“But will it make you happy?”


A beautiful friend of mine has helped me navigate through life over the last few years. When I contemplate a change or a desire to do something, I hear her voice inside of my head saying, “but will it make you happy?” This resonates with me as it is so important to simply be happy. I’m not saying everything we do will make us happy but it something to work towards, right?

A few years back I started journalling 3 things that made me happy during the day. At first it was a struggle, I really had to grasp at anything. Obvious responses included my children and husband but that was mainly based on what they were doing in their lives. I’m not surprised that work didn’t feature… On reflection, reading back over some of the entries, there are some strange ones. For example, “I love a clean home.” Well that’s nice but sad if that was one of the top 3 things that made you happy that day. Or this one, “I am recovering from a virus- health is very important.” Should that even count??

Not to worry, a couple of months into doing this I think I got better and wanted to share with you, a snippet of things that make me happy:-

Jacaranda trees

cool nights being wrapped in a doona
the sound of leaves rustling in the wind
blue skies
jacaranda trees
hot chocolate
likeminded people
crickets calling at night
the early bird catching a worm
rain on the roof
purring cats
unexpected gifts

If we take the time to be in moment, practicing mindfullness, we can really appreciate it. Simple pleasures can give us a sense of happiness if we let them. So why share this now? Maybe someone in the universe needs me to share this? Who knows? So what makes you happy?

Sliding off the Rat Wheel

Human society is sometimes described as the ‘Rat Race’. We’re all scrambling frantically, it’s survival of the fittest and if there are too many of us we may start to squabble and turn against one another. Let’s visualise a rat on a wheel, he’s focussed and racing as fast as he can and he’s going nowhere. This is kind of what we have become ‘trained’ to do.

Have our lives become like this? Do we pace on the treadmill of life, work our fingers to the bone, competing with our colleagues to get that one promotion that gets offered once in a blue moon? Are some of us treading water with the constant worry that we may not have work once our contracts are up? Are you working ridiculous hours to pay the mortgage, pay for childcare, pay for your next holiday, to buy a ‘jeep’ and to pay off the credit card? Are you happy?

The last question is something I am now continually asking myself. I worked in a job for about 13 years where I subconsciously was competing with work colleagues, my hours were never guaranteed and I did not feel valued. I was not happy and my health over the last few years started to seriously suffer. It took me about three years to finally quit last year. I needed time out. Unfortunately I made the mistake of jumping into another job about a month later-I still had this notion that I had to work to be a valued member of the community and I couldn’t quite let go.

Well I’m happy to report I ninja kicked the rat wheel over about seven weeks ago. I have taken a huge leap of faith and thrown in the towel (and no I did not perform an adult tantrum and walk out in a blaze of glory). My decision has been met with mixed comments from friends and family which I expected. However everyone has been supportive. I think those closest to me know that I truly have been struggling. For the record, I have no plan and no current intention to go back to work in the near future.

So what led me to this decision?
1. My eldest son has recently turned 15 and over the last 12 months has become more independent. I suspect that as soon as he finishes high school he’ll be heading to the big smoke and this is happening way to quickly.
2. My niece and nephew have both left high school and this has been a huge reality check for me.
3. My middle son is in his last year of primary school and every week I provide a personal taxi service to get him to his various sporting events. I don’t want to miss a minute of this!
4. Missing socks.

This decision to ‘slow down’ has only be made possible also by my very supportive husband who loves his job and is happy to provide financially for his family. To those thinking he must be earning mega bucks, by Australian standards he’s earning an average wage. Personally I haven’t worked full time since starting a family and I’ve also had about 5 years of unpaid maternity leave, so we know what it’s like to live on one income.

So how are we going to survive without an extra $30 000 a year? Good question…..

Well the plan is..
A. Growing more of our own food
B. Reducing our annual investments-the next 12 months we’ll focus just on topping up our superannuation.
C. Reduce the use of my car-however this will only have a small impact as we already live within 5kms of shops, schools and most sporting venues.
D. Making and preparing our own food-reducing take-away and prepackaged foods.
E. Taking advantage of our solar power-now that I’m home during the day I can do more in the daylight hours.
F. Every time I go to make a purchase I ask myself, “Do I really need this?”
G. We won’t be going on any big holidays-camping will do just fine.
H. We won’t be buying a jeep.

Well I’ll keep you posted with how I go…….

