Category Archives: Life

That’s a wrap – I’m officially moving forward!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 28/28

Recipe: Be exhilarated by the challenge

I didn’t quite write every day, oops I lost it at day 16 (my sister arrived to visit and she took precedence) … but never mind the challenge was a success. While writing always gives me time and space to reflect, one also needs time and space for action and living. After my post adventure camino lull I managed to pull up my socks, lace up my shoes and get back on my way. It took 28 days of adventures on my bike with food and connection at the centre but yes I’m moving again – with purpose. My time on the camino certainly still lives on in my days.

Simple Camino’isms:

Move.

Walk each day with purpose.

Keep it simple, we have enough.

Don’t be afraid to walk your own way.

Keep simple routines with flexibility.

Notice with all your senses.

Value people.

Value yourself.

Pull back and push forward as you need.

Allow the big questions time to unfold – they will.

Life is motion – it will move even if we’re not ready. There will always be highs and lows, joys and sorrows, boring and exciting times, beginnings and endings. But what a gift – that we get to live it. And how wonderfully exhilarating to be connected to every part; the people, the food, the environment, our curiosities, feelings and dreams – the stuff of life.

See you from the road friends … we’re currently winding our way along the motorway. Yes, we’re back in the camper for the summer.

Buen camino,

Fran

Choose an action and run with it.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 15/28

Today’s recipe: A salad’ey vegetabl’ey cous cous!

From the outside it may look like my life has changed dramatically over the years but my life has always looked like change. I hiked mountains at thirteen in Indonesia as a girl guide, lived in the Whitsunday Islands, Melbourne and Perth in my 20s, moved to Europe in my 30s, Sydney in my 40s and now Europe again. I’ve been an Island hostess, a high school teacher and a midwife. I’m born from wandering stock you see. A migrant grandad who jumped on a ship in 1956 with his wife and nine kids to find a life in Australia where he could farm. And a mother (one of 13) who boarded a ship, alone, bound for Australia at the age of 23 to learn English.

I move but I don’t move to find greener grass I’m just wired to explore. The green grass can only be found in our everyday and wherever I am that’s what I’m cultivating. I don’t see moving as being particularly brave either. Let’s face it moving countries, going on adventures, starting fresh that is my modus operandi. I also married a fellow seeker of world adventures and along the way we’ve paved careers and lives that have enabled us to do it (and the privilege of dual citizenship, education…middle class). Nope brave to me is to find yourself in the present day. Standing for what matters to you. And most of my friends that I hold so dearly are actually not world movers but people who do just that … stand bravely wherever they are!

One thing that’s guaranteed with every move (and each life transition) is the period of feeling unsettled. The time where I reach in and out of new things to finds what fits, to find the every day spark feeling. The present day. It’s not always easy starting fresh, always my identity comes into question. Over the years I’ve gotten better at it. After the honeymoon period I know I have to do some work and find what I need to create a life with meaning.

While my life has me moving into different settings even if yours doesn’t I’m sure we share those similar feelings of needing to readjust sometimes. One thing I loved on the camino was this feeling of don’t leave for tomorrow what you can get done today. We walked the extra 3kms if we had the energy. As we arrived we showered, washed our clothes, ate and debriefed the day. The basics. I’ve been applying this idea to my days during this 28 days of motion project. Want to know what I am finding? Connection and balance.

The more I stop putting things off … preparing dinner earlier, putting my shoes on and moving, admin tasks, hard conversations, setting stronger boundaries in parenting (even when that makes me different) and accepting what I need to be honest about – the stronger I get, the more I see and the closer I get to the people in my life.

I think balance is one of those basic maths problems. Yes, we can argue that none of us can have it … but at what point does remaining unbalanced and not taking uncomfortable action cause a tipping point? I’d prefer to seek a balanced, honest life even if it isn’t a ‘trendy’ one. It doesn’t mean that on any given day everything is in order – no, that’s perfection and also unbalanced. It means not putting off the basics because if I do it will come back and bite later. It’s about making choices about what matters most and being guided by that.

