Fun With Friends!

“Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.” ~ Richard Branson

 

Hi Lovelies,

I’m in Adelaide right now, which is cold and wintery and wonderful. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to my channelling event on Monday night. I love being able to hug people and put a name to the face of friends I have only known online.

This week I have a balance of work and fun, and I’m lucky to have one of my favourite families taking me around the sights and to delicious eateries and magical places.

Yesterday included private appointments in the morning followed by bookshops, pop-up crab spaghetti restaurants (no – that platter in the pic was not all for me!), ice-cream and lots of laughter, hugs and sharing. After dinner I had an early night back at my hotel room with meditation, a hot shower and then a long sleep beneath clean sheets.

July is a month that focuses on relationships, heart connection and soul nurture, and I’m certainly getting plenty of that right now! I hope you’re managing to find some connection time too.
Much love to you, Nicole ❤ xx

    

 

A Taste Of Vietnam

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“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ~ Bill Bryson

 

So, here I am in Vietnam, and our first day has been quite an adventure! We’re staying in the old section of the Grand Hotel, Saigon. Somehow we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite right beside a tranquil swimming pool and green oasis. It’ s a refuge from the heat, and a fabulous spot for writing. After an early morning stroll around the neighbourhood I enjoyed a refreshing swim and then some time working on my book before lunch.

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Ben and I are blessed to be travelling with an Australian-Vietnamese friend who is introducing us to a taste of local life. There’s nothing like having a tour guide with family in the area and inside knowledge! First up we tried local coffee – strong, sweet and good. Then after our swim Thanh took us to a simple noodle shop near our hotel and ordered us lunch. I got to enjoy my first ever bowl of authentic Pho – rice noodles in broth with thin slivers of beef and vegetables and a host of fresh herbs. Delicious!

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Next was some crystal shopping and a wander around some local markets.

So much of today has revolved around food. In the cool of the late afternoon Thanh’s Dad and three of his mates turned up on their motorbikes and took us for a tour of the city, and a visit to the oldest cathedral in Saigon.

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Travelling by bike is a great way to take in the sights, smells and atmosphere, although I must admit to being a little white knuckled at the craziness of the traffic until I finally relaxed into the flow of it. To a western eye it seems so disorganised, but if you step into that zen space and just go with it, there’s a strange logic and beauty to it.

After our city tour we finished up with dinner at an excellent Chinese restaurant. So much food. So much fun! The pictures below are rice vermicelli with fresh shrimp (prawns), garlic and chilli, and then a tofu and egg savoury custard topped with a meaty mushroom slice and some shellfish in a seafood bisque sauce. Oh my goodness, that was amazing!!! There was more too, but I was too busy eating and talking and laughing to remember to take photos! Sorry 🙂

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Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Sending much love your way, Nicole <3 xoxo

 

Colouring Crew Clubhouse!

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“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.”

~ Robert Fulghum

 

It’s Friday, and after my very busy week of psychic work I have a big night planned. Ben and the dogs are at the farm, so it’s just me to think about. Once upon a time, pre-lyme, a Friday night out would have involved high heels, alcohol, restaurants and bars, dancing, a celebration out on the town.

Not tonight. I have something better planned. It involves me, some friends, a table full of coloured pencils and crayons, colouring books and several pots of tea. Followed by homemade pizza and more colouring. There will also be gingersnaps, and ice-cream.

We might even do some dorky free-form dancing to ABBA or Queen, or Britney Spears, Lady Gaga or this:

 

Wild, huh?

Me and my crazy life…

Did I mention the dress code is pyjamas, onesies or lounge wear?

This girl knows how to party!

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Kindness Challenge – Week Two

Image from Candid Slice

Image from Candid Slice

“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
~ E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
~ Jon Katz

 

Hello Lovelies! Welcome to Week Two of our six week Kindness Challenge.

To participate in today’s challenge all you need to do is select and perform one of the following kindness activities. The beneficiaries of our acts of kindness for Week Two will be friends.

Naturally, if you choose to do this activity more than once, or to work on one each day that’s absolutely fine. In fact, it’s wonderful. 🙂

Friendship-quotes-List-of-top-10-best-friendship-quotes-14

Okay, Kindness Ambassadors, let’s go!

