Raw (un)cooking class

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Straight from the garden

I love raw food. It can be some of the tastiest food I get to eat. One of my absolute favourite cafes is a raw vegetarian cafe. For some time now I’ve been dreaming of going to an A Foodly Affair raw (un)cooking class. Finally I had enough free time and a good excuse (early Christmas present) to go! A Foodly Affair is actually the lovely Hannah and it was so enjoyable to listen to someone who is really passionate about delicious raw food and general health and wellbeing, and if you weren’t already a raw food convert then seeing Hannah’s glowing skin would certainly change your mind!

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Hannah from A Foodly Affair

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The class getting involved

This particular (un)cooking class was Christmas focused. I was intrigued to see how Hannah would pull off a raw Christmas meal as there are some very particular traditional flavours associated with Christmas – but Hannah managed to put together an amazing spread of food that even the fussy eaters would be happy eating on Christmas day. I was particularly surprised by the Faux Turkey with Cranberry Sauce – a ‘stuffing’ like mixture was placed in a lettuce leaf with cranberry sauce poured on top and then it was all rolled up in the leaf – it really did have all the flavours of Christmas and I kept going back for more! It was so addictive!

Making almond milk for a 'nutty nog'

Making almond milk for a ‘nutty nog’

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Shaving some cacao butter

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Preparing some raw coffee and cardamom bites

The class certainly inspired me to get more involved in my raw (un)cooking as well as eating more organic and healthy foods. I also just bought her e-book “Love Thy Food” which I’m pretty excited about – especially the section on feeding toddlers. My toddler really listens to his body and it’s been so interesting watching his food journey. He is really into salads at the moment and recently discovered vegetable juice and smoothies and is absolutely addicted. I can’t wait to see what else I can tempt him with!

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

Faux turkey with cranberry sauce

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Sweet potato and cranberry salad

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Pesto stuffed mushrooms

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Cheesy cucumber bites

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Maple cherry bombs

If you’re interested in going raw then I absolutely recommend a raw (un)cooking class. It’s a great way to be introduced to the entire process of buying and (un)cooking raw food as well as picking up heaps of great tips along the way. Plus you get to sit down and eat everything at the end! You can find some of Hannah’s upcoming classes listed here.

Why every parent should join a toy library


Want to save hundreds if not thousands of dollars? Want to save space in your home? Want to save the environment? Want to have less stress and happy children? Want to teach your children awesome values? Joining a toy library will do all these things and more!

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I don’t want this big chunk of plastic permanently at my house, but it’s a perfect toy to borrow from the toy library!

Children get bored. It’s as simple as that. Until now I’ve cycled through what few toys Everett had so he wouldn’t get sick of them (in other words, only having a few of his toys out at a time and then replacing them every week or two with his other toys). But lately I’ve been watching him get sick of his current toys and searching for more stimulating things and then once he’s figured out what he can do with the toy (or random object) he moves on. I’ve also watched him steer towards certain toys at playgroup and I could see that it was time to upgrade some of his toys. But we didn’t want to buy a big pile of toys that he could get sick of or grow out of in only a few months, even though I already tend to buy most things secondhand (Plus I’m on a challenge to limit (or cut) my child spending, you can read about that here). We also don’t have the space to store so many toys and the idea of buying all that plastic sent my environmentally conscious mind into a spin. This is when the toy library came into our lives. Kids will generally always have a few of their own toys (whether it be presents or hand-me-downs) but a toy library is a great way to supplement your existing collection.

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What is a toy library?

