Wednesday, June 30, 2010

creative space- twine dish scrub

I seem to be embracing the green clean this month. From homemade laundry detergent to homemade dishwashing detergent to a twine knit dish scrub. I have been knitting cotton dishcloths for 6 months now and adore them- they're soft, uber clean because I can chuck them in the washing machine whenever I want and clean dishes and surfaces beautifully. That said, if I've burnt a bit of food at the bottom of the pot, or forget to soak over night I find I need something with a little more grit and texture to scrub my pots clean.

This is twine I used to hang North's wall hangings. It's not really as pleasurable or as quick a process as I had anticipated- the fiber started to irritate my fingers about halfway through last night. But, when this knit is off the needles it is sure to be put to good use until it's fraying at the edges and soft with wear and love.

The pattern I made up was simply:
cast on desired length
row 1: knit
row 2: knit 1, slip 1
repeat to desired width

I used 5mm needles, but next time I would use bigger, as it didn't need to be so tightly knit.

Don't waste your comments here- enter the draw to win a lunchskins reusable sandwich bag and snack bag courtesy of the gorgeous ecoMILF sponsor State of Green. All you have to do is leave a comment on that post!

For creativity of the more aesthetic kind pop over to Kirsty's.

xo

homemade sourdough starter in 14 days


Thanks to a bit of inspiration, I am finally checking "make sourdough starter" off of my to-do list. I mean really, how hard is it to throw some flour and water in a glass container each day?

It should take 2 weeks to properly ferment before I can bake my first loaf. A healthy and well-fed sourdough starter can last for years (I mean decades). Avid bakers take great pride in their "Mother Dough" Below are the directions I am following based on what I have read in a few books and on the internet.

Why not start yours today and we can bake our first loaf together in the coming weeks? It will only take a moment of your time! This could quite possibly become a family heirloom!

Ingredients
organic white flour
filtered warm water
clean and sterilized glass jar
A "warm place"to store it- Ideally between 25 and 30˚C- I am keeping mine close to the oven/elements to ferment

Directions
*try to 'feed' your sourdough at the same time each day so that 24 hours has elapsed

Day One:
Add 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 flour and stir. Cover with a loose lid and place somewhere warm

Day Two:
Add another 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 flour and stir. Cover with a loose lid and place somewhere warm

Day Three:
Add another 1/2 cup warm water, 1/2 flour and stir. Cover with a loose lid and place somewhere warm

Day Four:
A few bubbles should start to appear now (depending on how warm it's been). Discard most of the flour/water mixture leaving just over a tablespoon of it at the bottom of the jar. Add one cup fresh flour, one cup warm water and stir.

Day 5 and 6:
Repeat Day 2 and 3

Day 7:
Repeat Day 4

Day 8, 9:
Repeat Day 2 and 3

Day 10:
Repeat Day 4

Day 11, 12:
Repeat Day 2 and 3

Day 13:
Repeat Day 4.

Day 14:
Baking Day! -Your starter should be ready to use. At this point, you can move it to the fridge (with a sealed lid that is breathable- I will hammer a few holes into my lid) so that you only need to feed it once or twice a week- most likely replacing the amount you will be using for baking. Most sourdough recipes will call for one cup of starter, so you would replace that cup with 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of warm water and stir and then put it back in the fridge. Every so often it's a good idea to remove the starter and clean and re-sterilize the jar you store it in for ideal growth conditions, but you don't have to worry about that for the first few weeks.

I'll post again in a couple weeks with a sourdough recipe and photos of my first loaf. Good luck to those who are joining in!

xo

And don't forget to enter the lovely giveaway for a lunchskins sandwich bag and snack pack thanks to State of Green!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

homemade dishwashing detergent

Switching to homemade laundry detergent was so easy, this month I decided to try dishwashing detergent as well. So far it has worked fabulously. I have read that after a while the glasses may come out a bit dingy and dull, at which point you can add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to sparkle things up a bit, but we haven't had to worry about that yet.

Dazzling Dishwashing Detergent


Ingredients
1 cup bi-carb soda (baking soda)
1 cup borax
1/8 cup washing soda (lectric soda)

Directions
Mix ingredients together and add 2 tbs of the mixture to each load.

Don't you just love how being green and frugal go hand-in-hand?

xo

ps. If you haven't already, make sure to enter the State of Green giveaway below for your chance to win some gorgeous reusable snack and sandwich bags.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

raspberry leaf tea

The raspberry leaf has long been used as a natural and magical herb for women. Female healers have prescribed it for menstruation, pregnancy, labour, breastfeeding and menopause.

