my holiday crush

Michelle's photos - Jan 2015 308I am a city girl who has a very solid relationship with the hustle and vibe of city life, but I do have a quiet crush. I try to resist acting on my heart’s wondering affections, but as often as I can I just acquiesce. I have a longstanding and not-so-secret crush on a little town that pulls at my heart in ways unrivalled by any others.

Every so often I have a yearning and, as a family we are off, northbound, to a place that my soul recognises as home. A place where one feels safe, embraced and unguarded.

Upon arrival the quiet stillness washes over me and into me and I am reminded that I am in the presence of my mentor, my teacher, my shining light.

This small town wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s unashamed vulnerability and rawness is on public display for all to see -hand-drawn shop signs and unbrushed hair are all part of its honesty.  This little town in the Northern Rivers region of NSW is not known for its Opera House or even a Big Banana. Intimate, open conversations with strangers are, in my eyes, its main tourist attraction.

Whilst I love my life in the big city this is my place of refuge and respite. This is my go-to place when I need to recharge, heal and renew. It is like returning to the family home when the outside world feels hostile and demanding – mum’s cooking and your childhood bedroom provide a familiar comfort, and there is no self-consciousness required.

I am inspired by its humanity. Its causes and community values are paraded through its small streets and humble homes. There is unwritten local lore here, but even as a visitor I am amongst my tribe, and I get it.

I love it, and here are some of the things that make my heart smile and my soul sing….
  • I love when you go to the local store looking for Aloe Vera to treat sunburn but they have run out, someone suggests you walk down to the community garden and pick some fresh.
  • I love that you can only borrow 5 items from the local library to leave enough on the shelves for everyone.
  • I love the menu at the local pool – Miso soup with gluten free toast, or a dandelion tea with soy.
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Menu at the local pool.

  • I love that the large-chain supermarket (hidden away in the back street) has a ‘trade-in’ system set up for the latest set of cards they are giving away to kids, as part of a reward scheme. Bring in your ‘doubles’ and trade them in for cards you still ‘need’.
  • I love that the guy in front of me at the local store asks Sharon, on the checkout, how her birthday party went. (It was a blast!)
  • I love that the pierced, tattooed doctor at the local hospital (it’s a long story) refers to his patients as ‘brother’ (and ‘ sister’ presumably).
  • I love that the community takes it upon themselves to erect their own street signs.
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Dear trucks and tradies, please slow down. Kids, pets and wildlife at play.

  • I love that the lovely man who has lost one eye stops to help me as I precariously juggle arms full of shopping, all whilst sharing stories of the flood on his property and his family Xmas.
  • I love that the pool at the house we are staying at has a little makeshift ramp so the frogs can get out after a swim.
  • I love that the woman at the local herbal shop that I go to get some ‘Itchy Scratchy cream’ for a mysterious rash that one of my children has developed in the heat reminds me to check her gut-health. A woman of my own heart.
  • I love that my kids aren’t the odd-ones-out when snacking on fresh fruit and nuts when out.
  • I love that even the street art has soul.
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Enbrace the power of our consciousness.

How can I be a better human.

How can I be a better human.

  • I love that the local gym offers their community free access to their filtered water (so when a bandicoot dies in one’s water tank one does not need to drink it!!).
  • I love that this same local gym just makes up the Xmas timetable from one day to the next. It keeps one’s yoga practice flexible and prevents attachment.
  • I love that the lifeguard at the pool knows everyone by name.
  • I love that pronouncability is not THE major consideration when naming ones cafe.

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  • I love being surrounded by rainbow colours everywhere you look. It lifts the spirit.

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  • I love that as you drive into town at night you are greeted by a small, heart-shaped refector attached to the tree on the side of the road.

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For now I say goodbye to Mullumbimby, but I know I will be back soon.

 

Summer Soba Salad

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Cool salads are my go-to meals during the summer months. I’m on holidays and don’t feel like spending much time hidden away in the kitchen, and besides, no one feels like eating large, heavy meals in the heat.  With smaller portion sizes it is important that each bowl is packed with health-giving nutrients.

Soba literally means “buckwheat” in Japanese and is also the name of the thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are versatile, nutty and make a great gluten free option, as long as they do not contain wheat flour. The health benefits of including buckwheat into your diet are numerous and you can read more over here in a previous post.

