Taking Mini-Me to the Extreme!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

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What a time we’ve had of it! I think Hubby & Mini-Me were tag teaming to see who could break me first!

Hubby is doing better after his heart attack but still a way to go on his recovery. The problem arose after an accident in our digger whilst at work. He sustained a broken rib & bruised kidney. Unfortunately, somehow, this led to an infection, Influenza A, pneumonia & all resulted in a heart attack. We choose to see the positive in this, however, for the heart attack has exposed a rather serious heart condition which we can now make appropriate lifestyle adjustments for.

Meanwhile, Mini-Me dropped weight rapidly into a critically low area, ringing alarm bells! Her Nutrition was good with adequate calorie intake for her ballet training so the hunt was on to solve this mystery ASAP!

Every parent fears the word Leukaemia. We were so incredibly relieved when her test results proved negative…..but then what was causing her weight to free fall where no matter what the doctors did, they could not stop it?!

Never underestimate having a bloody good Paediatrician on your side.

Several tests later & we have a break through – Coeliac Disease!

Thank goodness I am already all over this (like Hubby on a cupcake!) having it myself. I recall though, several years ago now, the almighty learning curve of the Gluten Free Diet! I am just so enormously grateful that I got to trial & error on myself instead of my precious child. It was actually such an incredible relief to hear the words Coeliac Disease over the alternative!

Now that they are both on the path back to good health & I’ve been medically ordered that I am NEVER allowed to EVER get sick myself with these two, I have finally had time to breathe. That is always a dangerous thing for me as then I have the time to think!

When Hubby had his heart attack, I became suddenly aware of how truly precarious my privileged life as a Homeschooling House Wife really is. This is the lifestyle that we worked so hard to place ourselves in a position to achieve & maintain before having Mini-Me. Yet it could all be snatched away from us in an instant.

I confided my feelings to my beautiful Ballet Mum tribe. They’re such an extremely supportive & truly empathetic group of ladies. Upon the realisation that reigniting my former career would be unsustainable, a suggestion was made for me to return to study. Train for something new, something that I love, something that is meaningful to me, something that will restore my financial confidence.

Searching for my great unknown, I stumbled across a piece of advice that said something like Find Your Purpose – we’ve all seen this cliche emblazoned everywhere, but what made this one different to grab my attention was that he went on in the video to actually say HOW to find your purpose! Pay attention to what you always think about, always watch, always read, always listen too. I don’t think I need to issue any prizes to anyone for guessing what my brain is obsessed with! FOOD!

But……as well as food, I am equally invested in my family’s health! So not so quick there on the old Culinary School route peeps 😉

I’m leaning towards finding something to do with Food, Nutrition, Health, Elite Performance & Optimum Clean Living. I just haven’t found it yet, but I will.

What If…….?

I wonder what would happen if I put down all of this toxic self doubt I have burdened myself to carry?

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Over the past year, you have been following me on a journey of self discovery as I stumble my way along this culinary pathway. It certainly has been a roller coaster!

I would dearly love to evolve & grow this blog into a wee web show, yet every time I begin, some of you may recall I came very close to it last Christmas, I end up sabotaging myself as the horrid seeds of self doubt sprout & spread their evil tendrils.

I get all excited & pumped up – I plan, I experiment, I practice what to say & then I let that little voice in my head take over!

  • You’re being ridiculous
  • Who on Earth would want to watch to you
  • Who do you think you are
  • You’re a nobody
  • You’re not a chef
  • You’re not pretty enough for telly
  • You don’t know anything
  • You can’t plate up
  • You’re food isn’t fancy enough
  • You’re not good enough

I’m sure you are now getting the picture. Food is my passion. It’s what I want to share. It’s all I want to do.

It’s true, my food is not fancy, it’s not fine dining & I’m certainly not good enough for MasterChef!

I’m just a stay at home mum living on my mountain top with a strong desire, a dream if you might, of sharing my simple food from my humble kitchen.

To learn the knowledge of our Grandparents generation of how to grow my own food, how to prepare it with great love & to enjoy a blissfully uncomplicated life.

Is there really anything wrong with that?

Am I alone in my desire for simplicity?

Would you watch me?

Our Incredible Shrinking Act!

Tanya released an impressive 16cm from her waistline, whilst Andy dropped a whopping 17cm from his hips!

