50 THINGS ABOUT ME (part 2)

Almost a year to the day after I shared part one of my ‘5o things about me’ post, I return with the remaining facts, in all their randomness… though some are in direct response to questions I have been asked via Instagram.

Again, I was initially tagged to participate in this blogging “challenge” by Cassie (aka superfitbabe) when I read her ’50 things’ post. So I’ll follow suit by tagging any interested parties who happen to be reading this post. And thank you to Mon of monsflavors for tagging me in a far shorter 10 facts about me post, which I’ll respond to tonight (for anyone who hasn’t had their fill of randomness here! 😛 ).

If you feel so inclined, you’re welcome to join in and share your ’50 things’ (or 10!) via a blog/social media post too!


As a child I was a sugar fiend. My brother and I would receive pocket-money, he’d save his and mine would be immediately spent on candy (or as we knew it back in the day in Australia, ‘mixed lollies’).


In 2006 I was working in Salzburg. The house where I stayed (which belonged to an Austrian artist) was gorgeous, overlooked a massive field and had a backdrop of mountains. But the highlight for me was that it was located five minutes away from the von Trapp family mansion of The Sound of Music fame.

Staying in Salzburg took me back to a time in 1996, when I forced a couch-surfing Swiss punk boy who stayed in my post-apocalyptic rental abode in Collingwood to sit through the 3 hours + of The Sound of Music on the promise that, upon recognising all the landmarks, he would feel less homesick . Throughout the viewing (which he found painfully tiresome) I kept asking, “Do you know that fountain?… What about that church?…”

He appeared genuinely confused, repeating exasperatedly, “No, I don’t know any of these places!”. As the movie continued he became increasingly more resentful and agitated. Unfortunately, it was only at the very end that I realised the characters had been in Austria all along and would cross the border into my friend’s motherland during the last 10 seconds of the film. He may or may not have used the “b word” at that point, believing me to have maliciously tricked him, when really my pitiful geographical knowledge of Europe was to blame for the innocent incident.

Regardless, I have always felt a special connection to Austria. 😛




What was once a rather painful memory has now become a pleasant one, on account of my brother. Always the sporty and helpful type, he took me to his gym in order to help me straighten my life out (in some small way) back in 1999. I still remember the smell of Deep Heat, the fact that I was the only girl there (with bright pink hair, no less), feeling weak and light-headed, feeling like a bit of a failure… and giving up to go outside for a smoke! My brother actually came out to check on me and, rather than being judgemental, was very kind and even a little proud of me for taking a tiny, tentative step in a healthy direction. It wasn’t the most successful of work outs 😛 , but many years + several (well-used) gym memberships on, I can safely say that physical activity is one of the greatest joys I know. So, Robin, sorry if I embarrassed/worried/frustrated you all those years ago. And thanks for the #fitspo!



Many years ago, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I were island hopping in Fiji. For some reason I developed a wildly adventurous (for me) approach to exploring. I had never been sea kayaking in my life, but upon spotting some kayaks that were free to use, a young Californian girl and myself decided that an island we’d seen didn’t look too far away (and we’d heard tales of a spooky deserted resort that had once been owned by a Mafia boss). Minutes later, we were off on our adventure. We were all energy and giggles at first. Then suddenly, as the sea started to get choppy, it hit me that I had no idea what I was doing- NO idea. And that we were out in the sea in little pieces of floating plastic. And that there were things swimming around below us. And that we were nowhere near land. And that the island was a LOT further away than it had seemed to be. And that my upper body strength was not as good as I had imagined. My companion was apparently hit with the same notions/sense of panic at the same time as me. Miraculously we both made it to the island without capsizing.

My folly was repeated when, on the same trip, I signed up for a rainforest trek which involved jumping off a waterfall at some point. I am terrified of heights. Terrified. Number 1 worst fear. Did I mention I am terrified of heights?

Me. Waterfall. Jumping. Not a good combination.

But, guess what? I did it*! And it was exhilarating!

And I will never do it again. 😛

*Because I had to. It was the only way to get to the boat!



Those of you who happen to be familiar with the cult television series Thunderbirds, may also be familiar with Tin-Tin Kyrano; the fictional character introduced the mid-1960s. What you definitely do not know is that the hands of Tin-Tin belong to my mum. Newly arrived in London, she’d found herself working in the same office as a puppet creator named John Brown (who was also responsible for sculpting Cliff Richard). If I recall the tale correctly, he was passing my mum’s desk and noticed her hands, immediately offering her the opportunity to be a hand model for a character on a television show starring puppets.

As a teenager I frequented art house cinemas to watch cult classics on the big screen. Thunderbirds Are GO was one such film. And my friends at the time were amazed not only that my mum (or rather, her hands) appeared in the film, but remarked that Tin-Tin’s overall appearance bore a striking similarity to my mum’s. I still believe strongly that she inspired the look of the character in more ways than one (I would post a photo of her to back this claim, but I don’t think she’d appreciate it!).

When questioned about this, her memories of being a model for John and the show in general, my mum simply said that it was all “silly”.

I still think it’s cool!



My first job was in a hotel/pub. My duties involved setting up tables, the odd spot of housekeeping and some kitchen hand work of the most basic kind. I will never forget the chef nor how he interacted with those around him. It’s safe to say, he was not the most gentlemanly of gentlemen, nor sharpest tool in the shed. A co-worker gave me tips on how to “get on his good side” (in short, “praise him, do as he says, laugh at his jokes and don’t share your opinions”), but I couldn’t bring myself to play the game. As strange as it seems, I think he actually liked me in his own way. Which, I suppose, was lucky as he was known to have quite a temper and to hold grudges.

In order to ingratiate me into his world, he said he had to come up with a nickname for me. At the time I had long, straight dark hair, with two white streaks and was rather pale and slim. Ok, you got me. I had goth leanings.

“You look like that chick”, he informed me. “You know, the one… with the hair… from the Addams Family? Sounds a bit like your name…?”

“Morticia…”, I mumbled half-heartedly.

“Morticia? Ha, ha. Yeah, that’s what I am gunna call you…”

And so, I began the first shift of many as Morticia Addams, waitress and kitchen hand.

Years after I had left that job, I found myself on a weekend break in the town of Bruthen in country Victoria, sitting by a campfire next to a member of the local football team who had been hitting the booze a bit too hard.

“You look like that chick”, he informed me. “You know, the one… with the hair… from the Addams Family? Porticia…?”

“Um… I think you mean Morticia…”, I tried to interject, utterly unimpressed.

Not hearing me, he continued, “Yeah… that’s it! Porticia. Your name is Marisa and it rhymes with Porticia, so that’s what I’m gunna call you. Porticia.”




I am quite possibly the worst skier living in the Scandinavian region (the kid below is seriously far better than me, if that’s any indication of my skill), yet I love going on ski trips*.


*As long as I don’t have to ski.


My oldest and best friend and I used to create imaginary worlds to inhabit when we were young. One such place was known as Metropolis Water City. In my mind it was something a little like this…


In reality it was a pool in my parent’s garden.


One of the times I felt the healthiest and had the most energy was on holiday in Crete in 2007. The way that I ate (local “real food”, mostly), the sunshine, the sea, the daily physical activity (running, swimming, hiking) and the joy of being somewhere beautiful doing things I liked with someone I love all played a part, I am sure! I still love the Greek Islands. Interestingly, I was there as an unborn baby in my mum’s belly. No wonder I love Greek food, hot weather and island life.



Speaking of the Greek Islands, if you happen to watch a retro Greek musical and spot a guy in the background pretending to talk and eating carrot sticks, it may well be my dad. This story deserves its own post, so I’ll reserve the rest of the tale for a later date!



I really used to wish I could play it cool socially. Now I realise I am just far too enthusiastic about life and connecting with people with common interests (Game of Thrones, anyone?! 😀 ).

I have also come to terms with the fact that I should never, ever play poker.



The first day I experienced snow in Sweden, I was walking back to my in-laws’ place in Sollentuna, and it felt like I was strolling through the pages of a childhood storybook. I held my hands up to catch it in wonderment. I basked in the stillness of the street I was on and relished the quietness as the magical flakes of glittery whiteness floated down.

The following day it continued to snow. “Oh”, I thought, “still snowing…”.

It continued to snow the next day… and the next.

After a week, the “magic” of snow was wearing thin. It’s been wearing thinner ever since.



