Tuesday, December 17, 2013
It's my favourite time of year. I love getting ready for Christmas. My days have been filled with Christmas craft, Christmas tunes, Christmas lunches and Christmas cleaning (in between looking after my children).
This year I have wrapped my gifts in black, white and brown paper with pops of colour. I recycled a Country Road catalogue, cutting it into circles and stitching them together to make garlands, and made stars out of sticks and embroidery thread.
My favourite craft this year has been making decorations out of Cornflour Dough (recipe below). So cheap and so easy!
Now for some Christmas baking, if Elke will sleep long enough!
1 cup cornflour
2 cups bicarbonate soda
1 1/4 cups water
Mix ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture looks like mashed potato. Turn into a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it cool and then you can knead and roll out the dough to cut. Air dry overnight.
I used a felt tip pen and pages from a damaged old book to make my decorations look pretty.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
When I found out I was pregnant for the second time I was excited and relieved, as well as being completely freaked out. I knew what my body was going to go through and that before the year was out we'd have a baby to look after.
My thoughts were consumed by how to deal with morning sickness, whether the baby would be a boy or a girl, what names I liked and whether or not we should splurge on new and fancy baby goods.
We had an eight week scan to check the heart beat and the due date, everything was fine. When my Doctor asked if we wanted a 12 week scan to check for Down Syndrome we said no. Partly because we would have the baby regardless, and partly because I took for granted that our baby would be fine.
As I lay looking at the monitor during my 18 week scan I asked the Sonographer if everything looked normal. She said yes. She also told us we were having a girl and a wave of excitement rushed over me. At that moment I felt ecstatic. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
As I paid and waited for our photos, the Doctor who checks the scans asked if she could talk to us for a moment. A wave of dread rushed over me. She explained that our baby had short long bones, and that it could be a sign the baby had Down Syndrome, she also looked my five foot nothing frame up and down and said it could just be genetics. It was comforting to know that it could just be the fact I come from a long line of shorties, but we couldn't rule out the possibility of Down Syndrome.
We had the last appointment on a Friday afternoon, so we couldn't even call our trusted Doctor to discuss what we'd been told. I cried on the way home.
That Sunday after a long phone conversation with my Mum about how helpless I felt, out of the blue, my Doctor called. Yes on a Sunday. He said he was in the office doing some paper work when he saw my ultrasound results. He talked me through the options we had and told me about the risks of having an amniocentesis. I ruled that out then and there. He told me not to stress and that we would just have to play the waiting game.
Over the next few weeks I tried not to think about it. Then one night as I was reading my favourite blogs I stumbled across Natalie Falls and her story about her second son Elias who was born with Down Syndrome. I cried as I read through her inspirational blog. It prompted me to do some research about Down Syndrome to get a better idea of what it actually is. I was also ready to have a proper conversation about it with my Husband. I filled him in on what I had learnt and we started to make some plans. After that I felt a lot calmer about things and new that we would be ok no matter what happened.
After 22 weeks of waiting, wondering and planning our perfect and healthy daughter arrived. Short long bones and all.
Would it have been better to be blissfully ignorant of our baby's short long bones or was it better to know there could be a chance she had Down Syndrome?
Friday, November 8, 2013
Forget the terrible twos, four is hideous. We have coined it the f*@!ing fours. In a way I'm comforted by the fact I'm not alone and my child is not unique. The other four year old boys I know seem to be the same and apparently testosterone is to blame. Who knew that at four boys had a surge of testosterone? Marry that with the arrival of a new sibling and no wonder our house is all kinds of crazy. I hope my sweet, thoughtful boy will come back to me soon, sans attitude.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Four weeks ago our lives changed again with the arrival of our baby girl, Elke Scout. She was born on a mild Tuesday night without too much drama. I have been lucky with my births, both labours have been about 8 hours and the births have been straight forward.
I must admit that after my first birth I felt empowered and excited by what had happened, whereas the second time around I just felt thankful that it was all over and vowed I wouldn't be repeating the experience.
Being a parent of a newborn for a second time is much easier. Rather than stressing and obsessing, this time I'm enjoying my tiny human. Breathing her in and savouring this brief time.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
A couple of weeks ago I had the most delicious Quinoa Choc Chip Cookie at my favourite cafe Anonymous. Ever since then I have been searching the internet for a recipe to try. I found one here and tried it out this morning (I did alter it slightly, my version is below). My cookies are a lot finer than the one I had at Anonymous, but just as delicious!
The cookies are by no means healthy, but if you are after a good gluten free choc chip biscuit give this recipe a try.
Quinoa Choc Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup choc chips (I only had chocolate buddies, so I roughly chopped them)
Preheat the oven to 180º c.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl combine the egg and cooled, melted butter. Add sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add the wet mixture to the flour and mix to combine. Stir in the choc chips. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes (this will make the dough easy to work with).
Roll teaspoons of the dough into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers or the back of a spoon. The dough should make about 24 cookies.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Then I remembered this quick chickpea salad. I hadn't made it for years, but now it's back as a regular lunch time favourite.
The recipe isn't an exact thing, you will get a feel for how you like it. So don't be scared to experiment a bit.