Reduce your chemical use

Quite a few years ago I invested in a number of Enjo products to assist with minimising chemical cleaners in the bathroom and kitchen. I must say I have been very impressed and was happy to be re-educated. The two big benefits to reducing toxic chemicals in the home are of course; your health and the hip pocket!

Sometimes you just need a little elbow grease and hot water. Other situations call for reinforcements. Take my microwave for an example, the internal walls replicated something similar to a crime scene! So I picked a lemon from the backyard, squeezed it, added a cup of water, microwaved the concoction on high for 5 minutes and wiped it clean. Really little effort! Other natural cleaners include baking soda, salt and vinegar. If you want to get fancy you could look into incorporating essential oils too.

Admittedly I still use a commercially produced laundry liquid and dishwashing liquid called Earth Choice which is Australian made and owned and claims to have a minimal impact on our planet. So our house is not entirely ‘chemical free’ yet.

There are plenty of blogs and websites out there to help you find alternatives too. Who knows tomorrow I may tackle the oven!

Learning to let go

Last year I spent a weekend away with a beautiful soul, Caroline (and yes it has taken me a long time to blog this). We celebrated her birthday in style at the Wanderlust festival on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. We immersed ourselves in in a diverse range of activities including singing, yoga, meditation, chanting and music.

Caroline and I attended mainly yoga and meditation sessions. One had me in fits of laughter, while another exposed my vulnerability and I spent most of the session with hot tears running down my cheeks. During our downtime Caroline and I analysed and reflected on our sessions.

It was no surprise to me that a lot of stuff bubbled to the surface. For years my sister in law (yes the older wise one) has continued to remind me that I hold on to ‘stuff’- some like to call this emotional baggage. I understand how unhealthy it is to carry grief, guilt, anger and some of my ‘stuff’ goes back over twenty years. One of the yogi instructors suggested we carry this emotional burden in our pelvic area and we keep on layering it if we don’t let it go. When I am highly anxious or stressed, my body seizes up especially around my neck and shoulder areas. It is certainly unhealthy.

Holding on to ‘stuff’ stops us from moving forward, being in the moment, forgiving and sometimes loving again. Can you be truly happy again if you hold on to grief so tightly it consumes every waking moment? Do you miss the magic of life if you’re too busy reliving the past?

So is letting go the same as forgetting or pretending ‘stuff’ didn’t happen? I think if ‘stuff’ resurfaces in some form such as a memory or a conversation, you can acknowledge it but then move on, don’t emotionally invest in it again. When I was seeing a counsellor several years ago she suggested you treat it as memory that passes across your line of vision but then it keeps moving on. She said if you try to block it out you won’t succeed so you need to acknowledge it.

My personal journey to improve my mental health is certainly ongoing and I am definitely a work in progress but hopefully me sharing this will help others.Wanderlust

Winter can mean only one thing

Just when I thought Winter would never come, we are suddenly blessed with cold nights!  Can I just say my 5 in 1 slow cooker is working overtime! (See photo)new-wave-multi-cooker-5-in-1

So what do I love about Winter, surely you could guess by now……comfort food.  Warm soulful food cooked with love and possibly served with wine (Australian of course).  Now my definition of comfort food may not be the same as yours but I think it is a term that can be open to interpretation.  So let me present a few of my favourite comfort foods in the form of a menu.  I might even share a recipe too.



Porridge with honey or brown sugar

Poached eggs on toast maybe with some baked beans

French toast with fruit and sweet ricotta or yoghurt (okay I have friends who’ll dob me in here-I eat this anytime of the year)


Leftovers heated up

Toasted sandwiches with way too much cheese


Slow cooked proteins-I sweat some onion and garlic, brown diced  and floured meat, add 3-4 different chopped vegies, about 500ml liquid-stocks, herbs, mustard, tinned whole tomato-whatever takes my fancy.  Depending on the protein I will then slow cook for 4-8 hours

Curries-again something I prepare in the slow cooker, always serve with rice and sometimes pappadums

Soups (usually vegetarian)

Roast (recently did a rather large slow cook lamb shoulder- 4 hours in the oven and the meat was melt in the mouth- I made the fatal error of placing the pulled meat in the middle of the table-suffice to say there was no meat for leftovers)