  1. Pick up the phone and call a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while. Remind them of five reasons why they are terrific.
  2. Whip up a double batch of soup, cupcakes, spaghetti or something else tasty. Keep half for you, and deliver half to a friend who could use a night off from cooking.
  3. Write a letter to a friend, telling them how much your friendship means to you.
  4. Spend some time with your friend, and really, really, really listen to them. Make them the most important thing in the world for that time you share together. Gift them your attention and your presence.
  5. Put out your neighbour’s bin, or bring it in for them when it is empty.
  6. Go through your old photos and make some copies to send to your friend, capturing happy or special moments you’ve shared together.

    Image from The Thing Itself

    Image from The Thing Itself

  7. Send a text message, email or card encouraging your friend to believe in and follow their dream. Let them know you have faith in them!
  8. Pick a bunch of flowers from the garden, and give them to your friend for no reason except that you love them.
  9. Buy your friend a coffee, or invite them over for a cup of tea or a glass of wine and enjoy some time catching up.
  10. Offer to walk the dog or look after the kids while your friend is ill.
  11. Post an anonymous gift to a friend going through a hard time. It could be a small amount of money, a scratch it card, a voucher or a movie ticket. Write a note, disguising your handwriting, that says simply THINKING OF YOU XX
  12. Give your friend a heart-felt and sincere compliment.
  13. Play day spa and give your friend a footmassage, a manicure or a new hairdo.

    Image from IFeng.com

    Image from IFeng.com

  14. Offer your friend some reiki or a healing if you do that kind of thing.
  15. Go for a picnic together, even if it’s in the backyard!
  16. Choose a crystal for a friend, give it to them, and tell them why you chose it and how it can be helpful for them.
  17. Offer to clean the kitchen, do a basket of ironing or some other chore to help out a busy friend.
  18. Send five text messages, at random times throughout the day, reminding your friend that they are fabulous and letting them know how much you love them.
  19. Give your pet ten minutes of your undivided attention. Do something together that you know they love!
  20. Make a mix tape/CD/USB stick of songs from the era you and your friend grew up in, or from an important time in your lives. Give it to them as a gift.
  21. Give your friend a hug! Hugs are good for us. Feel free to hug your pet too.

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Easy Nutella Cheesecake Recipe

nutella cheesecake

“….I can dream away a half-hour on the immortal flavor of those cheese cakes we used to have on a Saturday night.”Mary Antin, ‘The Promised Land’ (1912)

 

This is probably the easiest cheesecake I have ever made. It only requires a few ingredients, and it is seriously yum. Not too sweet, not overpoweringly Nutella flavoured, and it makes the perfect end to a meal. It’s also the kind of cheesecake you can dress up or down, depending on the occasion.

I first ate this cheesecake at a friend’s place. My friend is a chef and when I asked about the recipe they were embarrassed. “You don’t want that. It’s so easy,” she said. “It’s barely even a recipe!” Turns out, her eleven-year-old son had made it all by himself from a recipe given to him from a friend’s mother after he’d eaten this cheesecake at their house.

All the better. If a child who doesn’t cook can manage this, anyone can!

I made this for Saturday night dinner, when our friends from the city came to stay. It took just a few minutes to whip up, and not much longer to devour.

Why don’t you try it, and you’ll see what I mean…

nutella

Ingredients:

250 grams sweet plain biscuits (I used a packet of caramel pecan cookies and the caramel and pecans gave a lovely texture and flavour!), 75 grams (5 tablespoons) of butter, 1 x 400 gram jar of Nutella (which is a chocolate hazelnut spread in case you don’t know!), 500 grams of cream cheese, 75 grams (1/2 cup) of icing sugar (confectioners’ or powdered sugar)

I also used a punnet of fresh strawberries and an extra tablespoon of icing sugar for decoration.

Method:

Place the biscuits in the bowl of a food processor and whizz until they are crushed. Then add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella. Whizz again until it begins to form clumps.

making the crust

 

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*Note – if you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Tip into a bowl and add the butter and Nutella and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Tip the biscuit mixture into the bottom of a 23cm / 9 inch springform tin, pressing down firmly over the bottom and slightly up the sides of the tin. Place into the fridge to chill.

