Thursday, September 30, 2010

spring urban garden

As many long-time readers know, the urban garden has been a big learning process for me. After upheaving all of my potted plants to the front garden I realized there wasn't nearly enough sun there for anything to survive, so we're back to potted plants in the backyard. In the middle of the summer some of these might get a little too hot, but we'll see how they go.

in the urban garden at the moment-
onions that will be used as spring onions- I planted way too many seeds in one bucket
baby tomato

recently harvested-

What's in your garden this Spring?


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

toilet training before the age of two

Although we weren’t brave enough to give elimination communication a try, at around 18 months North showed some clear signs of readiness to start using the toilet. He would say “poo poo” if he felt the urge and could identify his “pee pee” as he watched it trickle down the shower drain. He also started getting anxious and quite annoyed whenever he had a dirty nappy. So, I got a little potty and sat him on it once a day before his shower until he got used to the whole concept. By around 20 months, I was able to read his elimination signs a bit better and was able to get him to sit on the potty for his bowel movements (as I found these signs easier to read and he generally went at the same time each day). He enjoyed the positive encouragement so we decided to dive right in. Having not read a single thing on toilet training, I did what I naturally thought was right-
*bought a few pairs of underwear and completely eliminated nappies [diapers] from his repertoire (other than for naptime and bedtime- he’s still in a cot [crib] so it’s not fair to ask him to control his bladder if he can’t get out of the bed to use the toilet)

*reminded and helped him to use the toilet every 2 hours

*toted a potty around with me everywhere for a couple months until he was old enough and secure enough to use an adult sized toilet (at the beginning he was quite scared of large toilet bowls)

*assured him that if he had a funny feeling in his tummy (the urge to have a bowel movement) he could just give a big push and then he would feel better (the initial push often made him a bit uncomfortable and nervous)

*introduced reading books into his toilet routine to get him occupied and comfortable with sitting on the toilet for 5 or 10 minutes at a time

*made sure I always had 2 spare pairs of socks, pants and underwear packed in the nappy [diaper] bag for potential accidents

*constantly reminded him of all the other “big” people he knows that use the toilet

*never acted annoyed, angry, upset or embarrassed if he had an accident, instead kept calm and told him it was okay and we’d just change him

*tried to make the process as stress-free as possible for him

*clapped, cheered and did a little dance after every pee and poo for about 2 1/2 months
It took us about 8 weeks before we got into a groove and four months before he was officially trained. He hasn’t had an accident since the week he turned two. The hardest part was carrying the potty around with me everywhere until he felt comfortable balancing on a large toilet.
Every child is different, but if your child shows readiness before the age of two, it is not so much a challenge for him to toilet train, but for you and his other carers to be committed to the journey. It’s important to be patient and persistent- this is not an overnight change but something that happens over a matter of weeks, and even months. Be prepared to change lots of dirty underwear, and to stay calm no matter how many accidents occur in a day. You need to be willing to commit to the process, as it could be very discouraging, upsetting and confusing for a child if you start and then give up half way through.
I am happy that we took North’s readiness cues onboard for a few reasons- he was fully trained by the time his sister arrived, I only have to wash 2 of his nappies a day (from nap and bedtime) and it has instilled a sense of achievement and pride in him.

Happy flushing!


Make sure to enter the State of Green Giveaway to win a recyclable Three Little Pigs Calafant model.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

our kitchen

The kitchen has been bustling lately as I find we are at home more often in the afternoons and I like to multitask from stove to oven while Indi sleeps on my tummy and North catches bugs and rifles through my urban garden in the back.

As we are experiencing a seasonal transition, our meals have been both warming and cooling depending on the day. Some favourites as of late have been

roast tomato and vegetable soup

quinoa spring salad

wholewheat sugar cookies

All the vegetables are from the organic mixed fruit and vegetable box delivered weekly to our house. I love the taste of Spring.


