Friday, 28 October 2011

Simply Pukka Giveaway from Dreaming Aloud

Have you spotted lovely Lucy's super duper giveaway yet, over at her Dreaming Aloud pages?

It's simply Pukka mate!

One lucky reader will win a YEAR'S SUPPLY of the gorrrrgeous Pukka Teas plus a jar of "the truly magical" Shatavari ('she who has a hundred husbands'). What women wouldn't want that?!

Go check it out now and show your love...

Monday, 24 October 2011

Real Food Diets: Raw for Kids

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post covers raw tea party treats for kids, young and old! Miss last week's? We heard from Mampoekie about the Paleo diet. Go check it out!

Raw Tea Party!
Eating raw is not just for adults: in fact it is probably one of the best possible diets a child could have. If you're feeling stuck for inspiration or are struggling with the concept of getting your child to eat raw, what better way to get you all in the mood than having a raw tea party?! Here are a few ideas to get you started :)

Raw Carrot Cake
From The Raw Chef

3 cup carrot, finely grated
2 cups pecans, ground in a food processor
1/4 cup raisins, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
Date paste**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup desiccated coconut

** Make the date paste by grinding 1 cup soft dates and 1/2 cup orange juice in a food processor until smooth.

- Thoroughly mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Shape into individual cakes or press into one large cake, ready to be cut at the end.
- Place on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees F for 8 – 12 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can simply place the cake into the fridge to set.

Carroty Cakey Goodness!
For the frosting
1 1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons agave
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

- Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
- Place in fridge to achieve a thicker consistency and spread on cake when you’re ready to serve.
- Garnish cake with nutmeg.

Raw Tea Sandwiches
From Rawmazing

2 beets
1 cucumber (half sliced, half diced)
1 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 cup cucumber, diced (use the other half of the cucumber from above)
1 tablespoon tarragon
Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

- Slice the beets and half of the cucumber into thin rounds.
- Place pine nuts, nutritional yeast, water, and lemon juice in food processor. Process until very well blended.
- Stir in the scallions, diced cucumber and the tarragon.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- You can either make little stacks with the beets and cucumbers, or just place a mound on top of a beet slice or cucumber slice.

Soft Serve Banana Ice Cream!
Raw Banana Ice Cream
From Choosing Raw
2-3 frozen bananas
2tbsp agave syrup
1tbsp cacao powder

- Process bananas in the food processor until light, fluffy and smooth. Either serve immediately (consistency will be softer) or freeze fully before serving in an ice cream maker / tupperware in the freezer.
- Make topping by combining agave and cacao and pouring over :)

This recipe can of course be adapted endlessly to incorporate different flavours, textures, chunks and bites... whatever you desire!

Happy tea partying!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Burnt Out and Broken from Breastfeeding: One Gentle Method for Survival

I wrote this post a few months back when Father Earthly and I were rolling blearily from one sleepless night to the next, while I became more and more touched-out by constant feedings and girl Earthly's need to be near me 24/7. The sleep starvation and general ill-health that I was suffering made me extremely reactive to her need for closeness and it became quickly apparent that we needed to break the cycle of hourly feedings and wakings before it seriously affected my relationship with her. This is how we went about it: I hope this may help some other poor tired mammas (and papas!) out there.
As readers of my pages know, we have been really struggling with night-times the last few months. Our littlest munchkin has gone from being an almost-perfect sleeper (going to bed at bedtime, no-fuss, and waking a few times a night for feeds but going straight back to sleep afterwards in her hammock) to a complete insomniac. I wrote a while back about a technique we tried with her which worked for a while where we both put her to bed at night together - so she felt secure in the knowledge that neither one of us was missing. 

Sadly, that has since stopped working! And so followed more months of torturous nights where girlie would take hours to get to sleep, typically involving several attempts by both and/or each of us in turn to soothe her, only to wake up again every hour or so. By 2-3am she would no longer settle back down at all and basically kept us until 5am, at which point she decided once and for all it was time to get up! I'm sure you can see the problem...