‘As unique as we all are, an awful lot of us want the same things. We want to shake up our current less-than-fulfilling lives. We want to be happier, more loving, forgiving and connected with the people around us.’ ~Brene Brown

So when things aren’t feeling calm and connected or if they’re just too heavy I run with an action. In the current moment in time what is the most basic need? What do I need to add to balance the scales? Then usually what needs subtracting becomes obvious. In fact a reordering of priorities and actions almost certainly begins to unfold. A load of people on the camino drop weight from their packs along the way … they are carrying too much. Subtracting is my maths skill. Adding has become my challenge. And because I play with action hopefully you won’t see me talking or writing about the same thing next year or the year after. It is only by taking action that we can truly move forward … just like the camino, as we walked forward and into Santiago. I just can’t help myself with the camino references ;).

Recipe: A salad’ey vegetable’ey cous cous

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Cous cous
  • Rocket
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • A Red & Yellow Capsicum (pepper)
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Red Onion
  • Basil

How we cooked it:

Cook cous cous according to packet instructions then set aside in a large bowl to cool.

In a large pan fry some chopped carrot and red onion in a little olive oil on med to high heat, after a few minutes add some crushed garlic and chopped red and yellow capsicum (peppers). Fry for another 4 mins then put on a lid, lower heat to medium and cook for 5 mins.

Meanwhile halve some cherry tomatoes and tear up some basil and add to the cous cous. Make a vinaigrette with equal parts olive oil and white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard. It’s important that the vinaigrette is more tangy than what you’d usually put on a salad.

Remove the vegetables from the heat and add too the cous cous but don’t stir through. Allow everything to cool to room temperature. Before serving, add a few handfuls of rocket and the vinaigrette and mix it all together. Works best if you use your hands.

You can substitute vegetables such as broccoli, snow peas, sugar snaps, corn kernels, or aubergine, but it works best if you always have some capsicum, and always include the red onion. Cheeses such as Persian feta, haloumi or Parmesan can be added. Avoid mushrooms.

You could also use quinoa in place of cous cous. Just cook it a bit further ahead of time and spread it out on a large platter to cool and most importantly dry out. If it’s holding too much water the salad will taste bland.

We served ours with salmon but you can choose any accompaniment. In winter we often do it with home made meat balls in a tomato passata sauce.

Today I put my trail runners on for the first time in ages … and slowly as I stopped to photograph the feathers I realised that this motion project will lead to the next. That’s the principal of motion in action.

Buen Camino,

Fran X

Water!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 12/28

Today’s recipe: Go with the flow.

The thing I miss the most about Aussie is water. I love water. The feel of it – salty and even the chlorine’ey, the wild and the lap swimming. It’s the only reason I want to get my (car) license sorted here … to get my kids to water!

So today I did something totally out of character. I bought an outdoor plastic paddling pool. Oh the squeals! And more squeals. I even *cough* bought them water guns. Shite! I know – me. Guns and plastic. In 14 years of having kids these are the first gun type toys I’ve ever bought. But then all four of them played, played for hours, together. Behind bins, hiding and soaking, in the pool, laughing … squealing with delight. And then I thought – feck it, good old fashioned fun – across the ages and not a screen. And p.s. that hose is hosing the aphids out of the Apple tree, of course I layer everything ;).

I did an audit of my little boys room today … this is it. I played with the books, popped the exploring, travel and atlas books up with their binoculars and walkie talkies (we’re adventuring soon). Other than a big box of Lego this is it. The A to Z Animal Alphabet it the divine work of a friend (and it’s Jimmy’s learn the alphabet art). I love #knowthefarmer just as much #knowtheartist.

The only excess I moved out of the boys room was a pile of party treat excesses. So friends after selling up to live a life free of stuff with consideration for ‘excess consumption’ and it’s environmental effects I think we’re traveling ok. Buying a plastic pool … I’m taking a big breath and saying it’s ok. I say no to all the excess. plastic crap throughout the entire year until saying ‘yes’ matters. And since becoming settled without much outdoor space I’m conscious of creating play spaces. And if I’m missing water, those kids of mine must be needing it …

No recipe today because sausages in bread (you’ve already got that one right)!? I try to do grass fed, local style. Plus a Caprese salad and you already know I how I make a caprese – I dress with a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I nearly, nearly didn’t write today but I know that 28 days is significant. Any beautiful plant need water, sun and time. A bit like waking a camino … you can’t get to the end without doing the walk. So yes I’m still walking and I’m still writing.

