Grease and Oil Change

Back in February of this year, I ran a workshop in my hometown of Trundle that focussed on health and wellbeing for rural people. With a very rural sounding name for the day – ‘Grease and Oil Change’ – it was an idea that came out of last October’s Mental Health Week. I took on the concept of talking openly about mental health and created a workshop for people who live out west and might not have access to stories and experts to help when times aren’t so hot.

The Dept of Primary Industries helped out with funding, as well as a few contacts, and basically we all met up at the Trundle Golf Club (60 people turned up – how wild is that? And yes, I was related to a good deal of them!) But it was heartening to see that lots of people want to make time to look after themselves.

There were a few experts and a few people that were happy to spread their message without a lot of experience behind them (and aren’t they usually the best?) It was a very inspiring day.

Since the workshop I have been sending out a monthly (give or take) newsletter to the participants to share any self help tips. I am the Queen of Self Help – got a course, a book, a podcast? Then count me in!) I love learning new ways to be a better person and I spend hours during the week reading and becoming inspired. Look, it’s a work in progress.

So anyway back to the newsletters…

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I thought I might pop the newsletter content right here on this blog. It might be up your alley and it might hold something that tweaks your interest. Who knows?

Grease and Oil Change News #1

Thanks so much to everyone who came along to last week’s workshop. It was a great catch up and there was a fantastic energy in the room.

The plan with these newsletters is to keep you updated with relevant information from the workshop. (And I promise not to overload your inbox)

Today’s update is all about food (why not?!) and includes the recipes from the cooking demo, along with some other bits and pieces that you might find interesting.

Sausage making

The art of sausage making…

So here are the recipes from the cooking demo: Grease and Oil Change Recipes (click on the link)

Recently on Triple J Dr Karl interviewed Professor Clare Collins, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Newcastle. It’s a very interesting listen, covering a wide range of topics. Is a zero carb diet viable in the long term? Why am I eating more after quitting smoking?
Listen to it by clicking HERE

Here is the Healthy Eating Quiz that Prof Clare Collins refers to in the interview: Click on the link HERE

All ears

Eager participants…

Ruth and Gary

Ahhh, feeling the love.

Over and out…


Bits and Blogs #2 (plus tips)

What have I been reading to, listening to, being inspired by this month? I’m so glad you asked…

A podcast that has me pumping: The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus are the minimalists and have built up a massive following via their blog. Just recently (as in 10 episodes ago) they started up a podcast. Their motto is ‘Love people and use things, because the opposite never works.’

The standout podcast so far: Stuff which is pretty self explanatory but very eye opening.

Podcast Tip: So when do I actually listen to a podcast? I squeeze in one or two shows each day – that said, it depends on the length of the podcast and the kind of day we’re having. I mostly stick the earphones in when we go for a walk, others listen when they are cleaning the house (I don’t really clean so that doesn’t apply to me) and of course driving is a great chance to tune in. I sometimes look for an excuse to mosey on out to Trundle just so I can lend my ears to a new episode.

Inspo from Instagram: Jetsetmamma

I have mentioned this mumma previously as being someone who gets me through the day. Her honesty about motherhood is so spot on that I sometimes blush when reading her posts. Mother of two boys and an intrepid traveller, Claire Alexander-Johnston is actually telling it how it is – broken legs and all.

Check her baby’s birthday post: You may well tear up.

Instagram Tip: You can check out public Instagram accounts without being an Instagram account holder. This was a game changer for me – now I can look and love images and posts without being sucked into the vortex of scrolling, commenting, checking back in & all of my mind games that go with it.

Best Blog: The Rare Pear

Our special guest on the show today is Shani Nottingham who lives in Cowra – our neck of the woods.

We asked her a couple of questions about her creativity & recent successes in the world of blogging. Yes, she is a winner! Shani took out the Kidspot Voices of 2015 Competition for Australian creatives in the ‘Home and Wellbeing’ section. Pretty amazing stuff.

