Wednesday, August 29, 2012

from the city: st jude

The patron saint of lost causes worked wonders for my writer's block. 

I needed a few hours alone; to gather my intentions and put pen to paper. When your art becomes your profession it's easy to fall out of love. Mundane editorial puts food on the table but it also steals the very last of my words. Every single day I sit at my desk and type. Clickety clack with a Poet at my feet and a little boy close by. It's rare for me to handwrite my stories but I always come back to the pen when I seek inspiration.

St Jude sits lonesome on a corner of Bourke Street; the Redfern end. With its white-washed exterior and timber-framed cafe windows, it lures the locals who linger on the step, chatting about the sun and the blossoms and the new baby next door. 

I was the out-of-towner with a rare hour of solitude. I found a seat by the window, ordered coffee and brunch and began to scrawl a who we are across a new white notebook. Within twenty minutes the blue cup was empty, the page covered in ink. As it should be.

Luisa turned up soon after and between sips of coffee and excitable exclamations she took shots of cafe details....and portraits of a writer who can't wait to share her project with the world.

The ever-lovely Mandy, who regularly meanders the streets of Surrey Hills, recommended St Jude. Thank you!

Monday, August 27, 2012

from the city: the grounds of alexandria

I had heard wonderful things about The Grounds of Alexandria. Located in the old Four'N Twenty pie factory (iconic in its own right) in the heart of Alexandria's industrial estate, this gem of a cafe is one-of-a-kind. 

A celebration of coffee, food and the simple, good things in life, The Grounds beckons with it's intriguing indoor/outdoor space. The coffee beans are roasted on-site in a dedicated research facility and the menu is inspired by the herbs, vegies and edible flowers growing in the garden (there's a horticulturist on staff). Aesthetically The Grounds is beautiful; industrial meets rustic with a touch of bohemia, the details stole me away from conversation more than once.

The Grounds has created a unique experience - intimate dining and boutique coffee in a warehouse setting where professionals, tradies, hipsters and young families gather - happily so.

Come summertime there will be alfresco dining under the lanterns, pizzas straight from the woodfire oven and drinks from the outdoor bar. Sigh.

We were there for morning tea and I can highly recommend the blueberry and ricotta brown muffin. If you go for lunch I have heard the ocean trout with pearl barley, broccolini and preserved lemon is delectable.

As for the plethora of photos - apologies. But oh the details, the light, the coffee, the teapots....etc......! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

from the city: hello!

We stayed on the 41st floor in the heart of the city. On Tuesday morning we rose early and headed to the airport, anxious and eager, checking the arrivals board every few minutes. We took a walk to waste some time and watched one helium balloon float aimlessly on the ceiling. 

And then we spotted a familiar beaming face behind a trolley stacked high with luggage. Hello! Uncle Josh and Immy were here, safe and sound. We spent the rest of the day wandering the city and while she tried, Immy couldn't quite believe that she was experiencing Sydney in the winter-time.

That photo of Poet and Popa up there...see her little hat? It was the very first thing I bought her after she was born, an ada ada bonnet from the spring/summer 2010 collection. Absolutely darling she wore it for the first time at the airport. As we walked I wore her in the sling and within minutes she had pulled it off and dropped it. And then it was gone. It's ridiculous how sad I am about that silly little hat. But if there's anyone out there who has one and would like to sell it or knows where I can buy one I'll be forever grateful. 


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: "I see pirates!"
Poet: Fascinated by the scraps of paper, unfazed by the city skyline.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

sakura bloom sling diaries - fun

We explore often; this beautiful land of ours with its green, blue and ochre palette. "Fun" is being outside in the open where the hills meet the shore, a mid-winter getaway to nourish and restore. The pebbles were in abundance so we skimmed them across the surface and built zen towers on the sand. Spiral seashells licked with salt, keepsakes in our pockets.

We sat and talked with friends and on the way back home we blew breath on dandelion flowers till there were only the stems - beautiful ephemera.

Over six chapters of the sling diaries I have celebrated babywearing in Australia. Poet has, in the past six months, been worn in the sling as we travelled and explored. From her perch on my hip she has seen three cities, country orchards, ancient bushland and sandy beaches. It's been a wonderful journey and such a blessing to have her close, just where she should be.

Tim, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for these captures. You did it, again. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

spring : notes from my naturopath

I see my naturopath once a season. While the financial cost of the appointment and the subsequent herbal tonics is significant, I firmly believe that it's the very best thing I've ever done for my health. I am rarely tired, I have only had two minor colds in one year and most of the time I feel strong and well. I'm a better mother because of it and much happier in my self.

