Tuesday, April 24, 2012

breathe


Some of you may have noticed how much less time I am spending at the computer (and on this blog) compared to last year. Part of it has to do with my Word for the Year: 'breathe', part of it has to do with balancing school work, parenting, nesting, baking, cooking... and on and on. But there is another part of me that has lost my blojo as some call it. At times my camera has started to feel more like a burden and my posts not always as authentic or spontaneous or organic as I'd like them to be.

I am not done with this amazing community yet and I am certainly not done sharing our story and our path. But I think I need some space to reflect- a few weeks to take photos just for the joy of it, to bake and not worry about lighting, to immerse myself in study, crafting, sewing and creating and then to come back and share with you all we've been up to at a slower pace than the strict 5 days a week I've been blogging at.

Please bear with me while I take this time. I promise I will be back soon.

If you're aching for some posts (bless you!) scroll through the archives to your right- there are so many topics to choose from.

Wishing you all love. I am forever grateful and humbled that you take the time to read my words each day.

Until then, adieu!

xo m.

Friday, April 20, 2012

a lazy autumn weekend

Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves,
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves,
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white,
Autumn, good morning!
Summer, good night!
Such vibrant photos for mid-Autumn, don't you think? Taken while on my Teacher Training retreat last week. The beauty of Australia!

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend with those you love.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

from the archives: green cleaning jewellery

Can you believe I haven't polished my jewellery since I posted this green cleaning recipe two years ago?! I thought I'd re-publish it for those who didn't see it or wanted a refresher.


before- very tarnished looking silver

I haven't cleaned my jewellery in ages and I certainly didn't want to buy the chemical cleaners found at the supermarket and jewellery stores- you know something's really bad for the environment and your health when a whiff of its fumes gives you a massive headache. So, after some research and experimenting I now have a few recipes for homemade jewellery cleaners.

Silver:
scrub/paste:
Take 1 tbs of bi-carb soda and add water to form a thick paste. Rub/brush paste over silver and leave to sit for 30 min to an hour. An old toothbrush is especially effective for this. Rinse with white vinegar and then water.
dipping solution:
Cut up about 1/4 cup aluminium foil into little pieces and add to glass container with 1 cup warm water and 1 tbs salt. Mix and let jewellery sit n solution to sit for up to one hour. Remove and rub dry with soft, clean cloth.

Gold:
*dipping solution:
Mix together 1 tsp bi-carb soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbs dishwashing detergent (powder) and 1 cup of water. Place gold jewellery in solution for up to 30 min. Remove and rub dry with soft clean cloth.

Aluminium/Porcelain:
*solution:
Dip clean soft cloth into lemon juice and rub over and into surface until clean and shiny.

Copper:
*scrub/paste:
Mix 2 tbs salt and 2 tsp white vinegar and scrub over surface. Wipe off excess salt with a clean, soft cloth dampened with white vinegar.

after

WARNING: Do not use these on pearls, diamonds or other precious stones. Make sure to research chemical reactions before you add any ingredients (for example, bleach) to these recipes, or you could end up with some very toxic and dangerous chemicals.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

tutorial: there's a mouse in my house...

Believe it or not this little mouse is a great source of fun and entertainment in our home. So much so, that we have two mice- one for the toy room and one for Mama's purse for unexpected situations where a bit of light humour, focus, quiet and entertainment are desperately needed. 
The 'game' we play with him is quite simple. North's preschool teacher was the first to introduce it to me. 
It goes like this-
There's a mouse in my house
Where could it be?
Upstairs? Downstairs?
Where could it be?

Hide the mouse in one of your fists and while you are saying the rhyme alternate right fist on top of left, left fist on top of right. When the rhyme finishes let one child choose whether he or she thinks the mouse is on the top or bottom. To make it a bit easier for the very young you can have the mouses' tail sticking out of your hand.

I haven't attached the pattern but you can see a photo of it below. You need two pieces of the shape on the left and one of the one on the right. The one on the right is the base and the two pieces are the sides. You can see how to mouse is sewn together if you look carefully. Before sewing up his bottom add a bit of yarn or embroidery thread for a tail, then add a couple of little ears. I also embroidered his nose but this is not needed.
Squeak! Squeak!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

gluten free coconut flour banana bread with raw chocolate chips

We've been experimenting with coconut flour around here and it's been a delicious gluten free substitute. It seems to work best with eggs and has a light and bouncy spongey texture to it. We're not entirely gluten free but we avoid wheat like the plague and stick to spelt flour for most baking and bread making.



