Miscellaneous #2

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A fleeting sunrise from my kitchen window

I love Friday’s. It means the evening marks the start of my husband being home for 2 days. Our little family can spend time together, 3 amigos playing our way through the days. Sunday will be a big day, as we’re packing little O into the car with my folks who are going into Sydney to visit some relatives. I wish them luck as Olivia has hated the car since she was born. Without food, music or some videos of herself or The Wiggles she will scream and maker herself sick. She’s never gone that far away from me so I’m a little nervous but know she will be okay. It’ll be good to spend some time with the Hubby though and I’m sure time will fly.

We’ve had a substantial amount of rain over the past week or so. It was nice to spend time inside and have life slow down. And of course for the drought-stricken areas to cop a good soaking. Even our plants and herbs are looking much happier and I got a handful of strawberries off one plant the other day.

The Mountains gets so pretty in the rain with the mist and wind.

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We had the TV on a fair bit though which I don’t like but what else is there to do for a week inside? We’ve danced, sung, built towers, played ball, made raw bliss balls (she loves using the food processor!), read many a book, made music, put all her dolly’s to sleep under tiny blankets, ate watermelon and popcorn, had lots of snuggles, and yes, lots of TV. If only she was at the age where we could chill out and watch a movie for 2 hours! 
TV is more for the background noise at the moment while her rapidly-developing imaginative play is going on. It’s been amazing to watch! It’s my favourite type of play… seeing her push her bunny on her scoot-car, holding a toy phone to it’s ear, putting the dolly’s to bed after feeding them toy cupcakes and bananas, or the one that made my heart sing and eyes prickle with tears… lifting her shirt to breastfeed her dolly. Oh my!
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I think it’s fair to say the Hubby and I have been hit by the renovating bug again. We’re really into renovating, yep, we’re big The Block fans (although we haven’t been watching the current one – want more renovating, less drama!). Last night we spent a good 40 minutes talking about knocking down certain wall, building new ones, losing the laundry etc. We ended up going to bed so frustrated!

I’m wanting a new colour scheme… currently all the furniture is black and white with red and green decor (red clock, shades of green in the rug, pillows and other decor etc). I’m loving yellow, mint and coral. I don’t even know if they all work together but I’ll make it work!

I’m really into homewares (I have my own store) and decorating and have my eye on a couple of cheap pieces I recently saw in the Target catalog. Target, said like the post “Tar-jay” of course 😉

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Waiting til they restock this in white, for our entrance area.

And this clock! Which is from my own store. Have you jumped on the pineapple bandwagon yet?

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I’ve been feeling pretty shit this week. Tired and run down. I’m not exactly sure why, but know the lack of sleep lately hasn’t been helping! Many many cries in O’s sleep lately is to blame, even during her day nap. Not sure what’s up, possibly another tooth? I could sleep for days right now…
So with that being said I’m very much looking forward to next weekend. Our little family is off on a getaway up the coast before the weather cools down and we’re all bundled up inside. We’ll be staying with family for 2 nights and hopefully the universe blesses us with sunny and warm weather so we can take O to the beach for the first time in her 16 months of life. 
I do need a break, motherhood is hard. Running a business and a blog is hard. Keeping a home is hard. Making all our food from scratch is hard (enjoyable but time consuming). Running on little sleep is more than hard but by now oddly familiar. But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world. Life is amazing isn’t it?

What Are You Eating?

