Friday, July 30, 2010

the calm before the storm

Things are definitely quietening down around here. I am very mindful of the fact that this baby won't come until she knows I am good and ready for her. In an attempt to slow down I have made the following changes to our daily rhythm and routine

*less scheduled outings and meetings, more time in the mornings outside in the sun and in the late afternoons at home knitting, kneading dough from scratch, preparing meals, putting my feet up and playing with North

*more quiet moments to myself drinking tea, resting and talking with the little one, inviting her to come out and play

*little to no television in the evenings, a calming bedtime routine: hot shower, pjs, early dinner and quiet reading before early lights out

*squatting and sitting cross-legged on the floor instead of sitting on a couch or chair

*an attempt at a little more bonding and cuddling time with both of my boys

*an attempt to "let go": of any fears, anxiety, self-fulfilling prophesies or preconceived ideas I have about the baby, the birth and the aftermath

Meditation
for
Letting Go


Sit in a cross-legged position, with a tall spine and your arms out perpendicular to your body at shoulder height (making sure to keep your shoulders relaxed)
Separate your four fingers into two groups: index and middle finger attached, and ring and pinky finger attached with a space between the two groups
Clothes your eyes, and deepen and lengthen your inhales and exhales
After 7 minutes, stretch your arms out as far as you can, flex/tighthen your whole body and then release
Repeat this once more for another 7 minute sequence

*adapted from Gurmukh's Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful*

Did you do anything special or different in preparation for your new baby's arrival? How did you start to mentally prepare for the huge change ahead?

xo

{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

Happy Weekending!

xo

Thursday, July 29, 2010

silk and muslin scarves


I have recently added a new addition to our playroom (ie. our tiny little living room)- a basket filled with silk and muslin scarves. North has just started to develop an interest in costumes and imaginary play, and I was seriously considering getting him a gorgeous set of rainbow silk scarves for his upcoming second birthday when it dawned on me- there are tons of cheap and colourful scarves at the op shop!! I marched to the closest one and proceeded to buy a variety of colours at around $3 each (they sell for $16-$20 each in most online Steiner/Waldorf stores).

In the past week these scarves have already become-

Earth, water and fire for animals and trucks and planes to walk, swim and fly in.
Pirates hats
Ghost costumes
Butterfly wings
Pilot scarves
Kites
Streamers that assist in dance parties
Aprons
Blankets for friends, family, dolls and animals
Hiding places for toys that want to play hide-and-seek
...

The possibilities are endless and this little boy is absolutely loving them!

Is there anything thrift shops can't provide?

xo

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

meat-less pie

I've taken my vegetarian shepherd's pie and given it a twist. This recipe is especially amazing because you can really use any vegetables you have in the fridge, which makes it perfect for the end of the week when you're trying to use everything up before your next shop.

Ingredients
olive oil
whatever winter vegetables you have, chopped into small cubes- in this batch:
1 onion
1 potato
1/8th pumpkin
1 carrot
1/4 broccoli head
1/2 zucchini
4 swiss chard leaves
1 tomato
fresh herbs- we use oregano and thyme from the garden (you could use dried herbs de provence instead)
1 1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups of water
salt (or a couple tablespoons of tamari) and pepper to taste
3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (about a can's worth)
3/4 cup cooked kidney beans (about a can's worth)
1 vegan pastry top from the freezer
white sesame seeds

Directions
Preheat oven to 180˚ C
Put a generous amount of olive oil in a deep pan or pot and saute the onions on medium until soft
Add all the other vegetables, stir and let them warm for a few minutes
Add the vegetable stock, water, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and fresh herbs and bring to a boil. The liquid should just be covering the ingredients in the pot- add more if needed.
Turn it down to simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn the heat off and add the beans to the mixture.
Transfer ingredients into a large casserole dish and cover with foil or a lid.
Put into the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.
Remove from oven, take foil off and add pastry to the top.
Sprinkle the pastry with sesame seeds.
Put back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes.
Remove, slice and serve with a salad.

Perfect for leftovers.

xo

Monday, July 26, 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.

animal buns


My little one doesn’t need a lot of convincing to eat his bread, but to spice up mealtimes or for a healthy treat sometimes we shape our buns into little animals. Using our basic bread recipe, I rip off a piece of dough about the size of my fist and add features, then brush with a beaten egg and add the final decorations. In the past we have made teddy bears faces with currents for eyes and a nose, little fish with pumpkin seed scales, lizards with sunflower seed skin and in this photo- cinnamon turtles with clove bud eyes.

Bread can be a healthy and energy laden snack for your growing toddler that is calorie dense and provides a variety of minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. Pair it with hummus, various nut butters or avocado for added fat and/or protein.

Happy Creating!

xo

Sunday, July 25, 2010

weekending...