When my first son was born, we marvelled at the roundness of his head and the fullness of his cheeks. Then my daughter was born and it was clear that the roundness of Louie’s head had been superseded. Little did we know that Oliver would arrive with the roundest head of them all. It’s safe to say however that there’s a red thread of round-headedness running through the family (and I am pretty sure it comes from my side of the clan)!



To this day it amazes me that the precursor to my career path (which in turn led to my marriage, my life in Europe, my children…) started with a visualisation meditation I was introduced to while sitting on a plastic chair in a community hall in an Adelaide suburb, during which I envisaged myself wearing a painting smock, standing in front of an easel with a paint palette in my hand.



I love challenges. L.O.V.E. Be they structured and “led” by someone else (Oprah’s Vegan Challenge, 31 Days to get Organised, I Quit Sugar, the Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge™, etc., etc.) or of my own volition and design (e.g., running the Stockholm half marathon), I adore experimenting with all things lifestyle related if I suspect they might improve my quality of life short or long-term. In fact, that’s how this blog began; as a series of posts (really just for myself at first) about my own little domestic projects and undertakings. Some of the things I have tried such as juicing and oil pulling I did not end up incorporating into my life longterm, but I truly believe I have benefited from everything I have tried in some way. Even if the main benefit was discovering that something wasn’t for me.



I used to have a huge passion for belly dance, attending classes, workshops and events in Australia, Europe, Turkey and Egypt. On New Year’s Eve 2005/6, during a river cruise on the Nile, I was asked to accompany the belly dancer hired to entertain us during dinner in a little performance. A similar incident occurred the year before when we were at a dinner show in Istanbul.

The last time I practiced belly dance was during my first pregnancy when I took prenatal belly dancing classes. I never aspired to be a professional dancer myself (and I don’t really miss it, to be honest), but it was something I really enjoyed when I was doing it and it was a favourite form of physical activity for a few years (along with Pilates).



The book that inspired me most when I was a girl was my mum’s copy of The Complete Book of Herbs- A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs by Lesley Bremness. I read and reread it, each time finding myself transported by the recipes, images, illustrations and all the possibilities. And I planned my future dream herb garden. To this day, when I think about that book, I feel moved. And although my very urban life in Stockholm is far from the life I once imagined as I turned its pages, I somehow feel a step closer to realising the dream of a quieter, slower-paced, lavender-scented life with my family. On our recent visit to Australia, I asked my mum if I could have the book and she agreed.

It is now the only book on display in my bedroom. It sparks joy, as Marie Kondo would say.




And on inspiration and gardens, if you read part 1 of this post you know that I’m no natural green thumb by any means. In fact, as I sit here and type this, I am a little too proud of myself for managing to take care of the three gorgeous indoor plants (which I cannot name) my parents entrusted me with. But there was a time when the acquisition of knowledge of all things botanical was incredibly appealing to me (and I believe it is still in me, only quieted by the passing on of too many indoor plants and many years of living an urban life!).

One thing that has remained a constant is my love of botanical gardens. My favourite in Stockholm, for example, is Bergianska and I usually buy an annual pass. My children love it there too. Once, whilst on a visit to the US with my parents, we purchased Sarah Ponsonby’s The Garden Game, which is probably my favourite board game of all time. In fact, on our next visit to Adelaide I will be sure to see if my parents still have it and ask whether it can join The Complete Book of Herbs- A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs in finding a new home with us in Stockholm.



Game image: acultivatednest.com



I have 3 tattoos. One is something I doodled on paper as a teenager for some time before I realised that I wanted it on my arm for the rest of my life. Turns out it’s a Nordic rune. And, more interestingly, that its meaning is ‘fertility’ and/or ‘new beginnings’; two of the great “themes” of my life. Another is my mum’s name written in Chinese characters (it essentially reads “you are beautiful”). The last is an amalgamation of the Celtic tree of life and the ancient symbol Ægishjálmur, also something I doodled on paper, which again references my family (but on my father’s and husband’s sides).

Thanks for the question rainbownourishments!


On Instagram thehealthyfoodheaven asked me what the funniest thing that has ever happened to me is. That is truly hard to say! But one occasion featuring a government office, a queue and paperwork (traditionally “unfunny” things) springs to mind.

On the day I went to register myself as a Swedish resident, I waited impatiently for two and a half hours in a queue. It was a warm day and the stuffy office was due to close at 3 pm. I resented the back of the head of the man in front of me as every minute dragged painfully on and the shuffling of papers and asking of questions continued. I made it to the front of the line at 2:58 pm. While I was filling out my forms I noticed a crowd congregating behind the person assisting me and, weirdly, reading my responses over his shoulder. Some of them had cameras. As soon as the paper work had been processed, a woman stepped forward and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Welcome to Sweden!”. Someone else called out “Congratulations!”, and a photographer pulled out a camera to capture my baffled expression.

I thought to myself, “Sweden is known for its generous migration policies, but this is all a bit much!”. Then a woman introduced herself as a Swedish radio reporter and requested an interview. Why? Because statisticians had calculated at 3pm on the 12th of August 2004 the 9 millionth Swedish resident would come into existence (either by birth or through the process of migration).

In commemoration of this fine occasion I gave the lamest radio interview in Swedish radio history. When asked “So, do you feel Swedish?”, I responded “Well, I’ve only been here for a few days… I think I feel more confused than anything.”
My newspaper interview with Aftonbladet (the evening news) was no better.
The headline was “Marisa helped us cross the line”, but the subheading was “She sings in Swedish!” (this on account of me getting nervous and mentioning that I knew how to sing the advertising jingle of a famous Swedish headache tablet brand).

According to Aftonbladet, I came in as Swedish resident number 9,000,001 (a baby was born in Stockholm 3 minutes before my paper work was processed).

I have thusly remained here ever since, playing my part in averting population decline!


Rani of You Totally Got This asked me what I wanted to be when I was little. The first thing that I can remember being truly passionate about was design. From the time my memories start (around the age of two) I loved to draw. As a school-aged child, I’d make my own books, design clothes, make collages, etc. I told people I’d be a designer when I grew up. After many diversions, side street career moves and periods of lost and angsty unproductivity, I ended up applying for art school, eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Communication before going on to work as a designer and then, for the past decade, as an art director.



My veins are notoriously “tricky” and even the best nurses and medical professionals struggle to find them. As a result of many painful experiences, bruises and apologies, I hate, hate, hate needles.


So, why “Miss Marzipan”?

This is one of the questions I am asked most.

In primary school, when I was around 10 years old, I had a friend who liked the idea of the girls in our group having funny nicknames. She referred to herself as Julie Jellybean and to me as Marisa Mars Bar. Later, as a teenager, the nickname Mars/Marz was resurrected and has stuck in some variation since then.

When I started blogging in 2011, I intended to do so 100% anonymously. I told neither my friends nor family members about this blog and I used the name Miss Marzipan in lieu of my real name. As a bit of a sweet tooth and a lover of baking I also thought it was fitting.

I actually hated marzipan as a child. But 13 years of living in Scandinavia eating semlor and princess tårta has cured me of that!




If you’ve made it this far, kudos! You’re a reading champion! 😀
But seriously, thank you!

Have a wonderful new week… and if there’s a question you’ve wanted to ask me that you’ve not had answered by my two rambling posts of random facts, ask away.

❤ MM xx

REFLECTIONS ON CONNECTICUT (food, images, gratitude… with a side of Cowboy Caviar)

It’s safe to say we’ve travelled more this year than we ordinarily do (and we ordinarily travel quite a lot!). From our several thousand-kilometer Aussie road trip, to our last Royal Caribbean cruise in the Bahamas, and our most recent trips to Swedish Storsjön and Turku in Finland, it’s been a year of discovery… both internal and external. For this edition of Wellness & Wanderlust Wednesday*, I thought I’d share some personal reflections from one of the stand-out family trips we’ve done along with a recipe inspired by it.

I can’t count the number of pleasant surprises we have had in amongst all the meeting of new people/making of new friends/having of new culinary experiences/immersing ourselves in new environments. But somewhere near the very top of the ‘pleasant surprise’ list is Connecticut. I’ll admit, my geographical knowledge of areas of the U.S. I’ve not previously visited is limited. And, having never ventured to New England before, I knew absolutely nothing about Connecticut. Rather than hoping for big things of the place itself, I concentrated my pre-trip thoughts on being up to scratch in terms of the work I was there to do.

