Happenings 25.8.16

August 25, 2016

 

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DOING:
typing on my computer while Joan naps – it’s the same story every time. Though at the moment I’m using my old computer, which is SLOW and the mouse does a freak-out-dance every minute or so, buzzing across the screen uncontrollably. I cannot login to my blog or work site, as the computer is so outdated and needs upgrades, but Word still works. So I’m sitting here with a fresh cup of copy typing. It was an early start today, Joan woke at 4:45am and would NOT go back to sleep despite us trying EVERYTHING. She’s one determined little lady. So we got up, made pancakes and went on a walk.

HEARING: Ben working in the study, a plane overhead and the white noise app on my phone (set to “heavy rain”). If you’d have told me when Joan was a few months old that I’d still be wearing her for most of her naps and we’d still be using the white noise app I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are, and now, it’s just what we do. Even more so lately, as when she has a cold I particularly like to wear her for her naps – being upright on my chest it helps her sleep soundly and keep her nose clear.

EATING + COOKING: we’ve been making porridge for breakfast, and sometimes lunch or dinner for Joan if we’re eating foods that aren’t bubba-friendly (which this month looked like takeaway pizza in bed and super hot curry). Joan is really starting to show preferences for foods and porridge is in her top favourites. I’ve also been eating a lot of this slice with tea for an afternoon pick-me-up. Other than that we’ve been eating lots of scrambled eggs, potato, sweet potato, frozen peas, cabbage and kale. Broccoli and cauliflower, too, usually roasted. We’re going through our freezer in anticipation of the move, which means selecting a container in the morning, lamenting the fact that I never label anything and findig out later that evening what it is we’re eating. Invariably it’s lamb stew, lentils, beef cheek, meatballs or tomatoey zucchini pasta sauces. Good, hearty, comforting food for Winter. If it’s not a freezer-meal, I’ll cook some veg and make salmon patties or go the “abundance bowl” route with quinoa, veggies, roasted chickpeas and canned fish or a fried egg.

DRINKING: smoothies have come back into my life this month. My go-to is this cacao + oat thickshake, however lately I’ve been replacing the nut butter with ¼ an avocado, upon suggestion from someone on instagram. It’s good! Joan adores smoothies and fresh veggie + ginger juices, so that’s something we’ve been doing lately, going on smoothie or juice dates. We use this great cup for thin liquids and she shares my straw for thicker smoothies. Last weekend we went out for a pasta date (our favourite) and shared a carrot, orange, ginger juice. I’m fairly certain she like the act of sucking on the straw just as much as the liquid, if not more, but I’ll take that.
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peanut butter cookie cake

August 19, 2016

pb cookie cake 4

I didn’t plan on making this cake. It came into my world out of a refusal to scoop and shape balls of cookie dough. You see, I wanted to make some gifts for a couple of people in my life, and I am firmly of the mind that you cannot beat freshly baked cookies. I particularly like to gift my favourite peanut butter cookies (recipe by Heidi Swanson). They’re wholesome and easy to make, and taste really, really good.

One morning I prepped the necessary wet and dry ingredients into separate bowls, assuming I’d bake a double batch later that afternoon. It turns out I had less time than I had anticipated before we drove to our new home (!!!) to meet its previous owners (who had built it and lived there for 50 years) to talk about the home’s history and how to care for the garden, which happens to feature a thriving lemon tree, so I only got through one batch, which I presented to the lovely folk who accepted our offer. You know how I said we were saving for our own place? Well, things moved pretty quickly and we found ourselves purchasing a home that makes me feel all the warm, cozy, right and wonderful feelings in the world. I can picture myself living in this home for the rest of my life, which is unreal (in addition to my apartment in Italy, naturally)! We’re doing a little work to update the place, starting with ripping up carpet, polishing floorboards and removing wallpaper. In a couple of years we’ll update the kitchen (I get to save for and design my own kitchen!!) and the ensuite bathroom. Gosh, it all feels too good to be true. We’re mostly pinching ourselves that this has happened, but I suppose we’d best stop that and get to packing, as we move next month. But back to the cookies…

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Chocolate, Cinnamon & Tahini Oat Slice

August 11, 2016

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This is a heat, stir, dump & freeze kind of recipe. The kind that requires very little concentration, that you can make easily while talking to a friend or listening to a podcast. I like to cook, I really do, but sometimes I just cannot be bothered to look at a recipe, or measure ingredients, or slice or whisk or do anything more than heat, stir, dump and freeze.

