Campfire, community gathering.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.54 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.03 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.10 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.19 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.26 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.34 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.45 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.53 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.04 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.18 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.38 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.35.35 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.38.59 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.22 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.51 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.59 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.12 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.39 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.48 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.02 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.19 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.27 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.36 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.45 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.25 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.18 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.38.34 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.28 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.40 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.08 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.24 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.30.50 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.30.57 amThis past week we had so many sweet little moments savour.  We’d planned a community gathering at the house to enjoy a bonfire and marshmallow roasting.  20 people came out (including kids) and enjoyed a roaring fire (on a cool windy day).  There was a bit of a spread of food too – there were cookies, pastries and savoury quiche to have too.

The kids had so much fun chasing each other and enjoying little “Spud” a mix terrier that was brought along to enjoy his first outing.  They also enjoyed some mammoth sized marshmallows.  They were literally about 4 inches long!

Mike and Wesley and I did a drive to the coast about 20 mins away and found this Arrowsmith Spider Orchid, enjoyed a delicious lunch at the beach and then travelled onward to Lake Indoon on a dirt track.   It was on this path that we came across over 200 endangered, Carnaby Cockatoo who were munching away on the bushes quite happily.

As I hopped out of the ute to take a photo, they took flight and oh my god – it was breathtaking.

There are orchids all over the place and each time I get the chance I pull over to see what’s about.

We’ve been also checking a site nearby for the Queen of Sheba orchid – and think we may have found the spot.  Fingers crossed it opens soon!

Lastly, Wesley had a little friend sleep over this week and they were having a blast together.  They had cots in the same room and fell asleep talking to each other.  They also bust into hysterics when I took them for a drive up our bumpy, sloppy, muddy road.  Since his mates gone back home, Wesley has woken each day saying “Reuben, where are you?” and searches the house for him.  It’s sad, that he misses him that much!  We’ll have to do it again – they were so good together.

Also pictured:

  • This month’s waxing crescent moon (it rises this way each month, this is the first time I’ve been alert enough to grab my tripod and brave the cooler temperature to get the shot).
  • A tribonanthes flower (with the native bee pictured) is so fluffy it could be a teddy!
  • Wesley enamoured with the tiny puppy
  • Two little monkeys jumping in the spare bed
  • Catspaws between my toes
  • A tiny black mushroom sprouting from the sand.
  • Arrowsmith Spider Orchid (opened and closed)
  • Some sort of nymph bug – red and strange looking with large antennae.

Farm endeavours.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.59 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-14 at 5.11.23 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.55.40 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.07 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.29 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.20 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.41 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.32 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.14 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.42 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.59 pmIn a few short months we’ll have been living in this little house for a year.  When we first arrived there was considerable time spent drafting a plan to rejuvenate the sand filled yards surrounding us.  It’s been many years since someone we here to properly tend to the gardens, and even 7 years ago when we first lived here we made several attempts to tame the landscape and they all failed (apart from this one strange tree that is overtaking part of the house and more pest than shade giver).

We have dreams of an orchard, lawns, veggie gardens, native flower gardens, trees to provide to luxury of shade and a new chicken coop,

With no one living in the house for a few years nature had crept in and the interiors and they needed to be reclaimed by mankind.  That would involve fixing a leaky roof, cleaning dust laid windows, vacating the space of vermin and spiders as well as painting or repainting several rooms.

Tackling these projects solo with a toddler (as a part-time single parent) is no easy feat!  Mike is away at work in the northern tip of the State every second week leaving Wesley and I to our own devices.

Thankfully we have a very happy boy who loves to participate and join me outside.  For this I am ever grateful as it’s allowed for a few projects to begin and move in slow but steady stages.

This week I’ll be painstakingly dragging a wheelbarrow back and forth 150 metres to the old shearing shed near the house.  It’s a treasure trove of sheep manure!  To make this monotonous task more fun, I’ve given Wesley a harmonica and he hops into the wheelbarrow as we traverse back and forth.  He plays a little tune, and sometimes will stop and yell at me: 123 GO! When I set the whole thing down to give my arms a break.

It’s hilarious, and frankly Wesley’s company during the whole task has made it so enjoyable that when I went to do a load during his nap today – I missed his music and silly personality keeping us both entertained.  The job seemed a real effort without him.

We’re only into the start of winter, but with these beds not completed we’re going to be missing out on crucial rains!  We should have pushed harder to get this started but it was contingent on a lighter wheelbarrow (that only arrived this week).

