Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year. Now What?

I’ve been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve been reviewing the year that was, and thinking a little about the year to come.

This time last year, I was in a very difficult place. Two days earlier I had been to hospital to have my tiny baby “removed”(for want of a better word) from my body, because his little heart had stopped, and he had died.

Despite the intense sadness I was feeling at the time, I did write this about the new year:

But 2011 is a new year, full of promise. I've made no resolutions, no plans. I just want to take it day by day and really appreciate and enjoy what I have in my life.”

So, now I can look back and take stock of 2011.

I didn’t make any plans, but had hoped, that somehow I could soften the blow of the miscarriage by having a successful pregnancy. Imagine my delight when I became pregnant again in April! I was thrilled, though very, very anxious, after the previous miscarriage. However, I felt that it couldn’t happen a second time. How naive (or just plain hopeful) I was. I lost our little boy at the same stage as the previous miscarriage at the end of June. It was pretty well 6 months to the day after my first miscarriage.

To say it, “rocked my world”, would be something of an understatement. Despite having experienced it before, I still had to get through the grief all over again, whilst I was still mourning the loss of Alfie. It was a really hard time. And it still isn’t easy.

Of course, whilst I dealt with that, life went on. My children grew. They were busy. I went back to work. My husband and I had our 21st wedding anniversary. Our eldest son returned home. Our second child left home. Time marched on, and life really did go on.

As per usual, my interest in health continued and spurred on by Sarah Wilson in her fabulous blog, I tried to give up sugar, and was mostly successful, though I am not 100% clean right now. I’ve also learnt much about grains and seeds and how they affect the body, and why a Paleo/Primal style diet is the best for the human body, and for my body. I’ve pretty well stuck to that, and will continue to do so. I have learnt so much, and enjoyed reading Nora Gedgaudas (Primal Body, Primal Mind ) and Louise Hay ( You Can Heal Your Life).

Physically, I fell well, but in my heart and mind, there’s so much more work to be done. And with that in mind, here are some of my New Year’s resolutions:

·      When I was pondering resolutions last night, the word “yield” popped into to my head. I think I will try to “yield” more this year. To be more flexible, to let things just happen, to give over control, and to trust.
·      I would like very much to integrate the Paleo lifestyle into my life, wholeheartedly,and, to get the whole family eating in a more Paleo friendly way.
·      Every year (almost), I say I will practice Yoga more often. I say this because I know it makes me feel better. It calms me, it turns on the happiness juices, and I always walk away from a class feeling taller and lighter. It’s been so difficult to make it a part of my daily routine, but, dammit, the time for excuses is over. Why would I make an excuse to NOT do something I love?
·      I’m going to ride my new bike often. I want to ride around Rottnest Island (in October)without puffing too much and feeling the burn in my muscles. It is time I became bike fit!
·      I’m going back to work for three days a week. I’m excited about going back. Mostly my job is fun. But I worry about how it will affect us as a family. So I resolve to do whatever it takes to make the transition easy, and to make sure that my workload doesn’t double.
·      But, mostly, mostly…I just want to accept. I want to accept that I can’t make all the decisions about what happens to me. That I can’t control some of the things that happen, and that I cannot always get what I want, which goes quite nicely with my first resolution.
·      And, lastly, I won’t beat myself up if I get to December 31st, 2012, and haven’t been able to uphold all my resolutions. I recall, many, many years ago, resolving to give up smoking. I don’t think I did it that year, but I did eventually, so these things have a way of sorting themselves out…See – already I’m yielding, and, accepting

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Making

Although I’ve decide to take a low key approach to Christmas this year, I can’t help but get my hands busy and the girls have joined in too.

They love to make rocky road every year, and fudge, which we then gift to family and friends. The Fudge is amazing and so easy to make, once you’ve made it, you’ll be sorry you did, because you will just want to eat it all…

I will have to post the recipe later because I can’t find it right now!

I’ve been making “yo-yos”, also known as “Suffolk puffs”. They make a wonderful garland (the idea came from Soule Mama), and I also made little ones to make cute little gift tags.

For the gift tags, I cut a circle template with a diameter of about 7 cm. The final yo yo has a diameter of about 3 cm.
Freya and I used a bread and butter plate for the garland template. It is 18cm in diameter. The finished yoyos have a diameter of about  9 cm, depending on the fabric.

To make the yoyos:

Cut your fabric circle.

Pull the thread to gather the edge into the middle.

Fasten with a few over-sown stitches.

Then sew a pretty button in the middle

To make the gift tags, I sewed a row of red stitching around the edge of the card. It has a nice effect, and glued the yoyo onto the card. They are very cute and affective. Next year I may progress to making Christmas cards, but I really left my run too late this year.

To make the garland, I used wide cotton tape and sewed the yoyos onto it. It makes a wonderful Christmas Garland.

You could also make them into tree decorations.

I do feel inspired by how quick and effective the yoyos are, and I’m wondering what I might make next. I remember yoyo dolls were around when I was a kid, but haven’t seen them for years, so might have to look into making one of those.

It’s a busy time of the year. We’ve been doing a lot of socialising and my great Paleo diet has suffered a bit. But I’m not beating myself up about it, I’ll get back to it after the crazy festive season has settled.

