Sunday, May 30, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- pak choy, spring onions, last of our beans

- Minestrone Primavera
- Garlic & Thyme Foccacia

- Animal, vegetable, miracle: Our year of seasonal eating by Barbara Kingsolver (I love this book – I’ve borrowed it from the library but its definitely one I want to own)

- back to Little B’s blue scarf – I’ve been reading a bit too much rather than knitting LOL

- Lots of measuring, planning and drawing: we are working out where to put the new veggie garden beds at the House of B in time for spring planting. We want optimum sun during summer AND winter, but we also want  them to fit in with our future plans for our backyard (think BIG rainwater tanks!!)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

One rainy morning, one sick child, one sleep deprived shouty mummy = gingerbread cookies J 

We had great fun making these this morning. They cheered us up and we have so many left over we took them as afternoon tea to a family shindig this afternoon.

Friday, May 28, 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.  Inspired by soulemama

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dreams ;-)

Little B: “Mummy when I grow up I’m going to be a choc chip – with no eyes, but I’ll have legs and a mouth”

Mrs B: “That sounds like a really great plan, honey”

Little B: “and mummy you’ll be a choc chip with teeth but no legs”

Now I know that’s how I like to think of myself - a razor toothed legless chochip J

I swear you couldn’t make it up, if you tried!!

Days for Cooking

I read a book recently written by an Italian woman, who in turn was writing about her mother and grandmother. Their approach to cooking was to have a day that they made their weekly bread and a day that they made their weekly pasta.

I love this idea. I might adopt it myself as we make at a minimum 2-3 loaves a week, plus rolls, muffins, biscuits, pasta sauces, soups, jams etc that we need to have on hand at any one point in time. It would be nice to plan ahead for specific days, to free up some of our other days.

To give you an idea of a random cooking week at the House of B (outside of dinner):
  • Sun -- Loaf of Bread, Vat of soup, Pumpkin pasta sauce
  • Mon -- Muffins, Custard
  • Tues -- Gnocchi, Stewed Pears and subsequent Pear Icypoles
  • Wed -- Batch of rolls, loaf of bread, baked beans, custard
  • Thur -- Biscuits, Sausage rolls
  • Fri -- Custard
  • Sat -- Loaf of bread

Of course this doesn’t include the weeks that I make jam, cordial, or anything bigger and more time consuming.

We recently swapped upright freezers with Granny B, so that she had the little one and we have the big one. Our predominant reason for this was so that I could bulk cook and freeze things like bread to have on hand.

At the moment, all the constant cooking is fine but it’s a process that would easily fall down should I fall sick or something else gets thrown into the mix (something my recent broken nose has made me seriously think about). Having a child with multiple food allergies means that we cant just duck down to the shops and buy something to eat.

So onwards with the bulk cooking methinks!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kitchen Concoctions

Lemon cordial steeping

I love the days that Little B is at preschool. I spend these free daylight hours indulging myself by making different concoctions in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake but don’t get as much free time as I’d like to experiment. So I’ve designated these 5 hours a week as my kitchen play time.

It lets me have the success, failures and complications without my faithful side kick sticking his fingers in or asking me why he cant eat said food before it is cooked ;-)

It’s during this space that I’ve learnt to make gnocchi, hot cross buns, pastry, jam, and cordials as well as adapt and trial allergy friendly recipes.

Stewed fruit for icypoles

With some good tunes to croon along to (current faves are Basia Bulat and Norah Jones), I find this time reinvigorating. It allows me to be me – not Mr B’s wife or Little B’s mum or a good employee – just me. It’s serene, it’s peaceful, it gives me solace….it’s simple.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- Pak choy

- Organic Chicken Noodle Soup
- Bread rolls
- Lemon Cordial (our lemon tree has so much fruit at the moment)

- Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

- visiting Healesville Sanctuary – Little B is obsessed with seeing an emu and a kangaroo at the moment, so what better way to get up close J

My boys

Little B & Granny B with a platypus statue

Friday, May 21, 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.  Inspired by soulemama

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Education Week

It’s Education Week locally, so even though Little B is only 3.5, we have been going along to look at local primary schools. Mainly because next year is the start of the new baby boom going to school, so by 2012, the schools may start to zone. Some principals have even advised me that we need to be enrolled by the first few weeks of next year :-0

But I’m looking for a different sort of primary school for Little B. After much research, my preference is for school using The Walker Learning Approach. The Walker Learning Approach places the child at the centre of learning and teaching curriculums. It focuses on their interests through active engagement and play. Play and project based learning experiences are the main teaching tools and they also encourage creativity, and imagination.

"Children need to be allowed to be children- and parents need to know that's okay". (Kathy Walker)

There are two such primary schools doing this locally – one has told me we will probably be zoned out due to the popularity of their school but the other one uses this method through to Grade 2. They are also currently in the process of putting in a Nature Playscape to go along with their vegetable and native gardens the children use / play in.