We arrived in Hartford in an exhausted daze after a connecting flight from Detroit (via Amsterdam) at around midnight. By the time we came to our hotel it was 1:30am and we’d been traveling for close to 24 hours. It was cold. Very cold. And we were beyond tired.

I cannot tell you what a comfort it was to enter the lobby. The warmth and charm of Saybrook Point Inn was not lost on my tired eyes and our room was picture perfect, with its open fireplace and invitingly sink-inable beds.


I am still a little mystified as to how we mustered motivation to head out on the morning of on our first day rather than stay in and rest. I can only assume it was the sound sleep we’d all had combined with a hearty room service breakfast, an enticing view from our window and crisp Connecticut air. Our first stop was Food Works, a local answer to Wholefoods with an impressive selection of healthy and free-from foods, fresh produce and organic products. We then drove to Overabove to ensure we’d be able to locate it easily the next day.

We ate lunch at Mystic Market, a drive-by discovery that my intuition told me would make for a worthwhile stop (thank you, intuition!). High on my list of recommendations are their Falafel & Hummus Roll, the Eggplant Hero, the Roasted Portobello Panini… And, lest I forget, the outstanding Cowboy Caviar!

Fuelled and energised by our wholesome, ample lunch, we embarked on an easy afternoon trip to Gillette Castle State Park, located between the towns of East Haddam and Lyme. Originally a private residence, the castle was commissioned and designed by William Gillette, the American actor most famous for his stage portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

We didn’t stay long, but the outing was enjoyable, giving us an enticing overview of the magnificent countryside of the area and some absolutely charming towns en route from Old Saybrook. Back at the hotel, the children made good use of the indoor pool. The pool area was a highlight of our stay, of course, and time spent relaxing in the warmth evoked serious summer holiday feelings… despite the fact that it was January and at times snowing heavily outside.

Monday rolled around and we headed off with excitement to the Overabove studio in Essex. I can’t speak highly enough about our experiences with the Royal Caribbean team, Ralph Guardiano and the crew at Overabove (including make-up squad Linda and Valerie Gengras). Their professionalism and their kindness (and the amazing catering, thanks to Coffee’s!) was so appreciated by all of us.

Having not worked on a project of this scope and nature before, I’ll admit to walking into it with some trepidation. However, when you are in the hands of consummate professionals, working with something that you genuinely love, in the very worst case you’ll have a fun experience. And in the best case, you’ll be part of something over which you end up proud. 🙂

Most of our days at the studio began in the morning and ended after lunch. The children were kept entertained by my husband, volunteers from the Overabove crew and our beloved Von Family when they were around. Afternoons and evenings were largely free for us to rest and explore. And this meant more visits to Mystic Market, pizzas from Pizza Works, a spot of shopping in Old Saybrook, and time spent in the pool, spa and gym.

We took advantage of the offer to have fires lit in our room too. Such a luxury! There couldn’t possibly be a cosier end to a busy day than one spent enjoying the warmth of a crackling fire after a bubble bath.

I have a confession to make. I have been more often disappointed than impressed by the salon/spa experiences that I have had over the years. And yet, being the diehard optimist I am, I still persist in making bookings and hoping for the best, especially when visiting a new locale. I am thrilled to report that my massage at Sanno Spa did not disappoint. In fact, I count it amongst the better experiences I have had. My massage therapist (Sarah, I believe) was excellent, the staff at the reception desk were very friendly, and spa premises themselves were wonderful.

On one occasion we were generously given the opportunity to experience a private banquet room for a spontaneous pizza party organised with our good friends, the Von Family. On several mornings we put the room service menu to good use, and I can heartily recommend everything that we tried (most of the menu, I believe!), but especially the granola pancakes.

The staff at Saybrook Point Inn’s restaurant, Fresh Salt, went above and beyond to accommodate our family, cater to our children and make us feel welcome. If you dine there, do yourself a favour and order the sweet potato fries!

On our final free day in Connecticut we visited fabulous Mystic Seaport, America’s leading maritime museum meets research and education centre. Located by Mystic River in Mystic, Connecticut, it features a working shipyard, exhibit halls and more. With more than 500 historic watercraft and lovely recreated New England coastal village, visitors can experience maritime history in an immersive and interactive manner, and our own mini historians loved the Children’s Museum, where they played ‘swab the deck’, cooked play food in the galley and asked questions about ship life.

We ate brunch at Somewhere in Time, a thoroughly unpretentious cafe diner with an extensive brunch selection that is clearly hugely popular with locals. I can recommend the veggie sausage, waffles, pancakes and banana bread French toast (all delicious). Despite being very full and not particularly buggy-friendly, it most definitely is a family venue, and the children loved choosing from the incredibly appealing menu options and colouring the activity sheets they were given while they waited for their food to arrive.

After a little more exploring, we returned to the hotel to get ready for the wrap party at fabulous Cafe Allegre, owned and operated by award-winning Executive Chef, Silvio Suppa. As popular with locals and families as it is with celebrities, Cafe Allegre offers a true farm to table experience starring delectable, authentic Italian dishes. The restaurant itself is charming and elegant, and the service welcoming and warm. It’s everything you could want in a dining experience, especially if you appreciate true Italian flavours!

Hearing that Lillian’s 4th birthday was a few days away, Nathalie most kindly organised a cake and present for her, and the entire gathering sang happy birthday for her. Ralph made a thank you speech which was incredibly generous, and humble Chef Silvio made a heartwarming appearance. The food kept coming and the celebration rolled on into the night. As a gift, I received a copy of Chef Silvio’s book (as if I wasn’t emotional enough already!) and I am waiting for a special occasion to try out one of the truly delicious looking recipes in our new kitchen.

We said goodbye and thank you to our new friends and drove back to the Inn knowing that 3 hours of sleep awaited before we’d be heading to the airport and ultimately California. Abby Von had made farewell gifts for us all. Rachel Von and I promised to stay in touch (and we have!). As I packed our belongings and watched my children sleeping in their cosy beds, I was struck by a deep sense of gratitude for our time in Connecticut, the people we’d encountered and all our experiences (both with and without food involved!). We truly had the perfect home base in Saybrook Point Inn. With its unpretentious yet luxurious appointments, excellent service and stellar location, it offered us what I imagine to be the quintessential New England shoreline experience. Every sunset and sunrise framed by the marina (with the sweetest lighthouse ever in the foreground) was a work of art.

Who could ever tire of this view?

And we’d recommend Connecticut heartily to anyone interested in visiting New England. To quote John Mariani, “Connecticut is Hollywood’s ideal of New England at its prettiest, its richest and its smartest—rather like Hepburn herself… Such idealization is not without foundation, most beautifully evident in eastern Connecticut towns like Essex, Old Lyme and Old Saybrook…”

Have you visited Connecticut? Or would you like to?

If you have no immediate plans to travel there, here’s a recipe that teleports me back to Mystic Market and maybe you’ll like it too…

❤ Marisa xx


Dip meets salad in the best way!

Inspired by one of the tastiest yet most simple take-away meals I have ever eaten, I decided to attempt a recreation of Cowboy Caviar. Delicious with corn chips or sweet potato fries, perfect in place of salsa, a fabulous side dish and a great addition to any buffet table, this humble dip-meets-salad is a new favourite at Marzipan HQ!


2 ripe avocados, diced
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
250 ml sweetcorn kernels
1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 tin black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed well
2 spring onions, sliced finely
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
80 ml parsley (or coriander), finely chopped


60 ml olive oil
2.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
A squeeze of lime juice
A squeeze of lemon juice
A dash of maple syrup (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pepper to taste


  1. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Serve immediately or keep for a day or two, covered and refrigerated and serve as required.


*For a baked version of sweet potato fries, check out this old post for Crisp(ier) Sweet Potato Fries



We’d like to extend our thanks to our talented and amazing friends at Royal Caribbean for the opportunity to visit Connecticut in the first place, to Overabove for being the generous, professional and excellent people they are, to Saybrook Point Inn for exceeding every expectation, and Mystic Seaport for offering us the perfect day out and some fascinating lessons in local maritime history.

