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

____________

Kiva

kiva-logo

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

akf-logo-rnd-outline-and-text-2014-rgb

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

12313975_1123045207737653_6295477902484630982_n

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

logo

“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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel the Love at Goodness Gracious Cafe

20160524_105802LOVE. This is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Goodness Gracious Gluten Free & Organic Cafe in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. The women who run this charming abode (Jill and Nicky) radiate love.

But I’ll get back to this. For now, I’m going to sidestep a little to a time in my life when I was really sick. Stay with me…

About thirteen years ago, my health was in a terrible mess, diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Hashimoto’s Disease, hypothyroidism, a host of rheumatological issues and more. It was an intensely frightening time, unable to work to make the money I needed for the many treatments that doctors and natural therapists claimed would help. Unable to afford them, I had to make Big Life Decisions. But one of the easiest decisions I made was that I needed to invest the little amount of money I had into FOOD. It was clear to me that high quality food would be the basis of everything after that.

I started going to the Northey Street City Farm organic markets each week. And then for whatever reason, I found myself drawn to eating at Govinda’s (Hare Krishna) cafe in Brisbane city. Something that deeply impressed me about the Hare Krishna lifestyle was how important food was in their service and spirituality. So much so, I was told, that to be a person elevated to a food prep position was something of an honour, something that had to be earned. To prepare food in a Hare Krishna kitchen included loving and blessing the food before it was eaten.

Call me crazy if you like, but I felt some deep healing on those Sunday evenings spent at Govinda’s.

And this takes me back to Goodness Gracious Cafe. From the moment you pull up on the footpath you are surrounded by love–in the welcoming chalkboard signs; in the organic garden that’s lovingly tended by these women; in the heart-shaped art pieces hanging from the ceiling; in the locally-made handmade artworks for sale; in the groups of women knitting at the tables, with their rows of stitches becoming blankets for the homeless in the local area; and most certainly, most definitely, in the food.

Everything here is baked on site inside this post-war home on stumps–a home that has a fascinating history including being a railway station master’s home and having had a resident spirit called ‘Alfred’ walking the rooms (who was later ‘released’ when his daughter, who’d also lived in the home, happened upon the cafe and took him home with her).

Jill and Nicky and their friendly staff are always there with a warm smile, knowing many of their customers by name. Their gratitude for living their dream is evident, with the cafe and its customers supporting more than half a dozen different charities, both local and overseas. And their gastronomic creations never let you down.

My favourites include the Turkish delight hot chocolate (with real rose water); the chocolate, blueberry and lavender mud cake (seriously, you MUST try this!); the banana pancakes with homemade caramel sauce and banana ‘nice cream’ (dairy free); the chicken crepes and salad; the paleo lemon bar; and, well, pretty much everything else on the menu too.

There is some kind of deep wisdom that tells us that to provide food with love, and to eat food with love, is one of the most powerful things we can do. That’s why so many of our memories involve food with loved ones. That’s why we say ‘you are what you eat’. That’s why we go home for a ‘home cooked meal’. That’s why we make our loved ones soup when they’re ill.

Hippocrates is reported to have said, “Let food be thy medicine.”

Whether it’s intentional or not, the love and care that comes from these women’s hands infuses every mouthful. Just like my time at Govinda’s all those years ago, I come away from Goodness Gracious every time feeling blessed, nurtured and a little bit healed. And I walk away feeling that the world is a good place after all.

 

Goodness Gracious Cafe: 3 Conn St, Yandina. 

Opening Hours

Mon – Fri  8:00am – 4:00pm

Saturday  7:00am – 2:00pm & Sunday  7:00am – 1:00pm

(This post is part of a series of fortnightly reviews by Josephine Moon and Ashley Jubinville of healthy places to eat on the Sunshine Coast.)