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
A good drizzle of Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (feel free to add more or less if you want)
A few sun dried tomatoes cut into strips
A quarter of a block of feta cheese (again feel free to use more or less), chopped or crumbled.
A handful of parsley, finely chopped. You can also use basil in the summer months.
Black pepper to taste
Put the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and add the oil and balsamic vinegar, mix to combine. Add the feta, sun dried tomatoes and herbs and toss to combine. Add a small amount of ground black pepper. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Enjoy!
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
The impending birth of our daughter seems to be hurtling towards us. I'm looking forward to it, but I feel like we still have so much to do. We have been a lot more relaxed about things this time around, maybe a little too relaxed. I suppose we have the important things under control – some clothes for the baby, a car seat and a cradle. What more could we need?
Our days have been filled with renovating, fallen trees, the occasional exciting delivery and general chaos. I'm sure things will get even more hectic before they settle down.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Call me crazy, but I've started my Christmas shopping. Yes you read right, I've started my Christmas shopping. I'm telling myself it's because I want to be organised, but I think it's really because I love the process so much. Why wait?
I started at the bookshop where I fell in love with BabyLit books. The classics for toddlers. Genius! I bought 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Romeo and Juliet', but I'm going back for more. I have my sights set on 'Sense and Sensibility' and 'Jane Eyre'.
If you have little ones and love the classics, or just like a good counting book with pretty pictures – these are for you.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
We have been slowly renovating our house since we bought it two and a half years ago. Our biggest project to date has been the complete overhaul of the main bathroom. Other than that we have painted and landscaped.
We have just started the biggest part of the renovations: adding french doors to our living area, turning our awful second toilet into a new laundry/bathroom, converting the existing laundry into a study and sanding and finishing the floorboards throughout the house. What better time to embark on such an adventure, than when a new baby is soon to arrive?
I suppose I have it in my head that in order to have a new baby, we need to have the house mostly finished. I think I may be crazy. The other crazy part is that we are doing most of the work ourselves. When I have my doubts about our deadline, my Husband reminds me that he needs people with a 'can do attitude' around him. So I am now 'Mrs can do'.
The ugly, dirty, demolition photos above are our house. The lovely, stylish and finished photos are inspiration I have found on Pinterest. I'm hoping the end result will look as good. Fingers crossed.
I find choosing fixtures and fittings and making decisions about how things should look the hardest. I spend hours trawling the net for inspiration and making lists of products and prices. We have a tight budget, so being clever with our money is very important.
For now my biggest decision is tiles or pressed metal. Oh the choices. Oh the decisions.
Monday, July 29, 2013
I saw this image on Pinterest and it reminded me of what I have and it made me glad. Glad for all that I have been blessed with. The important things. From now on I will try to worry less and be thankful more.
Monday, June 24, 2013
I have never had a sweet tooth. I like dark chocolate and raw cacoa, I don't go much on ice cream or lollies and would prefer to drink water than juice. But, since being pregnant all that has changed. Early on in my pregnancy all I wanted was lollies and juice. I became fiercely protective of my Milk Bottle supply and even wanted ice cream sundaes. My sister speculated that my sudden sweet tooth was because I was having a girl. I dismissed this straight away. I was sure I was having another boy.
I had my boys names picked, a cupboard full of boys clothes and a house full of boyish toys. Two boys. I had it all planned. A life of soccer, trucks, dragons and duelling in the backyard. I even started referring to 'the boys', meaning my four year old, Hamish, and the new baby. It was going to be easy.
I was wrong. My sister was right. I'm having a girl. At first I was thrilled. I just wasn't expecting it. Then I was scared by the unknown. What about all my boys clothes and toys? What about my favourite boys names? What about Hamish and his want for a brother? Could a brother and sister be as close as two brothers?
Now I'm back to being thrilled. Hamish has embraced the news. He says we can get girly 'weapons' for duelling (I'm not so sure), and that a room decorated with bats and butterflies would be great (again, not so sure). He has even mentioned changing his name to Charlie so we can call the baby Lola.
I have bought a couple of pink items, and I'm looking forward to having 'a pigeon pair'. I'm still not sure about names, but have put a list on the fridge and have started yelling random girls names out to see how they sound. My Husband and I figure this is the best way of choosing a name – we are constantly yelling 'HAMISH', so if we yell names and still like them, it must be love.
My top five boys names: Edward (Ned, on playful days), George, Hugh, Stirling and Atticus.
The photo is from my 12 week scan.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Last week my nephew was born. The day had come for his arrival and we waited anxiously for news. We waited and waited. As we waited it brought back memories of the birth of my own son, making me wish I could birth my nephew for my sister. That way I could be in control and not feel so stressed and I could save my love from the ordeal of birth. But, as I was going over this in my head, I realised that giving birth is a life changing experience I wouldn't want my sister to miss out on. It is rewarding and amazing and overwhelming (and painful). It pushes you to your limits and when it's all over you are in awe of what your body can do and feel an amazing sense of achievement.
Birth is a miracle, and it was highlighted to me again last week. My nephew had a dramatic start to life, but everyday he has astounded me with his resilience. Babies truly are amazing.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
We have had a big week. It started with my sister's baby shower, then a trip to Bendigo and has ended with gardening and cooking at home.