This school also has the children go out into the local National Park and participate in local sustainable programs as well as CFA education (an important thing in a high bushfire prone area if you ask me). As you can probably guess, I’m leaning very heavily towards this second school ;-)

It should be remembered that children at play are not playing about; their games should be seen as their most serious-minded activity. (Montaigne 1580)

Yet, we are also contemplating keeping Little B home until he is 6 before he starts school. Many European schools do this with great success. And the more reading I do the more I can see the benefits of this, especially for boys. Little B is a quiet friendly little boy, quite the watcher, kind and gentle. I can easily see him being lost in the cracks in a big school or even bullied. Hey I’ve seen him lost in the cracks at his kindy during first term, until I stepped in to point it out that all children should have attention not just the loud and out of control ones.

I also like the Steiner / Waldorf kindergarten programs available locally (but not the primary school ones). So this may be something we investigate further. Lots of decisions to make in the next 6-18 months, and like all parents I’d like them to be the “right” ones – right being what is right for Little B and what is right for us as a family. Not just what conforms to the mainstream or what one “should” do.

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
(Eleanor Roosevelt)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Flu fighting kit

With flu season upon us I thought I would write about our flu fighting strategies. This works really well here at the House of B. We are on the whole very healthy year round, rarely sick (no mean feat since Little B started preschool this year and most parents send sick kids along), and if we do get sick, this keeps the worst of it at bay.

As soon as we are sick we start taking olive leaf extract, Sambucol (elderberry extract) and Flustop. If the Flustop doesn’t stop it in its tracks, then the olive leaf and elderberry extract either stop the bug or minimise its symptoms.

I also brew a big batch of chicken soup, full of lovely organic vegies, garlic and ginger, home-made chicken stock and of course organic chicken J and we all indulge heavily. I immediately change the bed linen on all our beds and start airing our house (even if its cold). These last two steps were recommended to me by a homeopath and I think they actually make a difference.

As an everyday preventative, we all take Vitamin D. But not the run of the mill tablets you can buy at the chemist. After much reading and discussions with Little B’s paed gastro, I discovered that normal Vitamin D tablets are only aimed at basic bone health. It’s not high enough to assist in immune health in any way. So Mr B and I take 6000mg a day and Little B takes 1600mg a day.

When sick, we increase this dose to between 8,000 and 10,000mg for the adults only. Olive leaf extract is the key thing that works for Little B, along with the elderberry extract, which also has Echinacea in it.

To overdose on Vitamin D, adults would need to consume close to 50,000 units. I get my levels tested every year and in March had great levels as if “I lived in Queensland and worked outside all day”. To give this perspective prior to taking 6000mg, I took normal tablets and my levels were 20 – the minimum amount for bone health alone should be 80. I’m now 176 and to overdose your levels would have to be over 300. My gp says it’s almost impossible to get to 50,000 iu, so I am comfortable with the amounts we are taking. For children, you should not exceed 2,000mg a day.

Our other preventative is to take one dose of Flustop a week during flu season. Though I have used it successfully with Little B since he started preschool and I noticed all the kids dropping off like flies week in, week out with the dreaded lurgies. Since doing so, he has only been sick once (and of course that was the week I forgot to give it to him – most probably a coincidence).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- garlic

- beans, peas, pak choy

- Spiced Carrot & Lentil Soup
- Bread Twists
- Baked Beans

- big walk through some tracks in the Dandenong Ranges National Park J. The frosty misty morning was just beautiful!!

Me & Little B

Friday, May 14, 2010

Go slower!! And that's an order ;-)

I broke my nose this morning. I wish I could say that I was doing something hardcore like rock climbing, or something environmental like saving trees. Or finally something noteworthy like saving children in a single bound. 

Instead I leapt out of bed to go to Little B when he was screaming in his sleep, and disoriented I ran (and the emphasis here is on ran) straight into a wooden hallway architrave.

At 6am, Voila – broken nose and two split lips. Such a pretty girl ;-) Note to self – take your time chickadee!!

{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.  Inspired by soulemama

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Garden Update

Well the garden has been booming along. We finally pulled out the cherry tomato plants though they were still flowering. But there’s just not enough sun for any of the tomatoes to ripen. Plus it has freed up space to plant some other vegies.

We are still getting lots of beans, and have started harvesting our mix of pak choy and bok choy. I use pak choy in a variety of ways but my favourite during autumn and winter is to add it to soups. I also love to add mung bean sprouts to soup as well during winter (yummy) and they grow so easily on our window sill.

Our peas are fruiting already :-0

Some of my carrots are growing and some have been eaten by some sneaky baby snails (ggrrrr, aarrrgghh). But I’ve planted some more to compensate. I will not admit defeat LOL.

