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…


Easter: 1 Christmas: 0

I have a theory – very recently put to the test – that Easter is way better than Christmas.

I know, I am really putting it out there (I like to focus on the big issues) but I speak from experience and felt it was a worthy topic for discussion. Oh and before we go on, this is not from the Christian perspective. Just so we’re clear.

You see, I am one of those tricky people that happens to get a bit carried away at Chrissy and puts a lot of emphasis on that one day. I have done it for the past couple of years – a slow learner indeed – and as soon as Dec 26 rolls around I am beating myself up about being so ridiculously fixated on that one day.

The ironic thing is that last year, with Christmas festivities being held at our house, I kept saying to anyone who would listen “We’re just keeping it really simple this year.” It was like a mantra and the more I said it, the more I tried to believe that I would put the words into practice. The only problem was that my mantra did not come to the party. I dithered about keeping the food simple (at least I did manage that) but by the same token I put a whole lot of emphasis on the people and the ‘feeling’.

I bombed out early (actually on Chrissy Eve) by deciding that was a great moment in the calendar year to bring up a couple of my big issues with my husband – clearly I had let my emotions get the better of me – and as a result things were rather ‘frosty’ between us for the following 24 hours. (Needless to say I am learning to time things a little better and not ‘awfulise’ things to such an extent.) But unfortunately the damage was done, and I spent most of Christmas Day regretting the previous altercation (but being far too stubborn to make amends.) It was Christmas at my house and I was going to have it my way. All day.

The presents made me feel a bit squeamish too – not so much for the adults as we have toned things down in recent years – but the little people were swallowed up by mountains of tissue paper, toys requiring 8 AA batteries and the question that kills me “Are there any more presents for me?” I was already in a delicate state, so this kind of overwhelm…well it started to overwhelm me. I held on for the day and managed to survive, only taking a couple of victims down with me.

Fast forward to Easter and things were a whole lot different. For the past few years I have taken off for the long weekend (there’s an idea) and the whole time has been about family and hanging out. The weather is dreamy, the eggs don’t come into play and the food is always tasty and not fussy. But most of all it’s about the people (and about 40 bazillion cups of tea).

So the take away message? For me, it’s about looking at and holding onto Christmas a little more lightly. (I think I may have been strangling it these past couple of years) and to keep loving Easter just the way it is.

Any questions or comments?!


Grease and Oil Change

We’re putting on a little wellness workshop out Trundle way on Thursday March 17, and ya’ll are invited. You don’t need to be from Trundle, you don’t need to be crook and you don’t need to pay.

This idea for a health kick came about after last October’s Mental As initiative, which was all over the ABC radio and television. I particularly loved the Saturday Night Crack Up – a comedy gala which so sensitively took the Mickey out of mental ill health. It got me thinking about the people nearest and dearest to me and how we are all often just keeping our heads above water – myself included.

And let’s face it, rural areas aren’t always privy to the best of services. We are an isolated bunch and while the community health groups and powers that be seem to be doing their best to help us out, sometimes you just have to bring the peeps to your place.

So from a simple idea (I was thinking a couple of hours, with a couple of guest speakers) we now have a cracking line up of professionals (and some not so professionals) and damn fine folk, coming all the way out to Trundle to share their ideas of how to get your mind and body in the best possible shape.

I really hope lots of people come (you know when you organise something, which in your head is a fantastic idea, and then as it looms closer you start to have doubts and imagine it’ll be just you and your mum and dad sitting up there in the audience?! That’s where I am at today)

So fill up the fuel tank and come on out to the Trundle Golfie. If nothing else you will get a chance to say hi to my mum and dad.

Grease&OilChange copy

PS, Sorry for the sales pitch.




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



My non negotiables

I am a stickler for a daily rhythm & regular habits. It’s definitely my personality type (the official title of which I am still figuring out but I recently took Gretchen Rubin’s habits quiz and I am thinking the label ‘Upholder’ might suit me to a tee.)

This title comes down to my tendency to meet both external (those of others) and internal (my own) expectations.

I take on new habits easily and with gusto. If I read or hear about something that is going to be of benefit then there’s a fair chance that I’ll be hooked…possibly by the following morning. I might stick with the new habit for the long term (lemon water first thing in the morning) or they might come and go (coconut oil pulling.)

