Josephine Moon’s Rose Iced Chai

If you’ve read The Tea Chest, you’ll know that I love chai!

This is perfect for a sultry summer’s day. It’s a chilly iced tea that’s full to the brim with deliciousness.

 

2 heaped dessert spoons loose leaf Masala chai (or good quality teabags) (or use a spice chai with no black tea if you are caffeine free)
Sweetener (e.g. sugar or honey), if you choose
2 Tbs dried rose flowers (or petals), plus extra for serving
3 tsp rosewater
Fresh lime, optional (some people are not a fan of lime juice but I love it!)
Plenty of ice

  1. Brew your chai: two heaped dessert spoons to one litre of water. Pour into a glass jug (or similar) that can go into the fridge.
  2. Add your sweetener of choice (if using) and stir until dissolved. Allow it to cool until warm.
  3. Add your dried rose flowers or petals and allow to steep in the fridge, 2-4 hours, then remove flowers/petals.
  4. Add the rose water.
  5. Now taste the brew. It will likely be very strong—it’s supposed to be! This will become your base brew.
  6. Mix half quantity of brew to half quantity of water as a guide (but feel free to adjust to your taste).
  7. Add freshly squeezed lime juice to taste (if using) and plenty of ice.
  8. Top with either fresh (spray free!) rose petals from your garden or more dried flowers.
  9. Enjoy!

Tip: Use sparkling water here for extra pizazz.
Note: You can buy edible rose flowers and petals online or in many organic/wholefood shops or from spice merchants. Rosewater can be bought off the shelf in your supermarket.

Why I Want to Write Children’s Books

Did you know I’m still an aspiring writer? Four books published and another scheduled for 2018 and I’m still in the same place as so many other writers out there: the beginning.

My heart still burns with the passion, frustration and disappointment of the unpublished writer. Why? Because I want to be a children’s author.

Right now, I have half a dozen picture book manuscripts ‘marinating’ in my hard drive, and one young readers’ (7-10 year old) 30,000-word chapter book bursting with promise to get out into the world.

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(Me with my pony Sparky, who stars as a character in my children’s writing.)

The reality of publishing is that is is difficult to cross that magic line and become “published”; and this is even more true for those of us who aspire to be children’s authors. Like so many of you out there, I too am writing, editing, sending out for review, submitting, following competitions and so on. It still doesn’t feel that long ago that I was in this position as a totally unpublished writer. The feelings are all too familiar!

It might be tempting for me to think, oh well, I already achieved the dream of being a published author and making a living from my writing, why bother chasing another one? Here’s why I am so passionate about making this dream come true.

  • Because reading as a child changed me fundamentally as a human being and made me the writer I am today.
  • Because I am a mother, and therefore I read hundreds of books to my son and I SEE him changing with every one we read.
  • And because I am a mother, it would be my greatest joy and honour to be able to cuddle up with him in bed and read to him a book that I wrote myself.
  • Because I want my son to be able to read Australian stories written by Australian authors.
  • Because in my heart I am an educator (and former English teacher), and being able to read and write is the number one skill a human being can have to empower her to change her life. And literacy begins in the laps of the parents who read to their children.
  • And finally, and probably most pressingly, because I have scores of stories and characters bumbling around in my head who are desperate to get out there into the world!

So here I am, an aspiring author, working away invisibly alongside so many other aspiring authors, wanting to write the best books I can possibly create to bring the greatest gifts to the world.

Write on!

 

Organic January is Underway

So let me start by wishing you a very happy and healthful 2017! As for us, we are on day two of Organic January. Hooray! Yesterday went smoothly, as I’d done a lot of good preparation beforehand. But I’m sad to say I had hit some interesting bumps in the road in the week or so leading up to New Year when my research discovered:

  • The word ‘organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means.
  • There is a good argument for ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’.
  • We simply don’t live in a world right now that enables us to be 100% organic.

So firstly, let’s look at this ‘organic’ label.

There are several wonderful cafes on the Sunshine Coast with the word ‘organic’ either in their name or in their ethos. I listed them out so as to be prepared, but then dug a bit deeper. Were they really organic?

No, sadly. I emailed five of the best and was told over and over that no, not everything was organic. Sadder still, the extent of the organic food might have stopped at coffee, tea and milk.

Dear organic cafes, I implore you, please don’t use the word ‘organic’ in the name of your establishment if you are not in fact 100% organic. Secondly, I also suggest that the best thing you could do would be to label your menu with an organic symbol, just like you do for gluten free or vegetarian options. Trust me, I will buy your organic food and be grateful you were honest.

And by the way, this discrepancy in organic labelling applies to foodstuffs in organic supermarkets too. The front of the package might say it’s organic, but if you read the ingredients, it might not be all it purports to be.

On the upside, there was just ONE cafe who responded that in fact, yes, they were 100% organic. Hooray!! Thank you and congratulations to New Earth Cafe in Coolum. You will be our choice of cafe for the whole of January 🙂

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So what about ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’?

