Last week I was presented with the choice of 20+ fridge magnets and an invitation to choose as many as I’d like. The magnets were created by a friend from original photographs that he took, in and around Perth. He combined the images with words to create positive messages for himself – and then decided to share them.

The art work is terrific and part of me wanted to grab all 20 and whack them up all over my fridge. But instead I showed some restraint and spent a bit of time sorting through to see if any of them really leapt out at me and said ‘take me home’.

What I discovered is that, although they’re all lovely, only two of them really resonated with me on that particular day. One because it’s who I am and the other because I need the reminder. 

I must have looked at those magnets dozens of times since I put them up. Whenever I open and close the fridge, there they are. They remind me to take a mental step back from rushing around and be present in the moment  – and they’ve made me smile. Every time.

So thanks, friend, for sharing your thoughts and smiles. They’re greatly appreciated. Smiles are huge and happy and lovely and can totally make someone’s day – especially if they’re shared.

So here are my smiles, dear tea leaf readers. I hope they work for you too – and that you share them around 🙂

Life got busy over the past few months. Really silly, mind-numbingly busy. It crept up, tasks and commitments snowballing over us and gathering us up in their wake. It’s the kind of crazy downhill slalom that I find tends not provide much in the line of personal satisfaction, even if I know that the end result will be worth it.

Then, this evening, two things happened: I noticed we still had a giant pumpkin in the fridge – and a friend sent me a link to this video.

Ignoring the pumpkin, I sat down to watch the video. The take-home message for me was that being super busy can end up being isolating.

But we all need to eat – and eating together is more fun. And I have a giant pumpkin…

So, busy or not, the giant pumpkin’s been cut up and vat of soup is underway. Sourdough bread mix goes on next – and will be baked tomorrow when we randomly open our very sandy, discombobulated home to whoever feels like sharing a spontaneous pot luck meal.

Hope you can make it 🙂

Since I’ve rather cleverly managed to end up with several part-time jobs (all at the same time), pups that need vets, walking and endless cuddling, and in-laws to keep an (active) eye on, normal things like grocery shopping, visits to the GPO for stamps, going to the gym, cooking and socialising have all taken a back seat for the moment. Pretty lame excuses, I know, dear Pen Pal, but there it is. So, until I have a little more free time, a quick-fix postcard to keep you going. Enjoy. Perhaps I’ll make the next one a recipe card – that’s almost like cooking, right?




A friend’s baby turns one this weekend, so I thought I’d make a gift for him rather than buying one. I then spent many (!) minutes scrounging around on craft sites, knitting sites and pinterest, hunting for a simple project. As always, I found the sheer volume of ideas for make-and-do overwhelming and stalled out more several times. But in the end I came across some adorable little crocheted animals. It turns out that they’re called amuragmi – and they’re really cute.

This is about when I reminded myself that the last time I made soft toys I vowed to never do so again… but 2012 is a whilxmasknits_dec2012e ago now… and amuragami are quite small… and there are heaps of free patterns available on the internet…. and I managed to talk myself into giving it a go.

The only tricky part, really, is that I’m not really much of a crocheter. I have crochet hooks, but only because I inherited them. To date I’ve made a few granny squares (in the dim and distant past) and a pair of glovens (last week), so making a crocheted toy was an interesting decision. Nevertheless, I boldly chose a simple pattern for a roly poly cat, then set about a YouTube video to teach me how to make a magic loop – which is the first stage of the process.

A few binned attempts later I now have all the elements crocheted and final assembly has commenced. So far the critter doesn’t look a whole lot like a the pattern, but it is kinda cute and I think 1-year-olds tend not to be too judgey, so I’m hopeful it’ll do the trick. Next time a smaller hook size, perhaps, and finer yarn.

Roly Poly Cat - construction phase

For many years I was convinced that living rurally would be fun, that moving to a lifestyle/hobby farm and getting back to basics Some of the backyard trees at Menagerie10would suit me to a T. I’d have the space to do my own thing, perhaps set up a proper art studio, get involved in the Country Women’s Association, start a co-op. The children could have horses and help in the veggie garden and we might even get a small cow… the possibilities seemed endless.

But by the time we moved to Australia (20+ years ago), I’d come to realise that I’m better suited to being a backyard farmer. I enjoy growing things on a small scale, so we planted lots of fruit trees and set up a vegetable garden. Since all of that keeps me on my toes, it’s pretty clear that the sheer scope of the day-to-day work entailed in establishing and maintaining an acerage would leave little time for anything else.

So why do people choose to move to the country? Is it because land is more affordable further from the city,  living costs can be relatively low and that living on an acreage promotes a task-focused approach? Perhaps it’s because of reduction in distractions allows one to live the dream… but is that enough? It’s such a huge step, often impacting work, family and social networks. Then there are issues such as whether the property is part of the integrated water supply scheme – and whether a dam or borehole is feasible if it isn’t (and even if it is). What about public transport, access to the nbn and availability of emergency medical and/or veterinary help?Gallifrey Forest Farm chickens and guinea fowl

I thought about all this quite a lot whilst house-and-animal sitting at Gallifrey Forest Farm for DaughterDearest over Easter. Relaxing on the verandah, gazing out across their small farm in the Perth hills, I could finally absorb just how much she and K have achieved – and understand their move more clearly.

From the first they devoted large chunks of time to laying the foundations on which to create their future food forest. Whilst this may sound straightforward, it was anything but as they were still living in the city. This meant that for a few years most weekends involved very early starts, filling water barrels, loading up gear and heading out for yet another day of improving the soil, digging swales, planting, watering, maintenance  work on the firebreaks, fencing, chasing the kangaroos and whatever else needed doing that particular week.

They put in beehives and planted more seeds, trees and shrubs, erected sheds to store their equipment – thereby limiting the amount of loading and unloading required each week, and put in their first water tank to reduce the need for weekly water deliveries for the plants. They made friends with their neighbours, erected chicken runs and, in due course, designed, built and moved into their house. This was the last step in the transition from being city-dwellers to living an hour outside the city in a semi-rural environment. They’ve solved so many of what I thougGallifrey Forest Farm Permablitz Dayht might be overwhelming problems with sheer determination, inventiveness and networking – and they’re having fun doing it.

A couple of weeks ago was testament to this. They held a permablitz event, inviting like-minded people to come round to help out on the property and to enjoy morning tea, lunch and camaraderie. And people came… even some complete strangers (who are no longer strangers) came. They (we) planted trees & seedlings, pulled out weeds, moved piles of sand and gathered fallen timber from the wooded areas. We got rained on from time to time. We met new people, laughed, ate delicious cake and generally had fun.

And I guess this is what makes it all worthwhile. It’s seeing a dream come to life, enjoying the magical sunsets and the quiet, kicking back in a hammock after a days work and sharing a meal at least part-made from what their land has produced. They’ve dared to dream big, they’re working hard to achieve their goals – and they remember to take time out, make new friends, connect with old friends, get help when they need it (permablitz days), hold dinner parties – and to pat their kittens.


Sunset at Gallifrey Forest Farm