A toy library, generally supported by the local council or shire, is similar to a book library – you borrow toys and return them but for a small annual fee. They usually cost between $50 to $100 per year which is extremely affordable when you think of all the toys you won’t have to purchase. They are generally aimed at pre-school children (6 months to 6 years old) but may differ between libraries. The toy range available will also vary from each library, but most have baby toys, puzzles, games, musical instruments, electronic games, CD’s and DVD’s, puppets, costumes, water and sand toys, ride on toys, bikes, imaginative play (toy kitchens, prams, doll cots etc), trucks, blocks, electronic games, big outdoor toys like slides and see-saws and much more.  There is usually no restriction on what particular toys you can borrow either – you can borrow four bikes if you wanted to which is great for young interstate visitors and the like! Each library is different but most offer extra toy hire for a minimal fee which is great for parties and mothers groups. As most libraries are not-for-profit volunteer run organisations, as a member it is likely you will be expected to go on a roster to work at the toy library – though spending a few hours with your child at a toy library where they can roam free and play with all the visiting children is by no means a hard morning’s work!

So if I haven’t convinced you already, let me tell you some specific benefits of joining a toy library.

Save money

Well I think this one is obvious right? This isn’t about being cheap (though a toy library is an especially brilliant way to entertain kids on a tight budget) it’s about unnecessary spending. You just have to browse around a toy store to see how many toys are aimed at different age levels, skills, and even specific likes (i.e. dinosaurs vs trucks). You could go broke trying to satisfy each interest or skill! My toy library membership costs $60 a year, which equates to $1.15 a week. This membership allows me to borrow four toys every three weeks. You don’t have to be a genius to understand the value in that.

This could be your loungeroom!
Ok, a tad dramatic, but I seriously wonder how big your ‘pile’ could be if you never threw away a kids toy. This image is from an interesting art installation in Tokyo using unwanted toys. You can read more about it here.

Save the environment

I don’t have the exact statistics, but it’s easy to comprehend how many toys are being saved from landfill by simply sharing them. I’ve noticed lots of large plastic toys sitting on the verge for the council garbage collection lately, toys that were likely left outside to deteriorate and fade because their children only used them intermittently. Whilst I try to buy mainly wooden toys for Everett so they last (forever?) there is sometimes no avoiding plastic toys.

I had a chat with Luana, the President of the Carlisle/Victoria Park Toy Library in Perth (my new library), and she told me that there are some plastic toys that they have had for a long time and have really lasted the distance. They also try to only buy new toys that will last and will try to fix broken toys if possible. Even when a toy is broken (for example the musical sounds of an otherwise perfectly good toy) if the toy still has educational or imaginative play qualities they will keep it. Faults and missing pieces are simply registered on the specialised toy library catalogue system (thankfully computerised!).

Each toy has its own catalogue number for the library and is written on the toy.

Each toy has its own catalogue number for the library and is written on the toy.

Teach your children awesome values

By using a toy library we can teach our children (and ourselves) some amazing lifelong values. Firstly, how to consume less which in turn may make them less influenced by the marketing tactics of toy companies. They can learn the value of sharing and less possessive ownership behaviour. They can also learn how to appreciate things that are pre-loved or secondhand. I’m a firm believer that children are overwhelmed with too many toys, so using a toy library is a great way to limit their access. Aren’t these all great qualities to impart on our children from the beginning!

There is also a real sense of community, with as many as 100 families registered at our library (with multiple children). Mums and children will get to know each other on regular visits and when they work on the roster. Isn’t it great that children will learn how to socialise and volunteer at such a young age?

Better yet, a toy library means no-one is disadvantaged by financial or social constraints. Your child can have access to appropriate toys for their age and skill level. Most toys are aimed to cultivate developmental milestones and no child should be disadvantaged when it comes to learning!

Less Stress

The best thing about a toy library is you can let your child browse around and choose whatever they want! No scary price tags or tantrums, the children are free to choose without our influences (too expensive, not value for money, beyond their age group, afraid they might get sick of it quickly etc). And by the time your children get bored with it you can swap it for something new. Blissful!

Everett checking out the baby toys

Everett checking out the baby toys

Another selection of toys in our library.

Another selection of toys in our library.

Above are some pictures from my toy library, the Carlisle Victoria Park Toy Library. Considering there are up to 100 parents who have toys out on loan, it’s amazing to consider how many toys they have when you look at this packed storage space!