My days tend to run more beautifully if I can manage a few simple habits. Yes, there are many days when I don’t get to some of them, but I am getting better in making substitutions where possible.

And if my rhythm misses a beat, then that’s not the end of the world.

Going for a walk: Sage advice from the community nurses when Lenny was born. I don’t do it to get the heart racing, but I do stretch the pins and I see some lovely people on my travels.

Cooking breakfast: I thrive on food that is hot – whatever time of the year, whatever time of the day. Eggs, sausages, porridge, leftovers…you name it I can (h)eat it.

Having a bit of quiet time: Quiet time has become a bit of a catch cry in this house if things are a bit off the richter. “I’m just having a bit of quiet time” while steaming out the back door is code for “I am about to have a nervous breakdown.” So I am trying to head this feeling off at the pass by succumbing to quiet time of my own accord. This might be called meditating in some circles, but I prefer to calling it sitting down with my legs crossed and listening to my breathing.

Light entertainment: I will generally squeeze in something to thrill the senses each day. At the moment it is a combination of the following:

Nashville Y’all do yourselves a favour & watch this.

The Slow Home Podcast This is how Gretchin and I came to ‘meet.’

All the Light We Cannot See Our bookclub read.

Jetsetmama Checking in with this lady is good for the soul & the laugh lines.


What are your daily non negotiables? I’d love you to tell me in the comments section (because there’s a fair chance I’ll go and give them a crack)


Sleep Deprivation: The silent killer

OK, well I may have gathered that you don’t actually die from lack of sleep – or I would have been 6 foot under a few months ago – but boy does it mess with your system. One of the many words of wisdom I received when Lenny came on the scene included ‘Just remember, no one has ever died from a lack of sleep’ And that may be technically true, but I have often wondered if sleep deprivation has been responsible for people going close to dying  – or being responsible for someone else’s death at the very least.

I’m not sure what you call the phase that we are currently going through (I have an appointment with the community nurse later this month, so I’m hoping to get a formal diagnosis from her) but call it teething, call it a growth spurt, call it whatever the heck you like, but when sleep is hard to come by then everything else is hard. Real hard.

I don’t need to count up the hours of missed sleep on my fingers, I know I am sleep deprived when:

  • My creativity is sapped…and I feel like I’ll never have a bright idea again. The thought of sitting down to write a blog post makes me feel squeamish, along with the thought that I might never have a funny/ useful/ interesting/ productive thing to say to anyone again. Ever.
  • Relationships become strained…mainly with those that live under the same roof as me (I seem to be able to ‘bung it on’ if I have a visitor.) Mind you, my conversation skills are limited and I tend to speak in one or two word sentences. I prefer to be the answerer rather than the questioner when I am tired, and it’s amazing how long you can keep a conversation rolling with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
  • The comparison trap is wide open…yep, and I start to slide in. Without decent sleep I start to doubt myself and invariably imagine other more capable ladies killing it. It’s not healthy and I have developed some skills to snap back out of it, but often if I am feeling a bit tender then I start to worry what other people might think. Which is not helpful at all.
  • Come night time, the TV is turned on…and I watch it recklessly, flicking from the new SBS food channel (I think Curtis Stone might have shares in that channel – he is on every 2nd show) to the cricket slash tennis or heaven forbid repeats of Grand Designs from 2010. Turn it off.
  • I overthink every single decision…actually I can’t actually make a decision to save myself. Should I put the pram into the car first? Will I turn the car on to cool down? Should I pop Lenny in first? Will I put my shoes on before I put him in? ARRGGH Who cares? Just get in the bloody car. Go barefoot, no one gives a toss.
  • We’re in a food funk…I know everyone is capable of falling into a slump when it comes to meal planning and cooking but I have gone through long stints of meat and 3 veg – ok make it 2, including potato – for days at a time. And not a skerrick of gravy or sauce to be seen. I’m telling you when I haven’t had sleep, things are B.L.A.N.D.

I’d like to say that it’s the complete reversal of these tendencies when I am loaded up on sleep. Not quite, but everything is brighter, there’s no doubt about it. And I can see past my own eyelashes…and even be helpful to others.