Our chicken coop is up and working fabulously.  There are two separate pens one about 3x bigger than the other.  Our hens are all very happy laying at the moment.  They have such a grand, shaded space that Mike and I are both very proud to have built together.

Three bottlebrush trees, 4 macrocarpa trees, and one silver princess have been planted around the yard.  Several more will go in as we see how things fare the next few weeks.  Shade around this house is lacking so it’s an ongoing project.  All of the trees are natives and should be very hardy for drought.

Our mango, feijoa and avocado trees are another story.  These are doing ok – but only time will tell if they survive.  To have these fruits at our fingertips would be so wonderful.

Some of the plants mentioned above were given to us at a native plant giveaway last weekend by a group based in Jurien Bay (of which I’m now a member!) who survey the local flora and do bush tours together.  I’ve found my people!  They were given a grant to grow and distribute these native plants to locals to encourage more people to keep drought hardy species and grow native gardens, which is a fabulous idea.

Pictured are some trees, plants and bugs found around the farm the past couple of days and some of the aforementioned projects!

Huge thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction for sharing her insanely gorgeous white cake recipe online.  We made it for Wesley’s birthday party.  It was so so so good.  Check out the recipe here. A testament to it’s goodness – I woke 2x in the night to polish of a few more pieces of the vanilla buttercream cake.  Wesley crammed much of it into his mouth during the cake cutting ceremony and discovered a love of frosting!  Even now a week later I’m still drooling thinking of it and I’m not even a baked goods person…

I’ll share more on the progress of the house and yards as we soldier onward!  For now, even though progress is slow – it still feels oh so good to see hard work coming together.  Even if it is inch by inch.

Lesuere National Park – Western Australia

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Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 7.28.00 amScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 7.28.14 amScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 7.28.27 amScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 7.28.54 amIt’s no secret that Lesuere National Park is a place that I love dearly.  It’s 2.5 hours North of Perth and only a 15 minute drive to the ocean front town of Jurien Bay.  The park is sprawling, vast and incredibly beautiful as it stretches across 272.4 km² of conserved land.

We are lucky to live only a 25 minute drive from the park.  Which means I get to see it often!

I’ve only just scratched the surface and stayed on the marked trails or along the edge of the lazy 14km road that takes drivers on a slow moving tour of the landscape.

This past Sunday I ducked out alone, to savour some time in the bush completely without distraction.  It comforting to know this place is protected with a Class A conservation status (it’s been protected since 1976).  People will be able to enjoy it’s natural wonders for decades to come!

Simple pleasures.

Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.43.06 amThis is a detailed image of the smoke bush flower – it’s wonderfully soft.Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.42.46 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.45.11 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.44.16 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.44.49 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.43.59 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.43.44 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.40.08 amWe installed a cotton hammock on the porch facing the sprawling landscape back in September.  You’ll occasionally find me lazing about in the shade in it when Wesley is napping.Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.42.16 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.41.42 amThis was Wesley’s first time playing in a sprinkler… he was so excited!  Rightfully so, it was 36 degrees that day (it’s still spring here!)Screen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.41.07 amScreen Shot 2017-11-04 at 7.40.39 am

A few days back I took a quick glance around – everything is coming together and just looked cozy and clean and clutter free.  We don’t own much, and those things we do have here all serve a purpose.  I said to Mike shortly afterward that there wasn’t much I need to be comfortable and happy here.  I’ve come to love the butter coloured walls I painted back in August, they work well with our furniture and brighten up the living room in a way that is really fresh and uplifting (but also subtle).

After I admired our space, I told him my short list of simple home pleasures…

  • a scented candle
  • a good book
  • fresh clean sheets
  • a nice bottle of wine
  • a new outfit quarterly (haha I threw that one in at the last second) Some of the clothes in my wardrobe have been a part of my life for many years now.  I have dresses and items that are 10 years old now, I still wear them.

I think Mike’s list is even shorter:

  • chickens
  • bees
  • fresh underwear

Another simple pleasure to relish here is in the image of the dip in this post.  It has been recreated through a recipe from a German friend who lives inland.  I’ve now had her cucumber dip a few times (near eating most of it myself almost to the point of hoarding it from others!) and it’s insanely good and simple!

Cucumber Dip Recipe

  • 1/2 cup grated lemon zest (you don’t need to add the lemon zest but I’ve added it to add even more zing!)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt (plain)
  • 1 medium size clove of garlic grated (in the fine grater)
  • 1 whole cucumber grated with the skin on (in the larger grater setting) be sure to squeeze out as much of the water as you can
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all the items together and serve on whatever you like!  It literally takes 5 minutes to make and about 5 seconds to eat.

