Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Brunswick Love

Aloha from sunny Brunswick Heads in northern NSW, Australia!

Summer is here and we're celebrating with beach swims after dinner, longer hours spent surfing and no wetsuits in sight.

I am so grateful to live by the sea and to breathe the coastal air. At this time of year my car is always filled with salty towels, sandals, shells, the occasional dried sea sponge and seaweed, a spare change of light linen or cotton clothes to throw on after a swim and enough sand to create our own beach.

In other news, we adopted another rescue dog to keep Coco company. Her name is Rosie, she's small, six years old, fluffy and will forever remind me of Christmas as she was wearing a Santa hat the day we first saw her in a local Christmas parade.

Where are you celebrating Christmas this year?

I love to be surrounded by family, pancake breakfasts on Christmas morning, tropical fruit platters, beach swims and splashing with my little Love.

Last year we stayed in our own house, we had a hot, sunny Christmas at the beach in Northern NSW. We explored the rock pools, buried Love up to her neck in sand, drank green smoothies and relaxed in a hammock. It was a vibrant, colourful, sun kissed experience.

This year we'll be celebrating with more family members, including GG (great grandmother), who has leaukaemia. She's a battler and will be surrounded by wonderful company, great food and showered with love before kicking off 2020.

The photo above is me loving the summer vibes of chilled Brunswick Heads. Have you visited the Brunswick Heads Picture House? It's a must if you haven't, a colourful, eclectic mix of succulents hanging from ice skates, flamingos, 60s umbrellas, winding paths and hidden fairy houses in glass cases... That's just the surrounding gardens and a short stroll to the best bakery in town and more quirky, beautiful shops to explore and enjoy.

▫️Visit the Byron Bay Surf Festival again as it was washed out this year
▫️travel more with Love
▫️East coast road trip with my girl to my home town which has been ravaged by the bush fires.

Where will you be celebrating? Do you have any places or activities on your list?

Before I finish this post, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the people who have worked so tirelessly to contain and extinguish the devastating fires that have burned across the state (and continue to burn in many places). We have you to thank for helping us to defend our home, our community and our wildlife as so much natural history and ancient forests crackled and blackened in the extreme weather. Your efforts inspired us to help in the ways we could by opening our home to strangers, who waited to discover if their own homes had been lost. Thank you, truly.

Sun kissed love from us to you.

Bella x

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Autumn Sundays

The forecast this weekend is for rainy days and cooler nights as we finally transition from warm summer evenings to those spent around the dinner table enjoying dahl with yellow rice, hot tea at any time of the day and oven roasted tomatoes with garlic all plump and glossy and ready to be blended into one of my favourite comforting soups.

Last weekend we rode around the quiet streets of our sleepy seaside suburb, Love pointing to birds and giggling as my rusty vintage bicycle bumped across driveways and lawns. After a day spent largely outdoors exploring the headland, watching dolphins chase fish through sets and leaping out of the back of waves, their shiny bodies glistening in the sunshine, we were ready for an easy dinner at the local corner store. On our return walk we watched small coastal birds zip and dart just in front of poor Coco, who strained against her leash for a closer look and perhaps... a little taste?

Love caught several pairs of butterflies, who appeared to be locked in what I described to her as a loving embrace. They were fluttering about in the hundreds close to the scrubby plants along the headland, just low enough to avoid being swept away in the wind. Catching butterflies with my daughter has got to be one of those things I imagined doing as a child when I daydreamed of becoming a mother. It didn’t disappoint. Her laughter and excitement genuinely warmed my heart, as did her defeated, ‘ohhh... I need them!’ as a winged pair escaped her loosely cupped fingers.

Note to self: spend more time exploring the difference between wants and needs with my daughter.

Life goals I’ve been embracing during the warmer Autumn days include spending time on adventures, exploring outdoors and spending meaningful time together doing as many different things as we can imagine. At night she loves to help me cook. She stands on a little blue stool, stirring vegetables gently sizzling on the stove as I float around her, watching, helping when required and generally marvelling at how much she’s grown as she becomes more independent every day.

