Thursday, November 26, 2015

simple food : society garlic

Society garlic - a herb or a weed? Regardless, it is edible and it adds a good kick of garlicky flavour to pasta, salads, quiches, frittatas and savoury muffins.

Hailing from South Africa and known among botanists as Tulbaghia violacea, this plant isn't very common which surprises me because it's incredibly hardy. Dare I say it; it's impossible to kill. Indeed, green and brown thumbs alike will have success with it.

I've always planted it in pots but it grows just as well in the ground and makes for an ideal choice for walkways and edges. From experience, the more you pick it, the more it grows. The leaves are long, flat and deep green and a few times a year, delicate violet flowers bloom.

Society garlic is available at most nurseries. It's a pretty and practical choice for the garden (and the kitchen).


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

fabrik | summer breastfeeding style

Dressing my postpartum, breastfeeding body is tricky, at times. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about what I wear. I do care - greatly. I enjoy leaving the house and feeling good about the clothes I wear but as a mother those clothes need to be practical -  easy to wear and easy to wash.

Many of my favourite clothes can't be worn at the moment - they aren't breastfeeding-friendly and well, they don't fit quite right (the baby weight is well and truly stuck). So over these past few weeks I've sought out a summer wardrobe that won't require any forethought.  I want to be able to throw on a dress and walk out the door without thinking about matching this or that. I want to be able to breastfeed Percy without pulling and tugging or ruining a neckline. And I want to be cool; natural breathable fabrics are a necessity.

Over the next three weeks I'll be featuring five outfits that, along with a few skirts and cotton tops, will see me through summer.

Thankfully, there are an increasing number of Australian designers who are creating clothes with breastfeeding women in mind. Not surprisingly, they are mothers themselves, hence they wholeheartedly understand the importance of dressing and flattering the postpartum body.

Sarah from Fabrik is one of them. Her latest collection features a range of breastfeeding-friendly options that are simple and beautiful. Renowned for making clothing with a conscience, Fabrik's designs are bohemian-inspired and, well, easy - perfect for everyday wear.

I'm wearing:

The Diamond Dress : made from handprinted cotton (also available in a skirt), this dress is a sheath style with flattering sleeves and a button down top. It's incredibly soft and sheer - nude underwear or a slip is required. However, it's one of those dresses that you can easily throw over swimmers at the beach or dress up for a Christmas party or dinner date. Personally, I never restrict clothes to "special occasions" - if I love something I'll wear it regardless. I'm wearing a size 2.

The Goa Dress : from French label, Blue, this dress is a smock-style with long sleeves that I tend to roll up. While not ideal for scorching hot days, this is my choice when I'm feeling a little on the hippy side. The jewel tones are very flattering and the patterns will disguise all manner of avocado smooshed stains. I'll wear it with tan sandals and, on occasion, beaded earrings. The only qualm I have about this dress is the beads on the end of the neckties...not great for little ones who like to chew but a beautiful detail that I love (and can easily tuck away when Percy is in the sling). I'm wearing a S/M and there's plenty of room to move.

If you fancy treating yourself to something summery, Fabrik is offering 20% off till Friday midday (AEST) with the code 20PS. If you have any questions about fit, fabric or cut, feel free to ask me in the comments section.

This is a sponsored post. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Practising Simplicity. Photos by Lamb And Fox for PS. 


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

the breastfeeding energy lull

Purchasing flowers when you need an energy boost -  I'm not sure if it's a proven remedy but it's worth a try, if you ask me.

Breastfeeding weariness is a real thing and at the moment, it's hit me hard. At this stage with every baby I have noticed a distinct decline in my energy levels. I'm sure there's something that happens at the nine-month postpartum mark but I'm yet to discover the science behind it. Alas, I'm tired. That's all there is to it.

The humidity coinciding with the pre-Christmas rush is a contributing factor, of that I am sure. And then there's Percy's teeth which are yet to appear but we all know that they're moving about with vengeance (more on that later). He's crawling - quickly - and will speed up if he hears me running toward him. He's also pulling himself up to standing and will stay there for a good long while, his tiny stick-like legs doing a fine job of holding him up. He's increased his breastfeeds, too, so just as I was thinking that feeding was predictable he decided to shake things up a bit.

