Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas brunch

Christmas brunch, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Christmas at eight months pregnant is a little different to Christmas as I've come to know it in the last couple of years. No flying to see family and friends in Brisbane or New Zealand (no airport queues, no sad partings at the cattery, no wrapping up delicate presents and worrying about them in our luggage) ... just Hayden and me (and Lily and the Bump) at home for the day.

The food was always going to be a feature, though. That's one thing that didn't change, even without other family-members around to impress. But these days there is no way I can hold out all morning for a big feast in the afternoon, so Hayden fortified me with a beautiful Christmas brunch of corn fritters, bacon, guacamole and three different types of salsa. It was as delicious as it looks, and gave me strength for all that Christmas skyping. (I think skype is great, truly so much better than just talking on the phone. But those technical issues that seem to come up every single time can really wear me out. It's a worry for my health! At my last midwife appointment, my slightly elevated blood pressure had the midwife worried until I mentioned that I'd spent the morning attempting to set up a skype conference call. "Well, that explains it!" and she said no more about it).

Happy Christmas! Hope you had a wonderful one.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sound of Summer

The Summer Lil, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Can't you just hear the low drawl of the cricket commentary in this photo?

Hayden and Lily are in it for the long haul.

Monday, November 29, 2010

keeping cool inside

keeping cool inside, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Unravelling course has finished, so unfortunately we're back to photos of the cat.

Here she is, helping me keep cool inside while outside the sun beats down on the dry and dying grass.

This is the spot from which I hope to do all my Christmas shopping this year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Peace at Christmas

Peace at Christmas, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

It was our first hot weekend of the summer, and it put me in the mind and mood for Christmas.

Each year I think it's not going to happen ... then I find myself getting inspired about Christmas decorations, about Christmas food and treats and, yes, even sometimes about Christmas gifts (for others! not just for myself). Even this year, when we're not going anywhere and no-one is coming to visit us, I still felt compelled to arrange this tiny understated Christmas blessing on our house and on our lives ... or perhaps it is more of a request?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thirty Weeks

Thirty Weeks, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mosaic of my Favourite Things

Mosaic of my Favourite Things, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Looking at my favourites all together, I notice that they're very homey and indoorsy. Not so long ago, I would have included my well-worn passport, backpack, hiking boots, bicycle and Lonely Planet guides in the mix. Where are these things now? Packed away, well out of daily use. I was issued a new passport just after falling pregnant, and I can't imagine when it's going to get its first stamp. I tell myself that outdoor adventure does not have to end when the baby arrives, but I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced...

1. Wedding photos and rings. My engagement ring is my most special possession - a complete one-off designed by a most enthusiastic new jeweller to Hayden's specifications, all organised in secret while I was away travelling for work. I could not bear to lose it - the mould was destroyed when the ring was made, and there's no way we could recreate the spirit that went into the making of it.

2. Automatic computer backup machine - this has every photo I've taken and every word I've typed since 2007, all stored safe and sound ... I've lost it all before but never again!

3. Camera

4. Macbook with ultrasound pic on the desktop - the image I open up to every day.

5. Journal, pencil case, favourite writing pen and box of print photographs - all ways to record my thoughts, my feelings and my days

6. Magazines - one of my favourite ways to relax

7. Datebook - I love to be organised. There, I've said it. I know it sounds boring, but I find that I'm completely free to be spontaneous when I know that the bills are paid and the insurance is up-to-date.

8. Favourite books - most of my books are in storage at the moment, but I kept a few precious ones aside

9. well-stocked pantry

10. Sardines on toast! I am really loving cooking and eating for pregnancy

11. Well-used coffee pot ... I can't wait to get back to drinking a couple of cups a day

12. Bed

13. 'Pursuit of Love' mug.. the book was the first grown-up one I read; the mug was a present to myself on the day I received some lovely feedback on my writing.

14. Sunset .. at the beach of course

15. DVDs - there is no arthouse cinema in our town, so we have to make our own!

16. Bathtime

17. Breakfast with a view

18. Sharing a bottle of wine ... though I haven't done this for a while

19. Ultra-sensible, helpful baby books - these are keeping me sane through pregnancy

20. The beginnings of getting the nursery together. Well we've made a start.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

24 weeks 5 days

24 weeks 5 days
24 weeks 5 days
24 weeks 5 days
Silly self portraits I snapped this morning while still in my PJs. The urge to document this time is strong!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wish I was ...