Hoping you all had a magical weekend. The winter sun was a welcome surprise today- our cheeks are rosy and our spirits uplifted in anticipation for one of our last weeks together as a family of three... and a half.

xo

Friday, July 23, 2010

thank you



After posting yesterday on being completely torn about leaving North with someone he wasn't familiar with in order to go to a last minute business event with my hubby, I received the most heartfelt responses from so many of you! As the day passed and comment after supportive comment floated into my home, I felt more at peace and confident with my decision. A decision which I made basically right after writing said post:

I wouldn't and couldn't leave him under those circumstances.

If it had been a really important event, it might have been different, but my husband didn't need me there, in fact I was never an original part of the equation, just a pleasant addition to the outing. And I am heavily pregnant. And although I have been living in Australia for 4 years, have no clue about football... so, you can tell I really wasn't very enthusiastic about going in the first place.

This said, there were many comments that were helpful for "next time".

I completely and utterly agree that the easiest and best thing to do is to set up a playdate or meeting in advance with the babysitter, where I am present, so that North has the opportunity to get to know her in a secure environment. I will definitely do this in the future- thank you for this great advice.

I will also always arrange that the sitter arrive before his sleep so that he is aware that she is present and isn't startled waking up to someone else.

I do believe that babysitters can be a welcome and exciting new playmate for North and an invaluable resource when you want and need to get out for some intimate time with your partner. It's just a matter of being organized enough, and trusting of your instincts enough to be confident with your choice of childcare.

Again, I just want to say a huge thank you for all of your support and comments. I am constantly floored at the kindness and generosity from people I have never even met. It is so comforting to feel this kindred bond with so many wonderful women, creators, peace-makers and mothers.

I hope you're having a beautiful weekend.

xo

torn


North is nearing two years old and I still haven’t spent a night without him. I can’t imagine doing so anytime soon. As for the days, I happily leave him for two hours twice a week at the gym creche while I take a yoga class or pop over to the cafe for a coffee and a bit of a breather before getting some errands done. He knows the girls that work there well, and he enjoys having a free play with the other children. I’m also happy to leave him for longer periods of time with his grandparents or with close friends in my Mother’s group who I trust and know he feels comfortable and secure with.


But this weekend has presented a bit of a bump in the previously gentle and mindful childcare settings I have immersed him in. Through his business, my husband and I are meant to entertain another couple at the footy game and none of my usual childcare settings are available, which has left only one other option: a babysitter. There is a lovely girl who sits some children we see around the neighbourhood and throughout the week at various activities, who is more than willing to help out. The plan being that she will arrive at home while North is down for his nap, and when he wakes up she will play with him, perhaps take him to the park and start getting his dinner ready. Overall she will be spending about 4-5 hours with him before we arrive in time to read a book, have a cuddle and put him off to bed.


But something just doesn’t feel right about this plan. I am mulling and stressing over it and am surprisingly emotional about the whole thing. Am I being a crazy, pregnant overbearing parent or is there more to these feelings? I just hate the idea of him waking from his nap to a girl he hardly knows and having to “brave it out” for 3-4 hours. I hate the pressure and expectation for him to grow up, to force him to act older than his age in situations like this. It feels cruel to put him in a situation like this without choice and understanding. I know he won’t cry the entire time. I know that he’ll be upset at first, he’ll become distracted after 5-15 minutes and then play with the sitter for a little while somewhat contentedly. But I also know he will be up and down emotionally, he will be extra sensitive the entire afternoon and will most likely get upset and cry for mama more than he usually does. I know that he will try, in the most brave and admirable way to be strong while he tries to figure out where we've gone and when we're coming back. But that's just it, most of all, I hate that he doesn’t have the mental and emotional capacity to understand why this drastic change in routine is taking place. I am afraid a feeling of abandonment will maim his little soul. It just feels so unfair and selfish- why should I put him through it? I am now in this very moment crying and I can’t tell if it’s because I am heavily pregnant, emotionally holding onto something that I should be letting go of, or because I really am a crazy clingy cancerian mama.


Why do other mothers seem so much more able to let go when it comes to childcare for their little ones? What is the right thing to do in this situation- follow my heart, or my head?


xo

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

homemade gnocchi

Since I started making homemade gnocchi it has become a staple and simple meal in our home. Although it involves a few steps, it's fairly straightforward to make and is such a wonderful comfort food on a cold winter's night.

Ingredients
4-5 large starchy potatoes (like russets)
1 egg, lightly beaten
approx. 3/4 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
fine grain sea salt
**a potato ricer**

Directions

* Fill a large pot with cold water and add salt.

* Peel, and cut potatoes in half and place them in the pot.

* Bring the water to a boil and cook until tender throughout (approx 40-50 minutes)

* Remove the potatoes from the water one at a time with a slotted spoon.


* Place potatoes through a ricer and let sit in a soft mound on the counter.

* Let the potatoes cool long enough that the egg won't cook when it is added.

* Drizzle the mound with the beaten egg and sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour across the top. Use you hands to gently mix the ingredients together and very lightly knead, adding the rest of the flour if the dough is too sticky. The dough should be moist but not sticky and feel almost billowy.

* Separate into 8 pieces and gently roll each piece into snakes the thickness of your thumb.

* Use a knife to cut pieces every 3/4-inch (see photo).

* Dust with a bit more flour and set each gnocchi aside until they are ready to boil.


* Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

* Cook the gnocchi in batches by dropping them into the boiling water about 15-20 at a time

* They are cooked when they float back up to the top.

* Scoop them out of the water a few at a time with a slotted spoon ten seconds or so after they've surfaced

* Place them on a platter or large plate that has been drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick to one another or the plate.

* Continue cooking in batches until all the gnocchi are done

* Add sauce- pesto or tomato are hits here, but I am sure a cream sauce would be nice also

* Makes 2 very large serves


xo

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

homemade eco-friendly oven cleaner

I have been on a bit of a green cleaning spree as of late, probably thanks to my irresistible nesting urge. I joke with Brad that I am like the bird of paradise that frantically makes and remakes it's nest a thousand times before beginning the mating dance in which he shows just how sexy he is. At 37 weeks pregnant and definitely counting, I am far from sexy, but my incessant nesting would have any bird beat.

My lastest endeavor- the oven! Our oven is in constant use what with all the breadmaking, vegetarian casseroles and baby muffins we procure. So, it was about time it got a good old scrubbing. This is the first time I have ever 'green cleaned' an oven and this very basic recipe worked a treat. The key is to let the bi-carb sit for as long as possible (ideally overnight) in order to eat away at all that grime.

Give this recipe a go whenever you next get the cleaning itch and enjoy!

Green Oven Cleaner


Ingredients
1 cup of bi-carb soda
2 tbs water + 2 tbs white vinegar
castille liquid soap
1/4 cup white vinegar + 1/4 cup water + a few drops of peppermint essential oil

Directions
Make a thick paste with the bi carb, vinegar and water and scrub entire oven from top to bottom leaving a thick white paste everywhere.
Let it sit overnight or for at least 8 hours
Then, use the liquid soap, water and a textured cloth to scrub the walls, ceiling and bottom of the oven slowly removing all the bi-carb and dirty residue
Once the majority of grit is removed, spray with the vinegar mixture and wipe down for a fresh smell and smooth surfaces

xo

Monday, July 19, 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 bread rolls


Using my basic bread recipe, I shaped up some small bread rolls to have with our split pea soup for dinner last night. Line a baking tray or pizza stone with cornmeal/polenta and place rolls on top close together (touching around the sides). Heat oven to 210˚C, pour one cup of water in a deep pan underneath where you'll place the buns (so that there is a small amount of steam in the oven when baking) and place buns in for 25-35 minutes until golden on top. Topped with sesame seeds and a sprinkle or salt and herbs de provence (before baking), they are always sure to be a hit around the dinner table or to use as a roll for your packed lunch.

xo

Sunday, July 18, 2010

thank you


photo from weheartit.com


Today, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of those generous and kind souls who took it upon themselves to respond to my post, 'a baby gift for mama'. I have been overwhelmed with virtual 'gifts' (aka. guest posts), and already have ten posts plus a few more promised ones on the way, which means I will be able to put these amazing contributions up at least twice a week for the first 3-4 weeks after our little girl is born. From vegetarian dinners to decadent desserts to urban gardening to gorgeous sewing tutorials for children to thoughts on eco-friendly lifestyle choices, this space will be blessed with green and creative insight from a number of beautiful bloggers. Almost all of the gift bearers are mamas who juggle children, work, writing, crafting, cooking and the other million and one things we do on a daily basis, so it is really an honour and blessing to have them take the time to create something just for me and my lovely readers. Thank you to every one of you from the bottom of my heart.

Can't wait for you to see the first post, I hope you enjoy them all as much as I am.

xo

PS. It's your last chance to enter the Modern Little Munchkins giveaway if you haven't already. Simply leave a comment at on this post and you'll be entered in the draw to win a $50 gift certificate from this gorgeously green store.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

dear north,

My Dearest Darling North,

From the moment I found you in my tummy I loved you. I kept you close, and vowed you would be a part of me forever. As I felt you rolling and kicking, I rubbed your little feet, and knees and bottom, and whispered sweet words of love and encouragement to you.
When you arrived in this world, completely on your own terms and in your own time, I forgot everything else. You were my universe. You have changed me only for the better. You inspire me to be a better person every day, in every action I take, no matter how big or small. You have showed me the path to compassion, unconditional love and infinite patience. You are the daily reminder that purity, innocence, goodness, truth and freedom are not enigmatic ideals, but truly exist in all of us, if only we gave them a chance. These past two years have been the best of my life, you have become my best friend.
I look forward to our new life as a family of four. I am certain you will be the most gorgeous, gentle and thoughtful big brother. I will always remember and hold dear the time we had together, just you and I. Know that I will love her as much as I love you, for this kind of love can only grow. But you will always be my beautiful baby boy.

xxx. mama.