This post starts off with a little bit of history on myself. It’s still raw, emotional and private but somewhat necessary for the topic in this blog post. It also explains the main idea behind this blog, who and what it is about.
I had a period in my life where I was extremely unhealthy. These were in my teens years, when I was becoming more independent with food choices and was able to purchase and cook my own food. When I moved out of home as a teenager it of course got worse. I knew nothing about nutrition nor did I care about my health. I smoked a pack a day, never exercised, didn’t sleep, ate vegetables maybe twice a week and ate junk food upon junk food every single day. I suffered from anxiety and depression so severely that I was hospitalized many times over many years. I was diagnosed with every mental illness under the sun over about 10 years. This was not all down to nutrition in my case, it was also to do with being on medication that was supposed to be the answer, but in fact was half the cause  – but my story is far too big to really get into now. Perhaps one day I’ll go there (for now you should check out this doco).
A long story short, after coming off the poison (I mean, medication) I slowly cleaned up my health. I started to eat better, cut out soft drink (at one point it was 2 litres a day), quit smoking and not only did I physically improve my health but mentally I was great. I felt alive! Having been told I would never last off medication and would eventually relapse, I looked more and more into how to support myself with nutrition. The theory that mental illneses (and autism etc) can be because of lack of vitamins, minerals and general poor nutrition was a new one but made complete sense after what I’d been through personally. 
Since having a baby I’ve had a lot of questions and comments regarding the way we raise our daughter. I’ve been told I over react to what she eats and am causing her more harm than good by “denying” her of packaged process shit.
Olivia is 16 months old now and as a newborn she had “reflux” and after much investigation we discovered dairy was causing her the upset and therefore she became 100% dairy free, as did I, because I breastfed her. This is where I took a bigger dive into my healthy lifestyle. Having a baby has been wonderful for me in more ways than one!
Now my whole family tries to avoid dairy, gluten and refined sugar and we definitely stay away from colourings, preservatives, additives and all the fake stuff listed on packet food that I can’t even pronounce (a sure sign we shouldn’t be consuming it). We eat meat once a week, if not less often. We try to eat raw, and cram as many vegetables in as possible. We use superfoods on a daily basis. I make almost everything from scratch. Of course we have dairy, gluten, sugar etc on occasion. We can’t avoid it everywhere we go. Birthday parties, relatives that just don’t understand, shopping centers, it’s-a-long-car-trip food  etc. People ask “but what do you eat?” Simple answer… whole foods. 
So, what has prompted me to write this blog post? Well I read THIS ARTICLE this morning which was interesting but not surprising. It’s about the studies. by US experts, into chemicals (fluoride, pesticides etc) causing brain development disorders in infants and young children (heck, even adults) like ADHD, dyslexia and autism.
There was also recently this TED talk I watched this week about how a mother completely eliminated her daughter’s autism symptoms through diet (don’t get me started on how free glutamate is the base of all vaccines, which is furthermore food for thought [no pun intended] and again a whole new discussion). 

These days for me it is a no-brainer. But for so many others it’s a joke to them. They think it’s paranoia, or a fad, or just plain bullshit. I find the people who say that are uneducated, uninterested and scared. Don’t feel guilty, don’t be scared, because it’s never too late to change.
My point of this post is this:
We really need to think about what we are feeding our children. I feel so strongly about this since becoming a mother. I’m writing this post to raise your awareness. I can even vouch for it’s truth myself. Share the links in this post, or share the link to this blog post. Do your own research into it, educate yourselves. Become informed and aware. Make changes. Feed your family what you all deserve. Take care of your health. Without it, you are not here.

Thankful Thursday #

If I am correct, I think I missed 2 weeks but I can assure you I have been doing my thankfuls in my head every day.
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1. A fridge full of food. So much fresh produce greets me every time I open the refrigerator. I realize I’m very lucky.
2. Being a stay at home mum. Oh my I feel blessed on this one. To get every minute of the day with my girl, never missing one moment. So so thankful.
3. Having a supportive husband. And not just for the above thankful. He is (usually!) so selfless, and knows the importance of giving this mama her me-time. Like my 2 hour horse ride last weekend. Bliss. 
4. Nature. Always marveling at mother nature and her fury. Or even the way the regrowth is happening all around my town from the bush fires. So beautiful!
5. Origrami. I’ve been printing my Instagram photos through them and love how affordable and easy it is. Nope, this isn’t sponsored. I’m just thankful to get them from my phone into my hot little hands 🙂
Every Thursday I’m posting 5 things I’m thankful for. Practicing the art of being grateful is something we should all be doing. Oprah Winfrey said it best:
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” 


Being grateful will bring you happiness and peace in life. It can turn a negative into a positive. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. Join in on Thankful Thursdays by blogging your thankfuls or using Instagram (hashtag me!).

