Friday, April 30, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. - soulemama

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I am thankful for…..

* my son’s unbridled joy in life
* my dear husbands support in our everyday life, through all the ups and downs
* my close relationship with my beloved mother
* being happy and healthy
* my renewed passions in cooking, gardening, making, creating

* Bloggers like Frontier Dreams, Down to Earth and Soulemama who continually inspire me
* the strong and happy woman I feel that I am becoming
* the lovely community in which we live – just the odd daily interaction can be such a lift
* great friends: old, new and the ones I haven’t met yet

* the magnitude of motherhood with all that it encompasses – I feel like I learn something new everyday, but also relish in the fun and quiet times I can spend with my son
* snuggles on the couch with my boys
* my dancing and the journey it has taken me on for the last 13 years – it’s all about to begin again

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preparing for winter

With the nights getting cooler, I’ve started our normal preparations for winter.

We have aired out the woollen underlay’s and put them on our beds. I’ve also washed all our winter linen and put Little B’s winter sheets on his bed (they are a heavy organic cotton much akin to calico sheets).

I’ve aired out our jumpers and winter jackets, and dug out all Little B’s winter clothes. We’ve had to be a bit creative clothing-wise as the house is so cold. But it’s all about layers here at the House of B and putting Little B in a tracksuit to sleep in was sheer genius LOL.

We also have lots of snugly blankets to cuddle up with when reading or watching tv at night. My favourite is an ancient mohair blanket, whereas Mr B prefers something with polar fleece on the back to keep him warm. There’s definitely something romantic about snuggling up in blankets, when it’s dark and chilly outside.

I’m also getting more serious about my knitting. I’ve done my wrist warmers and have moved onto a scarf for Little B. He’s all set for winter with beanies and gloves, but he loves a good scarf and he came with me to pick the wool J

Finally, Mr B is going to put in some insulation batts underneath the floors of the bedrooms to stop some of the cold coming up from underneath in those rooms at night. We also hope to put insulation in the roof sometime during the next 12 months.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- beans, cherry tomatoes, early pak choy, lots and lots of luscious lemons

- organic pear jam
- Lentil Stew with cous cous (& home-grown vegies of course)
- lemon cordial

- House Rules by Jodi Picoult

- re-organising Little B’s play areas in the house – I’m tired of the house looking like a bomb has hit it after one play session.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy 101 Award!

It was such a surprise to receive this nomination for this award, so BIG hugs and a THANK YOU to Angie for nominating. Angie’s blog is called, Angie’s Healthy Living blog .   She has so many great recipes and tips for living. I love an inspired mum!  A must see J

Here are the rules: 
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. List who gave the award to you and use a link to her blog (or hyperlink).
3. List 10 things that make you happy.
4. Pass the award on to other bloggers and visit their blog to let them know about the award.
10 Things that Make Me Happy
1. My gorgeous son – he brings muchos muchos sparkle to my life
2.     My beloved husband, who makes me intensely happy and has been my absolute rock for the last 8 years.
3.     Dancing of all kinds – but mainly belly dancing 
4.     Spending time with dear friends
5.     Working in my veggie garden with my mum and my son
6.     Reading, reading, reading – I’m lost without a book
7.     Learning new crafty skills
8.     Experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes
9.      My furbaby, Holly – a cute little kitty
10.  Sleeping in but hey that never happens – but I can dream J

Ten Blogs That Make Me Happy!!!

I'm passing this award to:  

Meagan at ecoMILF.  Please go give her a visit she has so many interesting things to say! 
Ashley at Glorious and Free.  This blog makes me smile and / or laugh with her posts – she is very real.
Tricia at Little Eco Footprints.  Her blog is full of green living ideas with children! 
Tara at The Organic SisterLife on the road. Check out her Inspiration Monday!
Sonia at Lighter Shade of Green. A lovely blog I enjoy reading! 
Emily at  Green Apple DesignsHer blog is all about inspiring change! 
Nicole at Frontier DreamsA great crafty blog.
Missa at Thrift CandyOne of my favorite frugal fashion blogs!
Andrea at A Cat of Impossible ColourVintage fashion inspiration.
Fleur at a Diary of a Vintage GirlVintage fashion eat your heart out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. - soulemama

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Blessing for Earth-Healers

We give thanks for all those who are moved, in their lives, to heal and protect the earth, in small ways and in large. Blessings on the composters, the gardeners, the breeders of worms and mushrooms, the soil-builders, those who cleanse the waters and purify the air, all those who clean up the messes others have made. 

Blessings on those who defend trees and who plant trees, who guard the forests and who renew the forests. Blessings on those who learn to heal the grasslands and renew the streams, on those who prevent erosion, who restore the salmon and the fisheries, who guard the healing herbs and who know the lore of the wild plants. 