Friday, July 16, 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

Have a beautiful weekend!

xo

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

scones with jam and cream


When I want to feel a little
less I-haven't-had-a-shower-in-three-days-and-my-my-tracksuit-is-my-staple-outfit and a little more regal, scones are the perfect homemade accompaniment to a cup of steaming hot tea.

Ingredients
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
80 grams (2/3 cup) organic butter, cubed
1 - 1/4 cups of whole organic milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 200˚ C and line a baking tray with baking paper or just dust lightly with flour
Add the flour to a bowl and using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the milk, mixing with a flat spoon until a soft dough forms (add more milk if you need to)
Place the dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth (not too much or the scones will be too dense)
Pat or roll the dough out to 2cm thick and then cut into rounds (this should make around 12-15 medium sized scones)
Place them on the baking tray and sprinkle with flour
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden
Let them cool a bit before serving with jam and cream and a hot cup of tea

xo

Don't forget to enter the Modern Little Munchkins giveaway- all you have to do is comment on that post for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to this wonderful eco-friendly store!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

simple play with nature

As I've mentioned before, I like to surprise North when he wakes up from a nap with an inspiring new play setting for him to discover. This week, I rolled out some homemade playdough that was getting past it's expiry date (we usually keep it in the fridge for about a month before throwing it our and making a new batch), went rummaging in the garden and through his toys and created this little set up.

His favourite part was the bonfire (he's been captivated by the idea of fireplaces ever since we visited the cabin). As we're toilet training at the moment he decided that my old spool was a toilet for his wooden man- it makes perfect sense, it's round and has a hole at the top, so I couldn't argue. I suppose everyone needs an outhouse in a forest setting. I pretend played for a few minutes with him, showing him my interpretation of the different features of the scene and then let him explore on his own for a while. That evening I simply rolled up the dirty, twiggy playdough and threw it out, and cleaned off any of his toys with warm water.

Do you have any quiet indoor activities you like to bring out to inspire creative play?

xo

PS. Don't forget to enter the wonderful Modern Little Munchkins giveaway for your chance to win a $50 gift voucher!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

gifts for my fellow star sign friends...

My husband is a cancer, I am a cancer, and a great deal of our friends are either cancers or some kind of a water sign. So as it happens, I have a birthday to celebrate every single day this week up until Saturday!! My tummy hurts just thinking about the amount of cake I will be consuming.

Here are some words used to describe the typical cancer:

intuitive, home loving, dependable, compassionate, creative, sensitive, maternal/paternal, devoted, nuturing, shy and tenacious.

I have sewn up a heat pack and a couple of eye pillows filled with wheat, barley and brown rice and a touch of chamomile rose essential oil, for a few of the cancers celebrating this week. The perfect novice sewing gift for a person who loves nothing more than to kick back and relax in the comfort of their own home.

Happy Birthday to all of you cancers out there!

xo

Saturday, July 10, 2010

birthday wishes

My 28th birthday is on Monday, but I won't bore you with any details on that particular day as I have something much more exciting to post- a giveaway from the lovely ecoMILF sponsor, Modern Little Munchkins. But until then, I thought I'd share a few delightful things I've been eying off as of late. What spectacular little presents these would be... cough, cough... Honey...?

shoes from Lala Shoes


a whole lot of knitting yarn in 'deep earth' for a pattern I'd like to try

ring from sundance

Hope you're staying warm inside this weekend. It's a blustery day in Melbourne.

xo

Friday, July 9, 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, July 7, 2010

it's never too cold for the beach

Although the park never grows old for North, I need a change of scene every so often. So yesterady, inspired by the never-ending beauty of this talented mama's shots, I packed up the picnic bag, grabbed a few toys and threw on our rubber boots.

It was at most 10˚C (50˚F) in the early hours, but we had a lovely time wading through the sand and surf. I was even able to have a little lie down while North did some important digging.

If you want some more ideas on how to get outdoors when it's cold read this post.
There are really just three key elements to a successful winter adventure: various layers of clothing that especially ensure your feet, neck and head stay warm; snacks and drinks (preferably warm); and a warm blanket to keep your bottoms warm.
Now, get out there and enjoy the fresh air!
xo