Fermented in Iso

I chose to go on annual leave at the most peculiar time. I am a mental health nurse. It’s my job to ensure that people who are facing mental health concerns have the support suitable for them to maintain a good quality of life.

I took annual leave to further my studies into CBT. That, and I was turning 40. Then, isolation became a thing. We had plans to party and travel. Plans that are now postponed.

But I’m not sad about it. I’m doing all the things that have been on my list. Those things that get pushed way down to the bottom because there is always something more pressing to be done.

I’m a rusher. I rush here there and everywhere. From the moment I wake up in the morning, until the moment I close my eyes I have something I ‘have to do’. Even at the point where my eyes are closed, the ‘to do’ list continues, reminding me of what I haven’t done, causing me some mild forms of panic. This effects my sleep, which increases my stress levels. And the cycle continues.

This pandemic has given me an opportunity to stop.

Having the privilege of this time has forced me to be calm. My bond with my children has expanded, as that mum-guilt alleviates. The pressure I’ve put on myself has subsided. I’ve home schooled and cooked with them. They’ve let me into their world of play. They’ve crawled and climbed my body and hugged me more deeply and extensively. They’ve side-eyed me with those cheeky grins just to look at me, looking at them.

I have taken time and crocheted myself a blanket- deliberately something for myself. Time that I never would have allowed myself before. I have indulged in the way that I have always wanted to exist, but never had the headspace or energy to achieve.

For me, that existence is simple. I’m not after anything fancy. My shoes have been off and I have been grounded. My veggie patch is expanding. My compost is churning. My worm farm is doing whatever it is that worm farms do.

And mate, you should see all the things I have in jars right now. It’s like a science experiment.

I have kombucha, sourdough, apple scrap vinegar, wild honey mead (locally sourced raw honey) and a ginger bug. I have locally foraged olives in brine, homegrown preserved lemons and friend grown pears in vanilla and cinnamon sugar syrup. I have sauerkraut, and I even made a video about it. It’s cost me hardly anything as I scavenge and forage.

The interesting thing is, my connections within my community have grown because of my love of fermenting and foraging. Prior to iso, I swapped and traded. Some of us are still managing to do this, although keeping our distance. I received some beautiful leek seedlings that were placed on a neighbours porch for me. I traded a kombucha scoby for a sourdough starter. Tonight, I’ll be raiding olive trees.

The irony here is that previously I found I often felt alone and lonely in all my rushing. The stress was intense and I often just could not think straight. My to-do list was exhausting. There was rarely time for genuine connections.

And now- I mean, I’m not allowed to go anywhere or see anyone, but I have been in contact on a personal level with far more people than I usually am. I am opening myself up and loosing that self consciousness that normally haunts me.

I am smiling at strangers. They smile back.

I’m feeling connected.

And pal, it feels so good.

On Monday, I’ll return to the frontline real world. I’ll be there to support others with my feet firmly on the ground.

How are you feeling during this time? I encourage you to talk. Talk to anyone. A family member, a friend, a stranger. If things are feeling overwhelming, talk to your GP who can organise a mental health plan for you. Alternatively, if in Australia, call Mental Health Triage in your state or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for support. Talking is important. You might be surprised at how much it helps, not only you- but those around you.

I’ve been thinking.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. This is 2018. It’s the year to get shit done.

I’ve been thinking about why life gets so uncomfortable and why we stay in situations we hate without remembering that our time here is limited.

When we’re on our deathbed, what will we regret? 

Unfulfilled dreams. Not loving enough. Not communicating what we really felt. 

As someone who has spent most of her life in a existential turmoil, I feel like this is the answer to solve those crises. 

Live your truth. Make it happen. Only you can take the steps forward to achieve your peace. 

Seek and you shall find. 

The meaning of Life. 

So many people I know are in their 30’s and are single. Many of them, hitting their late 30’s and really starting the feel the push of making the decision to chose their career or to be overwhelmed with a rush to find that special someone and settle down. Buy a house in the ‘burbs and have children. 

The other day, a friend who has just recently separated from his partner of 7 years, called me to ask if he could borrow my stand up paddle board. Before he asked that though, he asked if he could ask me a question. Instead of asking to borrow the SUP, he asked ‘Sally, what is the meaning of life?’ 

My immediate response was to say ‘It just is.’

The more I think about this question, the more I feel like maybe I finally got the answer right. 

I’ve spent a lifetime in an existential crisis. What is the meaning of it all? How long do I have? Am I doing it right? 

You know what I realised?  The fact that we exist is the meaning of it all. 

It’s like that zen moment in the end of the Dark Crystal after the gelfling replaces the crystal chard and the mystics and the skekzis become one. Suddenly, they stop fighting and calm descends over them all. 

We don’t need to search. We don’t need to fight. We don’t need to stress. We just need to be. The world will keep turning. Even if there is an all out nuclear war, the world will keep turning. 

