Petit Paradis in Collage


The Eighth instalment of our annual bit of artwork tracking the Two Little Fellas.

This year, on a whim, our youngest Little Fella takes the stage given that he’s played smaller roles in previous pictures and I loved how he embraced his nature playground in the garden – quite literally.

Over the years friends and family have wanted to know a bit of the story behind the artwork so this is a little about this years . . .

In the New Year we will move to Tillellan, the long-term project that is finally nearing completion. The landscaping and backyard will be a project within its own right. In anticipation of the move this years art features some of the elements of the original petit paradis abode.  A kind of thank you and goodbye for our first family home.

This place has seen several families of guinea pigs and chickens pass through it. It was pivotal in my adventures in seed saving and building up varieties, quantities and experience in locally adapted edible species. As a result, much of the growing space was for seed production and really only supplemented our kitchen from time to time with food. Moving to Tillellan we plan to accommodate both requirements.

There was a whole lot I could have put into this picture, but some of the highlights are the Pitaya flowers that made a showy display the last couple of autumns. Our eldest Little Fella is feeding Pinky, Brownie and Missy Miss – some of our current guinea pigs. Our original g-pigs Maiki & Jazz can be found in the picture as well along with various pet chooks that have been on the adventure also.

One of the favourite things about the house that I will miss is seeing the flocks of ibis and pelicans flying past the house on their way out to feed or returning home in the afternoon. Quite regularly we’ve had a half dozen or more pelicans glide low and slow over the houses and past our living area window in the early morning. It is a magical site, especially when they are low enough to hear their wing beats, and I missed it when we rented briefly so I know I will when we move.


There are various flowers and the quail, some of our container gardens and goldfish and koi. Fruit trees and crops that we’ve had. The garden itself was different with every passing year as it adapted to the needs and requirements of the family and whatever we were doing in preparation for the eventual move. Whether it was sorting out salvaged resources or propagating varieties of plants.

It will be a little sad I imagine to part ways, but we’ve also out-grown it rapidly and its very much a natural transition for us. It would have been just right with the Two Little Fellas, but with the addition of Gran and her various requirements we’ve definitely overstayed.

Home Cooking

petit paradis breakfast

Mr DIG asked me, amidst preparing dinner. . . 

“Do you like cooking then?”

( Dear Reader – Do you like Mr DIG? He asks good questions don’t you think? Makes for diverse blog posts! )

I had to think about it.

“I think so.” I replied.

Though I really wasn’t sure anymore. I used to enjoy it but since the Little Fellas came along – plus Gran with all the challenges that the Taste Monster brings to the table – I really think the answer is more ‘Not so much.’

Then it got me thinking about why this was so. Why I continued.

To which the answer came, because I still want to know what is in our food and what my family is eating.

It takes time, there are dishes and pots and pans to wash and the appreciation from the gathering at the table is more often lacking and instead insulting and damaging to the soul of a home cook. But they are healthy, they do eat most of their meals despite being distracted and eating with their hands from time to time. And I care. And I’m stubborn. In a good way, I hope.

Gran is better off too. Though a recent chicken salad with home made mayonnaise and noodles was so uncomfortable to sit through. She looked disinterested and miserable. She is trying to kill off the Taste Monster and its destructive ways with her blood sugar. But the misery. Oh the misery.

I cook with care and with love, but it’s a hard task at the moment. The immediate rewards are few, but I’m in for the long term gains.

Letting Go

I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.
— Jeffrey McDaniel

I found it quite liberating traveling around the world with just a back pack.

But there were many times when even that was pushed to the limit and my pack was heavy enough to become a nuisance. Charity stores, second hand shops and lost property boxes assisted with the natural cycling of items. As some things were moved on, others would replace them. Or as more cherished items came along, others were passed on to make room. I found an acoustic guitar in a fishing tackle shop in the old town in Edinburgh and it was a travel companion for a while through the UK and France. At times it was troublesome to carry around. Spending time between traveling, working and being semi-sedentary however, it was a great companion. I still regard it as a favourite item. As an instrument it is a delight. It is also a bit unique in that the bridge can be removed easily. And it also has some great stories to share that I cherish.

petitparadis guitar

Let go, or be dragged.

—  Unknown

Returning home was also an event of reuniting with all my Other Stuff that had been stored for a couple of years. This has since been whittled down significantly and I have found that even my favourite hobbies have stood the test of time because they take up little room. Especially nowadays with digital storage. The once exception being my artwork, though I have come to favour more and more, doing work on watercolour paper rather than ‘bulky’ canvases.

Our seed collection is the only other collection we really have and that will take up just a small portion of our house once we have our utility room set up. Our collection of plants and trees will be planted in the garden.

The current irony is that for the first time we are actually moving into a larger house and shedding more of our collective stuff. Clothes are not an issue for me as I have reduced them significantly over the last few years – and then more again in the last 12 months. More clothes keep coming from the Universe, but I am usually quick to pass them on if they are not suitable. Or keep them for  a while and discard others by various means.

