Wednesday, February 29, 2012

tutorial: beatrix potter inspired mouse

When we went out bushwalking recently we came home with pockets full of nature's treasures and I had crafting in mind. The She-Oak (Casuarina) cones were just calling to be made into small forest creatures.

North has been thoroughly enjoying our set of classic Beatrix Potter stories every evening. One of his favourite tales is that of Mrs. Tittlemouse who becomes very cross when a bumblebee and toad make quite a mess of her usually very clean home.

And so, a little tiny, Beatrix Potter inspired, bonnet-wearing mouse was born.

Felt- for bonnet, nose and ears
a She-Oak (Casuarina) Cone
pink embroidery thread
glue and glue gun
thread and needle

Cut a small triangle out and glue or sew her little bonnet on
Sew two little round ears on top of the bonnet
Glue a black nose to her front
Plait (braid) some pink thread and glue it to her bottom

Later on in the evening I made a bumblebee with yellow strips  of felt that I glued onto the cone and two white round pieces of felt for wings. I think there are many more animals where this came from...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

let the children play

We had a few extra little feet in our home this weekend while some good friends of ours moved house. Everything went as smoothly and peacefully as it could with 4 children scampering in and out all day long. It was actually too easy, I started to think I could actually handle another child in our midst... oh my!

The children we looked after also come from a TV-free home and it was just beautiful to see them all playing without ever once stopping to think there might be something more entertaining to do. Not once did they ever stop to say, "I'm bored" or ask to be entertained by us or a machine. One by one they wandered over to the couch to read books if they were tired, but mostly they played in the backyard, contentedly, the entire day. The eldest of the group initiated the making of a compost heap. I had a good chuckle with Brad, as children's play so often imitates adults and wasn't it wonderful and telling (and humorous) that making compost had become so intriguing that he wanted to have a go?

Of course, when you think about it, what child wouldn't want to make a compost heap? Just look at the fun that was had!

Monday, February 27, 2012

homemade natural cream cleanser

Lately, our poor little refrigerator has been threatened with warnings of gumtree classified ads. Brad often complains that it is too small and that we need to get a new one. I agree, it is tiny, and really not ideal for a family but it has served us well over the years and I hate to give up on something that is functioning perfectly well.  To me, it still looks new (other than a few cracks here and there). I have mentioned before that I am a bit obsessive about keeping a clean house and the fridge is no exception. It is casually wiped down once a week and meticulously cleaned once every three. 

Here's how we keep our beloved fridge shiny:

¼ cup bicarb soda
1/2 cup hot water
6 drops essential oil (I usually use peppermint)

Mix all 3 ingredients together to form a (very) wet paste
Scrub the paste into the entire refrigerator including drawers and sides (you may wish to remove these to make things easier)
Rinse with a wet cloth until clean

This can serve as a multi-purpose cream cleanser for stovetops, sinks and appliances. Just scrub on and then wipe clean. You can also wipe clean with vinegar for a very finished shine.

Friday, February 24, 2012

carving a space for me

Although I have never been a morning person, I am determined to carve a space for myself in the wee hours before anyone in the house stirs. It's always been difficult to do this- I have early risers- the entire house is in full swing by 6:15 most mornings. So, to get a good hour of peace and quiet I need to be out of bed at 5. Now that Indigo is officially sleeping through the night (insert the sound of angels singing!) I feel I finally have the energy and motivation to wake up and greet the day while the sun is still coming up.

The plan is to do any of the following things during my hour or so of peace:
drink tea
blog plan and write
menu plan
update and review to do list
review calendar
listen to the news/radio
read the paper
practice yoga
go for a walk (in the lighter months)
set goals, write down ideas/inspiration
have a long bath or shower and pamper myself
put a load of laundry on

I am going to try to avoid these tasks:
(simply because I can do them either the night before or while the children are playing before breakfast)
write/read emails
pack lunches
start breakfast
surf Facebook
hang laundry
fold clothes

I find I am so much more calm, present and graceful throughout the day if I allow myself the time to start with inner reflection and a quiet cup of tea. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

a salad each day

One of the intentions I set when I started Heather's Whole Food Kitchen was to increase the number of vegetables I eat in a day. I know I probably eat more veg than most, but I personally saw room to replace crackers, snacks and smoothies with greens and raw vegetables. Some mornings we have avocado and tomato with our eggs, others we have a whole selection of veggies piled into our omelette, and sometimes I make smoothies for breakfast using a handful of kale or spinach. But lunch is usually slim pickings for me. I am tired, the kids are napping and I just want to start prepping dinner and maybe answer a few emails before they're up and at full speed again. I don't usually have 'lunch', I just kind of nibble here and there on a piece of cheese, a few crackers and some fruit (leftovers are always given to kids or Brad and there just never seem to be enough!). 

But I have turned over a new leaf I tell you: salads!

Quick, easy, nutritious and different everyday.

