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A dream 9 years in the making….


As our year unfurls its new rhythm Ollie has been able to realise a long held dream.  
At age 4 he became interested in the Army and has collected army gear to rival that of any quartermaster since.  Our dress-up box bristles with real NZ Army uniforms, he has bits of uniform from other countries, gear, kit, camo designed paraphenalia.  His herosl have one thing in common…they are all ex-SAS!
Even though his passion has meandered into off-shoots, up tributaries and back  as he has explored survival, bushcraft, disaster preparedness, first aid and politics there has always been the Army.  
He once said to me “Mum it is my dream to have an army to command.”  And so he would organise 5 or 6 friends into an army.

Now at 13yrs he is at last eligible to join Army Cadets!  Yeeehaaa!!



Today he was very excited about polishing his newly issued boots.  Which he did well.

What joy it brings me as a parent to have him tell me
-“Mum, I am so happy.”




Other creative stuff our kids like to do….


Ollie, Tilly and another friend decided to do a surprise treasure hunt type thing for Charlie, Henry and Walker.  They set up notes, codes, “clues” and then surprised the three boys, telling them they had to do a spy mission.  Unfortunately it was pouring with rain when they set out….


But they managed to collect everything and returned soaked to the skin!


They put together clues, got dried and then were hijacked, blindfolded etc and thown into the car.  I had to drive around to confuse them before depositing them at their next stop!



They did end up at the pool though and had a big swim.

The boys loved it as much as the older kids enjoyed making it all up I think…..

Meet Benji!


Image OH yes!  We have our new dog.  Benji is just 14 weeks old, his mum is a very gorgeous pure bred Beagle, his Dad a holiday romance of unknown breed (I am thinking Huntaway, he has big feet!)  Image This has been a dream of Charlie’s for a long time, so very exciting that finally after travelling, getting settled, getting a fence built and finding the right dog Benji is now part of our family. Image It feels like a big learning curve having a puppy!  But wow!  what love and cuddles already….. Image His favourite toy has been a lion dress-up mask, which he pulls into his bed to sleep with…mmm…may have to change that! Image We have been lucky to have Pilot staying with us this week, a friend’s wise old Jack Russel who has been invaluable in helping Benji settle in.  He will really miss him next week.  It has been so funny seeing Benji watch and copy Pilot, who has been extremely patient and long suffering.  We have managed to sneak him out for some decent walks though as a thanks for  all he has done!

A decade date


One of the things we do with our kids is when they turn ten years old they choose a date with both of us.  Then at 13 yrs it is a weekend away, just mum, dad and them, their choice of destination/activity…

So as Charlie turns 10 this weekend (!!) we have been organised and been out already, with Ollie away at Jamboree it seemed like  a good time…

We have had one part of the date…that is a movie….



Then dinner out…



There is also a part that involves a dog, the beach and a sunset…just waiting fot the weather gods to work with us on this and some dog training…

Amazing that my youngest is in double figures. What a ten years, and now he is all growing up.

A gift from a lawn liberator

A gift from a lawn liberator

I love the gifts that arrive in my life.

We won a fruit tree in a raffle!
The woman who was delivering it made a time to come and plant it.  I thought that seemed like a lot of work, but she said that is what she does.  So last week Vanessa turned up with mulch, compost, companion plants, newspaper and a Cox’s Orange apple tree.

I really enjoyed chatting to her as she liberated a patch of our lawn for our prize.  As a busy owner of a garden centre, mother and initiator of a transition town Vanessa decided last year that she would like to donate 30 fruit trees each year.  It is very simple, you just need to ask and she will come and plant it.  (She is based in Taihape, NZ, so within reason!!)
She has an inspiring vision, a sort of spread-out community garden.  She knows that each year she is planting future food sources around the community.  Plus the tree, 30 people (this year) have had the benefit of Vanessa’s knowledge and gardening wisdom.  So in this way her acts of kindness aren’t random. They are well placed, well intentioned and go  a long way to ensure a future of food production and even act as an introduction to gardening.


Our newly planted apple tree.  Thick wet newspaper was put down first, then thick barley straw, tucked around 5 different herbs that will spread out.
I have since surrounded the mini garden with bricks.

IMG_4271Each tree Vanessa plants has its own painted stone identifying it.
Trees for Homes is the  wonderful movement she has begun and you can find her at

Vanessa calls herself a “Lawn Liberator” and has inspired me to finally mulch around my other apple trees.  I have surrounded them with borage, calendulas, comfrey, nasturtiums and other bits from my garden.  They are mulched heavily and have a new border which affords them the importance they deserve in the garden…….


My two apple trees in the front garden, with their new companion flower bed, the outdoor bath behind and fire circle on the left….

Thank you!


