Friday, August 26, 2011

Jasmine Love

Come the last week of August ...

 ... and the sun which inevitably comes with it ....

.... and you will find me childishly and deliriously happy ....

... because the jasmine is out!

Rioting over our back fence ...

and shouting to me that my birthday is only a week away!!

Market Day

I love a sunny Thursday.

After bible study in the morning I head to our local weekly markets.

This time I brought home a bit of spring!



Iceberg lettuce (the only lettuce we can eat on the diet)


Carrots and capsicum too ....

... and a ball of pink cotton yarn that I need to finish my granny rug!


A few months ago I had never heard of salicylates.

Well, now I have, and I've been missing them for 5 weeks!

Until this week!

On Monday for lunch I sat down to my first colourful meal in some time!

Salicylates in the asparagus, pumpkin, snow peas and capsicum.

Since then I've been enjoying all sorts of salicylates ...
sweet potato

... so far they don't seem to be affecting me too much ... 3 more days of eating them as much as possible and then back to the normal diet for a few days .... and then I'll try amines.

In the meantime, I have also given up gluten and dairy, and am feeling MUCH better!  
I'm full of energy this week!
Maybe I've been gluten-intolerant all this time!

Unfortunately Laura hasn't fared so well on a high-salicylate diet this week 
so we need to review what she eats in the long term ...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Recipe: Sausage Cookies - Failsafe

In our family, we call these Sausage Cookies.

Not because they contain sausages ...

... but because we roll the dough into a sausage shape before slicing them!

We're still doing the Failsafe diet here, 
and I love it when I can use one of my regular (and favourite) recipes!

Sausage Cookies

180g butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups brown sugar*
1 tspn vanilla
1 egg
3 cups plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Toppings of choice

1. Beat butter and sugar together in small bowl with electric mixer, until light and fluffy
2. Add egg and vanilla
3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the sifted flour and baking powder
(at some point I have to turn off the mixer and stir by hand)
4.  Roll out the dough into 3 long sausage shapes, about 4cm in diameter.
5.  Refrigerate for at least 30mins (or up to a week, or can be frozen)
6. Cut into slices with a sharp knife, I guess I cut them about 8mm wide.
7. Bake in a moderate oven, on baking paper.  
My oven cooks quickly and it takes about 10 minutes, 
yours might take longer.  
Also I like my cookies to be soft and chewy, 
you might like yours crunchier, so bake them longer!

Here's the fun part!
You can add toppings before or after you bake, here are some ideas:
Glace cherries or nuts - add before baking, press into the top
Choc melts, Freckles, Choc Chip - place on top of each cookie 
immediately after you take the trays out of the oven, they will melt slightly and stick on.
We are using white choc chips or carob buds while on the Failsafe diet.
I love that you can take one batch of dough and make it into different cookies by varying the toppings!

*Some people on the failsafe diet may wish to use caster sugar instead of brown sugar

This recipe is from the Family Circle Biscuits, Cookies and Shortbread cookbook

Sunshine and Clouds

The weather this week, 

like life, 

is a mix of 




And even as we enjoy the sunshine

we are aware of the clouds gathering

to block out the light and warmth.

But what hope there is

when we look up and see the clouds breaking up

and the sun breaking through!

* * * 

I wrote this yesterday, and didn't get to finish it.

Today I have been at our school athletics carnival, 

shivering and doing duty with a stopwatch,

until the rains came down, 

and we hurried home to change into dry clean clothes

and snuggle by the heater.

* * *

I am thankful that during the ups and downs of life

there is a Hope to cling to

that brings me JOY

no matter what the weather.

Though you have not seen him, you love him 
and even though you do not see him now, 
you believe in him and 
are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 
for you are receiving the goal of your faith, 
the salvation of your souls.  
1 Peter 1:8

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Return of the Magnolias

This winter we are having a lovely burst of magnolia blooms.

Some standing in rows like birds on a wire

... ready to bloom some more and reveal their whiteness within.

Ethereal in some light

In the past few years possums have clambered from our carport and eaten
the furry green buds before they ever reached this stage.

But this year the magnolia has fought back and is half-covered in blooms.

Just beautiful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thoughts on Food

For 25 days now we have been on the RPA elimination diet, also known as Failsafe, with help from a dietician. I'm hoping what I find out will help to manage my IBS symptoms and Laura's sometimes angry behaviour, (which goes on and off like a switch for a week or so at a time, while at most times she is controlled and lovely) This diet restricts for a time foods high in natural chemicals - salicylates, amines and glutumates, and then reintroduces them later.

Our eating is very restricted:

peeled pears

peeled potatoes
iceberg lettuce

raw cashews

Allowable foods for flavouring:
citric acid
sprinkle of parsley
white chocolate melts
condensed milk/caramel

whisky/gin/vodka (haven't had any of those yet!)
cordial (sugar, citric acid, water - the girls like it!)
pear juice (made from tinned pears and syrup - lumpy - ick)

We can have wheat, dairy etc. so baking is not a problem, so long as I am careful to only use allowed ingredients, but there's not much processed food we can buy because we are also avoiding additives. We can have meat, so long as it's not processed, not older than 2 weeks, not cooked in its own sauce and is cooked fresh (not leftovers). It's all been quite a learning curve.

So I've been making from scratch:
bread (in the breadmaker)
pear jam
pear ketchup

It's a lot of work, but mostly it doesn't bother me, I like making fresh good food for us, anyway.
I think the diet is helping us feel better, so it's worth doing.

But all this restriction has made me think about food, our needs, and wants.

One thing has surprised me:
In 25 days, I have not felt deprived.

