Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Garden Update

I love our garden at present. We’ve only suffered a little bit of heat damage (wilting the tops of the snow peas) but enough to make me get a move on building some shade cloth covers before the real heat of summer hits here.

Cherry tomatoes abound, lebanese cucumbers are bursting at the seams, and my carrots are churning along. I’m still losing seedlings with monotonous regularity to the evil snail brigade. They’ve killed off most of my pumpkin seedlings, my beloved rockmelon, and all of my baby spinach seedlings (boo hiss!!).

I have also admitted defeat in growing red capsicum from seed. After 4 failed attempts, I think I may have to go looking for some organic seedlings from a local nursery. I had a really successful plant that kept going well in Autumn from a bought seedling last year, so will head down that path again.

But I love that we are eating fresh produce - cucumbers for lunch, carrots with dinner - its all so rewarding :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Toxic House

It looks like the new House of B is rapidly descending into a disaster ☹ Despite our best intentions, it would appear that we have bought a toxic house. The previous owners went to extraordinary lengths to hide a substantial mold problem. And the more we uncover the worst it seems to get.

So far we are unable to use the master bedroom. Initially we “only” found a bad mold patch on the ceiling in a wardrobe. But on pulling the wardrobe out to address the problem, we have discovered mold on the entire wall as well, and in the insulation. So all has been pulled out. And on pulling out a wooden wall in the same room, we have discovered substantial mold all over that wall too.

So all the walls in the room are going to be pulled out today (thanks Mr B!!).

The irony is when we went looking for a new house we were looking to avoid mold due to Mr B’s asthma and Little B’s allergies. We turned this house over from top to bottom but the owners had hidden the mold problem with wooden overlays, chest of drawers and other creative ways.

Another bedroom has another wardrobe riddled with mold as well. But this is from what we assume to be a leaking shower wall. Again this room cannot be used it smells so bad. But it will require a greater level of correction than the master bedroom and having not spoken to a plumber yet, our greatest fear is that the bathroom will need to be torn out as well.

So in the interim, we are:
• ripping out and correcting what we can afford to correct,
• a dear friend gave us a Kentia Palm as a house warming gift due to its ability to remove toxins from the air. This is currently in the worst room and we are looking at getting some more for other rooms,
• HEPA type filters in the ducted heating vents,
• Sealing up all gaps in the architraves etc to prevent toxic air entering our main living areas,

And as a last resort I am looking into getting a mold toxicologist in as I am quite scared that this amount of mold could be doing serious damage to our health ☹ It might be that we cant live here until it is fixed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas ☺

I’ve spent much of the week cooking yummy goodies for Christmas as well as enjoying a 3 year old, who is completely aware of and totally into Christmas this year (boy did I have fun when I had to explain “how would Santa come down our Coonara since we don’t have chimney?”– a bit of artistic licence was applied to that conundrum ☺.

We have everyone coming to the new House of B this year (yes I am a sucker for punishment LOL). But we find it hard going elsewhere because of Little B’s food allergies. This way he doesn’t miss out on anything and doesn’t have to watch people eat forbidden foods, which seems to be our extended families version of catering for his allergies.

So ice cream puddings with home-made honeycomb here we come…yummo!!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I had the most amazing moment with Little B the other day. He was driving his dear mummy around the twist as only a 3 year old can, when in exasperation, I offered him some rolled oats that I was eating. Clear as a bell, he turns to me and says “I cant eat that, it will make me sick”.

But the epiphany was that this was completely true!! The oats I was eating had dairy and he knows I normally wont let him have them. But I am so grateful that he has reached the point that he knows to say no to foods he cant have.

The other turning point is he can verbally now tell people he has reflux. He amazed me again a few days later when he started getting reflux, and he a) told me exactly what was wrong (as if I couldn’t tell) and then b) told me what he needed to “feel” better – and was 100% on the money.

We’ve recently moved house and unfortunately the water supply has given both Little B and me reflux. The water tastes truly foul. We have solved this by purchasing a ceramic water purifier. At our old house, we had an inbuilt under sink water purifier, which was fantastic but not something we have the space for here until we renovate our kitchen.

So hopefully this resurgence in reflux will abate very quickly!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Because I Am A Girl

Plan in Australia have started a new campaign called ‘Because I am a Girl’ to raise funds for their GirlsFund. This fund is aimed at investing in young women and girls to help them access their rights and have every opportunity to thrive and break the cycles of poverty. Plan believe that “investing in girls is one of the best ways to end poverty and create global prosperity – an investment that is currently blocked in many countries around the world by persistent attitudes that girls are not as important as boys”.

I already sponsor a child through Plan in Zambia and feel that this is a really important project. And am planning to sponsor a second one in 2010. As the parent to a young child, I believe that is essential that we tried to help end abject child poverty, regardless of gender.

You can buy (link t-shirts to support this fund. The t-shirts are fair trade certified organic cotton.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fruit Trees

When we bought the new House of B, I had seen that the backyard contained a prolific lemon tree and two other fruit trees of some kind. They had blossoms on them when we inspected the property but I couldn’t pinpoint what they were.

