All posts by millbraemakes

Hello You, my name is Carmen and welcome to my world. It's populated with 3 little rascals, 1 big rascal, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1200 sheep, a big pot of crazy, creative mayhem and all on 4000 acres of the most beautiful land on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

There is such a thing as The Perfect Day…

Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words, but today no amount of photos would do justice to the day that was, simply put, it was the kind of day that steals your breath and makes you wonder at the perfection of the universe.


I soaped my final batch for 2016 and it went so flawlessly, I thought I was dreaming, thin trace, swirls like no other and a finish that I was danged rapt with. Smitten with the new version of Barbershop Bob.


But that was just the precursor to the rest of the magic. I needed to get some food in the house, Christmas and the shops being shut for days has had done us in, not an apple or banana to be seen, milk almost out and bread, schmed.


Yap, bless him,, had said he’d take a couple of kids to Gum View and bring the header home so Connie and I snuck out of the house at lunch time to get some vittles. Reggie was not to be denied and was to be heard shouting “me come too” as we fled the scene.


Shopping done, with Connie’s finest moment getting a pony stamp on her hand at the Post Office (thanks Mary xx), followed by greeting a complete stranger in the Butcher Shop with “are you a giant? My name is Tonnie May Rayner”, to which the supposed giant answered “G’day Connie (the man’s powers knew no bounds – how on earth could he decipher her particular brand of speech?), my name is Jeff, pleased to meet you.” Connie, never short of something to say continued “yes, but are you a giant?”


Given, this man was spectacularly tall with sparkly grey eyes and a bushy beard that came to mid chest, replied “no, I’m not a giant, but my cousin is a real giant. And arent’ you just the cutest girl?” to which Connie replied “Yes I am terribly cute aren’t I”. To say there were smirks all round in the Butcher Shop is an understatement.


We popped in to see Mang and Pa for a bit and Connie invited herself to stay for the afternoon. Can’t say it was overly forward of her as I had just invited ourselves to tea later that evening and for a swim in Mang’s pool.


Home again and bliss – no one home, just me. Ahhh the serenity.


Work room tidied, new curtains hung, shopping put away and a quiet (but jolly hot) coffee (weather, not beverage…) later and Edie and Reggie reappeared.


They played happily by themselves, or so I thought, until I happened to catch a glimpse of Reggie – who knew you could get so much texta on yourself!!!


A quick tidy up in the rooms they had played in and off to Mang’s we go.


Watching the kids in the pool is bliss.


Edie just swims and swims – me thinks she is part otter or something. Connie, always on her own, immersed in some imaginary game, chatting away without a care in the world and Reggie. Oh Reggie. The unbridled glee, the unconstrained joy, the exuberance in his play is second to none (side note – the glee and joy is all his, me, I’m waiting with bated breath for disaster), watching as he hurls himself at the water from the edge of the pool. Swims flat-out to me with cries of “Throw me, throw me”; and I do.  As high and hard as I can, knowing that any less effort will be reprimanded fiercely.


Yap arrives to yells of “Dad, Dad, Dad’s here, woohoo etc” and sits with Pa to have a beer and a yarn.  The barbie is cooked and eaten, the ice-cream is served and inhaled and off to play they go.


It’s a rare evening when the kids entertain themselves at length, either inside playing pretend dogs (Edie’s favourite game at the mo) or making mud pies in the garden kitchen that Mang has built or racing about on bikes.  Hilarity ensues when Edie announces there is Golden Dog Poo up the back and Reggie has trodden in it.  The hilarity escalates exponentially when, as I am hosing him off in the garden, I make the gruesome discovery that it is not Golden Dog Poo, but in fact Reggie has shit himself and it is sliding down his legs.


And that folks is what happens when you don’t put a nappy on the 2-year-old after a swim.


Anyhooo, things resume, Yap and I chatting to Mum and Dad, kids playing – life is good.


And then it is home time.  Reggie wants to go with Yap in the ute and the girls are with me in Bruce.  So off we go, its bloody hot in Bruce (he’s our old 100 series Landcruiser), so its windows down all round, Garth Brooks’ Rodeo is blaring on the stereo.  I look in the rearview mirror to see tired but happy faces in the back seat, hair whipping about their heads as we belt down the highway.  We turn into our driveway and as we crest the highest hill, the sun is setting over Caralue Bluff, the girls are yelling at me to sing louder and I have one of those rare moments that are like a snapshot of the time and I can see so clearly all that is wonderful around me.


I realise that indeed, Life is Magical.


I sincerely hope that you and yours can see the Magical LIfe you are living also,


With mucho love,



Sooo, it’s been a while…

The 2nd of April! Sheesh, really, that is the last time I wrote and posted?