We are looking forward to a quiet day at home with all our lovely children. We are hoping for a warm day so we can play at the beach, and plan to have a delicious lunch of roast pork and salad. We might even throw a few prawns on the barbeque!

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Paleo Breakfasts

I can safely say that I'm really happy with the paleo/primal lifestyle and way of eating, however, I do find making breakfast a bit of a challenge.

Being used to popping on a couple of pieces of gluten-free toast, or perhaps some gluten free muesli and milk, leaving all grains from my diet has made making breakfast a bit more complicated. So, here's what I do:

  • Always start the day with a cup of tea. Sometimes it is regular tea (though I'm trying to drink less of it), some days I prefer a squeeze of lemon in hot water. Lately I've been having it with honey as I have a horrible cough.
  • I usually follow that with a piece of the paleo snack slice I mentioned in an earlier post. It puts my hunger at bay while I try to work out what to eat for breakfast.
  • It is difficult to get away with not cooking, so I'll look at what selection is in the fridege and I usually have a combination of these things: bacon, haloumi cheese, feta cheese, mushrooms, smoked salmon,spinach,asparagus, avocado,tomatoes,pineapple, cooked potatoes and eggs (for mike, not me). This makes a really lovely breakfast.
  • If I'm in a hurry, or feel like something lighter I'll have some greek yoghurt, usually with berries (most often strawberries), and some toasted coconut and nuts. I love slivered almonds, pine nuts or chopped macadamias, lightly toasted in a small frypan. This takes seconds, and is so worthwhile. If there are leftovers I'll nibble on them during the day.
 I'm always on the lookout for different recipes for breakfast, and I've tried a few. A recent one was paleo pancakes, made with almond meal and nut butter. To say it was a "flop" was an understatement. No one in the family liked them. Even smothered in maple syrup! I could hardly flip them - they kept breaking, and burning. So that was a dud...

There are many things that can be done with eggs. I sometimes make a beautiful omelet for Mike, or scrambled eggs, baked eggs etc, but I don't eat eggs, so it limits things for me.

Overall, the little inconvenience of having to prepare breakfast is worthwhile. I feel good on this way of eating, despite being sick with a bad cold and cough lately. I'm hoping it'll settle soon. The cough is very annoying.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My SHort Story is Published

How exciting! I didn't win the competition, but I have been published on a website.

You can read my story here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

More Paleo

I've nearly finished reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas. It's been very interesting reading.

If I had to give it a score out of 10, I'd be hard pressed to give it less than 10. I just love her attitude, her ideas, and the fact that she  supports what she says with science.

So, now more than ever I'm hooked. I've been sticking to the paleo/primal way of eating and I really like it. It is having similar effects to giving up sugar. Which makes sense, because there's very little sugar in this way of eating. The difference is that with paleo eating, we avoid all grain. There's a great deal of science behind this, which I won't go into (I'd get it all mixed up and it would sound silly), but it just made so much sense when I read it.

I do feel a little guilty though, that I've not been able to put into practice what I preach when it comes to the kids. It is okay to make changes, drastic changes, in my own diet, and I'm feeling benefits, but I can't seem to do it to the children, despite becoming a "believer" in all things Paleo.

After reading what Gedgaudas says about grain, especially those with gluten, and how it effects the body and brain, I feel I owe it to my children to get them into a paleo way of eating. Gluten seems to be a large culprit in messing up kids brains, contributing to Autism, ADD, ADHD, anxiety and other psychological problems.

And it isn't just the presence of grain in the diet which causes problems for us, but the absence of healthy fats are really hurting the human race. We've been educated to believe that animal fats are dangerous and that vegetable oils are the answer. It seems that the science behind that isn't quite right and eating grass-fed fats (full of Omega 3 fatty acids), coconut oil (with lovely lauric acid - the stuff you find in breast-milk),  and fatty grass fed meats will give you a long life of health and well-being.

But you don't have to believe me. Just have a look at her blog (click on the book link), read her book. I'll be surprised if you don't come away feeling like I do. As for converting my children: watch this space, I'm working on it.

So, now I'll give you a great recipe from her book which I am finding so luscious, that it is hard not to feel guilty eating it, but it really does taste great and really fills you up. I first saw this recipe, or a version of it on Sarah Wilson's blog, which I read daily, and love. She has a much better way with words than I do, and I suggest if you are interested in this stuff, pop over and have a look.

Nora's recipe is for "balls", but I prefer to make this into a slice, and keep it refrigerated, cutting off little squares when I feel a bit hungry. It keeps the hunger at bay.

Paleo Snack Slice

Half a jar of Almond spread
250 grams organic nuts
1/2 cup raw cocoa powder
2 big handfuls of shredded coconut
125 grams of butter (preferably grass fed and organic)
4-5 heaped Tbsp  virgin coconut oil

I like to grind the nuts in my food processor first, then I add a couple of Tablespoons of pepitas, and process them too. Then I add all the other ingredients and process.