Make sure to enter the lovely State of Green giveaway if you haven't already!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

tamari roasted seeds and nuts

Handful each of whatever raw seeds and nuts you have around- we used
2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbs tamari (higher quality, better tasting soy sauce you can find at any health food store)

Preheat oven to 220˚C
Line a tray with baking paper
Place seeds and nuts in a bowl with the oil and tamari and mix until well coated
Spread them evenly over the baking tray and let them stand for 10 minutes to dry off a bit
Roast in the oven for around 5 minutes, making sure they're not too close to the grill, and checking on them frequently as nuts and seeds burn very easily
Remove and serve in a bowl

Satisfies every savory tooth, especially accompanied with a cold beer, the newspaper and a bit of afternoon sunshine.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

bill clinton's plant-based diet

Even the heartiest of meat-eaters gives in to the truth sometimes: After having learned that 82% of people since 1986, suffering from severe coronary disease who have adhered to a strictly plant-based diet (essentially vegan) have begun to self-heal, their bodies naturally removing all blockages in the arteries, he gave up all eating meat and dairy and replaced them with plant-based foods.

Although I am vegetarian for more than just selfish reasons, eating a plant-based diet is the best thing you can do for your long-term health. The other day I asked our local GP if I should worry about getting North's iron levels tested, as he has never eaten meat of any kind. The GP looked at me straight-faced and replied, "This is coming from me, an avid meat eater- a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet you can give your child and yourself. As long as he is eating green leafy vegetables and legumes in small amounts on a semi-regular basis, he will never have iron-deficiency as a result of his diet." (Just to note: he was implying that he could still develop iron deficiency later in life from taking certain medications, pregnancy (LOL), illnesses or disorders, but not directly because of his diet).

So, before you dig into those putrefying meat-pies this afternoon during the big game, how about trying a lentil pie instead?


Friday, September 24, 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


Thursday, September 23, 2010

handmade-pants and shorts

my creative space...

I've been making some pants and shorts for a growing boy. These fabrics were bought at the thrift shop for pennies. I love the imitation linen- it's not exactly boy-friendly material, but a little washing powder and sunshine always goes a long way.

For some more creative fun stop by Kirsty's ravishing ruby red place.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the greenest food there is-


No traveling or use of fossil fuels, no refrigeration, no manufacturing, no plastics involved, no animals used, no waste- NO CARBON FOOTPRINT.

True love and utter enjoyment. Sacred precious moments that allow you to slow down, take a breath and appreciate life in it's purest form.

For a reminder about the infinite benefits of breastfeeding click here.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the benefits of babywearing

I wore North around like a Kangaroo carries her young, from the moment he was born until he was too heavy to cope with. But, I knew this time around I would be wearing Indigo even more because I need my hands and time free to chase her big brother around. The beauty of babywearing is that it allows you to continue with your daily rhythm and routine instead of spending endless of amount of time trying to get your baby off to sleep.
In Western society, habitual or frequent babywearing is frowned upon because it is believed that the baby will become too clingy or demanding, however I have found the case to be quite the opposite- North is an extremely independent child who from the age of about 6 months learned to "self-settle" in his cot at night quite happily without me.
Here are some of the benefits of babywearing, as listed on Instinctive Parenting.
  • promotes an intimate connection between parent and baby, and is considered one of the most important factors in the healthy physical, intellectual and social development of infants
  • promotes good digestion which is believed to greatly ease the distressing symptoms of colic and reflux
  • enables the mother to be acutely aware of her baby's cues and signals and heightens her perception of her child's needs
  • reduces crying and fussiness by up to 51%, with parents feeling more competent and nurturing toward their children
  • provides a baby with a rich learning environment where all of their most important needs can be met - food, warmth, love and touch
  • the babies learn more, stimulating brain development and expanding their future learning potential (for example watching while you cook or prepare dinner)
  • provides the exact level and kind of stimulation an infant requires, energizing their nervous system and creating a quiet, calm alertness in the infant
  • helps to develop the muscles needed for the infant to sit, stand and walk
  • babies worn in slings feel safe and secure which helps to foster a solid sense of self
  • offers easy access to the infant's food source - mothers' breast milk, without having to stop or sit down
Indigo also had a lot of those newborn stuffy snuffles and congestion for her first few weeks, and slept and breathed much easier in an upright position as opposed to on her back. We use the hug-a-bub, as well as the baby bjorn. Both are excellent and I especially love the hug-a-bub for younger infants because it is so reminiscent of the womb. The baby Bjorn is great for traveling and outings where the baby will be coming in and our of the carrier and it's easy to put on and take off.

I also have two different sized slings, but I can't seem to get the positioning right because neither of my children like it at all. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to position the baby in it?

Whatever your carrier of choice, don't be afraid to use the carrier to your heart's content. It's not just something to conveniently tote your child around in while you're outside, but a valuable tool for inside the home- whether you want to get the washing done, prepare dinner or simply rock your baby to sleep in the most comforting place she knows- your arms.


Monday, September 20, 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’reinspired 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.

I've really become attached to raisin bread for breakfast as of late. So much so that I decided to get serious with the recipe and play around with it in order to make the perfect mouth-watering loaf. Here's what I've come up with:

Raisin Bread

1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup white flour
1 packet of yeast (7g)
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
30 g butter
140 mL warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup raisins

Mix the all dry ingredients and raisins together in a bowl. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the milk to the saucepan to warm it up. Add the milk, melted butter and egg to the dry ingredients and knead on a floured surface for around 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl and cover with a warm, wet cloth and place somwhere warm for at least 2 hours until the dough has doubled in size. Then, remove the dough from the bowl, knead again and form into either a round loaf or place in a greased/lined bread tin to bake. Bake at 190˚C for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness and shape of the loaf (longer for a rectangular tin and shorter for a round loaf).

Serve with butter or almond butter. Divine!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

loving this space

Milas Daydreams: Beautiful photos taken of a sleeping baby. Her mama sets up the scene around her while she is off with the sandman. Imagine what delight she'll find in these photos later in life. Go have a peek- they're stunning.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

just so you know...

I have been reading and catching up with all of you.

I decided to allow myself the indulgence of reading without commenting, for a while until the dust settles. But I have been to your place, I promise I have. Every person who leaves a comment here is someone I visit quite often. And so, let me show you just some of the fabulous wonders I've been exploring:

I've been eyeing up cute handbags and hats and fringes*** and floral dresses.
I've been giggling at funny qualms with the Batman logo.
I fell in love with a muff and a nana rug and the name Silas.
I've discovered reversible sunhats and how to make calendula cream and mayonnaise and how to control aphids in the garden naturally.
I am constantly struck by the beauty of these sunshine boys captured by their talented mama.
I have found a new place to shop.
I was reminded of why I only eat organic.
I've cheered for a chicken and been envious of dirt patches.
I am waiting to see photos of this woman's new babe and sending congratulations to this pregnant lass.
I've escaped to calm and peaceful moments that capture Spring in all her glory.

And even if I haven't mentioned you here, I promise I have been for a visit. Thank you all for the momentary escapes and bits of inspiration and most of all thank you for your patience with me, and for leaving words of love on this page... even if you haven't heard from me in a while.

***yes, I actually got that fringe!! Thanks for the inspiration Jodi.


Friday, September 17, 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


Thursday, September 16, 2010

[baby gifts]:: use your noodles

I am trying to take a few days off a week to spend purely with family while we get acquainted to our newest addition to the family, Indigo. I have been showered with guest posts from lovely and inspiring bloggers in order to keep this space fresh, creative and insightful. A feel truly blessed to be given such a special present from these talented writers. If you have time, please take a moment to wander through their spaces and say hello.

Use your noodles
with love from Michelle from Hugo and Elsa

Sometimes we have two sittings for weeknight dinners at our house, simply because the Mr isn’t home til late. Cooking two dinners is a bit of chore but I often cook his noodle soup, a favourite with my children, which only takes about 5 minutes. This gives more time to cook something more elaborate and spicy for the adults to eat later.

As long as you have the noodles and soup in the cupboard, you can make the rest with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand. It’s a great stand by recipe to have at your fingertips.

Easy Noodle Soup


Organic soba noodles - I buy these from the supermarket. Each pack has three bundles of noodles and I use one bundle for two small children. I like soba noodles because they contain buckwheat flour which is very nutritious and has a lovely nutty flavour.

Vegetable stock – (I use Spiral Instant Dashi Blue which is made from seaweed and shitake mushrooms which you can pick up at the health food store. It seems pricey, about $12 a pack, but that will makes 20 serves of this soup). But you could use any of your favourite stock or stock cubes (I like the massel brand) but if you’re using cubes, just watch for saltiness.

1 cup of vegetables made up of broccoli florets, matchstick carrots, sugar snaps, sliced mushrooms, peas or whatever vegetables you have on hand.