Last weekend I went to a potluck dinner. There were plenty of delicious-looking dishes but I couldn't sample any of them. I took my own food to heat up and it was good. (And I baked some leek tarts for everyone to share - yum!) I have to take my own food wherever I go, there's very little I can pick up at the shops and eat immediately.

Now I know that 25 days is not very long, and a lot of people do this diet forever and also avoid wheat/dairy/eggs/soy, which would be much harder. Also I know (or at least I hope) that this diet is not forever, for me. The think I miss most is a cup of tea. Instead I'm having hot water with milk, so at least I get to sit down with a hot drink.

But this is what I'm thinking:

We don't need as much variety as we think we do.

The main point of food is to give us sustenance.

In the old days, I might have lived off the limited foods grown on my farm, or in my village. I might have lived on cabbage, bread and potatoes. Millions of people around the world live on a limited diet. Now I'm not saying that those people are as healthy as we in the wealthy West are, but they survive, and if they have enough food, are satisfied. Sometimes as I head to the shops with my limited shopping list, and can buy only one thing from each aisle in the supermarket, I imagine we have moved to a country where only a limited number of foods are available, and work out ways to provide meals with only those foods, rather than focus on the many foods we can't have.

The many cooking shows on our televisions tell us that we need to try all sorts of exotic fruits, vegetables, cuts of meats, and spices, and put them together in amazing ways, so that every meal is a sensation for our taste buds. Packaged foods laden with herbs, spices, MSG and artificial flavours make plain foods seem uninteresting. I think our tastebuds are just as over-stimulated as our minds are with TV, internet, videos, music, advertising and big loud shopping centres.

So for now I'm savouring the real taste of a baked potato (peeled!) with a sprinkle of salt. I'm grateful for the flavours of leeks, garlic and shallots. I'm loving my plain crisps and fresh homemade bread, and even my hot water and milk, which my octogenarian mother-in-law elegantly calls "pearl tea".

I'm thankful for the abundance of food in my kitchen, even if it seems plain compared to what we had in the past. I'm grateful for the gift of time to be able to provide homemade foods, even down to jams and sauces.

Doing this diet has made me aware again of how rich we are - even with what I consider to be severe limitations, we are enjoying a large variety of dishes, and have not gone hungry once. It has made me re-think the amount of processed food I provide my family, and what real nutrition means.

I'm also marvelling at the way God has designed and provided food to give us energy, and am thankful for the real and lasting sustenance he provides, which is better than any food.

In about 10 days Emily will fast for the 40-Hour Famine, and understand (a little) what real hunger is like. We will sponsor her, and continue to sponsor a Compassion child in Peru, who knows a lot more than I do about hunger and monotony of food, I'm sure.

As for me? I can't promise about the long term, but for now ... I am content.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Whistle

The postman has just delivered a much-anticipated parcel!

A beautiful brass D whistle, made by John Sindt in NY.

I ordered it over a year ago, expecting a 9-10mth wait, but due to a lost email
back in March I have just received it today!

It is lovely, a joy to play, already.

The neighbours will be hearing lots of jigs and reels today ...


Blossoms on bare stick stems.

Found growing outside our side fence,

and now gracing our dining table

in the cold sunshine.

Kitchen Hutch

Yesterday my new hutch arrived!
(despite many complications!)

This was yesterday morning:

(enjoying the empty space)

And now:

... feeling a bit like a furniture shop in here,

but I'm happy for the storage


I know it's only temporary -

this little hutch is destined for my (one day to be) craft room!

There is plenty of covered storage in this little beauty,

and a pull-out desk.

For now I couldn't resist filling the display shelves with some cute crafty items.

Loving my new hutch!

(Thanks Linda for all your help!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Home-baked Bagels

On Sunday I made bagels for lunch.

Not as pretty or as dense as bought ones, but still enjoyable,

and not hard to make.

Laura loved them, especially.

Watch this space ...

On Saturday we rearranged furniture to fit in something new I've bought on ebay
(with a little help from a friend :-)

The cute pink bookcase (bought secondhand last year)
is now on the other side of the dresser.

I forgot to take a "before" photo but you can see how crowded our dining area is.
Girls' school books, craft equipment,
copious amounts of Smiggle and other cute items ...
.... one monkey ...
and can you spot a girl amongst the mess?

One day this area will be much more serene with a table and chairs,
a dresser, and not much more, I'm hoping!

Our building plans have finally gone to council, so things are progressing!
But this corner of our home will get much worse I fear, before it gets better!

In the meantime I am enjoying the luxury of an empty corner

... while it lasts.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Crochet Happy

This week has been busy, but I've managed to

snatch some moments to finish my cardigan,

all but the band, which I'll finish hopefully this weekend

(with help from my mother-in-law).

On Thursday afternoon my busyness suddenly

came to an end.

The house was tidy, and the sun was shining!

So I picked up my crochet again!

What a lovely half an hour -

sitting in the warm sunshiney living room

with my pretty cotton colours!

I actually bought a new deep pink, and some red,

and am starting to add in a pale turquoise too.

So this rug is changing, slowly, slowly.

One day when the squares are joined and the rug is finished

it will sit on one of these cozy olive armchairs.

Right now I'm happy hooking and dreaming

and playing mix and match from one row to the next!

. . .

Monday, August 1, 2011

Spring in the Air

Only the 1st of August, and already there is a feeling of spring.

Lovely warm weather.

Flowers beginning to bloom.

A pair of King Parrots nibble in the grass under the Camellias.

The first blowfly of the season has made its way inside.

Lunch: a chicken, lettuce and shallot roll,

eaten in the sunshine on the verandah.

A Woman of Notes has even been seen gardening:

weeding the herb bed and pruning murrayas.

The forecast is for increasing temperatures for the next few days.

Personally, while enjoying a lovely day like this ...

... I would really prefer another month of winter!