I would suggest joining the library as soon as your child is six months old (so long as your library caters to babies) it’s a great way to focus on different stages of their development without breaking the bank. The membership fees would also be an awesome gift from a friend or family member for the child, as it is literally the gift that keeps on giving!

I’ve only been to the library once so far but I can already see that we’ll be regular members for years to come. I honestly can’t think of a reason why any parent wouldn’t join a toy library. Can you?

I'm so glad I don't have to permanently store this big piece of plastic!

I’m so glad I don’t have to permanently store this big piece of plastic!

If you would like to read some facinating articles on toy libraries and their benefits and social impact you should check out these articles:

  • An article relating regarding Marketing Professor, Julie Ozanne’s, study on the impact on children of parents’ support and use of toy libraries. A report on the study can be read here.
  • An article in The Age about a reliance on toys to reward children could be damaging to their development.
  • An article on why fewer toys will benefit your child

I heart Hulbert Street… even more!


We visited the annual Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta yesterday and it was just like I remember it: inspirational, educational but most of all fun! It was even bigger than last year (I blogged about it for the first time here) but I saw it with new eyes as a new Mum. I realised how it’s a great family event as a way to introduce sustainability into children’s (and adult’s) lives. Here are some images from the day!

yes, yes you did

this doesn’t even show how busy it was!

Fellow online eco enthusiasts “Olive on Blonde” Em (check out her blog here) and Simone (check out her blog here) with their hearts ready to hang on the Sustainabilitree (in the background)

A kid hanging his wishes onto the Sustainabilitree

VIP bike parking

Me and my good friend Em (Olive on Blonde) and her belly!

Sand sculpting!

Cute kids selling homemade treats

Me and Baby E!



A local weekend getaway in Instagram photos


There’s nothing better than getaway weddings – the kind that ‘forces’ you to travel to lovely locations. This past weekend I was ‘forced’ to spend four days in Eagle Bay, three hours south of Perth. It’s located on Geographe Bay and surrounded by wine vineyards and gourmet delights. I love this area for its passion for nature and being very ‘local’ focused. Isn’t it great that I can drive my fuel efficient car (with fuel consumption at around 7.4l/100km) for only three hours and find myself in paradise?

Here are some snaps from the weekend!

The view from our rented holiday house - of Geographe Bay

My favourite cafe "Kombi Cafe" at the Samudra surf and yoga centre. They have a huge vegetable garden where a lot of the food comes from. This is a raw, gluten free, vegan pizza!

Decorations from the wedding (a great upcycling idea!)

Lunch at Cullen Winery - an organic and biodynamic winery whose restaurant serves organic, biodynamic and locally sourced food.

Visiting the local beaches, baby bump and all. This is in Eagle Bay.

And one last stop at the Kombi Cafe - a (gluten free & vegan) live raw muesli with nut milk

With baby on the way it’s great to know a simple three hour car ride can provide a holiday in paradise, which is ALSO super kid friendly. There is so much yet to explore and I am excited knowing I’ll be spending the next few years discovering more wonders, so close to home.

Have you found YOUR local paradise?

My local fair trade, recycled and organic shop


I love my neighbourhood. Victoria Park is an old suburb in Perth with a pretty good sense of community. It started becoming even greater with the addition of an awesome cafe with great coffee, a book store, even a place to buy healthy smoothies and gluten free food – slowly but surely it’s getting everything I need so that soon I’ll never have to leave the neighbourhood! I even have my doctor, dentist and hairdresser here. But I feel like the icing on the cake was when I discovered U-Chus Fair Trade, Recycled and Organic Shop.

I am so embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know I had a fair trade store right near my house – walking distance in fact. It was only recently that I noticed it and have been trying desperately to visit the store since!

I met Glennys, the owner, when I arrived. Straight away you can tell that Glennys is really passionate and hands on about what she does. Both herself and her husband try to source great fair trade products from around the world – even visiting the countries themselves!

Glennys told me that U-Chus started as a party plan business where she would bring the products to your home for you to ‘shop’ with a bunch of friends. What a great idea for pre-Christmas! AND she still does it!