He's busy and I'm tired.

If I've learned anything from my eight-odd years of mothering (and close to five years of breastfeeding) it's that it's always best to listen to your wise body when it's yelling at you, regardless of the fact that you may be too tired to do anything about it. Indeed, it's a vicious circle.

Reclaiming energy is at top of my list out of absolute necessity. I'm having to be religious about drinking water and taking supplements (iron, magnesium and vitamin c), early bedtimes are a must (I've fallen asleep in my clothes far too many times of late) and I'm trying my hardest to fit regular walks and swims into my week (however short they may be). Instead of reaching for sugary treats I'm attempting to discipline myself with fresh fruit and vegies and plenty of good fats (but oh, chocolate!).

This exhaustion is not new to me - I know it all too well. The silver lining? I also know the best cure. Good food, exercise, sunshine, early nights and being disciplined enough to follow the plan.

My advice? Listen to your body. And buy flowers.


Sunday, November 22, 2015


"A portrait of my youngest children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Poet: a split second of stillness and wonder before she keeps bouncing (she's on the trampoline)

Percy: I'm pretty sure he's going to eat sand all summer long.


Friday, November 20, 2015

scenes : in a heatwave

/ I go on about socks in winter but come summer I'm vigilant about hats. This lovely one arrived in the mail from Acorn Kids.

/ the Christmas Bush has bloomed red; the festive season is officially here.

/ fallen gum branches beside the shed.

/ this little one loves the water.

/ early morning on the sand.

/ brush this curry plant with your skirt and you'll smell the heady scent for the rest of the day.

/ the lightest muslin dress for hot summer days.

/ California poppies. They make me happy.

We're escaping the heat at my parents' house today. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. There's a hot gusty wind blowing outside and the temp is hitting 40degree. Summer in Australia can be harsh.

and also...

I've been eyeing off these sustainable basics for a year now. International shipping for one week only.
Twenty years! Really?
Are you PNDA aware?
Stay connected (with each other) this Christmas.
wearing this everyday (and a hat, of course)
I'm all for waiting.
mythological motherhood - yes!
I really like this website

Stay cool, friends.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

bookworm : 5 Christmas books for kids

Reading Christmas books is one of my very favourite ways to herald the festive season.

I keep our small collection of Christmas stories with the fairy lights and decorations. For most of the year they're tucked away in a box in the garage but this past weekend we fossicked around and brought them inside. We'll count down the weeks till Christmas with these beloved books; tales of magic and wonder and good deeds.

We may not have reading sessions huddled around the fire with hot chocolate in hand but we can still celebrate the season through stories (with the upmost summery cheer).

1. The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson and Jon J Muth. This is the first Christmas book we reach for each year and it tells a poetic and enchanting story of Santa as he prepares for his big journey. Exquisite watercolours by Muth (best known for Zen Shorts, Zen Ties and Hi Koo!) present a very traditional Santa; he feels a tingling in his whiskers, he feeds his reindeer parsnips and berries and he knows, in his heart, what each child at heart wants most. This story is heartwarming and the magic is palpable.

2. Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King. Set in a landscape of iconic Australian drought and fire, a little pig named Applesauce learns the true meaning of Christmas. In the middle of burnt bushland Joe and Marigold's house remains and a bright star shines down from overhead. A local family, The Shepherds, come to visit, as do the three aunties bearing gifts. King's illustrations are the perfect balance of simple and quirky and they lend a lighthearted touch to a story that could be a little sad for young readers. If you're looking for a book with a beautiful message, look no further. As the owl called out to Applesauce: "Christmas comes from the heart, Pig, from the heart."

3. Lucy and Tom's Christmas by Shirley Hughes. One of my all-time favourite author/illustrators, Shirley Hughes conveys very ordinary, every day life in her stories ( I particularly like the messy family homes featured) and because of that, they are relatable and unforgettable. This is a simple story about preparing for Christmas and celebrating with family - perfect in every way.