This post is unsponsored and all views expressed are my own, as always. As I have mentioned several businesses, I’ll include links to them below:

Saybrook Point Inn: 2 Bridge St, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

Overabove: 8 Railroad Ave, Suite 110, PO Box 8 Essex, CT 06426

Food Works: 940 Boston Post Rd, Old Saybrook, CT 06475

Mystic Seaport: 75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

Cafe Allegre:  725 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT

*It’s now officially Thursday here as I post this, though it’s still Wednesday in Connecticut 😉

SWEET POTATO NACHOS (with quinoa & bean mince)

This is what happened when my love of sweet potatoes met my love of nachos… a delicious plant-on-plant combination, that’s satisfying, protein-packed, tasty and very sharable.

As sweet potatoes and quinoa featured heavily in my recent cooking workshop, I thought it would be nice to share another family favourite with a wider audience while dedicating it officially to the lovely course participants (thank you, guys!) who may well have some sweet potatoes and quinoa leftover.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far and that you’ll enjoy this dish if you try it! Oh, and here’s a link to the recipe video on Instagram if you want to cook along with me (at super speed 😀 ).

❤ Marisa xx



Makes: 2-4 portions depending on hunger level


6-8 sweet potatoes (I recommend 2-3 per person)
2-3 tbsp olive (or coconut) oil


1 packet organic crushed tomatoes (around 390 g)
460 g black beans (2 tins), rinsed
2 roasted red bell peppers/capsicums chopped
4-6 sundried tomatoes finely chopped
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
200 ml quinoa, cooked in vegetable stock
A pinch of coconut sugar (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dairy-free cheese (or cheese of choice)
Fresh herbs (cilantro/coriander or parsley)
Fresh chilli
Cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat your oven to 200-215°C. All ovens are calibrated a little differently, and if yours has known hot spots, opt for a lower temperature. Line a baking tray with foil or baking parchment.
  2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes (into discs of a thickness of approximately 1/2 a centimeter). Pop slices into a bowl and drizzle over oil. Toss to coat evenly.
  3. Lay the slices out flat and ensure they do not overlap. Pop the tray in the oven and bake the slices for around 20 minutes, checking after the first 10 minutes to see if you need to turn the oven down a touch.
  4. Add all mince ingredients to a large frying/skillet pan and simmer on low-medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. When sweet potato slices are done, arrange them on a plate as you would corn chips and top with quinoa and bean mince and additions of your choice. Serve immediately.


*The mince can be made well in advance and even frozen for later use. Will keep for a week in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer.

7-DAY PLANT PANTRY MEAL PREP WORKSHOP- save time, save money & cook with me! Starts July 19

It’s not often that I post announcements on my blog, but I’m breaking with tradition today as my very first online cooking workshop goes live tomorrow! How does delicious, wholesome, budget-friendly food – prepped to save you time – starring 2 inexpensive, healthy pantry staples sound? All recipes included in the workshop are made with real food ingredients and are vegan-friendly, white sugar-free and gluten-free. What’s more, running this workshop in conjunction with Live to be enables all participants the opportunity to cook and engage at their own convenience, regardless of schedule or timezone.

Interested? Read on! And I hope to cook with you soon!

❤ Marisa xx

What will you learn?
Join me for a week as we make some of my honest-to-goodness favourites (and my family’s)!
Learn my key to eating well while balancing career, creative pursuits, travel and 3 children and chat with me daily for support, encouragement and tips.

What will you receive?

  • Recipes, advice and information
  • A suggested meal prep plan
  • A shopping guide specific to the workshop
  • Support in the form of direct communication
  • Encouragement from me and your fellow participants
  • Grass-roots meal prep tips to save you time & money
  • Permanent access to all recipes provided



Everyday you will receive a recipe/s + cooking tips on your mobile device.
Cook in your own time and share your experience in the group chat.
Ask questions and receive warm, personal support in the chat or in private.


Register here http://bit.ly/MM_workshop and download the free Livetobe_ app on your phone. Easy!
Day 1 is free. If you like what you see, you can continue cooking for the 7-day period.


We’re welcoming the warmer weather here in Sweden with this somewhat healthier spin on an old-fashioned British treat. If you’re not from the UK or familiar with the term Knickerbocker Glory, you’ll no doubt be curious as to what kind of concoction it is. Supposedly invented somewhere down by the English seashore in the 1930s, this layered ice-cream dessert is still popular with modern-day Brits. Traditionally made with fruit, vanilla ice-cream, whipped cream and a fruit sauce, the dessert is almost always topped with a cherry.

Give this one a go if you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side of indulgent. And by all means, share with someone you love. We actually shared this one as a family. Yes, all five of us!

It was my graduation day celebration treat (I had to go out on a fancy note!).

Happy weekend, all!

❤ Marisa xx




with vegan nicecream, nectarines & a sesame wafer

Makes: 1 large sundae

One nectarine, chopped in a dice fashion
A handful of fresh raspberries
2-3 scoops of chocolate nicecream (recipe below)
Melted dark chocolate
Whipped coconut cream
1 cherry
1 sesame wafer (recipe below)


  1. In a tall sundae/milkshake glass add chopped nectarine.
  2. Pop raspberries on top.
  3. Melted chocolate can be drizzled either around the inside or outside rim of the glass.
  4. Top the raspberries with three scoops of chocolate nicecream.
  5. More melted chocolate can be drizzled over, if you like.
  6. Top the nicecream with whipped coconut cream. Place a cherry on top and add the sesame wafer.
  7. Serve immediately with a long ice cream spoon.



125 ml birch sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp rice malt syrup
100 ml sesame seeds
125 ml organic flour (gluten-free or plain)
A tiny pinch of salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line baking trays with baking parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar/birch sugar, coconut oil, rice malt syrup & vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.
  3. Remove pan from heat, and add dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
  4. Now there are a couple of ways to form your crisps now; either roll out the still-warm mix between 2 sheets of baking paper on a tray and baking it as a “slab” to cut up while warm from the oven or break up into shards when cool… OR cut into shapes of choice prior to baking and arrange on a baking parchment lined tray with at least 3 cm separating each piece before baking (they will spread slightly).
  5. Bake until crisp and golden, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on size, thickness and desired level of goldenness.



1 large banana (or 2 medium-small ones), chopped and frozen
2 tbsp cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut cream
A pinch of vanilla powder


Blitz all ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.

WELLNESS & WANDERLUST WEDNESDAY with professional travel photographer, Søren Thuesen


A conversation with creative explorer, Søren Thuesen, aka s1000

With his eye for incredible composition and tone, Søren has been among my favourite travel photographers since I first came across his work on Instagram. His captivating imagery seems born of an intuitive understanding of the visual impact of scale, geometry, line and colour within a landscape. As a freelance photographer and designer, he travels to the places dreams are made of and captures moments in a manner that teleports you, heightening your sense of wonder… and provoking feelings of reflective solitude.

Working on projects involving the diverse yet related skills of design, photography and front end development, Søren has partnered with brands such as Opel, Olympus, Adidas, The Food Club, Royal Copenhagen, Georg Jensen and Bang & Olufsen.

Impressed? So am I!

Let’s find out more about the man behind the camera…

Marisa: Where did you go on your last assignment?

Søren: Actually my last project was a local assignment; road-tripping in the North of Denmark in an Opel Crossland X with my mom. Opel wanted a set of photos with a domestic touch and my first thought was to take it to the beach, since that’s allowed on certain stretches around the west coast in Denmark. That came out super fun!

Marisa: When heading to a new destination, what’s something you hope to find? (e.g., compelling scenery, a new culinary experience, a friendly local bar, a comfy bed or what have you…)

Søren: All of the above! Most of the time I’m lucky enough to travel with my wife, so preparation for a new destination always results in a mix of everything from great food to great landscapes.

Marisa: What’s your camera of choice? And are there other photography related items you simply cannot be without when travelling?

Søren: I’ve been carrying a Canon 6D (primarily shooting wide on a 16-35 mm) for a long time – it’s great for both landscape and street photography, but for everyday use I’m often bringing my less heavy Olympus EM1 or simply my trusty iPhone. Lately my favourite camera is sitting on a drone though. 😀

Marisa: As the other half of the dynamic duo behind wholesome cookbook Vegetar (made in creative partnership with Ditte Ingemann), I assume you must share a love of nourishing food. Do you have any travel-friendly healthy food hacks?

Søren: Best tip: marry wisely! I definitely share the love of nourishing food, but the real hero on any trip would be the other half of that Dynamic Duo; she will never run low on healthy snacks, water or places to eat while on the road.