Energy bars and balls are incredibly appealing to me at the moment. They’re my preferred fuel when buzzing around after my active babe, or keeping the house in order, or working on recipes for clients. These recipes are mainly of the “tasty, easy to prepare with little clean up” variety, as I’m finding these are the ones my clients are most requesting, whether they’re in the preconception, prenatal or post-partum stage. I’m constantly searching for the best of the best – the most wholesome, balanced, simple and stunning recipes out there, tinkering with the ingredients or method a little, and posting them on my client access page. I love to be able to say, “here, eat this, it’s awesome!”, and in turn make their weekdays a little easier and less boring (it’s so easy to get into a recipe rut!). Life is busy and while I adore and encourage the practice of slowing down to cook, if I can take the recipe search part out of the equation, that allows more time for cooking. And eating and playing and reading and walking and bathing. For real, bathing can sometimes be a novelty in the post-partum world.

But back to this slice…

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Curried Quinoa with Chickpeas

August 5, 2016

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I’m sitting on the couch listening to Ben and Joan play downstairs. It’s Sunday and we’ve just been out for brunch with my brother. Joan didn’t feel like napping on the way to the city, choosing instead to serenade the various toys Ben kept passing her throughout the trip. I was worried bubs would be a mess at the cafe but she made it through the meal without a fuss, cheerfully sharing a green smoothie with me and eating a decent portion of her scrambled eggs. On the way home, however, it was clear Joan was overtired and as a result she didn’t nap particularly peacefully. Eventually we got thirty minutes of quiet snoozing, but when I say quiet, I do mean listening to “Mr Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose!” on repeat, because that’s what she finally fell asleep to and Ben didn’t dare turn it off. By the time we were home, Joan was awake and grizzling for freedom, and Ben had gone a little nuts, humming “Mr Peter Rabbit” to himself over and over. My coffee-high had worn off and I was feeling tired and slumpy.

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Ayurvedic Porridge

July 28, 2016

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*happy sigh*

Gee whiz. Thank you, folks. Thank you for your overwhelming response regarding my previous post. I have received the loveliest, most encouraging, fist-pumping comments on the blog, on Instagram and through emails. I also received some comments from those offering different viewpoints and have engaged in thoughtful discussions. And that’s great! I am thrilled to get the dialogue going on this topic of sleep and support. I hope that new parents who struggled with these questions, as I did, will find some comfort and reassurance. It took me some time before I realised that all these people asking me whether my baby slept through the night were not necessarily expecting her to, rather they were inquiring as to how we were holding up. And I want to note that I am not offended by this question alone, when asked with love and sincere curiosity. Some readers felt bad that they had asked this question to new parents, and while I do hope we can choose our words carefully and not ask if babies are “good” or put such emphasis on how they’re sleeping (just to help the new parents’ sanity, because chances are no-one is sleeping much in the early weeks/months), this question itself is not what I find offensive, and I should have perhaps highlighted that a bit clearer. If you’d never imagine reacting with anything other than empathy to parents when they describe the lack of sleep they are getting, rest assured you are great and we are lucky to have your love. It is the “tut-tutting” many of us receive afterwards that makes me angry and sparked this post.