All through Turkey and of course in Switzerland and France I ate bread.  It is pretty hard not to and as I don’t usually eat bread I was dreading the consequences…..but it was fine.  I know so many people that either have intolerances or think they do.  Maybe if you haven’t already  tried sour dough you may be interested in this article?
Can Sourdough Change the Gluten-Free Diet?
Donna Schwenk’s Cultured Food Life

About ten years ago I went to a class on “How to Make Sourdough Bread.” My daughter had gluten intolerance and we found that she could eat sprouted bread without the side effects created by regular bread. I had heard that sourdough bread achieved similar results to the sprouted bread, and I wanted to try it. What I learned shocked me. The man teaching the class explained that the process of making sourdough was an ancient art and one that had many benefits that we are unaware of today. Why do so many of us struggle with gluten today? There are all kinds of books and websites dedicated to gluten-free living, and rightfully so, because the bread we have today is very different from the bread we ate for hundreds of years. But why is gluten intolerance an epidemic in this day and age? What has changed?

Before the 1950’s, most bread bakeries ran two shifts of workers because the dough was fermented throughout the night with a long and slow process using a culture that contained the lactobacillus bacteria. This slow process was necessary for bread to be properly digested. In the process of making sourdough bread, the bran in the flour is broken down during the long rising time, releasing nutrients into the dough. Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted (to learn more about sprouted breads click here) is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat. The phytic acid in grain needs to be 90% neutralized in order for the minerals to be absorbed by the human body. When you naturally ferment or sprout bread, you eliminate all phytic acid. About 90% of the phytic acid remains in breads made with instant yeasts, unless it is sprouted bread.

In their efforts to increase profits and speed up the the bread making process, bakers began using new techniques that took only three hours to make a loaf of bread – and now can even take only one hour. They used the new instant yeasts, which made the old way of making bread (using cultures and fermentation that not only help to preserve food, but also increase the nutrients available for our bodies) unnecessary.

During the making of sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are broken down into more digestible simple sugars, and protein is broken down into amino acids. Enzymes develop during rising. These enzymes are not lost while baking since the center of the loaf remains at a lower temperature than the crust. This fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, also allows for a bread that is lower on the glycemic index, thus making it better for those with blood sugar issues. The fermentation also helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract, resulting in proper assimilation and elimination.

These changes in our bread have had devastating effects on our gut. I believe that along with the overly processed foods, soil depletion, and the loss of fermentation and probiotic foods that heal and protect our bodies, our diets are wreaking havoc on our guts. This, in turn, is causing the rise in all kinds of food allergies. Our diets are a dim reflection of the nutrient-dense whole foods we used to eat years ago. Someone at a recent class asked why we are living longer if our diets are so bad. But this is actually not the case any more; we are not living longer, this trend has stopped. Not only that, the quality of our lives is in sad shape. How often do you see someone living vibrantly and without sickness or ailments? It is increasingly becoming the exception and not the norm. Pharmaceuticals are the norm and not the exception, and food allergies and gut issues are rampant along with a host of other health issues. The average consumer is unaware of these changes in our food supply and then labels gluten and breads as the enemy, when they don’t realize the culprit is the dramatic changes in the actual process of making bread today.

A study done experimenting with sourdough fermentation as a means for making wheat bread safe for people with celiac disease had great results. While the study was small, it did show that individuals with celiac disease who ate specially prepared sourdough wheat bread over the course of 60 days experienced no ill effects.

It was my daughter Maci’s inability to digest wheat that started me on a journey learning about foods that were transformed when they were sprouted or made with sourdough. People who came to my classes and website were experiencing the same results when eating bread that was made with sourdough cultures or sprouted. Even some with Celiac disease seemed to do really well. Now, not everybody who is gluten intolerant can handle it right away. They need to heal their guts first with cultured foods on a regular basis. After this occurs, I have seen so many people thrive when eating breads as long as these breads were fermented or sprouted.

Sourdough bread, fermented for at least 7 hours or longer, is the time it takes to transform the bread. Then it not only easily digested, but often can be handled by those who are gluten intolerant. Here is a recipe to make my sourdough bread. It is the best one for beginners and the one I think tastes the best. Well… that’s not entirely true. I love so many, but this one has a great flavor and is easy. I have devised a slower, longer fermentation method that is even more effective for those who have severe gluten problems. This is my refrigerator method of making sourdough bread. My Refrigerated Sourdough Bread video can be found on my Biotic Pro membership site. It is the method I use regularly because not only is it easy, but it allows the bread to slowly ferment in the fridge for a longer period. This makes the bread even more delicious, and more digestible, than just fermenting it on the counter. It also seems to be the method that most people with severe gluten issues tolerate the best.

I hope I can shed some light on this problem that is facing so many. As always, I want to share with you what has changed my life and so many others.

Can Sourdough Change the Gluten-Free Diet?

Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented or sprouted, is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods