Friday, January 9, 2015

Blogging elsewhere

Thanks for visiting.

I now post on my other blog Tempest Thoughts where I review books, have rants about things that are close to my heart, ramble about my writing journey and more generally about stumbling through life.

So come on over!




Friday, May 4, 2012

Growing Food

I've always dreamt of growing my own food. As a child, for 9 months of the year, squashed in a small inner city European apartment, I dreamt of the 3 blissful summer months my brother and I'd spend with our grandparents. They had a small house and a small orchard on the outskirts of a different city 700km away. Whilst most of my friends went to the coast for 2 or 3 weeks then wandered around the quiet and hot city during those summers, my brother and I enjoyed playing in the shade of a huge walnut tree in our grandparents garden, or picking cherries in the orchard, or feeding chickens and ducks, or braiding garlic in the shed with granddad, or helping make jam and preserves with the women or learning to drive a tractor. My granddad was an agriculture lecturer and even then he taught about compost, permaculture and natural pest control. He used to say that "if a bug likes it, it is good for you". Luckily, we loved our fruit and veggies and the nan would often get angry with granddad because we'd fill up on peaches, apricots, cucumbers and tomatoes whilst helping around, so at lunch time we'd hardly touch any food on our plates.
patch of dirt waiting for our veggie garden beds

So when we bought our house, it was really the backyard that sold it to us. We saw the potential to grow our own food, and whilst it took a bit of time to get to that stage, come spring, we'll be planting our first veggies. On Bella's first birthday we planted citrus trees (lemons, mandarines, oranges), then a mango tree and pomegranate bush and grape vine. This year we had our first 'crop' of mangoes - if two giant fruits can be called a crop! The taste was amazing! The citrus fruit is lovely and tangy, just the way it's meant to taste (Bella's friend recently declared that our mandarines are "the tastiest in the world") and the pomegranates were bursting with flavour.
Mango happy

I can't wait to start planting the veggies - I've bought packets of organic seeds and am already reading up on permaculture, organic pest control and companion planting. And, of course, no veggie garden is complete without a few chickens, so Bella and her dad are already planning on building a 'cluckingham palace' for them.
Happy Friday xxx

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In pursuit of a simpler life

photo by me
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. “ Albert Einstein

Frugality, simplicity, minimalism, whatever you call it, there seems to be a groundswell of people out there living it and blogging about it. Many are intentionally trying to find a quieter, simpler space in this feverish world we live in by reducing their consumption, refusing to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ and living their lives more meaningfully.

Joshua Becket from Becoming Minimalist gives a great definition of what minimalism is.

I started thinking about this some time ago. We recycle, we reuse, we cook at home, we budget, we donate to charities, and yet I still felt overwhelmed, stressed, pressured to conform. I pushed the juggling to the limits. After all, I’m a woman and women are good at juggling, right? In the process, I compromised on the things I truly found enjoyable for the sake of those I thought I had to take on. And the more I took on, the less effective and efficient I became.

There was ‘career’ to think about, a job that seemed desirable and covetable, with lots of travelling and gadgets to keep me connected. I tried to compensate for my absences with toys and books I brought from my trips, but the guilt levels were raking at me like demon’s claws. I was always exhausted, ridden with allergies, headaches and mood swings. Yet, I ignored the signs; I persisted, stuck in my own thinking that “this too shall pass”.

And then, just after a really relaxing Christmas, I experienced my first panic attack. I was driving on a freeway at 100 km/hour when my arms and legs started cramping. I got so breathless that I thought I was having a stroke or a heart attack so I ended up being taken to ER by an ambulance! I ended up with a serious anxiety disorder and a massive fear of driving!

In the last four months I went through a denial phase (“this can’t be possibly happening to me”), a fight phase (“I can beat this”) and now I’m in the acceptance phase (“it is OK to feel this way). I was lucky enough to come across a clinical psychologist who specialises in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and who also runs a yoga school. He’s helped me become once again connected to a greater sense of purpose and a deeper encounter with what’s important in my life.

The first and the most important thing that needed to happen was to put “ME’ in the centre of the process. I needed to show some compassion and kindness to myself first. I needed to dig deep to find that courage to change direction. So the simplification and de-cluttering process began at work, at home, how I related to people, family and friends. Every aspect of my life is being reviewed – it is time for the toxic things to go and the nourishing ones to come back.

I still haven’t fully got to that stage that I can say that I live every day of my life in a meaningful way. Far from it. I still tremble at the thought of driving, I’m still in the same job (minus travelling) but I see this now as a journey, not a destination and that I’m making that courageous move in the pursuit of a simpler and happier life.

Mindfully yours,

Maja xx

PS. Some may think “what’s a big deal? It’s only anxiety.” OK, so it is not a terminal illness, but stress and anxiety are insidious conditions that can have profound effect on people’s lives and those around them. If left untreated, they are likely to lead to serious mental health issues such as depression and suicide. So please don’t ignore it.