A handful of diced tofu or sliced Chinese omelette

  • Cook noodles as directed on pack, drain and divide between two serving bowls.
  • Meanwhile, measure 2 cups of water (or stock) into a small saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Add ½ packet of dashi stock. Season to taste with a few drops of soy sauce. I might add a few slices of ginger and garlic for extra flavour to the broth and remove before serving.
  • Add vegetables and tofu if using and simmer for up to a minute depending on the vegetables. They should stay crunchy.
  • Check the seasoning again, adding more soy if required and some mirin and sesame oil. Divide the vegetables and tofu onto the noodles and pour soup over the top. Top with omelette strips. Allow the soup to cool a little before serving
  • Best enjoyed with loud slurping noises.
Thank you Michelle for sharing this yummy heart and body warming recipe. We all need ideas like this up our sleeves when we're struggling for time and want to prepare a hearty home cooked meal.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

[baby gifts]:: learning to read

I am try
ing to take a few days off a week to spend purely with family while we get acquainted to our newest addition to the family, Indigo. I have been showered with guest posts from lovely and inspiring bloggers in order to keep this space fresh, creative and insightful. A feel truly blessed to be given such a special present from these talented writers. If you have time, please take a moment to wander through their spaces and say hello.

learning to read
with love from catherine at a time to create

It has been some time since my oldest daughter learnt to read and now it has come time for my youngest daughter to start her journey to reading. I thought I would do some extra reading on the subject which is a vital skill for her future learning. Here are some of the important points I discovered to help develop and encourage reading development in children.
  • Read to children from before birth. Babies learn language even before they are born. As they listen to sounds from such an early age they are able to identify familiar voices and they grasp the variances in phonics, learning simple phonemes like bah, pah and dah.
  • It has been said that reading aloud to children when they are young enables their language skills to develop in an accelerated manner. Engaging them in meaningful, happy and thoughtful conversations when reading helps to develop brain concentration and sharpen their thinking abilities. And the importance of reading aloud doesn’t stop when children are small, the benefits to reading aloud when children are older are invaluable.
  • When reading to children have fun! Getting involved in the story and being a good story teller engages children’s attention and provides a love and enjoyment of reading.
  • Get children used to print in a variety of mediums. This can be in the form of catalogues, cereal boxes, signs, billboards, postcards etc. Children who are exposed to a variety of print are still learning to read and are also discovering why we read. At home a simple idea I have used is to write signs, laminate them and stick them above the items they relate to e.g. door, kitchen etc., simple but effective.
  • Reading a book repetitively is also an excellent way to build upon their reading skills. Children are better able to predict the text when they are familiar with the book.
  • Provide books with rhyming words and also sing nursery rhymes, not only are they fun and have predictable text, it also allows them to recognise words with common sounds. When reading, direct children to rhyming words and encourage them to make up their own, even if they don’t make sense. Getting an understanding of what makes a rhyming word is what’s most important.
  • Look at letters individually when reading, is another way to encourage reading development. A fun game may be to choose a letter and find as many words that start with that letter.
Reading aloud to children regularly is the most important way to open up their world to lifelong learning. Enjoy the experience with your child, read often and consistently, the benefits will be rewarding for both of you. If you want to read more information on the subject “Reading Magic” by Mem Fox is an excellent read.

Thank you Meagan for having me at ecoMILF.
Thank you Catherine for these tips and insight. There is nothing better than the gift of reading and storytelling. This is a wonderful introduction for parents who are embarking on this new and exciting adventure with their little ones!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

[baby gifts]:: homemade muesli

I am try
ing to take a few days off a week to spend purely with family while we get acquainted to our newest addition to the family, Indigo. I have been showered with guest posts from lovely and inspiring bloggers in order to keep this space fresh, creative and insightful. I feel truly blessed to be given such a special present from these talented writers. If you have time, please take a moment to wander through their spaces and say hello.

Homemade Muesli
with love from Kristi from Giggles Down Under

2/3 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 c. raw cashews (chopped into pieces)
1/2 c. slivered almonds
7 cups of rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
mix the above in large bowl and set aside

1/4 cup butter
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. sesame oil
1 tsp. vanilla
heat butter, oil, and honey until butter is melted, remove from heat and add vanilla, pour over raw ingredients in bowl, stir till well mixed & coated. spread on cookie sheet bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Let cool and add in 1 cup of currents.

This is actually a family recipe. It is delicious with milk or yogurt for breakfast, and makes an amazing snack for little ones.


Thank you so much Kristi for this crunchy and delicious recipe. It's just the power house breakfast every growing child and breastfeeding mama needs!!


