Wednesday, July 30, 2014

In the Garden

In the last few weeks we've been making some progress in the front garden.
After too many months of a bed full of weeds and bulbs,
the front garden bed along the path
is now almost all dug up, garden mix and compost have been added,
and we've been planting.

Today I went for a wander in the sunshine at the local nursery 
and came home with some seedlings and a birdbath. 
After trying a few spots I set it up and I've planted pansies around it, 
hoping they will grow up and flower soon.
Eventually the birdbath will be nestled among shrubs (if they all grow up).
Until then, it will have to look a bit twee standing tall by itself.

(Also, I'm hoping the lovely green glaze on it is not so shiny that the birds avoid it.
I haven't spotted a single bird near it yet, and meanwhile the birdbath in the backyard 
emptied very quickly today with birds splashing about in it. Hmmm )

Here you can see the two halves of the garden we have dug up and replanted,
the first half was done a few weeks ago and the half closer to the house
is what Steve dug up on the weekend.

It doesn't look like much yet, but we've planted a variety of shrubs and small flowering plants,
hopefully it will be full and green very soon, a cottage garden bed.
This part of the garden gets dappled sunshine, there are very tall trees overhead.

We've relaid stones for a path and I found a sweet groundcover which
should fill the gaps nicely in time, and flower with tiny white star-shaped flowers in summer.

It's so good to get into the garden again,
planning, digging, planting, watering, then checking how they are growing.
(Steve likes to talk to the plants, too.)
Those moments outside are the highlights of my days these last few weeks.

What's happening in your garden?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random good things

Make-up case, $5.00 from the op shop.

What I took to the op shop one day - decluttering is an ongoing process around here.

Swing music on a rainy morning inspired  a fun photo shoot with Emily's old sax 
and some vintage sheetmusic.

Laura's long, long hair, before a trim - one day I must do a post on all her different types of braids.

Afternoon walks, capturing lots with my phone camera.

Mostly by myself, around sunset,

but sometimes with family.

Bible reading starting to happen more regularly.

A bushdance on Saturday night with our church family was loads of fun.
When I got home, I discovered that Steve used to play in this band,
back in the 1980s.

All good things from the last few weeks. I'm loving that instagram
has reminded me to use the camera on my phone more often to capture these good moments.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Changing diets ... again

These last two weeks have been very up and down.

I've loved the winter weather, 
both the cold, cold days, and the milder sunny days, too.
I'd be quite happy if this was our weather all year round.

And then there's food.
My life is revolving around food.
First Laura had to give up dairy and sugar (on top of gluten)
three weeks ago. We've managed that, kind of.
(The butterfly cake above is GF, DF and sugarfree,
filled with cashew cream.)

And then I was told to give up sugar and limit starches.
Considering that my diet is already very limited
(no gluten, dairy, high salicylates, or high amines)
it makes for quite a challenge.

Under a nutrition's advice, my diet at the moment
revolves around nuts, coconut, chia seeds, sunflower seeds,
chicken, fish, lamb, eggs, (limited) vegetables and (very limited) fruit.
Coconut, nuts other than cashews, chia and sunflower seeds are foods 
that I normally avoid so I'm hoping that over time I can cope with them.
So far, there have been some reactions, but nothing too unbearable.

This morning I was called to do a day's casual teaching
(for only the second time all year)
and I had to come up with some morning tea and lunch for myself
that fitted all the requirements but also had to be nut-free for school
and ready in 5 minutes.
Yikes! Luckily I had a few bits and pieces in the fridge to throw together,
and fortunately I was too busy at school to feel hungry ;-)
Anyway, I'm learning some (more) lessons about food.

 Not just how to cook without some (lots of) foods,
or what is good for you, although there's been a lot of that,
but about my attitudes  and approaches towards food.
This seems to be an ongoing process in my life in the last 5 years.

1. Food is for nourishment. I'm grateful for the energy food gives me,
even if it sometimes is not to my taste.
(although I'm not sure I'll ever like papaya, sorry Ms Nutritionist).

2. A body can get used to anything. I've gotten used to drinking hot water instead of tea,
and giving up chocolate and all sorts of other good-tasting foods, I can change my diet again.

3. Cooking with new foods and new methods takes time. 
Give myself lots of time, and start with a clean bench. 
(Unfortunately my bench looks nothing like this at the moment,
being covered with coconut products, seeds, nuts etc. that don't fit in the pantry)

4. Don't beat myself up about cooking failures, the cost of health foods,
or rejection of foods by certain family members. It's all a learning curve.

Girls' afternoon tea one day, one cupcake tray each. No one ate the dates. One girl wasn't sure about the cacao spread.