Blessings on those who heal the cities and bring them alive again with excitement and creativity and love. Gratitude and blessings to all who stand against greed, who risk themselves, to those who have bled and been wounded, and to those who have given their lives in service of the earth.

May all the healers of the earth find their own healing. May they be fueled by passionate love for the earth. May they know their fear but not be stopped by fear. May they feel their anger and yet not be ruled by rage. May they honor their grief but not be paralyzed by sorrow. May they transform fear, rage, and grief into compassion and the inspiration to act in service of what they love. 

May they find the help, the resources, the courage, the luck, the strength, the love, the health, the joy that they need to do the work. May they be in the right place, at the right time, in the right way. May they bring alive a great awakening, open a listening ear to hear the earth's voice, transform imbalance to balance, hate and greed to love. Blessed be the healers of the earth.

From "The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature"
by Starhawk

Bathroom Cleaning

In keeping with our green ethos, I only use toxic-free products when cleaning our house. The key things are vinegar, bicarb soda, microfiber cloths and a home-made house cleaner. These keep everything sparkly and clean.

Bicarb is good for cleaning grout and together bicarb, vinegar and microfiber cloths are good at cleaning everything from toilet seats, benches and the bath (obviously not in that order LOL). But I was still having some trouble in the bathroom. The new house wasn’t kept clean before we lived here, and in some cases the dirt was very deeply ingrained (especially in the showers and toilets).

So I decided to try liquid Castile soap. Armed with nothing else other than a scrubbing brush, I went hard at the dirt. And the Castile soap was amazing. Cleaned it all away with no fuss. The grout is sparkling white again as are the toilets. I am in love with this as a cleaner now, especially since you can get it unfragranced.

So now between liquid Castile Soap and our household cleaner, I feel like I have all bases covered in the cleaning arena.

Home-made Household Cleaner

200mls vinegar
1 litre of water
40mls dishwashing detergent (I use Ecostore)
2 tbsps washing soda (also known as electric soda)

I just mix together in the order listed, give it a shake and then decant into spray bottles as required.

This is a great all purpose cleaner – cleans toilets, stainless steel, mirrors – you name it. It’s also really cheap to make, which is an added bonus J

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

If I was.....

After seeing this done by Thrift Candy, I was inspired to give it a go myself. If you feel like it, you should too!
If I was a month, I’d be November

If I was a day of the week, I’d be Friday
If I was a time of day, I’d be sunrise

If I was a planet, I’d be Earth

If I was an animal of the sea, I’d be a dolphin

If I was a direction, I’d be homeward bound

If I was a piece of furniture, I’d be a comfy reading chair

If I was a liquid, I’d be a raindrop
If I was a gemstone, I’d be a garnet

If I was a tree, I’d be an elder tree

If I was a tool, I’d be a screwdriver

If I was a material, I’d be soft organic cotton
If I was a kind of weather, I’d be the calm before the storm
If I was a musical instrument, I’d be a guitar

If I was a color, I’d be a rich deep blue

If I was an emotion, I’d be thoughtful
If I was a fruit, I’d be a strawberry
If I was a sound, I’d be laughter
If I was an element, I’d be earth
If I was an automobile, I’d be a cute little hybrid, like a Ford Econetic

If I was a food, I’d be home-made pizza
If I was a taste, I’d be salty
If I was a scent, I’d be freshly baked bread
If I was a place, I’d be Stonehenge
If I was a flower, I’d be a salvia

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- parsnips

- Roast chicken with roast vegies & home-made gravy

Listening to
- No Baggage by Dolores O’Riordan

- The new Dr Who - hurry up and be 7.30pm already (though no-one beats David Tennant :-)

- After watching Costa's Garden Odyssey this week, I spent today ripping up all my sheet mulching. We then mowed it down to the dirt, and started it all over again a la Costa. Also did this around our existing fruit trees (think lots of newspaper and lucerne mulch). Oh so very tired tonight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. - soulemama


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Garden Update

I have carrots!! J We put copper around the edge of the vegie beds and lo and behold, the deadly snails have left the building. Now begins the battle with cabbage moths and caterpillars. I spent ages on Saturday squashing caterpillar eggs on all my pak choy mix. But soon I will start using organic garlic spray to keep the buggies at bay.

We have also dug over two of the summer vegie beds and put in lots of mixed manure and compost. Topped off with mulch we will leave these beds to rot down nicely over winter, in preparation for spring. In a few months, I will repeat the process so they develop nice rich earth.

We are still planting progressively for our winter garden and have had some really good growth.

