Category: Escapism

In Celebration of You

First day of school today, Year 1, can’t quite get my head around it.  My son was so excited he shot out of bed and was dressed in his uniform before going downstairs for breakfast   It’s always a mix of emotions, I am so pleased he is on his way and feels confident about his school, nervous because it is a new teacher and she doesn’t know him well yet – allergy wise, and a bit sad the holidays are over and the house feels a bit empty without his larger than life presence.

The timing is just perfect for my guest blogger, a very talented author,  Alicia Young who has shared some inspiring thoughts , “In Celebration of You”.  Alicia is a journalist, speaker and author of The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Grace: small touches with big impact—at home, work & in love. It’s a light and bright read for anyone who feels stretched amid the rush of modern life. The book’s publisher, Parasol Press LLC, has also launched The Savvy Life Awards, with $5000 in prizes to reward savvy living. Entry is free and open to U.S residents. See:

In Celebration of You….

A daughter dabs gently at her mother’s mouth, as she feeds the older woman and holds the thin, papery hand that once dried her tears over a broken toy or a broken heart.

A professor challenges her class to pose a dynamic solution to the problem before them.

A newlywed grieves a job lost and a dream deferred for her partner, who got laid off today.

As women, we embrace compassion and support, selflessly playing cheerleader to others. We listen, coax, encourage and boost our loved ones in their quests, ushering them through their dark times. We remind them of their successes, their accomplishments, and their creativity.

Why then, are we sometimes slow to recognize our own achievements? Our uniqueness? And why are we equally hesitant to celebrate them, or relegate them to an afterthought?

As girls, we are often raised to accord more significance to the needs— even the whims— of others, more importance than our own. There is a time and place for that, as any mother knows. But when we carve out time for ourselves—if only mere minutes— we are sending a powerful message, both to those around us, and to ourselves.

We need to own our skills, to embrace our mindsets and to value our way of engaging the world. We need to claim time to recharge and rejuvenate.

My challenge to you:  find a way to celebrate yourself— this week, this month, this year. Hang a sign on the door—literally or metaphorically—and declare this hour, this day, this weekend yours.

 It’s vital.

It’s graceful.

It’s overdue.

How do you take time out to celebrate yourself?


Fun at the Agricultural Show

When I was little, my Dad used to take my sister and I to the Perth Royal Show.  Fast forward several years and my husband and I were delighted to take our 5-year-old to the Royal Show, a first time for him.

What I love about the ‘Show’ it is wonderful blend of country and city: agricultural events, mining equipment, old farming machinery, fast rides (very scary), performers, best in show events – from cakes, quilts, dogs to livestock, tourism showcases of towns and produce from Western Australia, fast food, games alley, equestrian events, show judging of animals,  chair lifts, show games, and of course the much treasured show bag!

It was refreshing to see some great free activities for the kids, and we had a great time at the ‘Scouts’ enclosure, where they had a ‘boot camp’ bouncy castle and some fun games, including a popular air-pressured, rocket launcher.

My son played the clown game for the first time and managed to win an Elmo!  He was thrilled, and I was so surprised!  It was good to see somethings never change, like the carnival atmosphere around the ‘House of Horrors’ and the ‘Ghost Train’ which was well away from the children’s section, but had to be traversed to get to the chair lifts, it was spooky, noisy and fun!

Entry for children under 13 is free, show bags can set you back $12-24, rides and show games around $6-8.  Our little guy lasted 2 hours, we were grateful to get home!

view from the chair lift

spider man show bag – much treasured!


Goodbye procrastination and hello Spring!

Fabulous Flame, Chorizema Pea Wildflower

Synonymous with being Aussie, the great and much-loved Golden Wattle (Acacia Pycnatha)

When I found this specimen it was like winning the lottery, I love seeing bush orchids in the wild, and I think this might be a Swamp Curly Locks

Not sure of this plant could it be a Leptospermum?

Another beautiful bush orchid?

Guessing Grevillea?

Picture above – Perth skyline – a view from the hills.