Well I’m proud to say that I am the new owner of a prolific apple tree and a prolific nectarine tree as well as the lemon tree. It’s been such a blessing to move into a new house that has fruit trees that are covered in fruit. No waiting time here ☺

We currently have two pear, two dwarf apple, a dwarf peach and dwarf nectarine, an orange and a lemon tree at Granny B’s. So these new trees are a nice addition. I am also planning to plant some more along our fence line as well a la Jackie French.

Let the mini orchard begin ;-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goodbye and hello

Goodbye old House of B (and our solar panels *sob, sob*)

Hello new House of B (permaculture garden and solar arrays here we come!!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Birthday preparations for Little B

Last year, the aim of Little B’s birthday was to show our guests the variety of party foods that you could make and have that were allergy free. I used the opportunity to show case some really yummy foods (sushi, chocolate crinkle cookies, home made sausage rolls and party pies, chicken nuggets etc).

And I’m hoping to do something similar this year. Though this year’s food is aimed at the 3 year olds not the parents. So I’m looking at simpler, easy hand held food like pikelets, faux gingerbread cookies, but will again bring out the sausage rolls. And who can forget the party cake – a dinosaur one that will be dairy, soy, egg and nut free and low in salicylates.

We've already done a trial run of the birthday cake and it was delicious. And didnt last very long - Mr B particularly like it (and we use him as our daily critic).

But it never ceases to amaze me, that children take and embrace simple wholesome food so easily. A pikelet is just as warmly embraced as a chocolate (not that you’ll see any of that in our house unfortunately LOL).

Little B is nearly 3

Last year, the aim of Little B’s birthday was to show our guests the variety of party foods that you could make and have that were allergy friendly. I used the opportunity to show case some really yummy foods (sushi, chocolate crinkle cookies, home made sausage rolls and party pies, chicken nuggets etc).

It was still good fun and little B had a blast driving his “boat” (yellow box) around the floor. There’s irony in that – lots of toys from friends and relatives and Little B liked a box. We still have that box ☺

This year we are having a “real” birthday party for Little B. Little friends, party bags, and fun party food. But again it will be allergy friendly but this time my focus is on ensuring it is environmentally responsible. We had invitations on recycled paper in recycled paper envelopes going out to his friends. I found brilliant party fabric at the op shop and we have made it into party bags. We’ve made our own bunting and I’m currently on the search for some paper lanterns in lieu of balloons (so they can be reused each year). I have made dinosaur shaped cookies and play dough (in recycled plastic containers) as party favours.

All food again is dairy, soy, egg, nut free and lows in sals.

Now we just have to hope for some good weather ☺

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Old Crone

Picture from feature pics

I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 15 and after 17 years, finally decided to stop dyeing it a few months ago. Not impressive I hear you say? After all, I’m only 32. BUT the sad fact is I have been going grey since I was 12 due to family genetics (my dad has been silver for as long as I can remember).

So I have been brave and gone cold turkey for the last few months or so. And boy am I grey in the front. I have huge silver sections that are really prominent and noticeable on my crown (if only it would grow in defined sections like Rogue from X-men or Morticia Adams LOL). Plus my lovely mousey brown has gone very very dull.

The good news is that while I have no urge to return to my chemical laden days of colouring my hair I have begun investigating henna. Decisions, decisions – do I go red or brown?? Henna doesn’t actually colour grey hair but it does make the rest of your hair rich and glossy. Something that is very appealing at the moment when my hair is so flat and dull looking.

But I do have to say, though it is dull in colour, my hair has never been better since going no poo. I occasionally wash it with Moo Goo shampoo (which is all nasties free) as a bit of a boost. But it is so clean, and feels great. The best tip I got (from Aussies Living Simply) was to make sure I seriously brush my hair every second day with a bristle brush (100 strokes anyone?? LOL). I had one of these brushes from my super long hair days and it has been resurrected with fantastic results.

Apparently it spreads your natural hair oils throughout your hair. Before this I was still having the odd attack of the greasy’s but now that’s a thing of the past ☺

Friday, December 4, 2009

Garden Update

The changeable weather here in Melbourne at the moment has actually really worked in our garden’s favour. Things that were disliking the instant heat at the start of November, have boomed with a bit of rain, cooler weather and the periodic bits of sun.

Our pumpkins are doing so well and our lettuces have finally come good (*dance, dance*). I was starting to think it was all over for the lettuces (all varieties). Our Lebanese cucumber has literally taken off. I’ve never grown one of these before, so am really surprised how quickly they have started growing cucumbers (tiny at present but still there).

But our strawberries aren’t fruiting and I’m stumped. Some friends have told me it could be the changeable weather or the variety (maybe it’s a late fruiter). Anyone have any ideas? The plants are huge and lush with green leaves but no fruit. We didn’t have this problem last year (then the problem was the crows ransacking them and eating all the fruit) so its all new to me.

Edited to add - I spoke to soon. A few days after this post, we had our first strawberries appear. Obviously a late fruiter or the weird weather held them off :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Probiotics and Vitamin D

Probiotics and Vitamin D have made the most amazing difference to our lives in the last few months. Our paed gastro encouraged first the Vitamin D as it boosts the immune system (hence minimizing the bodies allergic response) then probiotics because they re-colonise the gut and boost the guts immune capabilities (ditto above).

