Friday, 23 January 2015

Sorry Mummy......

I think having children has changed me. I know that is not really a surprising or profound observation but rather an acknowledgement of the journey I have been on over the past 2 and a bit years.

I remember as we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of our daughter Adella, Adam and I would regularly chat about the type of parents we wanted to be,  the hopes we had for our children and the values we wanted to bestow upon them.

I began writing letters to Adella during this period and recently reflected on how I felt at the time. As I reread my initial words to my unborn daughter the sentiment still rang true;

-I hope that you will always feel loved and cherished for who you are and your uniqueness is celebrated
-I hope that you will have the confidence to be true to yourself and the conviction to do what you know is right
- Never be afraid to dream big, never hide your uniqueness and always be brave enough to try

Over two years has passed since we welcomed vivacious Adella into the world and in a short time she has made quite an impression on all whom she comes into contact with. She exudes joy, goes to the beat of her own drum and has no fear.

She is fiercely independent, believes she CAN do all this  and at times this can lead to much frustration,  (both for Adella and myself), she is the protector of her brother and at times kills him with kindness and love.

Not a day goes by when she hasn't made us laugh, given us cause for a heart attack or a reason to pull our hair out but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Recently though I was challenge by something she said . Two little words that had such a profound impact on me that I was left feeling exposed and needing to make some changes.

Adella had been happily playing in the garden when out of the blue she looked up at me with her compassionate eyes and sweetly said "Sorry Mummy"...... This shocked me as she had not done anything that warranted an apology, nor was I quite sure why she felt she needed to ask for my forgiveness.

I had not heard her  mutter those words ever and began to wonder where she had picked them up from. I pondered this for only a few moments and then it hit me.... Adella was modelling off one of the most significant people in her life.... Her Mummy.... Me.

This caused me to reflect:

I have always been a bit of a nervy person and can attribute this probably to caring or feeling too much. I can identify aspects of myself as a child in Adella, I too loved life and was quite silly, I had moments of over confidence but also held a bit of anxiety which I unfortunately have carried through. I had a tendency to be a bit clumsy and felt the need to routinely apologise in case I messed up or broke something, I never wanted to get anyone upset, or let anyone down and felt that things out of my control were perhaps my fault. Upon reflection as an adult I can remember times that I apologised for things that now seem ridiculous and somewhat humorous, even one day apologising for the weather..... I wouldn't put it past me if I have subconsciously apologised for breathing.

However this was no longer about how it had affected me, but how now it would have an impact on my precious one and her interactions with others if I didn't take some serious action.
Now was the time to stop apologising and start living.... If not for me but for her.. I want her to take life with both hands and not be limited in any capacity. I want her to feel nurtured and have no need to unnecessarily  feel the need to apologise for things that are not in her control or her worry.

 I am thankful for this opportunity for reflection but know that this path called "parenthood" will be littered with similar learning curves and sometimes challenging pot holes that will make me reflect, at times question my own beliefs actions, but provide me opportunities to change.. If not initially for myself but for her.

As I return to my original letter to my unborn daughter it ends...

"May I have the strength and ability to guide you, nurture your strengths, comfort you in times of trouble and be the role model that you need me to be. Know, I will always give you my best. "