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Now cut the cream cheese into cubes and add to the bowl of the food processor with the icing sugar. Whizz until it softens and combines. (Can you spy a few biscuit crumbs on my cream cheese? Yes, that’s right. I didn’t bother to wash out the food processor bowl before I used it again. I promise it won’t matter.)

cream cheese and sugar

Spoon the rest of the jar of Nutella into the bowl, and process again until smooth and completely mixed together. (Can’t see those crumbs now, can you?)

nutella mix

Remove pie crust from fridge and carefully spoon the cheesecake mix over the base, smoothing the top. Place back into the refrigerator to set. This will take four to six hours, but it will be even better if you can leave it overnight.

smooth cheesecake into tinIn emergencies, the freezer will help chill things down quickly too. I understand – sometimes you need to make and eat that cheesecake FAST!

Carefully unmold the cheesecake from the springform tin, removing the sides first and then easing the cake from the bottom tray using a knife and a spatula or egg slide. Removing the cheesecake from the springform base stops you cutting through the non-stick coating with a knife when you slice pieces of cake and helps your pan last much longer.

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To Serve:

It’s perfectly good served plain. But I like to garnish my cheesecake with sweet fresh strawberries and a little dusting of icing sugar. It’s also super yummy with the following variations:

  • whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel
  • whipped cream and fresh berries
  • whipped cream and mandarin or orange segments
  • lashings of shaved or grated chocolate
  • tiny chocolate truffles and chocolate sauce

You might also like to make individual cheesecakes, or even put your mixture into teacups or cocktail glasses for something a little fancier.

However, in the end, what matters is the eating. Our visiting campers, Hannah and Mitchell, gave this dish their stamp of approval.

Enjoy!

happy faces

Around the Campfire

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“So, I looked up and we were in this giant dome like a glass snowball, and Mark said that the amazing white stars were only holes in the black glass of the dome, and when you went to heaven, the glass broke away, and there was nothing but a whole sheet of star white, which is brighter than anything but doesn’t hurt your eyes. It was vast and open and thinly quiet, and I felt so small.”  ~ Stephen Chbosky

 

We have friends from the city coming to stay this weekend. They are bringing their two young children with them, who are bursting with excitement at the idea of visiting a farm. They are also determined to camp out. Mum and Dad, meanwhile, will be snuggled up in the guest bedroom in our little cottage.

It’s freezing here right now, with deep frosts on the ground each morning. I fully expect to see two little bodies inside in front of the log fire when I wake up on Sunday. But isn’t half the fun of being a kid having the opportunity to try things and to live the adventure?

I’m really looking forward to having them here. We’ll take them to see the platypus and the koalas, we’ll visit the cows, and pick some oranges and mandarins (clementines) from the orchard.

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Koalas vege garden

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And when night falls we’ll light some of the wood piles around the farm that need burning, eat a delicious dinner, talk to the owls, and watch the procession of stars across the sky.

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I might be late blogging tomorrow. There’s lots of fun to be had between now and then, and I may well end up sleeping in!

Lots of love to you, Nicole xx

Hooray for friends!

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“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” 
~ Elbert Hubbard

 

Isn’t this the most colossal bucket of flowers for ten dollars? They are grown and sold by two elderly brothers who live up the road from us. You can read more about that here.

I’ve had a lovely time finding vases for all of these luscious blooms.

Anyway, I’ll keep this post short and sweet. A friend has come to visit for a few days, and right now we’re doing ‘friend’ things, as much as my energy will allow. Tours of our farm, adventures in the local area. Farmers’ markets. Lots of cups of tea and chats.

I’m so glad for friendship. It truly is the most precious of gifts. And I consider you a friend too, although perhaps we have not yet met.

I also have another shout-out for a friend of mine this morning, currently living on the other side of the world. Kimmie, I love you, and I miss you heaps!

Excellent. Hugs all round!

Okay, we’re off to the Mullumbimby Farmers’ Markets for some breakfast and to fill my basket with fresh produce for the week ahead. Excitingly, I shall be wearing my gumboots because we’ve had RAIN! After such a long dry summer, a little mud has to be a good thing. 🙂

We’ll stop in at the Chocolate Shop on our way back from the markets, because what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t take our guest to such a fabulous place? Then we shall come home, drink chai tea, eat a few sweets and talk some more, as friends do.

Lots of love,

Nicole

xx

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Who’s your Support Crew in 2014?