And we have some autumn lettuce. I had sowed some seeds straight into the garden bed awhile back and then forgotten what they were before I could write up labels. But yay they have finally grown big enough for us to see what they are *giggle*.

We’ve also got lots of strawberries growing – none are ready to harvest just yet but I cant wait to eat them…yummy!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PVC Free Gumboots

FYI you can currently buy PVC free gumboots at Target and Cotton On Kids. They are made from 100% rubber (other than the synthetic lining).

All the gumboots in Cotton On Kids are rubber and about 50% in Target. So look carefully.

The only difference with rubber gumboots is they need more aftercare. You should dry them off and out when finished for the day. Otherwise they perish much quicker than PVC gumboots. (Mind you that's not a problem here as Little B outgrows his gumboots year to year - 2 sizes bigger this year!!).

Nothing like a good mud pie :-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last Child in the Woods

After reading a few articles by Richard Louv and looking at his website, I’m currently right in the middle of reading ‘Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from Nature-deficit disorder".  It makes for fascinating reading and shows the profound difference that being outside in nature makes to children.

I’ve also been following Tricia at Little Eco Footprints and Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes with their Great Outdoors Challenge. We’ve always made an effort to get Little B outside but now I have taken on the challenge in earnest.

The aim is for unstructured outside play in nature landscapes. We play a lot in our backyard which is mostly grass but some trees, Granny B’s backyard which is full of lush green foliage and places to run, hide and explore as well as playgrounds and nature reserves.

But the one place we haven’t explored yet is the Dandenong Ranges National Park. We really have no excuse as it surrounds us on two sides (our suburb not our house). So a 5 min drive has us in the middle of a beautiful forest. So I’m aiming to get Little B out there more, to walk the trails and investigate the wildlife and plants.

We are also in the process of looking at primary schools for Little B (deciding whether to keep him home until 6, but that’s another post) and have our eye on a local one that promotes itself as having nature scapes playgrounds as well as veggie and native gardens etc for the children to explore.

Going outside when its sunny or even cloudy is easy but now weather is going to be no barrier. I’ve ordered a PVC free raincoat from CalunaLoves, we have the gumboots and an umbrella and we are off. We also use Slicks pants so that Little B can stay a bit dry in this freezing cold weather.

Little B jumping in puddles :-)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Happy Mothers Day

- pak choy, beans

- faux gingerbread cookies
- Chocolate Pudding
- choc chip ice-cream

- The last child in the woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv

- Blue scarf for Little B

- Mothers Day Lunch, and then we played a game I like to call “Rearrange the furniture” and Mr B likes to call "PITA" ;-) Moved Little B’s room around so his bed is on an internal wall for greater warmth and swapped upright freezers with Granny B.

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day to my mum, Lyn.

She inspires me to be the best mother I can be, to love and give my son 110% support, love and kindness. She has taught me to stand up for myself and to stand up for others, to love, to be kind and generous, to be feisty and funny and most importantly how to clean ;-). She celebrates both her children and her son-in-law in all their vast differences.

She makes my world go round :-) Love you xoxo

Happy Mothers Day to all the mummies out there. Let's change the world as they changed ours!!

Friday, May 7, 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....soulemama

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Let me preface this post, by saying that I’m blessed that I have a husband and son who will pretty much eat anything. Little B will eat most things offered and at least try them happily. Mr B will eat anything (even if it tastes like rubbish).

So today I was experimenting with one of our normal cookie recipes – trialling some sugar alternatives and different seeds. Looked fine in the bowl, but as they were cooking, I thought to myself “they look like super flat anzac biscuits” but smell a bit funny.

Well, coming out of the oven, they still smelt a tad odd. I gave them to my taste testers to try. Little B takes one bite and hands it back (we should have taken a photo, I’m sure he’ll never hand a cookie back in my lifetime again) and says “tastes funny, like farts”. Mr B eats a few and admits defeat and hands them over for the compost bin (another photo op).

Not present for Little B’s opinion, he then goes on to tell me they smell like “farts” and taste really weird.

That’s right ladies and gentlemen….fart cookies – coming to a store near you ;-)

Come dance with me

We went to the most gorgeous free form dance class for 3 year olds on Tuesday. Little B had an absolute blast and I was the only mum who left with a crying child, who was crying because he didn’t want the dancing to be over J

I’ve been dancing for the last 13 years and prior to having Little B it was the most fundamental aspect to my identity. I started off with a short interlude with ballroom dancing then progressed to tango, flamenco and my true home, belly dancing. Due to a traumatic birth, I’ve been unable to get back into dancing for the last 3.5 years. But I started again recently and it’s like coming home. I adore it and it really gives me freedom of self.