What are your thankfuls this week?

12WBT Week 1

I’m now 2 days into week 2 of the 12WBT and I’ve still got mixed feelings about it.
Apart from what I mentioned before regarding food colouring, sugar, low-fat options and a shit tonne of ricotta cheese, it hasn’t been that bad! I’ve been liking 90% of the meals, and I love having new recipes to try and play with.
What I don’t like is controlling my calories, when I eat, how often I eat etc. In fact it leads me to over eat, binge on snacks, and beat myself up for it. Hardly healthy. So we’ve decided that seeing as I don’t’ need to lose weight and was healthy and maintaining it fine before this program, that I’d just eat what I want and when I want, but have the same meals as the Hubby and not keep shit in the house to tempt him. I don’t need to come out of this with a freakin’ eating disorder!
Anyway here are some pics of our meals last week:
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1. Rice fritters with a mango chutney/salsa. Olivia liked the fritters but this would be very bland without the stuff on top!
2. Pistachio, hazelnut and cranberry biscotti’s about to go back in the oven.
3. Really nice Brazillian rice salad!
4. Tabouleh and haloumi salad (love haloumi, hate how dairy makes me feel).
Check out my Instagram for more food pics.
The exercise part is okay. I’d like to work out with my husband but his work hours don’t always permit this so often I’m going on the walks by myself. Well, with Olivia… who wants to hop out the pram and walk herself but this is VERY. SLOW. GOING. Kind of defeats the purpose of the exercise as it doesn’t get my heart rate up at all! The toning part is awesome as that’s what I’m into. I also do yoga on Wednesday night’s and managed to drag the Hubby with me last week. Ah what a session he got to experience! We were sweating and groaning by the end of it… yoga is hard work, man! I love my weekly yoga (would go more often if I could afford it!) but it doesn’t always challenge me like it did last week. I also went horse riding for 2 hours on Sunday which, despite what most people think, is certainly a work out.
Weigh in is tomorrow but as I’m trying to maintain my weight (something I was successfully doing on my own before starting this) I’m not that excited… but I’m anxious for the Hubby! People in this round are posting on the forum of losses up to 10kg! Obviously it depends how big you are to start with, how much weight you have to lose, and how different this eating is to what you did previously.
The main things I’ve noticed is this: I’ve always loved my veggies but the plan has got me eating more, which is a win in my books. I’m off to eat a fruit salad now!

Last Minit V-Day Idea

June 2011, I took my first terrifying plane flight to Vanuatu. On the 4th day of the month, my family helped me squeeze into my white wedding gown, the tropical humidity making it an almighty task. The Hubby and I said our vows on the beach – toes in the sand, waves softly crashing behind us. We slipped our rings onto each other’s finger and just like that we were married.
Almost 3 years later and it’s coming up to Valentine’s Day this Friday. Racking my brain for gift ideas since the start of the year (I like to be prepared) I realized I never got that ring engraved. I had meant to do it before we got married. And then it was on my to-do list when we got home from Vanuatu, then after we settled into the new house, after I got over the morning sickness, after the baby was born… Well that last event was 16 months ago and it’s still been on the to-do list! So what a better Valentine’s Day gift could there be?
I braved the shopping center on a Saturday lunch time to get my man’s ring engraved with the words “always + forever”; an inside joke, I guess you could call it. Having used Mister Minit for previous engravings (dog tags, jewelry, gifts etc) and knowing the local jeweler could charge 3 times the amount, the Penrith Mister Minit store was my destination.
It was pretty busy, being Saturday and leading up to the big day of love this week, so I handed the ring over and went window shopping for 30 minutes. These are the lovely fella’s who did the engraving:


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Seriously, they were funny blokes! Friendly service always makes a difference.