So it’s off to bed for me.






When 3 friends leave.

Yes, it’s true that 3 of my friends have all up and left within the space of a month. And I am mourning the loss. I don’t tend have a lot of close friends – it’s a case of quality rather than quantity – so when 3 lovely ladies pack up and leave town, well it’s rough.

One was a predicted move but the other two came out of the blue (for me, not them clearly.) And all I could do when both of these girls told me they were moving was punch them fair in the arm. I am not sure what to make of that reaction but I think a psychologist would say that I was experiencing a sense of loss, betrayal (a bit harsh) and sadness. Well yes, you are right on all counts.

My idea is that life becomes a bit more stable when you hit your 40’s. And people are in for the long haul. Back in the day, of uni and my early teaching jobs, it was the norm for friends & acquaintances to up and leave after a few years. I did it myself. I made sure I didn’t get too attached (see previous comment about quality rather than quantity) and wished everyone well as we headed off on our next adventure. I was always (and still am, sadly) one of those types who promised that I would keep in touch, but I often knew that our best friendship days were over.

There are the odd cases of when I fell into a deep and long lasting friendship, (I can imagine a couple of girlfriends thinking ‘what about me?’) but sadly many have fallen by the wayside. I blame it on my inability to use the phone for actual phone calls – I prefer texting…oh & checking in to see what Sarah Wilson is up to. It’s a shame as I have some long lost acquaintances, that I think of fondly, but just haven’t got the gumption (now there’s a word) to dial their number, even though I’ve had it in my phone since 1999. (I definitely had a blue flip phone in 2000 and boy did I think I was the business. But clearly not enough of the business to use it.)

I will admit that I still have some lovely friends that don’t live in my town of Forbes – but I put that down to their dogged persistence and patience in single handedly pursuing our friendship. I am hoping that the 3 lovely ladies that have left the 2871 postcode will persevere, subtly stalking me in the hope that I might one day return their call.

This moving business also brings up all sorts of emotions, because it is just not easy to move. And I can imagine that it would be even more difficult with small children. The practical aspects of packing and unpacking, selling, cleaning and closing the door on a house full of memories…I’m starting to get teary…are all part of the deal. And what about when you get to a new place? It’s like starting year 7 all over again. It’s lucky that every single one of these 3 friends are some of the kindest and friendliest people going around. Maybe that’s why they moved – to share some of that beautiful spirit with a whole new bunch of people.

So I wish them well, but I also want them to know that it’s not easy for those of us left behind either. We are sad and will miss them terribly.

Oh and I will keep in touch…just call me.



Bits and Blogs #1

I do a lovely little segment each month on ABC local radio called Bits and Blogs. Actually it was exactly this time last year that I started. Mum and I were in Melbourne watching the tennis – my idea of the perfect week in January – and I did my first stint with Angela Owens.

It’s funny how excited I was…actually still am. I treat it like a real job and there is something very satisfying about planning and making a real go of it. I decided a while ago that most of my best work is either unpaid or done as a favour or in return for a service. I don’t work well under pressure, and I found that money puts me under the most pressure. The few times that I have worked on an hourly rate seem to send me into a spin (have I worked hard enough? Did that really take me two hours? Should I have worked more quickly? Am I really worth X amount? ) I guess it’s a combo of not being confident in my ability, and also feeling bad for taking someone else’s money.

Enter ABC radio – where absolutely no money changes hands.

It’s a love job and it means I can combine my love of reading blogs, listening to podcasts, checking out social media…and talking.

So here we go for 2016. I now work with Kia Handley and she and I just happen to be on exactly the same page (I’m sure that’s a generalisation but in the world of radio and magic then I am happy to stick with it!) We are going to make it our quest to uncover local bloggers & social media fiends and interview them. How fun!

Presenting our first of the season:

Best Blog: Smaggle How to Win at Life by Carly Jacobs

I resisted this blog at first – I thought I’d seen a million like it. Someone telling me where to shop, how to dress, what to eat, how to own my life. But I am a total convert. Carly speaks my language and I have slowly but surely become a devotee.

The posts that got me over the line:

7 Habits of Charming People (and while I find the word ‘charming’ a bit smarmy, I get the sentiment.) It’s about how to be kind and show love. And we all need a bit of that.

