Tag Archives: writing

From My Tuscan Desk.

A butterfly continues to fly by trying to land on me. The cicadas are putting on a symphony, the children are squealing with delight and I think I found myself in the perfect setting. The setting for a little plan I’ve had brewing for some time. Ha ha no not to move here, I’ve changed. I promise. I no longer want to live everywhere but I do want to try a new thing for myself. Nothing new there! Lol. But a hard thing, something that requires some dedication. Tuscany friends, if a dream can’t be birthed here I’m not sure it ever can!

It was a rather clever idea of the husband’s to drive the bulk of the drive yesterday. We had an early start this morning and arrived into the local village of Bibbiena around 10.30am. Enough time to pick up some bread and supplies. Oh my the fruit! The fruit. So much colour and so much fresh choice. We drove in past the fields so it doesn’t surprise me of course. Lush verdant fields with rows and rows of produce. Not that the boys noticed from their lounge room in the backseat. New road trip food tip – breakfast banana in a wrap.

 

Our villa is everything we expected. A lush vista over the valley, fresh warm air, stunning sun, colour and solitude. Apart from the children and the cicadas of course. Spaces everywhere, for everyone. Yes, this is the bolthole we knew we needed but waited for a few weeks to decide on! It’s lush and also it’s characteristically rustic inside (read: old and charming). But you don’t get something this big and affordable without compromise. After half a day I totally get the dark, brick Tuscan cave! It works in this heat. The outside though, wow, with the little beautiful touches.

It’s not a tour the country kind of holiday. It’s time away, get some vitamin D, playtime for the children, yummy food, time for family, time to ‘be’ and laughs. Always the laughs. At Jimmy mostly. And Tommy he is a bit of a funny cat when he shows his humorous side. Greggie is working this week. He has settled nicely into a corner of the house with the big old desk. Best line today, Greggie “but how good is the prosciutto” lol. “Dude, it’s Italy !?!” Eye roll 🙄.

Me I’m out on the terrace. I’m also sort of working. I’m writing. Yes, yes I am. It’s a bit of a story as to how this has all come together. None of this planned at the start of the month. And yet here I am. With an evolving plan falling into place. It’s nice to be away, not to be in need of the break but in need of space and this moment of opportunity. A moment built on the momentum of these past months. A luxury. A time for each of us be in our own rhythms.

#writingstreak

#day28/31

#underthetuscansun

#amwriting

 

 

 

A Thing That Completes Me.

Did you know it was Dutch growers who cultivated the orange carrot? True. It was a tribute to William of Orange who led the struggle for Dutch independence against the Spanish in the 1500s. Traditionally carrots where yellow, white or purple. It’s not just colourful tulips here!

One thing I miss from Australia is the way they do food. It’s fresh, flavoursome and tasty! We love food in Aussie. Our deliciously migrant inspired cuisine. How many Masterchef series are we up to? It’s also easy to have a little food adventure with local growers. Farmers markets are a real thing. And there are many small scale, big love for organic practices farmers and farmhers doing exciting things. I’ve popped in on garlic farmhers, pasturised chicken farmhers and market garden farmers.

Produce here is a bit bland, maybe it’s because a lot of our produce comes from outside our borders. And humans have developed a taste for ‘out of season’ food. If we are eating berries here in winter, aargh they’re travelling a LONG way. Typically the Dutch aren’t foodies. In all honesty you don’t come to Holland for the food scene. Ok except for the chips and mayo! This is excellent.

I have been perplexed about food here. We have similar topography and climate to Denmark and yet they do far tastier food. The Dutch are growers. Huge growers. In fact they are the second largest food producer in the world. Last year the agri export industry was worth 94.5 billion euros. Punching way about their weight this tiny country, feeding the masses. Remember this country is half the size of Tassie with a population of 17.8 million (Aussie is 25 mil).

Even the markets often sell imports from all over world. I can buy NZ kiwis here most of the year. I don’t obvs because food miles. One of my goals this year was to get better at knowing where my food comes from. During my hikes through Holland I have seen many interesting farms complete with the farm gate, my favourite. By walking across this country I’ve seen there’s a local food movement. I just have to start tapping into it. And how I love the notion of walking across countries, best way to know one and actual most authentic form of slow travel in my mind.

I was super excited when my friend sent me the link to crisp.nl. They’re an online food delivery company whose mission is to sell quality food direct from the growers and producers to consumers. So easy. Simply down load the ap. order and the next night it’s one the door. I’ve only had one delivery but I really noticed the difference in food quality and taste. And the packaging was fairly minimal on the plastic which pleases me greatly.

I did ask about returning the delivery boxes to reuse but as yet that doesn’t happen. It’s a problem in process, hopefully a solution will follow. I think I may also raise the idea of wonky fruit. The fruit the farmers can’t sell because it doesn’t look perfect. I’d be interested in buying that. It didn’t seem a lot more expensive than the supermarket.