As she explains on the website; by purchasing from the U-Chus exclusive range of products at either the shop in East Victoria Park, online or through a party plan, they guarantee:

  • Excellent quality, unique designs and affordable prices
  • A fair price is paid to producers
  • No child labour, sweatshops or any other forms of exploitation in the production process
  • Long-term economic security for producers through regular trading with the same groups
  • Wherever possible organic, sustainable, or recycled materials are used to reduce any negative impacts on the environment.
And let’s not forget, supporting a local business is great too.

I’m so proud to get familiar and support all the businesses in my neighbourhood and to see some really great people trying to make a difference in the world. You should check out your closest fair trade, recycled or organic store. It’s great to know where you can shop for a great gift, something unique, but most of all something ethical!

Learn how to live smart with a sustainability course


If you’ve made (or wanted to make) a resolution to be more green in 2012, but you’re not sure how to do it, then why not do a Living Smart course!?

The Living Smart program was developed with these objectives:

  • Increase awareness of sustainability issues.
  • Create positive change in environmental behaviour among participants.
  • Support and strengthen community relationships.

This weekly course covers handy hints on saving water, gas & energy, transport & waste management, safe use of household chemicals, indoor air quality, biodiversity & healthier and happier lifestyles.

Best of all the course is only $20 per household, and is a combination of presentations, workshops, goal setting and field trips. You can check out when the next course starts here.

Living Smart are well known in the eco-conscious Perth community with their course even sprouting a monthly meeting group (aptly made Living Smarties) so those completing the course can still meet up and share their achievements and stories with likeminded folk.

“Participants who attend the course are experiencing happier, healthier, more responsible and positive lifestyles. A Living Smart lifestyle will improve your quality of life and reduce your impact on the environment. If this is the sort of lifestyle that you want to lead but somehow haven’t found the time or motivation to actually do it then Living Smart is the program for you. Living Smart will teach you valuable skills, provide you with specific information, keep you motivated, give you an opportunity to meet like-minded people and can be a whole lot of fun.”

If you’re not in Perth why don’t you investigate other local sustainability groups in your area?

Awesome Christmas shopping (that you can feel good about)


Oh my goodness tomorrow is December. That means there are 25 days left to do your Christmas shopping! I’ve discussed that Christmas has become a somewhat consumerist nightmare, but I also understand that gift giving at Christmas is a hard tradition to break. It’s more about being smart about your Christmas shopping – and buying sustainable and eco friendly gifts is definitely something to consider.

So, here is a list of great online stores that offer unique gifts that you can feel good about buying:

Eco Toys


An awesome website absolutely full of sustainable and eco friendly toys, clothing, furniture – you name it, they’ve got it. There’s nothing more disturbing than a kids room full of plastic toys (that happen to break far too easily). These are the types of toys that become heirlooms!

(featured above: Bajo mini rocking horseDobbin & Drum teepee & Wishbone bike)



Ethikl is somewhat of an online marketplace selling eco friendly, ethical and fair trade products direct from the artists themselves. There’s a massive range from beauty to bags to home and garden. A great place for unique products.

(Featured above: Melanie Eagleson vintage spoon bookmarksRecycled polyethylene plastic toiletry bag & Osiris Jewellery recycled silver and copper rose ring)

Blue Caravan


Another online marketplace for contemporary handmade, fair trade & ethical products by independent designers, artists and artisans.

(Featured above: Vintage black typewriter key necklacePacific Perfumes & Miss Liliput Tuxedo Top)

Recycled Market


A great online marketplace for clever upcycled and recycled goods. You’ll definitely find something unique here!

(Featured above: Recycled Fashion upcycled zipper broochCreative Thinking Recycled Can Light & Origami Paper Gifts paper bowl)

Rather not shop online?

Not everybody likes shopping online – and if you take any more time you may be pushing to have the gifts delivered before Christmas.