This was a big revelation for me, when I generally assume organic means better. Mostly, I’d say this was true. BUT, a champion of organics here on the coast wrote to me, in response to my question, that the way food is grown has an awful lot to do with the vitality and nutritional value of what you end up consuming. A lot of farmers might be employing permaculture or biodynamic principles, really investing in the soil and the long-term health of their farm, and getting that food to you a day after it’s picked, but not have an organic certification label.

On the other hand, you might have farmers doing the bare minimum for their soil and plants, simply to have an organic label on food they can ask a higher price for. And then there’s food miles. That organic food that is wrapped up tightly in plastic and sitting on the supermarket shelf may have been in transit for weeks or even months before it gets to you and clearly has less nutritional value than food from the conscientious farmer who picked it yesterday. Hmm… gets tricky, does’t it? This one, more than anything else, made me dig deeper into the why of my plan.

Obviously, you want the best of both worlds, someone who is certified organic and who is also invested in producing the highest nutritional value in their food and can get it to you straight after it’s picked. If you’re a local, I can’t endorse Fresh Box enough . They do all this hard research for you and deliver it to your door and the food is fresh, fresh, fresh! You can feel it as soon as you open the box! (Image above of my son whipping off the box lid the second it arrived and helping himself to a carrot.) 

The world isn’t ready for Organic January

This revelation was also a difficult one to swallow. As much as we might want it, there is just a huge gap in the availability of organics right now. Access has improved a lot over the past ten years, for sure. But there’s a long way to go. I often turn up to the ‘organic’ butcher only to find there is no organic chicken, only free-range. Certified organic skincare products are few and far between. Organic cafes (as discussed) simply aren’t. Organic products on the shelf (as I found) are often a mixture of organic and not.

I’ll be honest, this was really deflating. All my shiny new year idealistic ideas of being 100% pure were falling down around me. I had to accept that maybe I’d have to make compromises.

BUT!! Every year it will get better. I truly believe that. The power of the consumer is just that–power. We have to put our money where our mouths are, literally.

So, onward we go with Organic January!

 

 

Organic January: preamble

Nourish, don’t detox.

 

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I recently read this somewhere (and I’m sorry to say I can’t remember the source), and it struck me as feeling so right.

Of course, both nourishing and detoxing have a place; but I think it’s fair to say that in our Western culture the emphasis is on detoxing (in a cool, trendy, look-at-me-I-drank-too-much-alcohol-and-took-too-many-drugs-and-now-I-have-to-detox way), rather than on feeding our precious body cells what they really need in the first place.

Interestingly, I had also chosen my word of the year, something I’ve done for a few years now that gives me a place to start with my life adjusts, a word on which to meditate throughout the year, and that word was nourish.

And so my idea for “organic January” was born.

My husband, bless him, enthusiastically embraced the idea, so we’ve been talking about it a lot in the past couple of months, slowly preparing our pantry and fridge, replacing whatever non-organic items we could with organic ones. Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of this already over the past year or two, and at any given time I’d estimate we are at least fifty per cent organic.

But we can always improve. And that’s what we’ll be looking to do in January. Fortunately, we are surrounded by an abundance of organics and high quality food here on the Sunshine Coast to make our efforts a little easier.

Do you have a new year’s resolution yet? Maybe you could choose organics too. I’ll be blogging a bit about the successes and challenges of Organic January in the next few weeks. I always love to hear what’s going on in your world too.

 

 

 

German release, The Chocolate Promise

I am very proud to share that The Chocolate Promise will be on German shelves in mid January 2017, as Das Schokoladen Versprechen. Don’t you just love the gorgeous cover? It is the first of translations for my work. (A Norwegian translation of The Tea Chest will be out in 2018.)

I look forward to welcoming many new international readers to my work. The translation is being published by Random House, under the imprint of Goldmann.

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Looking for opportunities to donate at Christmas? Here are my favourites.

So, speaking of the Christmas Spirit, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite charities in case you are looking for some ideas of where to spread your Christmas cheer too. I donate to these charities every time I get a royalty statement too, so thank you for supporting my books because you in turn support these charities. xx

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Kiva

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To see who’s leading the way of amazing things you can do for the world in my list, head on over to the Kiva site. These are TRULY the gifts that keep on giving. Kiva is a phenomenally life changing micro loan site. That means, your money is a loan to an enterprising individual or group and they pay it back to you in tiny amounts at a time. You can literally change people’s lives with a $25 loan that comes back to you and then… here’s the awesome thing… you can send that same $25 on to someone else! It’s incredible. We can change the world with micro loans. I’ve got tiny loans out to people in Cambodia, Senegal, Phillipines, India, Zambi and Peru. I cannot speak highly enough of this charity.

And if you ever want to feel unbelievably inspired and hopeful for the world, listen to anything Jessica Jackley (co-founder of Kiva) has said. She is one of my heroes in life and I’ll be she’ll quickly be one of yours too.