For more information visit

Useful links and inspirational blogs about simplifying your life: (highly recommended if you want to know more about mindfulness)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

$10 beauty

Ain't she a beauty? We picked up this piece of furniture from a local church garage sale for a $10. It had some kiddie stickers on it, coffee and water rings and the legs were split in a few spots. With some metho, steel wool and 3 coats of danish oil, and she is a beauty once again.

We found a sticker on the inside saying it is "Greaves and Thomas" piece, which seems to be an equivalent to Australian Parker furniture. We also found an exact same piece on the internet, c 1965, (it seems that ours has had the legs shortened) in the UK on sale for a mere $1500!!! 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

"Crepecakes" and are these best ever muffins

Bella likes crepes but gets frustrated when the contents start to spill out of them. Just like me she doesn't like the taste of self-raising flour ("mum, my teeth tingle") so she is not keen on pancakes. So we came up with "crepecakes" - crepes shaped like pancakes. Voila!

I make them bland, so they are great with both savoury and sweet condiments.

Also, I'm constantly looking for dessert recipes that are not ladden with sugar and fat. I came across these muffins here The author claims that this is the "best ever muffin recipe". I did cringe at the amount of self-raising flour (both plain and wholemeal) but I liked the other ingredients - carrot, apple, raisins, oats, natural yoghurt, apple sauce instead of butter or oil. I replaced raisins with cranberries and added some chopped walnuts as well. The muffins are really tasty, although I think that next time I will add some cinnamon to enhance the flavour. Best ever muffins? Probably not, but they are quick to make, healthy and tasty, and I will be making them again.

My trifty store cloches came in handy! Oh, and can you spot Bella :)?

Friday, October 28, 2011


Finally, I am sufficiently inspired to write something. I wondered if people would be interested in reading about my weight loss challenges, as those of you who still seem to be following me (a few have dropped off - don't blame them) didn't sing up for those sort of posts.

So just briefly, the 'renovation of me' continues and I am happy to say that I have shed nearly 15kg so far. The journey hasn't been without roadblocks and barriers, but no journey is straightforward. During that time, the house renovations and projects have been put aside. But now that the spring has finally sprung I feel very inspired to tackle some new projects.

But first is first - I needed to clear and declutter. It was the garden first today (it was such a glorious day for it), then my study aka junk room and finally my wardrobe. The charities will be pleased with a load of clothes and knick-knacks I gathered today - phew, the amount of stuff we collect!

Here are a few photos of our garden today.

Pomegranate in bloom

Beautiful pomegranate flower also known as Persephone's fruit

This was a tiny pup 2 years ago!

a pretty side of our garden

Add caption

we 'borrow' large gums from our neighbours and the park we back onto

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Different kind of reno - the renovation of me

Hi all

I've been absent from the blogging world for a while, and for a very good reason. For years I've been complaining about my weight and general well being and, unfortunately, like so many others, I expected a silver bullet or a magic potion to help me get rid of that problem.

So after some serious soul searching I decided to try Michelle Bridges's 12 Week Body Transformation program You know her - the seriously tough trainer from the Biggest Loser.

It is nearly week 6 of the program and I am over the moon. It is the best present I could have given myself. I've lost 5 kg which is half way to my goal weight for this round. You may wonder why I hadn't spoken about this sooner. The truth is I had doubts about the program and about my own willingness to stick to it.

I have to admit that in the past I was a bit snobbish when people told me they were on a diet or joined the Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Yes, some truly lost weight, but many put it back on as soon as they were off the program. Despite hearing great things about the 12wbt, I still believed it was a fad. I was still sceptical even after I joined and the doubts didn't leave me until week 2 of the program.

But on the cusp of week 6, I humbly and happily admit that I was wrong. Big time. Beside eating cleanly and exercising like a mad woman (I power-walked 7km on Sunday - I am still in awe of myself for doing that), I have gained confidence, become better organised (there's lots of cooking, scheduling exercise, work, family, renovation,etc) and have adopted a new perspective - life is no longer a glass half empty, it is a glass half full.

My biggest challenge was to resist "the call of the sweet fang". I didn't have a sweet tooth, seriously it was a fang! The first two weeks were hell - I had withdrawal symptoms - and endless morning teas and "muffin meetings" at work were a huge challenge. But, I'm happy to say that the monster is safely caged now. No, not caged - that implies that it might escape. The monster is gone - it has been defeated!

None of this would have been easy without Michelle's guidance and a well designed program. But what is truly unique is the way the participants have organised themselves. My biggest inspiration and motivation to keep at it is the brilliant 12wbt Perth Crew, a bunch of women (and one and half guys) who cheer and support each other, exercise together, party together, kick butts when kicking is required. There are some truly inspirational people in the group who also blog about their experiences - these are from two awesome ladies from the Perth crew and

I'm sorry for such a long post, but I simply wanted to share this with the world. OK, all 11 of my wonderful followers, and I already hear you cheering me on. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Maja xx


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