October 24, 2013


As promised, I thought I’d share a reflection on our trip to Bali last month.  I can’t believe it’s almost been four weeks since we returned- so much has happened since then, but looking at the pictures it feels just like yesterday.  I guess that’s why we take pictures isn’t it?  To transport us back to a different time.  Preferably, and in this case, one that involves swimming with sea turtles.

Since Tom and I only had one week to explore, we greedily tried to squeeze as much as we could into that time frame.  We stayed for two nights in Seminyak, two nights in Ubud, two nights in Gili Trawangen, and a final night in Sanur.

I’ll admit we spent a lot of time checking in, checking out, and en route to this that and the other place, which caused some unnecessary stress.  But if I were to pick just one place to have spent the whole time, there’s no clear answer as to where.  There was so much to see and such a distinct vibe in each setting so we really appreciated the variety.  It was a bit painful though to miss out on some beautiful temples, road trips and – I’ll admit it – shopping because of our time constraints.  The same trip in two weeks would have been splendid.

Our first two nights we stayed at Tony’s Villas in the heart of Seminyak and immediately felt like royalty.  Not only was the place beautiful- a traditionally built villa with an outdoor spa bathroom- but in a prime location next to some cool bars and restaurants.   

The most ballin' bathroom ever. Note the lack of ceiling above the shower.

Tom had the brilliant idea of renting a motorbike and after a few hours moments  of fretting for my life we were unstoppable!  We took in the sights, made a visit to the renowned Kuta beach, wove between trucks, bicycles and roosters, and drank a vacation worthy amount of Bintang.   

Best of all, we stumbled upon an absurdly luxurious restaurant where we enjoyed a gourmet early birthday dinner for Tom.  A nightcap at the world famous Potatohead bar completed our brilliant day.

Awkward blue lines ruining all my photos... I'll have to re-upload them at some point which is most definitely not now

The next day we headed inland to Ubud. Ubud is known to have a bit of a hippy expat vibe, which is apparent in the numerous organic fresh squeezed juice bars, yoga apparel shops, and day spas we passed on each street.  I wanted to hate it, with all the western commoditization of spirituality… but I loved it.  So much.   

I spent my first morning sweating through a yoga class and gulping down an Aryuvedic smoothie before hoping on a motorbike with Tom and taking a few hours to get lost in the mountain villages north of the city.  The scenery was simply incredible – this was the Bali you would see in National Geographic, and we were the only tourists in miles.   

Unfortunately, after finally pulling over to enjoy the view with a coffee and leisurely lunch, we realized we were essentially out of cash [the rest was in our villa’s safe].  Irritably we scrounged up enough change to buy a bag of chips and headed back.  The quickly darkening sky meant we arrived back just too late to properly explore the monkey forest or it’s temple – one of Ubud’s biggest attractions.  I whined a bit, but a swim and a Bintang (and a calming and wonderful boyfriend) were enough to help me get over myself.  The hour long massage treatment didn’t hurt either.  We finished the night watching a traditional Balinese dance troupe at the former Royal Palace.

The next day we woke bright and early to make our way to Gili Trawangen.  This is one of the three Gili Islands, situated just off the coast of Lombok.  Tom and I had heard great things from several of our travel happy friends about the Gilis and were really looking forward to white beaches, tropical cocktails, snorkeling, and doing nothing else.  Before we could enjoy those luxuries, however, we had to endure a three-hour boat ride crossing the straits of hell.  I won’t go into detail, but Tom gets quite seasick and choppy seas + cramped tiny boat + diesel fumes = lots of puke.  We were very happy to touch solid ground.

Gili Trawangen turned out to be exactly what we had hoped and more.  Our only full day spent there was Tom’s 26th birthday, which we began with a morning snorkel.  About fifteen minutes later, already astounded by the beauty of the reefs, we encountered our first sea turtle.