We rarely see reflux in Little B now. This in itself is a miracle. Reflux has plagued him since birth, affected his sleep patterns, and made it difficult for him to eat and to feed. If we see it at all, it’s because he has drunk too much water and bent over (so a completely mechanical response). Little B also seems to react less to scent and he has always been overtly sensitive to perfumes / scents etc.

We are also seeing a less instantaneous reaction to some of his allergies. They reaction still comes but is delayed somewhat depending on the form in which he has tried his allergy food. This again is so tremendously exciting for us here at the House of B.

Now in the past I would have been a sceptic, but I have been so blown away by this transformation that I’m now trialling the theory on myself. I’ve suffered from GERD and been on medication for the last 10 years, but since being on Vit D and probiotics, I’ve managed to half the dose of my reflux meds and hope to do so again in 5 days time. I have never been able to do this. I eventually hope to follow in Little B’s tracks and wean myself completely off the meds altogether.

Xmas Presents

After reading many blogs (namely One Green Generation), I decided to try and make this year’s Christmas one of home-made, ethical and / or locally made gifts. If I cant make it myself, then I have bartered skills with friends to get the same result, or as a last resort bought beautiful home-made products from local women and men.

I’ve been knitting, growing, baking and putting together some interesting gifts for loved ones. And I feel like it has more meaning for me this year. That’s partly because Little B is old enough now to participate but also because my gifts are well thought out and from the heart.

So far, I’ve potted basil plants in recycled terracotta pots, baked favourite biscuits and sweets, knitted dish cloths, raised seedlings and there’s more to come. I’ve also been bartering my child caring skills with a friend to help with a crafty present I want to give. Some I cant say as the recipients read my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise ;-)

My only downfall has been Little B’s present from Santa. In this case, I bought new but next year I hope to be able to make some more goodies for him from the jolly red man.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Ecomaster Assessment – Part 1

We have our Ecomaster assessment booked in a few days after moving to the new house. Ecomaster offer a 4 hour complete assessment, looking at how to make your house more energy efficient, water conscious etc etc.

Granny B had one done in August. This resulted in her organising for Ecomaster to do draught proofing and put in new insulation in her ceiling. The difference to her house is amazing. It used to be freezing in winter (and I mean truly freezing – think sleeping in full winter pjs, beanie, thermal socks, doona, blankets and still freezing) and boiling in summer. We’ve had quite a few days of 35 degree weather here in Melbourne at the moment and her house has stayed nice and cool for most of the day.

I cant wait to have our assessment done on the new house. We can already see a lot wrong with it (flat roof, no ceiling insulation, no underfloor insulation to name a few). But having retrofitted our current house, we can see the potential and what can be done to improve its energy efficiency.

We will have to do it in stages but I look forward to the suggestions that this assessment can provide.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eating Meat

I’ve been looking at our meat intake in response to reading how bad red meat is carbon footprint wise. For the 12 years prior to Little B being born, I was a vegetarian. Mainly because I preferred it as a healthy lifestyle and really enjoyed the food. Since Little B was born with his trailer load of allergies, we have had to go back to eating meat (one of his big allergies is to the majority of vegies).

But I still insist on only eating red meat twice a week. The rest of the time we eat the vegetarian meals Little B can eat, and one meal each of free range chicken and sustainable fish. I wonder how many people are comfortable with making the change towards partial vegetarianism? I'm hoping to do more vegetarian meals as Little B's allergies reduce / improve and as our garden gets bigger and more productive.

I’ve been watching River Cottage recently and found the segments on small holding really interesting. Especially how they grew their own free range chickens for meat. I like this idea but cant really seem to come round to putting into practice (says she who cant pick snails off our vegies). We aim to get chickens for eggs in 2010, and perhaps we may then move onto contemplating them as a food source as well.

Mr B has said he will take on the chook "disposal", if we do the plucking and innards removal. Blech!! But hey thinking about it is a start LOL.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So sad

I still find it so sad when I meet other parents who have begun the allergy merry go round. Especially since in the early days, that is mainly what you get – the run around. This particular couple I met recently had to see 6 different GP’s before they could get anyone to listen to them, then it took another 3 specialists before anyone would listen or even look / touch their child’s skin.

Their 4 month old little boy is covered quite literally from head to toe in eczema. He scratches himself until he bleeds. They were given so much conflicting advice from so many different sources, but finally they have found a specialist who was the first to actually touch and look at their child’s skin. He also gave them some experienced advice and for the first time in recent weeks, their little boy doesn’t spend each day screaming in pain and trying to scratch his skin off.

I applaud them for their perseverance. Its bad enough being a first time parent and then having to battle the medical establishment, who all seem to follow the idea that first time parents can only be hypochondriacs.

I’m a firm believer in trusting your instinct. After all, who lives with your child 24 / 7, who eats, sleeps and breathes with them – you, the parent. So who is going to know if something is wrong – you!!!

If this story says nothing at all, I just want parents, especially newbie’s, never to give up on themselves or their bubbas.

Frugal living = green living = sustainable living?

I find it increasingly interesting how often simple or frugal living can mean that you are being environmentally responsible as well.