I did not want to night-wean but by now I was a wreck and so touched out I didn't even want to be near her. And that feeling was spilling over into the day as well. If things went on any longer the way they had been I was in serious danger of inadvertently weaning her completely.

So we devised a plan whereby Father Earthly was to take her whenever she woke - away from me and into another room if needed. We had tried this with girlie about a month beforehand but it really hadn't worked - she just wouldn't settle with her Dad at all.

The Magical 9 Month Mark
It's said that by 9 months, baby is becoming much more independent and beginning to release herself from her maternal ties. Most babies by now have learned to crawl, cruise or walk, and move in all kinds of interesting and terrifying ways; can eat copious amounts of a wide variety of foodstuffs by themselves; babble away to whoever will listen (including themselves), and are generally pretty fascinated by life. Of course, while they're learning all this they can naturally become regularly frustrated as well as deciding they'd rather practice their new found skills than sleep when you'd like them to!

But by 9 months, quite often they have settled into their new-found freedom a little, and it's a good opportunity to try and get them back into some kind of routine. We decided to do things as gently as we could under the circumstances. Father Earthly put her to bed after a last feed from me, and we agreed that he would sleep in the next room so that when girlie awoke I could take her straight through to him, rather than waiting for him to rouse himself enough to move (by which point girlie would be well and truly awake!).

And so, at the point in the night when missy Earthly would no longer settle with me (currently about 2am), I'd take her through to her Dad and he'd settle her for the rest of the night.

To our utmost astonishment and gratitude, it worked like a dream. No longer distracted by the smell of milk and mummy-ness, she settled quickly (most of the time) with Father Earthly and without fuss. Not only that, but for the first time, she has taken to typically sleeping through between around 8pm and 4am. Incredible, given that previously she had been waking almost every hour for a feed.

To every attached mummy, I know what you must be thinking - that poor girlie is literally being severed from her natural and instinctual berth beside me and that her sleep is in fact a plaintive denial of my abandonment of her. Or is that just my innate motherly guilt talking?

Equally though, I do not think for a moment that we "spoilt" her with our co-sleeping or regular feedings. It was clear from our previous attempts that she was not ready to leave the nest, and that she really would have been distraught without me close by. Of course, this is a call every mother has to make at some point - and we all choose our times based upon our own circumstances and our own unique babies - but I do believe that 9 months is an excellent marker for such a change given their broadening outlook and intrigue in the world at large.

Whilst practicing this new regime, I realised another blessing which I never thought possible. I found I loved slipping into bed next to her at night again (she'd outgrown her hammock and would not move into her cot, so for the time being she slept on top of our bed, in Father Earthly's space), just us girls together. With the extra space afforded us and the slight separation of blankets, I found I could enjoy her closeness without feeling trapped or hounded. It felt so very special and has really helped to heal the strained bond between us.

There are drawbacks to this method of course. Most importantly, there have been no nightly adult Earthly cuddles and that has on the whole put a bit of a strain on our relationship - often the only time we really get together just now is last thing at night as we're falling asleep. Secondly, having to physically get up and move her down the boat in the night rather than just rolling over and feeding her, means I wake up fully and then lie awake listening anxiously as Father Earthly attempts to settle her. Often he and his girl will be snoring away long before I've managed to drop back off! Thirdly, she still likes to wake properly by 5am, and as Father Earthly leaves for work about 6.15am, this means I am obliged to take over ;-/

Last of all, finally getting more sleep actually makes you more tired in the short-run as your body starts to refill its sleep bank. But know this: it will pass, and you will feel better!