Items of Stuff that might not be complete or are of no immediate use have found themselves allocated to various boxes and taken to either a second hand store or the Tip Shop where they will more than likely be discovered for their Inherent & Intrinsic Usefulness.

Letting go is not getting rid of memories. Memories will stay, they always do. Letting go is making sure that the pain associated with the memories goes away.
— Arti Honrao

We have been inundated with kids artwork. It is amazing and delightful and is incredible to watch the changes in perception and ability over even a short space of time. My wife will, from time to time, point out a deeper and more cognitive explanation as to what is going on behind the artwork as our boys develop. The writing is on the wall though. Potentially boxes and boxes of artwork lie ahead of us in the future, so I photograph them and the very finest of the bunch get preserved for Periodic Moments of Appreciation. Or, for framing so that we can enjoy them in our living space. This all occurs of course once they have been removed from their Prestigious And Rightful Place Of First Accolades – the kitchen fridge.

Or cupboard.

Or wall.

Or pantry.

Digitise. . . . Wonderful.

There’s an important difference between giving up and letting go.
–Jessica Hatchigan

The cycling continues as we clear stuff out, but there is a ratio to it at the moment. Lots of Stuff Out – A Little Back. We visited a Tip Shop with the Little Fellas. They wanted a handful of toys, but with some explaining we managed to leave the toys there and bring only two pieces of clothing which had gradually risen to new heights on the priority purchases list over the past few weeks as summer approaches. Shorts and jeans.

Sweet Little Creature

petitparadis chocfingers

Something was not right with our eldest child this morning.

He was impish and naughty and totally off his trolley.

Just not right.

Out of sorts.

Out of control.

It was about an hour before school and I had just decided to tidy up the pantry in an effort to plan for future meals when I noticed the lid on Grans Chocolate Biscuits was partly open. Hercule Poirot my foot! It didn’t take too much super sleuthing.

Hmmmm. It was more like Daddy Bear. “Who’s been into Grans biscuits?”

Possessed Child was quick to admit he had eaten one. 

Maybe three.

Perhaps, and quite possibly, some others. And maybe some others, at other times. Like the night before. A decent part of the new packet I had put in the container the night before was ABSENT. Gone. 

For a child who we deliberately do not feed gluten, or too much sugar or other regular stuff – mainly because we are in a new millennium and we know better* – this all made total sense. So much so,  that his teacher got a little note detailing the minor ‘culinary’ transgression for the morning as a reason for the altered personality she would be teaching for the day.



*We do know better don’t we people? 

The world has changed. We need to alter our perception however.

Gran sees . . . a slender, crisp biscuit, covered with smooth milk chocolate. (The Taste Monster has Gran around his little finger. Just an observation…)

Mr Petit Paradis sees . . .Milk Chocolate (42%) (Sugar, Milk Solids, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Vegetable Emulsifiers (322 From Soy, 476), Natural Vanilla Flavour), Wheat Flour, Vegetable Fat (Palm) (Antioxidant (307b From Soy)), Sugar, Invert Syrup, Milk Solids, Salt, Vegetable Emulsifier (322 From Soy), Raising Agents (500, 450), Natural Vanilla Flavour.

Milk Chocolate Contains 28% Cocoa Solids And 20% Milk Solids.


And a little boy who didn’t know what was going on in his world and was completely mortified that his teacher needed to know why he was not his usual self. 

Non-Cereal Breakfasts @ Petit Paradis

Things have been pretty busy. Nothing new there. Just more of it.

Busyness that is.

So I’m handing over this post to Mrs PP.

petitparadis crumnle

I love a good solid breakfast. I realise not everyone does, but the petit paradis family agrees with me.

What I find hard some mornings is the thought of actually preparing breakfast from scratch. We started our real food journey many years ago now, and going back to toast and cereal in the morning is really not negotiable. The energy boost for getting into the day is just incomparable.

Here are two of the quick start breakfasts, that aren’t liquid. We will save those for another day.

Raw Apple-Crumble

In a high powered blender, mix equal parts (usually 100g of each) shredded coconut, sunflower seeds and almonds until they resemble bread crumbs. Add a handful (around 50g) of dried fruit (dates, apricots etc) and blend again until mixture resembles apple crumble topping. Remove this mixture from the blender. Then add into the blender, four apples and two or three oranges roughly chopped. Pulse these until they are roughly chopped into 1cm chunks.

Serve with a scoop of fruit mixture and add the crumble mixture as topping. To this you can add yoghurt, extra nuts, frozen blue berries. . . .  and enjoy. Alternatively, add as a topping on chopped fruit.

Banana Eggs

Scramble one large banana with four eggs in a high powered blender. Cook in a frypan and scramble as you go. This can also make pancakes if you have time. Add cinnamon while scrambling. Serve with fresh berries, yoghurt and a naughty splash of maple syrup or honey if desired.