Last week I went along to my appointment keen to find out a bit more about eating well in the spring time. I was at the tail end of a cold and as soon as I walked in the door my naturopath, Catherine, reminded me that my body was "spring cleaning" itself. "The liver is getting rid of the bulk from winter," she said. "It's a cleanse, not a cold." 

Nature is cleansing too - those wild winds that come every August...that's the earth decluttering. It's a good time to remind ourselves that we are nature, experiencing our own regeneration of sorts.

While I listened to Catherine talk about the seasons, the importance of looking to the earth for our food and the benefits of eating with awareness, I took notes. Here they are:
  • eat kale, in abundance - raw in salads, tossed through spelt pasta dishes or juiced.
  • fennel, celery and beetroot - in season and oh so good for you (fennel is great for breastfeeding mumas - helps stimulate milk production)
  • citrus juices
  • replace heavy winter foods with lighter, fresher alternatives. raw food!
  • root vegetables (roasted with fresh herbs) - eaten with brown rice or salads
  • increase vegetarian meals 
  • nettle tea for cleansing
  • ginger tea for restoring
  • less dairy, less sugar, less oils
Catherine also offered this "home remedy" for colds:

"...slice one onion, a lemon (skin on), three cloves of organic garlic, two generous slices of ginger and blend with a few tablespoons of manuka honey. You may like to add a bit of tumeric or cayenne pepper. Have one teaspoon neat per day or mix one teaspoon into lemon tea."

She also suggested I burn the following oils in my home (the smell is divine!):
  • frankincense - to strengthen the lungs
  • eucalyptus - to purify the blood
  • lemon - to clear the air and kill bacteria
Spring, it has begun. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

welcome home

Early Tuesday morning my little brother comes home. When he left last June I was 36 weeks pregnant with Poet so he's coming back to a significantly bigger family. Lucky for us his gorgeous English girlfriend has a one-year visa so we get to delight in her loveliness, intelligence and sweet accent - we can't wait to meet you Imogen!

Josh claims he hasn't had a good coffee in over a year so I'd say our first stop will be an inner-city cafe (I can't wait to go to The Grounds of Alexandria). We'll be spending a few nights in an apartment on Pitt St so we'll play tourists in our own town and hopefully Daniel and I will sneak away for a quick meal at Mr Wong (we haven't been on a date since Poet was born..I think it's about time). 

Airport reunions are one of my all-time favourite things so I'm not surprised that I've got butterflies about tomorrow. Josh, if you read this before your flight, we'll be the ones with the helium balloons (Mum's idea!).

And Immy's mum...just wanted to say that we'll take really good care of her...we promise. 

I always watch this beautiful clip when I feel like a cheer-me-up (or a little cry!)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

tim coulson's "the nursery" - on tour

I'm so excited to share this news with you....Tim Coulson's "The Nursery" is going on tour. In response to a plethora of requests from Australia and beyond, Tim and Kesh have organised 10 new workshops. The Nursery will visit NSW, QLD and Tasmania in the next few months and come 2013 the Coulson's will be in WA, SA and across the seas in New Zealand. Plans are under-way for a Northern Hemisphere journey too (dates to come soon).

If you want to know a little more about this unique photography experience you can read my review here

Are you planning on attending one of Tim's workshops? Would you love to do it but something's holding you back? Perhaps you're a bit nervous about your complete lack of photography knowledge...don't be! One day with Tim and you'll be shooting manual and capturing beautiful moments in your everyday. I promise.

Email to save your seat

the gorgeous family photographed in the tropical north? it's one claire day and her loves.


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2012."

Che: He sits here often, watching.
Poet: I see Daniel in her profile.

These shots were taken on our verandah. Late afternoon sun piercing through dark rain clouds. Brilliant light. 

A few people have asked me what my favourite portraits are. I can't choose between 5/52, 9/52, 11/52 or 32/52

Friday, August 17, 2012

from the south coast: lisa madigan ... the store

I knew as soon as I saw the white tissue pom poms and handpainted sign hanging from the tree. Here, in a non-descript back-street in Berry, was something special. 

Located in a light-filled cottage, Lisa Madigan's "the store" is a white-washed studio/gallery/shop that offers an eclectic mix of contemporary homewares, unique art and handmade goodness. The space is imbued with an organic colour palette of ivory, grey, green and black; paper, twine and beeswax reign supreme.