About 2 months on, girl Earthly has transitioned to her cot. She self-settles (after a bit of a fuss) and usually sleeps through between 7pm and 5am, at which point she believes it's time for breakfast ;)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Big Secret and How it Affects You

"How long will it last, this peace I have found... It is all of life that I contemplate - sun, clouds, time that passes and abides. Occasionally it is also that other world, foreign now, that I left centuries ago. The modern, artificial world where man has been turned into a money-making machine to satisfy false needs, false joys." - Bernard Moitessier, The Long Way.
The Strangles, North Cornwall
In about 2 weeks' time, we will be gone from here. We will have given up our boat (the one that was meant to be our home for the next 20-30 years or more), our business (already being sold off as I type), and Father Earthly will have reduced his working hours by almost half. We are breaking with pretty much everything, in fact, in an attempt to change our lives for the better.

Fancy a boat? Have a look :)
These last 2 years or so have been so tough, and we have forgotten how to laugh properly, how to find joy in the little things. That is what we need to regain at all costs.

When we embarked on our adventures in our lovely green camper 3 1/2 years ago, it was to seek a much simpler life, a more spontaneous way of living, and quite frankly to have more fun. And by god so we did! But then our little sproglets came along and complicated things. Suddenly, even our simple way of looking at things became fraught with stumbling blocks and much weariness. Father Earthly's work and my business got in the way of enjoying our family and creating a home. Stress and anxiety and immense fatigue prevailed: this was not the way it was meant to be at all. And so something had to be done, but what...?

Our new home!
And then very suddenly, just as everything seemed to have gone dark forever, a chink of light appeared. It beckoned and wavered and lured us in. Father Earthly wasn't so sure - why should he trust this light? What if it was a hinkypunk? What was the light offering exactly? Did it have all the answers?

Gently, curiously and not a little warily we started to follow the light, to seek and know the source - Father Earthly dragging his heels a little reluctantly whilst I skipped eagerly ahead, stopping periodically to urge him on. Occasionally our path came to forks and crossroads and diversions, but on investigating these other ways, our light dimmed or was lost altogether. Once or twice, we very nearly lost our way entirely as the dark closed in on us.

Stay with me here, folks.

Today, this very moment, the light is beaming out strongly and bathing us, bright and glowing like a crisp Autumnal day. It feels good and it feels right. There are still many unanswered questions, but the most important have been satisfied. After our long darkness, I feel like a convalescent, letting the warmth and goodness seep back into my very bones.

The way things were...
There are of course some regrets and just a little bitterness. As I type I am sitting on our narrowboat (newly cleaned and tidied), the woodburner chucking out it's cheerful cosiness, and I'm surrounded by all our things, by our space. This was to be our home, and now we have to say goodbye: for financial (and practical) reasons, we can't even keep it on as an occasional outlet for adventures and hideaways. All of the work we have started, all of the special materials or pieces (such as our lovely stove!) that we chose or had planned - all seemingly wasted. That is very disheartening.

But I'm a philosopher and there's no point wallowing in the quagmire of regret. As a friend of ours likes to say "it's better to regret the things you've done than those you haven't".

And that's where you come in, dearest, most wonderful reader! Do you feel as though life has a strangle hold on you and you can't break free? Has all the light gone from your life and your mere existence is dull and grey, or worse...? Are you filled with regrets? Or dreams, passions, caged birds just waiting to be set free?

You know what to do my friends.

And if you need me, you will find me here.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Guest Post - Real Food Diets: Raising a Paleo Child, by Mamapoekie

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

This week's post comes from Mamapoekie. Miss last week's? We heard from sexy raw chef Russell James on eating raw. Go check it out!

Real Food: The Paleo Diet
My family has been on the paleo diet for almost two years now. The paleo diet (also primal or caveman diet) is not so much a diet as a way of life. It is basically a modernized version of the hunter-gatherer diet, renouncing grains, legumes and all processed foods. Some versions of the diet exclude dairy, but as my family has no digestive issues with dairy, we do eat a small amounts of cheese, butter and the occasional yoghurt.

The main goal is to eat food as close to nature as possible in order to retain nutrients and maintain a healthy body, though, unlike the raw foods movement, cooking is involved. It also involves a healthy amount of the right kind of activity, like our caveman ancestors would have had. 