Australian Koala Foundation

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On a sad note… Koalas, our national emblem, our national disgrace.

Did you know it takes fifty (50!) trees to supply food for ONE koala for ONE year?

We are losing our koala trees through deforestation and land clearing and cannot plant them fast enough to save this much-loved, cuddly species from a wipe out. The AKF is very clear: the only way to save koalas is to legislate protection of their habitat.

As their slogan says: No tree, no me.

Twice a year I donate to AKF to buy trees for their tree planting programs, building up crucial tracts of koala networks to save our friends. If it’s too late for the wild populations, then there is always the hope that zoos will have breeding programs to repopulate our land, and if that happens, the trees that AKF are planting right now (on private land, often donated or bequeathed) will be leading the way in providing food for them.

Freedom Hill Sanctuary

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These are our sponsor cows: ‘Teddy’ is on the top and ‘Christina and Batman’ are on the bottom. Teddy is my husband’s cow and the two on the bottom are mine. Cute, aren’t they? We have a real thing for cows. (Actually, we have a real thing for everything, hence why we founded and ran a horse rescue charity for three years and now have a paddock full of horses.) This year, hubby wants to add on a pig. Getting a real live pig is the one thing I have resolutely said we can not under any circumstances get!! I love pigs, don’t get me wrong, and haven’t eaten one for twenty odd years. But everything I’ve read about pigs leads me to expect broken fences, endless ear-splitting squealing and earth destruction! I just don’t think I can cope. So anyway, that’s why sponsoring your favourite animals is a great alternative, and hence why this time next year I’ll probably be showing you a photo of ‘our pig’. 🙂

Book Drive

You’ll likely find a children’s book drive going on somewhere near you. For us, it’s run through our library system in Books 4 Kids here on the Sunshine Coast. Because kids and books just go together, don’t they? And no child should have to be without books, especially at Christmas.

 Oxfam

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“One person in three in the world lives in poverty.”

Wow, right? How lucky we are.

Oxfam’s slogan is: The power of people against poverty. They help people all around the world, including here in Australia, through industry, agriculture and businesses that provide ongoing employment, education and food resources.

And fortunately for all of us, they supply us with great Christmas decorations and gifts for everyone. We do a lot of shopping with Oxfam at this time of year. 🙂

 

So there you go! Please, go forth and be merry! xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cat of Christmas Spirit

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Like many people, every year at Christmas time, we donate to a number of charities, and always at least one animal charity. But the Christmas spirit is not reserved just for those animals in need outside of our home. And this year, our cat, Tom, is having extra fun thanks to a simple tree.

My hubby had major back surgery in October, and I wanted to lift the mood in the house for when he came home from hospital. So I bought my first ever Christmas tree—you know, from a store and wrapped up in a box, not something fished out of the op shop trash-and-treasure, or a living native one that, despite my best intentions, was eaten by the horses. No, I bought a lovely tree; it even came with lights pre-wired into it. I spent a relaxed afternoon opening the box and putting it together with my four-year-old son—a glorious, precious age at which to find the magic of Christmas—and we admired it with love.

And then our cat, Tom, disabled half the lights and broke several boughs within a couple of hours.

I had a moment of crushing disappointment for the short-lived beauty of my first tree (not crazy expensive but not entirely cheap either), but then quickly decided that Tom deserved all the joy he got from climbing through its branches and I found real happiness for him.

(He’s still going at it, by the way. Just this morning I caught him hanging in the tree by one arm while the other was desperately trying to knock off a red bell, the sound of more boughs breaking under his weight.)

We adore our Tommy cat. I picked him up from the RSPCA in Noosa two years ago as a three-month-old abandoned kitten. He sits in our kitchen sink and thinks this is totally normal. He is ridiculously in love with water and will watch us while we’re in the shower or sit on the bathroom vanity and wait for the tap to turn on so he can try to catch it and study it. (We swear he’s writing some sort of PhD on water.)

I like to think we were a great gift in Tom’s life; but he has certainly been a huge gift in ours.

From day one, our son, Flynn, latched on to Tom like a lifeline. And to our great surprise, Tom went with it. Tom has become Flynn’s (unintentional and by miracle) ‘therapy cat’ and spends many hours being dragged around the house, hidden under bed covers, lying upside down and floppy in Flynn’s arms, soothing Flynn when he’s anxious or sad, restoring him to a place of peace and calm. I often walk into a room and stop, giggling, as I see Flynn and Tom wrapped up on some sort of trance-like embrace on the couch or on the floor. Tom transforms from this wild, feet-chasing, hairband stealing, stalking, wrestling, climbing, tackling creature into something dove-like and serene, closing his eyes and purring, gazing up at the little boy that he adopted when he came into our home.

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned, Tom can have three Christmas trees if he wants them—all just for him to climb and destroy to his heart’s content.

Thank you, Tom. We love you. xx