Our radio interview was a bit of a muck up – I had originally told Shani the wrong day – so it threw us all. Mental note: I will take my time when writing emails and making sure I get the finer details correct. In the end Shani was able to make the interview and her enthusiasm and brightness shone through. You can listen to it HERE

If you have ever wondered if telegraph poles could be beautiful then you’d best check out Shani’s latest blog post to see how she has captured these monstrosities.

Wonderful images from our part of the world.

Telegraph poles



Another January, another self help book

It’s like a drug. I am into my self help literature in a big way, and this year is no different. I am dosing myself up to the eyeballs in new ideas, courses, strategies, vlogs, blogs, books, podcasts and anything else I can get my mitts on to make my life (and ultimately those around me) a little better.

I tend to overload myself like this quite regularly – not just January – and annoy the living heck out of my sister and mum by sending them link after link of something ‘life changing’ (my overused words) every time I stumble across something that I think will be revolutionary.

I see myself as Santa’s little self helper. I have no qualifications, I learn from trial and error and I don’t mind sharing my new found knowledge with anyone who’ll listen.

And it looks like you’re listening.

So allow me to indulge in my top 3 self help concepts for January 2016.

Zen Habits: I am undertaking a 6 week Sea Change course on Daily Mindfulness practice. I can’t remember how much it costs (the perils of Paypal) but it’s been going since the start of Jan and so far I am sticking with it. Leo Babauta is a dreamy mentor and it has been the simple tricks that have kept me motivated. The time it takes is just a couple of minutes and there is a little daily challenge, as well as videos explaining the content. I just want my head to stop racing with thoughts and my heart to be calm. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

A Simple Year: I gave this 12 month course a crack last year but sadly fell off the wagon. A couple of friends I know (ahem) have let me have a peak at this year’s content and I feel like I could do it again, but this time with feeling. It’s a course designed to make life more simple and starts with the practical aspects of decluttering, what busyness is and how to combat it, through to simple cooking and travel (I will be tuning in in March for that one.) It’s still open for registration and like all learning it takes some dedication and time but is well worth it in my opinion.

Happiness Jar: I stole this idea from Elizabeth Gilbert and everyday before I hop into bed I write on a little piece of paper the one thing from the day that made me the happiest. I don’t have a jar, as such, but I am stuffing each piece of paper into my bedside drawer. And I might never read them again but it is such a nice way to get ready for sleep and to finish off the day. And there hasn’t been a day yet when I haven’t been able to think of something. Whipping both my husband and brother in ping pong may have featured for a few days running.

Of course regular massages, self care days, herbal teas, journalling and all of those other wonderful pursuits are on the list but I am trying to be practical here.

So to Self Help – here’s cheers!


Back to school…

I think it’s great that we have access to so many online courses these days. No? Yes? Well I think it’s pretty great. Sure, it’s always fun to do something face to face, but when you live in the sticks, you have to do what works.

I have been doing a little blogging course called Blog with Pip and it’s been really useful and fun. Like, really useful. It costs money, and you have to try and keep up to date with the course (because you will eventually be unable to access the content) but it’s self paced and pretty non stressful. Win Win.

We have assignments – ooh, sounds just like school – and this week’s requires us to get a bit reflective.

It’s called ‘taking stock’ You should try it. It’s kind of like therapy…but cheaper and a lot less squirmy. I just have to write the first thing that pops into my head when I read the prompts.

Here goes…

Making : Choc Cashew Bliss Balls
Cooking : Farm chops
Drinking : Relaxing Tea from Tea Tonic
Reading: ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ for book club
Wanting: To meet the new baby
Looking: At my belly button popping out
Playing: Cafe tunes on Spotify
Deciding: On whether I should post this or not
Wishing: For life to keep poking along like this
Enjoying: ‘Girls’ on iTunes
Waiting: For the end of June
Liking: My friends (well kind of loving)
Wondering: Why the 2 Australian drug traffickers were murdered
Loving: My friends
Pondering: Deepak Chopras ‘Perfect Health’ messages
Considering: Not spending any money in May (except for groceries & essentials)
Watching: The leaves turning on our liquid amber
My family is happy
Marvelling: At the size of my tummy
Needing: Another log on the fire
Smelling: Our compost heap
Wearing: Tracksuit pants
Following: About 30 blogs…at once
Noticing: How much better I feel if I meditate
Knowing: I need to drink more water
Thinking: How lucky am I?
Feeling: Content
Admiring: Mothers
Sorting: Socks & undies. Same old, same old.
Buying: See ‘considering’ above
Getting: A bit sick of using the dancing girl as my ‘go to’ emoji
Bookmarking: Everything ‘Deliciously Ella’ cooks
Disliking: Gravy
Opening: The back door because the fire is too hot
Giggling: At my two nephews playing bucking broncos & riding each other
Feeling: Content
Snacking: On carrots
Coveting: I can never remember what this word means…
Wishing: For nothing
Helping: My ‘usband with his books
Hearing: The toilet flushing