Little B loves dancing too and is intent on being a tap dancer (don’t ask me where that comes from? I blame Play School LOL). So we’ve tried a few different pre-school type dance classes without much success. Today we found a teacher who instils joy first and foremost. These young boys and girls were immersed in the music and the songs, and didn’t realise that they were warming up. Just that they were dancing. It was a balm to my soul to see him so happy.

Now I don’t mind if Little B doesn’t want to dance, but it’s interesting that he seems to have picked up some of the key fundamentals of both Mr B and I. For me it’s dancing, reading, music and gardening, from Mr B is more mechanical – how things work, come apart, tools to use and machines J And obviously he has his own interests too, but its lovely to see the passing on of interests and passions as he develops his own.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Authentic Self

Rhonda at Down to Earth wrote a post recently that talked about contentment and being your authentic self. This post really spoke to me as I had been having a conversation with my friend M, about something very similar.

I think being your authentic self is really important. But I also think that starting the path to being green and sustainable is often the start of a really big journey. It’s also easy to fall into things you think you “should” be doing before a) being really comfortable with those decisions, b) or understanding why you are making those choices and finally c) doing things you may not actually want to do.

A good example for us is wood heating. Mr B and I are uncomfortable with using a wood heater as we view it as environmental pollution (and if you lived near us you would understand – the hills are blanketed with people’s wood fire smoke). In an ideal world, we would have a solar hydronic heating system. But till we get there, and on our pursuit of a more sustainable life we bought a house with a wood heater. But for us at the moment, part of our authentic life is not to use one. The more we read, the more we understand that perhaps this isn’t the environmental bogie we see it as – but we’re not quite there yet.

I also think being your authentic self is a journey as well. Isnt life really? I know that my journey into motherhood has completely changed me. I’ve been on my sustainable path for the last 10 years but can even look back to 12 months ago and see that I’m different now to what I was then.  If you’d told me 12 months ago, that I would be interested in facets of unschooling, I would have laughed in your face.

But then again, I was once a 16 year old girl who wouldn’t contemplate anything about helping the environment because it wouldn’t be this generation’s problem to live with (was I na├»ve or what?? LOL). But now I am an impassioned greenie hippie mum ;-)

So I guess what I’m trying to say, it’s important to be true to yourself and what you believe. The genuine you, the real you, the you in this moment at this point in time. In some cases, it’s the beginning or the middle or the end of that path. We are all learning, educating, living and being…so don’t live someone else’s life, live the one that you feel helps you get to where you want to go, to be, or already are.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- beans, pak choy,

- pak choy, carrots,

- Oat pikelets for brunch
- Chicken, Vegetable & Quinoa Soup
- Lots of fresh bread

- The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory

- a funky blue scarf for Little B
- and will post a pic of my completed wrist warmers as soon as they are sewn up

- none – it was just a day of chilling out together with the odd bit of vegie gardening – what more could a girl ask for J

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What a tangled web...

What a tangled web we weave….when I had my mammogram a few weeks back, my doc also did some routine blood tests. As I’ve blogged, my mammo was fine but turns out my blood tests weren’t. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been having repeated blood tests because those initial tests showed that I had low red blood cells, platelets, white blood cells and neutrophils (for your immune system).

But at least I know why I have been feeling so tired (read shattered), and having trouble sleeping. I’d also been battling weight loss (as in lose weight, put some back on, lose it again) – which I just thought was from chasing after a 3 year-old, doing lots of yard and garden work and walking to get around (we walk rather than drive locally).

Turns out that it’s a result of a medication I’ve been taking for GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) for the last 10 years. I had a bad reaction to migraine medication in my 20’s that stripped my gut and gave me horrendous gastritis and reflux. But prolonged use of the medication is now impacting on my bone marrow’s ability to create red blood cells for me. It also can impact on bone health as well (but I’m fine so far) and sleep (hence my sleep issues). I started trying to wean off this drug (which is really hard to do) just before we moved house, and gave up due to the stress of moving house.

I’m now super motivated to wean myself off these drugs. I’m going drug free baby LOL. I’m doing it (quite successfully thus far) with probiotics, UMF manuka honey and deglycerized licorice tablets.  So far I’m down to a quarter of my initial dose and will hopefully be done with the meds completely in about 4 weeks time – yay!!

So now I’m treating myself gently (no big walks, no heavy yard work for a while), and trying to avoid sick people (as low white cells increase my risk of infection). I’m glad that we already eat organic and treat our health holistically so I’m not worried about a recurrence of GERD. But its still a wake-up call and I will be really happy to be drug free.

Then it will just be a waiting game for my blood cells to recover (which I’m assured they will) and hopefully I’ll get some unbroken sleep (hope, hope, pray, pray). Onwards and upwards as they say J