Self saucing puddings

Sticky Date pudding

Really good quality dark chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Now although I have a plethora of cookbooks, I often resort to sourcing a recipe on line.  I usually spend some time on a weekend planning out meals, scouring recipes or sometimes, more often than not, I do the weekly shop and come home with something from the butchers that I couldn’t resist and then find a suitable recipe.  Slow cooked meals that are quick to prepare can be in the slow cooker by 3:30pm (after work and school pick up) set for 4 hours and ready for a 7:30pm dinner. Soups in my house almost cook themselves with the help from my multicooker. Roasts are so easy with very little prep time and 1-2 hours in the oven.  Then of course meals can be cooked on weekends and heated up during the week. For those who find themselves time poor during the week, quick meals can still be comforting.  Nothing wrong with a toasted sandwich or wrap for dinner or eggs- how many different ways can you cook eggs?

Cauliflower Soup

I am completely ok about paying $5 for a cauliflower.  Some people would seriously baulk at this.  This recipe is  a meal fit for 4-5 people if accompanied with bread.  This meal is quicker than deciding on a pizza or driving down to the local fast food joint, it is cheaper and far more healthier!  This meal is perfect for meat free Monday!! Now please remember I don’t measure most ingredients when I cook dinner-I pretty much freestyle so bear with me.


1-2 onions sliced

1-2 cloves of garlic crushed or thinly sliced

1 whole cauliflower roughly cut-leaves are fine to eat too

1-2 potatoes peeled and chopped

About 2 cups of stock (I use vegetable or chicken)

Your choice of herbs


1.       Heat a lug of oil, add onion and soften. Add garlic for the last minute or so.

2.       Add cauliflower, potato, stock and herbs

3.       Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until vegies are soft

4.       Use a stick blender and blend to your liking

5.       Serve with your favourite bread, sour cream and parmesan if you wish.

TIPS: You may need to add more stock.  I use a multicooker and just set it to ‘soup’ so I don’t even need to monitor the simmer process.  Don’t overdo it with potato, it really takes away from the hero of the dish.






















Eating our way around Queensland

Traditionally when camping I’ve always shopped and planned menus prior to leaving on holidays.  We usually have enough food to last a week and pantry items for the trip.  The longest we have travelled for is about a month.

As I am embracing a more sustainable lifestyle my food prep methods have altered.  This has come about for several reasons but the main one being reducing my food miles and supporting local farmers.  So here’s a few of my favourite tips:

  • I now fully embrace scrumping (food grown on public land ripe for the taking-just today I found an orange tree growing next to the Pacific Highway)
  • I love buying straight from the farmer-roadside stalls are awesome!
  • Local butchers-ask them who they source their meat from and usually they are happy to chat with you
  • When dining out/take away get local knowledge first and don’t be afraid to ask the waitress where products are sourced from.  A great waitress will know and a good waitress will go and ask the Head Chef.  Sometimes menus will have this information.  Be especially weary of seafood products.
  • Source the best bakery in town
  • When buying a souvenir for that special person back home, consider a locally made product like preserves, wine or cheese.
  • Before I even start on a journey, I do a little internet browsing and check out if there are food trails

I love the fact that I can cut out the middle man, meet the producer and directly help small Australian businesses.  The kids love it too.  Picking strawberries, trying different cheeses, drinking real milk and catching red claw,IMG_2511 it all adds to the adventure of discovering Australia.

Camping Etiquette 101

155797_10151693614962017_1593539900_n[2]Okay before I dive head first into this blog I want to start by giving you a little insight into my relationship with my better half.  Think yin yang, peaches and cream, good cop bad cop, cats and dogs…we’re complete opposites but so perfectly matched.  Now I’m going to be honest with you I’m the glass half empty and he’s the glass half, actually he’s the glass QUITE full especially if it’s his home brew!  I needed to paint a picture before I have a little whinge….

So back to the blog…actually before I get there….let me state for the record that I LOVE CAMPING!  Being out in the open, the scenery, camp cooking, toasting marshmallows and watching the ambers of the campfire glow, NOT being at work, what a great way to spend time with loved ones.

Alright so now back to the blog….my little whinge…Why don’t people follow the unwritten rules of camping etiquette?

  • SMOKING You know, I have spoken to a number of Park Managers/owners and they are all in agreement that smoking on campsites needs to be reviewed.  I know I am quite sensitive to cigarette smoke but come on people, smoking within 5 metres of where I sleep is not cool especially if I am trying to sleep. Don’t get me started on cigarette butts that litter camping areas too.  One camp manager I spoke to suggested having a designated smoking zone.  Not only would this contain the litter, it would also give the smokers’ a space that they can enjoy their habit without affecting non-smoking campers ESPECIALLY CHILDREN. Let me know readers if you have found a non-smokers Garden of Camping Eden!
  • MY CAMPSITE IS NOT AN EASEMENT  Okay so I may have personal space issues but I kind of get a little irked when people walk right through our campsite. It’s like, okay the shortest route to the amenities is in a straight line! I really try hard to teach my kids to walk on the pathways/tracks/easements and NOT through campsites, it’s a shame others don’t.  Worse still, we have not only had people park (and sleep in their car) on our campsite but also sit at the camp table provided on our site and decide to sing and belt out tunes on the guitar late one night. In this instance being heavily pregnant with my third child did not help matters either.  This was a National Park and it was NOT suitable for the congregation of about 100 that turned up. Not sure what is more annoying someone walking past my bed at midnight or 5am especially if they are chit chatting with their toilet buddy?
  • WASTE MANAGEMENT  Park managers need to understand that for people to use bins correctly that you have to make it REALLY, REALLY simple.  I mean I know it is fairly obvious that the bins near the fish cleaning area with the sign above it saying FISH WASTE ONLY means exactly that but some people still don’t get it.  It would seem also that if bins are too far away from camping areas that campers either litter or make do with the small bin supplied at the amenities block.  For some campers too, I feel that they are still struggling with the idea of recycling. Admittedly though I have been to a handful of camping areas that seem to have it right.  One park we stayed at even had a bin for used batteries!
  • RULE BREAKERS So I’ve been told on the odd occasion that I’m black and white, a rule follower and it is true.  If we don’t have rules we would have complete chaos.  I understand that sometimes people unintentionally break rules.  However some people must think they are above this or the rules don’t apply to them.  One in particular moment sticks to mind here. NO DOMESTIC ANIMALS IN NATIONAL PARKS- to most of us this is a fairly simple and clear rule. Aw no not for some.  Whilst camping in a beautiful park in South East Queensland we once had the unpleasant experience of other campers deciding that our patch looked so good they would camp so close to us that our tent ropes crossed over. I mean who in their right mind would set up camp next to newlyweds-well this family of happy campers did! (By the way tents have very thin walls). And before you say it must have been very busy let me point out that the campsite was near empty and about the size of half a football field.  Go figure….Anyway after I got over my personal space issue one of the campers pulled out a pet rat! Noice! I mean really!

I mean is it that hard people? Or am I too black and white? Uptight? Anally retentive? I don’t know maybe I should consult Glass Quite Full Man. I’m sure he couldn’t care less!  Would love to know what others think on this issue!

An almost Staycation

I love the concept but completely fail in the execution!

Ok I admit, when it comes to a Staycation I am a complete failure!  “So what’s a staycation?” I hear some of you ask-quite simply it’s a holiday at home.  It’s when you down tools, explore your local area, dine at that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, put your feet up with that pile of magazines that you get delivered but never get the time to read.  Or if you have kids you go bike riding, have a movie marathon night, play games, cool stuff like that.  You get the picture, right?

Well I find this simply near impossible.  I always end up finding something to clean, sort, dig, organise, label and did I mention clean? Watch out kids if you sit still for too long I’ll give you a job to do.  These habits for me are certainly engrained.  Even when I sit for too long I feel guilty and think I’m wasting time and go and find something to do.

So January holidays we stayed at a caravan park 40 mins from home.  This was a small compromise for me.  The positives were that the boys could fish, swim in the river, use the park facilities and not be hassled by me to ‘do jobs.’I spent the week, reading, blogging, painting and hanging out with the boys.  As my hubby had to work, he came to stay with us each night.  We’ve not had to worry about the house and pets as hubby checked on these daily.  As crazy as it sounds our holiday also supported local businesses too.

The only negatives were that we had to outlay $$$$$ for our campsite and we had very loud neighbours 🙁

Fast forward to today, so I am reattempting the staycation.  I have two words to describe it, EPIC FAIL.  I’ve managed to clean out the kids bedrooms, clear out an aging magazine collection, sort out the study, clean, iron etc.

So for my next attempt maybe I’ll take on some of my own tips:

  • set a budget
  • get input from everyone what they’d like to do
  • research your local area
  • clean the house the day before the official start of the staycation
  • use items only saved for special occasions (Royal Doulton darlings)
  • lock up electronics (if the family needs a break from these)
  • line up a good book
  • dust off the old boardgames
  • keep meals simple, go for a picnic, have a night out
  • don’t feel guilty
  • most IMPORTANTLY have FUN!!!

Christmas 2013 debrief

Christmas can be a crazy time of the year for many people.  It can be stressful, joyful and did I mention crazy.  For our family it has usually meant a pilgrimage back to our hometown, Brisbane. Whether it be the gift giving, organising food, trying to please family, drinking too much or putting differences aside just for one day of the year, it can be tough.  Some of us do it well, some of us fail dismally and the rest of us sit somewhere in between.

I have found the hardest thing to do deal with over the years are the Christmases our families have had where we have lost loved ones during the year. This year Reece (my hubby) lost his father, so when you have special moments like birthdays. Christmas etc you do feel it.

So what did I do well this year??? Well I was happy with the gifts we gave.  I worked right up to the 20th this year, which left me little time to do my usual baking etc.  However my parents came down a couple of weeks before Christmas and my Mum spent a day baking with my boys.  So coaches, teachers and scout leaders received some homemade bikkies and something extra special in a Christmas card.  This year I decided to donate to the Australian Red Cross and the Smith Family as part of our gift to those involved with the boys.  The best part of this was that I inspired others to do the same.

In regards to gift giving and family, that can be a tough gig.  I really struggle with this every year. Years ago I sat down and showed Reece how much we spent on Christmas, it was a very expensive ordeal especially when we use to fly home for Christmas.  We use to forgo pressies for each other.  Even now it’s usually only something small. Let’s face it, none of us need anything….we do it out of tradition.  Thankfully over the last couple of years our relatives have decided to embrace Secret Santa, where everyone just gets one gift.  This is a work in progress and I’m learning to just go with it.  But the pressure I put on myself, CRAZY!  The pressies I love giving are the ones I’ve made, others that are made by local craftspeople, experiences (movie tickets). I find kids are sometimes the toughest to buy for mainly because I hate plastic toys!

Reece and I got through it fairly unscathed. How??? Maybe we were just lucky?  I have to admit I did try to be on my best behaviour.  Reece and I did share a few moments reflecting on 2013 and we are so grateful to have each other and our boys.  We have our health, home and hearts.

I’d like to dedicate this post to those loved ones who are now with us in spirit.

Birthday Party Dilemma(the price you pay for trying to be environmentally friendly)

hayden's party 2So Mr Four is now Mr Five!  Can I just say before I dive into my dilemma that we had a great party today despite what I am just about to moan about.

Mr Five wanted a little party with his mates at a local indoor playcentre.  No worries I thought, we’ll see what we can do.  On investigating we decided to go with the ‘just book a table option and bring your own food in’.  This appealed to me as I really didn’t want to pay for packaged food and I’m trying to make a more conscious effort to reduce the amount of palm oil, preservatives etc in our diet. However I did relent and ordered an overpriced hot platter of party pies and sausage rolls as I thought I’d do the right thing and purchase some of the food from the playcentre.  So as far as I knew I was up for $8.50 each child for entry and $35 (I know steep hey) for the hot food platter.  I spoke to 2 staff members prior to the party and neither said any different.

As we were setting up for the party, one of the employees informed me that as I had bought in my own birthday cake I would be charged an extra $10.  To add to this she also informed me that I would be charged an extra $50 for supplying our own food.

The bottom line is that because I chose to spend time making healthier home made food options for the party we were going to be charged more for bringing it along instead of choosing the playcentre prepackaged choices.  Keep in mind that I also paid for the ingredients to make everything too.

I voiced my disappointment with this to the staff more than once, she knocked $20 off the extra charge. However I was still not happy and as I explained to her that of the Mums and Dad that were there, several would buy cappuccinos and as it was so hot quite a few parents succumbed to pressure and bought iceblocks for their kids.

I don’t know, do I have a right to complain?  Should I have just booked a party and turn a blind eye to the food I am trying to eliminate from our diet?  I just wanted to make a few things for the party and for the kids to have a great time.  I just wish I could have turned up today fully informed. What do you think?