It just is. 

Minus shift work. 

Today is Friday. Friday in the world of maternity leave is not a great deal different to most other days with one exception. 

I know that tomorrow, I’ll wake up, roll over & see all the faces in the family I’ve made. 

That I’ve created. 

Lately, it occurred to me that even if I live to be 100, that’s only 38,900 days on this planet. It’s just not enough. That realisation has really spurred me to reassess my priorities and goals. 
My future hopes are: 
•Focus on family. Give them my undistracted time, love & attention. 
•Remember that happiness from things is only temporary and stop spending money on things that will soon become clutter. 
•Work my garden. Help it grow. 
•Save the monies. Get debt free. Buy a house so that when I’m old, I’ll be debt free, won’t have to pay rent & have an investment for my kids. 
I’m far from perfect. These are simple goals. 
I want to stop wanting more things. I think that’s the key. 
I’m generally happy with the things I have here & now. I don’t need more clutter. 
This is it. 

Brassica in Spring. 

I’ve been learning about my garden. 

I’ve been interested in gardening since I can remember, but can’t say I’ve been particularly good at it. I’d take an interest. Then loose an interest. Plants would thrive. Plants would die. 

I didn’t understand why the plants would die, or that it is common practice to have to plant more seeds during specific months. I didn’t understand much about fertiliser or my worm farm. 

Slowly but surely, I’m gaining the knowledge of how it all works. 

And here’s the thing. 

Every morning I wander around my tiny yard that still somehow spaciously houses my tiny, urban farm and it brings me joy. 

Joy to see my tiny seeds sprout. 

Joy to pick the fruits of my labour and understand how they will nourish me & my family. 

Joy to feel the warmth of the sun and the cool of the rain and take a deeper understanding of just exactly the purpose of it all is. 

Joy to feel the dirt beneath my feet. 

Joy to watch the wonder in my babies eyes as they see the plants emerge. 

Everyone should find their tiny garden. 

Learning the art of crochet with Bright Red Cherries. 

I’m on mat leave with at least 20 other women at the moment. That seems like a lot, until you realise that I work with about 350 people- most of them women. 

We have a good crew. Mostly creative, lateral thinkers so it’s no surprise that so many of us were keen to learn crochet whilst nursing our babies, making them beanies and booties. This winter’s been a bit cold here in Adelaide. 

I’d seen instagram posts for Bright Red Cherries and thought I’d contact them to see if they were interested in teaching a couple of classes to me and my friends. We had a venue sorted, so Cherry was keen to come to our baby friendly space and teach us the basics. 

Many of us had had a go at crochet before, copying videos on YouTube- but you know what? That stuff doesn’t stick. I can copy it perfectly and come away with no idea how to do it again without having to rewatch the video. 

Cherry’s instructions were clear and simple. I came away confident that I could read a pattern and understand the basics. 

Cherry and her mum are such lovely people. They’re patient and easy to understand, so even amongst the chaos of crying, breastfeeding, nappy changing and coffee drinking, this old craft of crochet was handed from two women to 20 others like a gift to bring joy for the future. 

I’ve already made beanies for upcoming birthdays. 

Cherry runs regular classes at E for Ethel in North Adelaide. 

Little Merchants

I’m sitting here with my 3 month old baby on my lap, trying to type as she wriggles. My two year old is asleep on the couch and somewhere in amongst the current calm that has bestowed this house, I have decided that now would be a good time to write or make some art. A lack of canvas has lead me to type away my incessant creativity, as my right forearm is getting gummed and little arms flail around.

The Friday just gone was a good post day. I met the delivery man twice that day. He was a funny man, perhaps in his 50’s. He cracked jokes and gave the parcels to my two year old and made her feel very important. It was quite  sweet of him to have a chat. Being on maternity leave can be a bit lonesome. Having a brief interaction where you don’t have to repeat yourself and who talks at the appropriate times is quite a relief.

One thing I do happen to do a bit of whilst on maternity leave, or so it appears, is online shop. My latest purchase has come from the lovely Kate of Little Merchants. I met Kate quite a few years ago now,  and she has always struck me as a pure soul with a lot of love to give. She’s the sort of girl who simultaneously has her feet on the ground and her head  in the clouds. We haven’t exactly kept in touch, but the state of cyber space allows me to vaguely keep track of those of whom I would have likely otherwise lost track of, and Kate is one of those people.

Kate has been a wanderer, that’s for sure. I met her here in Adelaide, and from here she spent some time near Perth and then moved to Brisbane and is now in Far North Queensland. She has an adorable little girl and becoming a mother has clearly been a huge inspiration for starting her online business, Little Merchants.