Family holiday, the girls wading at Glenelg, it was a gorgeous night.
Family holiday, the girls wading at Glenelg, it was a gorgeous night.

I could take all the time in the world to beat myself up over it, or I could just shrug it off and say oh well.
I choose ‘oh well’.
I don’t have a well thought out plan for this post – or any post for that matter, just feel the need to write and reconnect.
So here goes…in no certain order – a bit erratic is me 😉

I have a new baby to lavish with love and good intentions – now don’t get all excited for me, it’s not my baby. My darling friend Poss has just had her first miracle, Tex. Right on the heels of her taking the title of Australian Rural Woman of the Year – is this chick totally awesome or what!!!

My tribe is all growing and learning and becoming somewhat adept at pushing my buttons – little maniacs’ provide me with no end of amusement and torture and a heart filled to bursting with love.

Is there anything as close to perfect as this.  It melts my heart everytime my eyes light upon Edie's gift to me.
Is there anything as close to perfect as this. It melts my heart everytime my eyes light upon Edie’s gift to me.

I am gob-smacked that my number one girl (as in first-born, not favourite kid, that’s Connie – joking…), Edie will be starting school next year – yikes, where has the time gone? I am so going to miss her like crazy and at the same time cannot wait to have more time with Connie and Reg.

Yoga. I love yoga. I have been practicing yoga on my own for about 13 years now – sometimes daily, sometimes not for months, but I always love yoga. And now we have a totes awesome and amazing Yoga teacher coming to Kimba once a week. To say I am in love all over again is such an understatement. Lucy is the embodiment of all things Yoga, her knowledge, her style, her ridiculously flexible body – think I may have a little lady-crush on her. Without going all touchy-feely on you, my head is in a much better place, I don’t yell at the kids quite as much, I am getting more shitty jobs (read – office work – blergh) done, my inner control freak is back in its box and I feel much more go-with-the-flow. It is fucking brilliant – seriously, I need to swear here, the emphasis is important.

And to top off that little pot of goodness, I was fortunate enough to reconnect with a super-wise and wonderful mentor and friend a couple of weeks ago, Karynne.  And you know what, turns out she is normal too.  Not the super human I had kinda painted her to be, it makes me love her all the more.

It just feels right, right now – life that is.  I am so grateful for everything and everyone in my life and I just needed to tell them that.

Crappy photo, but lordy I love these kids xxx
Crappy photo, but lordy I love these kids xxx

Thanks for the read,

Carmen xxx

I Did Something Today, Really Off The Wall…

So for the last two days I have been doing something that sane women gave up 70 years ago.  Well, except for my Mum, she went through the same phase about 30 years ago…apples, falling far from trees etc…

I have been rendering beef fat for tallow.

WTF? Would be a most fitting response to that odd little sentence. So I’ll explain.

As you may know, I have a new obsession/compulsion/hobby, making soap. On the blogs that I’ve been reading voraciously (stalking…), they call themselves “Soapers” and when they make soap, they call it “soaping”. Therefore, I am now a “Soaper” and if all else fails, I will also be the cleanest “Soaper” for at least the next 67 years. Did I mention that I’ve become somewhat obsessed?

Anyhoooo, back to the topic at hand… Rendering Beef Fat for Tallow.  Back in the day soap was predominantly made from Tallow and not a whole lot else, so I decided to have me a go at that.  And the vast majority of commercial soap in our supermarkets still uses tallow or sodium tallowate as it is called post saponification (after it has been turned into soap).

But drats, you just cannot get hold of Tallow all willy-nilly from the supermarket shelf, nor from the soap supply companies I am currently using.

A spot of Googling and whaddaya know, Tallow is just basically beef fat melted down and cleaned of any semblance of cow. How bad could it be…hmmm.

First stop, my local butcher shop – awesome folks, Daryl and Pam. “Umm, don’t suppose you could gather me up about 10 – 15kg of beef kidney fat anytime soon?” And yep, that is one of the strangest questions I’ve posed in a while.

So Wednesday morning saw me take delivery of said beef fat (with a goodly portion of pork fat as a bonus prize), and off home to render that baby.

Several blogs and YouTube vids I watched, told me to get the Butcher to mince (grind) it all up for me, but ha! How hard could it be to cut it all up into itty bitty…bits?

I cook a lot and I love chopping stuff up with a knife, no food processor for me, so I’ve got a fair selection of knife callouses – but bugger, if I haven’t got blisters on blisters on callouses!! Holy horse balls, those suckers hurt.

