Lest We Forget

This week Australia commemorated ANZAC Day – the day that Australian and New Zealand troops landed on Gallipoli beach in Turkey during World War I, and bloody battle that is often considered pivotal in the forming of Australia’s national spirit and embodying the nation’s values of hard work and mateship, along with courage, ingenuity and a sense of humor.  It is celebrated as a national holiday in Australia to recognize our troops and those who have fought in wars representing our country.

France War Memorial

I also had some sad news in my family this weekend, that my grandfather, my father’s father had passed away.  He was in his nineties and had suffered from dementia, being cared for in an aged care facility the past few years.  Hendrik Jan Renting had been in the Dutch merchant navy as a young man, and had seen the world, emigrating to Australia from The Netherlands following the second world war.  He was a man that loved the sea, and had seen a lot of a different world than what we live in today.  He came to Australia to start a better life, where he met my grandmother along the way, and started a life on the docks in the port town of Fremantle.  However, his life was marked by his time during the second world war in Arnhem – a place where many bloody battles were fought with the Germans.  My cousin posted these photos – with the caption that he was on life’s final journey.


So as I reflected on these events of the weekend, and also prepared to make a last minute trip home to be with my family during this sad time – I needed comfort.  And the perfect antidote was chewy, crispy, sweet Anzac biscuits.  I made these http://www.bakeplaysmile.com/classic-anzac-biscuits-and-a-little-celebration/, and they were just what I needed.  In fact, I may have consumed several over the course of the weekend (I had intended to take them to work to share with my colleagues and tell them about the Australian holiday, but they didn’t make it that far!).  Anzac biscuits are typically made with rolled oats, golden syrup and coconut and are known for being the biscuit made by the women left at home during the war, and packaged up to send to the troops.  It was thought that these sweet, energy dense biscuits were perfect to keep for the long journey to the troops.  However, there is some question if the biscuits were really sent to troops, or perhaps developed later as a fundraiser for war efforts.  I love the buttery, sweet, chewy and crisp texture of these biscuits – and they were certainly called for this weekend in my house.

So as I prepare for the long journey to be at home with my family – I’ll be packing a few of the last biscuits to take on the trip and keep my spirits up along the way.  I’m trying to remember to take some time out, to enjoy the small comforts and allow myself the time and space to grieve, to process and to just be.  I’m thinking of the young men in World War I who were traveling much further from home than I am, for a much more sobering and arduous task. Lest we forget.

Post holiday wrap-up

Two weeks – beach, rainforest, bliss….

I spent the first two weeks of April getting away from it all on holidays in Queensland.  It was the first ‘real’ holiday my family had taken for a while – one that didn’t involve visiting family and was more than a few days away.  We really had a chance to unwind, reconnect, get closer to nature and spend time exploring some gorgeous towns and eating/drinking.

Lamington National Park

Lamington National Park

Pat's Bluff, Lamington National Park

Pat’s Bluff, Lamington National Park

A couple of observations for me personally:

  • I enjoyed a mix of atmospheres in the places we visited – getting away from it all (we spent 4 nights in a cabin an hour’s drive from the nearest town), as well as bustling seaside town that had lots of great restaurants, produce and a hive of activity. We enjoyed hiking in the rainforest and biking along the seaside.
  • More than a week was ideal to really unwind and get a chance reconnect to each other and ourselves
  • Traveling with toddlers isn’t always easy or relaxing and definitely needs a good dose of ‘go with the flow’ and a good sense of humour. A couple of the highlights for us were taking our son to a wildlife show where spotted tail quoll was fed a full chunk of kangaroo tail as ‘enrichment’ (including the fur), later as our 19month old son grabbed a whole apple and proceeded to devour it (it took him quite some time and effort) – it seemed like we had found our son’s enrichment!
  • I definitely didn’t get anywhere near as much done as I’d hoped to – I was thinking I’d have plenty of ‘down time’ in which I could catch up on reading, meditation, writing and other projects I had on the go – definitely didn’t happen!
  • I didn’t sleep as well in different beds, and traveling around to different spots meant some pack-up time which I hadn’t accounted for, in addition to the drive time.
  • I loved discovering local markets and fresh produce available in the different locations. Finding succulent prawns during our time by the seaside, late season plums, freshly roasted macadamia nuts, and mountainous strawberries were highlights of the trip for me.
  • During the trip I did get a few opportunities to take some time out for me – and that was really needed to recharge and refuel my own energy – a couple of afternoons at the spa, and a chance to meet up with a friend for coffee were bliss!
Noosa Beach

Noosa Beach

The trip was fantastic, but it flew by, and I definitely felt like I didn’t get as much ‘relaxation’ and down time as I was used to from traveling before having a toddler in tow.  But coming back to reality, and I found that the trip had made quite an impact on me – I no longer felt depleted and a little like I was dragging, instead I had a spring in my step and had more inspiration and creativity in my day, I had more energy to tackle things and patience with the little things that had been getting to me before.  Finding time to explore, discover and reconnect were so important for me to maintain my own energy levels and definitely left me feel reinvigorating to deal with the day-to-day of life, work and a toddler.

