Thursday, June 30, 2011

the great outdoors

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, getting outdoors with my toddler makes a world of difference to his attitude, happiness and energy levels. Before we left for Canada our rhythm wasn't exactly slow and steady. We were running around trying to get some errands done and it was bucketing with rain in Sydney. We were spending between an hour to three hours outside each day- not nearly enough for my growing boy. And with this lack of fresh air came irritability, mood swings, fatigue, aggression and many meltdowns. Of course, it's not just the lack of outdoor activity that affected him, but I am confident this had a large deal to do with it.

Since we arrived in Canada he has spent a minimum of 3 hours outdoors a day, most days 6-8 hours, and it is as if I have a new child. He roams, he climbs, he hikes, he explores and soaks up everything that Mother Nature has to offer. He is using his whole body - carrying firewood, climbing hills, kicking in the water, squatting while he examines a bug on the ground. He's not forever circling on his balance bike at the local park (not that this is necessarily bad, just unchallenging after a while).

As I said to Kristi, "there is fluidity and grace in his movements. He is more quiet and content. There is something in the earth and the trees that feeds him like nothing else". I am so grateful for this time outdoors, breathing the fresh air, exploring the wonders of nature... and I think he is too.

xo m.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

italian-inspired pumpkin, spinach and navy bean stew

This is one of our favourite family meals and satisfies the hunger of meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. It's wonderful because it can be made through all the seasons switching pumpkin for squash or sweet potato; fresh tomatoes for canned ones and spinach for kale or swiss chard.

The recipe is really loose as I made it up completely and generally cook by feel as opposed to measuring everything out.

1 large squash or pumpkin, cut into big bite-sized chunks
4 medium tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
vegetable stock
red wine
handful of black and green olives pitted and roughly chopped
1-2 tbs brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
dry or fresh thyme, oregano, basil
2 cups cooked and drained navy or cannellini beans
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach

Roast the tomatoes in the oven at 200˚ for 15 minutes, remove from oven, peel skins and roughly chop
Pour olive oil into large pan and saute garlic until just golden
Add chopped and peeled tomatoes and herbs, sugar, salt and pepper
Stir and continue to saute for 5 minutes
Add pumpkin and cover with 3/4 vegetable stock to 1/4 red wine
Add olives
Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered until pumpkin is soft then remove lid and continue to simmer so that it becomes thick and stewy
Add beans and chopped spinach last until bright green
Remove from heat and serve

You can top it with ricotta or parmasean cheese for extra flavour. Enjoy with a sliced baguette for dipping.

Serves approx. 3-4 adults.

xo m.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

a gnome home

North discovered a 'gnome home' today. Complete with toadstool table, pinecone lounge chairs, a pine needle broom, chopped wood for the fireplace, a flower petal bed with moss pillow and a fern canopy. We'll check on it every so often to see if we can get a peek at the gnome who lives there. It looks like he worked very hard on his little home...

xo m.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

≈ these days ≈

These past few days have been rainy and overcast, but so calm. It's taking a while to get adjusted to the time change and to find the balance and rhythm in each day, especially when everything is so new and exciting for the wee ones. I have watched their entire universe open up and expand each and every moment since we've been here.

But for me there is peace and comfort. The smell of pines, the sound of the lake lapping against the dock, the warmth of a fireplace... it feels so good to be home and to be living and sharing these memories with my own babies.

Oh, Canada!

xo m.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

a song for your saturday

xo m.

PS. NATALIE please contact me you won the Sustainababy giveaway- if I haven't heard from you by Monday I might need to redraw!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

{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

We've arrived! Now to conquer the jetlag- not much sleep the past couple nights! Have a beautiful weekend.

xo m.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

garage sale goodness

I saw a sign up for a garage sale very close to where we found our precious dollhouse, and I just knew we had to go. Good call, Mama because we scored this gorgeous pine rocking horse for $10!!! Indigo just adores it and so does North. We brought it home, sanded, cleaned and buffed it up with beeswax. We learned from playgroup, when the children are having trouble taking turns, to sing "Ride a Cock Horse" once (sometimes twice) through and then to switch. Works a treat.

xo m.

