Tuesday, 14 February 2017


We crave new beginnings. Don't we? Articles and books are dedicated to them. And the word 'new' is one of five magazine coverlines that appeals to a reader, apparently. The research department at Australia's largest magazine publishing company told me this when I worked there as the deputy editor for an interiors magazine. 

The start of a new year is ripe with possibilities. After all, it's not just the beginning of a new year but also a month and a day - if we are organised enough. 

But many people like to fob off all of fervour over renewals that goes on at the start of a year. "I don't make resolutions," they say. Sometimes there's an insinuation that they don't need to. Their life is doing just fine, thank you very much. 

But January always comes around for me after an exhausting December. Unlike our northern hemisphere counterparts, we reach the end of the year ending all sorts of chapters. Many companies have a mad rush of activity before everyone departs for summer holidays. Projects need to be completed before company close-downs. Then there is the end of the school year with all of its associated commitments. And in amongst all of this is the planning and present-buying for Christmas, plus any summer plans you may have. Yes, the last month of the year is always a busy one. 

And then... Quiet. January is often a month of an empty calendar. While most people leave the major cities, the rest of us enjoy the deserted streets and beaches.

What better time to reflect and assess the agenda for the coming year. And then have breathing time to ease into them. Hello, February.

Over the years goals with numerical targets (often to do with the bathroom scales) have made way for more holistic or wholehearted ones. They have oscillated and undulated but generally followed a path of eating better, moving more (physically - not houses! - trying to cure that habit) and living with fewer but better-quality items within our home. 

Just as I have been broader with my goals, so too have I been more forgiving with the results. In fact, this year that is my focus. So if I want to practice yoga more and the three-year-old wants to talk through all of it, or stop five minutes in to have breakfast then that's okay. Five minutes worth of stretching is better than none at all. If I only get to write my journal or blog once a month, then that's okay too. Something is better than nothing. You just do what you can, when you can. And show the kindness to yourself that you would to others. One day at a time. 

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Thursday, 10 November 2016


Sometimes we don't always have the answers when we need them. Recently I was interviewed by Mike Campbell for a podcast on his website Live Immediately. He asked, "Do you think that writing about [your children] makes you more mindful about what you're doing, that you're paying more attention because you want to write about them?"

Unfortunately, I didn't really answer Mike's question - partly as the conversation was interrupted by a little person - and I kept thinking about it afterwards as it is something I have contemplated many times. However, the question has been more - are we too self-conscious with our living? Are we living it with the spectre of photos for Instagram on our shoulders?

Certainly we don't live our lives for content. But I do think we are mindful of how we live our lives - considering how we want to live and making thoughtful decisions along the way. And, yes, viewing our world sometimes through a lens has made me more aware of how we live.

And in a slightly strange but good way, it has given me pause to consider what sort of life do we want to live? Not because I want it to look idyllic just for the camera - it's more that I want it to be like that for us.

It's worth noting, though that our choices are consistent with life before Instagram and will continue on this track if we ever choose to leave. 

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The photos above were taken on a recent visit to an orange farm in Kulnura. The farmer had been overseas at the time he usually sprays the crop and so he wasn't able to sell his fruit to the supermarket chain Woolworths as it had blemishes. That is the world that we live in now - people will only eat food that's engineered to look "perfect". It seemed such a waste, especially as there are people in need of food. And also because the oranges tasted delicious. They were the sweetest and juiciest I've ever tasted.

images the indigo crew

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Monday, 19 September 2016


It has always been our intention to get some livestock on this property. And chickens were at the top of our list, mainly because they could ease us into our journey of keeping animals, and also provide us with regular eggs, which we consume at a great rate, especially on the weekends. But we had some clearing and cleaning to do beforehand. And there were some questions we had to ask.

While the benefits of having chickens are apparent. There were other factors to consider too, especially in the country. We had heard that they bring snakes, which come for the rodents that eat the scraps, and foxes.

Although we didn't want to encourage any more snakes - or the deadly kind, we decided to forge ahead. While this place has at least three chicken houses, we actually decided to convert some planting sheds into a chicken coup. The other areas required a lot more work to restore - timber was rotting and more land needed clearing around the sites. Basically they were more ripe for encouraging snakes and foxes. And some of them weren't easily accessible. To get to one of the chicken houses you have to make your way through a bamboo forest. Not an ideal pathway for little hands to collect breakable eggs.