Monday, September 13, 2010

our birth story

[note: I refer to contractions as “waves” or “rushes” because this is how they felt to me.]

I expected you early and you came oh so late- the day before I was to be induced in fact. Luckily your big brother, who was born 30-something hours after my waters broke, had prepared me for a long wait. I had my first rush at around 9pm on a Saturday, each one was a good 12-15 minutes apart, but I knew from the first that these were no braxton hicks. Your Dada and I watched,Stranger Than Fiction, called the hospital and told them to expect me at some point during the night and then and went to bed. I knew this time it was important to conserve my energy and rest. I was amazed at how deeply I could sleep in between the intensity of my rushes. When one began I would wake up, breathe through it and go right back to sleep. By 6am the next morning I had had enough lying down and was eager to get things going so I suggested that Dada, North and I go for a brisk march along the beach. It was a cool crisp day, but the sun was shining. I stopped every so often through a wave and focused on my breathing and above all else, staying calm and relaxed. When we arrived home the boys headed to the park while I stayed behind in the safety and comfort of our bedroom. I felt sleepy and dopey, so I decided to have a little nap even though I knew this might keep things going slowly. This was the best decision I could have made. I actually listened to my body and what it needed instead of trying to figure out what I should have been doing to help labour to progress. When the boys came home I nibbled on half a sandwich and drank some rasberry leaf tea and hung out in the bedroom for a little while longer. After North’s nap, I decided we’d better go for another walk if I wanted my rushes to get closer together and if I wanted my waters to break any time soon. So we set off to the playground on our last outing as three. Every so often your brother would ask, “What you doing, Mama?” as I leaned over the pram and huffed and puffed. Dada told him you were coming soon and that I was just feeling a little funny in my tummy.
I felt inspired to pick a few flowers on the way, as many wise women had suggested to use them for visualization. I trekked around a footy field a few times gripping onto the little stems for strength and gazing down at the colourful petals. With every wave I imagined my uterus blossoming and growing. At times I truly believed that this technique was working and I could feel myself opening up. When we got home everything felt more intense. The rushes were much closer together, perhaps 5 or 6 minutes. It was now 5pm on Sunday. Dada gave North some dinner and got him ready for bed while I knelt on the floor against the bed slipping and sliding on my knees for the duration of each rush. Long, deep exhales helped me to get through each wave and I often reminded myself to rest in between rushes. I calmly welcomed each contraction with the knowledge that they were bringing you closer to me. At one point I panicked and began to wonder whether I could give birth without an epidural or some form of pain relief and then I remembered Ina May's advice about the power of words. In the privacy of my bedroom as I writhed around the floor I said outloud to myself, “ I can do this, I can do this.” At around 6 o’clock my waters broke. We called Grandma and Papa and told them to hurry. We tucked North in, gave him a big kiss and told him he’d have a special breakfast in the morning with your Grandparents. They walked in as we shut his bedroom door. I slid down against the wall and breathed through another big wave. They were now only minutes away from each other. We got to the hospital in under ten minutes and walked up to the labour ward, it was 6:45pm. The midwives were waiting for me when we arrived, questions were asked and then after what seemed like ages they checked my progress- I was 6 cm dilated and during contractions was stretching as far as 8. I was emotional, moving from calm lucid moments to a wild animal-like state. I tried to ask the midwife how long she thought I had to go, as I was again doubting my ability to go on. She asked me if I had the urge to push and I replied desperately, “Kind of... but I don’t know how.” And right then as another wave took over me I let out a monstrous roar and my whole body took over and I gave a huge push and out popped your entire head! The midwives were now scrambling around trying to prepare everything for your arrival in time. With the next contraction your shoulders came out, and the next your legs and feet. I only pushed three times. You were born one hour after we arrived at the hospital, at 7:55pm.
You rooted your way to my breast right away and suckled for over an hour. I pushed out the placenta with ease and two hours later I had a shower and ate an egg salad sandwich. I had no tears, no stitches and no wires or cords attached to my wrists. I have never felt so alive, I have never felt more proud of myself, and I have never felt more feminine. I felt so connected with our Mother Earth and to every other Mother who has ever given birth. Thank you my daughter. Thank you so much, for giving me this gift. It will stay with me forever- you have taught me a great lesson- to love and trust my body, to listen and learn from it. I truly wish that every Mother could experience childbirth the way I did that evening, because after all is said and done, it really honestly feels so right and so good.