Dear reader, what are the simple pleasures you enjoy in your life?

The August Wrap Up.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.13.43 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.00.32 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.58.11 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.00.39 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.13.02 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.58.20 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.12.44 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.59.27 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.58.47 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.59.36 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.59.52 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.00.12 pmScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 7.12.15 pmSo, August isn’t quite finished however there have been some events of late which I have to jot down or they will go into the void of my brain, certain to never return.  We’ve been on the farm for nearly a month now and as each day passes we become more and more settled into this quiet, secluded and frankly peaceful life.

There has been plenty of elbow grease ignited scrubbing glass and cleaning the fly mesh on windows, floors, prepping walls for fresh coats of paint – all the while chasing, playing and splashing around with our darling little Wes.

Right, here is the list of memories before I forget!

  1. Wesley boldly running at the ocean, and I trying to keep one hand on him while he became soaks and covered in sand.  He was stripped to nothing and continued to enjoy the warm, salty, frothy water for another 10 mins before we called it day.  He was obsessed.  We’re investigating swimming lesson’s pronto.  There is a pool in town and as the weather continues to heat up over the next month – he will be definitely getting some practice.
  2. A massive wedge tailed eagle was about 3 feet from my head.  Funny enough, mere moments before it happened I said to myself – I would love to see one of these eagles much closer than I’ve ever been *usually it’s at a great distance and through the lens of my camera.  This bird was flying just above my right side view mirror and I actually was breath taken.  I could see under it’s breast and beak and in the split second that I actually was looking (my eyes had to go back to the road) I took in the under span of it’s wings.  It was truly incredible.
  3. Wesley grinning with flies stuck in his teeth on account of eating them like they are raisins.  I laugh and gag… He keeps finding them!  He also keeps sampling sheep poop as if it’s a treat.  *I shudder when he offers me them too.  Nah mate, I’m alright!
  4. The thousands upon thousands of blue/black wasps that were in the air yesterday afternoon.  I drove a short while up the road and they were popping off the front window glass.  So much that I pulled over to see what it was I was inadvertently killing.  About 10 minutes later they were completely gone.
  5. The soft call of an owl at three am this morning.  It roused me from a rather odd dream and at first I thought it was Wesley calling for me.  I soon realised it was an owl, and crept onto the porch.  From three am to five am it called out, a beautiful sound in the dark along with one frog and some crickets.  The sky too was glowing with the clarity of millions of stars.  Gosh I’ve got to set up my tripod when it arrives and show you what I mean.
  6. A procession of blue tongue lizards lining the roads as I drove to Perth two weeks ago.  It was almost as if they were out to say hello.  There have been a few teeny tiny ones as well which look like they might have only just been born.
  7. We’ve been out to this really beautiful spot called three little springs with a large portion of the community for a remote picnic.  There were fresh yabbies, pastries, salads and even coffee and tea was provided from a billy can cooking session.  There were plenty of kids, and Wesley powered through the entire day playing in the dirt.  At one point all the older kids crowded around him to play in the sand with them.  In return he stole one boys cookies and ignore their efforts to connect.  He was in the sand play zone!  It’s meant to be an event that reoccurs every 6 weeks and it’s honestly so good.  We saw some many old friends and were introduced to some new faces too, though technically we’re new…but old.
  8. Another Wesley moment – I wish I’d had a camera for it.  He was gently holding Tessa’s bear *she’s made a collection of impressive bears and keeps them in her living room – and as we were distracted talking, I caught him out of the corner of my eye illuminated by the golden afternoon sun.  He was backlit, and pulled the bear close to his chest and snuggled it.  Then he gave it the softest, sweetest little kiss.  He’s just beautifully kind hearted.
  9. Climbing into bed after the sheets have dried in the hot sun.  The smell is so relaxing and comforting – those simple pleasures…
  10. The wildflowers are late this season due to very late rains.  There have been a few orchids spotted and plenty of insects are buzzing about pollinating their little hearts out!
  11. The last and most important of all – Wesley has been sleeping through the night for 1.5 weeks.  We are both soaking up the joys of sleeping for long periods of time!  It has been literally life changing.

In about a month we’ll be hosting Mike’s brother Rayden and his sister Stacey for a week and hopefully we’ll have finished some of the major projects built or nearing completion before they arrive.

Rayden had been here a few years back and it’s Stacey’s first time in Western Australia from Melbourne.

We all can’t wait to see them and show them the area.  Wesley is keen to see his Aunt and Uncle – and decide which is ultimately his favourite, ever!  Haha the race will be on!