’s for dinner’, I’ve re-found my joy for cooking and Elliot will often help me in the early afternoon to get dinner prepared. I’m lucky and thankful to have the time to spend in the kitchen with my little one.
I should also mention that we’re still sticking to our budget, but are now stretching $400 over the month. If the money runs out, we go without and just use what we have at home.
Tell me do you meal plan? Monthly? Weekly? Fortnightly? Do you just fly by the seat of your pants?
MAKING: I’m loving sewing these little essential oil bags to send to anyone who signs up to my DoTERRA team. COOKING: simple food. Meat and vegetables mostly, not a lot of sugar, and eggs, lots of eggs. DRINKING: hot strong milky tea READING: Sarah Wilson’s First, we make the beast beautiful*. I don’t consider myself to have anxiety, nor can I understand how someone who has it feels, but I do get anxious feelings. I’ve mentioned before that I am an over thinker, I over analyse everything and this can often lead to worry about having done the wrong thing. This book has been so refreshing to read. WANTING: To snuggle up with a movie and a good book and a hot cuppa.
Looking: DECIDING: how we want the future to look. Monday to Friday, 9-5 doesn’t really work for us. And so we’re wondering what the next adventure is going to be for us. ENJOYING: spending days with Elliot. It has taken me a long time for me to really immerse myself into toddler days. I’ve spend a lot of the last few years trying to do all the things, and I’ve realised that the time to play with Elliot will run out. So now we have dance parties, do crafting, cooking and spending quality time together. LOVING: the amazing community I have around me. My family are close, geographically mostly, but their close emotionally and I’m so thankful for them! But as well as that I’m loving having such a wonderful group of like minded women around.
Pondering: LISTENING: To podcasts. I loved this one A LOT, and I binge listened to all of this in just a few days and this gave me all the feels. BUYING: essential oils, of course. I’m so excited for this package to arrive. There are some beautiful oils in there that will support us emotionally and physically. If you’d like to learn more about essential oils send me an email (Clare@thelifeofclare.com.au) or check out this page. WATCHING: Masterchef. I love reality TV particularly Masterchef and Survivor. I get so excited food while watching Masterchef, I love learning about different ways to use different, simple ingredients. EATING: Although we’ve been cooking simple food recently I’ve been out for some amazing meals.
House Iberia Egg Fest - YouTube
WEARING: Actually I’m loving today’s outfit. Black jeans from an opshop in Warnambool, a loose black top from an opshop in Drysdale and black moccasins from an op shop in Hayfield. I’m comfortable, feeling confident and saving the environment by buying secondhand. SLICING: Two of Sarah Wilson’s loafs from Simplicious*. The Not Quite Banana Bread and The Allergy Free Bread, both delicious, are sliced and in the freezer. Then when we want one, just just defrost and put in the sandwich press and lather with butter! EMBRACING: Me, myself and I. There’s been things that have made this tough recently but I’m the best version of myself and I’m bloody kicking goals!
A little over a month ago now Jay and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s the one excuse we can think of each year to try the current ‘in’ restaurant in our area. Over the last few years we have dined at some gorgeous places. They’re always way out of our budget but it’s an occasion worth celebrating and devoting time to.
Lunch is my ideal meal out, I’m an early person, always have been. So if I can start celebrating, eating, drinking early that works best for me. Jay too thankfully.
So we booked in for lunch at IGNI in December and waited with much anticipation for our late February booking.
Mum and Dad looked after Elliot and we caught the bus into Geelong. With time to spare before our reservation, we stopped in at Union Street Wine Bar for a wine and then moseyed on to INGI.
No I must preface the lunch with the fact that I was nose deep in a cold, and only realised that I hadn’t recovered as much as I tough when I discovered I couldn’t taste the wine at Union Street.
IGNI is a surprise, from the outside there are wide open windows covered by curtains, a strange look, but upon entering you realise that it’s perfect. It creates privacy with beautiful light. The venue is wonderfully small, Jay and I counted around 30 seats.
We were welcomed by Drew, one of the owners and an incredible server. He had in fact served us for our anniversary every two years, Loam, Oakene and now IGNI. We order a glass of sparkling to start us off and the food started to flow.
We were going to be enjoying the eight courses with wine matching. The courses made us smile, laugh, question what we were eating and discuss what was in front of us, just like any good meal should.