On today's menu:
toasted hazelnuts
a touch of roquefort
grated carrot
olive oil and apple cider vinegar

It hit the spot with a cup of tea (my new favourite- Bengal Spice from Celestial Seasons- oh my it's sweet without sugar!) and a piece of dark chocolate.

Isn't it lovely to treat yourself kindly?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

tutorial: make your own natural home remedy box

We have a little wooden bowl filled with home remedies ranging from essential oils to homeopathic remedies to simple lollies that are sure to make any disaster just that wee bit sweeter.

Some of the remedies were purchased in a kit from The Red Tent Health Centre after attending their Natural Kids First Aid Course (which I highly recommend). Others are essentials I have come to know and love on my mothering journey.

In Our Natural Home Remedy Box:
Tea Tree Oil- to stop the itch of bug bites, as an antiseptic

Lavender Oil- applied directly to the skin to heal and soothe burns, for calming massages and rubs when there has been an upset

Arnica drops for bumps, bruises and strains, shocks, falls and sores

Arnica gel to apply on bumps, bruises and strains

Weleda Homeopathic Cold and Flu Pillules- effective for adults too at the onset of a cold or flu

Calms Forte- sleeplessness, traveling long distances in the car or by plane 

Pulsatilla- for green/yellow mucus, clinginess, separation anxiety, stress, crying

Arconite- coughs, wheezing, fear, mental restlessness

Belladonna- for fever, teething sunburn, over heating

Bach Rescue Remedy- for transitions, stress, stabilising emotions, calming- I use this if we're going to do something new (school, playgroup, outing) and I know the children are a bit excited and axioms about it

An lavender eye pillow for Mama enforced 'quiet time' 

A Tiger Warmer- click the link to find out more, basically an acupressure tool that works wonders for behaviour, sickness, immunity etc.

Naturally coloured lollipops for brave little souls who need a bit of a pick me up and change of perspective

Others things we usually have in the kit and need to restock:
Aloe vera gel for burns and minor wounds, 

Calendula salve for scratches and other wounds that need healing, 

Chamomilla for it's calming effects, ease of teething, sleeping, colic, eczema

Chinese Cough Medicine for the really bad coughs and colds

Manuka Honey Cough Syrup for coughs and sore throats that aren't as severe

Bandaids- are usually in my bag or purse for immediate use along with a few other things 

Natural Indigo Cream from our Chinese Medical Doctor- works miracles for eczema

Do you have a natural first aid kit/box? If so, we'd love to hear what you have in it!

Would LOVE to hear...

Disclaimer- I am not, nor claiming to be a health professional in any way. Always seek advice from your preferred practitioner before using any kind of chemical or natural medication on yourself or your child.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

summer urban garden

Our summer garden has only just started to really produce after a very slow and wet start this year in Sydney. We've already enjoyed green and purple beans as well as heaps of swiss chard, herbs, lettuce and a few eggplants. A while back we planted a few new veggies just for fun. I love to keep this urban garden interesting. It's as much a learning experience as it is a taste experience, if not more so. Here's what's new in the backyard:

Finally! Success with planting basil from seed... not sure what I did differently other than feed the soil some worm wee.
 Rocket. Delicious and peppery. Perfect with pear and parmesan cheese.
 More green tomatoes. I am pretty sure I can't just blame my little one for picking these before they're ready. The birds seem to have found the plants... looks like we might need nets... ? Anyone have advice on this?
 Celery just starting. I love chopped celery in soups, the leaves for stock or cut up with a slab of almond butter for a snack.
 Corn! Never tried this before, but it's working! I can actually see where the corn is forming in the middle of the stalks and the silks are starting to peek through. No idea when they'll be ready to harvest. Something to google.

 The cucumbers are starting to poke through. I trained them to grow upwards because they were trying to choke the corn and they are loving all the afternoon sun along the fence.

 Chilli. Poor North had a bad lesson with these spicy chills the other day. Since then they've been moved out of reach.
 The herb garden: oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary, chives and basil. I'd love to have some coriander in there but the seeds I planted weren't successful.
How is your garden growing right now?

Monday, February 20, 2012

we're almost there

For the past few weeks I have been slowly weaning Indigo from her usual hourly feeds. I started by cutting out her daytime feeds for two weeks and leaving her bedtime milk and her middle of the night feeds. Lately, I've been thinking long and hard about weaning her completely. She's always been so much more demanding than North was. At 18 months old, she has still only ever slept through the night once. I am physically tired and my body is begging for a break. We also have a few family trips planned over the coming months (weekends away and our annual trip 'home' to Canada) and for some reason I really have it in my head that I want her to be completely weaned for those.