Some benefits of the raspberry leaf, if consumed regularly during pregnancy include:

*easing morning sickness*
*prevention of bleeding gums ( a common side-effect of pregnancy)*
*relaxing and soothing of the uterine muscles before, during and after labour*
*providing a source of iron, calcium, maganese, B1 and B3 to the body*

Midwives (and some open-minded/well-rounded Doctors) often suggest consuming strong doses of raspberry leaf tea, supplements or tonics from 32 weeks onward to prepare the uterus for labour.

And so, 2-3 times a day I am sipping the most lovely, fragrant and mildly sweet tea.

For more information about this natural herb and it's positive effects on women see here.

Hope you've had a lovely weekend and Brad of course says a big thank you to everyone for sending him you birthday good tidings.

xo
photo from weheartit.com

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my one and only, the most gorgeous man I could ever dream of. I love you more than the words in any post could ever describe. May the three and a half of us have a wonderful day together playing, giggling, feasting and being merry and may this year be a great one for you.

xo

Friday, June 25, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -soulemama

xo

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

inspired creative play

I'm not sure about your child, but mine gets very tired of the same old thing. I am constantly rearranging his toys and furniture and hiding things away to be forgotten and then rediscovered. One tactic I use to keep the toy romance alive is to surprise him with new and novel things when he wakes up from his afternoon nap. I often set up a table with creative snacks or lay out a few toys in combination with items he hasn't seen before in an appealing and inspiring fashion. These could be twigs, rocks, flags, forts, bowls filled with water or stuffed animals with dress ups.

Yesterday, when North woke up, to his delight he discovered his kitchen had an array of edible and non-edible play snacks, including a little picnic table set up with a tea pot (filled with water), jam and crackers, ants on a log, green pea pods in a pot, black beans in a bowl, dried pasta, and a biscuit hidden in the oven.

After he shared his joy and excitement with me, he busily went about his business preparing a pasta dinner, feeding his doll, Billy and pouring cups of black bean tea and then pouring them back into the pot again. The beauty of simple surprises like these is that they inspire in him new vocabulary, experimentation with food and imaginary play, so that when he next enters his magical kitchen he will reenact the experience and build upon it.

Notice how he graciously shared the only vegetables with Billy.

What do you do to inspire creative play in your children? I'd love to hear your ideas.

xo

Oh yes- for those that have noticed our semi-new kitchen set, we bought it second-hand on ebay. I am so excited about this purchase, it has added so much joy to our home and North's playspace for half the price of what a new wooden set might have cost.

Monday, June 21, 2010

{our daily bread}

A Monday meme. Handmade with love, kneaded with strength, baked from the heat of the Earth. A part of each day. Every week I will post a photo of one our doughy creations. From seven-grain loaves to tortillas to hot cross buns to chapati to french bread sticks. If you’re inspired to post a photo of your homemade bread and recipes just leave a comment and link below for everyone to awe and marvel at. You’re also welcome to use the sidebar button if you’d like to.
Artisan Loaves

I originally used the artisan bread in 5 minutes recipes when I began making these loaves, however now I just use my own dough recipe and then shape them into circular loaves, slash the tops and add seeds if I feel so inclined. Yesterday I baked two wholewheat/spelt loaves, one plain and one topped with caraway seeds. We'll use the plain one for toast in the mornings and the seeded one for crusty sandwich bread during the week.

xo

Saturday, June 19, 2010

chocolate chip banana bread


Ingredients
2-3 mashed bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 3/4 cups wholewheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1/4 cup oat bran
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark mini chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 180˚ C
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl
Mash bananas and add the rest of the wet ingredients
Add the dry to the wet and mix, add chocolate chips last
Grease a small loaf tin and pour ingredients in
Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden on top and you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean


Hope you're having a gorgeous Saturday.

xo

Friday, June 18, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A {single photo} - {no words} - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - soulemama

xo

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a television-free childhood


We are about 12 weeks into an extremely strict telelvision-free rhythm and routine. North was never allowed to watch much television at all, perhaps 2-3 20 minute programs per week, primarily Play School and Sesame Street, however everytime I ever put that television on and watched my active, talkative and spirited boy disappear, lulled to silence by the flashing of the screen, I felt sick with guilt and regret. Why did I find it so necessary to take him away from his unique style of playing and instead allow him to mutely observe adults and puppets playing for him?