Tom pretty much peed his pants [I mean, we were swimming so I wouldn’t have even known] and when we retreated to lounge on the beach we both felt overwhelmed by all the beauty and just so absurdly happy to be alive.   

The day only got better with great seafood, more snorkeling, and beachside tapas while watching the sun set over Lombok’s volcanoes.

We reversed the class shortly after and watched a bootleg version of This is the End for $3 at Gili T’s only “movie theatre” and thoroughly enjoyed the idiotic humour.

The boat ride back was harsh but manageable – Tom sat on the roof to avoid a repeat of previous events.  We arrived for our last night in Sanur, mostly just a place to rest our heads before an early flight.  Pleasantly, we discovered our room came with a private pool, HBO, and affordable room service. BOOM.

I was sad to leave, but it would definitely take a few weeks for me to digest the whirlwind trip and appreciate all we saw, witnessed, and learned.  There was a certain poignancy in seeing such a beautiful country with such beautiful people slowly losing its identity to accommodate tourism.  Temple flowers shared with hotel visitors and cultural dance performances before seas of white faces have exposed throngs of Westerners to “Balinese Culture” while the art of cultivating rice and creating batik fabrics has been neglected.  It’s understandable that anyone would seize an opportunity to earn a better income without performing backbreaking labor.  But as I passed so many plastic wrappers, broken thongs, and shredded “I <3 BALI” t-shirts in the street gutters I couldn’t help but wonder: is this income really buying the Balinese a better life?  As a resident of a industrialized country with its priorities supremely backwards, I can’t be one to judge.  But I can be one to warn: Don’t follow in our footsteps.  Shoes for those who have none can change lives, but Nike swooshes won’t bring you happiness.  Your mother’s Nasi Goreng will always taste better than anything prepackaged in a supermarket.  And spending time with your community will provide more fulfillment than any transient exchanges with tourists, albeit without the tip.

I would love to go back one day and see what has become of Bali.  Better yet, I’d love to visit Bali twenty years ago and see what it once was.  Either way, until then, I have my pictures to transport me.

October 16, 2013


The past month has seen a whole lot of change for me, with the end of my working holiday visa and real life Perth routine and the beginning of my pseudo-backpacker holiday up the east coast of Australia.  I'm loving the liberation and uncertainly that comes with this type of traveling, although I do miss my man ... and do appreciate the financial security my savings are providing.

I finished up my job with CGG at the end of September, after politely declining their offer to sponsor me in a payroll/accounting position.  While flattering that I could pick up something so unfamiliar so quickly that a large company was willing to pay me to do it, I wasn't into the idea of progressing down a career path that I ultimately had no passion for.  

Since my tourist visa was up I had to leave the country in order to reenter on a tourist visa, and as it happened to be Tom's birthday week, a trip to Bali was in order.  Probably the best thing a government has ever forced me to do.  Between Seminyak, Ubud and Gili Trawangen we had some amazing times, but I do think we tried to cram too much in- there was just so much to see!  A few more days would have made all the difference, but alas, Tom had to get back to work.  

[Post with more photos coming soon - I tried to edit them and ended up with bright blue lines streaking though all my snaps!]

In a ridiculously fast turnaround, I left Perth again the day after we returned from Bali and flew to northern New South Wales, where I've just completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in The Channon, in the beautiful mountians inland of Byron Bay.  

Permaculture is basically a theory of sustainable agricultural design that tries to work with nature to restore soils and yield food, as opposed to working against natural forces like standard monocropped industrial agriculture does.

The course had us learning a lot of practical skills while giving a major review of earth systems as well as details more specific elements of agro-ecological design. All this is making me antsy to either start building my homestead now or to sail off and help to terrace the mountainsides of Haiti to more efficiently trap water. But PSYCHE I'm moving to one of the biggest cities in world instead.  I just never make any sense to myself.