In the beginning, there were things I started doing to be more frugal that I can see now were eco-friendly. We didn’t use a dryer (due to power costs), used cloth nappies (for cost and environment), washed in cold water with full loads, cooked from scratch, didnt use chemical products to clean the house, vinegar as a fabric softener and our the primary reason for these was to save dollars.

And now with the new things I have tried as well I can see this parallel too. Knitting our own dish cloths, not using chemical cleaners, using a lunette cup and cloth pads, using fans not air con, buying 2nd hand clothes and so on. Its why I really look back with interest to what Granny B and MIL B did when we were growing up, that was done for frugalness but was more environmentally friendly as well.

Obviously this doesn’t always apply. Having to cook from scratch as much as I do for Little B, I can see that the link between cooking from scratch and knowing the ingredients is far more important, than buying the cheapest ingredients. I’m more likely to buy organic now, and grow my own food.

Mind you I am still a dollar stretcher and whilst I buy the “best” food I can for our family, I save pennies where I can. I guess its ingrained in me after years of simple living as a choice ☺

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Garden Update

Well our zucchini seedlings are no more. The Midnight Monsters aka a possum family have helped themselves and eaten them all up ☹ I think it might be time to invest in some cloches. I’ve seen some glass ones and bamboo wicker type ones, and am leaning towards the wicker-esque ones first methinks.

Interestingly, they only seem to ransack one part of the garden and don’t investigate our raised beds (or maybe they are just scared of snails, because we have a plague of those around there). Granny B has become an expert snail smasher (with a running commentary from Little B). I am too faint hearted to even look at snails, in fact just thinking about them now is inducing an urge to vomit LOL.

But everything else is growing really well. Our cherry tomatoes have had a huge burst of growth, and our beans have overcome their transplanting shock. Our cucumber has recovered from a snail attack and has some weenie baby cucumbers on it. And our snow peas are still taking over the world.

We planted:
- more zucchini (what can I say I’m a sucker for punishment)
- red capsicum
- carrots
- lettuce

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas tree o Christmas tree

We haven’t had a Christmas tree since Little B has been born. In the early days, Mr B and I had a tree but one of our lovely furbabies decided her first Xmas to eat the tinsel, some Christmas decorations and a Christmas light. She spent Christmas at the vet, having her insides cleaned out and being resewn together. Very expensive Christmas that year ;-)

But this year we have decided that Little B needs a Christmas tree (mind you I reeeeally want one too). And since our previous Christmas decorations were too tasty, we are looking at having an eco-friendly decoration bonanza.

We started early by making bakers clay and letting Little B cut out Xmas shapes, baking them and painting them. He had an absolute ball doing this and it was fun for us as well. We made some extras so that he can give them to his grandparents as Xmas pressies.

We then moved onto making crafty gods eyes in jazzy colours. And with each week leading up to Xmas we have planned one Christmas decoration craft project per week to do together. Now I know at the end we wont have the designer magazine Christmas tree, but what we will have is:
• eco-friendly decorations
• lots of quality time spent with Little B
• lovely memories of Little B’s ecstatic joy at creating his “masterpieces”
• the joy in perhaps creating a new tradition for our family
• and last but not least, the House of B’s first family Christmas tree.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ice cream, we all scream for ice cream

I’ve found a less intensive way to whip up some ice cream for Little B. A d├ęcor Frosty Mug. I just put in the rice milk, stir for 2 minutes, wait for 2 minutes and bam, we have instant icecream.

This has been the most fabulous addition to my kitchen. It satisfies Little B as he has become quite keen on the concept of ice cream from books and watching other kids. And for me its something easy to do and make for him when its hot or as a treat.

Little B has never had real ice cream, so to him it’s the real deal. Plus he loves rice milk, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone ☺

Thursday, November 19, 2009

20 years on and still current

I’m currently reading Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison and am just blown away by the fact that Bill Mollison wrote this in the early 90’s. Nearly 20 years later, I’m impressed that so much of what he has written is even more applicable today.

I love the concepts in Permaculture and eventually hope to do a short or weekend course to study it a bit further. The idea of planning your garden around 4 zones really appeals to me. Also the idea that everything that comes onto your block, stays on your block really resonates with me. So much so that I am making a huge concerted effort to follow this principle as best I can. Its made me change my shopping habits even more.

By luck and a bit of information, we have accidently designed Granny B’s garden in this way. Yay for us. But with my new “garden” already forming in my mind, I am so eager to embrace and implement permaculture principles and design on its blank canvas. I am well into the design stage and am really enjoying the planning process.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm in love.....

I have finally found low VOC wood stains and oils in Australia. This has driven me mad for ages as there were none to be found in Oz but have existed for ages in Europe and the US. Now Livos is importing them from Germany.

I cant wait to trial this on a dining table that I am refurbishing in readiness for our new abode. And also then on the floorboards, architraves and skirting as well. I’m told you cant smell anything after 48 hours and with Little B having multiple food allergies and chemical sensitivities, it sounds like a dream come true.

Will post back pics once our new table is on its pathway to dreaminess.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just a little bit of ignorance!!

You know I am really starting to tire of professionals who are ignorant about allergies. Little B goes to 3 year old kindergarten next year. So at the start of the year I began looking for kinders for him.