The pak choy

Lovely new broad beans

Our cherry tomatoes are flowering again :-o

I’ve also been working heavily on the beds that I want to plant bare rooted fruit trees this winter. I’m trying to kill off all the grass, and improve the soil, so they can go into the ground at the start of June.

At the moment we have settled on a plum tree, an avocado tree, a few horseradish trees (which are edible and good for wood) and an elder tree (for the flowers and the fruit). Once the gardens are more established over the next 12 months, we hope to add some more fruit trees and a pistachio tree for Mr B.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

May contain traces of.....

Cross contamination is really big issue in allergy families. I often feel like we live in an allergy minefield. Generally if Little B has a reaction (depending on that reaction, for example, soy makes him bleed internally) we know what has caused it.

But then we have days or in this case weeks, where Little B shows obvious signs of allergy (for him) and we quite literally have no idea what is causing it. Recently Little B had allergy shiners, looked very pale and unwell, was sleeping poorly and had really weird stools and we had no idea why. Nothing had changed in his diet or life.

So then you start to clutch at straws – is environmental?, growth spurt?, a new allergen?, cross contamination?....I could quite literally go on for pages and pages.

But then Little B started to bleed from his bowels and we knew that we had a serious problem on our hands. After numerous discussions with his paed gastro, we were resigned that we may have to begin the strict elimination diet all over again looking for new allergens. This was devastating to me as it would have been literally like taking 200 steps backward to 16 months ago.

Until we discovered that the rice milk we use is now cross contaminated with soy. They used to make the milks on different lines and now in the name of cost cutting and saving dollars, they make both milks on the same line. Which is sheer hell for allergy families like ours.

We have removed this milk from Little B’s diet and his health has begun to improve. Almost immediately his stomach and bowels settled down and he began sleeping again.

Cross contamination is hard enough at the best of times without companies banging soy into everything (but that’s another post altogether).

How to entertain a 3 year old

Here at the House of B we keep our tv watching to a minimum. Little B is only allowed to watch 30 minutes a day after dinner and I tape the programs he is allowed to watch. He is mainly enamoured with Play School (though Lunar Jim, Fifi & the Flower Tots and Curious George make an appearance as well).

Playing on swings

But the question I get asked the most, is how do I entertain a 3 year-old for 12 hours a day without tv?

Well the things we do (in no particular order):
* go for a walk at the local nature reserve
* play in the sandpit
* painting
* make and / or play with play dough
* work in the garden (Little B loves to dig and look at bugs, he also loves to pick and plant vegies)
* bake (muffins, biscuits, icy poles, bread rolls)
* go to the local swimming pool in summer, to the indoor pool in winter
* investigate a variety of playgrounds
* go to story time at the library
* go to the library to borrow books
* play with puppets and put on a puppet show
* listen to stories on our ipod (e-books)
* read books
* play dress ups
* water play / washing “dishes”/ paddling pool
* listen to / make music with drums, tambourines, guitars
* play soccer outside on the grass

Most of these things cost very little to no dollars. Little B goes to preschool twice a week (2.5 hours a time) so this fills some time.

I try to have a day for craft, a day for baking, a day that we go out to the playground, a day for the library. Things like reading books and listening to stories are every day options. Also throw in play dates and really our time is pretty full.

Dress Ups

I also encourage Little B to play by himself each day, even if its only looking at pictures in his books, so that he can get used to entertaining himself. This means that I have a very creative imaginative little boy….his imaginative play is out of this world.

I’m also lucky that I have close friends who follow a similar lifestyle and also choose the tv-free option when raising their kids. We share ideas about different things to do or try depending on the ages of our kidlets.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- yet more cherry tomatoes and green beans (these plants are amazing but on the wind down)

- peas, fennel,

- Roast Vegie Pizzas (my first time making pizza dough – two thumbs up
- Banana Bread

- Latest issue of Organic Gardener magazine

- digging out the summer veggie beds, and digging in 80 litres of manure and compost. To let it all rot down over winter and become good fertile soil for spring.
- fixing the roof of our deck outside Little B’s room – the banging from the wind is waking him up oh so early!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cheeky Check-up

Pic courtesy of Beyond Breast Cancer

On Good Friday, I had the misfortune to find a lump in my breast. After a very long and worry full Easter weekend, I began the roller coaster that revolves around breast lumps and their infamous potential.

First up the GP, then a mammogram and an ultrasound…. I’ll be the first to say a mammogram is uncomfortable (unless you like your boobs being squished between two plates LOL) but not nearly as fearsome as some people make them out to be.

Now I’m lucky, it turned out to only be a calcified duct. Nothing needs to be done for this and it will re-absorb with time. I was also told that I have fibrocystic breasts – which just means I have a particular dense type of breast tissue that is actually fairly common amongst women. It also means that I need to keep an eye on myself and rush straight to the doc should anything like this happen again. There is a very very small risk that a lump could be breast cancer.