Permaculture movement began in Australia and the institute I studied at is owned by the protege of the founder, Bill Mollison and not far from his original farm site.  The people there came from all walks of life and quite a few have flown in from different corners of the world solely to take this course.  It's really reassuring to find that most everyone- as opposed to other super hippy folks I've worked with- seemed to have their head screwed on straight. While a lot of radical (but ecologically sensible) ideas were being thrown around, the intention is ultimately to integrate permaculture ideas into mainstream society and the greater world as opposed to keeping it a fringe movement.

Its also comforting how well I got along with all the other students and what a fun weekend we had during our course, exploring the area, going to markets, and hanging out on the beach in Byron Bay.  I think it's so much easier to be myself when I'm within a community of like minded people, and I really just never found those people in Perth.  

[That said, I have yet to find others who occupy that space where alternative ideas are welcomed if backed up with peer-reviewed scientific studies. Microwaves give you cancer? Cooking with coconut oil will turn you into superman? Sure people... now prove it.]

I've been feeling silly from time to time about uprooting all the good things Tom and I have going in Perth and starting fresh somewhere else, but both for my career and for my personal relationships, Perth just isn't the place.  I mean, there isn't one place to find rennet for home cheese making and even kale, the trendiest of superfoods, is incredibly hard to come by.  If that's not a sign I don't know what is.

While I'm feeling so inspired every day on this recent journey, it's also overwhelming when we have New York all planned out for this coming year, and that I need to get a job where I can learn a living, but I want to start changing the world ASAP and that probably requires travel or a long term farming internship where I'd be away from Tom for a while... However, I'm starting to open my mind to the idea that it's my journey and I'm the only one I need to answer to.  Of course I factor Tom in (probably too much sometimes) but we've agreed that wherever we need to go - New York or otherwise - to both be content is where we need to be.  And if I need to work a part time job at a Brooklyn co-op while I volunteer part time managing some urban agriculture projects?  Totally cool [I try to convince my super over achiever self] - it's probably more effective than pushing paper at some nonprofit that ultimately doesn't really do all that much.

I'm taking another course as well, Applying Permaculture Theory in Sustainable International Aid, at a nearby Permaculture demonstration site, Djanbung Gardens, where I've just arrived.  I've arranged to volunteer at Djanbung for the week between my courses so I can ride with my inspiration and get a bit of hands on experience. After all is done I hope to go to Byron Bay for a a few days before heading up the coast and seeing if I can work on a beachside farm somewhere near Cairns so I can tick off the Great Barrier Reef before I leave Australia for good.

I hope to be back in Perth by mid-November, and can't be back too much later as there's a lot to square away before our lease ends December 7th.  Like selling the contents of our lives...ya, there's that. Plus I just want to be able to unwind after this whirlwind of working and traveling, and say goodbye to the beautiful little nest we created for ourselves.

I'll be heading to Melbourne for Christmas to see Tom's family, then leaving straight for Japan!  Tokyo for new years, Nagano for snowboarding, and whatever else our amazing crew gets up to in six weeks is sure to be epic.

Finally, FINALLY, I'll be back stateside on February 2nd.  Ready, Set, Mark your calendars!

~the nesting nomad

September 30, 2013


So it's been ages since I've posted, but I've been long overdue to share a recent amazing vacation with you all!  A lot has happened since, but I suppose I've gotta catch up on the oldest events before I can catch up to present.

At the end of July Tom and I took a much anticipated trip to Australia's top end to explore Kakadu National Park.  We stayed in Darwin for a couple nights and then headed off on a 5-day guided 4WD tour through the most remote parts of the already remote Kakadu National Park.  I know most people wouldn't take a week of annual leave to sleep in a tent, but hey, I'm not most people, and falling asleep while listening to dingos howl at the full moon is a pretty magical thing.  I was certainly a happy camper- in the most literal sense of the phrase.