All in just 30 short days with no exercise!

How?!?!

Simply by using these magnificent Nutritional Supplements to nourish their bodies.

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We’ve known for a very long time that modern Western farming practices have severely affected the nutrition within the food we eat, that’s why we need to supplement our contemporary diet to put back all the good wholesomeness that is simply no longer there. We want to be ACTIVE ELDERLY – that means we need to INVEST in ourselves NOW whilst we’re reasonably still young!

Enter Isagenix!

The first thing you need to understand about Isagenix is that it is NOT just another weight loss shake. It is a highly concentrated super food of Nutrition! There is a bounty of independent diverse Scientific testing to back it up!

By flooding our bodies with the Nutrition that they need, we are able to reboot our systems! When our bodies receive the correct Nutrition, they naturally release the toxic fat stores they’ve built up – hence weight loss is simply a pleasant side affect of good, healthy Nutrition.

We are now full of life & vitality!

We love these products so much our goal is to share this fabulous Nutrition Program with as many people as possible because it’s all about putting the nourishment back into our bodies that modern farming practices have taken out!

Have a good snoop around our website by following the below link, where you can check out all the products & the Science for yourself in your own time before using the contact page on there to drop us a line & have a chat about how to Live Your Best Life!

You owe yourself the love that you so freely give to others.

http://www.TeamFilak.isagenix.com

Roll ’em!

We are fast discovering that there is so very much more to creating a Web show than just pointing a camera & screaming ACTION!

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Perhaps it’s the OCD perfectionist streak we all seem to share that’s causing us to procrastinate on the filming of our web show, but we do want to look a wee bit better than an average home movie. Don’t get us wrong, we’re certainly not going to be anywhere near professional television standards, yet we desire to produce a quality show that we can be proud of.

Why bother at all, I hear you say?!

Whilst we don’t have any delusions of grandeur to rub shoulders with the celebrity chefs (although how cool would that be?!), it is quite a simple answer to this often asked question –

It’s just a bit of fun!

Maybe no one will watch our wee show at all, we won’t lose a sheep station over it, but maybe somebody will watch us & be entertained or try one of our recipes or even be inspired to escape to the simple life themselves. That’s the fun, exciting bit, we just don’t know.

We love to share what we’re passionate about with the world but we don’t wish to become enslaved to the show needing to pump out an episode every week. To overcome this issue, we’ve paid attention to how those professional shows do it – with pre-determined episode numbers in neat series blocks with a gap in between.

Our web show will be canapé sized at 5 minutes each, give or take, as let’s face it, nobody watches YouTube clips much longer than that! Each one will consist of a recipe & then whatever we happen to be up to around the place, you know, our lifestyle kinda segment. I think that’s the one where it could get quite comical with our amateur antics.

We’ve invested in a tiny camcorder with tripod & are busy planning our episodes to bring you the most joy receiving a glimpse into our life on the mountain. Look out for more details about when we start to shoot!

Mini Garden Starter

Building our Home Farm is going to be a HUGE job lasting the summer,

but we want fresh, home grown food NOW!

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So how to we satisfy our hunger whilst waiting for the main course? With a starter, naturally.

Now I know we’ve rented all this land, 3/4 acre, which is quite a daunting prospect to learn upon for complete novices with lofty aspirations but we’re not entirely clueless.

Whilst renting standard properties, small units & caravan park sites, we’ve been able to grow ourselves small potted gardens of edible bliss. Pots have always been our go everywhere solution to our insatiable appetite for growing our very own produce.

Having lived all over Australia, we have had many different experiences, with mixed results, of what & when we’ve grown things in our food gardens over the years. This beautiful mountain of ours on the outskirts of Melbourne, I think, will prove to be our biggest challenge yet!

It would appear we have moved into a very definite micro-climate! 

How have we made this discovery? Through the best network available no matter where you may happen to be – simply asking the locals. Most gardeners are happy to have a chin wag about their precious soil babies & only too accommodating to pass on their hard earned wealth of knowledge. You’d be an absolute mug not to utilise that absolutely free information which has saved us many mistakes over our travels.

We’re used to being able to grow anything at anytime in the magnificent volcanic soil of Australia’s Caldera region, but here, we’re actually going to have to learn a trick or two about gardening. So we’ve decided to start our education this season with our tried & true method of a Mini Potted Garden.