5. I'm so grateful I have a Thermomix, it's a real time-saver
and saves my muscles too, heating and stirring weird and wonderful ingredients.

6. Food tastes better outside, with good company.

(and no, he doesn't always smile like this!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Dewdrops on the banksia rose leaves this morning.
The first good thing of the day.
Up till then, things had been pretty painful.

Laura has spent much time like this of late.
Crocheting upstairs on her bed, with her ipod playing music or a movie.
And it's been productive:

... she's made 25 squares, last I heard.

But we're still dealing with the same issues as last year.
Anxiety, headaches, nausea, missed school, tempers, frustations.
It's no fun.
And the stress of all that has led to more health problems for me.
We're seeing a new chiropractor,
so now I'm taking all this each morning 

and will be working through some pent-up emotions
in coming weeks, with a view to loosening up muscles
and living a more pain-free life.

On top of that I'm trying to deal with catering for yet another diet,
as Laura has gone off dairy and sugar (her two favourite things),
and make sure Laura takes her supplements (her least favourite things).

So, finding some silver dewdrops outlining the leaves 
on a rogue stem shooting over our verandah
 was a good thing, this morning.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cold, colds, and moments of warmth

Things have been slow around here. And cold.
Which is how winter holidays should be, I think.

Last week at the markets I picked up some pansies
and potted them, some in the front and some in the backyard.

Almost every night there have been beautiful sunsets.
I am so appreciating being free at 5.00pm to see each one.

We bought Emily some demi-pointe shoes, ready for next term.

Inspired by the pansies, Steve and I spent
much of a childfree Saturday digging out a front garden bed
(well, half a garden bed), and had fun choosing and planting new plants.


After that we felt we had earned dinner out,
burgers at a new (but old-feeling) bar a few suburbs away.
We were fortunate to have another couple of childfree nights,
while the girls stayed with my parents.

On Monday Steve headed back to work and I made the most of some
teenager-free shopping time and bought some clothes for myself.

I wore a cute skirt I was happy to find at Kmart

and this is one of my new outfits, made up of mix & match pieces.

I spent a lot of money, but they were all on special, so I saved hundreds of dollars ;-)
I may have gotten a little carried away photographing all my mix & match options...

... just an effort to remember all the possibilities later.
(No, this is not turning into one of those blogs)

On Tuesday the girls came home, and we visited a new chiropractor,
(as a result of which, Laura is now off gluten, dairy & sugar,
which means even more dietary gymnastics in my kitchen)

On Wednesday the cold which has been lurking for some time
hit me & Steve with its full force, and since then life has been somewhat miserable.
However I think we are all past the worst now, and just need to be patient
as we slowly improve. The girls had the colds first and seem much better now.

Emily has been working hard on school assessment tasks.

and loving some attention now and then. 

Laura has been iceskating this morning, and I've been trying to play 
the ridiculously difficult piano accompaniments for Emily's saxophone exam.
Steve is out happily playing the Trout Quintet with some musical friends.

Meanwhile, the ironing piles up and mostly I just sit on the sofa by the window,
not looking at the piles, but reading, searching for sugarfree recipes,
visiting blogs ... thankful for the winter sun and my spot by the heater.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Baking and Remembering

Today I baked Gran's 'Raw Peanut Biscuits'.
These are the biscuits I remember eating at her house,
something we looked forward to when we visited.
I'm sure she baked other biscuits, but I don't remember them.

As a peanut-lover I couldn't get enough of the nutty flavour
and the dark crisp texture of the biscuits, 
and the peanut skins fascinated me.

Gran would send us out to the garden to eat them
and we would walk on the hard mown grass,
collecting jacaranda pods, 
imagining they were the soles off ladies' high-heeled shoes;
and spotting eggshells in the compost pile
and identifying carrot tops in the garden beds.

A few years back my aunt lent me Gran's old recipe book, 
full of handwritten recipes and recipes cut out from 
magazines and newspapers.
After some searching I found the recipe for my beloved biscuits,
and some raw peanuts still in their skins,
and recently I've converted them to fit my current diet better.

There are all sorts of recipes in here, older and newer.
The recipe above is for Pigs Cheeks Brawn.
How tastes have changed.
And just below it, another biscuit recipe.

This much-loved recipe book is barely holding together.

I always loved my Gran's handwriting,
though as a child it was hard for me to read.

I think I will have to try these Apple Orchard Cookies,
they sound delicious.

And I love this advertisement folded inside the book.

Laura baked today, also,
and did a brilliant job piping meringues.

 So afternoon tea was pretty good, here,
and full of memories.