Marisa: Expanding on that last point, do you have any general tips for maintaining health and balance while on the road?

Søren: Again, marry wisely! Being on the road with a co-driving food magician definitely helps getting through the day in a healthy manner.

Marisa: Is it possible to stay grounded and present in a moment of enjoyment while also trying to capture it photographically?

Søren: Personally, no. I’m like a kid at Christmas when I find myself in an area of interest, but I’ve realised that’s how I enjoy epic landscapes or great architectural structures best. Actually I often find the moment of enjoyment back in the studio during the editing process. I would like to just say yes, though.

Marisa: Which destination has been the biggest surprise to you?

Søren: I need to mention Iceland. I’ve been there 4 times and every time has been a complete surprise in sheer beauty and shifting conditions. Weather is all over the place and I’ve actually seen all four seasons within an hour- worn shorts and t-shirt in the morning while ending the day freezing in boots and layers of jackets.

Marisa: What has been your most memorable travel shoot experience?

Søren: Again I have to mention Iceland! I was lucky enough to join an expedition with a team of Nordic Instagrammers to test the Olympus EM1, which was a lot of fun and full of memorable experiences. I’ll never forget the sound of complete silence in the middle of nowhere staring at Northern Lights moving across the sky in complete darkness.

Marisa: Any pro tips for would-be travel photographers?

Søren: Do your research. I always use Google Maps ahead of any mission to bookmark/star any potential location, restaurant etc. With satellite maps you can even plan out possible spots to park a car or even peek at a restaurant with street view. Also apps on the phone has made it super easy to plan shoots depending on sunset, size of the moon, position of the milky way etc. I use PhotoPills for all that nerdy stuff and AirMap to plan any drone flight.


  • Jungle or desert? A combination of the two would be amazing!
  • Coffee shop or cocktail lounge? Coffee in the morning, Cocktails at night 😉
  • Your dream client: I love to travel and I love gear, so I guess that would make my dream client a camera brand that requires a lot of travelling!
  • Your favourite destination: Iceland for views, Berlin for food
  • Best healthy food spot in Copenhagen: Definitely WeDoFood in the Meatpacking District; love the concept of mixing your own salad! Great selection for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
  • And lastly, is there anywhere particular you haven’t been that you long to visit? What attracts you? Mountains! – living in a country as flat as Denmark make you long for heights and right now I got the South Island of New Zealand quite high on the list, but since Norway is so close I might just put that on the list again.


Many thanks to Søren for taking time out of his intense travel and shooting schedule to answer my questions. I hope you enjoyed meeting him too!

If you have any suggestions for questions you’d like me to ask upcoming health/wellness/travel professionals for this blog feature series, please leave a comment below. Actually, feel free to leave one regardless! I love hearing from you, as always! 🙂

To connect with Søren and to find yourself transported on visual adventures, far and wide, visit:



To purchase the stunning book Vegetar, head here:




Short on time? I empathise! So here’s a short post and a quick recipe.

Yes, I am back with another pizzetta variation. And once again the recipe title probably suggests this isn’t pizza in any traditional sense. But if you’re on the search for something tasty, simple and a little different, why not give it a go? I first made these last year along with a couple of other oat bread “pizzettas” (basically because we had oat bread that required usage!), and by far this recipe was the one most enquired about. So for those who asked, I am happy to oblige… albeit in a rather belated fashion.

Varsågod, as we say in Sweden!

And glad nationaldag to all my Swedish friends and relatives who had a lovely day of sunshine to enjoy on this public holiday!

❤ Marisa

PS If you happen to use the same brand of oat bread I did, it comes in triangles. Ready-made pizza slices, in other words! 😀


Serves: 4

6 tablespoons red pesto
8 Swedish oat bread triangles (or 4 medium-sized flat breads)
4 new potatoes, parboiled (peeled if you like)
A pinch of dried rosemary
A pinch of thyme
Organic olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste
Lemon juice
A couple of handfuls of fresh rocket/arugula


150 g marinated sun-dried tomato halves in oil* (approx. 24)
90 ml oil reserved from jar*
A handful of basil leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
30 g pine nuts (approx. 5 tbsp)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp white/red wine vinegar


Blitz all ingredients in a small food processor until desired consistency is reached.

*If not using sun-dried tomatoes in oil:
Cover 24 sun-dried tomato halves with boiling water in a medium-sized bowl and let soak for around 20 minutes. Replace garlic powder with 2-3 cloves chopped fresh garlic and add 100 ml olive oil plus salt to taste to the mix with all the other ingredients listed above. Blitz all ingredients in a small food processor until desired consistency is reached.


  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (fan).
  2. Spread pesto evenly over bread of choice.
  3. Slice the potatoes ¼ cm thick and lay them on top of the pesto. With a silicon brush, coat the potato slices lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with a little rosemary and thyme.
  4. Cook in the oven until the potatoes have started to brown and crisp at the edges and appear fully cooked through (if sliced very thin, they will have a translucent quality).
  5. Remove from oven, scatter over fresh rocket, squeeze over a little lemon juice and serve.


GRILLED NECTARINE & AVOCADO PIZZETTAS (and some reflections on anxiety)

As summer creeps back in (thank you, Sweden*!), it’s time to celebrate with family, friends and perfectly summery festive food! These pizzettas are a take on my popular Nectarine & Avocado Toasties of a couple of years back. Made simply with Mexican pita breads and cashew cheese, they’re a light, simple lunch or wholesome addition to your party table or BBQ.

On the topic of wholesome food and living, I am currently in the process of a cleanse (detox, if you will). As a result my brain is a little foggy, my skin is atrocious and at times I question why I am doing it at all. But with Oliver slowly weaning himself, my hormones out of whack, finally starting to bounce back after months of intermittent perinatal anxiety, and yet another change of timezone and climate now that we are back in Sweden, I find myself craving total recalibration.

There are a few things I am doing to address this. A cleanse is one, and others include daily meditation, writing ‘morning pages‘, daily yoga (albeit just 10 minutes some days), daily movement in some form for 60 minutes, baths, reading a book instead of having screen time before bed, limiting time on social media/responding to email. It really seems to be working already. And despite the fact that Oliver is still breastfeeding on demand during the night, my overall amount of sleep has increased… as has the quality.

I have finally finished reading two books that are now rather dear to me: Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up and Sarah Wilson’s first, we make the beast beautiful. I don’t know if these books came into my life at this time as a result of need – a student is willing, teacher appears kind of scenario – or whether I would have read them regardless of anxious status (probably the latter). But the fact is that both books have been a huge help. Firstly, I see clearly that I am not alone in my feelings about “stuff”/my home as a sanctuary/my anxiety as a gift-curse conundrum (but ultimately a gift). Secondly, being presented with suggestions for actionable strategies to deal with everything from clutter overwhelm to emotional overwhelm is fabulous for a person like me who loves a challenge (and also has tendencies towards analysis paralysis if left to my own overthinky devices).

Half way through first, we make the beast beautiful, back in
our friend’s beach house in South Australia


I won’t dwell too much more on this now, but I do hope to write further posts with retrospective reflections when I am on the other side of processing this remarkable/challenging/beautiful little hump in my life.

❤ Marisa xx

*It was literally snowing here two weeks ago and I don’t have words to describe how that makes me feel!



Serves: 2-4


4 small thick pita breads (or flat bread of choice)
2 large ripe avocados
2 ripe nectarines
A handful of fresh rocket/arugula
1/2 a lemon
A pinch or two of dried chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for griddle pan


250 ml raw cashews (soaked for at least a few hours, then drained)
80 ml water (extra if needed)
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the cashew cheese by blending all the cheese ingredients in a food processor or high power blender until a smooth, cream cheese-like texture is achieved.
  2. Heat a griddle pan over medium high heat.
  3. Slice each nectarine into wedges (approximately 14 per nectarine depending on size).
  4. Cut the avocado in half, use a butter knife to cut slices of avocado of an even width, then use a spoon to scoop the avocado flesh out.
  5. Add olive oil to the griddle pan and place nectarine slices onto it in rows. After a couple of minutes check to make sure they have griddle marks, then flip them over and continue cooking for a minute or two on the other side. Remove from pan and set to the side.
  6. Repeat the process using the avocado slices.
  7. If desired, toast pita breads.
  8. Spread each pita bread generously with cashew cheese.
  9. Arrange nectarine and avocado slices on top of the pita breads, season to taste and sprinkle with chilli flakes. Top with rocket. Dress with a squeeze of lemon.
  10. Serve immediately.