Nora's recipe has no sugar in it, and the suggestions for sweetening include: vanilla,cinnamon, 2 -3 tspns of stevia, bee pollen. Today I used about 5 prunes. The first time I made it I used 2 Tbsp of honey. I also have some "coconut sugar" - so that would make it not sugar-free.

You can also add some of these things to get the consistency right:

Almond meal, LSA, Chia seeds, cocoa nibs, protein powder or maca powder.

Today I added ground hazelnut meal as I didn't have almond meal. I also like to put chia seeds in and maca powder as it is so good for you. I also put some linseed in today.

So you get the general idea. It is mainly made from healthy fats, nuts and flavourings.

Incidentally I bought the virgin coconut oil, organic coconut, coconut sugar, cocoa nibs and virgin cocoa from a lovely website called Loving Earth. I'm loving their products!

More Paleo recipes coming. Sorry I don't have photos. The camera is temporarily out of action.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Following The Paleo Diet

Lately I've been reading more and more (mainly on the internet) about the Paleo (or Primal) diet. In fact, I think I may have mentioned the book, The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson before.

Despite having read the book, which incidentally is an easy and informative book, I still haven't managed to stick to the diet for a lengthy period.

However, I'm not easily defeated, and I keep hearing about how the diet and lifestyle will work to regulate hormones, balance blood sugar and sort out your cholesterol. The added bonus is that you'll be fit, healthy, slim and feel terrific. And a diet that encourages healthy fats and  grass fed meats is definitely for me.

So, why, so far, have I not been able to maintain the diet?

Like any diet, life sneaks up and sabotages it, every time. Celebrations, holidays, a dwindling supply of the right foods in the pantry and carbohydrate cravings have all been sent to test me, and oftentimes, I submit.

It's a bit like giving up sugar. You heard me rave about it here. I succeeded for more than four weeks. I felt really good for it. But then, I got pregnant, tired and sick and just had to eat whatever I fancied to get through, so I could feel "better".

So, with renewed vigour, I've decided to try the Paleo/Primal diet again. It is partly due the the fact that Michael has hypo-thyroid - it is borderline - not bad enough for drugs apparently, but enough to affect him with fatigue and weight gain. I've read that the Paleo diet will help regulate hormones, which in turn affect the Thyroid, so it's worth a go.

Michael loves his morning toast, and other grains too, but I thought we could just  give it a commitment for four weeks and see how we feel. I suspect we'll feel really good and will decide to continue.

Exercise is an important part of the Paleo/Primal lifestyle too. What I've learnt from The Primal Blueprint is that you don't need to do overly vigorous gym workouts (thank goodness!), but walking is great, with short bursts of exertion (much like going anywhere with Charlie! He walks, he runs away, I sprint after him!), and it is important to lift "heavy things" (Mark Sisson's words), to lift weights. I wonder if picking up a 14 kg toddler counts as heavy lifting?

I've been following the diet fairly closely for about a week and a half. So far I've done quite well. I still have toast for breakfast, but it is gluten-free sprouted grain sourdough, so I think it fits okay. I top the toast with smoked salmon and cottage cheese, or avocado. Sometimes we'll have bacon and tomatoes or mushrooms, Mike will have an egg (I'm not a fan).

My slip ups have generally been caused by sugar. I indulged in some Turkish Delight, which is pretty much 100% sugar, and had a hot chocolate when I caught up with a friend last week. I'm sure it had a little sugar in it, but I didn't sweeten it.

Lunches and dinners aren't difficult: we usually have some meat, and some vegetables. I have a fridge full of vegetables, and I quite like them.

We are both eating some dairy, and I know a "proper" Paleo diet wouldn't include them. The Primal diet, however, leaves some room for that, and it allows some dairy, preferably organic and fermented. I bought some beautiful Goat's cheese from the markets on the weekend. It was great on my morning toast. We also like to have yoghurt for a snack. We like it Greek and full fat. I have it with some strawberries or nuts to help sweeten it.

I hope that giving up most grains will soon become second nature. It isn't so hard for me as I've been gluten free for a long time. I think it may be harder on Mike, but I think he;ll be glad he did it when he starts to feel lighter, fitter, and well.

If you want to share great food ideas related to Paleo eating, then please do...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Family Holidays (Vacations)

 We've just got home after a week away on Rottnest Island. And what a wonderful week it was.

In fact, it was so good, we forgot to take photos. We were just too chilled out to bother! I do have a couple of pictures: the first one was taken at a seal colony, found down a track, right at the end of the road on the island. A very long bike ride, or a short bus-ride (we took the later on that particular day).
Watching the seal colony

One of the many things to love about Rottnest Island is the abundance of wildlife: the gorgeous quokkas, we saw whales breaching and blowing, the fabulous seal colony, ospreys and their amazing nests, cheeky lizards who ate our brownies on the beach and swallows who lived in our toilet - the nest built on the wall light.

Osprey nest
But there is so much more to love about our holiday at Rottnest Island.

I love that we get to spend a week with our dear friends, Rhiann and Aaron Gosper and their gorgeous kids (though the boys are grown now and we only had Beth this year). We are blessed to have such good friends, who have been loving and supportive and fun since we met them 18 years ago in Merredin. We can be ourselves, totally relaxed and comfortable with them. We drink many cups of tea  and coffee, complete the cryptic crossword daily(they are so much better at it than we are), drink wine, beer, gin and tonics and cider (in Rhiann's case), watch the sun go down at the pub, go snorkeling and swimming and sunning on the rocks at Ricey Beach and just chill out for a week.