The diet is based on the idea that our bodies have not adapted to our fairly recent sedentary eating style, that of agriculture, with grains and legumes as staple foods, which only exists for about 10 000 years (depending on where you live) - which is, given man’s long evolution, a fairly short amount of time. 

Proof of our failure to adapt to this regime is the high amount of gluten intolerance found today (30% of all people in the Western World are said to be gluten intolerant), lactose intolerance and the many many ‘prosperity ilnesses’.

As we’re also unschoolers, enforcing a diet upon all the people in our household is not an option. Neither do we see the paleo diet as a religion, we get to wander out of it a little if it so pleases us, and when we’re invited to people’s houses, we won’t frown upon a piece of cake. Whenever we’re on holiday, we indulge ourselves with the occasional pastry, or chocolate (we are Belgians after all), but by now, we have learned that swarming outside of the paleo diet does us more wrong than the short pleasure of munching down on non-paleo foods.

Before we lived in Congo, the rule was: no non-paleo foods at home and outside, everyone could get what they desire, we did get the odd cookie or candy for our daughter when she asked for it.

Right now, all meals are paleo, except the occasional pizza or pasta dish (about once a month) and we still have some cookies and candies available for our daughter when she wants them. Wherever possible though, I try to bake paleo cookies.

We feel it’s important for her to make her own choices concerning food, and have the occasional talk about which foods do what to our bodies. Even though cookies, some chocolate and candies are available, she rarely eats them anymore, and is happy to watch a movie while munching down on a stick of cauliflower.

As we’ve always been very relaxed about who eats what, we’ve never had any issues regarding food. My daughter is a healthy eater and in great shape. As she grows older, she might want to eat paleo only, or she might not... That will be up to her.

Paleo Recipe: Exotic Coconut-Cabbage Mince
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage), in thin slices
1/4 white cabbage, sliced
1 green pepper, diced
1 leek, chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 cup coconut milk
1 TBS tumeric powder
1 TBS curry powder
1,5 pounds mince meat

Fry the mince in a pan with oil until it's nicely brown. Get it out of the pan and put aside. Fry the onion, add the garlic when the onion becomes translucent. Add green pepper and leek, stir and cover. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add Bok Choy and white cabbage. Add the spices, stir and cover for about 10 minutes (or until the peppers have softened) then add the tomatoes and put the meat back in. Pour the coconut milk over the dish and stir. When the tomatoes have thoroughly warmed, you're ready to serve. Enjoy!

Laura Schuerwegen a.k.a. Mamapoekie is a Belgian expat mother and wife, currently living at the banks of the Kasai river in DR Congo. She has an unschooled three year old and a little one due December. She writes about Life, the Universe and Everything at Authentic Parenting.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Honeymoon Diaries, by Father Earthly

After a pretty horrible month all-round, Father Earthly and I were amused today to come across the diary he kept whilst we were on honeymoon, 4 years ago. We have been clearing through our stuff - a hopeless and altogether exhausting task, and reading through his snippets of captured times past, my head peering over his shoulder, we were both brought to a place we thought long forgotten.

Mardi 9/10/07
It's a peculiarity but when we are as relaxed as this it's not only the case that little joys are magnified, but little disappointments too. Not to say that things are stressful, but minor disappointments can have a larger than normal effect on our mood. However, those little joys can bounce us back up again.

Today didn't start all that well. We'd made our minds up to do a spot of swimming at the Grand Etang, especially as the weather seemed warm enough to do so. We set off on the bikes to St Estephe, stopping after a slog up the hills to take a look at 'Le Roc Branlant', a huge piece of granite rock balanced on yet more granite. It all looks extremely sturdy (only later did we find out that its name means 'the shaky rock' - it's possible to move the whole rock backwards and forwards. We've been told it's common to crack nuts or flatten money with it. Obviously we'll have to take another trip to use up our spare centimes!).