PS. I assure you I don't dress my children this kookily usually- North was in his pajamas (and Indi's socks) and we were all low on clothes as everything was packed for our trip when I took these photos. Just a vain little sidenote.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a felt crown for a prince

He's been really into playing Princes and Princesses of late so I decided to try my hand at a felt crown. It is hand-stitched which is so much easier than using a machine when little ones are toddling about. I used an old shiny gold button and some felt shapes and fabric glue for the embellishments. The back is sewn together with elastic to make it adjustable.

He loves to waltz around as if he's the King of the castle... with or without the crown.

xo m.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

winter urban garden

We are in the air now flying "home" to Canada, but before we switch seasons I thought you might like a peak at the winter urban garden. We did plant some potatoes, so we'll see how they're faring when we get home. There are radishes and lettuce in the planter and sage, mint, rosemary , parsley and chives in the herb garden.

the very beginnings of pumpkin

the very beginnings of blueberries





the wattle trees above the garden- hence all the yellow fuzz on the earth.

It will be lovely to see how all of these plants have grown when we return in 8 weeks... I look forward to sharing that harvest with you then.

xo m.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

to canada

On Tuesday morning Indigo, North and I are jet-setting to LA and then through to Toronto. We're basically packed, our carry-ons are organised and carefully planned, I have every natural calming remedy known to man, snacks, new toys that have never been played with and an iPad which should really make a difference considering North is tv-free at home so any form of screen-time is a serious treat and addiction for him.

I am flying alone with the little ones, Brad will meet us there in five weeks. We are going to miss him more than we can imagine. It's the longest any of us have ever gone without him. In Canada we will spend the majority of our time at a family cottage beside a big lake surrounded by trees. I am so looking forward to this retreat.

North travelling with me over a year ago. My, how he's changed!

I will still be blogging each day- this week I have a few posts already planned and I hope to start blogging live again by Friday once we're a bit more settled.

If you have any last minute tips on flying long-haul with a toddler and baby I am all ears. I have a back-post about travelling with a little one, but that was with one child not two. I am pretty overwhelmed and nervous. It' s going to be a huge juggling act. I just plan to take it moment by moment.

Catch you all on the flip side- we'll be sharing lots of summer sunshine and activities from that side of the world.

xo m.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

words to live by

Was sorting through some things and came across a print out of this in an old wallet:

"Express love and kindness in words and actions in dealing with others.
Express compassion in your actions toward those who are suffering physically or emotionally.
Anything that comes to you should be received as a gift from providence.
Do not hoard things that are not required.
Give away things to those who are in need.
Keep busy in selfless service.
Reduce your needs to a minimum.
Avoid reading books or participating in discussions that are contrary to your self-developement.
Do not indulge in any action that may cause harm to others in any form, indirectly or directly.
Look for good qualities in others, rather than looking for their shortcomings.
Do not get involved in unnecessary talks.
Do not expect praise for your good actions.
Anger, hate, and jealousy appear in the mind by comparing oneself with others. They should be replaced by love toward others.
Be humble and give respect to others.
Ask for forgiveness of any undesired actions, done knowingly or unknowingly.
Perform your duties toward your family, society and country with pure and selfless intent.
Do not let laziness or dullness control your mind.
Be honest to others as well as to yourself.
Be firm in your spiritual convictions."

- Baba Hari Dass, A Master of Astanga Yoga

xo m.

Friday, June 17, 2011

{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 m.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

egg-free/dairy-free banana bread

Perfect with a hot cup of tea on these very wet Sydney days.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole spelt flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp bi-carb
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup soy milk
4 ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla

dairy-free chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients
Combine wet ingredients
Add wet to dry and mix, then add walnuts
Pour into a greased/lined baking pan or muffin tin
Top with chocolate chips
Bake in 180˚C oven for 25-30 minutes for a loaf or 15-20 minutes for muffins
Ready when you can remove a toothpick clean

xo m.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

the simple things

wool yarn
a felted ball
a wooden rattle
a popsicle stick
felt scraps
metal spoons
a wooden fork
wooden spools
a felt gnome
a cloth rag doll
a knit chicken

