Monthly Archives

March 2016

My Everyday Salad

March 26, 2016

everyday salad fish
As a vegetable lover, most days you can find me eating a giant bowl of colour and crunch for lunch. And if not then, I’ll serve it up at dinner. Broccoli, green leaves and carrots are my feel-good foods – they’re vibrant, filling and energy-giving, and help me stay strong and healthy. In fact, vegetables are a cornerstone of my self-care practice. Ben agrees, he loves the taste and feel-good properties of veg, even more so after we started getting our produce from Transition Farm and tasting and feeling the difference of vegetables grown organically in good soil. And while there are loads of like-minded folk out there, there are also a good number who find vegetables to be boring and bland. They see them as a chore, choking down steamed broccoli and boring salads so they can get a gold star, because they’ve been told from such a young age that they must eat their vegetables before being offered anything else. Vegetables were never thought of as the treat, rather a stepping stone to dessert. In my work as a Dietitian, and in general as someone who loves to talk about food and is genuinely interested in what people eat, I rarely come across individuals who find cucumber and steamed carrots to be a source of joy. But what if you serve that cucumber with sea salt and dip each slice in a pool of extra virgin olive oil? Or if you tried roasting vegetables (cauliflower! carrots! broccoli! cabbage!) in the oven with, once again, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, then decorate the caramelised bites with toasted seeds? Next, steam some carrots and broccoli until just tender before delicately drowning them in bagna cauda. See? Top billing. If we treat vegetables with the respect they deserve and give them a chance by cooking them in undeniably delicious ways, while pairing them with foods that make them shine, eating a bunch of veg every day totally feels like a treat. For more ideas I suggest you devour the book Vegetable Literacy, and Deborah Madison’s recipes for peas with baked ricotta and breadcrumbs, and turnips with white miso butter. Oh, and braised cabbage with chewy fried potatoes, feta and dill.

So, yes, I adore my vegetables, that we know. And because I feel we are too restrictive in the way we eat them, I thought I might share a few thoughts how I like to purchase, prepare and eat my vegetables, in the hope that it may encourage rambunctious vegetable-eating. I’m also going to leave you with a few instructions on how to make my everyday salad, the one I blast all over Instagram almost daily.

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March 18, 2016

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I have a talent for self-care. Looking after myself and making sure I feel good is something I prioritise do well, always have. I’m a giver, but not in the sense that I only give to those I love generously. That is something I most certainly do, however I also give to myself a whole lot. I am happily selfish in this way. Are you nodding and high-fiving in my direction, or are you the kind of person to burn the candle at both ends and maybe put yourself last? I wouldn’t say I put myself first, especially now that bubs has come along, however I have an innate ability to determine what needs to be done to keep my family trucking along, while still slotting in “me time”. I think it comes down to the fact that I am more rooted in the present moment than future ambitions – I like to enjoy the now. And I’m not even sure if this is due to losing a loved one at a young age…surely that sharpened my reality and resolve, but I think I have always been really good at keeping myself happy. And while my “me time” looks a little different now that I don’t have multiple free hours to watch BBC Jane Austen adaptations, I am aware that now, more than ever, those moments for myself are important. Because I am literally being drained of energy and nutrients as I breastfeed a small human being.

Have you every done personality tests? I did a bunch a couple of years ago because friends of mine were discussing it, and as an ESFJ (through and through), I like to make my loved ones happy and I suppose this extends to myself. I know how to make sure I feel my best so I can be productive and a good person to those around me. Being selfish in this respect is a good thing, I feel. As a stay-at-home mum of one, I do not have too much on my plate and most days can fit in self-care fairly easily. Some days are busier than others and the ways in which I can be selfish are limited, but it’s not a battle at the moment to find the time (talk to me in the future when I’m back at work and hopefully have more kids and am knowing what it’s really like to feel tired). But even if you are incredibly busy, I know that we can make some time for ourselves, not matter how brief the moment. We have to. Ignoring ourselves only means we are more likely to feel drained, glum and resentful.

With complete awareness that my life is not full of challenges, here is my own little example of fitting in “me time”. Even in my own cruisy world, these acts of self-care make a huge difference in the way I feel. You see, recently baby Joan had her first cold, leaving her more clingy and demanding than usual, and as a result I was quite time poor. I was also incredibly tired from very wakeful nights and more than ever needed some self-care. That’s the way, isn’t it? The days when you have the least amount of time are when you need more than ever to sit in a hot tub and fill up your cup (with wine). But I sacrificed a few things to feel good – the laundry waited because I decided a shower was more important. I defrosted a crappy batch of lentils I had made for Ben and I instead of prepping a fresh dinner, because I felt I needed a super smoothie to get through the afternoon. And I skipped an appointment in favour of playing with bubs on our bed, because giggles are the best medicine and I didn’t fancy car travel dramas. These choices sound like no big deal, right? But they kind of are…I know from working with clients over the years that many individuals are not this way inclined, they will push through and clean or care for others, they’ll feel guilty about cancelling commitments even if it serves them best to do so, and they wind up leaving themselves last. I like doing things for my family, it makes me happy to give, truly. But I also like to do completely selfish things too, like sitting in the bath watching documentaries on ballerinas and sipping coconut water, or googling “celebrity house tours” while eating peanut butter from the jar with a stick of celery. I sincerely love seeing what Hilary Duff’s lounge room looks like. Some days, standing alone in the kitchen, stirring a pot of porridge while sipping a cup of coffee is all I need to feel like myself. A quick google definition search informs me that I may have chosen the wrong word here, as “selfish” means holding no concern for others around you and being chiefly focussed on your “personal profit or pleasure”. I’d argue that by being selfish in the respect of prioritising self-care, you are in fact nurturing those around you. These restorative practices make me happier to give. By making time for yourself and doing whatever it is you need to feel centred and alive, everyone around you benefits.

