Saturday, December 31, 2011

23 and 1/2 hours: the single best thing you can do for your health

Before you start making elaborate New Years resolutions that involve the gym, classes, diet plans etc. Take a look at this video lecture by Dr. Mike Evans.

Simple yet effective and shocking that a huge number of us don't incorporate that 30 minutes into our daily life.

Friday, December 30, 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

Thursday, December 29, 2011


We've been in Melbourne enjoying the company of family and friends. It's been a lovely week with a magical ending at one of my favourite family attractions- The Collingwood Children's Farm.

Hoping you're enjoying some time with your nearest and dearest too!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

our summer urban garden

There's a whole lot happening in our summer urban garden. Unfortunately, the zucchini and yellow squash I planted from seed flourished in the beginning, but became too waterlogged from all of the Sydney rain. The male and female flowers just weren't working together and we ended up with a lot of tiny, stunted, slightly yellow fruit. In the end we decided to pull all of the plants to make room for some other veggies (which I have yet to plant...).

The yellow and purple beans (both of which taste just like green beans, and turn green when you steam of blanch them, but are fun just the same) are almost at the end of their fruition. Notice the green tomatoes in this photo, picked early courtesy of Indigo. She's really a great help, as you can see!
There are tons of tomatoes! I took the lazy man's method to raising tomatoes- don't pick the stems and train the plant... just add more stakes and pin up all the vines that grow! One of our plants is taller than the fence going over to our neighbours and has 25-30 tomatoes on it right now. 
We also have lots of silver beet and rainbow chard left over from the winter months, along with some cos lettuce, endives and kale. Our herb garden is also bountiful, except for the basil which I still can't seem to keep away from the slugs. They leave every other herb alone and always go straight for the basil!
And at the side of the house next to the garbage bins (!) appeared a beautiful Hydrangea in flower. I just couldn't let those beautiful blooms go to waste sitting in a corner where no one can enjoy them, so we have been cutting them and bringing them inside to enjoy in vases around the house. 

How's your garden growing this summer? Have you had some successes and some failures? Any green thumb tips you have to share? And what does one do with green tomatoes? I'd love to know, as I have a sneaking suspicion there will be more to come over the next few months!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Birthday Mama!

Happy Birthday to my Mum, pictured here demonstrating her water trampoline skills to her grandchildren. Young in heart, mind and body. I love you so much and wish we could all be with you on your special day.

Thinking of you and miss you more than words can say.
xx m.

Monday, December 26, 2011

roast pumpkin dip

Are you in the thick of holiday entertaining and tired of cheese and crackers? Enter this deliciously rich and healthy roast pumpkin and cashew dip. Perfect for afternoon entertaining, as a mid morning snack or smeared on a wrap and topped with cheese and veggies. A sure hit with toddlers, children and adults.

1/4 large pumpkin (1/2 jap)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of cashews

Chop pumpkin into cubes, drizzle with olive oil and toss with spices and salt. 
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes until tender and slightly golden around the edges. 
Place roast pumpkin into a food processor with garlic clove and cashews.
Blend until smooth.
Add more salt and olive oil if desired.
Serve with cashews and coriander (I only had parsley!) on top. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

love, joy, peace and grace

We are spending the morning catching up with friends in Melbourne and the afternoon in quiet and mindful preparation for tomorrow. This evening I'll tell The Christmas Story one more time, only it will end this time with the Prince of Peace being born. North is really looking forward to celebrating Jesus' birthday. Before bed we'll write Santa a note, leave out a carrot and some homemade cookies and above all else we'll be sure to give thanks for the family, friends, food and gifts we'll enjoy tomorrow and say a prayer of peace.

Merry Christmas to you all. May your day be filled with love, joy, peace and grace. I won't be posting tomorrow, but instead linger in each moment for as long as possible.

xo m.

Friday, December 23, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. [Two p]hoto[s] - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.- soulemama


The following day we tore the house down with friends and distributed pieces amongst the families. Ever since North saw a photo of a gingerbread house months ago he has been asking to build one, which I was all for. But the sugar high associated with it is not something I wanted to experience. A little piece for everyone and there was happiness all around.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

from him to her with love

About 60-70% of the gifts we are giving this year are handmade- preserves, peppermint and cranberry-orange bark, gingerbread cookies, clothing, costumes and small soft toys- to name a few. 