I really admire young start ups that seek to create something with meaning. Here they are trying to build a business based on supporting local farmers. I had contact via whats ap with then prior to my delivery and after. It was so personal, so positive and so tech convenient. Lol. I wish I had the energy of these entrepreneurs. Yeah this little find, this way of purchasing food, of knowing the farmer it is surely one of the things that makes me feel complete.

Tell me a little story of something that completes you if you like, if you have time. It’s actually is a nice way to smile inside and I’d like to know you a bit more. :)

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#justkeepwriting

#wontgiveup

#evenwheni’mblank

#showingup

 

 

 

Under The Tuscan Sun.

‘Life Offers You A Thousand Chances. All You Have To Do Is Take One.’ – Under The Tuscan Sun.

I have a little longing for the is’ness of a place that is just a Sydney to Melbourne drive away. I promised her I’d return when it was safe to support her people. With three weeks of school holidays left and weeks of rain forecast we made plan C today, or is it plan Z! We’re going to take a trip South and into one of my favourite member states. I finally committed. It finally felt right.

I’ve been so unsure about how to travel or if we should travel in these surreal summer times. So we sat it out, cancelled all the plans (as many of us have) and decided to wait it out and see. It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets. I didn’t want to contribute to the movement of people at a time when perhaps we shouldn’t move. I needed to wait, to ‘be’ where I was. If we did travel I wanted it to be safely, gently, sustainably and as always slowly. 

Yesterday as I watched my son paddle off into the lake I think I knew deep down it was time to leave for a while. I’m happy pottering but the kids need time off grid, away from the fallback of screen time and into a nature experience where they bank resilience and we bank family stories. We will travel in a way that is mindful and also supportive of communities that need support. I think it matters that those of us who like to explore continue to work for a caring approach to travel. 

We only have such a short time until life changes. Our eldest two are 16 and 14 and now while they’re still family holiday kids I want to soak it up. My husband needs a break from the bedroom office he’s sat in since Feb and will likely sit in until next year. This is our season, this is our time. When school returns the kids will be in the situational noise that is life, and soon after Autumn will arrive to take us into the deep cold.

It feels sad to see my family and friends at home in their second quarantine, it is always hard to watch people doing it tough at home. Aussies here are beginning to feel increasingly like we’re getting locked out of Australia and away from our families for a long time to come. Perhaps the situation here will again take us into some form of quarantine, it’s all so uncertain. So for now I will choose to continue to live in the world alongside the virus, safely and responsibly of course. 

In a few days we’ll make our way and road trip down to a Tuscan farmhouse in the middle of Italy. Off the regular tourist trail and in the middle of two small hill top villages. Next to a national park and far from the coast (by Italian standards), we’ll be in the guts. Further than Melbourne to Syd, maybe Melb to Coff’s.

We’re going to park ourselves for a few weeks to immerse in the local produce, language and is’ness of each other and the Italian warmth. In many ways we will continue to live in the small bubble we are currently in, but where we can also experience the reason we gave up so much to move here. European life. Perhaps I’ll write something longer, perhaps not. I’m excited and I’m nervous, they’re like the same thing sometimes. It feels good to feel, to ponder, to be doesn’t it. 

 

P.s. completely utter shit that I get to write about something so frivolous and luxurious as to making a decision to travel sth. I know. I struggle with sharing travel because of the complete privilege of it. But I guess we’ve been on a journey together this month and this is where I’m at and hopefully I can be a voice for less pillaging type of travel, more soul involvement. 

 

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#finallycommitted

#allroadsleadtoItalyrightnow

 

 

 

 

What Do Tomato Plants And Running Shoes Have In Common?

Back in March I planted a few seeds. There were the vegetable seeds (including these tomatoes) and there was the #runstreak. The streak where I put these runners on each day to run. This weekend I repotted the plants because they had well and truly outgrown their pots. And I hung my shoes up from daily running after 140 days, 20 weeks of streaking. The tomatoes had out grown their pot and I’d outgrown putting my shoes on each day. 

For a long time I knew I needed to keep running. To keep the streak alive. It felt easier to keep going than to stop. And my running was serving a purpose. It was creating a base of fitness and building some fire in my life. It was my quarantine (1.0) saving grace. I ran all the way through quarantine and beyond, coming out the other end with a stronger and more confident mind. I ran myself into a new challenge, the Amsterdam 1/2 marathon. Which, naturally, I’ll run in a school dress for One Girl because that is what I do!

When I look back to my IG post from the time I planted the tomato seeds I read the hint of another seed between the lines. It was the beginning of me starting to consider doing things smaller and in a more focussed way. Of transferring this idea of ‘not having it all’ into all I do. Of doing smaller things well. Not of not dreaming big things but of getting to those dreams in a different way. This is the magic of writing for me. Little thoughts shared aloud with myself. These thoughts sent out into my world for me to notice and work with,

I only hung my shoes for a few days! Today I ran the first run of my 12 week training schedule. I googled one and found one on runners world. I’ve never actually followed a running plan but a schedule seems to be working for me right now. Three runs a week it will take. I have no doubt the Amsterdam 1/2 marathon will be cancelled due to corona. I’ll still run it though. There is a 25km hike through the woods around our village. I’ll run that! In a school dress and I’ll rope the family in to ride along and cheer, document for me and share as I go. Lol. It it will be fun.

‘To pay attention. This is our endless and proper work.’ ~ Mary Oliver. 

This little tale of the tomato plants and the running shoes reminds me how subtle beginnings and endings can sometimes be. How gentle letting go can be. It isn’t always big and scary. Rather that growing into ourselves and tweaking with adjustments is a contant. And not everything needs an ending, sometimes it’s just a shift, a new pot, a more intentional goal or plan. I wonder .. will the repotted tomato plants fruit with me alongside my adjusted running plan?!?

#Day22/31

#writingstreak

#therunninglooksdifferentnow

#ireallylovethiswritingstreak

 

Multi Layer. Is It The New Multi Task.

‘Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable’ ~ Mary Oliver

I’ve deadset found a key to a door. A door into some serious kitchen flow. For a while now I’ve wanted to get back to basics. Into some serious low waste, budget conscious, healthy from scratch eating. We eat well but there is room for more from scratch and less waste. And I think the key for me is layering. The type of layering I’m finding by working through a style of cooking.

Now I’d love to cook a range of cuisines but as a cook my skills are not capable of that. And I am lucky in that I have a partner who can do this. But I do want to be less boring. I want to be able to go to the pantry or fridge and have options. Tasty options. Healthy options. I also have a family of six to feed. I don’t want cooking to be a chore but something more. Something where my creativity and passions are happily at play.

I often think about meal planning and then fall at the first hurdle because getting six cookbooks out is overwhelming. It is not and never will be my style. Pleasing six people is overwhelming with modern cookbook recipes. And we’ve moved and changed so much in the past years that I’ve lost my rhythm in the kitchen and where to go for local ingredients (also there’s the language thing and the hormones, that peri-meno thing never helps). But it’s about stepping into the right door though isn’t it. The one that is built and waiting for you. Your personality, your skills, your interests, your tastes, your style, your confines and basically your timing.

Enter my new kitchen challenge – to cook Roman food. Food that is centuries old. A cuisine that’s often described as peasant food. Highly flavoured, peasant food. Alleluia peasant is the opposite of fancy! Perfect for someone who wants to make beautiful food from scratch without the finicky fuss. Without the need for technical knowledge. This sounds like me. It’s my version of fancy! And this is my time. I’m ready, I need it. So I walked in through the front door, the door that beckoned me. The challenge to cook through the bright red Rome cookbook.

Any cuisine has basics. Herbs, spices, ingredients, pastes, dishes that compliment each other. Take the pesto I made last week on my first cooking day. We had it on crackers and bread. The following day I had it with my egg. Today I added it to a focaccia with leftover roast chicken from last night for the boys for lunch. And tonight the last of the leftovers were added to a pasta for the vegetarian and her vegetarian friend. This is a staple. Easy to make and can also be frozen in ice-cubes and bagged for further use! Pesto chocked full with herbs and veg. Pesto that went four ways, in four meals. Pesto flow.

Last night we ate roast chicken and the bones were added to a stock pot with veggies and brewed today to produce stock. Literally a 5 minute prep and then it sat on the stove brewing without any needs for hours. My eldest son often calls me a witch with my herby salves, so it does suit me to be brewing. A jar for risotto later in the week and the rest frozen in 300ml reusable containers for future use. Boom. Massive saving in buying stock, eating unknown ingredients, food waste and packaging. Kitchen flow.

I did not set out to become a better cook when I started writing this month. But as always when I write daily my world expands, I expand. Perhaps it is because I notice more. Perhaps it is because I get to express my real self so this flow continues in other areas of my life. The key to this door is definitely the honing in, the focusing on what’s important. I have tried to be political in the past with the issues I care about but I’ve found it spirit crushing. I am far better working away in my everyday life to create change and expressing myself from this place.

From the beginning of this writing challenge I’ve really focussed only on what I need to be focussed on. And also by ignoring the doubts when they creep in. Actually stopping to recognise the triggers of these creepers, the thoughts, the people and the habits that contribute to them.  And then I stare them out. I choose excitement over fear, seeing wildflowers rather than things, intuition over the noisy world, embracing flux over stagnation and good busy over idle thinking. I want to be excited about life! I am excited about life. I want to be surprised by what I am capable of finding in myslef. I want cycles of layering. Layering one thing that matters with another thing that matters.  You wouldn’t go out in winter without layers to keep you warm. Why risk wasting life without the ‘good’ layers.

 

#writingstreak

#day21/31

#reallyonly10daystogo

#cookingchallenge

#staringoutthecreepers