Buen Camino,

Fran xx

Why compete or compare? Let’s not. Say ‘no’, start there.

Adventures On My Bike – Day 9/28

Today’s recipe: Roasted eggplant.

I’m often saddened when I read posts about FOMO or feeling bad about what others post or the need for posters who have audiences to say ‘this is my highlight reel’. Seriously … WHY? Why be scared of missing out? Or why compare ourselves we others lives. Why do we need to be told that we shouldn’t feel bad because of what you post? What has happened to us? Why can’t we separate what we see with what our own reality is? Honestly … it perplexes me. And you know why? Because why would anyone have it better? We ALL have feelings and stuff right? Or are we special? Are we the only ones who in a day can live through every emotion that exists?

I took this photo from my bike (because this is a bike adventure series). I was balancing the fruit and veg in my basket and my panniers. My youngest … my baby, with his hands on my hips as I dunk him on the back of the bike was singing his heart out … we’d been at the market (real food) … shopped with bags I’d re-used (zero waste) … to the left a violinist was playing (romantic and European) … the season is summer (smiles in The Netherlands) … summer also means festivals and food vans (reminds me of Berlin Lix) … I was on my bike (my carbon omission free transport)… shopping done (food till next market day) … my daughter was smiling (tough week) … my husband is hiking in the ALPS (he loves that stuff, he even posted a story, he never does that, so happy for him) … dinner was covered (same recipe as last Saturday) … I’m writing (you’re reading) … that’s a whole lot of good stuff there! And sure, neither of us, husband and I are on our career trajectory (adjusting that)… we’ve had some shit to deal with since arriving here (that’s life) … our family isn’t close by (I miss my mum) … our identities are being challenged (starting fresh) …. we are having to make a choice, here or home (where’s home?) … but THIS, in this bike moment … it’s all ok, more than ok … this is as good as life gets.

Let me paint you some pictures of my day.

I could tell you about each photo or we could just talk about our days. There’s no perfection, there’s just life. Every day life. I bet both of us experienced some similar feelings. If you’ve read this far I presume we’re already connected in some way so let’s make a deal … let’s be working on our own nests. Moving forward, moving our furniture, learning to say no, learning to let go, learning to care more, to care less, be honest about what we need, slow down, speed up, walk, ride, dance, run, swim, talk, paint, write, cook, sew, love … whatever we need to move forward with … let’s work on that, let’s move and not worry about what others are doing. Let’s just agree to not compete or compare. Sounds easy right? But dig deeper. Every time we speak or act … let’s ask ourselves the question am I competing or comparing? Because if we are we’ll always be a step behind ourselves. And don’t we want to be present and contented with ourselves? In our own life.

Today I had a conversation with a fellow writer. One of my favorites actually and I shared some of my story ideas. And I didn’t care. I used to be protective of my ideas and today I shared them, gave her my quotes, analogy’s, everything. If she runs with and writes something because she read them … boom that’s a win. Neither of us own ideas. Especially those of us who write about and live life. We learn by experience and our human experience is actually not that different. We’re bound to cover the same ground. But when we share and talk without being held by the constraints of competition or comparison or even fear we choose a deeper path. I prefer those kinds of conversations, the ones we walk away from feeling good.

All competing and comparing does (with ourselves or others) is to stunt us and hold us hostage from living freely in our own lives. And for those of us who are parents … it can stunt us from hearing our own kids.

Recipe time – Roasted eggplant.

The head cold is still lingering. It’s why you’re not seeing hiking photos! But motion is in my mind, determination is in my day and because I write this blog – honesty matters, so I’m cooking.

My Buddha bowls haven’t been in play this week so I’m prepping. The week’s bowls (well 4 of them) will have eggplant at the centre.

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant or aubergines (I had two to use)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary

How I prep’d them:

Slice the eggplants in half. Slice into the flesh diagonally creating diamonds … three diagonal lines left to right and swap.

Top with salt, let sit … at least an hour.

Squeeze and wipe the salted juice off.

Coat flesh with olive oil and place upside down on a twig of rosemary on a tray. (I use and re-use baking paper.)

Bake for an hour.