The island lends itself to being a really relaxed holiday. Firstly, you can only get there by ferry or plane. There are only service vehicles on the island, so you ride a bike or walk everywhere. There is a general store where you can purchase everything you need, and it is in easy walking distance from your bungalow. The bungalow doesn't have a television, Internet access or telephone. Perfect, if you want to be cut off from the world. And it is relatively inexpensive.

I think family holidays are really important for children. As my friend Rhiann was saying, it gives them beautiful memories and the ritual of an annual holiday is also important. Our children benefit from the relaxed atmosphere, time spent with friends and the freedom to roam and play outside safely.

Charlie was the most relaxed he'd been in ages. Before we went away he was having regular tantrums, he was frustrated and angry, but we had very few altercations at Rottnest, and he really loved it, often saying,"we go to Rottnest house, not home", if we were out. Since we've been home he has talked about going back, and guess what?  We've booked for next year!

I'm hoping to keep the "Rotto glow" for a bit longer, but coming home to the clutter and complications of life is starting to wash it away!

Riding a bike on the island (despite getting a sore bottom) has renewed my love of cycling, so I'm hoping to get a bike for my birthday this year, and hope to ride it regularly. I always feel healthy and happy on the island, and I think it is due to all that fresh air, time with friends, exercise and sunshine...Ah, bliss.Oh, and the afternoon naps.

Charlie slept so well at Rottnest

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Too Many Excuses

Lately I haven't been getting enough exercise. I have many reasons for not getting out and about. They range from simply:"I'm too tired", to,"I just haven't got time when I work til 6pm", or, "It's raining again", and "I can't get myself off the couch".

I read an article today (sitting outside,in the glorious sun) that suggested sitting for long periods of time is very bad for our health. Not news, right? However, what it pointed out that might be new, is that, even if we hit the gym daily for a workout, sitting at a desk all day, being sedentary, really isn't good for our health. It is important to move about at least 11 times an hour.  Don't quote me on that, I was reading a fashion magazine.
I'm sure there is truth in it though. We really aren't meant to sit still for long periods of time.

And it got me thinking. I have done a lot of sitting about. Especially in the last three months. It hasn't been easy, it has been wet and cold, but it's mainly due to the fact that I have been grieving.

But today I thought about it - yes, grieving is a pretty good excuse for not feeling up to exercise - but on the other hand, grief isn't finite, and I have no idea how long I will grieve for my lost boys. I know it will be an ongoing process. So, I can't use it for an excuse anymore. Nor all the other excuses I've used.

My health is so important to me, and the health of my kids. I have to be a decent role model for them. So, today I have decided I must try to move more. Whether it is while I'm reading, watching telly or on the computer. I have to get up, and I have to fidget more. But most importantly I need to get outside. I should be gardening daily. Keeping the weeds at bay, and I should walk most days too. Even if I do get home at 6 after a long day working, I can still go out to the garden and pull a few weeds, or just potter around for a bit.

It isn't easy to take care of yourself when you are taking care of a family, but it's actually the most important person to keep healthy isn't it? How can you look after your family if you are unwell? I also don't want to find myself at the age of 55 (or sooner) dealing with type 2 diabetes, or worse.

So, what do you do to stay active?

I'd love to hear suggestions for incidental, everyday, fit in with a family type of exercise you do....

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Bone Broth

This time I made it from chicken bones. My chicken man at the grower's market rears real free range chickens, so I use his chicken knowing it is grass fed and free to roam. The best kind, in my opinion.I buy four carcasses for $3. What a bargain!

Anyway, this time I roasted the carcasses in a moderate oven, for 30 -40 minutes. I threw in a couple of roughly chopped onion too. Then I put the bones and meat into the slow cooker. I added the onions (the bits I didn't eat - caramelized onions are one of my favourite foods), then I deglazed the baking pan (over a flame on top of the stove) with some white wine and water so that I could  get all that chickeny goodness off the pan.

Before pouring the juicey wine and water mixture over the bones I put some roughly chopped carrots and celery into the slow cooker, along with two bay leaves. You could put any vegies and herbs you have into the pot. Add a small slurp of vinegar to the liquid(this draws out all the fabulous minerals from the bones) and fill up with water until the bones are covered.I have a large slow cooker and by stuffing the bone carcasses with the vegies I was able to squeeze the four chooks into the pot.

Then I let it cook all day.

At dinner time I poured the stock off the bones and vegetables and used it to make a beautiful chicken soup.

I made the soup by sauteing a chopped leek, an onion and some crushed garlic (a clove or two). Then I added chopped carrots and celery. Once that had softened, I added some chunks(about 500g for a family of 5) of chicken tenderloins (thigh meat would be good), then I poured over the stock and gently simmered. If your stock isn't very boldly flavoured, you might like to add some stock powder (such a massel stock). Just before serving I added some home grown spinach, which wilted and had the texture of silk when we were eating it.