I’m lucky that I found a great and supportive one almost immediately. They have previously had children who are anaphylactic to nuts and as such were open to a child with multiple food allergies. They also already have a policy about only eating out of lunchboxes and if the child is highly allergic than a staff member sits next to them during snack time.

But I did have one other kindy tell me they weren’t keen to have him as it was too complicated. Though they didn’t think it was too complicated to have a child with anaphylaxis nor to do the training for an epi-pen. Just too complicated to make sure fruit wasn’t shared!?!?!?!?

But I experienced mind blowing ignorance from another kindy teacher. Upon learning he bleeds gastro-intestinally from the foods he is allergic too, she said “oh well that’s not as important to me as a child with anaphylaxis”. When I clarified this comment, she again insisted it wasn’t something she had to concern herself about. This same kindy has only just moved to lunchboxes and still insists on providing milk drinks during snack times.

Not only milk – but this milk is bought by a different parent each kindy day. As a parent to a child with a multiple food allergies, I was blown away by this woman and kindy. One, who serves milk in this day and age with allergies on the increase – let alone relies on varying individuals to provide it? Secondly, just because Little B wouldn’t swell up, stop breathing and potentially die in front of her, she wasn’t willing to keep an eye on him during a kinder session.

Needless to say I didn’t pick this kindergarten but I have heard of some parents sending their cows milk allergic children to kindergarten or child care where they have been given cows milk (even though the parents have provided an alternative).

Just how ignorant can people be? And how did they get their jobs as educational professionals?

Herb Garden

Today, Granny B and I decided to start a herb garden and a lettuce garden in some polystyrene boxes we have been donated. Our lettuces aren’t working so well at Granny B’s (and in past years we have normally grown them at my place).

Here is the blank canvas:

And here are the herb and lettuce boxes (we have two kinds of lettuce and some baby spinach on one side, and basil, oregano and coriander on the otherside):

By re-purposing these boxes, it means we can keep them close to the back door but it also makes them transportable should we wish to move them around the yard. I will start on a new vegie garden at the new House of B pronto but starting in the middle of summer means I will probably be getting ready for autumn planting or late Feb.

I’m looking forward to starting another herb garden. We have a great rosemary and sage patch, but it will be fun to try these new one this year. I also wouldn’t mind turning my hand to some asian herbs as well.

Today we also planted:
- rockmelon
- more pumpkin
- eggplant
- more carrots (the last lot were eaten by creatures of the night)
- beans

Friday, November 13, 2009

Consumption Rebellion inspiration

I often find at the moment that I am inspired by other people’s blogs or challenges. They make me rethink things that I am doing or want to do.

Currently I’m focussed on buying nothing new (if at all possible), kudos to Consumption Rebellion. This means I’ve been much more creative in looking at reusing things around the house. It also means that if I want something new to wear, use and so on, first I check my cupboards and try to reuse / or refashion, then onto op shops, freecycle, and finally ebay.

Mr B has always been a fan of the rubbish drive special. He also loves to tell me that free is the right price. And as we pack our house for the move, we are reminiscing over the way we acquired items. We have a lovely cork table he uses for his hobbies (from the rubbish drive), some chairs (from the rubbish drive),….are you seeing a theme here. But we also have hand me downs, hand me alongs and bonus finds from the op shop and freecycle.

And since purchasing our new house, it has offered a few challenges too. We started looking early on for a tv type stand (that could be used as more than a tv stand). I’ve made it a habit now to stop into any op shops when in the vicinity as well as eye balling ebay. This helped us find a gorgeous Baltic pine tv stand that has drawers and shelves for other inanities (and will make a kicking toys adventure playground for Little B ☺.

But I guess I’m just amazed at what you can find, if you have a list and then patiently wait to find what you are looking for. And sometimes it is just good flow – Granny B wanted to sell her lounge as she has a progressive back injury, then I happened to see a gorgeous lounge in an op shop. She went and bought it one day, listed her old lounges on ebay same day, they sold that night and were picked up the next day. Perfect flow!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rice Milk Ice cream Recipes

** I’ve made both these recipes back when I was following an elimination diet, Little B has never had the egg one obviously but has tried the oil based one **

1. Dairy, soy, nut free version

100g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
4 egg yolks
2 cups rice milk

Add 1stp vanilla essence for vanilla ice cream
Add 1/3rd cup cocoa for choc icecream

- Combine caster sugar, egg yolks, cornflour, beat until mixture becomes very very light yellow.
- Bring rice milk to boil on stove top. Mix together.
- Put back into saucepan and stir continuously until slightly thicker.
- Cool in fridge for 7 hours. Put in icecream maker as per instructions.
- and walla you have ice cream.

2. Dairy, soy, egg and nut free version

Exactly the same as above but instead of egg yolk, you add 1tbsp rice bran oil.

I used the 2nd recipe for ice cream Christmas puddings last year and everyone loved them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It starts at the beginning

I’ve been looking at kindergartens for a few months as Little B is nearly 3. And I have to say that I have been surprised by the lack of environmental consciousness in most them. You would think that in this day and age with Stephanie Alexander’s school kitchen gardens and the like there would be more interest in all things eco.