I have a wakeful baby who prefers to sleep next to me, and when I am honest about this, many (not all, but many!) people asking the question are surprised, critical and sometimes even call me naughty. Instead of empathy and encouragement, I am told ways to fix the “problem” that are usually harsh and entirely not in line with the way I want to parent. If someone gave me gentle encouragement and suggested I read Pinky McKay’s book for reference when I was at the point of wanting to change, then great! But that doesn’t happen, and you’d be surprised how often we receive negative comments from people of all ages. One woman who empathised commented that her baby was once called “naughty” for waking…at 8 weeks! Really, my point is that I want us to ease up on babies and not call them “bad”, “naughty” or feel like if they wake a few times overnight they are not normal, which is what the questions + subsequent negative reactions implies. For sensitive parents who are perhaps not as well-supported as they should be (and that’s the truth, I am very blessed with supportive parents and in-laws and friends, and that is not necessarily common these days), this can lead them to feel like their situation is bad and needs fixing, often before the baby is ready to be independent. I know this because I have received countless emails since having Joan from readers who are so relieved to hear from someone who hasn’t put their baby in sleep school. Sleep training and the use of cry-it-out methods are contentious topics, so I am trying to dance delicately here… as I said in my previous post, I am aware some babies are severely wakeful and some parents have truly hard and demanding work and home situations…I myself do not, and so I cannot judge. You have to do what works best for your family and trust your gut on that, and I am explicitly not referring to those difficult cases. I am speaking to parents who are receiving unwelcome pressure from health professionals or perhaps family and friends to train their babies and move on from gentle, respectful, responsive methods just because their baby doesn’t sleep entirely independently. I am offering support and solidarity to those parents, and reassurance that our babies WILL get there…it might happen easily on its own when you feel it’s time or it may involve a bit of work, and that’s ok. Even though you may receive some negative comments from people who cannot relate, even though you may be told you’re creating bad habits, that’s ok. You might be tired, and that’s also ok. Many days I am too, especially when Joan is going through a leap. If you’re really struggling and excessively sleep-deprived, absolutely seek help, but if you know if your heart that you want to keep parenting in the way you are, then don’t let the sleep questions and “is she a good baby” comments hurt your admittedly sensitive heart, you’re doing great! If these two posts have done anything to help us accept our babies as they are and to not feel like we need to fix situations that are not bad, just temporary seasons of sleepiness while our babies learn and grow, then that’s wonderful. I also hope we can bring back “our villages”, for unconditional support and extra hands, because without them this parenting gig is so much harder. To simply hear “Yep, I rock my baby to sleep too”, or “Oh I remember when my baby would wake often, those days are hard, it gets easier!”, or “That sounds rough, is there anything I can do to help you? Shall I pop the kettle on or play with bubba while you take a nap?”, instead of “Your baby doesn’t sleep through yet?!”, or “Oooooh you’re naughty”…golly it makes the world of difference to our days and helps us cherish these precious moments when our babies want to snuggle, instead of questioning that we’re doing anything wrong. You feel me? Thank you for caring, truly. What we need is empathy for our situation without pressure or judgement, encouragement that it will get easier and won’t always be this way, and support when we ask for it, including when we decide to gently change habits if we need to when we feel our babies are ready. And coffee. We probably need coffee, too.
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she’s just a baby

July 22, 2016

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“Is she a good baby?”

Initially when we  were asked this question following Joan’s birth I was downright confused. “A good baby?”…I would never think to ask someone this, as doing so inherently suggests that some babies are bad, which to me seemed just nuts. “Yes she’s good”, I’d reply, “I mean, she’s just a baby…..???”. Eventually I understood that people were actually asking something else, and so I would attempt to decode their question before replying. Did they mean “Is she happy?”. Well, then, “Yes!”, I would answer, “Absolutely”. Or perhaps they were associating “good” with not crying, and then the answer would be, “She cries/communicates really well, thanks, loud and clear! Most of the time we understand what she’s wanting”. Often I thought these well-meaning folk were asking whether she was good to us, her parents, and to this I would say “Yes, she’s really sweet.” I got used to the question and only occasionally (if I was a little sleep deprived and short-tempered, perhaps) I would reply “No, she’s an asshole”, which was my passive aggressive way of highlighting what a weird question it was.
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Happenings 15.7.16

July 15, 2016

cake 3

DOING: I’m typing on the computer while Joan naps.
HEARING: the heater. It’s cold, man! These are the days when I fancy a fireplace, without the cleanup or worry that Joan will want to explore the flames. She’s into everything these days, EVERYTHING.
EATING: lots of quinoa breakfast bowls. I’ve kinda gone off yoghurt and smoothies, now it’s positively chilly in the mornings, and find myself reaching for leftovers for breakfast. On the weekends, it’s all about scrambled eggs with avocado toast and lots of fresh parsley from our garden. I’ve also been loving on Pana Chocolate (their “raw cacao” or “orange” varieties), mandarins and hummus, lots of hummus!
DRINKING: coffee, what’s new. Also green tea. I’ve found myself a little sleepier than usual in the mornings. Joan has been working on these top teeth so is waking a touch more often than usual overnight. And I’ve been watching shows on the iPad while I give her her final night feed, which I know impacts my quality of sleep but I’ve become slack with my “no screens rule” (side note: you guys, I JUST finished the book I started in February. I adored it, but I so love to tune out to a show). For the sake of my sleep quality, I need to recommit to the no screens rule, saving it only for weekends when Ben and I watch The Sopranos, especially when Joan is going through wakeful periods. But back to the mornings…just before I hop into the shower I pop the kettle on and make a cup of green tea, which I’ll sip while Joan plays bott-bott free and I slowly get her changed/dressed. Another side note: I love to have her bott-bott free at times during the day, letting her air out without a nappy constantly attached.
COOKING: I’ve been working on a few recipes for food company clients (like this one!), which has involved a lot of cacao, oats and seeds – good stuff! I’ve also been making pots of beef cheeks and lentil soup for the freezer. One time I made the beef cheek recipe but subbed in lamb chump chops (from Colin and Sally) and used a herbs de provence mix because that is what Joan grabbed from the spice drawer. I added quartered potatoes and a little more stock and it was kind of amazing. I also recently baked a layer cake for the first time, a practice run before Joan’s birthday in just under 2 months (see the pic at the top of the post). Gosh that was fun!
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CoCo2 and EVOO granola

July 8, 2016

CoCo2 & EVOO granola

CoCo2 and EVOO granola….it sounds like space food, doesn’t it? I created this recipe for the lovely team at Pureharvest. Do you know of or use this brand? What I like about Pureharvest, besides spoonfuls of CoCo2 in my porridge and their CoCoQuench milk warmed + poured into my coffee (it’s so good, I am obsessed!) is their commitment to environmentally-friendly and considered practices. Being in the food industry has its challenges, however it’s important to Pureharvest that they are as sustainable as possible and I respect that.

When brainstorming how to use their CoCo2 spread, I decided to go the granola route. A tad predictable, perhaps, and I’ve made cacao granola in the past, however this time I wanted to use the beautiful extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) Pureharvest sent me and make it a little special. You see, the idea of cacao granola is often more wonderful than the end product. It can end up bitter or burnt, and easily head too far in one direction, whether overwhelmingly sweet, coconutty or chocolatey (I know that “too chocolatey” sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s totally possible). Anyway, I felt that by bringing EVOO into the mix, I would a) up the health factor, because EVOO is liquid gold/healthy juice of the Gods, and b) take the sweet/coconut/chocolate notes down a notch, mellowing everything out nicely and letting the base ingredients of oats and seeds sing. And it worked! I tried this recipe around six times, playing with different ratios and adding in another sweetener until I found my ideal taste and texture. Feel free to tinker as you wish, some cinnamon sounds nice and walnuts would be a dream. One time I added cacao nibs after the granola had cooled, and felt really smart. Another time I added shards of roughly chopped dark chocolate to my bowl and felt like a straight-up genius. Oh, and if you somehow have leftovers, this granola + pitted Medjool dates + LSA or almond meal, blitzed in the food processor makes killer date balls.

Head over to the Purharvest website for the recipe (LINK) and a little interview I did with them (here), and browse a bunch of other recipes on their site. I was impressed with how tasty and varied they look, I mean yum and YUM.

 

Heidi xo

 

She will know

July 3, 2016

Bubba woke fairly frequently overnight. That alone is not unusual, Joan will often rouse for a cuddle and feed, but what was different were her cries. Each time my little possum would wake, she’d cry out in discomfort. She’d wriggle and reach for me to make it better, then cry some more because it wasn’t. I did as best I could, rocking and feeding and singing, stroking her hair, her back, her tummy, her feet… and she’d settle after a short while, but it was disruptive and hard on all of us. Nights like that are uncommon, so when it happens we all feel it.