Then we made our way to the swimming lake only to find that the wind had got up a bit, the clouds had increased, and it was a bit too nippy to dip in. So we sunbathed for 10 minutes until the clouds became too numerous, forcing us back onto the bikes just to stay warm. So by this point we were starting to get hungry and finding Le Moulin still closed and unable to face one particularly onerous hill, we headed towards Piégut. En route, we passed the restaurant we'd seen on Friday, only to find it had closed for their 2 week holiday on Sunday, putting paid our idea of dining out this week. 

For a true get-away-from-it-all experience,
visit Covert Cabin!
Heading into Piégut we were unsure of the time but heard the clock strike 2 o'clock as we arrived. Having seen that the Bistrot, at least, was open until 3, we perused the menus of a couple of places until finally deciding upon [Father Earthly's handwriting becomes completely illegible here] which proudly claimed on the board that it was ouvert. Heading in and in the process of perching our bottoms however, we were informed by the chef that, in fact, the place was fermé. At least he had eth good grace to mumble desolée. So the Bistrot it was then. Or was it? Obviously being open until 3 is different to taking on new customers at 2.15. Oh well!

A wee bit disheartened, hungry, and generally not in the mood for cycling, we decided to take a shortcut home and proceeded down the rough track with too much haste and not enough caution. My sudden braking to avoid a muddy puddle resulted in [Mamma Earthly] tumbling over her handlebars, tearing her hands in the process. Unfortunately my attempt to clean out the wound with a sports capped bottle of water only furthered the pain she was already in and we limped back to the cabin a very sorry pair. 

Wounds cleaned, antiseptic spray squirted, and plasters applied, we sat down to a large slice each of a cake we'd baked yesterday. And it was this carrot cake, with a healthy dollop of frosting, that put the smile back on our faces - the small joy that magnified into a big pleasure, bouncing us back up again.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Guest Post: Real Food Diets: The Raw Food Challenge, by Russell James

This last year I have been trying different ways of eating to try and regain some of my balance, energy and overall health since bearing and rearing our 2 tinies. Over the next few months I'm bringing you a whole host of wonderful guest posts on a variety of Real Food Diets, from Raw to Paleo. Join me in this series and find the best real food for your mind, body and soul.

Our first post comes from the wonderful Russell James, a.k.a The Raw Chef.

Maca Ice-Cream & Cacao Crackle Sandwiches
You know the drill: You realise there’s more options out there, there’s a different way of doing things. You embark on a healthier lifestyle, you embrace the lifestyle, you even think it’s a great idea to tell all your friends; you can’t understand why everyone doesn’t know about raw food, “it’s like, the answer to everyone’s problems, man.”

At work/college/home you start getting questions, and lots of them, followed by some very confused faces. The questions turn into a ritual dinner-time ridiculing, things start to get a bit uncomfortable. You find yourself compelled to start defending yourself, but you don’t; you just keep doing what you’re doing because you see the truth in it. You just know it’s right.

Like yourself, I’ve been the subject of some ridicule from other co-workers because of all the fruit and salad I bring with me everyday for lunch.

Sure, sometimes you may fall off the ‘wagon’ and get caught by the Food Police, to be told, “but you’re not allowed that, are you?”. But generally, you’re pretty ‘good’, people can’t help to notice that there might be something to this raw food thing.

Then the questions start to change, they become a little more genuine, people seem intrigued by what you’re doing. Not in a patronising way, but in a respectful way. You may even start to get compliments.

Imagine this: I’m standing in the queue for tea at where I used to work. I’ve just come back from a 1 week detox fast and I’m eating mainly raw foods. I’m queuing for some hot water for my peppermint tea, and I’m behind another manager I work with. This guy is a man’s man; he’s all about beer, women, football and the pub. He has a cigarette behind his ear, ready to light for his ‘fag break’ (I think the word ‘fag’ in this context may be an English colloquialism, so for the record, it means cigarette). So he turns to me, clutching my herbal tea bag and box of salad, looks me right in the eye and says, “your skin’s looking good, Russ”. It was the least most likely thing that guy was ever going to say, and I was amazed, if not very amused.

So what happened?