Look at that flat stomach! Not that I ever thought of it that way before. But these days I'm only that lithe, flexible and comfortable (on my back anyway) in my dreams. Each morning I wake up refreshed, with silly thoughts such as "I know! I'll take up fencing!" or "Yes! We'll hire canoes and paddle down the river!" (actually, I think the paddling would be OK, but as for hoisting a canoe onto the roof of a car ... well, forget it).

But the days are definitely warmer and, out of the habit of old associations, my mind turns down its well-worn track towards summertime fun. I remember our honeymoon on Hinchinbrook Island (April 2008) and wish I could be there again.



Thursday, September 16, 2010

At 22 Weeks

At 22 Weeks, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

Monday, July 19, 2010

sun down

Collie River III

Our lease on the River House is up, and unfortunately we don't have an option to renew as the people who truly own this place are coming back to live here. We can't begrudge them that.

Hayden and Lily and I are moving just down the road to a smaller, simpler dwelling. We will still be near the river, but it will no longer be in daily sight. Will we miss it? Or make more of an effort to stay in touch?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


sorting through some things in my study today, I came across this photo from the day of our wedding.

Extra nicely, I came across it in print form ... and there is something so poignant, I find, in coming across a slightly crinkled, slightly faded print photo that has fallen down the back of a drawer.

Holding it in my fingers didn't so much make me remember the day, or the kiss, or the vows or anything so much as that general glow of happiness and excitement for the future that surrounded us at the time. We had lost that, since then, during a tough couple of years. But I think we may just be beginning to feel it again.

There's nothing like that sensation, and I hope to remember to make more prints of photos, if only to lose them in the backs of drawers, and find them again, and feel them again.

Friday, July 2, 2010

dream lab


Dream Lab dared me to do something different today: to leave an anonymous gift or message of kindness for a stranger or a friend.

I actually had fun making this little sign to leave on the door of a friend's house. I loved not being a perfectionist about how it looked - I just whacked it together to get the message out there.

Strangely, it caused me to have a wonderful day to.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


raindrops on roses_2943

The roses responded beautifully to my autumn pruning, and they are blooming again. Is this normal in winter?? I love looking out at them from my study window, especially when they are damp and dewy on gloomy days like today.

Friday, June 11, 2010


With winter, the sunrises have swept back around to the north again and we can see them from the front porch. In the morning when I wave Hayden off to work, I often think of photographing the glorious colour. This morning, though, I actually did it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

time for a new picture

Anniversary Lunch at Voyager_2792

To celebrate our second wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago, Hayden and I lunched at the glorious Voyager Estate Winery in Margaret River. As you can see in the picture, it was a glorious sunny day, even though the colours of the leaves are already turning.

It turned out to be a pretty wonderful day!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Roses trimmed_2857

I trimmed the roses recently. OK, that's a lie on two counts. One, I was temporarily crippled in the hands so I just pointed at what I wanted cut, and Hayden did the rest. Two, we didn't trim them, we hacked into them. Quite brutally.

Really I was just following the instructions I had received from the Gardening Australia TV show which suggested that if you cut the rose stems down low, they will grow better from that point in the next growing season. I was thinking that the roses would be next be growing in Spring, and that they'd stay quiet until then. This morning I noticed that there are little red shoots pointing out in all directions. Ooh.

I hope I haven't jinxed the roses. I was really looking forward to seeing how they would grow into their pruning after winter. Now it seems that we won't get to see that. Our lease is up at the end of July, and we haven't been offered another lease.

Hope that wasn't because of the roses..?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

cat and quilt

Cat Quilt 2
This quilt was made to match the cat, and definitely not the other way around.

Surely I'm not the only person to have done this ... to their cat?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

lucky day


It always feels like a good luck day when I step out the door and see a dolphin frolicking in the river.

Today we got gorgeous weather to boot!

Monday, March 22, 2010

long cat

Long Cat_2575

When I'm studying hard through the day, Lily keeps me company on the window ledge beside my desk.

She's a very restful companion.

Friday, March 12, 2010



These little trees have no earthly purpose, but I'm loving stitching them.

Perhaps this is part of the charm of craft?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

little rescue

little rescue_2293

This little guy was a bit stunned after flying into our window. Hayden scooped him up to keep him safe, until the sound of my camera shutter scared him up into a tree.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

through a long lens

Long Lens 2

Hayden has gone to New Zealand this week, taking with him two of our three shared Canon lenses. He left me behind with the longest one, the 70-300 zoom. Until yesterday I had considered it too heavy and unwieldy to bother with (and it does take getting used to, all that extra weight), but while the other lenses are gone I am getting to know it a bit better.