*The gorgeous little plate you see in the top corner is the work of my friend Kate Kneipp. Her pieces are truly sublime!



FAMILY FARM STAY REFLECTIONS FROM BACK 2 EARTH, SHOALHAVEN (+ cashew yogurt breakfast pizza recipe!)

*Post update, June 2017* The Rescued Animal Adoption Program at Back 2 Earth is now live. I am very grateful to have been a small part in its conception and I wish Marc, Jenny and animal rescuers/advocates everywhere the very best. To get to know the animals, donate or get involved head here: https://back2earth.net.au/adopt-an-animal/


After exceeding 2000 km of cross-country car travel, I arrived in Berry on the 21st of March, travel-weary, newly on antibiotics and still very much under the weather. My travel companions – my husband (aka Designated Driver), hungry one year-old Oliver, plus Louie and Lillian – were, like me, rather keen to stretch their legs after hours on the road en route from Kariong. Pulling in at Back 2 Earth, we were immediately struck by the tranquility of the place. I think I may have audibly sighed with relief. The pups who enthusiastically bounded over to greet us did nothing to disturb the serenity. In fact, they added to the pleasantness of the warm welcome we received from Jenny and Marc.

Having spent so many days on the road, staying in many places merely overnight, I was beyond tired. Hence my body was unable to fight off whatever it was that I’d come down with in Sydney and, after over a week of pushing on regardless, I conceded surrender and found myself in a doctor’s office in Newcastle. Antibiotics were prescribed (as I knew they would be). And so was rest. We had originally planned to stay just one night at Back 2 Earth. My exhausted body said “Stay for two!”, and once my body and brain reached a consensus, it felt right to extend our visit. Oh, the relief of having a place to call home for more than a night.


And what a place! I was delighted to find our self-contained cottage style B&B accommodation was generously appointed and featured a comfy open plan living and dining room, a separate kitchen (complete with all cutlery/crockery/mod cons) and several other features just perfect for a motel-weary family. The large bedroom was furnished with a comfortable queen bed and the children had a cosy bunk bed to share. The bathroom was a welcoming amalgamation of homely comfort and day spa. The veranda was the perfect place from which to greet the morning. And though it was too warm to justify using a log fireplace, I imagine reading a book in front of it would be a wonderful way to relax at the end of a leisurely day.

There are three accommodation options for visitors – all with gorgeous veranda views of Berry Mountain and the paddocks – including the Cozy B&B where we resided as a family.

Aside from the high standard of accommodation, there are some offerings that make Back 2 Earth rather unique in the realm of farm stays. The first is that the farm animals are not “working” farm animals, but rather rescued animals for whom the farm is a sanctuary and a “forever home”. The second is that Marc and Jenny continue to practice their respective pre-farm professions from specially designed buildings on the farm, meaning that Back 2 Earth is a farm meets holistic health retreat, where float tank experiences, massage therapy and psychotherapy sessions are all on offer for those who are interested.

Not only does the 5-acre farm produce its own organic fruit and vegetables, but the entire operation is run on the principles of sustainability, environmental awareness, zero waste and self-sufficiency. And it’s all the more impressive considering Marc and Jenny created it all themselves in an ambitiously short period of 3 years!

Exploring the farm in the rain

One thing that I love about the manner in which this particular farm stay operates (we have glamped on organic farms before in the UK), is that guests can design their own experience. From romantic getaway, to health & wellness retreat, to an opportunity to introduce your children to farm life and animal care/welfare, the experience of staying at Back 2 Earth can be… well, just what you want it to be!


If you hang out on this blog for the food content, you will no doubt be curious about the culinary aspect of the Back 2 Earth experience. The main thing to note is that the catered option is raw vegan. And whether or not you are familiar with raw vegan cuisine, you are in for both a surprise and a treat. Aside from the catered packages which can be tailored to suit your needs (we had one dinner and two breakfasts plus snacks), the self-catering option is generously complemented by the guest harvesting allowance; teas and vegetables can be picked fresh from the gardens for personal use!

Fresh fruit & veg juice to start the day

Marc is the chef on-site, responsible for most of the dishes and recipes that leave the farm’s strictly vegan kitchen. Aside from teaching interested guests about farm life, Marc also runs raw food workshops which can be tailor-made to suit specific areas of interest or health/dietary needs. My workshop included recipes and demos (plus hands-on experience for myself and the children) for raw burgers, cashew cheese dip, raw yogurt, golden milk turmeric chai lattes, choc mint pralines (with amazing raw mint fondant), and more! And yes, I did get to sample everything!

Raw food workshop

I asked Marc and Jenny how they came to adopt the raw vegan lifestyle. They explained that, while traveling in the U.S., Marc began to suffer from debilitating diet related illness. At some point in the trip after Marc had required a period of bed rest, they found themselves in a raw food café. Browsing through the book collection, they became engrossed in the vegan lifestyle-related literature. By the end of that day, they’d worked their way through several books and decided to embrace raw veganism. They haven’t looked back. And I am happy to report that all is well on the health front for Marc these days too.

If you are labouring under a misapprehension that eating raw food equates to subsisting on salads of leafy greens, rest assured the food at Back 2 Earth is anything but boring; think cashew yogurt unicorn smoothie bowls, coconut granola, 3-layer smoothies, bloomed wild rice stuffed tomatoes, spirulina crackers, golden milk lattes, organic fruit platters and dehydrated apple & cinnamon birds nests. Families visiting the farm with kids in tow may well discover what we did. Our little foodies were delighted by some of the most interesting, whimsical and inspired food we’ve eaten since we left Sweden… and it all happened to be 100% refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free and plant-based (I think Marc is part chef, part magician 😀 ). The vibrant, nutrient-dense & delicious catered raw food options at Back 2 Earth are available at an additional cost if desired, and some are included with special accommodation packages.

3-layer fruit smoothie

Incredible breakfast spread for the whole family



If there’s anything that will snap you out of an under-the-weather-melancholy funk, it’s fresh air, good food and a big old dose of perspective. On my second morning at the farm, I walked out onto the verandah to witness the sun rising over the farm. Playful puppy, Squishy, bounced around excitedly by my feet. At the recollection of his story (just weeks before he’d been left to die in a trash can), tears sprang to my eyes. I consoled myself by watching him happily tiring himself out, knowing that he’d found not only rescue but a love-filled home, thanks to Marc and Jenny.

A tuckered out little Squishy

Marc led me to the building that houses both the massage area and the float tank room. He explained the mechanics of the float tank process, such as wiping the glass area above your face with a wash cloth to avoid salt water dripping down.

Although the physical aspects of the float tank process are easy to relay (step in, wipe glass, close hatch, etc.), the internal process I went through during that hour is still very difficult for me to articulate. If you’ve ever had issues “sitting with yourself” then it may well bring some things up for you…. much like silent meditation, but intensified. For an hour I floated with myself, mostly in silence. I swung from finding myself in what I would describe as a semi-relaxed state to borderline anxious. As I watched my many (many, many) thoughts come and go, my body felt weightless, but my heart felt heavy. I felt claustrophobic, not because of the tank itself, which is surprisingly roomy and a very pleasant temperature, but rather because I was bombarding myself with “my stuff”; my thoughts, self-imposed obligations, insecurities.

As I bobbed on the surface of that incredibly salty water, my emotional stuff rose to the surface of my consciousness. And you know what? It is fine that it did. In fact, it is good that it did. The distractions and to-do’s that I often find myself wading knee-deep in prevent me from being with me. Or rather, just being. Anxiety starts to flare up as a result. And some of the best ways I have found to restore the equilibrium are to slow down, to sit with myself, to feel, to be in the moment… and, when all else fails, to cry.

As much as I found the experience confronting, I also found it healing in a kind of uncomfortable “break through” kind of way. The ol’ spiritual-awakening-in-the-form-of-a-rude-awakening scenario, that I am all too familiar with! At one point right near the end of the experience, I had to open the hatch a crack. There was just too much “me” in that space. I thought about all the people out there who naturally “get” relaxation. People who fall asleep on massage tables (what? Are you kidding me?)… or in float tanks. I am fairly certain we are wired differently. Or maybe I just have a ton of work to do on myself before I get to that point. Or maybe it’s not about work… maybe it’s about surrender. Or something.