Ingredients
2 eggs
3 bananas (mashed)

2 tbs honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp bi-carb
3/4 cup coconut flour

3-4 tbs raw chocolate nibs
dash of cinnamon


Directions
Blend the eggs, mashed bananas, and coconut oil together. Mix the dry ingredients and then combine with the wet.

Pour into a greased bread pan and bake at 180˚C for 40-45 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Monday, April 16, 2012

a fresh start...

I arrived home Saturday evening just in time for some enormous hugs and kisses and a few bedtime stories. The first 3 nights away went quickly but by Friday evening I was aching to get home.


The (Steiner Waldorf Education) Residential Course was soul shaping. I met kindred spirit, ate beautiful wholesome food and gained insight into Anthroposophy and the Life Phases according to Steiner as well as experienced Eurythmy and Clay Modelling classes. I had four days to revisit a part of myself I haven't been in touch with for many years. I have never been a religious person, but my personal spirituality and moral beliefs have always been extremely important to me. This part of myself was nourished as the week unfolded.


There is so much more to learn (I am only 4 months into a 2 year course) but already I feel I want to make a subtle shift in the way we have been parenting.


Here are a few small changes I am trying to consciously make on a day to day basis:

Less words, more actions.

Not asking either of my children to apologise when they've wronged another, but instead to model apologies so that eventually the apologies come from within themselves and not just as a formula that equals self-gratifying praise.

More breathing, taking things slowly, less pressure on myself to keep the house in tip top shape and more pressure to connect, remain in the moment and stay present with my children.

More singing, rhyming, storytelling and pictures with words.

More awareness of doing things with intention and reverence- even simple things like baking, sweeping or hanging the laundry.

More awareness of what to expect and not to expect of certain age groups- remembering my children's developmental limits and not asking too much (or too little) of them.

Replacing the word 'Don't with "We..." i.e.. "Don't hit!" with "We use gentle hands with our sister".

More awareness of falling into the trap of rewards and punishments. And an awareness of the negative impact this has on a child.


Some of these are changes we have already been attempting and others are newer. I know everyday is different, I am only human and I will never parent perfectly. But these are the goals I have set for myself at the moment. 


This past week has been such an amazing journey but I am glad to be back at home with a renewed sense of self. I feel refreshed and inspired to keep striving for the the values I am trying to embody each day.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

time and transformation

We've been working through some fevers and chills in these parts; decorating more eggs; lining Easter baskets with wool for the bunny; sleeping and recovering and preparing for a big week ahead. This week I will go out into the world and leave my little ones at home with a dear and trusted friend, as well as the loving care of their father. This is a huge step for me- I have never spent more than 6 hours without North nevermind my little Indigo. I will be gone for four days at an intensive Waldorf Education retreat. I am doing the Distance Learning course in Steiner Waldorf Education (to become a Waldorf Steiner Teacher). The retreats occur twice a year over the two year course duration. I am filled with equal parts excitement and anxiety as I try to make those four days as smooth as possible for everyone. I am looking forward to rediscovering a side of myself I haven't been in touch with for 3 and 1/2 years. I know when I arrive back home I will have a new sense of love, peace, appreciation and patience for my children.

Of course, Easter is foremost in their minds and Sparkle Stories are gifting everyone and anyone big and small a free Easter Story to enjoy together this weekend. Although it's a 'secular' tale, it captures the themes of love and loss no matter which hemisphere you are celebrating in. It’s called  “Elijah’s New Home”, and it tells the story of Peter and his beloved dog, Elijah.  This story offers a way into the true Easter story, by telling a tale of the love and loss (and enduring life) of one devoted dog. They suggest it be for children ages 6 and up as any loss of a loved one, no matter how bitter sweet, can be intense for younger children. You can download it for free here.

Wishing you all a beautiful and transformative Easter weekend. I won't be back on the site until April 16th. Until then, blessings, peace and gratitude to you all. Happy Easter!

xo m.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

an Australian Easter Bunny Story

It's hard to find an Easter Story appropriate for the preschooler that also has some Australian themes. This is one we have been using for two years now and North absolutely adores it.

Adapted (depending on the props we had available) from a story given to me in a handout at an "Autumnal Workshop" run by Ebba Bodome. Author unknown.

An Australian Easter Bunny Story
Once upon a time there was a Mother bunny who had seven little bunny children (and two bunny babies). One clear Autumn day she said to her children, "I wonder who will be the Easter bunny this year?" "Me! Me! Me!", they all cried at the same time, but the Mother said, "Hush now. The one who can bring their Easter egg safely to the children's garden and who can hide it well in the grass, will be the Easter bunny this year."
The first bunny took the pink egg. He hopped over the bridge, ran through the bush and came straight to the children's garden. There was a tall strong wall all around the garden. The bunny made a big jump, but he jumped too high and when he landed on the other side the pink egg had broken. 
When the Mother saw the broken egg she said, "You will have to wait a little longer until you can be the Easter bunny."