Glasshouse mountains

Glasshouse mountains

Land of Plenty Podcast – Episode 5

Frank Bethal from Distillery Botanica

Distillery Botanica

In this episode of The Land of Plenty podcast I talk with Frank Bethel from Distillery Botanica Gin – a new Gin distilled to inspire summer memories, and capture the essence of an Australian garden.  Distillery Botanica Gin is infused with botanicals grown in the garden of the Distillery, just outside of Sydney, infusing the scent of the murraya flower, giving the gin hints of jasmine, honeysuckle and orange blossom.  Join me to learn more about Distillery Botanica Gin and some of the insights from one of the gentlemen behind this interesting new gin, as he shares a little about his Scottish heritage and what makes Distillery Botanica unique.

To find out more about Distillery Botanica, visit their website:


Land of Plenty Podcast – Episode 4

Jane Thomson, Founder & Director, The Fabulous Ladies Wine Society

Jane ThomsonJane Thomson founded The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society so more women could be introduced to great wines and those that produce them in a way that was fun, feminine and fabulous. The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society was launched in May 2012 to provide women with wine information, fabulous wine deals direct from partner Australian wine producers and events for women who love wine.  Jane has since gone onto become the ‘Digital Wine Communicator of the Year 2013‘, one of Wine Business Magazines’ ‘Top 50 Stars of 2012‘, and also writes about wine for the Australian Good Food Guide & Taste.com.au Magazine.

In this episode of The Land of Plenty Podcast, listen in to learn more about the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society, and how Jane is turning the wine industry up on its head, with new models of wine marketing and events.  Hear about the women of the wine industry, and those who have paved the way to increase women’s participation in a predominately male dominated industry.  Jane also shares her insights on some of the aspects that she loves about the wineries and wine-makers that the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society partners with.

Find out more about the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society and join the online wine club at their website http://fabulousladieswinesociety.com/

Listen in to the interview through SoundCloud

Early Morning Reflection

There’s something about early morning stillness

It’s a quiet, still and slightly foggy morning in Lamington national park, and I’m quietly enjoying the morning hours with a cup of herbal tea from the window seat of our cabin overlooking the rainforest.  What a magical time of day, in such a spectacular location.  And then my son wakes up and says ‘Mum Read’ – bringing me a picture book.  As much it feels like my ‘me time’ has been interrupted, I’m trying to enjoy the moment of just being with my son as he wants to sit and read books together.

Early morning outlook from the cabin at Lamington National Park

Early morning outlook from the cabin at Lamington National Park

Continue reading

Land of Plenty Podcast – Episode 3

Mamacino image

Kristin Cosgrove, Mamacino Granola

Kristin Cosgrove lives with her family on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. She is a teacher, writer, amateur food stylist and photographer and a passionate whole foodie. Kristin has been working to improve her family’s health and well being since finding out her daughter had several food intolerances many years ago. She loves beautiful fresh produce and cooking with local and seasonal ingredients. She is the founder and creator of Mamacino Granola which is a delicious and nourishing toasted muesli, hand made by La Madre Bakery in Geelong. Kristin loves developing recipes for simple family friendly food and sharing it them with the Mamacino community.

In this episode of The Land of Plenty Podcast, Kristin shares the interesting story of her handmade Granola – from a family favourite shared with others, to local farmer’s market stand and now produced in joint venture with La Madre Bakery.  She gives her insights on starting out as a small producer in the food industry, and growing a business while still maintaining high quality products with that personal touch.

To find out more about Kristin, visit the Mamacino site – http://mamacino.com/

Land of Plenty Podcast – Episode 2

Sarah Robins, Sinkonah Tonic Syrup

Find out more about the ancient art of creating tonic syrup, and how tonic water can be different to what you buy in the large-scale, commercially available bottles.

Sinkonah Tonic Syrup

Sarah Robins once thought she didn’t like gin. It turns out she just didn’t like commercial tonic water! And so she began making her own. Bowled Over Beverages is a small family-run business that believes in using local ingredients where possible, supporting other small businesses. Products are made in a commercial kitchen in Melbourne and the lemons, limes and oranges used in sin-ko-nah tonic syrup are sourced from growers at farmers’ markets. Another family member makes and sells sin-ko-nah in New Zealand. The syrup is produced in small batches, and no short cuts are taken: the citrus is zested and juiced by hand: the syrups are made in large pots on a stove top. It’s a labour of love that you can taste in the final product.

Sarah shares the interesting history of tonic water, some of the unique challenges of running a small, hand-crafted artisan business and her own insights on what makes Australian food unique.

Find Sinkonah Tonic Syrup online at http://tonicsyrup.com/