One day soon we’ll visit the Treetops walk. I’ve heard it’s rather fun and Love certainly loves to climb. I’m often asking her to ‘come back down’ from the rocks at Witches Reef and various other structures. Perhaps she’d enjoy rock climbing as a sport I muse, then quickly remind myself that I’m not mentally prepared to deal with that level of anxiety.

For now, we’re content to fill our days living slowly, enjoying each hour by the sea. It really is possible to carve out time to play hide-and-seek at the corner store, enjoy the rare vegetarian burger together as the sun drops behind the mountains, causing the sky and streets to glow gold and to practise mindfulness during our daily activities. Living in the moment, appreciating just how wonderful this season feels and looking forward to friendly talks with local growers at the Sunday seaside markets.

How do you enjoy your slow Autumn Sundays?

Bella xx

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Byron Bay Surf Festival 2019

In the month of February we travelled to Byron Bay for the annual Byron Bay Surf Festival so I could show Love more strong women in surfing, a passion of hers that is truly blossoming and one I want to nurture.

First stop for us was Spell and the Gypsy Collective, where this little wahine selected her own dress from the Little Gypsies range. Love wears Little Xanadu Frill Sleeve Dress in Gold Dust. She was so captivated by the way it swished as she turned that she insisted on wearing it out of the store into the cyclonic wind (see the first photo for cute reference!).

In all honesty, I had a strong feeling many of the events would be cancelled due to the stormy weather from ex-tropical cyclone Oma. The coast had been battered for a few days with large swell, gusty winds and heavy rain. We decided to explore the streets when the patchy rain eased and stopped to dine at Balcony Bar & Oyster Co when it hammered down again, sending other diners racing inside for shelter. We dined on roast eggplant, mung beans and miso sprouts for our main and coconut sago with raspberry sorbet and pistachio for a cool, sweet dessert to finish.

When the darkest rainclouds cleared, we drove the winding coast road to Cape Byron Lighthouse, where we explored the iconic white building from the outside. Love was rather upset it was locked as she had her heart set on collecting ocean stamps but she soon warmed to the idea of running from fence to telescope as I marvelled at the thousands of white caps on the windswept waves and laughed at her exaggerated laboured walk as she leant into the wind on our return to the car.

My favourite moments from our trip to BBSF2019 were spent exploring the buzzing streets, watching Love choose a surfboard from the range available for hire from a local surf shop (for a future trip of course), trying on clothes and old stencilled and embroidered handbags in vintage clothing stores and enjoying the relaxed, easy going surf culture that this beautiful town is famous for the world over.

We will be back next year, consider that a bucket list must do!

Have you visited Byron Bay or perhaps the surf festival? What were your highlights? We'd love to know your pick for events to share with your kids.

Bella xx

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Letting go of childbirth shame

I miss this. Stopping everything for a brief moment to allow her to latch and continuing a conversation or making dinner as she rested in a sling against me, gently pulling nourishment from my body. There was a lot I didn't expect at this time - feeling fatigue and dehydration beyond what I thought was humanly possible; losing more hair than what I had started with pre-pregnancy... Still mourning the birth I had hoped for her, for us.

That stung the longest.

It took a long time to write my thoughts about her journey to my arms from my round belly. I held onto the fear and resentment towards the doctor involved for far too long and it was crippling at unexpected times, like when I was paying for groceries or having a super quick-turned-long shower. Eventually, as often happens as time passes, something gave way and I let go of the hurt, allowing me to be kinder to myself, more forgiving and with less expectation of what I should or should not be doing.

Self love and acceptance of what had already happened released my self-imposed shackles.

Healing from physical pain and surgical disfigurement post-childbirth took it's toll on me mentally and it's something I wanted to share here, something deeply personal that I should not have felt ashamed about then. Looking back on photos of Love breastfeeding fills me with tear-streaming joy and it serves as a reminder of how fortunate I am to have this beautiful little girl in my life. I feel my heart swell with gratitude every single day and that's something worth holding onto, experiencing and cherishing.