x Grace

Monday, 19 January 2015

Bartholomew the Bear:A gift of compassion/ A lesson in kindness

Have you ever been floored by an act of kindness from a stranger? Something that transformed a situation from being increasingly difficult to hopeful and encouraging. My little man Alfie and myself  had such an occasion today. 
The poor little poppet had a challenging day as he needed to have day surgery. As we presented at the admission office at the hospital, I found it difficult to mask my apprehension of what lay ahead. My mother's heart did not want my little boy to have to endure any pain or sadness. Even though I knew that the procedure was necessary and inevitable and that the outcome would be beneficial for Alfie I could not help feeling guilty for leading my precious one into a situation that I couldn't protect him from.
As we walked down the corridor into the waiting room I glanced at the faces of the other parents who were waiting with their children. Looking at them was like looking into a mirror. For they shared my anxiety, apprehension and guilt.
I then looked down into the blue cot that was allocated to Alfie and at that very moment I was overcome with emotion and floored by an act of kindness from a stranger that provided me with encouragement, hope and reassurance in a time when I needed it most. A little knitted bear (whom we have since called Batholomew) with a bright purple jumper and kind eyes was sitting up, waiting to greet us and give Alfie a reassuring cuddle.
He had been given to us by the local ladies auxiliary group who regularly get together to knit bears to be given to children who are unwell or have surgery at the hospital.
Being a crafter who has made a few soft toys in my time, I always am in awe of the love and time that goes into making one of these beauties.
It was this point that floored me; That a stranger had invested her time, money and effort to make a bear who would be my son's companion and bring him comfort during a day that was filled with uncertainty.  She didn't need to meet him, she wasn't doing it to be thanked, She did it as a genuine act of kindness, as a symbol of compassion and hope when I needed it the most.
So to those ladies of the local auxiliary  I want to say THANK YOU;
-Thank you for making a beautiful bear that will always hold special meaning and significance for my husband and I
- Thank you Batholomew for being the protector of Alfie and giving him reassuring cuddles when he needed them the most and allowing him to peacefully drift off to sleep when we returned home
- Thank you for bringing a smile to his face and making him laugh when his day had been filled with tears
and lastly
- Thank you for challenging me about the importance of having genuine compassion and being kind without needing any other motivation other than wanting to bring happiness to others
x Grace

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday Baking: Gluten Free Banana Bread

I find something therapeutic about baking, particularly on a Sunday. Having recently gone back to work after maternity leave I often find that once the 2 bambinos are feed, dressed and off to care I have little time to get myself ready and often am scrabbling as I run out the door for some healthy options to snack on at work.

This gluten free banana bread recipe is one of my staples and is enjoyed by both the littlies and the grown ups in our house.  I hope you enjoy it!

Gluten Free Banana Bread:

Makes 1 loaf
300 g (10  1/2  oz)  smashed ripe banana
3 free range / organic eggs
60 g ( 2 oz / 2 tablespoons) raw honey or organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
60 g (2 oz/  1/4 cup)  macadamia nut oil or cold pressed olive oil
half teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2  tsp baking soda ( bicarb soda) + 1 tbsp lemon juice
200 g ( 2 cups/ 7  oz) ) almond meal
25 g (1/4 cup / 3/4  oz)  ground flaxseed (linseed) or chia seed

Preheat your oven to 160 C.

Combine smashed banana, honey, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, eggs, bicarb and lemon. ( the lemon activates the bicarb).

Add the almond meal and flaxseed and mix well.

Lightly oil one loaf tin and then coat liberally with extra almond meal or desiccated coconut – this will prevent the cake from sticking.

Spoon batter into the tin and bake for  45  minutes to 1 hour ( a skewer inserted into the centre should come out dry).

Cover the top with foil if over-browning.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before turning out the loaf.
Makes 1 loaf serves 12.
keeps in the fridge covered for up to 1 week.

Serving Suggestions:
I personally like to have this plain and simple but on the occasion I feel like adding a bit more sweetness I serve with some Ricotta and Honey.

Recipe based on

(The food critic/head taste tester approves)


Sunday, 4 January 2015

The Humble Passionfruit: A lesson in Patience

Typically, at the beginning of any planting season I have an uncontrollable urge to head to Bunning's with my  scribbled down list of plants, herbs, seedlings that I desperately need in an effort to fulfil my ambition of becoming a backyard farmer with a respectable crop. You will note from my first post that the concrete sleepers that were purchased with great intent are growing mould and are yet to fulfil their full potential, however I have been assured by Mr  that this is a work in progress.

Normally this phenomenon happens around or on the 1st day of Spring when the sun finally decides to show its glorious face from what seems like an eternity of clouds and icy weather, the birds are chirping encouraging me through their sweet songs and there is something in the air that ignites a desire to get my hands dirty, plant, nurture, watch and in the end enjoy the fruits of my labours.

 I seem to have romantic ideas of Adella going out to the vegetable garden and being able to pick items which we can use in our cooking, hosting a tomato sugo making day where all our friends gather together to make/ bottle sauce, drink cold beer, enjoy each others company and listen to great music (perhaps this is not an original thought but highly influenced by Looking for Alibrandi?), pickling, preserving and harvesting lemons to make fresh lemonade.