Beautiful, good for you, chicken soup.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Parenting a Stubborn Three Year Old...

...Isn't always easy. In fact, lately it has been really hard.

I thought it was two years old that was supposed to be difficult. But this three year old has really found his temper, his anger, his downright stubborn naughtiness, all at once.

Phew...some days are a real challenge with this little one.

He is clever too. He knows what he wants, and doesn't care if mum and dad say "no", he's still hell bent on doing it. And then, if you try and stop him, he'll scream long and hard. He may even bite, slap or kick you!

So, I'm a mum of five. Yep. I've been there, done that. But not one of my other kids was like this.Perhaps I've managed to blot out the tough times with them, perhaps I simply cannot remember. I just don't think it was this hard.

I suppose it is also a mixture of things going on.

He's the youngest, and he has had constant attention and stimulation from his older siblings. He has always had someone to get him what he wants very quickly. Now, he'd like to do it for himself. He's frustrated when we don't let him make his own decisions (though I always like to give him choices) and won't let him do things for himself.

I think, where small children are concerned, there's  much that can be put down to"personality". Yes, discipline and routine are important, but sometimes it is just their personality that dictates their behaviour. At least that is what I'm telling myself!

You know, I also think that throwing a grieving mama into the mix probably makes things difficult too. Some days I just don't have it in me. It's really hard to be calm and constant with a naughty boy when you feel sad and tired, and struggling to get through the day.

This parenting caper is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

I suppose I will just have to listen to the mantra I have used for years , "this too shall pass".

Throw some suggestions my way...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Letter to Ruby and Saphire

Dear Ruby and Sapphire,

I don't  really know whether to consider you as two separate spirits or one. I'd like to think, as it says in the book, "Spirit Babies", that you are the same spirit trying to come to our family.

On the other hand, I feel I should be grieving the loss of two children.

Whatever the case, I want you to know that I miss you. Sometimes more acutely than others, but it is always there - the loss of you has left an emptiness that can't be filled.

It may make little sense to others, who see me, with a family of five children, healthy, here with me, so why would I want another child?Why should I miss someone who was never actually  here?

Because you were here, you were with me. And, I love you. You are part of my family, and you are not with us, where I feel you should be. I feel your absence. There is a place at my table for you. I believe there has been since before my first child was born. I didn't know it then, but I feel it now. I feel strongly, that I am meant to have six children.

So why did it not happen? Why have I lost you both, or lost you twice?

What am I missing in this puzzle?

I want you to know that I did what I could to clear the way, so you could come home to us, where I know you belong. But it didn't work out, and I fear it never will. Perhaps, one day, I'll come to you instead.

With love,
your mother.

P.S. Since I started this letter I have learned that "Ruby", the child I lost in December, was a little boy. I'm so sorry things went wrong with your chromosomes. There was one too many on Chromosome 13. You had trisomy 13. The condition is not compatible with life. Apparently it is a "fluke", there's a less than 1% chance of it happening. But it did, and sadly, you couldn't live. I'm so sorry.

I've decide to call you "Alfie", I always liked that name and somehow it seems fitting.

I still haven't heard what happened to our June baby. Perhaps we'll know soon.

Postscript: September 24: Our other baby was also a boy. I have named him Louie. Because the pathology testing wasn't prepared correctly we didn't get proper answers as to why he died. All I know is that he didn't have trisomy 13,18 or 21, which are the most common trisomies. It doesn't mean he was normal either, we just don't know. And it really doesn't make a lot of difference. I'm still sad and missing my boys.

For This I am Grateful

  • I have five happy, healthy children. My life has been blessed with these individuals. I am loved, and I have loved them (and continue to do so) with the core of my soul. There's nothing better than having children.
  • I have a good strong marriage to a wonderful man who has tried his damnedest to make me happy (not easy, believe me!). He has been a great dad to his children.
  • I've had a good education, provided to me by the government of this country, which in turn has led to job opportunities which work well around my family commitments. Teaching is well paid and has allowed us as a family, to live well.
  • My beautiful house, situated in an amazingly beautiful environment. I couldn't ask for a more beautiful place to live.
  • I have some lovely friends. We are all busy, so we don't see each other as often as we'd like, but I am blessed to have people I love whom are my friends. We have fun together, we laugh a lot and enjoy each other's company.
  • Every year we have a lovely week long holiday - usually at Rottnest Island. It is relaxing, fun and peaceful. So restorative. I'm grateful we have the means to do this. Our children love it too.
  • I have good health, and so do my children. We have never had to deal with much more than minor illnesses. Broken bones,  serious illness and chronic illness have stayed away. We've been very lucky in that area.
  • I live in a country and society where I am free, treated equally and can live with a high standard of living.
What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Written 23rd August 2011

It is Charlie's third birthday today. I spent a bit of time in bed this morning, my beautiful little boy bouncing around and on me, reminiscing his birth. I remember waking up, quite sure he'd be born on that Saturday. The labour progressing gently, going into the hospital and having the anti-biotics administered for the strep-B.

The labour was smooth, and for the first time, in five births, I did it all without drugs for pain relief. In fact, between contractions I feel very relaxed and peaceful.

His birth was wonderful. I was so impatient to meet Charlie. I felt I had waited much longer than the usual 9 months. And of course when I first met him, he was, still is, perfect.

He has given me, and our family so much happiness this past three years. I can't know what our lives might have been without our darling boy, but I do know it's been wonderful.

I really feel like a very lucky woman.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beautiful Bone Broth


I have been learning about the beauty of bone broth. It may not look pretty, but it is full of good stuff for our bodies. It is also cheap and easy to make.

This was my first attempt. It made a generous amount of broth from about 1 kg of beef bones. It cost about $6.

So, I covered the bones with water, added a small slug of vinegar (which helps bring out the minerals), and brought it to the boil. Then I added a whole lot of vegies and scraps - the bits of leeks that we don't eat, a big bunch of parsley, some carrots and onion. Then I simmered it for about 5 or 6 hours. Then I strained off all the liquid.

This is what was left behind:
Our dog enjoyed chewing on what was left of the bones and meat.

Bone broth is full of minerals: calcium,magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals. It also contains glucosimine and chrondroitin - great fro your joints.

It is rich in gelatin, which is a great supplementary protein, and also works to support our connective tissue. When the broth is cold, it sets with a lovely layer of solid fat (or lard - great for frying, sauteing and roasting vegetables), and the broth sets like a jelly. It turns liquid very quickly when it is warmed.

I learnt today from here:, that it is a good idea to roast the bones first. I think I will try that next time, because my broth didn't have as rich a flavour that I'd like.

Tomorrow I'll go to the farmer's market and see if I can get chicken carcasses to make chicken broth. I'm excited.

Tonight I made a beautiful vegetable soup using the broth and fat from the broth. I sauteed some leeks, onion and garlic in the fat, then added  chopped brussel sprouts, a bunch of silver-beet (Swiss chard) from our garden, along with some lemon thyme and a little bit of massel stock for flavour.

I have been craving stodgy, carby comfort food, and have done really well avoiding it, but tonight I just had to have something - so rather than succumb to something sweet, I decided to make some dumplings for the soup. They turned out quite well, despite  their not-so-good looks.
Here's the recipe:

Beat 1 1/2 tablespoons of soft butter with an egg. Add a cup of ricotta cheese, a cup of gluten free flour ( wheat flour if you eat it), half a cup of grated tasty or Parmesan cheese and salt to taste. It makes a sticky, wet looking dough, but it still makes fine dumplings. Boil a pot of water and drop spoonfuls of the dough into the boiling water. When the dumplings rise to the top, reduce to a simmer and cook for about three minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Serve the dumplings in the soup.

You'll be surprised how filling and satisfying this meal is.


Sept 17 - I've just blogged about chicken broth - see it here:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Home Grown

It's always such a pleasure to eat food that you have grown yourself.

Lately we've been enjoying some of the fruits of our labours, and I'm happy to admit that not a great deal of labour was involved.

The micro-greens I've been growing on the kitchen bench have been very successful. I'm so happy with them. I bought the seed from this little website, a great source of organic seed in Australia.

So far the seeds have grown in three medium:
  1. In glass jars as sprouts. I like to do alfalfa, mustard and mung beans in jars.
  2. In little jiffy pots. I grew red cabbage, sunflower sprouts, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
  3. Just on wet paper towel. This is an easy method, but it does dry out quickly. I grew wheat grass with this method.
It's been nice to snip the sprouts onto salads, breakfast, anything really. For a snack the other day, I had some little sprouts mixed into goat's curd cheese. Delightful!

My other little exciting home grown produce is the portobello mushrooms. So far, I haven't had a huge crop, but for taste, nothing is like a freshly picked mushroom. Beautiful. I had them for breakfast with some refried potato wedges I'd baked last night, along with some spinach. Sprinkle on some gomasio and sprouts...delicious.

We've also had a great harvest of grapefruit. They aren't very sweet, but I still love them. I added some to our totally home grown salad tonight. A little vinaigrette - yum!

Are you eating anything home-grown right now?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sorry - Missing in Action....

It isn't that I have nothing to write, more that there is so much, that I don't know where to start, and also never feel there's enough time to finish a reasonable post.

So, to summarise, the reasons I haven't been writing on the blog lately:

  1. I have started working(outside the home, for money) again. It is only one day a week, but it is the day that I used to have to myself when Charlie went to family daycare. Now - I go to work instead. So I don't get that day to run around and do errands, appointments etcetera. Now I have to try and fit them in somewhere else. I know, I know, one day a week is a gift, but all the same, the family and household still need me...
  2. I have had  blood tests run, to see if there might be a reason for my miscarriages (other than my advanced age). And something has shown up. I'm not really surprised, but it has now opened up a huge can of worms to consider. It isn't serious or life threatening for me, but it may have been for our babies.
  3. So, I've been spending a bit of time trying to find out more about how autoimmune antibodies can cause miscarriage. I've been trawling the internet, reading a few books, and have made an appointment to see a specialist in September. This has certainly been on my mind and is very time consuming.
  4. I've also been trying very hard to stay committed to eating well. I've been learning more and more about the "Primal" way to eat. I've been reading this book by Mark Sisson. I may have mentioned it before, but I'm reading it again, and have been inspired to really commit to his way of eating. I'm still not sure about dairy, but that's a whole other post...
So, that's mainly what has been taking up space in my head. Of course I still have to keep the household ticking over, and that has not been easy lately. It's no one's fault. I am still grieving over the miscarriage, it was only a month ago, and some days are tough. Sometimes, accomplishing anything is like swimming through treacle.