My favourite of all of these prompts is ‘Feeling’ and I hope you too are feeling content.


In a bid to be authentic…

I’m not quite sure where March went, but let’s just say it might have been taken up with school teaching, turning the big 40 (yikes) and getting amongst this pregnancy thing. Yep, it’s happening and there’s a small person growing inside…which makes pretty much everything (except eating) pretty hard to concentrate on. I am still pinching myself.

Here’s how the March instalment of Bits and Blogs on the ABC radio went…

We chatted about authenticity and the influence that bloggers can have on their followers. This is a theme that has reared its head just in the last couple of months – that of bloggers being in a powerful position to influence people. The die hards amongst the world of journalism still can’t believe that bloggers can have so much clout… considering they don’t have a degree in writing or some such skill.

Jess Ainscough aka The Wellness Warrior (website now taken down) blogged about her battle with a rare form of cancer, whereby she undertook a relatively radical approach – known as the Gerson Therapy – seeking to use food and alternative therapies to treat her condition.

Jess Ainscough

Jess Ainscough

Sadly Jess passed away only two weeks ago and her blog has been put under the microscope. The concern is that many readers may have pinned their hopes on Jess’ experiences and advice, to help them recover from similar life threatening illnesses.

Healing Belle (who has now gone removed herself from Instagram and Facebook) is one such blogger and social media sensation that has recently come under criticism for apparently making false claims via her social media accounts that she has cured cancer via her diet. All sorts of gossip surrounds this young lady, but the crux is that many of her claims to actually have cancer in the first instance are believed to be untrue. Still, she has apparently made a lot of money via an App called ‘The Whole Pantry’ that was developed as a result of her experiences with cancer.

According to an article by ‘The Age’ some online media celebrities could be doing more harm than good “Dr Bartone says the Internet has made people into online sensations and pseudo-experts.”

Read more about it HERE

The bottom line…make informed decisions, and by all means read blogs for interest, but also do your own homework.

3 of my favourite blogs at the moment:

Food & Craft: Meet Me at Mikes

Pip Lincoln aka Meet me at Mikes

Pip Lincoln aka Meet me at Mikes

In keeping with the above theme of authenticity, author Pip Lincoln makes a lot of sense in a recent blog, and the problems associated with social media and the need to feel ‘liked’. She refers to this recent phenomenon as the ‘like-cycle’ and how some ‘wanna be’ celebs will do whatever it takes to gain likes and followers. Apart from that, she does amazing online courses – one of which is an online blogging course that I have just taken up – and has published several books.

Life: Sarah Wilson

The Sarah Wilson

The Sarah Wilson. Image via

I can’t believe it has taken me until March to talk about my favourite blogger Sarah Wilson! I have a healthy woman-crush on this lady, which began in about 2009 when I started firstly following her articles in a weekend magazine, and then on her blog. She has gone on to create the online business ‘I Quit Sugar’ but her own personal blog goes into many topics about life and living authentically and happily. I could go on for hours about this one!

And yes, she weighs in on the debate about what to believe, and what not to believe, on the internet.

Regional: The Central Nest

Screenshot 2015-04-19 16.39.10

Kayana is based in Bathurst – so nice and close – and as a result, her blog is very relevant (except the owing a Thermomix part!!) She is honest and humorous and this is a great lifestyle blog to have in your feed.

She has practical tips (the parent mode on an i-phone so you can lock your child on just one screen and they can’t get out of it!) My girlfriends are going to love this!