The trick to using a portable garden bed is layers going up.

Make sure it’s in a nice sunny spot & whack a trellis in the back of it for your climbers to reach for the sky (we’ll be planting tomato & cucumber but I wouldn’t mind adding in some peas to that mix as well). The middle layer is where you bung in the medium sized bushes like Basil, Capsicum & Chilli. Down in front is reserved for the low lines, we’ve got radish & beetroot going in this year.

Apparently, this mountain is a good month behind the rest of Victoria to start the growing season & ends a solid month ahead of the rest too so our time to harvest is short, but we shall have food from our garden to our kitchen! We’re determined!

How to sterilise jars

One of the simple pleasures of the kitchen is making your own preserves,

but how do you keep them fresh from spoiling?

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I know it’s a wee bit scary to contemplate the intricacies of sterilisation & so very many of us have simply given up on it all to opt for store bought convenience instead, but seriously, you will be surprised at just how easy it is to prepare your very own jars to fill with homemade yummies direct from your own kitchen. It’s just 3 easy steps!

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c.

2. Wash the jars in warm soapy water then rinse thoroughly (nobody wants suds in their goodies).

3. Stand them, upside down, in a baking dish & whack them in the oven to dry completely (usually about 15 minutes).

That’s it!

Now the trick is to make sure you pour your HOT preserve into the HOT jar & pop the lid on whilst it’s all still HOT!

Tanz Tip – put your preserve into a jug with a spout to pour so that you don’t get any spillage on the rim of the jar as that will be a super highway for bacteria later.

Compost Curiosity

Way up in the back corner of our Home Farm, underneath a drooping tree, we found hidden treasure!

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When we were dreaming of this sustainable lifestyle change, we eagerly leapt upon any old scrap of information we stumbled across out there. Ever so slowly, we managed to sift through all the ooohhhhssss & aaaahhhhhhhhsss of what we romanticised our life would be like to what we actually thought we stood half a chance of really achieving.

I mean, we wanted fields of Lavender (Munstead variety for culinary purposes, of course), a herd of Jersey cows to make cheese & ice-cream, chickens for eggs, a pony for Mini Me, Alpacas (just because I’ve always adored them), multiple vegetable crop gardens, an Apple Orchard for making Cider, pigs for our own pork, a petting barn for kids, mushroom cave & the list goes on!

What a menagerie we would have if it all came true!

One of the more interesting ‘herds’ we planned upon was investing in a worm farm. It certainly seems like the perfect sustainable solution for a rather tidy little cycle. Kitchen waste goes in the top to feed the worms who in turn break it down into a rich liquid to pour onto the plants in the garden to grow into more beautiful food. What could be simpler for novices?!

Then we stumbled across a rotted out structure under a tree in the far corner of the property. Peeking around the falling down walls, I was surprised to discover a rather new looking compost bin. We don’t know anything about compost. We dismissed it quite early in the process as being far too complicated for people like us as you can get it really, really wrong. Our motto has always been to use what you already have therefore, we simply have to give it a go.

I, mistakenly thought, that everything could just dump on a compost – WRONG! Thank goodness for Google! I ever so narrowly avoided my first composting boo-boo. So, cooked food scraps should not go on the compost as they will attract animals, also, tea bags should not go on the compost either! Who woulda thunk it?!?! Just to clarify, loose leaf tea from the pot can most definitely go on the compost but not the bags, unless you’ve got specifically designed bags to decompose. If normal tea bags are put in the compost they won’t break down so you’ll need to bust them open before you use the compost, or better still, bust them open at the start & just put the loose tea leaves in there to begin with.

We’ve started to top up our inherited compost but have absolutely no idea how we actually extract the rich stuff – that’ll be a problem to figure out when we need it!

A Thorny Issue.

My destination is no longer a place,

rather a new way of seeing.

– Marcel Proust

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Last week I shared with you a photograph of a once pre-loved but now abandoned veggie garden & chook shed at the back of our rented Home Farm. Well, I’ve been watching this spot all week long & guess what I discovered?! It only receives about an hour of sunlight in the late afternoon each day! It is overshadowed by extraordinarily tall pine trees, along with a smattering of gum trees, that simply block out all the light. Now I don’t know very much at all about this whole gardening caper, but I do know that plants need sun.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the chook shed rambles this oh so prickly tangled mess that honestly looks like it could have a fairytale princess trapped somewhere in the midst of it awaiting her prince to rescue her! What an evil looking beast! And wouldn’t you know it, that is the spot where all of our precious sunlight falls all day long!