Little Merchants is an online store that specialises in selling baskets and baby changing baskets. What makes these baskets special, is they are each unique and individual, woven with elephant grass by women in Ghana. Buying a basket from Little Merchants gives back to small communities in Ghana, whilst looking beautiful on my arm at the local farmers market. The baskets, with their natural dyes and materials are eco-friendly and sustainable, which is a huge thing for me and is thankfully becoming more and more the norm.

I chose this one, as turquoise is my favourite colour, whilst pink is my two year olds. It’s sturdy, bright and incredibly well made. I could feel the love that Kate has for Little Merchants throughout the whole purchase in the stylish branding and the simplicity of the packaging.

The Little Merchants Instagram & Facebook feed is awash with images that simultaneously celebrate nature and motherhood.

You can find the website at www.littlemerchants.com.au

The Deli

I awoke initially somewhere around 3:30am. I wrote a sweet piece about the perils of parenthood and then I accidentally deleted it. The story was full of pretty words and I lost it. Devo. 

My brother contacted me the other day to see if I wanted to partner up with him to write reviews. Him, a talented chef on the words. Me, an apparent airhead on the photos. Sounds like fun. 

I needed some fresh work, so whilst a little exhausted, I dragged my husband and youngest daughter to The Deli on George Street in Thebarton. 

The Deli has changed over the last few years. I have fond memories of Sunday sessions in the courtyard and skateboarding in the back alley. The place has a little bit of my heart.   

The Deli’s modern incarnation is slick. It’s a beautiful layout, with indoor and outdoor seating. The outdoor area is dog friendly (how cool is that!?). 

Today, I ordered the Corn & Zucchini Fritters with a side of mushrooms. Initially I was apprehensive. I’m a firm believer that fritters should be crispy. These fritters were not crispy. They were light and airy and topped with some serious flavour intensity. The colours were gorgeous. The eggplant melted in my mouth. So yum. 

My husband ordered the burritos and mumbled something about it being amazing whilst taking mere minutes to inhale the entire meal. 

The coffee was 5/5 stars. Coffee is important. 

Finally, the staff were easy to talk to and really friendly. They treated all their customers like old pals. I could really tell they liked their jobs. Friendly, fun staff is something important to me. I’m easily intimidated by people who are too cool for school and would much rather spend my hard earned bucks somewhere like The Deli where I feel comfortable and at ease. 

The Deli hits a lot of marks on the head. Great food. Great coffee. Great atmosphere. Great people. 

Keep it up, kids.  

Getting Creative at the Adelaide Art Society. 

Squiggly sqigs.

 Last night, I went to a life drawing session at the Adelaide Art Society. It’s been a while and I’m pretty damn rusty, but the meditative process of getting the shapes and shades and tones- man, there’s nothing like it.   

The group was small, about 8 people in total. As soon as I walked in I was made to feel at home, being shown where everything was and being introduced to the group.  

All skill levels were present. It’s beautiful to see so many different interpretations of the same subject, all looking alike but remarkably different. 

Wednesday nights- Margaret St. North Adelaide from 7:30-10. $10 members $14 non-members. 

Nature’s Providore- Duthy Street, Malvern. 

It was a day without my one year old. A day for just me where I wasn’t nervous that something bad would happen to my daughter without me with her. I could breath and relax without being climbed all over and repeatedly asked ‘What’s that?’ A gentle day to remember myself. 

The day before, Veronica had messaged me and Anna to see if we were free for lunch. She suggested Nature’s Provadore as she had been there once before and she follows them on instagram. 

I picked up Anna from her house with the intention of meeting Veronica there. The sky was blue and the air was warm- Spring is well and truely here after the intense storms we’ve been experiencing here in Adelaide. 

Anna and I chatted all the way to Duthy Street, mostly with excitement about Anna’s recent holiday. I don’t mind a bit of armchair travel. Once we got to the street we were both enchanted by the little rows of shopfronts, which have obviously stood there for decades upon decades. An art supplies store, a vintage shop, bakeries, cafes- such style and beauty. 

We parked the car and wandered in to Nature’s Providore, initially being hit with the smell of something delicious cooking and the sights of cool and unique health foods for sale. 

We took our seat, and made our orders. I ordered spicy beans with cashew cheese and bread with olive oil. Anna ordered poached eggs on sautéed greens and Veronica ordered a spelt and ricotta tart. 

The menu caters for vegans, vegetarians, those who eat chicken and those who are gluten free. 

The meals were delicious. They were beautifully presented and the serving sizes were huge. 

The coffee was delicious, too, and for dessert Anna and I split a lemon tart and a salted caramel tart which I didn’t need, but certainly wanted.

We sat in the window at a huge table and chatted about what had been going on in our lives. Our relationships, new and old. Our directions in life, professionally and personally. Of holidays that have happened and that are about to. 

It was perfect.

Here’s to good food, good friends and beautiful rays of sunlight.