The music that signalled the final stretch of floatation time began to play and I felt relieved. My session ended, I stepped out of the float tank, showered, changed, paused briefly to examine a crystal in the room (wondering if I’d receive some magical healing benefit by osmosis) and left the building. Marc met me outside and asked me how I had found the experience. I opened my mouth to answer that I’d found it “challenging”, then promptly burst into tears. At this point I feel I need to add that my husband – who, on any given day, is likely to be balanced emotionally without any concerted effort – loved the floatation experience, not because it revealed anything to him, but rather because it was thoroughly relaxing! In an understanding in manner, clearly unfazed by my tears, Marc nodded and explained that emotions can indeed surface as a result of the experience. My understanding, however, is that many (if not most) people, will experience what my husband did: serenity and deep relaxation.


Feeding the rescued animals was of course a highlight (and something the children still talk about now), but there is a lasting impression made too by the stories of the animals and how they came to live at Back 2 Earth.

The farm began with Marc and Jenny’s dream “to live a life based on kindness and compassion, to heal our health and to have as little footprint on the environment as possible”. From that initial spark of inspiration came a farm, a raw vegan, organic health retreat, farm stay and an animal sanctuary… which is now home to 75 animals!

One such animal is Alphie. As robust, friendly and somewhat mischievous as he is today, Alphie didn’t always feel so spritely. In fact his journey to the farm started with a horrific accident, when the gate of a speeding truck he was being transported in (along with many other baby goats), flew open. Alphie was one of the survivors but required medical care and rehabilitation, after which he was shuffled from home to home before finally finding love and stability at the farm.

Cheeky Alphie was a favourite

Jasper and Puddles (horse and donkey respectively) were rescued as a duo. Jasper had suffered abused as a young colt and, as a result of being beaten on the head and otherwise mistreated, he arrived at Back 2 Earth just a few weeks ago, skittish, dishevelled and dirty. Now well-fed, loved and housed with his good friend Puddles, Jasper is acclimatising to his new home, and each day is a little more curious, friendly, and confident. He finally has a safe home and haven. He finally knows something of human kindness.


I typed the following words on my phone on our last day at Back 2 Earth. As they still ring true in summing up my feelings about our stay, I’ll share them again here…

“The culinary experience here is amazing and it has opened my eyes to possibilities. But beyond that this place has had a profound and unexpected effect on me. As we prepare to leave for our next destination, I feel grateful… both for the chance to rest and recuperate (feeling much better, thank you to my friends who asked) and the wake up call. I want to contribute more to the world through kindness and Back 2 Earth is a fabulous inspiration.

As I sit here and type, I feel both strangely relaxed & slightly overwhelmed by my experiences. To be clear, this place is all about rest & recalibration. There is, however an element of #inspo (for lack of a better term) that provokes a deep emotional response in me. Perhaps it’s Mark & Jenny’s steadfast dedication to the raw vegan lifestyle coupled with an understanding, inclusive stance towards their non-raw vegan guests, some whom are here to heal. Perhaps it’s the fact that they built all of this on a dream, in a ridiculously short amount of time and with no prior knowledge/experience either with raw food or farming. And one cannot help but be moved by the rescued animals at the centre of this story and the new, happy lives they have been afforded as a result of Mark & Jenny’s incredible dedication to the betterment of circumstances for all beings.”

Literally within minutes of first arriving at the farm, my 4 year-old daughter exclaimed, “I want to be in this family!”, and no doubt now we have left she has taken her Back 2 Earth farm stay impressions with her both in memory and heart. I think we all have.

❤ Marisa xx

PS Want the chance to treat yourself and your loved ones to a fabulous Back 2 Earth farm stay experience? Visit me on Instagram for details and you could be the lucky recipient of a 2-night stay for up to 4 people including a delicious raw breakfast in the cozy. Valued at $600 AUD.


Some notes for allergy sufferers: If you’re lactose/dairy protein/gluten intolerant, you are in luck. All the food made here will be suitable for you. My husband is allergic to animals (particularly horses), grass, pollen and some foods, but interestingly had no symptoms during our stay. He did bring allergy medication with him just in case and I would recommend doing the same if someone in your party has allergies. Our daughter, who has very sensitive skin, had a mosquito bite that came up rather nastily on the last day, and en route to our next destination we stopped at the pharmacy in Berry (just 5 minutes from the farm) where the staff were wonderful, advising us on the best treatment for our daughter’s skin. If you have a very serious seed or nut allergy, you should be advised that the catered options at Back 2 Earth probably wont be suitable for you, but self-catering on the farm could be a possibility.

For wellness seekers: From therapeutic and relaxation massage, to Eastern cupping, reiki, floatation tank usage and EFT, there is much to be experienced in the way of healing treatments. Marc is a specialist oncology massage therapist and Jenny is a clinical psychologist who offers individual psychotherapy, couples, parenting and pre-marital counselling onsite for interested parties.

For food lovers: Aside from enjoying the on-site catering options or participating in Marc’s workshops, house made snacks and treats can be purchased directly from the farm or online. The crackers, dried fruit roll ups and gluten-free granola clusters are all delicious, as my family can attest! 😀

For vegans: Welcome home! You will love it here! If you want to know more about the benefits of raw food or the art of cooking it, Marc’s personalised workshops have you covered. You can chat with Marc about your specific areas of interest, or do as I did and allow him to make a few suggestions for your raw food demo that will cover some different bases; sweet, savoury or both.

For omnivores: Welcome home! You will also love it here! In fact, Marc and Jenny find themselves endlessly surprised by the number of people who visit Back 2 Earth and decide to adopt lasting, healthy changes when they return home (for example eating organic food, enjoying meatless Mondays or instituting some other practice as a result of what they have learned at Back 2 Earth about sustainability and wellbeing).

For families: It goes without say that most children will find themselves fascinated by farm life and enchanted by the animals here. The opportunity to be involved in the daily workings of the farm, learning which animals eat what, how to gently approach and interact with animals, and how to care for/feed them is a fabulous hands-on experience for young and old alike.

For couples: Something I wasn’t aware of before we visited the farm is that Marc and Jenny run couples retreats that comprise a host of inclusions, including therapy sessions with Jenny. The purpose of these retreats is to strengthen connection, rejuvenate and reconnect, and I can absolutely see how this offering could be of benefit to any couple, but particularly those whose schedules have made it hard for them to touch base in an emotional way day-to-day.

For groups:
 Back 2 Earth allow groups to utilise spaces on the farm for their own events, workshops and retreats. Catering can be arranged if desired.

For animal lovers: If visiting the farm, the close encounters with the animals will be a highlight, but if you’re keen to be a part of the Back 2 Earth family and contribute to the rescue and welfare of these very special residents, an adoption program is currently being set up. This means that very soon friends of the farm – near and far – will be able to connect with the animals, hear their stories and be part of their healing process.


A recipe by Marc Hammond

We ate these tasty treats for breakfast (‘we’ as in, my entire family, including baby Oliver). And they were so lovely that we found ourselves negotiating with each other over remaining bites and crumbs! I appreciate that some people find themselves unsure about “unicorn food” (or fantasy food), but if you’re curious and looking for an easy, wholesome recipe to try with a touch of whimsy thrown into the mix, this could be the perfect one for you!



Flesh from 1 young Thai coconut
250 ml cashew nuts
125- 250 ml water
2 dried figs (or 1 tsp maple syrup)
½ vanilla bean (optional)


  1. Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender or Vitamix.
  2. To create different colours/flavours, blend fruit* (or superfood powders such as spirulina) with the yogurt mix.
  3. Refrigerate overnight and serve as is, or use to decorate breakfast pizzas or other treats.
  • Purple – blueberries
  • Red/Pink – raspberries/strawberries/watermelon
  • Orange – mango/rock melon/persimmon
  • Green – kiwi
  • Yellow – pineapple




3 tbsp pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup date or fig paste (soak dried fruit overnight and blend to make your own)
Additional dates or figs, chopped
2 apples, peeled and grated
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp maca powder (optional)
1 tsp baobab powder (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients. Measure out approximately 125 ml of mixture, spread and flatten into round circles.
  2. Dehydrate for around 15 hours or until as crisp as desired.
  3. Decorate with organic cashew yoghurt, fruit, coconut or nuts.
  4. Enjoy!