Hopefully, I'll get back on track, and will post all about some of the great new recipes I've been trying out sans grain (and sugar).

More soon...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Gardening for Mind, Body and Soul

Today I  stepped out into the sunlight for a moment, and stayed for nearly four  hours. I had no idea I had been outside for so long, because once I got started in the garden, time became irrelevant.

And that's not all. Worries became irrelevant too. I realised after about two hours, that I had not once thought of my lost baby, my waning fertility, or felt the deep sadness I had been feeling for the last couple of weeks. I also didn't feel the fatigue that had been plaguing me for that time too.

It just felt good to get into the flow of pulling weeds, digging the dirt, planting the seedlings, composting the weeds, fertilizing the beds with stinky organic chicken poo, looking forward to spring-time's bounty with anticipation, and harvesting some peas, spring onions, mustard greens, chicory leaves and a single golden bean pod to saute for lunch.

Michael brought me a hot cup of tea at just the right time, which gave me the last bit of energy I needed to finish the job. Perfect.

Now - for the perfect green saute for lunch :

Start with sauteing some chopped onion - I used the white parts of the spring onion, and add a couple of cloves of garlic which have been chopped. Add to this the chopped leafy greens, the finely sliced bean and peas. Then a little water or stock to finish cooking the greens. When they look bright and ready, pile onto your plate, and sprinkle with some Gomasio and a squeeze or two of lemon.

Doesn't get much better than that!

My next garden project is to start my own micro-greens (sprouts) - not the kind you do in a jar, but the kind I have been buying from the grower's market - in little jiffy pots- ready to snip whenever you like to add to salads, toast,stir-fries, whatever you like.

They are a powerhouse of wonderful enzymes, minerals  and vitamins - watch this space...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beautiful (Sugar Free) Breakfast

I find breakfast a bit of a tricky meal when it comes to being sugar free. I'm used to muesli (quite sweet if it has dried fruit and honey in it), cold cereals (also high in sugar), gluten free porridge(yummy, but not great without a bit of brown sugar or honey), or toast, especially with apricot jam or marmalade (about 50% sugar).

So, I have to re-think breakfast as a meal. And this is a beautiful substitute:

Gluten-free sour dough toast with sauteed mushrooms, wilted spinach, a sprinkle of Seaweed Gomasio (organic dry roasted sesame seeds with seeweed and sea salt) and a sprinkle of micro greens (coriander).

It only took minutes to prepare and cook, and was worth the effort.

Today I had the same bread toasted, but this time one piece had vegemite and the other I had with some sharp cheese. Very nice.

I will now have to stock up on mushrooms, and think about other things to have for breakfast.

Unfortunately I'm not a big fan of bacon (I like it occasionally), and I don't eat eggs - they made me sick as a child, and I just haven't been able to go back there, unless they are disguised in cakes, or quiche or custard. I wish I did like them, they are so high in protein and so versatile. Alas...

What do you eat for breakfast? Any ideas for going sugar free?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lack of Flossing and Other Guilt Trips for Women Trying To Conceive

I've been hanging onto the slippery slope that is "trying to conceive" for some time now. About 4 or 5 years. And in that time I have read almost everything that is available on the subject. I have also managed to get pregnant three times, and have one perfect baby - Charlie.

In that time, I've scoured the Internet, I've read countless books, I've had acupuncture, I've seen a naturopath, I've talked to psychics, had my tarot read, listened to visualisation c.d's, done fertility yoga, belly dancing,special massage - you name it - I've probably given it a go, or at least thought about it.

But one thing I haven't been particularly good at is flossing my teeth. Oh Dear - I seem to have missed that one: flossing teeth affects fertility.
So, now I can add that to my ridiculous regimen:
  • giving up sugar and gluten - check.
  • taking about seven different supplements, morning, noon and night-check.
  • ordering more supplements-check.
  • drinking green tea daily-check.
  • drinking nettle infusion-check (it tastes like compost).
  • drinking other nasty tasting herbal teas-check.
  • cutting back to one cup of real tea per day-check.
  • never drinking coffee-check.
  • rarely drinking alcohol-check.
But here I am -still wondering if I did something wrong to cause my miscarriages. Because I read in many books, that even when you are of advanced maternal age (read - geriatric) you can have a healthy baby, if you just have the perfect diet and take the right supplements, and have acupuncture.

So, I did all that, and I still find myself here - no longer pregnant - and wondering where to go next.

I suppose I had better go and floss my teeth?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sugar-Free: Day One

So, how to go sugar-free when you are also grieving? It's not for the faint-hearted. My body seems to crave sugar when I am feeling low. That's quite normal, I believe. Our bodies are craving serotonin (the feel-good stuff) and we get it from carbohydrates. I guess sugar is an easy carbohydrate to reach for.