But I heartily recommend monthly breast self-checks no matter how young you are. I’m only 32 but it shows you that anything can happen and we should all take the first responsibility of caring for our body and our health. Cheeky check-up is a cute little website that tells you how to go about it.

After all the stress, Mr B decide to spoil me…. now for some people that’s chocolate or ice cream…but for me it’s a DVD full of Chuck Bass ;-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The latest rubbish drive addition

Its hard rubbish collection time here in the Dandenong Ranges, and Mr B and I have been gleefully trawling the rubbish drive looking for gems.

We have had sparkling success this year:

A Hills Swing Set for Little B (in fantastic condition)

Wicker baskets to store toys (in my bid to go plastic-free)

And the piece de resistance – a little tractor – Mr B has already begun the process of converting it into a mini electric vehicle (There are benefits to marrying an engineer J.

What can I say (as Mr B reminds me daily) – free is the right price LOL.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Organic & Fair-trade

It used to be that if I couldn’t get organic, then I’d be happy to buy fair-trade instead. But now I find my opinion has changed, in that I’m really not happy unless it’s both. Especially where food is concerned.

Easter is a good example. Last year I was happy with fair-trade eggs from Oxfam but this year I would only settling for organic and fair-trade. Luckily I came across Organic Times easter eggs – these are organic, fair-trade and made with rapadura sugar so not highly processed or refined. They were delicious!!

A combination of factors has influenced my decision. The more I read about the chemicals used in and on our food, the more I become more staunchly organic across all facets of the House of B. Plus the more I read about the chemicals used in growing food overseas and the fumigants used on fabrics / clothing / wood items that are imported into Australia (methyl bromide in particular), the less enamoured I am with some fair-trade items.

Methyl Bromide is a fumigant that is banned in Australia but an exception is made for quarantine use. It is highly toxic, can cause cancers and a myriad of other symptoms, and they are only required to set the products aside for 9 days before people can touch it. It is heavily used in the quarantine industry in Australia and New Zealand.

This doesn’t stop me buying all fair-trade items, it just means I am much more selective about what I do purchase. I also donate directly to organisations in need (such as Ki Kati and Carpets for Communities).

I also support organisations such as Oxfam and Plan International due to their programs that help encourage and support small industry within countries of need. I love the concept of Kiva as well (lending to small entrepreneurs to combat poverty - a bit like micro-loans) and have just started participating there as well.

What can I say, I love to help with community building, and supporting small industry (especially those that help women) but I am equally committed to living as toxic free as possible and giving Little B the best possible chance to be healthy and poison free.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison 

Happy Easter

- cherry tomatoes, beans and spring onions

- carrots

- Sweet Potato & Quinoa Soup
- Hot crusty rolls
- Organic pear icypoles

- My trusty arm warmers – I’ll finish them one day, I promise J

- Making Easter frames and painting blown eggs with Little B & Granny B

- Healesville Craft & Produce Market
- Eating yummy organic fair-trade easter eggs with Mr B

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Home-made Gnocchi

This is a staple recipe in our household. Its quick and easy and tastes divine :-) It was only hard the first time I made it, when I had no idea what I was doing and used a garlic press to puree the potatoes LOL. Now I know what I’m doing, its easy peasy.

We either use this with an organic tomato pasta sauce for us with lots of added vegies (which we blanche quickly with the gnocchi) & organic cheese or with a lentil vegie pasta sauce that we make for Little B.

The two important things in a gnocchi recipe are having the right kind of potatoes, -they need to be floury. And using the right amount of flour – too much and they become stodgy, too little and they disintegrate in the water when they are cooking.

I prefer Sebago potatoes. I find desiree are too time consuming to peel by hand. This recipe I adapted from a recipe at

Fresh uncooked home-made gnocchi

4 x organic desiree or Sebago potatoes, unpeeled
1 and 1/3 cup organic plain flour

 Place potatoes in saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over a high heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes (depending on size of potatoes). Drain well and set aside until cool enough to handle.
 While still hot, peel by hand and discard the skins. Using sieve or potato ricer, puree potatoes into bowl. Cool slightly.
 Add flour to the potatoes, then use hands to knead briefly until a soft dough forms.
- Cut into 4 equal pieces. Using your hands, gently roll each piece to form a log 2cm wide. Cut lengths of 1.5cm. You can run one side of gnocchi over the tines of a fork (this pattern helps the sauce to stick – but I sometimes skip this step and hasn’t made a difference that I can see).
 Add to boiling water. Once the gnocchi has floated to the surface, let them cook for approx 10 secs. Drain well.
 Add sauce and serve.