How to have an insanely productive morning I admit that mornings are pretty great in our house…my most favourite part of the day & about as productive as the day is going to get. What I loved most about this post is Carly’s admission of not liking showers. ME NEITHER.

A podcast that has me pumping: The Inspired Table by Jordanna Levin

This is from a blogger who loves food and how food leads to a more wholesome life. What I love about the podcast – there are only three episodes to catch up on – is that it combines the idea of healthy eating and how that effects all aspects of your life. What I crave (pardon the pun) in a podcast is people spilling their guts & being completely honest & so far so good. I love a juicy back story.

Jordanna’s podcast is the interview technique – which is my favourite kind of podcast – and allows a real cross section of ideas and personalities to be explored. Guest #1 Melissa Ambrosini speaks candidly about choosing fear over love. Yes its a bit woo woo but it is January & I’m all for it.

Inspo from Instagram: The Trundle Berry by Jaime Berry

Yes, she is from Trundle. Yes, she is my friend. Yes, she is creative. Yes, she is a vet in a former life.

JB takes pics of Central Western NSW – amongst other pretty impressive places (did someone say Russia?!) and they are just so damn pretty and interesting…and make me feel a little bit nostalgic.

I asked JB a few questions about her Instagram photography and you can hear our interview, along with the whole radio segment HERE

Oh and did I tell you that Jamie takes great photos?

Cherie Wend Helen at Vanfest

With ma two sisters…


Time for change…

Blogs are a funny concept. And the one thing I have noticed lately is that if it’s not happening, then it’s just not happening. I have lost my little spark, where I felt motivated to write and comment on progress of ‘Northcote’. And sure, it served a purpose for a while – I was able to keep family in the loop of the happenings, and it was fun to keep checking in with progress.

But like many things, there comes a time for change. The fact that I haven’t been able to tie myself to the keyboard in months, to try and belt out a new blog post, is a sure sign that it had run its course.

But I really love the ‘idea’ of blogging – just not the practicalities. Like typing. Or writing words. I much prefer to talk. In person preferably.

And I have had a couple of opportunities to talk about blogs lately – once in Bathurst and then again this week on ABC radio. And I think it’s the medium for me. So I’m going to re-jig this little baby, and there’ll be a few ‘sweeping changes’ in the wind.

Oh and there is a small person expected in the next two weeks (don’t worry, this isn’t going to metamorphosis into a mummy blog) but I think the timing is right to mix things up a little.

As they say in the business ‘Stay Tuned’

On the radio this week, I spoke about some cracking blogs that have me hooked. And I actually think they could be life changing (I saw that eye roll) especially the ‘Slow Your Home‘ beauty.

If you want to listen to the rather brief radio segment, then here’s the link to Soundcloud HERE so you can listen online.

Or, if you want to just cut straight to the blogs themselves, then be my guest:

1. Deliciously Ella: This UK dynamo really is delicious. She is a foodie who documents – via text and videos – her lifestyle changes that were implemented when her health took a dive. Her recipes are simple, her (short) videos are easy to watch and she has a great outlook on life – I’d call it confident but not a love job. I would have killed for this kind of inspiration when I was in my 20s.

Deliciously Ella
2. Slow your Home: Oh so much to talk about here. Blogger Brooke is based in the Blue Mountains (so many ‘b’s) and she speaks of a slower paced life that brings so many benefits. Her podcasts have me hooked, and I seem to be making up excuses to drive everywhere just so I can listen to another instalment. I am convinced this slow paced business is the way forward for me…

Slow your home

3. The Squawkin’ Galah: The gorgeous Tracy Sorrenson lives in Bathurst and we met a couple of weeks ago at a blogging panel thingy-me-bob as part of the Sydney Writer’s Festival. Her blog is calm (I sense a theme) and beautifully written – firstly about her fight against cancer, and more recently about her life and musings post cancer.

Tracy SorrensonSo it’s a bit of a ‘chick-fest’ this time around. I just can’t believe how so many great things can be found and learned via blogs. Cheaper than therapy.

Let’s hope this blog in particular manages to keep up with that philosophy. See you soon with a change of pace.




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.