The next bunny took the blue egg. He hopped over the bridge and into the bush. High up in a tree a bird sat in her nest. When he saw the bunny with the egg she called out, 'Give me the egg, give me the egg!". Before the bunny knew what was happening to him the bird had flown down and taken the egg in her beak and had carried it up to the nest. When the Mother heard about this she said, "You will have to wait a little longer too".
The third bunny took the purple egg and hopped over the bridge and into the bush. There he met a bunny friend who said, "Let's wrestle and play a little while". Before long they had wrestled and played, rolling along the ground until they rolled right over the purple egg and broke it!.

The Mother bunny was not pleased about this and she gave the next egg to the fourth bunny. This was a chocolate egg. The bunny carried the egg over the bridge and into the bush. Who was waddling in the farmyard next door (or bushland)? It was a big fat pig (or wombat). "Please let me fast just a little bit of the chocolate egg," he asked. Well, the pig licked a bit and the bunny licked a bit, and the pig licked a bit more and the bunny licked a bit more... until they realised, they had eaten all of the egg! When the bunny came home with a ring of chocolate around his little whiskers the Mother said, "You will have to wait a little longer too until you can be the real Easter bunny."
The next bunny took the orange egg. On the middle of the bridge he looked down into the water watching the little fishes swimming merrily to and fro. Rolllll... Plop! The egg fell out of the bunny's paws and into the water and floated down the river. He surely could not be the Easter bunny either.
The second last bunny had fallen asleep in the Easter basket, so he had missed his turn.
The last and oldest bunny took the deep, green egg. He hopped over the bridge and he did not look down into the river. He hopped into the bush and when the fat pig came and begged for the egg, he said, "I have no time, I have something very important to do" And hopped on. He met another bunny friend who wanted to play, but this bunny said, "I have no time, I have something very important to do". When the bird called from the nest, "Give me the egg!" the bunny held onto his deep green egg tightly and so he finally arrived at the garden. He jumped over the wall, not too high and not too low, just right. He landed softly in the grass on the other side and carefully hid the egg.
 
When he returned home his Mother was very pleased and said, "This year you will be the Easter Bunny." The children were very happy too. They came running into the garden and when they found the deep green egg hidden in the grass they exclaimed, "Hurray! It's Easter time again!"
***

If I were organised enough I would have made seven of these finger puppets so the bunnies were all matching- maybe next year. I got the pattern at our Waldorf playgroup so it's not quite mine to share, but if you have a look at the photo you can see how simple they are to make and can probably cut a pattern out for yourself.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

dying easter eggs

We've been very busy bunnies around these parts this week. This is the first year North has been totally involved in  Easter activities. I didn't go through the ordeal of making natural dyes from scratch this year, although it is on my to do list for next year when Indigo is a bit older and I am able to spend longer amounts of time in the kitchen without her pulling at my legs quite as much...

But we did get some beautiful Greek egg colouring from our local Armenian grocer and an even lovelier surprise while we were there- WHITE eggs! Now to North Americans, this is nothing. But in Australia it is near impossible to find snow white eggs at the supermarket. Trust me, I have tried for 6 Easters in a row now. So when I saw these divinely white eggs I was beyond excited!

We hurried home, hardboiled them (I prefer to blow them, but they are far too delicate in this state for very little hands), drew on them with some beeswax crayons and then soaked them in the various colours.

They came out beautifully and are now on display on our Autumn Nature Table which has transformed into more of an Easter table for the time being.
Are you planning on dying some eggs? Add a link below if you've posted photos. We'd all love to drop by and marvel at them.

Monday, April 2, 2012

(H)appy Fish

Although we rarely eat fish anymore since Indigo's severe allergic reaction, for me, nothing nourishes a protein craving more than seafood.


(H)appy Fish is the perfect iPhone App for Australians who want to support a more sustainable fish industry. This free App contains a detailed Sustainable Seafood Guide from the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS). The App classifies your choice of seafood into three categories: better, think and no. It also includes a Canned Tuna Guide- which sheds light on which canned tuna to buy and which to avoid giving details on the species, catching method and amount of by-catch the company's product uses and produces. 


 iPhone Screenshot 1iPhone Screenshot 2iPhone Screenshot 3


I am not affiliated with the makers of the App or receiving anything in return for promoting it, but I have found it fascinating and highly useful when I am in the market for seafood.


If you have an iPhone the (H)apply Fish is totally free so give it a go. It's a real eye-opener.