Serve as a side with a lemon or some balsamic & oil or I’ll show you how I use them through the week in Buddha bowls.

Buen camino,

Fran xxx

Love parcels!

Adventures On My Bike – Day 8/28

Today’s recipe: Souvlaki with Tzatziki.

“Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in.” Frances Moore

It takes a great amount of muscle to vote for the world we want to live in. The modern world is not particularly geared towards those of us who seek a deeper kind of existence. One that is connected to the food we eat, the environment we steward and the humanity we share. One that values slow over fast, quiet over noise, less over more, make over buy, contribute over consume. But there is a gym for us and there are others training there too. It’s a small gym, the gym of creative living but it is gaining momentum … people are beginning to ask themselves ‘what matters most’? And once we ask ourselves that question we start the process of taking action and we start building the muscle to vote. We have no choice but to act if we want to leave a legacy of having stood for something or a life without regrets. A world we want to live in and contribute to not exist in and consume from.

One act will lead to another and then another. Take the spanakopita ‘rolls’ (brilliant suggestion Sue btw, rolling sausage roll style worked a treat!). Ingredients bought at the market* to buy fresher, to reduce plastic (#zerowaste), to bake from scratch, to live creatively. The ingredients then used to create something learnt from friend (food now has two stories), created specifically for my daughter because it’s one of her favourite dishes. Delivered to said daughter after school (before she went to a friend’s house) as a surprise with a kiss – an ‘I love you’ parcel. A parcel that votes for a kinder world. (I’ve lost track, food now has six stories yeah?)

And because I made the spanakopita I was all loved up and also wrote a funny little letter for her. One act that keeps giving …

‘Culture, when it comes to food, is of course a fancy word for your mom.’

Michael Pollan

Yes it’s hard enough being a mum I get it – I know! And I’m far from perfect but I want to care about the food culture I send my kids out into the world with it. I think it matters.

Speaking of kids favourites remember the first post of this 28 day series … the ‘I love you’ platter with Jimmy’s beloved Caprese Salad ingredients? Lisa my friend from Milwaukee created her own version. How good does it look! Jimmy said ‘yum’ when I showed him and he’s chuffed his favourite salad is a hit Lisa – a smiling 6 yo with his own new food story ;).

Oh and Lisa shared this meal with her daughter. And that reminds me of another story … I’ve never met Lisa face to face (yet) we became friends through blogging. But I did have the privilege of meeting her daughter in Sydney when she was traveling around Australia. Lisa asked if I could check in with her. And from one mum to another I shared with Lisa know how proud she should be of her strong, independent and capable daughter. And that I hope to grow mine with those qualities too.

Tzatziki.

So I guess you’re sensing a Greek theme here … again! A meal created because I made tzatziki to use up the dill and cucumbers. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of kitchen appliances. Actually let me think … I have three. A food processor, a beater and a stick blender. And this little nugget! This was a gift from my mother in law, a Tupperware mini hand blender I guess you’d call it. I love it for chopping onions, garlic and making dips. Guacamole, tzatziki, hummus etc. I thought I’d share as I’ve had it for 9 years and it’s still perfect and I don’t cry on account of onions.

Souvlaki. Greek – Dutch – Aussie style.

Of course I’d never make these if Lexie was coming over, this is one of her specialties and it would look little different. She looked at me strangely when I said I’d put lemon in the tzatziki :).

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (I roast the fillets but they could also be fried thinking about when we’re in the camper)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Sliced onion
  • Pita bread (tossed in the pan or in the toaster)
  • Tzatziki (recipe linked)

Method:

So simple! Fill the pita breads with fresh ingredients.

It’s Friday night and I prepared this dinner during the day so it was an easy relaxed meal. I even got a ‘thank you, I love this meal’ at the table. But mostly, I got togetherness, laughs and fun. No debate, the debater was at a friends. Lucky because her dad’s away and he’s the debater’s sparing partner. The debater is at her Greek friend’s house eating a home made (γιαγιά’s) meatball soup. So I guess you’ll have to watch this space for that recipe.

Have a beautiful start to the weekend … feel free to share a food story with me if you have one. I love a good connected food story.

Buen camino’ing,

Fran x

*the pasty came from the store pre-made. I haven’t attempted that … yet, not sure I will.