Once the temporary house was ready, we had to find out where to get some chickens. We were told to attend a nearby poultry auction. It's held on the third Sunday of every month. Serious buyers arrive early in the morning to get the exotic birds but that you can turn up from about 11am to see the more common varieties.

It was quite an experience. While we took some cardboard boxes along with us, there was no need as all the birds (and ducks, rabbits, guinea pigs...) were already housed. Each one was also numbered and they moved along tables as the auction proceeded. 

We wrote down the numbers of the hens we were interested in but some of them went for more than $70 each. Apparently, some of the club birds are highly sought after by breeders. While we're not at that stage yet we did end up with a couple of them - Old English Game Wheaten Hens. They are not large birds and only lay small eggs - but they are quite beautiful, and a welcome addition to our home.

Afterwards we went to visit a permaculture farmer in a nearby valley. She breeds various chickens and we went to see what she had on offer. It turns out she had several varieties, although not all of them were ready to sell (as she has to wait until they're a certain age before determining their sex). While we found her through the school, she also advertises on Gumtree, which is a good way to buy chickens too.

We bought a laying Australorp (so slightly older than the rest), two pullet Barnavelder (dark feathers with a lace-like pattern on the tips) and a pullet Isa Brown crossed with a Barnavelder. The pullet chickens aren't baby chickens, and don't require that extra care, but they're not yet laying eggs. However, buying them at this stage means you will have them for a longer life, and are good for children as they can become a little more like pets as they watch them grow.

Before we started this process we also consulted what has become something of a bible for us, the book Practical Self Sufficiency by Dick and James Strawbridge. It has lots of advice and handy tips on all sorts of gardening - from inner-city courtyards to landholdings.

images the indigo crew

Monday, 12 September 2016


All too often life can feel like a little bit of a blur. Especially when children are involved. The days roll one into another and with the regularity of schooling and other commitments, there's not always a great sense of time passing, until the week before school holidays when all of a sudden you are reminded that things are going to change up again. 

But there are bigger yardsticks. And these can catch you quite by surprise. We had one of those this past weekend. It was the school's Spring Fair, an event that played a big role in setting us on our journey.

After our European holiday in July 2015 we decided to investigate the idea of leaving the city, and living in a coastal or country area. The main idea was to be on a parcel of land, where we could change our lifestyle. But crucial to this whole scenario was the children's schooling. It was important that we could find a school that met many of our needs and ideals. 

Not long after we started to investigate different areas, we learnt that one of the schools we were considering was about to have a Spring Fair. We thought this was be a good opportunity to attend and learn more about the school, see what the other children and parents were like, and get a general sense of the school community. 

We were blown away. It more than surpassed every expectation. While the school was reasonably new, the grounds were beautiful - and thoughtfully designed. There were veggie gardens and landscaped paths and buildings made from straw bales. The children's work that we saw on display was impressive. And all of the fair activities were incredibly well thought out and executed with an eye to practicality and beauty. 

The children were able to make floral wreaths and build boats. We ate delicious homemade food and drank memorable chai tea. And after visiting the fair we decided that we would move to the area so the children could attend the school. 

A year has now passed and yesterday we attended the Spring Fair again. This time as parents of children who are enrolled. Our eldest son and daughter played with friends from their classes. We chatted to the familiar faces of other parents. And ate all that good food again.

But more than that we realised how much has changed in our lives since the fair last year. How it was a catalyst for our decision to make a tree change. And how many wonderful things that have happened since then. 

The photos above are from when the children attended the fair last year.

images the indigo crew

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016


It is almost time for the school's big event of the year - the Spring Fair. Each child has been asked to contribute in some way and we were asked to make Fairy Fires and Fairy Wands. They were quite simple to make, and if you don't have the same resources you could easily adapt them - using cardboard or felt instead of the circular pieces of wood. And you could you make one of these fairy wands or a star wand too.


1. Cut sticks to the required length, using a saw. Drill a hole into the end and screw in a hook.
2. Tie a ribbon from the end.

Wood (or you could use cardboard - painted, coloured or plain - or felt) 
Small river stones
Felting wool (or you could use pieces of coloured cellophane)
Hot glue gun

1. Cut wood into discs - about 8mm thick - using a saw.
2. Using a hot-glue gun, attach river stones into a circle formation on the wooden disc, leaving enough room for the fire in the middle.
3. Pull three fine strands of felting wool (using red, yellow and orange) and fold in half. Glue into the centre of the disk.

images the indigo crew

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