Image of the Blue Angels Support Crew watching a flight formation - Wikimedia Commons

Image of the Blue Angels Support Crew watching a U.S. Navy diamond flight formation 1952 – Wikimedia Commons

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends”

~ John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Few of us get there on our own. The journey is always made easier when we have support, no matter what that journey is. So my big question to you is this:

Who is YOUR support crew in 2014?

No matter what kind of year you’re in for, we all need friends and helpful people. People who can cheer us on, offer helpful advice, pick us up when we fall, do the things we need doing but cannot do for ourselves, lend their own kind of magic to ours for that beautiful effect that multiplies our success to be greater than the sum of the parts.

I know that most of you are a lot like me…

Sensitive souls, empaths, carers, healers, kind-hearted people – we are stunningly good at putting everyone else first, and being that support which others need – being a support person is just what we’re wired to do. And if we’d had rough patches in life we’ve become good at being resilient and self-sufficient too.

All of this means that we may not be so flash at asking for favours or putting our hand up for help.

This year I’m putting up my own hand and asking for help. I’m drawing to me the best support crew I can to get me through 2014. I’m also minimising my contact with the crazy-makers and relationships that drain or sabotage me and my direction. (Want help with toxic relationships? Click here!)

Mots of us already have a support network. We may even be putting energy into supporting THEM right now. The biggest issue for many of us is that we don’t ask, or have found ourselves in the habit of having the barriers up as we steam along in that solo kind of self-sufficiency mode. Or we just plain forget that these people are here for us to draw on.

Not all of our support crew will work for love. And that’s okay too. Hiring people to support us is a great act of self-love and affirmation of self-worth. We can also access this support through books, courses and audio files.

We all need a cheer squad, and sometimes we need more tangible help. The point is – we can’t do it all alone!!!

Image of this awesome supportcrew from the South East London Ladies Swimming Club

Image of this awesome support crew from the South East London Ladies Swimming Club

Right now I have my husband and my wonderful PA, Dana, creating firewalls and boundaries in my work and personal life.

My fridge is full of nurturing soup from kind friends. Others have offered to clean my house while I’m too unwell to do this for myself.

I may not be able to get out much, but my sister and a few friends are on speed dial. I have great neighbours, and a fabulous bunch of Soul Sisters from my mentoring groups and retreats. I have all of you, dear readers, lending your support and kindness.

My Sisters of the Pen are always there for online and ‘for reals’ conversation and support for writing and life. The Queensland Writers Centre is my go-to place for continuing development of my craft.

And beyond my emotional needs I have doctors, herbalists, accountants, a good lawyer, a web designer (Hi Tim!), dentist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, an online business mentoring group, lyme boards and forums, music, libraries, bookshops and the internet. I have the Farmers Markets and some wonderful local cafes. There’s also the yellow pages for when I need a plumber, a termite expert or a tree lopper.

Of course, none of these people will be any good to me if I don’t reach out and ask!

Image by maryam

Image by maryam

2014 is shaping up to be a big year, and it’s time to start thinking about who you need on your support crew.

To help you get a better picture of what that may look like I’ve created a simple journal exercise for you!

Journalling my Web of Support

Image from akmhcweb

Image from akmhcweb

Here are some simple questions for you to think about and journal. Don’t feel that you have to answer them all today, but DO give them thought over the next few weeks.

1. Who in my family can I draw on for support, guidance, laughs or to help me lift that heavy bookcase? Remember that it’s okay to include loved ones who’ve passed over. I talk to my grandparents all the time!

2. Which friends in my life (online as well as people I’ve met in person) are supportive of me, my interests and my ambitions?

3. What do I really need to get done this year that I keep putting off?

4. Do I really need to do this myself? Who can help me with this thing? What kind of support do I need for each of those goals or tasks? Do I know someone? Can I pay someone?

5. Who can help me with my health this year?

6. Who can help me with my finances and/or business?

7. Who can help me with my spirituality and soul questing?

8. Who can I laugh with?

9. Who can I cry with?

10. Who’ll cheer me on up that mountain?

11. Music, movies and other motivators that keep me feeling good about myself and on track?

12. Habits and actions I KNOW do me good and support my journey?

I hope in some small way that I can support you too, through my blog and my facebook page. Let’s make this our best year yet – together!