I wanted to get North involved in the gift-giving process. He made Dada a pen and pencil holder out of glass, tissue paper and glue; he helped make ornaments for friends and family; helped me bake in the kitchen and most beautiful of all he strung together a felted ball necklace to give to his sister. Originally I intended for him to wet felt the balls, but time without Indigo around and in the thick of it is sparse so instead I needle felted the balls one evening and North strung them together the following day. 
He's very proud of all the gifts he makes and gives, but when Christmas comes and he hands Indi this little present I just know it will be a very special moment between. I look forward to seeing it soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

out with the old in preparation for the new

As much as I have tried to minimise the number of presents we give to the children at Christmas time and as much as Grandparents have tried to do the same, I am starkly aware that there will be a good number of new toys entering the children's little playspace in no time at all.

In preparation for the incoming excitement and in honour of the giving spirit, Saint Nicholas, on the 6th of December North and I went through the playroom and carefully placed a great number of our preloved toys into a bag to give away to charity. As I suspected, North was actually quite good about giving up his things- because no matter how hard we try to keep things minimal, he still has more toys than he knows what to do with. In the bag went an assortment of matchbox cars, trains, stuffed animals, games, puzzles and anything else which I didn't think would be suitable to save for Indigo.

We are now left with a beautifully clear space with only a few play things, many open-ended toys and a lot of room for imaginative and imitative play.
Inside the toy box are some wooden tools and a tool belt, a couple boardgames, wooden car tracks and some cars, his crane and some large wooden trucks. If he wants to play with these they can be easily removed, but generally cars, roads and construction aren't quite at his level of play yet. He often lines the vehicles up and then isn't quite sure where to go from there. The play he loves and spends most of his time doing is dressing up as animals, heroes and Santa (with his muslin cloths), building forts, houses and sleighs with chairs and blankets, playing shops, making tea for me and his dolls and building farms, houses and castles with his blocks.
I am sure I will have to pare the playspace down again in the New Year after I have observed him for a few weeks and am aware of what he is naturally drawn to and what he ignores. Then some of the toys will be packed away for a few months and others will be given away.
In my opinion it is better to have a few special and open-ended toys that they play with frequently than a whole lot of toys that are rarely played with and become nothing but clutter to the eye and the environment.

Are you preparing your child's space for the arrival of new things? How do you keep things, neat, inspiring, manageable and enticing for your little ones?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

crafting the christmas story

Each night of advent after indigo has been fed to sleep, North and I (and Brad if he's home) light a candle and tell a story about Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem. The first few nights I just told a simple version of this Christmas story beginning with Gabriel's news and ending with the birth of Jesus. But now, each night I make a story up about the daily events, trials and challenges Mary and Joseph might have faced on their long journey. One night they had to cross a big river ad after nearly being carried away by the current, they camped on the other side of the bank and Joseph was  lucky enough to catch a fish for dinner. Another night they heard a slithering sound amongst the cacti next to their camp and a great snake had to scared off with their torches. One evening they stopped in a town and had dinner with the local King and Queen, enjoying the luxury of a warm, soft bed, fresh water and fruit. the stories are simple and I try to appeal to North's interests while also highlighting the struggles and sacrifices they may have experienced, but overcame, along the way. Not until Christmas Eve will the blessed baby be born in the stable in Bethlehem. Joining Mary, Joseph and the Donkey will be a chicken, a sheep and some Shepherds. I'm not sure yet how I'll incorporate the Three Wise Men into the tale this year.
North loves oral stories, especially when they are accompanied with little props and toys to help him visualise and focus. We bought our Steiner inspired Mary and Joseph at the local Steiner school, our donkey and other farm animals are lovingly made by Linda from Mamma4Earth.  At the very beginning of the season I stitched and stuffed the Angel, Gabriel who brings blessings and miracles to our stories from time to time, and who will make a glorious appearance on Christmas Eve when Jesus is born. 

Perhaps next year I'll add the Three Wise Men to this simple nativity scene. Sitting quietly in the evenings sewing these little dolls was a wonderful way to get into the handmade Christmas groove. It also brought me to a spiritual, grateful and festive place that I haven't visited for many years. I have mentioned off and on throughout this blog that we are not a particularly religious family, but I am deeply spiritual and believe it is very important to honour and teach the origins of the holidays we celebrate. I hope to teach my children a sense of wonder, respect and awe when it comes to a Higher Being or 'The Source' as I like to call it. I think these qualities can taught through all of the major religion's stories, customs and teachings.