..It's the simple things.

xo m.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the price paid for a little peace and quiet

As many of you know we have been tv-free for over a year now. When others discover we are a tv-free family they often ask how I ever get anything done. I think when your child has gone without a screen for entertainment for a long period of time they don't know anything different and can always find something to occupy themselves (at least up until a certain age). North has never been 'bored', although he asks me to play with him sometimes. If I take a moment to engage in his play and then exit quietly he can usually play independently for quite some time (unless Indigo is bothering him). I also prescribe to idle parenting (to a certain extent). I know many wouldn't be comfortable leaving their almost 3-year-old in the garden unattended. Don't get me wrong, I check on him often and can usually hear him talking and singing but I don't feel the need to be right beside him anymore. Sometimes I think he plays most beautifully when I am out of sight and mind.

And so, this is what North spent the majority of this morning doing: digging, building, pushing, hauling and dumping in the garden. He's actually right on top of the potato bed but I don't think he dug deep enough to disturb anything.

It was dirty, wet and cold and it was absolute heaven to him. He always manages to take his shoes off but keep his socks on outside. I've learned to live with it. I ran a bath when it was time to come in for lunch, scrubbed his nails in soapy hot water and dressed him in some warm, dry clothes before sitting down to some hot soup. Before I put him down for his nap he begged to be allowed to do some more digging in the afternoon...hmmmm... the price for a little peace and quiet.

xo m.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

frugal, green and delicious

As a child, one of my favourite parts about carving the pumpkin at Halloween was roasting the pumpkin seeds and enjoying their salty goodness.

When you buy 1/2 or even a 1/4 pumpkin make sure to go to the effort of saving those delicious seeds. You'll get more value for your money, more nutrients and there will be less waste left over.

Heat oven to 180˚C
Clean seeds and pat dry
Toss them in a bit of oil and salt to them
Cover a baking sheet with baking paper and put them on top
Bake for 3-5 minutes until dry and very slightly golden

Enjoy on salads, on top of soups or as a delicious snack that satisfies any salt and crunch craving.

xo m.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Yin and Yang of Montessori and Waldorf in Early Childhood Education

I came across this article from Common Ground Magazine, and thought many of you would be intrigued and interested: "The Yin and Yang of Montessori and Waldorf in Early Childhood Education". Click on photos and zoom in to enlarge or click on links for larger printable version of pages.

Friday, June 10, 2011

{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 m.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

a little squirrel

We are going 'home' to Canada very soon for seven weeks of the Canadian summer! Although we'll miss Brad dearly (he'll only join us for the last couple weeks), I am beside myself with excitement about seeing my family and friends and sharing some of my own North American childhood memories and experiences with my little ones. We will be spending the majority of time at the family cottage on the edge of a big placid lake surrounded by rock faces and forests. To mark the occasion, I sewed up a little red squirrel that will join us on the journey overseas. There are many red squirrels and chipmunks at the cottage so it won't be long before North sees a real one.

The pattern is from Bear Dance Crafts if you're interested.

xo m.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

teach your children well

A mentor (guru, really) and friend of mine, Katie Manitsas is the fabulous Director of Jivamukti Yoga School in Sydney. She recently wrote a beautiful article for Australian Yoga Journal entitled "Teach Your Children Well: Mothers of young children can use yoga's lessons as a guide to help them be calm, compassionate and open to all that parenting brings."

I felt very humbled (and excited!!!) to be interviewed for this piece, thank you to Katie for thinking of me. There are lots of other inspiring, wholesome and informative articles in this edition. If you're interested you can pick it up at most Australian newstands. If you're a yogi (or potential yogi) who lives in Sydney please check out the Jivamukti Yoga Studios (there are currently 4 studios to choose from). This yoga style speaks to and nourishes every aspect of my being.

xo m.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

our winter nature table

Welcome, King Winter.

Finger puppet snow animals, snowflake fairies and blue doll made by moi (grin). Knit sheep from the ever-gorgeous shop mamma4earth.

xo m.