Bella x

Monday, February 18, 2019

Reflections at The Gantry, Bawley Point

It was a warm winter afternoon in the sun when we stopped at The Gantry to rest. Love climbed up on an old rusty relic embedded in the rock to stare at tiny fish, anemones and her reflection in the still rock pool.

We’d spent the morning driving around looking at houses for sale (like this cute little beach house on Tingira Drive)as we told imaginary stories and I contemplated moving back to my hometown with my little girl. This is the first time I’d ever brought her to region from my childhood. Some places hadn’t changed in decades whilst others were shiny and new.

The Gantry itself had been replaced and as we sat bathing in the warmth of the late afternoon sunlight, I imagined my ten year old self squealing with excitement as I leaped from the end into the cool water below. The rush of bubbles, legs and arms frantically reaching for the surface tickled my skin.

Looking down, I wondered if the water felt cold today. Probably. I doubt I'd have the courage to jump in now, the cocoon of the woollen blanket and Love tucked up against me breastfeeding was the warmth we needed as the sun dipped lower in the sky.

Love found some leftover prawn bait heads and tails and flicked them into the water. The ensuing scurry of blurry round fish scrambling to devour the stinky meal made us both oohhh and ahhh in amazement. It's nice to see the toadfish remained in this area, hungrily feeding on the same meals they've probably been fed for years before we visited.

These photos were taken in July 2017, one month before Love's third birthday. Now this little girl is four and half years old. Time certainly has a way of quietly slipping by but I'm certain that with effort, we can make our south coast trips more regular.

For those who live far from their hometowns, when you do visit are you filled with pangs of nostalgia, joy but also sadness? Exploring the area with Love helped me to revisit old memories and create new ones as we met up with my longest friends and their children.

There’s something magical about the south coast.

Bella x

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sunset Picnics

Towards the end of summer we started an evening ritual of home cooked meals on the headland overlooking the sea at sunset. The evenings were beautiful, sky ablaze with warm pink, orange and golden rays as the sun dipped below the western horizon. The air still comfortable enough to enjoy the last of summer's warmth before the change in seasons heralded thick socks, layered clothing, indoor play and our favourite scarves from last year.

I find the change in seasons so enchanting as familiar rituals see us cooking warm meals in place of raw salads, mulled wine in place of iced tea and focussing on slowing down. There's outdoor play whilst the sun shines and I'll admit most picnics I spent chasing Love to scoop another spoonful of dinner into her mouth as she was too excited chasing our little brown dog to sit still on our blanket. This summer she would gleefully yell 'Yook Mama!' whilst pointing at flowers, insects, birds soaring high above or rainbows in the summer rain out to sea. She's still perfecting the elusive 'L' sound. I'll miss 'yook' when she learns to say 'look', just as I miss it when she called our beloved Coco dog, 'Toto'.

I'll also miss sitting there overlooking the sea and thundering waves below. Now that daylight savings has ended, it is usually quite dark by the time I arrive home from work. My evening rituals have begun to include cooking hearty soups, preparing abundance bowls bursting with vegetables and leafy deep greens, brown rice and immunity supporting vegetable broth.

Each morning Max, our cat curls up in my lap as I squeeze in a few photo edits before Love stirs. We used to plan morning beach walks but now we prefer to snuggle as long as we can before starting the day. Yes, even our beautiful fur children know when to slow down to enjoy a warm cuddle as summer transitions to gorgeous autumn.

I've revisited my manifest diary with more intention. Have some of my goals changed now that the seasons have changed? Only slightly for my family goals and manifesting more home-focussed nature based play in the form of tending our vegetable garden (which provided us with two round butternut squash this week, perfect for roasting and warm salads!) and potting indoor plants now that we're indoors more.

We painted ladybugs, whales and moons on smooth pebbles from the beach and seaside forest. Soon we will gather them into Love's woven grass basket and hide them for other children to find around the local playground.

I love how the cooler weather brings us closer together.

Farewell beautiful summer picnics and hello autumn backyard fires under the stars.


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