In principle all these are fabulous ideas and things that I would wholehearted love to do but somehow something always seems to hinder my best intentions. I will give you a few examples of my amateur farmer fails;

- The day I decided to orchestrate a mother/daughter planting of the snow peas. In my head I had already been awarded the gold star for motherhood as Adella began to dig in the soil and position where we were going to but in the plants. What could possibly go wrong? Pointing out to your daughter a worm in a effort to  make exercise educational/sensory. Daughter misidentifies worm for snake, becomes hysterical, runs inside and refuses to go anywhere near the area or at the very least venture into the backyard for the next 2 weeks. Clearly a rookie error.
- Forgetting the most essential component of backyard farming..... Plants need water.... not just every now and than or when they look like they are on deaths door but every day.
- Setting up a herb garden with great enthusiasm only to discover that within 2 days they had been attacked by monstrous beasts otherwise know as snails.

In all these occasions and many more, my knight in shining armour husband would always rectify the situation as he is quite handy and knowledgeable, and encourage me that I just need to give it another go.

In a moment of nostalgia I remembered the pure joy as a child of venturing into the very depths of the backyard to discover the uncontrollable passionfruit vine had swallowed the fence and was spitting out fruit for all to partake in. The admiration for the small branches which looked like fingers that would cling on for dear life to the fence, supporting the weight and allowing the vine to further grow. The excitement to cut the passionfruit skin and enjoy the sweet delights held carefully inside. With this in mind I decided it was time we invested in a passionfruit vine. Our childhood vine seemed to take care of itself with very little effort. How hard can it be?

Well.... anyone who has bemoaned the difficulty of growing passionfruit will be pleased to know that we have travelled this hard road too and am very proud to report, have come out the other side to the promised land of passionfruit sponge and passionfruit on ice cream.

Here are some lessons that we have learnt about the humble passionfruit;

- Problems usually occur when growing grafted varieties. Rootstock, chosen for its resistance to pests and disease, will often throw out heavy sucker growth; meanwhile, the graft, from which the plant flowers and fruits, struggles. Finally, you're left with a tangled mess and no damn fruit. To avoid this from happening, steer clear of grafted varieties.
- Choose a spot that collects full sun and prepare a free-draining soil with compost
- Water the new plants at least 2-3 times a week when they are establishing
- Due to short life span it is a good idea to plant a second plant the second year around to guarantee some longevity
- If you get flowers but no fruit consider hand pollination (not as scary as it sounds)
- When flowers appear, start increasing the amount and frequency of watering
- As the fruit begins to shrivel- the process where the jelly like pulp is drawing the last moister from the skin- the fruit is ready!

A great book that I has taught this novice a few simply tips and has given me the confidence to give it a crack in The Little Veggie Patch Co's guide to Backyard Farming

Happy planting and harvesting!

Grace xx

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Just add Water

It is not abnormal when approaching the beginning of a New Year to get out the old note pad which has ripped out pages from previous failed attempts at "resolutions" and scribble down a list of tasks which somehow seem that more appealing to complete on January 1st.
Whether it is wanting to become a marathon runner (I can honestly say this has never reached my list), identify a super skill which will provide an opportunity to come into money that has been holding out on you for all these years (still trying), learning a language (watashi wa grace desu), going on a trip etc.

For me I tend to have the same list;
- Get cracking on the vegetable garden (concrete sleepers bought with the best intention are growing mould and looking lonely in the backyard)
- Feeling healthy and strong (this is an ongoing uphill task being a mummy with 2 small tots)
- Taking time to volunteer (not just signing up actually making a commitment and following through)
- Taking time to appreciate the blessings even on a cloudy day
- Making memories with my children, not just taking photos
- Being present

Often when trying to just "get through" the mundane tasks of life we forget to stop, take a moment and be open to the spontaneous opportunities that can lead to things far greater than what we have already listed as successes on our recycled resolutions list.

Don't get me wrong, I desperately want to get those resolutions of my list and into my reality but I don't want to limit my expectations for 2015.

The idea of starting a blog has been a seed  left unwatered for a long time....In the spirit of being open to spontaneous opportunities I want to see this idea grow, whatever that may look like.
So I have decided to just add water......