I have noticed that since we cut down on the frequency of her feeds she seems more independent, less clingy (contrary to what I thought would happen) and faces conflicts (ie. Someone just took my toy!) head on as opposed to seeking comfort from my breast.
So on Friday night as I fed her to sleep I thought, 'enjoy this, it may be one of the last'... and do you know what? I couldn't enjoy it! Because she was not using my breast for drinking or even quiet nurturing, but for playing, fiddling and goofing around. She was wriggling like a worm all over the bed while I tried to feed her, performing gymnastics while attached to me. And that was when I made the decision. Enough. She's ready. I don't want to be a part of this habit. I kissed her goodnight and determined that this was the weekend.

On Saturday she took her nap in the car, so she didn't feed to sleep. That night Brad woke to her 3 times, offered her a cup of milk and took her (kicking and screaming) to the car for a ride until she fell asleep. He tells me she was calm for the most part and settled easily on a drive. He was up most of the night driving around, resettling her and then waking up and starting over again. On Sunday she napped in the pram and then went down for her bedtime sleep with Brad, tickles on her back and a cup of milk. She woke 3 times and had a cup of milk with Brad without very much fuss. Today I offered her a cup of milk before nap time (which she was not very pleased about) she cried for about 3 minutes and then went to sleep.

We're almost there.

This is not exactly the seamless transition that North made from breast to cup without a tear or a protest, but it is not as hard as I thought it was going to be. There is a part of me that is of course, grieving, but last night Indigo gave me a big, long cuddle without feeling the need to reach up my shirt- she is beginning to realise she can receive sleepy love and comfort from me without breastfeeding. I shed a few tears this evening as I lay her down to sleep, but I know that we are ready for our next chapter together. She is ready to toddle into the world with me behind her every step of the way, but not always right beside her and certainly not as a constant bumper for every little issue.

Right now I am very grateful to a sleepless husband who has nurtured, cuddled and showered Indi with love and affection for the past few days, a patient little boy who has seen his sister doted on more than usual, hot showers spent expressing excess milk supply, long family hugs and the release a good cry brings. I will miss this most fulfilling, whole and pure of relationships dearly and cherish the memories of feeding my darling, Indigo.

We're almost there.

Friday, February 17, 2012

moments with her

Now that he's happily established at school twice a week, I am finding beautifully quiet and still moments with her. It's so nice to be able to slow down, stop talking and just be for a few moments a day with my littlest. And we do get up to all sorts of adventures...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

fermented ginger carrots

We've been adding more homemade fermented food into our diets as much as we can. So far I've made sauerkraut, kimchi and this wonderful and child-friendly recipe- ginger carrots. It's perfect as a side dish or mixed in with a salad and filled with natural probiotic goodness. Exactly what we all need more of, especially Indigo with her allergies! The kids love a few teaspoons of this mixed with grated raw carrot, a touch of olive oil and some raisins- a sweet and sour salad. 

Adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

Ginger Carrots

1 cup grated carrots
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp sea salt
1 heaping tbsp whey 

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together to combine
Place them into a clean and sterilised jar and pound down (I used a honey stick) until the juices and whey cover the carrot completely
Leave out at room temperature for 3 days
After this time it is ready to eat and can be stored in the refrigerator for many months

The easiest way to get whey for fermenting is to put a cup or two or plain, whole fat (preferably organic with no additives preservatives flavourings etc) yoghurt into a muslin cloth which is placed on top of a fine sieve and to let the whey slowly drain out of the muslin, through the sieve and into a bowl. After a few hours and with a bit of help from you (gently squeezing) you'll be left with a yoghurt cream cheese in the cloth and whey in the bottom of the bowl you drained it into.

Do you want me to show you how to make your own yoghurt cream cheese and whey next week?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

tutorial: easy, colourful, magical, handmade tealights

glass jars if varying sizes- we used some old babyhood jars we had lying around (I have a problem letting go of glass jars. I keep and hoard them like a madwoman!)
coloured tissue paper (eco-tip: have a little box somewhere to store tissue paper that comes with gift wrapped presents that you are given throughout the year)
clear drying glue or like- we used hodgepodge as it is our kiddy wet glue of choice 

tear the tissue paper into small pieces- don't worry too much about size or shape
put glue onto jars and tissue paper and press on to create a colourful stained glass look
let them dry
pop tea lights in and light

We made something similar for Brad at Christmas only called it a pencil holder for his desk at work. I like the look of the candles burning in the jars though, as it gives the colours depth and magic.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day!

Hoping you all had a beautiful and love filled day.

1 cup desiccated coconut (no additives/preservatives/sweeteners added)
3/4 cup rapadura sugar
2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 cup organic butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
5-7 tablespoons milk ( I used low fat) 
A couple of drops of a naturally pink food colouring (we used left over beetroot juice)

Mix dry ingredients together
Add wet ingredients
Lightly and briefly knead into a dough
Use lots of extra flour to precent stickiness and roll out and cut into shapes

Bake at 180 C for 10-12 minutes 
Let cool completely before moving- they are quite crumbly!