Long Lens 4

I feel ever so slightly more confident about what I will do next time our local wedge-tailed eagle alights on one of those dead branches. I had never thought of myself as a wildlife photographer before.

Long Lens 3

Still got lots to learn.

Monday, February 8, 2010

sandwich dinner*

Sandwich dinner

A bad outbreak of eczema on my hands has kept me out of the garden (especially that tomato patch) for a couple of weeks now. In fact everything, including typing, has been awkward and painful, so my keyboard has been silent and my camera has stayed shut up in its case.

The eczema didn't stop me picking up a shotgun, though, last Sunday. And this raised some interesting questions for me.

The gun was one I borrowed at our local clay pigeon shooting club, and with a bit of tuition, I found myself able to bring down a couple of the flying clay "birds". Until that point, shooting had been something that other people did, hunting had been something that men in Jane Austen novels were into, and war was something I was violently opposed to. Well. Things have changed! If I had been unable to hit a thing with the gun, I might have churlishly concluded that shooting is wrong, vulgar and distasteful. But actually, it seems like I might be pretty good at it. And this causes me to consider the issue more carefully.

Ok, so I'm still a pacifist. Holding a gun in my hands didn't turn me bloodthirsty, and no matter what the politicians say I'll always believe that there's an alternative to war. But on the other two points, my position seems to be shifting. Would I ever take a shot at something other than a clay pigeon or a fixed (ie inanimate, unliving) target? Would I consider helping to rid the Australian bush of its infestation of wild pigs? Would I ever shoot a duck or a pheasant (or a goat or a cow) for my dinner?

The last question is the one which seems most relevant here. After the previous post, I felt it was an achievement to grow my own food and bring it to the dinner table. Is the next logical step to try to shoot my own meat?

Theoretically, I've always supposed that if I'm prepared to eat meat I should be prepared to kill it too. I don't have much patience for people who suddenly go squeamish after visiting the chicken processing plant. Or seeing a fish killed down at the local jetty. I mean, where did they think their meat came from?

I feel that when I eat a steak or a piece of chicken breast, I have been responsible for the taking of that animal's life. But in practice, I've only recently started to kill spiders, and only on account of how poisonous they are here, which by the way doesn't make me feel any easier about killing them.

I haven't reached any conclusions about all this yet. I feel that I'm way out at the boundary of my morality. It's quite an interesting place to be.

*I do love eating sandwiches for dinner. It has recently come to my attention that the word 'dinner' actually refers to the largest meal of the day, so perhaps I should say 'sandwich supper' or 'sandwich tea'. Anyway, a delicious well-crafted sandwich for an evening meal is just about perfect for me. This one features smoked chicken, cranberry jelly, camembert, rocket and mayonnaise all on hearty local seedy bread.

Friday, January 15, 2010

zucchini carbonara

zucchini carbonara_1104, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I don't cook dinner often, but last night I was quite excited to cook for Hayden with some of our very own produce. I finally plucked this big old zucchini from the garden, and decided to give it the Jamie Oliver treatment. He calls it Courgette Carbonara. I call it Zucchini Surprise.

zucchini carbonara_1107

I started by chopping my enormous zucchini into little rectangular blocks. I fried up chopped onion and bacon, then added the zucchini to the pan.

In a separate bowl, I mixed up one egg yolk for each person (2 in this case) with a dash of cream and a good handful of grated parmesan cheese.

Then I mixed a load of cooked pasta in with the veggies, and stirred through the creamy cheesy egg mixture. A spoonful of the pasta water added a bit of starch, and the whole mixture looked shiny and delicious.

zucchini carbonara_1191

Ready to serve and eat!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


kitchen garden 1, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

reaching for a longer, fluffier robe this morning instead of my usual light cotton wrap, I thought about the changing seasons and reflected on the best and worst of the growing season which is coming to a close here in the South West.

The summer here is baking hot and parched; so different to the conditions we had back in north Queensland where we had more heat in fewer hours, and absolutely no water restrictions (in fact it was more likely, in Townsville, that I would need to protect my plants from the destructive force of a tropical deluge in January / Feb). Learning to cope with longer sunlight and much less water required a real change in my approach.

failures and lessons learned:

Next year I’ll do more to protect my tiny seedlings from the sun. The sun can so easily - in a single hot afternoon - scorch and kill the little green leaves of growing plants such as baby basils, rockets and chives. I was glad to learn that tomato and zucchini plants are tough even when tiny, but I’ve got to do more next time for the ones that aren’t.

composting. Hm. A non-event this year. One of my aims for the coming autumn-winter period is to set up my compost heap properly, and to get it going well. I’m wishing for a big (meter cubed?) wooden box with a hinged lid. I may have to set about fulfilling this wish for myself.