Of course I know the answer plain and simple- it's hard work keeping children entertained, busy and occupied for twelve hours of the day. Well.... sort of. It's not that I don't enjoy it, it's that there are a million other things I need and want to get done- a load of laundry, the dinner preparation, the dishes, the sweeping of the floors, a bit of me time, writing time, a 3-minute cup of tea or a row of knitting.

Like every toddler, North prefers that Mama be involved with his playtime, making comments on the speed at which he pushes cars, tasting imaginary eggs and toast and building castles alongside him, but with every day he ages and matures, he is able to concentrate longer on tasks and games without having me there to hold his hand. The rest of the time not having the remote-control-nanny means that I must involve him in my everyday chores and activities. We cook together, clean together, shower together, even go to the bathroom together (at risk of giving too much information, he sits on his potty while I'm on mine). This makes these moments a little more time-consuming and onerous, but in the long term, I know that I am instilling in him a sense of independence and an appreciation for family unity, homesteading and food preparation, and then there's the bonus of him being toilet trained before the age of two.

I must admit the hardest part of this journey was when he was sick with the flu for about 5 days. He was extra clingy, tired but not sleeping and extremely emotional. In darker moments, I was tempted to sit him in front of the tv just so he would stay still and rest for short spurts of time. But instead, I decided to perform his regular bedtime routine- a few stories, a glass of milk, cuddles and a song- then I put him into bed with a bunch of books and let him read and talk to himself for 30 minute intervals. He was happy as can be, resting in bed and I got to have that little time-out to do whatever needed to be done. It taught us both that unwinding and resting does not have to involve a flat screen and couch.

So, before you plunk your child in front of that boob tube, with the thought that a little bit won't hurt, please at least seriously ask yourself a few questions:

Why am I putting the television on right now- for my child or for my own selfish reasons?
How will the adverts he/she is exposed to effect him/her and his/her consumerist choices in the future?
Is this enriching or taking away from my child's day in some way?
What alternatives to this 30 minute show can I think of and offer?

I truly understand and appreciate how hard mothers work with no rest and little personal space and time, but I think we underestimate ourselves and our children when we use the television as a crutch and/or parenting aid.

Be sure to stay tuned for when I am breastfeeding my babe-to-be- I've heard the television is a second-time mama's best friend for these moments. I'll come up with some coping strategies I'm sure, but the temptation will no doubt always be there.

xo

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

glass straws


After recently posting about offering young toddlers soup in a cup with a straw to decrease mess and to make vegetable consumption more fun, I had second thoughts- straws are a far cry from green- just another piece of plastic that cannot be recycled. But straws are actually good for children’s oral motor development and speech articulation and decrease the chance of tooth decay when sipping sweet drinks.

The solution: a set of glass straws for your home. You can even sew up a little travel pouch for packed lunches and your handbag.

Made in the US, glass straws are dishwasher safe, BPA-free and actually guaranteed not to break for their lifetime. But the most comforting part is, you can be sure that your glass straws will not end up floating in an ocean or a landfill.

Do a google search to find an Australian retailer near you, or your can order them online from the US with a $4 delivery charge. ** Please note I am not being sponsored by any company to recommend this product, I just believe in the cause and think that it is an important green change than is often overlooked.

xo

Monday, June 14, 2010

{our daily bread}

A Monday meme. Handmade with love, kneaded with strength, baked from the heat of the Earth. A part of each day. Every week I will post a photo of one our doughy creations. From seven-grain loaves to tortillas to hot cross buns to chapati to french bread sticks. If you’re inspired to post a photo of your homemade bread and recipes just leave a comment and link below for everyone to awe and marvel at. You’re also welcome to use the sidebar button if you’d like to.
homemade bagels

Whipped up some homemade poppy seed bagels and cream cheese yesterday evening, following this tutorial. They taste exactly how they should- a little sweet, a little salty with a dense spongey texture that you just love sinking your teeth into.
The cream cheese is just yoghurt with the whey drained out through a muslin cloth. You can read more about that process here. It's simple, easy and is a great way to add some healthy dairy to a toddler's snacks.

xo

Sunday, June 13, 2010

glass half full

I was flattered and honored to be given a 'blogging award' from Tammy at Girls Wear Blue Too. I think the rules are to make a list of things that make you happy and then to pass the award on to five other bloggers. Of course it is ecoMILF style to improvise and adapt such rules and regulations, so I am going to list a few things that have ruffled my feathers the past few days and tell you why I am grateful for them.