Lots and lots of love,

Nicole xoxo

Image from sevenquotes

Image from sevenquotes

The Friends Who Came to Visit

The Young Pirate by Hazel Mitchell

The Young Pirate by Hazel Mitchell

“When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey

 

Some friends came to visit me last night. They arrived via my dreams, which is how I first met them a few years back. Our reunion was so noisy that it spilled out of my dream and into wakefulness where we talked almost until daybreak.

I haven’t spent any real time at all with these friends for over a year. In fact, longer…

It started when I went to a writers’ workshop in 2012, run by a man who told me that these friends of mine were worthless. Pirates, fairies, dragons, fantasy – it was all nonsense he said. Children today didn’t want stories like that. Which made me feel quite worthless too. 🙁

So at first my friends (who became my characters) and I no longer spoke because I lost courage. I lost my voice. I lost faith in myself.

Later, although I turned up at the page, I couldn’t find my friends. Lyme laid waste to my mind, and all of my words and memories and imaginings led me down dark corridors that ended in walls with no doors.

I lost the threads of my story. I could no longer hear the voices of my friends. It was as if they had sailed away, leaving me stranded on some distant shore where I barely recognised even myself.

But I’ve missed them and mourned for them, and wondered if I might ever reconnect with them and their magical world, which is the place where I have felt most happy and right.

Image from wallsave

Image from wallsave

Instead I’ve been communing with owls and orchard men, and finally beginning to tell my own story.

My beloved fairies and pirates and dragons have left a huge void in my life. Until last night, when magically they returned.

Now I finally understand that I had to go on a transformative journey, that I had to suffer this agonising path, this disconnection, this loneliness and fear, so that I could tell their story with honesty and clarity. I can see how it all relates – my journey, their journey, my family, their family, and it leaves me humbled, excited and just a little trepidatious.

In November I am writing. A cookbook. It must be done. I am happy to do it.

So my precious novel and all my darlings will wait. I’ll keep my notebook by my bed. I’ll dust off my magical rock and my undersea treasures. I’m sure I’ll have more glimpses of where this next part of the story shall lead. And most importantly, I have faith now that this story can be told.

That knowledge fills me with a peace and comfort I have never known before. It makes me sure it is the reason I still draw breath. It is like the most fabulous secret sitting luminous inside my chest.

One day soon, I shall share it with you.

Nicole xx

Fruit Dragon by staplesart

Fruit Dragon by staplesart

Do Not Be Friends With Mean People!

 

“It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly can never know what true friendship means.”~ Charles Kingsley

I spent some time with a little girl yesterday who is having a hard time with other girls being mean and bullying her at school.

Madeline (I changed her name here, but she’s seven and the sweetest girl you’ll meet!) is doing her best to be nice to these mean girls, and to be a friend to them. Her mum told Madeline that if she is nice long enough, eventually the girls will see what a lovely person she is and want to be her friends for real.

But the fact is this group of girls aren’t being friends back. They invite Madeline to play and then hurt her. They call her over then ignore her. They tease her and make fun of her. But they do just enough ‘playing nice’ that Madeline keeps going back, hoping that they will finally accept her and treat her with respect and kindness. To them it’s just a big game, but to Madeline it’s a defining force in her life that’s tying her up in knots and eroding her self-confidence and self-esteem.

Madeline asked what I would do.

My answer surprised her.

I said, “Stop being friends with mean people! Make friends with people who are kind and who make you smile. Friends are people you like to spend time with. If you don’t like spending time with them then it’s not a very good friendship.”

I think that’s sound advice whether you’re seven or seventy.

advice-quotes-friendship-quotes-Associate-yourself-with-people-of-good-quality-for-it-is-better-to-be-alone-than-in-bad-company.

Don’t be friends with people who are mean. It doesn’t matter whether they are classmates, work colleagues, the partners of friends, next-door-neighbours, or family. Mean people don’t respect you, your ideas, your feelings, or your possessions.

Mean people make you feel small. Mean people cause you hurt and worry, and make you feel sick in the stomach with anxiety when you have to spend time with them. Mean people make you believe you’re not good enough, or that there’s something wrong with you.

Mean people don’t know HOW to be friends. So why would you want to waste your half of a friendship on someone who can never be a friend back?

There are lots of terrific people in the world, and lots of people who could use a friend. Mean people don’t make good friends. So stop trying to win people over, or expecting them to change. If they can’t like you for who you are and treat you well, move on.

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