So, this morning I thought I'd drop into the super-market and see if I could find something that might help me through. I have been feeling really tired with this miscarriage, so I thought,perhaps I need iron, so I bought some chicken and champaygne pate. Two things I couldn't have while pregnant : champagne and pate. Then I found some beautiful locally baked gluten free, seeded sour-dough loaf. Oh yum. It is really hard to find nice gluten free bread, particularly sour-dough.

I know I should try to make my own, but I'll leave that for another day. I'm going to try my hardest to use complex carbs to fill the sugar hole. And the pate on sour-dough was a hit.

I also bought Kangaroo steaks. It's such a deep red colour, it looks like it might give me the iron I seek. I must also make a nettle infusion - again, really good for iron.

Today hasn't been too rough emotionally.

I've been out in the garden, and at one point had to sit on the drive-way and cry a bit. But then I noticed a little yellow rose-bud - trying to flower in this terribly cold weather. I planted that rose bush shortly after my first miscarriage, and it is going to flower. It gives me some hope.

So I spent an hour with Charlie, in the vegetable patch. Things are slow growing in this cold, but I found some lovely egg-plants and some snow peas. The broccoli is growing rather slowly, perhaps it also needs some iron? Or just some fertiliser.

Despite my sadness, being outside, in the fresh crisp cold air, with my little one, really has helped. I have much to be grateful for.

Oh Boy - Here We Go Again

So, I haven't mentioned it before, because after all the "blah, blah, blah" about how wonderful it was to be sugar-free, I fell off the wagon, and landed in a great big pile of sugar. And was a bit embarrassed to tell everyone I was not the strong woman you thought I was.

I have a pretty good excuse, but, it will soon become clear, that excuse is not applicable anymore.

Having polished off half a family block of old gold chocolate yesterday, and a box of Lindt chocolates today, I am feeling rather ordinary.

I would have felt pretty awful anyway, because I have miscarried again. Again at about 9 weeks, and so have buried myself and my grief under a mountain of chocolate.

I had been eating sugar again, because while pregnant I craved it. I kind of felt that if my body (and baby) needed sugar, I would cave into the desire. However, all the while, I kept saying, "I know this isn't good for me, or the baby,so tomorrow I'll stop."

Well, it is tomorrow now, sadly a bit late, though I'm quite sure the sugar didn't cause the miscarriage. I just feel I should have made a bigger effort to take care of myself.

Now I have some pregnancy weight to lose. I only got to 9 weeks, but it was long enough to eat quite a lot of what I shouldn't have!

I also have a bit of a theory about gluten. It is interesting - I find I am able to better tolerate gluten when I am pregnant. I think it has something to do with hormones. However, I am normally intolerant to it, and, I suspect, fructose too.

Now that I have had a 2nd miscarriage in 6 months, and have been doing some research, I've learnt that food intolerance can and do cause recurrent miscarriage. It may have nothing to do with my miscarriages. In fact, most health professionals would bet money on it being caused by my aging eggs. That said, it can't hurt to get my body back in balance and in tip top form....goodbye gluten, goodbye fructose and sucrose, hello good health.

Oh, and if I could have a healthy baby too, I would appreciate it....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's Going On Today?


I had planned to have some photos here and chat about what I've been up to. But, for the life of me, I cannot work out why the damned photos won't upload onto the computer. Is there anything as frustrating? I can feel my blood pressure rising as each attempt fails! Argh! Is it time for a new camera? A new computer? Both seem to be working quite well, just not obliging in working together.

Well, I'll attempt to make a blog entry anyway, and hope the photos will miraculously upload in the meantime.

On the weekend, I had a very lovely time communing with four lovely ladies at our knitting club retreat. It was only one night, but it was such a great success that we decided that we will definitely try for two nights next year.

If you are into crafting then consider starting a group. The monthly meetings give us a chance to slow down and focus on friends and crafting for a couple of blissful hours. Then to extend that time, and share food, drink and more time, as we did on the weekend, is extra blissful. I recommend you give it a go. It is balm for the soul.

So, what's going on today?

Charlie and I did the dishes together this morning. I was rather too careless with a very sharp knife and manage to slice my thumb rather deeply. I was very grateful to have Callum here to help steri-strip it together again.

Then, after vacuuming, ordering new vacuum bags from the Internet, and organising eBay parcels to post, we relaxed with a bit of scone making. Charlie just loves to mix the flour and sultanas and cream, and especially loves rolling and cutting the dough. Although they didn't turn out to be big soft airy things, they were quite buttery and very yummy ( I used plain flour instead of self-raising - silly me!).

Now we have some washing to hang out, but the day is quite grey and I wouldn't be surprised if it rains. I think we'll hang the washing on the deck, under cover.  Soon I will wash the beautiful new AnnaMaria Horner fabric I bought (more on that soon) so I can dream about what I will sew for myself.

In the meantime, I have another cute top cut out. I'm really loving that I can buy vintage 70's patterns online, and I've been stocking up. If I could show you a photo, I would!

I'm hoping I'll work out what is going on with the camera soon. Perhaps I'll start with with recharging the battery. If I can, I will add pics later.