So, on Saturday afternoon I dragged the hubby up the back yard to show him this development. It was the first opportunity he’d had to actually go up there since we moved in! Mini Me was so uber excited to show him the compost bin we’d discovered under a tree & then where we can house our chickens. He was quite impressed with the chook shed actually. The structure itself is still fairly solid so just requires a wee bit of chainsaw gardening to the overgrowth surrounding it & we should be able to tidy that up nicely.

Then the clincher – da da dum! I spun him around to face The Thorns!!!!!!!

Surveying the situation, Hubby agrees that there is a lot more land in there than we ever anticipated being able to cultivate. He also sees my vision of just how this particular area would work for us when finished & how the layout would also have aesthetic appeal in addition to being practical. I was nervous he’d say I’m dreaming if I think we are at all capable of taking on such a massive job, but, to my complete & utter surprise, after a long pause of stroking his Genghis Khan (baby beard as Mini Me calls it) facial growth, he uttered those famous last words – “Shouldn’t be too hard”!

Just wait for the Spring time bush……can anyone else hear the Benny Hill theme tune????

Meet Milly

Part of our home farm master plan is converting our vintage van into a commercial kitchen.

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Our 1973 Millard Caravan is a 21 foot beauty! We actually lived in her for a whole year whilst we were roaming, seemingly lost, in this big wide land of Australia which we call home.

You can see by the picture, we had a pretty sweet set up going on.

Our travel plans had always been about trying to find home. Where did we want to finally plop ourselves down & plant some roots? We’ve been the length & width of this great nation & to a certain degree, still can’t categorically say we’ve arrived……yet. We’re going to give the Dandenong Ranges a good crack though.

The question had always loomed over us of “What about Milly”? What would we do with our precious home on wheels after our nomad days were done?

We’ve been through many ideas in our heads of what would become of her & even listed her for sale for a time, but no sensible offers were made so we accepted that she is now a part of our family. Yet still the question remained of how to utilise her now to benefit us the most.

Quite a few years back now, I went to a wee culinary school here in Melbourne & became a Chocolatier. More recently, you would of noted the couple of cake classes I’ve attended since arriving into Melbourne to set up home.

In Australia, to be able to sell food for consumption you need to prepare it in a licensed commercial kitchen which has really strict rules. Of course renting our home farm, we won’t go through the lengthy & expensive process to register this kitchen inside. However, we’ve seen a growing trend of savvy entrepreneurs converting caravans into these commercial kitchen spaces that they can then take anywhere with them they go! Absolutely brilliant! We’ve got the van, so why not give it a go?!

The first step will be to haul Milly out of the van storage she’s currently relaxing in & drag her up the mountain. Wish us luck!

Living the Dream

So very many people dream about an Escape to the Country,

yet only a very lucky few of us get to actually do it.

A few days ago, we joined the Back to Land crowd!

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We are so ecstatically thrilled to have rented ourselves a wee patch of paradise in the closest rural country escape to Melbourne for a do-able work commute. I just want to put it out there, How’s the Serenity?!

At the back of our 3/4 acre home, we discovered this once loved area in the photograph above. We will definitely be sharing our experiences with you as we attempt to breathe life back into this former home farm.

The ideal of living a sustainable lifestyle, or as close to it as possible these days, is one that captures the imagination of such a diverse range of people. There is a definite & deliberate movement of people quitting the cities to instead, opt for a simpler life on the land. Now simple should never be confused with easy. Nobody promised us a rose garden on this adventure!

We anticipate that our blundering antics will provide you with much comic relief in the months to come as we settle into our new home farm lifestyle. In all honesty, we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing! But isn’t that all part of the journey?!

Our web-show will (hopefully) start filming shortly to capture all the action for you to enjoy. It will include cooking, home farming & seeing us transform our vintage caravan into a commercial kitchen. Maybe, we might even show you around this gorgeous region of the Dandenong Ranges too……maybe.

It’s all about to kick off for us, we are overwhelmed with excitement & trepidation of What on Earth have we done?!?!?!?!