This recipe also contains Umeboshi vinegar (it can be substituted but worth the investment). Umeboshi plums are considered the king of alkaline foods, highly respected in Japan for their remarkable medicinal properties in balancing the body and helping with indigestion. It can be used in any salads, just drizzle a small amount of Umeboshi vinegar over some olive oil–  it’s salty so start with only a little and taste from there.

Seaweed is known as an ancient super food and I include some Nori in this recipe to prop up the nutritional values. Seaweed draws an abundance of minerals from the sea. It is high in iodine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins C and A, protein, Vitamins B, fibre and, alpha linoleic acid, EPA, and so much more. There are many varieties and it is worth experimenting to find ways of including more sea vegetables into your diet on a regular basis.

When making this salad be sure to create a complete meal. Combine seasonal vegetables with your preferred choice of protein. Good options include pan-fried tofu, grilled fish or a poached egg. My children prefer a boiled egg on the side (not pictured).

Here is my variation….

Summer soba salad

Serves 4

  • 2 bundles organic soba noodles (if gluten is an issue check that the ingredients do not include wheat flour)
  • coconut oil for cooking
  • 2 medium carrots julienned
  • 2 cups shredded kale (remove stem first)
  • 1/4 small white shredded cabbage
  • 1 bunch chopped broccolini
  • 2 small raw Lebanese cucumbers julienned
  • 2 sheets Nori to garnish

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Umeboshi vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

In a small jar combine salad dressing ingredients and shake to combine. Allow dressing to sit and infuse.

Cook soba noodles in boiling water according to packet directions. Drain and blanche in cold water  to avoid over cooking. Drain.

Lightly sauté cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini  in coconut oil until tender.

Heat a wok or non stick pan with a little coconut oil and lightly saute cabbage, kale,  carrots and broccolini.

Combine the raw cucumber, cooked vegetables and soba noodles in a bowl and drizzle with dressing.

Divide into 4 bowls and top with your choice of protein.

Use scissors to cut Nori sheets into thin strips and garnish.

 

how to get set up for a great year ahead

big dreams

This time of year offers up a precious space that needs to be embraced before it slips away. Your regular day job has wrapped up for the year, you have closed up shop or the kids are off school so the routine has eased up, and you now have some space to breathe, reflect and most importantly here…dream.

The holiday season is our opportunity to recover from the busyness, reflect on the year gone by, and build energy and vision for the year almost upon us.

Being with my beautiful family and friends at this time of year helps me clarify my values and perspectives and I always emerge brimming with inspiration. Reconnecting with what holds meaning for you is key to establishing a more centred starting point from which to plan the year and base your goals, dreams and decisions.

Whilst I am with the people I love, respect and trust the most I have conversations about the year to come and our future dreams and desires. We also do it consciously as a family as a New Year ritual. These conversations, coupled with time to read, see art, watch movies and be inspired more broadly, help to form the fantasies that shape the dreams that become the more tangible goals. I also like to take time to reflect – so I journal and draw and this helps me to unselfconsciously get in touch with my most honest thoughts and feelings and my quieter voice that can get drowned out in the day-to-day noise.

From the time I was a teenager I would make time to get quiet on New Year’s Eve and write resolutions in my journal.  These were essentially a list of wishes of how I wanted my life to look.  It really just resembled a process of finding fault with my life and myself and trying to create an alternative picture.

I thought I just needed more discipline to make the changes that would bring me happiness.  This is not the way to set dreams into motion.

This process is about so much more than finding new ways to commit to resolutions. This is about re-evaluating your life. It’s about creating a life that is tailored to fit you better.  It’s about listening into what makes your heart sing and what your soul desires and letting that shape all aspects of your life – relationships, income, health, etc. It is only when your goals truly reflect your values, loves, dreams and deep passions that you can begin to create a life that has a positive, sustainable sense of purpose.

This is the point at which I pull out my coloured pencils and begin to draw up my plans. I take much pleasure in creating colourful little wheels in a dedicated journal that help me map my projects throughout the year.

It feels so much better to begin my year moving toward being happy, content and vibrant rather than away from shame, fear and self-criticism.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead,

xMichelle