4. What Do You Wish For? by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker. If I were to nominate an Australian version of Shirley Hughes' classics, I wouldn't hesitate in mentioning all of Godwin + Walker's titles. Thank goodness they released a Christmas story! I think what I love most about this book is the multiple perspectives - Tom, Maisie, Clair, Jack, Ruby and Tom get to tell us what they've wished for which ultimately prompts many discussions about what we're all dreaming about this Christmas. Cute and joyful and wonderfully Australian.

5. The ABC Book of Christmas by Mark Macleod. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the story of the first Christmas is a beautiful one and this book is a must-have for your home library. Each scene is illustrated by a different Australian artist (there's a lullaby and nursery rhyme version, too) which keeps little ones interested and inspired.


Monday, November 16, 2015

an early dinner saved the witching hour

The children's mezze plate is what I make on "easy dinner night" (that or eggs + soldiers) - lots of fresh vegies, avocado on sourdough, hummus and olives. Every piece of nutritional information I have read has stressed the importance of children eating good fats with raw vegies so they are easily digested and absorbed. Poet will have a cup of chicken broth + soba noodles with this plate and Che will have a generous serve of feta on his sourdough (becasue try as I might, he's not a fan of broth). I should also point out that yes, there are many foods that my children won't eat. My home is not immune to fussy foodies.

You know the picture: hungry, tired children, a screaming baby and a messy kitchen with no dinner in sight. Uninspiring, isn't it.

Last week I decided to do something about it. Daylight savings had really thrown me in the past few weeks and as a result I was preparing and serving dinner far later that I cared for. It was stressful and strained - every night. So, on Sunday I announced on facebook that the best thing for everyone involved would be a 4:30pm dinner. It was one of those comments made on a whim and yet the response motivated me to make early dinners an everyday occurrence. It turns out that early dinners are what many mothers do in order to maintain their sanity. Yes it requires forethought and a certain amount of organisation but the rewards are plentiful.

A few things required to get dinner on the table by 5pm (I did make 4:30pm a few times but 5pm is more realistic for us)

- know exactly what you're making for dinner by lunchtime. I'm not a strict meal planner (even though I need to be) hence I often decide what we're having for dinner a few hours in advance. In order to make the early dinner a reality I have to do a little bit of preparation before the kids get home from school. If potatoes need to be baked I'll make sure they're all cut up and ready to go well before dinner time, for example.

- prepare a light afternoon tea. Perhaps the biggest benefit of an early dinner is the fact that it cuts short the "I'm hungry" whines that so often accompany the after-school routine. I serve a light afternoon tea of fruit, cheese muffins or banana bread and if they ask for more I suggest a glass of water or (rather smugly) tell them that dinner will be ready soon.

- Start on dinner as soon as you walk in the door from the school/afternoon activity run. This new routine involves a cup of tea (of course) and while the kids play outside or draw at the table (or squabble about this and that) I cook and keep an eye on Percy.

Perhaps what's most surprising is that the children haven't even noticed the change - again I'm reminded that they really aren't aware of time in the same way adults are. I am, however, reaping the benefits from this fabulous concept that is early dinner time...

- Percy now eats with the children which, overall, means less time in the kitchen and less food preparation (he is basically eating a smaller, chopped up version of the family meal).

- Once dinner is finished I can get the kitchen cleaned up well before the children are in bed (saves the dreaded sight of a messy kitchen after the sleepiness that accompanies story time).

- The kids are in the shower and dressed in their PJs with minimal fuss. Overall, the bath-pjs-bed routine is much smoother when dinner is served early.

- I don't have to stop making dinner to feed or soothe Percy. He eats with the big kids and then I settle him for bed while they have their showers and get dressed into PJs.

- if the kids are still hungry after dinner I'll serve a light supper - usually a bit of fruit with greek yogurt or crackers with cheese.

- because dinner is served early the kitchen is cleaned up early, too which means my evening is extended. Essentially this equals a much bigger chunk of free time in the evening - so very necessary for productive story writing and photo editing.

 - sometimes Daniel and I will eat with the children and on other nights we'll eat once everyone is tucked up in bed (hello romantic meal!).

Switching to an early dinnertime is simply a matter of adopting a new habit. Yes it requires discipline on your behalf but if you've got small children it really does save the witching hour.


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