I’m lucky that I have found a kindy that follows my green and sustainable ethos. I think this is really important for two reasons: one, I want to support and encourage local community projects / businesses that are reducing their carbon footprint and two, I want Little B to learn these life skills, belief systems, fundamentals from places other than just our little family.

His new kindy-to-be is on green energy, has water tanks, is chemical free, has a vegie garden for the kids, has a Bokashi bucket, a worm farm, fruit trees and only uses art and craft supplies which are recycled.

And I’m proud to say that even though he is only 3, the primary school that this kindy feeds into is equally green. In my opinion, this is the best type of education to begin their lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Garden Update

Our snowpeas are growing…and growing…and growing. In fact I think they might take over the world ☺ Which is great actually, as last year they grew really fast at the start and then got too wet and keeled over and died.

Our strawberries are flourishing as well. The snails don’t seem to have noticed them (though they’ve noticed everything else in the garden – goodbye cucumbers).

And our carrots are slowly appearing in the vegie bed. I’m just waiting to see if our capsicums are going to grow from seed or whether I'll admit defeat and start cultivating seedlings first.

We’ve used a combination of seeds straight into the ground and are own home grown seedlings this year. I’m curious to see which does better in our different vegie patches. We have three going with different processes – one is a no dig above ground, one is cultivated earth (we worked it over a lot during winter with manures and compost) and one is just good old fashioned dirt with no help from us. Ironically at the moment, it’s the good old dirt winning the race, but its still too early to tell.

We planted:
- more zucchini
- pumpkin
- more lettuce (this isn’t thriving as well this year)
- pak choy

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The gastro fairies have come visiting :-(

Unfortunately the gastro fairies have come visiting Little B. He is one sick little man – high temps and all the rest. I have to say I dread gastro as it takes a huge toll on Little B.

Last September he had a horrid rotavirus that ended up with him being hospitalised twice. He ran a temp of 40 for 4 days and we were changing nappies a minimum of 16 times a day. But that wasn’t the worst bit, he lost heaps of weight and it took him 3 months to recover fully. Luckily he was still breastfed and that kept him hydrated and soldiered him through.

The problem with having multiple food allergies is he doesn’t really have a buffer to fight off viruses like these. Its not like I can offer heaps of appetising foods to encourage appetite and rice milk unfortunately is basically white water with some calcium LOL (our dietitians description not ours).

Fingers crossed these fairies are only visiting for a very short while.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I don’t do….

In homage to Unstuffed, I have decided to do my own list of some of What I Don’t Do…

- I don’t use the clothes dryer
- I don’t use my lights in the house unless it is dark outside
- If its yellow, I let it mellow
- I don’t use the air conditioner
- I don’t use shampoo or conditioner
- I don’t use chemicals for cleaning or bathing or anything really
- I eat very little processed, pre-packaged foods
- I don’t use disposable beauty or personal products (Lunette cup, cloth pads)
- I try not to buy new (secondhand clothes, secondhand furniture, borrow from the library, freecycle, reuse / recycle etc etc)
- I don’t accept junk mail, I don’t buy magazines, I don’t buy newspapers
- I don’t leave the computer plugged in (use a laptop and its battery)
- I am trying not to use plastic (currently in the slow process of converting all our containers over to glass)
- I don’t do bottled water (sigg bottles baby – all the way)
- I don’t use plastic shopping bags
- I don’t let Little B watch much tv (there are better things to do in life)

I’d like to add heaps more to this list – but what can I say, I’m a work in progress ☺

Friday, November 6, 2009

Where for art thou compost?

One of the things about moving house is that I have to leave my poor compost bins behind. A weird thing to miss I hear you say but I will miss them. My compost bins have been a saga of trial and error (initially more error than trial). And now just as I have got them to the stage where they break down well and fairly quickly, I am leaving them behind *sniff, sniff*.

But I guess the good news from it all is I wont make the same mistakes again and can start anew, with some new bins. At least the new ones will be within walking distance to the house. At the moment, I put off putting our vegie scraps into the bins as long as possible before I have to abseil down our block to the bins. Lucky I am committed to being green LOL.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Allergy Cheer Squad - I salute you!

Over the course of our allergy journey, we have met some amazing mainstream and non mainstream medical professionals. And I would like to take this opportunity to give them the applause they deserve.

First up, is Robyn Thompson, a midwife and lactation consultant based in Melbourne. We met her in the early days for breastfeeding help. The best advice Robyn gave me was that "every mother should follow their instincts". I use this as my mantra. After all, we eat, sleep and breathe with our children on a daily basis. Who better to know if something is wrong. She gave me the most amazing confidence as a first time mother, and that is priceless.

Another member of my cheer squad, is Jacinta Tobin, a paediatric gastroenterologist who focusses on food allergies and nutrition. She is another amazing woman who backs mothers with complete confidence. She believes that mothers intuition is absolute and works so hard to help. If we hadnt found this woman, we would still be living with one very sick little boy.

Finally, Sue & Howard Dengate have been a fantastic help as well. Their website and books on going failsafe saved my sanity. Salicylates are completely evil where Little B is concerned. He is a nightmare when he eats high salicylate foods not to mention sleep goes completely out the window. This couple answered any and all questions I sent via email, and again made me confident to make the right food choices for Little B.