Another great place for gift shopping is local markets – there have been a bunch recently and another still to come for Perth is the Christmas Gift Market, which is part of the Subiaco Farmers Market held every Saturday. This particular market will be held on the 10th of December. For more information visit the Subi Farmers Market website.

I hope this gives you some insight into ethical, eco friendly, sustainable shopping for Christmas – it’s certainly a great time to try new places and best of all find new and unique gifts for friends and family!


I Heart Hulbert Street


Yesterday I visited the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta in (you guessed it) Hulbert Street, Fremantle.

The Fiesta began in 2008 by residents Shani and Tim after they held a successful Solar Power Day at the newly opened Painted Fish in 2007 (sustainable, carbon neutral bed and breakfast accomodation at #37 Hulbert Street). They realised people were eager to check out a ‘real’ operational sustainable house for themselves and since then the festivals have only gotten bigger and better.

The Painted Fish Studio Accomodation - open for viewing at the Sustainability Fiesta

The idea behind the Fiesta was:

1) Celebrate Sustainable Living in Hulbert Street and to

2) Inspire others to take on sustainable actions

The two open homes (the Painted Fish accomodation, and Tim and Shani’s own home) were labelled with relevant information as to how each part of the homes had been made sustainable.

An aquaponics system, a system where the fish waste from the fish pool below is fed into (and fertilises) the vegetables above, then drains through the special garden bed and back into the water. The fish are primarily used for food.

Shani and Tim also started the Living Smart courses that teach and mentor people to live sustainably. Their passion for inspiring people was evident by the fact that they were so open and happy for people to walk around their own home. Their new business venture ecoburbia is underway, though not live yet. Keep checking this space!

Wild Horses craft stall selling jewellery made from recycled pieces

There were many stalls along the street selling or promoting different sustainable things. From solar power to recycled fashion to food stalls and community farms. It was amazing how creative people are with recycling old into new. Everybody was so friendly and open to chat.

Some of my favourite stalls are above and below.

Recycled tyre garden pots (email patti@wellnesscoach.net.au if you are interested)

The Rethinked stall - glasses made from recycled beer bottles

I think the best part was the attitude and inspiration that Hulbert Street has to offer. There was such a great sense of community and everyone was so open and happy to help out. Even down to the fact that none of the stalls selling drinks used disposable plastic cups – they all used plastic cups from their own homes which they re-washed and used again (trusting that the public would bring them back!).

The Organic Collective - An online organic fruit & vegetable (and other produce) store that delivers in the Perth Metro area.

The Raw Macaw stall - selling lots of delicious raw products

There were many bikes parked around Hulbert Street. When I took this photo I was approached by the owner who was selling it (and other refurbished bikes) - Em ended up taking it home!

The Guerilla Garden - so named because they've just used empty council land without permission!

If you missed out this year, then make a mental note to attend next year. It’s definitely an inspiring street!

My plastic fantastic bag


I found the amazing Bags Revolt  stall at the last Made on the Left Market and instantly fell in love with this bag (which I subsequently bought).

I love the colours. I love the size. I love the fact that it’s made from old plastic bags!

Talk about an upcycling hero!

Venezuelan born artist Patricia Acuña has only lived in Perth since February last year and we’re sadly losing her to the East Coast soon! According to her blog, Patricia decided to weave her own bags after moving to Perth and subsequently took sewing and weaving lessons, but it was her decision to use old plastic bags that really make her products special.

It is clear from the business card/product tag that came with the bag and also from her website, that Patricia supports a sustainable world and has chosen to use plastic for weaving in order to create awareness of the environmental problems plastic bags and other household ‘junk’ is causing.

“The problem I have set out to tackle is the plastic phenomenon. The alchemy of transforming common “trash” into gold. It is a mix of innovation and tradition, as the plastic bags get woven and sewn into a common objects, Art or Any-Thing Beautiful!”

Although her products may not be readily available for much longer, her blog has some great information about plastic problems and how she is creatively trying to not only create awareness, but upcycle the ‘junk’ into something brand new and beautiful!

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