Processo RoseAppetisers Cucumber, mustard greens. Produce from Kinsfolk farm, was a wonderfully light meal of compressed cucumber and mustard greens. Marron, macadamia, nasturtium. A gorgeous macadamia puree with just cooked marron and peppery nasturtium flower Cod, cabbage and gabby. Cob wrapped in cabbage with a deep rich gabby broth Leek, Wagyu, Potato. Charred leeks with potato and impressively finely sliced wagyu beef. Pork neck, carrot and emu bush. The carrot was charred over coals for 24 hours, then dehydrated and rehydrated, served with †ender pork neck and emu bush sauce. Satiro, linseed, apricot. The cheese course was a linseed cracker with apricot and satire cheese. Onion, honey and quinoa. Drew asked us to guess the secret ingredient. Olin ice cream, who’d have thought, a quinoa shard and bur comb honey. Flowering gum, pine needle, raspberry. A perfect upgrade from the dessert we had on our first anniversary. To be honest by the time we got to the end we were so merry after our approximately 6 glasses of wine in about 2.5 hours and being child free that I can’t pin point the details of each courses.
I do know that it was a wonderful experience, the venue is gorgeous, the service impeccable, and of course the food genius. What an incredible way to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.
We’re trying to pack veggies in all over the place. I shared how we added veggies into our bolognese a couple of weeks ago. We made these burgers and they were probably the best burger patties I’ve ever made. Now I’m not going to add the recipe because I didn’t measure anything. But I really want to share how I made them so that you can have a go at doing the same, and to remind me if I want to make them again.
I defrosted 250gm of Sage Choice Beef Mince, to that I added half a very finely chopped onion, an egg, 1 grated carrot and 1 grated zucchini with the juices squeezed out and some bread crumbs to help it bind. That was it. I think you could add some dijon mustard, some salt and pepper and any other grated veggies that you have in the bottom of the crisper.
Then I just shaped the mix into four patties and let it rest in the fridge until dinner. We cooked them on the BBQ, and served without bread, but with a good salad and some pickled veggies (beetroot and pickles) and some sweet potato wedges.I’d love to hear how you get your daily serves of vegetables into yourself and your family.
We picked up our second Sage Choice CSA pack last weekend. I really wanted to share with you what amazing value this is, how easy it makes our shopping and how we have more meat than we can eat each month. The meat is wonderful quality, tastes amazing and I know has had such a happy life.
We get a 6kg mixed beef and lamb pack which we pick up once a month from the Bellarine Community Farmers Market in Ocean Grove. I wanted to share what we got in this months pack, because I know that was something I would have love to have seen, obviously each month is different, but you can see the quantity.
Lamb sausages 430gm $9.63
Leg of lamb bone in 800gm $15.51
Lamb back strap 250gm $14
Scotch fillet 335gm $17.70
Porterhouse 600gm $24.27
Lamb cutlets 340gm $15.40
Mince 1kg $18 – this will be divided into 4 packs
Top side 1.3kg $28.08
Gravey steak 500gm $8
Osso bucco 500gm $9
Of course we’re still continuing to eat about 50% meat to vegetarian meals, but one change we have made is doing a monthly shop. Our budget is the same, except now we use $400 a month, instead of $200 fortnightly. I do an Aldi grocery shop, and usually purchase more than we need, then a big veggie shop each fortnight.
Here’s what we have planned for the month, we’ll probably do some double-ups, like pizza twice; and we’ll probably eat left overs a couple of nights:
Since I’ve started studying and I had to submit a very embarrassing assignment where I didn’t eat even half of the recommended serves of fruit and veg for the day, I have been very aware of getting extra veg into our diet.
Now I’m always cooking up an extra serve of veggies for dinner, or having eggs with sautéed veggies for breakfast, adding grated vegetables to a toasted cheese sandwich etc.
I was super proud of how this delicious veggie-ful dinner turned out and I wanted to share it with you, and having it recorded will mean I might remember it in the future.
We’d had a vegetable Mexican chilli for dinner and then the next night had a roast. So when I went to make our bolognese sauce, I grabbed the leftovers of both, chucked them in the food processor with a tin of tomatoes. I finally diced half an onion, fried until until soft and then added 250gm of mince to brown.
We only ever use 250gm of mince for any meal at a time, this way we stock the sauces full of veg. Once the mince was browned I poured over the blended veggie sauce, heated all together, turned it off and let it sit until dinner.
To get some additional veggies in, I spirialized a zucchini which got added to the fettuccine just before the got drained.
I shared it all on my Instagram Stories.
veg bol - YouTube
What is your favourite way to get in your 5 serves of veggies a day?