I am a raving carnivore also, but in all honesty, can’t see myself cooking a roast any month soon, I am so over the whole rendering experiment and I suspect the next whiff of hot animal fat that finds my olfactory centre, will have me gagging.  I still think the smell of mince (ground beef) cooking is way worse though.

There is an upside to this experiment, the resulting Tallow is superb, blisteringly white, rock hard and so smooth. It really is rather beautiful.  And so far removed from the bovine it came from and a terrific use of an otherwise wasted part of the animal, that it is hard not to admire it, (if your mind works in the same crazed fashion as mine).

Being singularly obsessed with this whole “Soaping” thing, I used a bit of my Tallow yesterday to make a Laundry Soap (I have a cunning plan, more on that another day).  Oh lordy, what a beauty.  The crispest white and so hard, cannot wait for the 4 week cure period to be up.  Smitten to say the least.  So I can see that I will be adding Tallow to some of my soaps while keeping other soaps, strictly Vegetable.

Cold Process Soap Laundry Soap Tallow

And that, my dear readers, was my foray into Weird Shit That Olden-Days Women Did All The Time.

Now tell me, what products do you draw the line at?  Is it petroleum based products in your skincare, animal products in your soap, phthalates in your scents, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) or Parabens in your shampoo?  And don’t you just love the main ingredient in most stuff is aqua – why can’t they just call it water, do they think we are so dim as to not know what aqua is…?  Or do you use what you like, what smells good and just happens to be on special that week?

A Shiny Bright and Clean Day to you all,

Carmen xx


The End of an Era Pt 2.

So it’s been 6 weeks, and it still sucks. Not quite as much as it did, but it still haunts me a lot. Like all the time. Like sometimes I cannot function, there is no room left in my brain for other thoughts.

But I am winning, slowly but surely the overwhelming urge to smoke is lessening. It might be painfully slow and umpteen times a day I wonder why I am bothering, but I am getting there.

I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times, instead of kicking myself and throwing in the towel, I’ve dusted myself off and climbed back on the wagon.

I will fall off again, of that I am quite sure.

I am even more certain, that I will be clambering right back on again.

Take that smoking. I am winning this war.

Carmen (with whiter teeth and fresher breath) xx

The End of an Era

Today I did it. I have taken the first tiny wee step into a brand new world.
I have smoked my last cigarette.
I am terrified of life without my treasured rollies, but I am far more terrified of not being around to see my darling kids grow into adults.
I stumbled upon an article written by the editor of the now defunct Notebook magazine, Caroline Roessler and her journey to quitting, a few days ago.
And something clicked. Finally. I have been attempting to find the courage to quit for a few weeks now, to no avail. One pouch of tobacco would end and another would begin, but no more. I am done.

Just needed to put it out there, to keep me accountable. All encouragement gratefully accepted.

My Loveliest Words…

Now I know there are loads of you out there that love words, big ones, little ones, tricky ones, rude ones and of course the obscure ones.

This is my list of currently adored words:

Dalliance – a brief love affair.  Kinda like me and running, several years ago.

Evoke – to suggest.  I find scents especially evocative.

Gambol – to skip or leap about joyfully.  Watching the kids gambolling about is one of my greatest pleasures.

Petrichor – the smell of the earth after rain.  Aah, this is just bliss.

Serendipity – finding something lovely, while looking for something else entirely.  And being present enough to recognise and appreciate the unexpected bonus the Universe has flung your way.

Flummoxed – in a bit of a confused flap and completely clueless as to what to do about it.  I think this may have perfectly described Yap’s state of mind, when home alone with the kids one evening, the two girls in bed when Reggie projectile vomited all over the couch, carpet and himself.  Oh how I snickered to myself when I got home and heard all about it!

Discombobulate – disconcert or confuse.  Again, describes Yap and the Projectile incident – somewhat discombobulated…

Diaphanous – sufficiently thin or airy as to be translucent.  Not a word that gets a run very often, but it does feel lovely on the tongue and has a magical sound.  And yes, you do need to say it out loud.

Panacea – a solution for all problems.  Black coffee and a cigarette – my panacea.

Fuck – marvellous word really, it can be whatever you need it to be.  I can often be heard to say “Fuckity, fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck”  usually to express consternation at my own stupidity.  And my other favourite variation “Oh for fuck’s sake!”, when it all gets waaaaay out of hand and just too much for this black duck to bear 😉

And they, my lovelies, are my favourite words of the  moment. Please share with me yours, as words, especially lovely ones, do so make me happy.

Carmen xx

The darling Magpie, over at Magpie Diaries has inspired this post. Please pop over and find all sorts of wordy treasure.