We love Bendigo. The highlights of this visit were shopping at Bendigo Wholefoods, trips to Castlemaine and Maldon, seeing Nana and Pa and meeting up with one of my dearest friends in the little town of St Arnoud (an adventure for all).
We left Bendigo Wholefoods with everything from loaf tins, to quinoa flour, black rice and dried paw paw. I was in love and wanted to move to Bendigo just so I could shop there all the time. We got a wonderful old Mason jar from Castlemaine and delicious lollies from the Maldon Lolly Shop. The trip was over too quickly, but we are already planning another visit next year.
Images: One of Maldon's beautiful buildings. Flowers left over from the baby shower. Snippets of Bendigo, Nana's garden and St Arnoud. Nana's poppies – Nana's mother ordered this for her from the Women's Weekly and she has had it hanging in her bedroom since she was nine! A lovely old building in Castlemaine.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
When I was first offered one of these Chickpea Biscuits by a fellow pre-school mum, I thought 'oh great, I bet they taste like they've been poured through an old boot', but to my surprise they were delicious and I got the recipe then and there! They are one of the best gluten free biscuits I've ever had, and even my fussy four year old is hooked.
I'm thinking I might even get a little creative with the recipe and turn them into jam drops, or add some caraway seeds to the tops. Yum. The possibilities are endless.
Even if you're not gluten free they're worth a try.
2/3 cup besan flour (chickpea flour)
125g Nuttelex lite or butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch or arrowroot (I use arrowroot)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
Pre-heat oven to 180 ˚c. Add all ingredients to a mixer and beat until creamy in texture. Add extra rice flour if needed. Dollop teaspoonfuls onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Ensure there is enough space for the dollops to spread. Bake until golden around the edges, 10-15 mins. Cool on rack.
Monday, May 13, 2013
1 large eggplant, sliced length-ways
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tsp of cumin powder
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (I used a mixture of red and yellow)
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with sesame seeds
1/4 cup Tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons of olive oil
(Note: My Tahini dressing wasn't smooth like the original recipe, it was more like the consistency of hummus. I'm not sure why. It still tasted good though.)
In a small mixing bowl, add juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, cumin powder, smoked paprika powder, chili powder, minced garlic, pinch of salt & pepper and stir to combine. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet and thoroughly coat in the marinade.
Marinate for 15 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick grill skillet on medium high. You can use a proper grill or fry pan if you don't have a skillet.
Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the hot skillet or pan. Add slices of marinated eggplant. Do not overcrowd the pan.
Depending on the thickness of each slice, cook for at least a minute on each side. If you like it soft, cook for a little longer.
Prepare tahini dressing in a small bowl, by combining all of the above ingredients. Set aside.
Remove grilled eggplant and put on a plate to cool slightly. Chop into bite size pieces.
In a mixing bowl, add halved tomatoes, chopped parsley and grilled eggplant. Lightly toss everything with tahini dressing or serve the dressing on the side. Garnish with some toasted sesame seeds.
You can find the original recipe here.
The days have been warm and the evenings cool. My loves and I have spent countless hours gardening, toasting marshmallows in our pizza oven and enjoying being outdoors.
There has been plenty of fruit picking and cooking. We have had the pleasure of visiting a friends amazing orchard, and sampling some of the fresh fruit. The Figs and strawberries were delicious. I have orchard envy.
Driving through the Blue Mountains is particularly special at this time of year, and I have loved admiring the Autumn colours from my favourite Blackheath cafe, 'Anonymous'.
Further west is just as delightful, and I have enjoyed making trips to the lovely Portland to get my Sister's cot quilt quilted.
Autumn, please never leave.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Elinor to Marianne, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen.
Image via ffffound
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
I went to the health food shop in search of quinoa flour and left with coconut flour. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when I got home and started reading about cooking with coconut flour I started to get nervous. You can't just substitute coconut flour for wheat flour. Because it's so dense you use a lot less, and need a lot more eggs! I was convinced my first batch of apple and cinnamon muffins would be a flop, but they turned out well. They were very nice with some fruit and yoghurt for a breakfast treat. I used this recipe, but I think they would have been nicer with some blueberries or sultanas in them.
My next coconut flour cooking adventure was a a batch of Lamingtons. We called them 'Flamingtons' – fake Lamingtons. I was so worried at first, but for a healthy gluten free, sugar free, butter free Lamington they turned out ok. I wish I had've used normal dark chocolate instead of 70% dark chocolate, because I think they needed a little extra sweetness.
I have also used coconut flour in gluten free zucchini fritters – they were a success. The Lamington and zucchini fritter recipes are both from The Healthy Chef.
I recommend giving coconut flour a try, but make sure you do your research before you start cooking!
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Chia Seed Pudding
3 tablespoons Chia Seed
1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
Soak chia seeds in the almond milk for 20 minutes, stir every 5 mins. Add a good pinch of cinnamon. Serve with fresh fruit, almonds and some sunflower seeds and pepitas. I put some creamed honey on top of mine for some extra sweetness.