Best of all, this girl does not claim to know it all. Authentic and real.

As for my take on the whole shebang, you can listen to my take on authenticity and blogging right HERE

Feel free to let me know of any brilliant blogs that you are following.


You, my friend, have a face for radio…

Yes, I think I might indeed have found my favourite medium of media.

I have loved local ABC radio since the beginning of time. Some of my fondest memories are of driving around the paddocks with Grandfather in the Suzuki with the radio on full blast (mainly because he had farmer’s deafness.) Oh those were the days.

I don’t really recall many particular radio segments, however I did know when it was time to stay quiet – namely the top of every hour when the infamous theme music to the news came on, as well as approximately 10 minutes to 1pm for the all important market report. I had no idea what all of the numbers & figures meant, but I did know that Grandfather’s and Dad’s reaction meant whether or not things were hunky dory in the world of fat lambs.

So I guess when I had a chance to have a crack at a few interviews on radio – with the Trundle Tree Change experience as well as Trundle Bush Tucker Day, I felt right at home speaking to an audience that I already felt a part of.

It was during this time that I met Angela Owens who hosts the Morning program out of the Orange station. Here’s a pic of her…don’t you always have a picture in your mind of a radio presenter and then it turns out in real life that they look completely different?


Angela Owens. You know, we could be friends.

Angela has a genuine interest in the Central West and she came out to Trundle during the filming of Country Town Rescue and did an Outside Broadcast on the Trundle Hotel verandah. She was very easy to speak with – the sign of a true professional in the radio game – and we have kept in touch since.

So it turns out there was an opening for a segment and Angela thought I might fit the brief. The brief, mind you, was for someone who spends many an hour on the internet reading blogs and forming half baked opinions about what makes good reading. That was me to a tee.

So every few weeks I am going to be giving my thoughts on blogs, what I love about the world of blogging and also a run down of my top three. This time I picked some rippers, namely:

Local is Lovely – a taste of the Orange district, produce and recipes.

Local is lovely

A recent camping trip from Local is Lovely

The Shady Baker – written by a lady of the land in western NSW, who also takes the most amazing pics.

dusty road

This dusty road pic taken by The Shady Baker is a familiar site for many of us…

The Positivity Blog – for when I could do with a reminder of how to be happy.

You can hear the first instalment of my radio segment here.

My initial thoughts after my first foray into the world of radio were:

1. How do I re-jig my voice so that it isn’t so nasally?

2. What should I wear next time?

3. Does any one actually listen to the radio at 9.35am on a Wednesday morning (apart from my Mum, Dad and Uncle Tom?)

Talk soon


PS The Baker family are in the process of moving in…which is precisely why I am at home, under the air con, writing this bit of nonsense.

Get thee to the shed

Well CB certainly has his priorities right. The shed went up on the weekend – just in time for the solar panels to be mounted. It was a big couple of days, all hands on deck, and the usual chatter and ribbing to make sure it didn’t actually feel like work.


CB sorting out a few things on ground level.

It is a fabulous shed. It has 3 bays – one for the boat, one for CB’s proper work ute and one for CB’s not so proper work ute (which was christened with the nickname Lolux last harvest due to it’s small stature compared to a regular Hilux) The solar power will be connected via the shed as the roof on the house is too steep to cater for such panels.


Here’s Sam, almost being upstaged by the lucerne. Get a load of it!

The details on the shed:

Colour: Windspray

Manufacturer: MD Steel, Forbes

Site manager: PB (brother of CB)

Lackies: CB, Sam, Dooey, Bill, Col, Andy, Steve, Tom, Dick, Harry.


The frame takes shape.


Almost there…

Oh and the ‘Guess the tool’ competition from last blog post – if you can remember that far back – was won by Andy Quade (no relation) who correctly guessed it to be a nailer puller outerer. Unfortunately it has come to the attention of competition organisers (me) that he was informed by another source Tom Quade (again, no relation) The rules clearly state that Tom should actually take the credit as it was his original idea. So if both families would all like to come and share in the prize, I am sure WB would be more than happy to cook dinner for you all in her new kitchen when it is up and running. She will be thrilled, trust me.