I was happy with my haul of cherry tomatoes. The basil plants and the rocket were more a mixed success; but I was very happy to confirm the companion planting book's prediction that basil plants would keep the houseflies away. I now have pots of basil at every doorway - being pretty, aromatic and functional.

kitchen garden 2

The rocket I did harvest was really delicious and tender. I lost a lot of the rocket seedlings during a one-off 36˚C day back in October, but those I did manage to save grew prettily - under cover, naturally, from that point on - into tasty peppery leaves.

The mint and parsley I transplanted into pots near the house grew well; I planted rosemary and sage in a garden bed near the house (and I started to develop a secret plan to eventually convert that entire bed into a dry garden … shhh don’t tell our landlords). The apricots from the tree were really tasty but I can’t claim credit for those, the tree having stood in its same spot for many years. Now that I know the apricots are worth it, I’ll do more to protect them from the parrots next year, even though it is pretty funny watching a parrot trying to take off with an enormous apricot wedged in its beak. I was proud of the apricot jam I made. I gave myself one big Farmer’s Wife Tick ✓ for that.

kitchen garden 3

on the whole:

I think I understand more now what the summer sun is capable of, and I’m ready to continue learning - piece by piece if necessary - which plants can handle it and which need to stay whimpering in the shade. So I’ll say sayonara to carrots and spring onions in the veggie patch but welcome back the sage, rosemary, tomatoes, basil, zuccini and parsely next year.

Monday, January 11, 2010

kitchen still life

kitchen still life 2, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

this afternoon I sat out on the verandah in my hammock and watched the afternoon light turn the cobwebs on the verandah posts golden. I daydreamed about writing sad songs set to the background of this aging homestead, this tired countrification, but in the end what I came up with was this. This photo of the sad country afternoon.

I haven't encountered any howling country music here in the south west. Maybe it's time I made some, of my own.

Christmas lights

Christmas lights, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I know, it really is time for these to come down. But for the last couple of years I've felt motivated to document, somehow, the arty-crafty effort I put into Christmas. So that's what I'm doing here. Decorations, the Tree and other crafty efforts are things about which I have strong, and quite particular feelings come over me. Every year. Even this year, when I felt quite low and lonely in the lead-up to Christmas, I still felt motivated to make a bit of special effort.

What I was going for was pretty understated and, I was hoping, arty. I was happy with the way the lights casually strung themselves along our longest window pane.


Olives, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

yes, I really did label this post "growing our food".

I am determined to one day eat these two olives - or at least one of them. Hayden can have the other, if he likes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

sightseeing at Cape Leeuwin

Shane and Kirsten visit_0761, originally uploaded by &Naomi.
You know that kicky little tail on the bottom left-hand corner of Australia? Cape Leeuwin is on the underside of that. We drove down there while Hayden's sister Kirsten and her boyfriend were with us for a post-Christmas visit.

Shane and Kirsten visit_0786 There is a picturesque historical lighthouse down there where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern one. It's a bit of a tourist sight to see the two oceans meet - though to me it just looked choppy.
Shane and Kirsten visit_0802Shane and Kirsten visit_0785

Friday, January 1, 2010


Beach Planting, originally uploaded by &Naomi.

I usually make one a year. And I usually keep it. This year, I'm resolving to do everything I can to make our life in Bunbury better: happier, funner and more fulfilling.

And I'm thinking that the plants in this photo might actually play a part in that. As part of getting into Bunbury life, I want to learn more about what the conditions here mean for plantlife and gardening - specifically, the Summer heat, dryness and salty wind. To date, my main inspiration is the public plantings along the dunes, the sight in these pictures being - to me - much more beautiful than the thirsty, pansy English flowers that have been planted all around our house. Those English plants are beautiful - in England. Here, we have different light - more of a harsh glare, to be frank. The mingy greens of the foliage and the flaccid pinks of the English flowers do not look great here. And they need a lot more water than what I can provide.

There must be a way to create my ideal garden - restful, beautiful and low maintenance - from plants which are well suited to the conditions here. All it will take is a bit of research, a bit of thought and a BIG change in attitude.

Beach flowers 9