Confidence especially when you are a new mum can be hard to come by. These individuals made sure that this allergy journey was made as a mother confident that she knew something was wrong with her little boy. A mum who wasnt going to go down without a fight to get the help he needed. Ladies and gentlemen I salute you!!!

Finally some good news....

I'm am proud to say that Little B has been weaned off his reflux medication......finally!! The combination of probiotics and vitamin d has meant that we can be drug free. In fact, the end result has inspired me so much that I am attempting to wean myself off similar medication.

Little B is a lot happier and sleeps SO much better. As someone who could hold the Crappiest Sleeper in The World title, this has been an absolute eye opener and joyful experience for me. Its very odd not to wake multiple times a night, often with screaming involved (from his side only LOL). He is much calmer and eats so much better as well.

Who would have thought it would make such a difference. So I take my hat off to his paed gastro, Jacinta Tobin. She walks off the beaten path and at the forefront of paediatric gastroenterology for allergy bubbas and I admire her determination and spirit.

House of B is moving

We're moving house soon. We've worked really hard to make our current house eco-friendly and sustainable, but the irony is now that we have just got our solar panels we are moving house :-) But we are very excited about the new House of B. It is a larger block, with a house that lends itself better to being made over in a sustainable way.

Also even though we are moving further out, it has greater access to public transport and the ability to walk to local shops etc. So we wont have to use the car as much (have no choice where we currently live - its the car or rock climbing). And the exciting bit for me, is the garden (read lawn and some fruit trees) is a blank canvas for me to redo my vegie garden. And I'm keen to do a big permaculture garden.

Since we move in 5 weeks, I've been indulging my gardening urges by working on Granny B's garden. Another plus for new house is its 6 doors down from Granny B's (yay the walking distance thing again). We've been working hard on putting in spring plantings and enjoying all our mini orchard fruit trees blossoming. Our blueberries are fruiting and so are our dwarf peaches. Yummmmmmmm

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sneaky little vampire loads

I'm proud to say that reducing our electricity usage is really paying off. We are now down to 11kw a day!! *dance, dance*.
By slowly turning things off at the powerpoint and not using other items, I am slowly whittling down dollar amount of our electricity bill as well as kilowatts used.

Biggest culprits so far have been the things that have vampire (standby) power -
* the TV (when not in use we pull the plug out - it spends alot of its life like this LOL)
* microwave (which we turn off unless we use it)
* lights (which we changed to 12 watt leds)
* mobile phone charger (keep unplugged)
* computer (moved to laptop, and use battery until it needs charging)
* digital alarm clocks (we moved to old fashioned key wound alarm clocks).

But one of the biggest culprits has been our cordless phones. Call it a blinding flash of the obvious, but I didnt even think of these until I read a Choice article on them. By going back to an "old fashioned" phone, we knocked $40 off our electricity bill alone. The mind boggles!!!!

But I have more to attack with our house, and with a move to a new house, we hope to bring it down even further.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Go no poo :-)

I have been reading an ever expanding list of blogs recently which have inspired me to try new things at home.

The most successful was has been going shampoo free. Who would have thought it would feel so freeing. I have been in an ongoing battle to find a chemical free shampoo that actually cleans my dirty mop of hair. I would think I'd hit onto a new favourite but it would disappoint after two or three washes, leaving me with limp dirty hair.

I am so happy to say my new process works like a dream. I sprinkle bicarb on my hair when dry, rub it into my scalp. Then jump into the shower and rinse it out. I follow this with a vinegar water mix as a conditioner. My hair has never been this soft or clean. It also doesnt get as dirty as usual.

I'm not the first to try it nor the last I'm sure, but I am so happy to find something that works!! :-)

And thus begins the scented path....

After being inspired by so many green blogs, I thought I would start my own.

I began our families journey 3 years ago when Mr B and I began a business based on solar. With each step into this new domain, we began to focus more carefully on our choices. In hindsight, they were baby steps. We watched our power usage (or so we thought), I cooked all our meals, ate "healthily" and made a tree change to live closer to the environment.

Little B was then born and I began to take my decisions and choices in earnest.

I'm lucky that we already had embraced breastfeeding and cloth nappies. But when Little B was diagnosed with food allergies, I started to take a really good look at our food choices. Boy was I shocked. I thought we done all the "good things" but really we were eating things full of fillers, not to mention pesticides etc on our food.

And with this focus, my eyes literally opened wide to how we were living our lives. Yes we had begun a sustainable business but our lifestyle left much to be desired.

And so began our journey along the scented path...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I wish he could eat more things

I'm starting to tire of this journey. We are currently in limbo and trying to wean Toddler B off his reflux medication. He's been on it since he was 5 months old and I think he needs a break. The good news is that he seems to be responding well to the decrease in his meds. Bad news for me is this is a 2 month process and we cant food trial until it is over.

I just wish he could eat more things. It feels like we go round and round a limited circle. Which is fine most of the time. But some days he doesnt want to eat anything on offer BUT I dont have anything else I can offer him.

So I've had my nose to the grindstone to start modifying new recipes which just puts the same ingredients into different configurations :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hospitals Suck

Toddler B went in for a procedure for his teeth yesterday (another issue from antibiotics during pregnancy). He had a general anaesthetic. First of all, they dont make an unflavoured anaesthetic for children - its all strawberry, chocolate or pineapple flavoured. All childrens face masks are imbued with scent as well.