I don't know how to describe the landscape of the Northern Territory except to say that it reminds me of what I imagine East Africa must look like during the dry season.  Savannah-like plains with scrubby trees and red dirt give way to lush oases where the water still flows, and animals roam more widely than humans.  It's a special place, with ancient origins as one of the longest continuously settled areas by Aboriginal Australians, and maybe by any human civilization anywhere.  Above all, its an awe inspiring place that I hope remains respected and protected for ages to come.

Below are some shots from trip... it was impossible to chose only a few!

June 05, 2013



Today, June 5th, is World Environment Day! 

I'm elated to say that the UNEP has chosen this year's theme to be THINK.EAT.SAVE: a campaign to minimise food waste and food loss.

This is an issue that's very close to my heart and that I deem to be extremely important, both now and in the near future.  Not only is food wastage an inefficient use of money, but it also squanders the valuable natural resources that go into producing each apple and carrot we eat.  

Would you leave your tap running all day, or your lights on, or start your car and let it sit for a few hours?  Probably not, but most of us don't consider that throwing out uneaten food or letting produce go bad in our fridge is equivalent to doing the same.  


Globally, humans discard or neglect to harvest over ONE-THIRD of all edible food on the planet.  When there are areas of the world where food insecurity plagues families each and every day, this is simply unacceptable.

Not only have the UN identified food security and unsustainable agricultural production to be the largest hurdles for human development in the near future, but also even the good ol' US of A has started to see the light.  Just yesterday the USDA and EPA launched a national food waste challenge, encouraging consumers and restaurants to track and minimise their food waste.

In my own constant effort to live according to my values, food waste is something that I will not tolerate in my kitchen.  This means taking a few steps to make sure nothing goes bad in our fridge:

  • Meal plan before grocery shops
  • Keep a massive stock of tupperware and glass jars for leftovers
  • Always keep staple items like beans, pasta, and rice in the pantry for clean-out-the-fridge dishes like stir fry and soup
  • Embrace last night's dinner for tomorrow's lunch
  • Get creative with awkward ingredients.  Searching epicurious by ingredient is great for this [ex: the other week I had heaps of fresh herbs to get rid of and little inspiration - a simple search and 30 minutes later I had made my first tabbouleh. Food save success.]

Anyways, in celebration of food saving habits I'll leave you with my quick and adaptable recipe for tonight's dinner!  I started with leftover roasted root vegetables from dinner with Tom's parents - they were leaving on vacation the next morning and knew the kids at home wouldn't eat them.  Instead of letting them go to waste, I turned them into a delicious meal.  After all, if life gives you root vegetables, make root vegetable soup!

Root Vegetable Soup

Serves however many you'd like


1-2 lbs mixed root vegetables [carrots, butternut, potatoes, beetroot, parsnips, etc.]
1-2 yellow onions
4 cloves garlic [roasted]
4 cups vegetable stock [plus extra]
Olive Oil
Seasonings of choice: rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, pepper


1. Put oven on medium temperature and put in unpeeled garlic cloves for 12 minutes.

2. In the meantime, peel and cube your onions and root vegetables.

3. Pour a generous amount of olive oil into the bottom of a large pot and saute onions until translucent and just browning, 5-7 minutes.

4.  Add vegetable stock and cubed veggies to the pot and bring to a boil.

5.  Reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are quite mushy.  Add roasted garlic by squeezing the contents of each clove into the pot.

6.  Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth in consistency.  Add spices to taste.  Add more vegetable stock [or water if no more salt is needed] until desired thickness is reached.

7.  Simmer for 10 more minutes until flavours have melded.  Serve hot with lots of crusty bread for dipping!

* As my garlic, onions and vegetables were already roasted, I combined ingredients and skipped to step 5.  It's pretty impossible to overcook anything or screw this up even if you tried.  Plus mine turned out a deep pink because of the beetroot I incorporated... early Valentine's day idea?!

BEFORE: A pot of leftovers that would have gone bad in Tom's parents' fridge.

AFTER: A steaming bowl of soup for dinner! And lunch tomorrow. And the day after that.  And some for Tom too.

Enjoy my future food saving friends!