I have been inspired to write this blog post after a conversation with a new friend. My new friend had read, and commented on, my story and how he had experienced a similar scenario as I had, with his colleagues. I have to say he’s not the first to mention it either, so what’s going on?

A curious thing has happened, however, in that now many of them come up to me asking for dietary advice.

We’re tested everyday, no matter who we are and what we do. We’re tested by the Universe (or however that shows up for you) to see if we’re ready for the next phase, we’re tested by potential and current partners to see if we’re up to the job – to see if we’re ‘the one’. Hell, we even test others in this way too, c’mon… I know you do.

When you make the change to a different lifestyle, you are setting an example, so you will be tested to see if you walk your talk. Yes, we know that everyone would benefit from eating at least a little more raw foods, and most people that hear you talk about it know this on some level. That’s why it causes so much interest, but people want to see that you believe in it first, before they take it on board properly.

They want to see it’s not a fad, that it’s not a phase your going through. Raw food isn’t a phase, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not something you can un-learn when you know about it, even more so when you’ve experienced it – you can’t forget the energy, how much better you look and feel, how much more inspired, connected and loving you feel. That stuff’s with you for life.

My manager, in fact, comes up to me on a daily basis and asks if what he’s eating is alright. I try not to be too strict with him, but there have been a couple of times where I told him that what he was eating was atrociously bad, and he actually threw the entire thing out in the trash.

So when you walk your talk, when you’re non-judgemental (as much as you can be), and when you follow a path that people may not see the truth in (yet), you give them a gift. You give them the gift of example, and you make it easier for them to see the doorway, ultimately leaving it for them to decide whether they want to go through or not, because you can’t save someone who’s not yet ready to be saved – I’ve learnt this first-hand recently.

Kinda shocked me that my words could have such power, that another person would actually listen and believe the things I say.

You’re a pioneer, you’re maybe in the top 1% (that’s a generous estimate!) because you dare to be different. You’ve dared to ask questions of your own and you just won’t settle, you won’t settle for mediocre health, not for you or the people you love. That really is an amazing thing.

Russell James is The Raw Chef. Since turning 'raw' in 2004 he has become a passionate pioneer for raw food, it's enormous potential in revitalising body, mind and soul, and the endless possibilities it offers for a healthy, nutritious, delicious - and sometimes naughty food-lifestyle. Here he talks about the challenge of turning raw and what it means in the grander scheme of things...

Russell can be found on his websiteblogTwitter and Facebook. The above article originally appeared on Russell's blog here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Unearthing the Child Within

I wrote this post originally for the September Carnival of Natural Parenting - on the role of play in diffusing "situations" with your little ones. Due to a variety of circumstances I didn't get the post up in time, but I'd like to share it now, as a timely reminder of the importance of "play" in ALL our lives and not just for the benefit of the young 'uns.
Tea Party for One
A few weeks ago Father Earthly and I were having a pretty major spat over everything and nothing in particular. Months of sleep starvation combined with a multitude of other stresses, from financial to social, resulted in the Mother of all arguments - the likes of which have not been seen in the Earthly household for some 6 years or so.

Each of us had retreated into our own little worlds, silent and seething, whilst the kids became ever-more subdued in their playing in the next room ('room' being given here with artistic licence as we have an open plan boat!). Feeling utterly wretched, I removed myself to the 'bathroom', where I sat on the toilet and cried quietly to myself. The next thing I know, boy Earthly has arrived by my side, carrying a cup from his new tea set, which he offers out to me and gently (and so very cutely) asks for a cuddle whilst wrapping his arms round me.

After our cuddle and cup of play tea, he toddled off into the next room and announced to his dad: "Mummy's crying". He likes to repeat phrases so Father Earthly had it well and truly drummed into him that I was sobbing my heart out in the next room, before he changed tack with the normal lightning toddler-speed and embarked on his next mission, which was to find Thomas (the train).

We can learn so much from our kids, if we allow them to teach us. By the time we'd found Thomas, all was well again in the Earthly household and I felt truly and thoroughly warmed by my cup of tea and cuddle :-)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...