*Our thanks to Marc, Jenny and the animals at Back 2 Earth for sharing their home (+ food and recipes) with us. And though we were treated to this fabulous experience, I gladly and faithfully share my impressions here in gratitude for the wonderful time we had.

*Thank you to the staff at Broadmeadow Medical Centre and Strachans Pharmacy for being so thorough & kind when we stopped by en route to Back 2 Earth.


PEACH & STRAWBERRY MUFFIN BAKED OATS (+ a couple of foodie reflections on Byron Bay)

Firstly, a Happy Easter Monday to all who are celebrating! The recipe that follows below is simple, delicious breakfast treat; one that definitely errs on the side of wholesome in the midst of chocolate-drenched April. Secondly, I apologise in advance if the next few posts I write defy the laws of chronology, but such is life on the road that I can never quite keep up with myself, let alone all the ‘happenings’. As it is, I recently found myself in possession of a punnet of organic edible flowers from Byron Bay. And so, having used them to decorate the very dish I’m sharing with you today, I have decided to start this patchwork quilt-esque series of posts there; on the coast of New South Wales, in hippie-meets-hipster ville Byron.

We left Sweden in January to embark upon a series of adventures that started in Connecticut (I’ll come back to that one) and has led us all the way back to Adelaide again after a road trip loop that saw us cover thousands of kilometers. Literally. Our road trip began in Adelaide, taking us to Hay, then on to Sydney, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, before we even made it to Byron Bay. I will attempt to fill in the blanks at some stage (oh, for the luxury of time and space to write), but for 3 years of my life on Instagram, I dreamed of #ByronBay. More specifically, I suppose, I dreamed of the food I would eat there whilst seated at tables previously occupied by the likes of Sarah Wilson and others who shared their Byron inspo from afar!

So as we approached real life Byron, hungry and in need of caffeine, we headed straight for hipster joint No. 1* (*not its real name) while I browsed the restaurant’s reviews on Tripadvisor. Perhaps it was a mistake, perhaps it was a godsend… I might never know now. But there seemed to be a pattern: “Great food. Rude service”, “Excellent quality of food. Terrible place for children”, etc.

My husband was nonchalant. “If the food’s good, do we care that much?”
To which I responded, “I have too much self-respect not to care!”

I decided to duck in quickly to gauge the “vibe” of the place before committing to hanging around. The menu did look amazing, but lack of seating, the bad reviews I’d just read and the half-smile the woman at the counter gave me when she looked down and spotted my daughter standing with me sealed the deal. We were out of there, and onto a distinctly non-hipster venue, Byron Corner Store.

Toasted sandwiches, veggie burgers, smoothies, good coffee, friendly smiles, sharing long tables with strangers in an unpretentious setting… what’s there to complain about, really? The prices were reasonable, the grilled veggie sandwich and the veggie burger were tasty and unfussy. The kids seemed happy with their fare too. Yes, I may have preferred some quinoa + salad type of meal over something bread-based, but it was more than passable and worth it for the chance to feel relaxed about eating lunch out with our 3 young children.

Veggie burger at Byron Corner Store

I was glad we didn’t stay at venue No. 1. There may have been a time in my life when I went to night clubs/bars/restaurants and put up with whatever the standard of service/friendliness (or lack thereof) was because it was “the place to be”. But I have a very low tolerance for that stuff now, especially when my kids are in tow. If I eat out, I expect good food and friendly service. There’s no place for attitude in customer service, in my opinion. Especially in the hospitality industry!

And that brings me to Folk. Two amazing east coast girl bosses brought me there: Louise, from We Print Nice Things and Amanda from Probioskin, with whom I had scheduled consecutive meet-ups. Pitching itself as being “organic, ethical, plant based”Folk Byron Bay ticks a whole lot of wholesome boxes before you even glance at the menu. Located on Ewingsdale Road, adjacent to the Discovery Holiday Park, it’s a foodie hub set away from the main Byron thoroughfare that attracts locals and the transient Byron population alike. Upon arriving, I was immediately struck by the lack of seating space. People were spilling out onto the lawn and most of the tables were occupied by groups of backpackers who didn’t seem to be consuming anything at all, but rather merely waiting around listlessly. Louise arrived, remarked that Folk is not ordinarily so busy and, right on cue, a table was vacated and we had a quiet nook in which to sit and enjoy a coffee.

I almost became teary with happiness when I read the menu. Though the options are few, the food is absolutely my kind of food (as in, I’d eat it everyday if I had the means and time). The prices are far better than I would expect of similar meals in such an establishment, especially when comparing them to the prices we paid for stock-standard, far more pedestrian veggie meals elsewhere on the east coast and well-known cafés attracting a similar patronage in the major Australian cities we’ve visited. I was fond of the understated rustic charm of the place… the copies of Lunch Lady magazine left on tables, the macramé touches, the wooden bowls. The coffee, as promised by many a favourable review, was good. The music was not obnoxiously loud and, when the backpackers started to disperse, the space was even more subdued and there were tables enough for the lunch crowd.

And – hallelujah! – the staff were very friendly.

Louise departed and I was joined shortly afterwards by Amanda who brought a care package of gorgeous, lovingly crafted organic Mayella wellness products with her; a timely gift, given my under-the-weather state (little did I know I’d end up in a doctor’s office in Newcastle the very next day!). It was a muggy, sweaty day and the refreshing organic hibiscus iced tea with lavender, citrus and ginger was just the thing to accompany lunch. Without much deliberation we ordered the nourish bowl and the purportedly ever-popular Folk burrito. The nourish bowl changes seasonally, I believe, but the one I had included brown rice, quinoa, raisins and cumin roasted pumpkin. I opted to skip the haloumi, but it’s offered as an additional extra. The menu comprises a tasty selection of wholesome, vibrant dishes, and even the carnivores among the patrons are sure to find something appealing.

Hibiscus Iced Tea at Folk Byron Bay

Nourish bowl

When I met with Sarah Wilson and Jo Foster for breakfast in Sydney recently (go on, pinch me!), I mentioned that my Byron Bay memories of “darker days” amount to nothing more than a hazy recollection of being perched on the edge of a roadside gutter eating “veggie nachos” (which back then meant corn chips with a bit of cheese). I was on tour with the band that I’d found myself in and the entire east coast experience of that time is a bit of a blur, to be honest. But I am happy to report that my culinary experiences of Byron (and my east coast travel experiences in general) this time around far surpass those of my past! 😀

I have meandered long enough back to the organic edible flowers from Byron Bay that I mentioned at the start of this post. And so, as Sweden embraces frosty spring in hopeful anticipation of summer, and in Australia the days are getting milder (I can’t bring myself to write ‘colder’ as 29°C is hardly that, but it’s relative I suppose!), this breakfast dish is a humble ode to changing seasons.

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Easter weekend if you’ve celebrated… and I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe if you try it!


Serves: 2


250 ml gluten-free oats
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
200 ml cashew milk (or plant milk of choice)
1-2 tbsp rice malt/maple syrup (optional)
6 large strawberries, chopped
1/2 a peach, chopped
50 ml flaked almonds


Extra strawberries and peach slices
Edible flowers
Coconut yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (fan) and lightly grease 2 large ramekins/oven safe jars (350 ml capacity each) with a little melted coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix oats, spices, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add wet ingredients – minus fruit and berries – and mix to combine well.
  4. Gently fold the fruit and berries into the porridge mix (you can anticipate jammy fruit pockets to form as your oatmeal muffins bake).
  5. Spoon porridge mixture into ramekins/jars and top with flaked almonds.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on desired consistency (a longer baking time will produce a firmer set).
  7. Let stand for a few minutes (the ramekins/jars will be very hot at first), then top with a scoop of coconut yogurt, extra fruit, and fresh, edible flowers if you like. The baked porridge pots be kept covered in the fridge (after cooling) for at least 3 days, and make a wonderful, portable breakfast treat.

* If you like this recipe, check out the one it is based on; my Sweet Potato Pie Baked Porridge Pots!

**Heading to Byron? Check out Folk Byron Bay at Lot 1, 399 Ewingsdale Road, Byron Bay for wholesome, delicious meals (at a surprisingly budget-friendly price point) in a charming locale. For simple yet tasty sandwiches, coffee and such, check out Byron Corner Store at 47 Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Folk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato