Tuesday, December 30

kale kale kale

It must be winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The stores are full of yummy green and purple, flat and curly kale. Now i have to confess that i had never eaten kale before last week, now im hooked and planning a kale crop in our garden for next winter. I love greens and this is the green to beat all greens for me; cooked greens that is. In the spirit of my new found love, i have ventured into the world of the fast food kale - the kale chip. After consumption and a moment of 'i have to have these', all i can say is, i have done the research and they look very reproducable.

Kale Chips -
chop kale into pieces, toss with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast ( the magic secret ingredient in my eyes thats not talked about online), salt, apparently pink Himalayan is best (!), ground cashew, miso. Mix all together and dehydrate in oven for about half an hour.

Viola. Kale chips. Vegan, no oil and ohh soo yummy!

Sunday, December 28

time flies

Our time here is nearly over. we have packed in so many parties and outings its difficult to remember all we have done. my SIL asked me yesterday what my favourite memory of this trip was and i struggled , my overwhelming image is of family, family, family which is fantastic as it was our intention to spend as much time with them all as possible. Well, food and family really, living as a group of 8 adults for 3 weeks means the kitchen rarely gets a rest and throw in the gourmand factor and the entire offerings of an organic food store at your disposal and you've got one tasty holiday.

Christmas morning i fell down the back steps on my way back from the compost, well I slid more than fell, and spent Xmas day pretty much entirely on the couch with my swollen, bruised foot inclined on a cush or two. In hindsight, not a bad thing sitting back and watching proceedings preparing for dinner go on around me. I felt like i needed the break, excuse the almost pun. Santa appeared with some pretty cool stuff and its the first time in years I've truly had a surprise with gifts. it was lovely. My favourite gift, besides the handbag my husband gave me made entirely from inner tubes and recycled wool(?!?), was a stocking stuffer from my SIL of cloth food/grain bags ( available from the Sustainable Fairfax shop if you're interested)! how tragic is that!

Yesterday we walked the California coast, North Beach in Point Reyes National Park. This western coastline is one of my favourite spots in the world. We walked the beach below wonderful soaring cliffs, saw elk bulls with huge antlers roaming the hills and seals on the beach. It was special, wintery and windy. Our plans to fulfill a fantasy of mine; ice skating in Union Square tonight has been cancelled due to said ankle and Im rather gutted. damn foot. Times Square next year here i come!

Oh yeah, and if i had a dollar for the amount of times i've heard someone say "...my guru says"... LOL

Haiku Friday (i know its saturday but i forgot Friday )

warm salty mollusc
makes my body cringe and retch,
count me out on lunch

Saturday, December 27

what do you think?

well, nothing like the proof in the pudding, right? 15 people for Xmas dinner, most had never had a christmas pud ... this is what's left after we set it on fire.
what do you think?

Friday, December 26

Merry Chrimbo

visions of sugar plum fairies still dancing in my head

Merry Christmas to all north of the Equator and a generous and successful Boxing Day to all Down Under

Wednesday, December 24


cozy afternoon
Originally uploaded by MsMoo
just back from a late afternoon walk with the boy. House warm; fire on, grandma fifi reading and watching the boy, Aunty Jen at her easle, Oona too, Ezra working on house plans on his laptop, Bruce Coburn in the air, kettle boiling. Chocolate out. Thinkin' I'm pretty happy right now.

Tuesday, December 23

Pumpkin Pie Vs. Christmas Pudding - the show down

just as i have never eaten pumpkin pie before this week ( the accidentally vegan one brought home from 'the store' did nothing for my confidence) most of the family here have never eaten christmas pudding. It was unanimously decided to have a desert showdown on christmas day. Pumpkin Pie vs. Christmas Pudding (definitely with brandy butter). Somehow i think we may all remain in our respective culinary corners. I spent a good part of yesterday searching for mixed peel. In a country where fruit puddings are not the norm, its incredibly difficult to find; most people had never even heard of it. So my search ended with a tub of candied lemon peel and one of citron. Not too bad, quite delicious infact, but much sweeter than we get at home and without the chewyness. *thinking of the aisles full of mince meat and peel at home* sigh. So we have an all organic pudding hanging ready for the day crammed full of peel, almonds, pecans, almonds, cranberries ( in lieu of cherries as i loathe glace cherries), raisins, currants, dates and lots and lots of rum. God, I hope it works.

*camera phone responsible for pics. Cannot upload from our camera until we get home. Its killing me.

Monday, December 22


i love travel. i love how where ever i am, i find things about that place that inspire me, that make me want to change the way i do things at home or add a new behaviour to my habits. My niece Oona is one such inspiration. She's childless which doesnt help my cause, nor does it lessen my respect and admiration. Shes a girl who loves an anvil if thats any clue...she has just bought a house in Oakland, a run down Victorian which had been abandoned for years and is just about to settle on it. Shes so excited to get started on renovations. She's very artistic and outdoorsy and loves to quilt and cook too and belongs to a group called the Flaming Lotus Girls, a 'bunch a chicks' who make huge metal installations which load with fire, for outdoor festivals. Her role as manager of a local bio-diesel co-op is what's got me all worked up and raring to go. Its such a great idea but i sadly think that the set up for biodiesel is a little better here than at home; more diesel cars here to start with and waste oil is available in bigger quantities. I shall have to investigate. Anyways, just down the road in someones front yard is the co-op tank with a bowser which stores the fuel for use by about 20 local co-op members who all contribute in some way. Oons is filter girl and changes it whenever needed and she co-ordinates memberships and refilling the tank. Its a waay cool idea.

Sunday, December 21

Chanterelle Hunting

Yesterday, after another night of rain and day of sunshine it was decided that some mushrooms might definitely be out. We headed out into the hills behind Fairfax to the favourite spot the family has for Chanterelle hunting but a powerline had come down and we couldnt get through on the road we needed so we detoured and went nearby to a new hill. My favourite thing in the world besides a good book and a beach is wild mushroom hunting and living in a very dry part of the world, besides whoopee making mushies, not alot are to be found out in the wild. Its a great way to walk as it takes any effort you may have resisted, out and replaced it with a focussed and meditative like experience. The hills were steep, covered in oak and californian buckeye trees which produce a wonderfull looking nut which hang like cojoined pears. Their chamois-like skins split whilst hanging, revealing the most wonderful nut which is very hard and very shiny and looks like a ball of highly polished wood. Sadly, when on the ground, they also look very much like a mushroom. The walk was challenging and very beautiful. We found lots of newly sprouted funghi, but none of it edible, well we found one Bolette. Today we will try again with memories of last years bumper harvest of 24 pounds of Chanterelles for Xmas lunch on everyones minds.

Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. - John Muir

Friday, December 19

Haiku Friday

the shaker chair rocks
the boy makes his way across
the room to reach me

Marin Farmers Markets

Im a gormless tourista. my mouth hangs open, always and i walk around not speaking; just looking, absorbing. it doesn't matter how exotic or plain the location. if its new, its fascinating and i just want to absorb all of it in every way, with every sense. i think it must be pretty boring being alongside in someways. Im not talking unless its to ask endless questions. im a socio-cultural anthropologist disguised as a a visitor. 2 new finds for me today, 1 edible, 1 visual/emotional.
We managed to squeeze in a trip to the Marin Farmers Market today. After reading great things about it on Im Mad and i Eat i insisted on trip downtown. Now if you were here, you'd see that we definitely do not need anything edible to be brought into this house. Between Mark owning the store and Jen (his partner, my SIL) being a shopaholic, i have never ever seen a fridge /freezer like this one ,nor pantry nor shelves, id take a picture but i might look odd! its just OTT. the most incredible thing is everything is organic. The cashew butter, the sausages, the avocadoes, the tea, the coffee, the egg nog, the pie, the beans, the chips, the breadcrumbs, the capers, olivees, anchovies, fish, turkey, the pepper and salt, the black sesame tahini, blah blah blah, i could go on. But its america folks and not content with organic wholefoods, the house is full of 'value added' ( a loaded term) organic food product. Im not even going to look at food miles...anyway...i digress.. i went to the market just for a looksee pretty much and i did discover the most wonderful 'new to me' vegetable. Its jicama and it has the texture of a water chestnut, similar consistency to a nashi pear and the smell/taste of a celery/apple/and something undescribable and its just fantastic. Its eaten raw and is refreshing and quite frankly just delicious. The markets were full of ripe persimmons, satsumas (oranges not plums here) ruby reds and pink grapefruits, wonderful lebanese spinach stuffed flat breads with cilantro pesto, yoghurt and many other toppings ( i did buy some), tomales and tortillas of many kinds, walnuts, waffles, cheeses, breads. Farmers markets the world over are always lovely. I discovered my favourite rotisseried organic chickens but decided against it due to said fridge situation.Sigh.

My second newbie experience was the christmas tree lot. Soo cutesie and pretty and full of ohh so not the bagged up sad floppy things one picks up from the back of the 'servo ( gas station to you outside oz) but spritely pretty perky sprucy ones, all set out in pretty formations with little stands and a fantastic fragrance and a cute white picket fence surrounding the lot, swathed in fairy light, stands of life size toy soliders, candy canes and snowmen. It was quite a sight and a long way from faux christmas trees of my childhood. LOL.

Thursday, December 18

american landfill

just read in the paper...Americans purchase 23 BILLION bottles of still water annually, of which only an estimated 10% are recycled and consume 300 million cups of take away coffee DAILY. Those numbers are just staggering, especially when you live in a county with a population of around 21 million... and thats just coffee and water...yikes...Moral of the story...buy a water bottle and take a mug.

I think this piece in the paper struck a cord as i am constantly blown away by the consumption that goes on here. its pretty mind blowing. from the size of the cars, which often verges on the ridiculous; cars that would never be allowed on the roads at home as the wheels base exceeds the road width! (doh), the sheer quantities and varieties of foods and other stuff and the amount of stuff that leaves the stores... people are going crazy about christmas here like i have never seen. It not surprising that the charge for frugal and simple living has come from the land of the plenty. Abundance rules here.Im trying very hard not to get swept up with it all and feel guilty about the very minimal amount of small gifts we have brought over with us for the family. will try and do a post on the store tomorrow- its full of organic abundance and stuff stuff stuff, but very cool and exciting and hopefully a trip to the Marin farmers markets tomorrow will eventuate.

Tuesday, December 16

carols, cider and wreath making

yesterday saw us down at the Fairfax women's centre at dusk for a bout of community lovin. It was picture post card, chocolate box stuff like i have never experienced and i had to keep my cynical self in check. I was very impressed with myself at allowing the festive moment to engulf me and not let Miss Party Pooper out for the occasion to ruin all my fun. The womens centre hall, sitting in a grove of redwoods, itself picture post card, was decked out with pointsettia and christmas lights and decorations, a fire was 'on' (switched on - playing on a tv screen, was a shock but i acclimatised!), carolers were on the stage singing and there were party goers sitting at the trestle tables enjoying spiced cider and a 'pot luck' dinner (i kid you not). Out the back of the hall there was much activity at the tables loaded with branches, berries, pine cones and wire where the wreath making was being undertaken by parents and children with much enthusiasm and joint carol accompaniment. As a first christmas for the boy i have to say it was a pretty good start to the christmas celebrations; it was a moment to remember and apparently its normal. Here's my wreath on the front door ( a gift from Sean Penn to my SIL - how cool is that?).
* yikes - my phone is having trouble uploading to Flickr , so i will keep trying - its tres cuuuuute! Hmm ended up bluetoothing it across but the door colour looks very washed out..its actually Chinese red!

Monday, December 15


Makaha sunset
Originally uploaded by MsMoo
Hawa'ii was surprising. Beautiful, green, warm; ohh soo nice and warm she says from winter further north ( we are now bunked down in picturesque Fairfax, California. We stayed in Makaha, a coastal town on the leward side of the island of Oahu. Not the most picturesque of the islands that make up Hawa'ii but with small person who needs sleep every two hours or so, we had decided a bigger trip on to the big island and a walking holiday probably wasnt going to work without some major hair loss for someone. beach holiday it was. The bean slept for about two hours in the 14 that it took to get from home to the apartment. thankfully he appears to be a brilliant traveller at this stage and was a cheery little guy the whole time. He then fell into a deep coma. The island of Oahu looked a bit like a tip. De rigeur is to stack about half your worldly goods outside your place. its nuts. so between all the stuff piled up and about 24 cars in each front yard in varying stages of usefulness....you've got a tip. Americans love their cars! The beach was glorious. warm, clear, tropical and most mornings i would go for a swim alone, watch the turtles silently cruise the shoreline waves and read my book. heaven but a bit weird when you run into them body surfing into shore. i also was pretty pleased to sight 3 humpbacks just off shore before the tourist boats also spotted it and ruined the very natural view! They blew, waved and did some spectacular side divesw, rolls and some tail waving;it was a sight and experience that made me very happy. Our last night there saw a huge rain squall hit the west coast and the poor guy downstairs in the basement woke to water lapping his bed. biggest flooding in 40 years. ..no insurance. bummer, he lost his whole place as water rose to over head height. it was dramatic and the beach of Makaha was totally swept away, so the picture...taken with my phone so the quality is not that great...completely gone and covered in trash. The homeless population was depressing and the incredible 'towns' of tents along the coast were very confronting and many lost it all with the storm; strip remnants of tents waving around, lots of couches and bedding and kitchens out in the open and not alot of of repair looked possible. lots of people over here are doing it tough and its a pretty unforgiving place to be poor. Aloha and mahala and hope you are all doing well...until i get to a pc again!

Friday, December 5

Haiku Friday

there's no turning back
what's forgotten stays behind,
waving behind glass

Thursday, December 4

the last post

dramatic huh? well it feels that way. i must be the last person on earth without a laptop(more drama, i do have a big screen though, does that count?) and B1 nearly dropped dead at my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that i borrow hers while we are away, so its internet cafes in Hawaii or zip. Embarrassingly, Im feeling deprived already. Hows that? you go on holiday, have heaps of time, loads of good blog fodder and you cant blog! Cruel. I even considered buying a laptop...just for a teensy weensy second my mind did go there...is that bad? We are suitably 'putered up in San Fran thank god. I should manage a week...

As of last week, we dropped the WOOFING plans. After our meltdown we decided a h.o.l.i.d.a.y was required and thanks to Craigslist, we found a beautiful old colonial style plantation house, which has been converted to apartments. Its about 40 minutes from Waikikki, 30 seconds from the beach and is according to their speil anyway, is rich with turtles and whales. Bliss. So Ive packed the books instead of the boots but we will visit the biodynamic dairy and winery where we had planned to stay. Im hoping that unlike the mainland of the US, Hawaii has some decent cheap food offerings else we will be living on bananna and pineppples. Eating out in the US is a real hit and miss affair in my expereince. i remember searching, on foot, high and low in Santa Monica for a restaurant that served side of salads or plain vegetables with their meals and not just jumbo fries. Dont even ask about Annaheim! Maybe things have changed in 3 years... thank god we are heading to Marin in San Francisco where food is GOOOOOD. 3 weeks of yummy biodynamic farmers market fare. whoohoo! and BIL is a mean cook too...Im salivating already. I will be very interested to see what the plans are for Christmas day, i have never done a US Christmas.

The man and the boy are packed, kindly used a suitcase betwen them and left a whole one for me! The hall is looking like a creche, en route. Its absurd ...stroller... kindercot... nappybag... sling... beetlechair... rugs... bowls... nappies..summer clothes..winter clothes...which toy to pack? small babies sure don't travel lightly. I cant tell you how relieved we were when the airline informed us yesterday that our baggage allowance was 62kg each. thats nuts and doesnt include the stroller. PAX load HERE I COME.

Preparing for a month long home haitus isnt easy when you factor in not only house,garden and pet maintainance but also dealing with the girls end of year school and club festivities, productions and celebrations and sending them off to another state two weeks after you have departed. Needless to say i have lists, more lists and lists of lists covering the dining table for each shift of caretakers, of which we have 4. Im looking forward to getting on that plane and that's saying something coz i hate flying, the beans crawling and has now cut a tooth.

My gift to you in celebration of rain...a really nice salad recipe that i am going to make when i get back to use up some of my beetroot and carrot ( if our minders havent chowed through the lot) and a pic of the boybean i took yesterday.

'now bugger off' , i hear you say!

Wednesday, December 3

in my inbox this morning

Beyond the Ordinary December newsletter:

Energy Light globes
I just had every light globe changed over for energy efficient ones for nothing by phoning Envirosaver and the phone number is 1800 368 476. Why not do the same if you haven’t already. You make the appointment, they come round and do every light they can (shower heads also available) All free!

Tuesday, December 2

thoughts on leaving a veggie patch (a Growing Challenge post)

Leaving a vegetable garden on the brink of blooming into full productivity is a tough gig. how do you say goodbye and hand over your baby to garden variety strangers? people who, even if they are your best friend and your mother, really dont care and love as much as you do? Detailed instructions to 'turn every cabbage leaf and look closely, keep an eye out for earwigs, monitor the corn munchers; "just gently rub your forefinger and thumb along the strand", watch out for 'the limp', carefully check carrot moisture, irrigate the basil WELL, apply liquid fertiliser on the 23rd and please dont forget to pick all the snowpeas and beans you can and use the coriander, yes lots of it'. This all seems a little OTT when you have to spell out loud your own gardening regime.

and sounds a bit too neurotic i might add. After all the hard work, time invested and diligent application of precious water, its difficult not to look at the potentially lost investment and want to aggressively stick up for it. Its a living, productive system that's offerring up its bounty, needing care and respect wouldnt you say? So i leave it with some trepidation about the state in which i might find it when we return.

Monday, December 1

very very bad news

the boybean has learnt to crawl... this morning...just now...4 days before a long haul flight...he has just scuttled across the floor to reach a toy...the nappybag...the combustion heater (as yet not fully cleaned from winter so not something i particularly want him gobbing)...this is a worst case, 'mogadon me up to the eyeballs' scenario for me...one i have been vocal about definitely not wanting to experience...the 'get me down on the floor limp body and arms straight up' technique that only small kids do perfectly and visions of 1001 trips following small person up small narrow and busy aisle as he practices his new found freedom. Bright side...the beach should be hell fun.