Ben’s alarm went off at 5:20am but I was already awake and had been for some time. When he left at 6am I was still awake, listening to his morning routine – putting on shoes, grabbing keys, flicking the light and closing the door. Joan cried again at that point and I wondered if he’d come back in to check on us, but he was already gone. The sound of his car starting confirmed that I wouldn’t see him until this evening and it was up to me to make our babe feel better. Joan had finally resettled on her tummy and was sighing contentedly. I repositioned myself to make sure that if I did fall asleep and she woke before me, she’d would reach a pillow mountain and not the edge of the bed, and then I hugged her close and tight. I didn’t nod off completely, rather I found myself in a daze; thinking about Joan and wondering what was bothering my sweetheart; thinking about my client scheduled for that afternoon and how much I’m enjoying connecting with these women and playing a part in their journey towards feeling good and healthy and strong; thinking about my friend who very recently lost her father, and then inevitably thinking about my own father. My heart has been thumping loud all week from this loss and the knowledge of what my friend, who I have known since I was Joan’s age, is going through.

And so I lay there, rubbing Joan’s back with one hand and thinking that stream of thoughts. I text mum “Has Dad been exercising?” and text Ben, “She’s sleeping and snug”. My eyes and head felt heavy from a night of light, broken sleep and I dazed and dozed some more. And then, out of nowhere a melody came to me. A piece of music that I hadn’t listened to for ten months, since Joan was born. It gushed about it my head so clear and bright that I quite literally gasped out loud and looked to see if I had woken Joan. Bach’s Cello Suite No.1, the prelude. Towards the end of my pregnancy I would listen to this stunning melody on repeat as I lay upside down, massaging my belly and visualising Joan moving head down to the ideal position for birth. Bubba was breech for as long as we could tell, and I spent a lot of time inverted with my head down and belly up, laying in the bath with peas on her head, doing handstands in a pool, walking walking walking, and listening to this beautiful music. Clearly it didn’t work, Joan came out in spectacular fashion, bottom first, but I fell in love with this melody and I think she did too. Later that morning while she napped, I sat down with a cup of coffee and wrote my heart out. Bach’s Cello Suite was on repeat and when she woke I brought her into the living room where it was playing and she stopped and stared at me. Joan looked deep into my eyes and listened with this intense look on her face, and it made me feel like she knew, like she recognised it and knew. It was a hauntingly beautiful moment.

I don’t know why that music came to me then. I had not listened to it nor thought about it since she arrived and everything changed, yet into my head it came so clearly, throwing me back into my before world. Into a world that we cannot quite remember, that feels fuzzy in my mind because we are so completely enveloped in our present. But as I lay there, the melody loud and magnificent in my head, I remembered what it was like to not have her here. To have her in my belly and my heart but not be able to hold her. I gasped again. For my sleepy, emotional self, it was a bit much. But she is here, and I can hold her. I can show her the world and watch her explore. I can rock and comfort her and make it better. I can play her melodies and watch her listen, and she can look into my eyes and watch me cry and hear me say that I will always be there to comfort her, to encourage her and love her. And when there comes a time that I am not here, she will remember and she will know.

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Heidi xo

Pumpkin Pancakes

June 26, 2016

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There is something about small, chubby, baby hands picking up a pancake that warms my heart.

It must be something to do with the fact that I grew up in a pikelet-eating family. My mother would often make them for an after school snack (lucky us, I know!). I have clear and fond memories of little, fluffy rounds, stacked up and spread with jam on the counter. They were wholesome rocket fuel for my brothers and I, sending us off to the park to swing and jump, to ride around court on our bikes or, when I wanted alone time, to sit under the fairy tree at the front of our property with books. The other week, as I watched Joan reach for a perfectly baby-sized pancake and put it to her mouth before kicking her legs with glee, I just about fainted from the sweetness, from the full-circle beauty of it all… from the reality that I am now the mumma, making those little, fluffy rounds, fuelling my babe up to explore the world.

Joan adores these pancakes. Rarely does my baby girl laugh and chat at the table until she has had a decent portion of her food (she takes eating very seriously), however whenever I serve these pancakes they elicit instant giggles. Sometimes I spread them with almond butter, avocado or yoghurt and she seems to like them each way, though perhaps almond butter is her favourite. Perhaps I am just wanting an excuse to buy or make more almond butter… This recipe makes 8 small pancakes, which Joan will eat over a couple of days. They’re lovely cold from the fridge and make excellent cafe food (i.e. bringing a snack from home) as they don’t leave you with a lot of tricky or sticky mess to clean up.
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