Luke 1:26-38 
King James Version
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." 
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

asparagus with boiled egg and toasted crumbles

You can find the recipe for Asparagus with Boiled Egg and Toasted Crumbles from one of my favourite Australian cookbooks, The Sustainable Table, over at the Kindred Gifts Blog today. This is a simple yet sophisticated breakfast or brunch, perfect for holiday house guests! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

homemade salt dough ornaments

These salt dough ornaments have been a real work in progress. One day was spent simply making the salt dough and playing with it, another was spent cutting out shapes and drying them slowly in the oven. We finally painted a few and strung them up on our tree. There are still many left- I thought I'd like to paint a few myself in a moment of quiet and solitude. That moment hasn't revealed itself yet, but I am happy to safe keep the blank ones in a box until next year. 

For a basic salt dough recipe see this past post. I decreased the amount of oil and increased the salt called for to ensure they are dry and preserved for a long time.

Bake the shapes in an oven at 150-160˚C for at least an hour. Then flip them over and bake for another hour until dry all the way through. Let them cool and then paint!

In anticipation of the question- our adorable Santa candle is from Queen B Candles. He's been a jolly and festive addition to the kitchen table this month.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

{piqued picks}

Piqued picks- a weekend meme. Links to articles, tutorials, recipes, videos, music... that have piqued my interest this week and made my heart go pitter patter. Feel free to share anything you found inspiring or noteworthy this week in the comments section or link to your own blog's piqued picks.

From Lusa Organics, beautiful and truthful words I strive to live by: A Peaceful Parenting Mission Statement.
A hopeful story about sharing culture, history and crossing colour lines. From the Tyee- Poetry's Power to Connect Young to Old.
Everything you instinctively knew in your heart- stop feeling guilty about attending to their every need. From Psychology Today- The Dangers of 'Crying it Out'.
A huge inspiration to us all, truth seeker, truth speaker, a modern day genius and hero-  Noam Chomsky: Crisis and Hope: Theirs and Ours.

Friday, December 16, 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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

vegan gingerbread

An oldie, but a goodie.
1/2 cup rapadura sugar
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp bi-carb
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup ricemilk
2 1/4 cups spelt flour
Preheat the oven to 170˚
Mix the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, bi-carb and salt in a large bowl. Add the molasses and soymilk and mix well.
Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Mix in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough.
Roll a portion of the dough out onto a floured surface with rolling pin to 1cm thickness. Cut into shapes.
Transfer the cookies to the baking trays lined with baking paper.
Check after 8-9 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking sheet for 5 minutes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

homemade disinfectant spray

Since we started cooking with meat on the weekends, I have become a bit more wary about the cleanliness of the kitchen- especially countertops. I am quite sure It would only take one case of salmonella to turn me off of animal products. After handing, cutting, basting (etc.) raw meat I usually wipe down the countertops with a wet and soapy dishcloth. Then I throw that dishcloth in our ragbag for washing, spray the surfaces down with our homemade disinfectant and wipe clean with a new cloth. A little excessive? I'm not sure, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!

1 cup of water
1/4 cup of white vinegar
20-30 drops tea tree oil

Store ingredients together in a spray bottle
Should keep for up to 3 months before the oil starts going funny.

*image of the tea tree plant from here*

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

for the love of reading...

It's moments like these that I rejoice in raising my children tv-free. Amidst the morning chores- sweeping, laundry, cleaning the dishes... they independently toddled over to their reading corner to read a book. These reading sessions are often initiated by Indigo with North soon following her lead and staying curled up in front of a book much longer than her.

Neither of them can really read. As you can see Indigo has a very simple picture book that she is reading upside down and I'm not sure Winnie the Pooh constitutes quality reading. But deeper inside this picture I see (what I hope is) the beginnings of a passion for reading. Books instill and foster the desire to learn, absorb, escape, imagine, dream and wonder.

I'm not saying children who watch TV or play on their parents iPhones or iPads don't read books, but I do wonder how often this precious time is replaced with a screen, without parents even being aware of the switch.

Sitting still, quietly, focusing and enjoying the wonder of book is something that needs to be practiced and I fear that too many children today are denied the chance to practice reading as often as they might like if given half the chance.