Plum Orchard, Pickering Brook

It’s been a while since I posted, where have I been?  No where, just thoughts and ideas running through my mind but no energy, time or motivation to get them down!  Procrastination has hit hard after a wave of winter illness, rounds of colds, influenza and the like.  Today is the first day everyone is better in the family and a good enough reason to finally share these images I took five weeks ago on a family picnic in Kalamunda, Western Australia.

The images show some local flora spotted in and around the ‘Zig Zag’, an old railway turnaround track built to assist trains to get down the hill, it is now a road, used as scenic drive from Kalamunda on your way down to Perth.  If you can help with the naming of the flora, I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment!  Can anyone spot the local wildlife captured in one of the photos?


Sunshine on a Winter’s Day = Fun!

A sunny Winter’s day in Perth, time for some outdoor fun in the garden;  perfect for bubble blowing, glider flying and trying out my new camera lens!

It’s a challenge to catch the bubbles, crash the glider (more fun than flying!)  and harder still for Mum to catch the action!


Daring En Papillote: putting dinner in the bag

Do you believe art imitates life, or life imitates art?

I love to cook and have always fantasized about entering a cooking competition, not a reality TV show or anything like that, something more grassroots, like the Australian Country Women’s Association’s (CWA) Annual “Land of Cookery” Contest;  you can compete in several categories, including jams & preserves, cakes, cake decoration etc.  The entries are judged by a panel of highly experienced country cooks, and winners get an honourable mention, a ribbon, and a modest monetary prize.

After watching one of my most recent favourite films “Julie & Julia“, I felt highly motivated to cook with a challenge, and hopefully find some inspiration to increase my repertoire of ‘go to’ dishes.  It was unlikely that I was going to compete in the CWA’s “Land of Cookery” Contest, but there is another alternative,  “Julie & Julia” has inspired the creation of several virtual clubs for cooking and baking, like-minded people connecting via cyberspace to cook with a challenge, and then share the results, be they good, bad or indifferent.

I did a bit of research and looked around at the many virtual clubs for cooking challenges, I decided to join the Daring Kitchen.  The Daring Kitchen, has two groups the ‘Daring Cooks’ and the ‘Daring Bakers’, because I love a challenge I signed up for both (in hindsight one might have been enough!).

There are a few rules, but all-in-all it’s really about having a go, creating the selected recipe of the month and then sharing your effort, and of course the most important part, the fun and fellowship of supporting each others cooking adventures (or mis-adventures – doh!).

Cue the challenge this month, our Daring Cooks’ host is Sarah from All Our Fingers in the Pie; Sarah has challenged us to try a cooking technique called “Cooking En Papillote” which is French and translates to “cooking in parchment”.

The secret step, which I gleaned from a friend is to pre-heat a baking tray, so the papillote goes into the oven on a hot tray, when it comes out of the oven, it is all puffed up and ready to serve, the aroma is wonderful.

To create the parchment parcel, all you need to do is fold over your parchment paper and cut out a heart shape, then once all the ingredients are placed in side, gently and firmly tuck over the ends, ensuring they will stay firmly sealed during the baking process.

Chicken in a Bag : My Way:


  • 1 chicken breast;
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of Passata”  (I used my home-made tomato soup as a substitute)
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 corn on the cob, cooked and trimmed of the cob
  • 1 pinch of grated pepper
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 -8 snow peas
  • 1/2 cup of couscous
  • fresh herbs of your choice
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil


Trim the chicken breast into two equal pieces, rub in lemon rind, 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs, marinate over night.

Cook the couscous, according to the directions on the packet.

Heat up a frying pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil, lightly brown the chicken breast.  Remove the chicken breast from the pan and add a tablespoon of olive oil, finely chopped onion and garlic and cook until translucent, add couscous and stir fry, add passata, corn and stir fry for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Place the couscous, chicken breast into the papillote, layer cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley and snow peas on top.  Seal papillote, place on a hot baking tray and cook in a moderate to hot oven for 20 minutes.

Makes two small entrée sized serves, to increase proportion or serves just add more!  I served mine with a squeeze of lemon and a garnish of finely chopped shallot to add some texture and crunch.

The result was tasty, my couscous a bit gluggy – need to work on that!  By the way, it’s refreshing to be inspired by a film, definitely a case of life imitating art.


Falling in love…through the looking glass

After two years of a business like relationship with my camera, I have finally fallen in love.  Familiarity is supposed to breed contempt but in this case the more I opened my mind to new opportunities, new ways to be creative, I started to see my camera in a new light (no pun intended).

My internet business is a large consumer of macro photography and model shots, over two years I have had to quickly learn the principles of studio photography, styling, lighting and so on, I am still enjoying the experience, and each shoot is an opportunity to improve.  But lately, actually it’s been since I have started up this blog, I am seeking other opportunities to use my camera and thoroughly enjoying the experience!  The shift in my feelings for photography has been subtle, but quite dramatic:

  • I have just completed a photo shoot of my family; Mum, Dad, four siblings, plus partners, and their children; I have never been inspired to do this before;  I wish I could show you the pictures, I am quietly proud of them, but for privacy reasons I have not included them here.
  • I drool over camera equipment on the B & H Photography Website  (I feel compelled to view this website at least once per week – another source of eye candy!);
  • I have been keenly watching a great new series in Australia called ‘Photo Finish’ on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC); where three amateur photographers are given various assignments and their work judged by a panel of experts;  I am starting to imagine myself in these situations – what choices would I make, how would I frame the shot?
  • I have entered the picture (above) into a competition! This is so not me, but that’s how much fun I am having with my camera!  The picture above is titled ‘Through the Looking Glass”.

‘Through the Looking Glass’ is my salute to “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll; one of my favourite stories when I was a little.  The idea came to me when I was thinking about using our garden mirror as an anchor for the shot (I handcrafted this garden mirror/mosaic about 7 years ago) .

The competition is open to Australian Residents only, and you need to include a lens in the shot; that’s why there is a ‘Box Brownie’ in my shot!  This Box Brownie  is special, it belonged to my Father-In-Law. and it was well used over many years, to create beautiful images of family life.

For those of you who are wondering about the allergy component to this blog,  I am still trying to be fearless and finding joy in new things, so stay tuned for more cooking and photography posts in the future.

Of course there is the allergies, but sometimes we all need an escape, and I am currently enjoying the world of nature and capturing special moments with the people I love.

By the way (with a smile and wink), can’t help but ask – what do you think of my chances of winning the competition?


Winter Garden

In Australia we tend to call the outdoor spaces behind our houses ‘backyards’, in England they call their spaces ‘gardens’.  I think it is time to re-term our outdoor spaces here in Australia, yard connotes car wrecks, old sheds and rusty garden furniture, not that these items don’t add character, but I would like to argue that ‘garden’ sounds more enchanting, a place to rest and recharge, play, entertain and if you ever get the time – read a book…ah the thought of it!

Our garden has been lovingly formed by other hands – over thirty years ago, most of the plants and trees are mature and pretty low maintenance, which means we just keep things simple with minimal fuss (which also means minimal effort!).  My son enjoys going into the garden to pick flowers for me, and in winter there is little pockets/flashes of colour here and there and lots for him to choose from.  The beauty of winter is that it allows the foliage to take on a rich green hue, a time of respite from the hot dry, bleaching summers.

We have many sasanqua varietals (camellia’s) in our garden and lots of bees at the moment too – I wasn’t quick enough to capture one of these little critters, but fast enough to avoid a sting!  Whilst I was having fun in between a rain shower and sparkling sun (all in the space of 15 minutes), the joy of escaping the normal every day routine was such a buzz (pardon the pun).  Whilst playing around with my macro lens and capturing the blooms in our garden, the Kookaburra’s (Kingfisher birds) started to sing in chorus and I was happy that I was in the moment and I was present enough to hear their beautiful song – all in our winter garden.

Necessary distraction

Do you have times in your life where you need some distraction?  When you feel you are being hit with lemons and your tired of drinking lemonade?  This is when I need some distraction, a bit of an escape, to take my mind on a holiday.  I wish I had a virtual cupboard of ideas, of

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