Lisa is a humble artist who blushes at my enthusiasm over her creations. Her style is fresh yet earthy; she admires handmade and has a profound love for the beauty of nature - fennel seeds, fallen branches, feathers. When I visited there were subtle hints of blush and violet throughout the artworks but what I noticed most was the textures: smooth clay next to so-soft-to-touch cowhide, worn timber beside recycled paper. 

Next time I visit "the store" the coffee machine will be set-up. So I can sit at the bench on the verandah and admire the small mis-matched vases and just-picked blooms while I sip a cappuccino. Daniel, I'm sure the kids will love that toy store down the road...

are we there yet?
a winter getaway
the 1950s cottage

photos by luisa, the queen of the editorial shot

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

frequently asked questions

I've had quite a few emails of late and I apologise if I haven't responded to yours. It seems that there's lots of you who have questions for me - everything from "how to establish a career as a freelance writer" to "the best breathing techniques for transition."

I've decided to create a 'frequently asked questions' page but before I start I thought I'd open up question time.........

our big collection of ViewMaster slides - found in a South Coast op shop.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

from the south coast: the 1950s cottage

While away we stayed in a gorgeous newly-renovated 1950s cottage in Kiama - complete with a beautiful frangipani tree and an abundant vegie garden (broccoli, limes, kumquats and parsley). I like to play "if this was my house I would..." and so I revelled in the galley kitchen, open-plan living and corner sash windows that received the most glorious morning light. We barbecued our breakfast and spent lazy mornings watching the Olympics before we headed out.
Daniel and I joked about the fact that our family holidays could also be referred to as..."a tour of the region's playgrounds." Most days we would head to a new park to trial the swings and watch a very fearless Poet throw herself down the slide (that girl, she is going to do amazing things to my nerves). Our favourites included the new and rather amazing playground at Coronation Park (ocean-side) on Manning Street in Kiama and the web-like Spiderman-worthy park in Gerringong. 

We've been fortunate to go on a couple of holidays this year for work/play and there's few things that make travelling with children that bit easier. Whenever we book accommodation I make sure there's a washing machine (less clothes to pack, a smaller washing pile on return home) and a bath (for instant calm and to induce sleep). I always pack lunch boxes full of food for the trip including sandwiches, rice crackers and fruit (the remnants of seaweed crackers are littered over the back seat of my car - hmmmm) but I'm still keen to discover other travelling snacks - any suggestions?

For Che I pack a bag of books, paper, crayons and some balloons (instant entertainment that, hopefully, lasts for days) and Poet is usually happy with the tupperware containers and just-gathered rocks and shells from the beach. Tell me, what are your must-have items for family holidays? 

Poet wears black linen overalls c/o eco bohemia

Saturday, August 11, 2012

from the south coast: a winter getaway

We like holidaying in the low-season when the beaches are empty and it's just the locals in town. The wintry, blustery goodness of a seaside escape was just what we needed; no deadlines, books instead of computers, all the time in the world to let the wind tussle our hair.  

When we felt like wandering away from the shore we drove to Berry where the main street offered so much delight. I'm pleased to say that this sweet country town lived up to its reputation (and to all those features in Country Style). 

Beautiful nature is everywhere on the South Coast so here's my guide to the eateries and shops that will satisfy your tastebuds and empty your wallet:
  • berry sourdough cafe is a renowned artisan bakery located in a rustic century-old building. The food is sublime - great coffee, rich pastries and just-baked sourdough (white, wholemeal, rye...) but the service....hmmmm. If I were you I'd go to their just-opened...
  • milkwood bakery on the main street. There you can get beef bourguignon pies topped with croissant-worthy pastry, pear and ginger tartlets, exquisite brownies and the full range of woodfired sourdough breads without having to wait hours to eat it.
  • fancy seafood of the same high quality? Head to Gerroa where the blue swimmer offers a European-inspired bistro setting (dine-in and takeaway). Try the beer-battered fish, amazing burgers and homemade aioli (Daniel may have said something akin to: "Jodi, you have eaten a lot of aioli today." - it was good aioli)
  • I had read so much about Roots and Wings so I was a little excited to finally visit this stunning boutique. It was full of rustic, minimalist homewares and contemporary organic-inspired clothes in a spring/summery colour palette. I declined the offer to try on the $580 maxi skirt (it was amazing) and purchased a bassike striped top (you can never own enough stripes) and a basil, lime and madarin candle-in-a-glass-jar instead.
  • Perhaps my favourite part about Berry was Lisa Madigan's The Store....more on this white-washed gem next week (but a visit there did result in my latest scarf - see above).
Have you spent time on the South Coast? If so, what's your favourite thing about it?