So today I have a child getting over a GA and having a massive reaction to the overdose of salicylates in the scented masks etc.

Also in recovery, do they cater for children with food allergies?? Of course not!! I was prepared and took our own food, but nurses kept insisting he ate one of their icy poles. Umm no - he's allergic. I was starting to feel like a broken record.

Food Challenges

Up until recently, Toddler B has failed all his food challenges. Soy is as evil as ever!!
He also failed his most recent egg challenge as well.

We tried a dairy challenge in April under the supervision of an allergy dietician. While he initially passed a cooked milk, he failed yoghurt dismally. So four months later we are in the process of our next dairy challenge.

Against common advice we are avoiding yoghurt and cheese completely. After much research, I believe the protein chains are inducing an allergic response in Toddler B. So far we have passed milk in baked goodies, and are slowly moving up the chain of a cooked milk custard (de-natured milk as he is allergic to all the additives in formula).

So far so good. I think what has helped the most has been the introduction of a good Probiotic. It has also helped with his environmental allergies. Since introducing the probiotic we have seen a HUGE reduction in his reactions.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Strict Elimination Diets

Well first can I say, initially elimination diets suck. I think the first month was the hardest and after that it just becomes the norm. I missed milk of all things and then ice cream which I didnt really eat beforehand.

Baby B (now Toddler B ;-) didnt know any difference as he didnt have anything to compare it to. I have to say though that there were and are times that I feel like Martha Stewart LOL. Especially when some mornings I'm baking bread, making stock from scratch, baking muffins / cookies and trying to feed a toddler.

But we saw an allergy dietician who was kind of helpful but not. So using guidelines we found our own menu of things to eat. I love experimenting in the kitchen now and working on recipes that Toddler B can eat.

The two most helpful books have been The Friendly Food Cookbook by the Royal Prince Alfred Allergy Unit and the Failsafe books by Sue Dengate. Without these, life would have been a lot harder to start with.

The Second 12 months - Finally some answers

So began the wait to see an allergist. In some states of Australia, the waiting times to see an allergist are 6 - 12 months for public or 3 -6 months for private allergists. We waited to 3 months to see a private allergist.

Baby B was diagnosed with allergies to dairy, soy, eggs, nuts and salicylates. We were put onto an elimination diet and given some elemental formula to try. We also were linked in with another paed gastro who worked with nutrition and children with allergies.

Baby B has no anaphylaxis to the things he is allergic to, but instead has a gastrointestinal response. This can and has resulted in bleeding for him from his stomach and bowels.

Unluckily for us, Baby B is also allergic to all elemental formulas. This required me to continue breastfeeding until he was over 2 years of age as there was nothing else to replace it. So both Baby B and I went onto the strict elimination diet together. Mr B had variations of this as it was too complicated to cook multiple meals :-)

Interestingly the thing that was affecting his sleep were natural foods containing salicylates. We removed things like apple, avocado, corn - many things you introduce baby to with solids and his sleep improved dramatically. Down from waking 15 times a night to 3 or 4 times a night.

The dramas in the second year were 2 x gastroscopies to check for damage to his oesophagus and gut. The paed gastro told us that reflux is a common allergic response to children with allergies. 

The First 12 months - in blindness

We spent the first 12 months of Baby B's life trying to find a diagnosis for his behaviour.

He spent so many hours of the day and night screaming, had horrendous silent reflux, demand fed every 2 hours over a 24 hour period, had eczema on his face, eyebrows and in his ears, he smelt like vomit all the time.

I spoke to so many people. A day stay at a sleep school when he was 14 weeks old only told me he had the worst reflux they had ever seen. And I was sent on my way with "Good luck with that!!"

By 5 months I had worked out it was reflux, managed to get in to see a paed gastro and he was finally put on reflux medication. I wish I could say this was the end of it, but it wasnt. While his reflux improved nothing else did. Most doctors put me down as a hypochondriac mother but I knew something was wrong with my child.

Closer to 12 months, things were getting bad. Baby B woke 15 times a night, EVERY night and slept for only 1 period of 45 mins during the day. I was shattered and had to return to work as well.

I again sought the help of a private sleep specialist. She came and took one look at him during the night and told me outright that "There is no way possible this is a sleep problem". She told me she thought it was food allergies and so we began another pathway.

Allergy Child - How It All Began

Our journey with a child with food allergies began when I was pregnant with Baby B.

From 27 weeks onward I was hit with three urinary tract infections, two of which went on to be bladder infections. This involved 3 rounds of antibiotics. At 30.5 weeks I went into premature labour, but with more medication and completed bed rest, I kept Baby B in utero until he was 40 weeks.

Two weeks after his birth, Baby B and I were back in the hospital as I was suffering from mastitis. 4 days of IV antibiotics and I was sent home. I breastfed Baby B through all of this.

Why is this the start of our allergy journey? Knowing what we do now, our docs believe it was this massive exposure to antibiotics in utero and in his first weeks of life that stripped Baby B's gastrointestinal tract and began the development of his allergies.