Here is a list of my self-care practices. I hope it may serve as inspiration for ways in which you can be selfish too. As I said above, the number I am able to do (and the time I can pour into them) varies, but I always make sure to do something every day. It makes me a better mumma, a better partner, a better person. And please, let me know how you look after yourself in the comment section. I’d love to get more ideas.

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Baby Joan, 4-6 months

March 8, 2016

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Things are moving very quickly. All of a sudden Joan is 6 months old and I’m being kept on my toes as she moves and talks and interacts in new, seemingly grown-up ways. Yet at the same time, life also feels wonderfully slow. Our world isn’t cluttered and we have one main focus, our baby. Ben and I are present, taking it all in and watching each other grow and change along with Joan. Oh, what a beautiful time this is, as first-time parents with our first-born babe.

As Joan discovers the world she is showing us more of her personality. Our baby is becoming a little girl and the whole process is blowing our minds. She’s interested and sweet and determined. In public she’s shy, observant and sensitive. When comfortable with her surroundings she is loud and silly. In the mornings our babe is fresh and smiles wide. In the evenings she love to nestle into my neck, feeling the cooling breeze on her face while we wait for daddy to get home. And because I’m finding it hard to remember last week, let alone last month, I’ve been writing it down. Week by week, in a special notebook gifted by my friend, I take notes of what has happened, what Joan is doing and loving, how I felt and any milestones. Just a sentence or two, nothing particularly long or remarkable, but things I want to remember, like the way she grins and stretches in the morning when she sees our faces, and her first trip to the city. Like the way she looks around the room with curious, wide, excited eyes when standing upright with our support, and what makes her giggle at this sweet age of 6 months. I think Joan will love reading my notes when she’s older.

And now, here are some notes for you. A lot has changed since those first foggy months, and I wanted to update you all on what we’re doing regarding our favourite products, sleep, food and life in general. There’s a lot of words in this post, and I considered cutting it right down into dot point form, however I appreciate that when you are going through things (whether car seat dramas, eczema, sleep and nap battles), it can be useful to read other people’s thoughts. So here are mine (all of them). You’ll find I go into a lot of detail in some areas, and this is because I do not want to give the impression that things have just happened or are easy. A little bit of an explanation helps people relate to what is truly going on and how we arrived at this point, 6 months on. Because I think you all know that I am completely honest here on the blog. I don’t think too much before posting, I just share. It’s real and raw and I hope that it helps you if you’re going through something similar right now. I encourage you to skip over parts you don’t care for, because if it’s not relevant to you it will likely send you to sleep. It’s a loooong post, folks, which I wrote bit by bit over the past few months. I love blogging in this way, it helps me to reflect, process my thoughts and grow. Writing these two posts about life with baby Joan at 0-3 months and 4-6 months have been valuable because our life has changed so fantastically during this time.

Our current world feels smooth and sweet. This is not to say that we don’t have bumps and wakeful nights and moments when baby Joan won’t settle, but recently I feel like I’ve “got” things. And what I mean by that is we’ve had a few big realisations about what works for our family and given in to them. We’ve also found solutions for little conundrums (like discovering socks that stayed on bubs’ feet and a natural nappy rash cream that actually works) and learnt how to deal with a poor nights sleep. I suspect many first-time parents go through a similar transition sometime after “the fourth trimester”, when their babies turn four months old. You’re more confident, everyday tasks don’t take as long, you know your baby and they know you. And despite the four month sleep regression thing (or “progression”, as Pink McKay exquisitely puts it), we’re functioning pretty well over here. I mean, my mental processing is sometimes (often) questionable, but at the end of the day we are mostly cozy and nourished and happy in our little world. I’d like to pass on some words and recommendations that I’ve received from others or discovered on my own, in the hope of encouraging more cozy, nourished and happy families. As always, each family is different so if what I write doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut and do whatever works for your family. And of course seek help from qualified professionals if you’re unsure about anything.

So here we go, following on from my post on the first three months with baby Joan we have some thoughts on months four, five and six. Reflecting on that looong and sometimes/often rambling post I wrote a couple of months ago, I now find myself a little more succinct and assured. I’m also kinder to myself, more forgiving and gentle, and happy to ride the wave, however our day is turning out. It’s a nice place to be.

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