heaven in a bowl

I invented this soup a couple of weeks ago, and the bf said it could possibly be the best soup he’s ever tasted. So I jotted down the ingredients, and tried it again this morning. It wasn’t a fluke. It truly is awesome. So much so, that I’m calling it Heaven in a Bowl.

Heaven in a bowl

Want to make it yourself? Here’s how:

Olive or coconut oil
3 chicken sausages*, fully cooked and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 butternut squash (or similar pumpkin), cut into chunks
Freshly ground pepper
1 can coconut milk (not the ‘lite’ stuff)
2 large handfuls baby spinach

Heat some oil in a large sturdy pot. Sauté the diced sausage until browned; remove and set aside.

Add more oil, and sauté the onion till soft. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the broth, squash and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer till squash is tender. Remove from heat.

Blend with a stick blender until desired consistency is achieved.

Add the coconut milk and stir until incorporated. Add the sausage and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.

You’re welcome.

*I used Aidells, an all-natural brand of precooked sausages. I recommend finding one that includes some kind of fruit. I’ve tried both chicken/mango and chicken/apple; the fruity flavours go perfectly with the other sweet ingredients. If you are starting with raw sausages, cook and dice them before commencing this recipe.

warm fuzzies

Making #Christmas cards. Having fun with white pen and puff paint.

Last year I bailed on Christmas. No gifts, no cards, no crackers, no silly hats, no guests.

I missed it.

This year, I’m not sure where I’ll land for Christmas. I don’t have the space to entertain (or even put up a tree), and I don’t have a family here. I really love to host the day, but this year I’ll no doubt be a guest somewhere, which can be equally lovely (I suppose … I am unpracticed at this!)

However, I DO have a sewing machine, so I’ve been “elving” away here for a few weeks, in every available spare moment. And this weekend I got started on the cards. Fun.

As an atheist minimalist non-consumer who can’t stand Christmas carols, I’m not quite sure why I like this celebration so much.

Maybe it’s because Australians don’t have Thanksgiving; Christmas is our designated time of the year to draw close to loved ones and share warm fuzzies.

Maybe it’s because of a childhood of happy memories, despite the traumatic betrayal.

Maybe it’s just because I love sparkly lights.

Do I need a reason? Maybe not.

Are you into Christmas? Why/why not?

“books are a uniquely portable magic”

Bart's Books, Ojai

One of my earliest memories is sitting cross legged on the carpet to the left of the fireplace, facing the bookshelf, a big book in my lap. One of my parents remarked to the other that it was typical: I had my back to the television. I remember looking around and noticing the rest of the family focused on ‘the box’, before returning with a shrug to my book.

I have never been a TV fan. I have always been a reader.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. ― Groucho Marx

Have you ever seen this? Yeah, to a large degree, that’s me. Especially the bit about introducing her strangely-named kids to Aslan.

Books teach me, enlighten me, transport, soothe and awaken me. I like them more than film, because they allow me to supply my own visuals, and go at my own pace. I can take them anywhere. My relationship with the author feels more intimate, because we interact one-on-one each time. And while I often use the written word for education, I also use it to escape.

At the end of a long day, when I am quiet and clean and in my own bed, a book allows me to forget my stresses and slip into another world. It clears my mind of the daily clutter, and provides a bridge to my night-dreaming. For me, books serve some of the same purposes as meditation.

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live. ― Gustave Flaubert

How do YOU escape reality for a while when you need to?

[Title quote: Stephen King, On Writing]

no regrets

Feeling so good right now :-)

Cleanse, tone and moisturize. That’s what the magazines told me (when I read them in my teens and twenties — I’m assuming they still sing the same song).

Slip, slop, slap. That’s what the Australian PSAs, with their catchy jingle, have said for decades.

I’ve pretty much ignored both messages. My ‘beauty regimen’ consists of an evening wipe of olive oil on the eyelids to remove the scant makeup, and a morning shower lather with Cetaphil. I spend time outdoors every day, without sunscreen, only protected by sunglasses and a baseball cap.

Maybe if I’d cleansed, and toned, and moisturized, and sunscreened all my life, I would have a peaches and cream, wrinkle-free, complexion. But it’s too late now. Sun damage is forever, and I can’t turn back the clock. I’m 52, and while some people tell me I look much younger, my skin is certainly ageing. And I’m totally OK with that.

One day, I may look like this. Actually, I aspire to this level of joy and comfort. For in the words of The Cat Empire:

I’m gonna die with a twinkle in my eye, ’cause I’ve sung songs, spun stories, laughed, loved, and drunk wine.

And I certainly won’t die from Vitamin D deficiency.

How about you? What’s a decision you’ve waited too long to make? And are you OK with that?

what i’ve been up to

Besides working and hanging out with the bf a couple of times a week ….



• had a few dates with girlfriends I don’t see often enough, and more are on the calendar.


• been making gifts like a madwoman; I will post a bunch of photos in a few days, all together so my peeps won’t know which one is coming their way.

• planned a trip DownUnder for the birth of a certain little missy.


• almost kicked my month-long cough to the kerb. Such a relief. I’m back at the gym. Wow it feels good.

What I haven’t been doing enough of:
• hiking
• reading
• calling my family

What have YOU been up to? What have you not been doing enough of?

more flowchart fun

I was picking up ingredients for an election-watch dinner at K’s. I asked him if he needed anything else. He let me know that he was nearly out of olive oil, but that he’d prefer to get the next bottle from Trader Joe’s, which is not on the way from my work to his place.

It seemed like good fodder for a flowchart.


Is a love of flowcharts considered geeky? If so, I stand accused.

for want of a button

Now that I’m seriously digging into my stash to make gifts (in this case, a toothbrush/paste travel bag), I am a bit alarmed by the absence of various notions. I know I purged a lot of stuff when I moved here, but seriously? My entire button collection? Every press stud, snap, and hook/eye?

What was I thinking?

makin’ stuff

Tutorial here.

Sun&Sea messenger bag
Tutorial here.

Gorgeous weather today, but I was tied to my sewing machine. It feels great to be making stuff again.

have i mentioned lately …

Malibu hike

Malibu sunset

Dinner with friends

I hung out with my Malibu buds this afternoon/evening. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my life?

who says they’re just for little kids?

I made #stegosaurus #socks for @theimperfectprinter! Happy birthday Elke!

Stegosaurus socks … a great idea for a dinosaur-obsessed kid, but also perhaps for a wild-sock-loving workmate?

I thought so … but after I’d made them last night, I had major second thoughts. They just seemed way too goofy. So when I handed them to Elke today, I assured her that I would not be the slightest bit offended if she never wore them.

However, she professed delight, and immediately rolled up her jeans and modeled them for a photo. We’ll see if they ever appear at work again :-)