1. A dirty, sandy, wet little boy terrorizing the garden.

: : I am grateful he enjoys nature in all her glory and he has not been influenced by what adults believe is 'dirty', 'uncomfortable' and 'ugly'.


2. A small amount of plastic.

: : Although I try to keep plastic to a minimum, a few Op Shop cars, motorcycles, animals and gumboots are pretty essential when you have as much wet weather as we've been getting.


3. The neverending pumpkin and broccoli.

: : Because we get our organic seasonal produce delivered every week, we have been ending up with a lot of pumpkin and broccoli in the fridge- not exacly my all time favourite vegetables. I am grateful that it has forced me to work beyond steamed broccoli and pumpkin soup and to experiment with new recipes like pumpkin cornbread and feta, pinenut and broccoli salad (yum!)


4. My nonexistent husband.

: : Brad's been working triple time for the past few weeks. Although we had Saturday at the farm last week, he worked Sunday and was at work all day yesterday, today and will be heading back tomorrow. I am feeling flat out entertaining, playing with and keeping North occupied every day by myself while trying to keep the house clean and preparing for the new arrival. That said, I am grateful he is working as hard as he is for our family, and our future and I was pleasantly surprised to receive this sweet message on my phone today: "Just so you know, when I arrived and saw you at the table today, you looked so beautiful when I saw you at the table".

5. My sleepless, restless nights.

: : Because I know that my rapidly growing belly is only a temporary discomfort and that very soon we will be blessed with a beautiful, precious miracle.

Now to pass the love on,

I never miss a post by the following delightful bloggers:


They can choose whether they want to play along or not. No pressure! But, please do click through to their little corners of cyberworld- they are each truly inspirational and unique.

xo

Saturday, June 12, 2010

himalayanchildren.org

The Himalyan- specifically the abuse, torture, displacement and exile of Himalayans from their homeland- is something we sadly often choose to forget, perhaps because it has been going on for 60 years and we have become numb to the cause. However, the fight for their autonomy is still strong and valid and there are many who work hard everyday to preserve Buddhist culture and traditions. HimalayanChildren.org is an organization and charity that sponsors mountain kids from the north of Nepal, but who are culturally and linguistically, Buddhist, in order to offer education, housing, medical and dental care.


The SMD Boarding School, founded by Thrangu Rinpoche, is located in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal is a small boarding and day school set to serve the needs of children from the Himalayas where there are no schools. The Branch School is at Namo Buddha, on the rim of the Kathmandu valley, about two hours away from the Kathmandu valley.


Nepal is the poorest, hungriest country in Asia. It has the lowest literacy rates, and one of the highest child mortality rates in the world. There is little infrastructure, and none in remote mountain villages where people live without roads, electricity, telephones, sanitation, running water, hospitals or schools. Exclusion, abject poverty and hunger erupted into civil war and the killing and destruction raged for ten years, leaving everyone affected. As the fighting spread, the schools were inundated with admission requests.

The founder and head of the SMD schools, Rinpoche, has the long-term aim to preserve the culture, language and the Buddhist way of life of the Himalayas, and to give Himalayan children the tools to build a better future, so they can help their own people when they grow up. Many of the children who attend the school (as young as 4 years old) rarely ever see their Mothers and Fathers and are not only educated, but raised in the school environment, as their families are so poor and live so remotely, that they feel this is the only promising chance for their child in this world.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

There are many ways to help these children and their selfless teachers, from buying and donating school books from their Amazon Wishlist, to donating funds that go towards new play equipment, running shoes, blankets, school excursions and medicine. You can also sponsor a child whether he/she is a boarding student, a day student or a monk, ensuring the school is able to fully educate the child without financial stress or worry for the entire year.


Please go to their website and browse through the many suggestions they have- no donation or gift is too small.


If you would like to sponsor a child, but feel you cannot afford the yearly cost (between $300 and $800AUD/year) please email me directly (ecomilf[at]me.com), if there is enough interest, I would love to organize a group of generous bloggers who are willing to raise some funds together in order to sponsor a child (or perhaps even children).


I have enquired about making gifts such as blankets, slippers, pajamas etc. but because the Nepalese government and postal services are so corrupt, I have been told that all gifts that are sent will be confiscated and rarely arrive safely.


Thank you for reading and taking a minute out of your day for the children and for the future of their culture,


xo