And this is the awesome job on the ring:

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Wonderful! To-do list is one task down, and Valentine’s Day is sorted. All for under $20. If you’re stuck for an affordable Valentine’s Day gift for your loved one you could get a key ring, jewelry, or even a yard glass engraved (yep, someone did that when I was there!). 

*This was a sponsored post for Mister Minit.

The Scatter Love Project

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Image via Fat Mum Slim.
Last week my friend Chantelle from Fat Mum Slim (as if you don’t know her!) released a new project she has been working on in collaboration with her friend Emma Kate. They had an idea to create pretty and striking postcards to encourage us folk to bring back snail mail. And so Scatter Love was born. Sold in packs of 10 and priced at $16, you will fall in love with this set of postcards.
I’m a sucker for stationary, beautiful designs, and snail mail (I’m old fashioned) so I snapped up a pack for myself on the first day they were released. I want to Scatter Love to my friends, family and even random strangers. In fact, I’m going to dedicate one of these cards to someone I don’t know. Is that odd? Everyone deserves something to make them smile though.

These are some of the designs:

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I already have a list of people to send a card… who would you send one and what would you write? And just quietly, I also want to buy myself another pack just for myself because they’re so fricken pretty!
You can read more about the Scatter Love Project here or shop the cards here.

{RECIPE} Grape & Prosciutto Crostini

We were at my parents house a couple of weeks ago and I was flicking through an Aldi catalog and came across a recipe on the back page. Being Italian, I loved it straight away… it had prosciutto! I wanted to make it ASAP! We don’t get catalogs where we live so my Mum kindly gave it to me to take home.
The Hubby was hesitant, mainly about the grapes. But while Olivia napped I made this for lunch. And it was really tasty! The grapes were a nice cold and sweet hit, it worked really well. The Hubby loved it and I’ll be making it again for sure. After a few people saw it on IG and FB they asked for the recipe, so here it is…
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Image is my own.


Grape & Prosciutto Crostini
Ingredients

1/2 cup small red and white grapes, halved
80g goats feta
6 thin slices of  Prosciutto
½ cup rocket leaves
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tbsp Honey
1 loaf of Pane Di Casa, sliced

Method

Brush bread slices with olive oil on both sides and toast in a frypan on medium heat. Gently press slices with a spatula. Flip and repeat once bread is crisp/golden and transfer to a platter.

Lightly whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey and salt and pepper to taste to make honey balsamic dressing. Set aside.

Slice each prosciutto piece into two long strips and place one strip on each grilled bread slice. Top with crumbled goats cheese, a few rocket leaves and sprinkle with the halved red and white grapes. Drizzle each slice with the dressing and serve immediately.

Again, I do not take credit for this recipe. You can find the original recipe here.

Dear Feb, Lets Do This!

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In case you didn’t notice, January has flown on past and February has landed in our laps with a thud. Why does the first month of the year always go so quick?
The month started off great with our weekend full! On Saturday we did our fitness test in the morning while O’s Granma and Pa took her to the local markets. Gosh that test almost killed me. Running is just not my thing. 2 days on and my shins are still making me cry with every step. I didn’t even run that far, I’m so unfit. But not for long! We did grocery shopping and bought most of our fruit and veg at the local farm. Check out our haul:

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Aunty Lauren came around in the evening while we were all splashing around in the paddle pool. The weather has been so lovely lately, minus the humidity!

Olivia was 16 months old yesterday. We went shopping for some workout gear for me (finally, tick!) and then came home and Olivia and her Daddy had a nap while I did food prep for the week ahead. Some have the life, right? Then we dropped O off with my folks so the Hubby and I could go on a date… Woo! We had amazing pizza at the Station Bar and a sneaky drink or two. It was so nice to be out and pay each other our full attention. But it still feels so rushed for some reason.

So here are my intentions for this month…
  • Sprout more often. I’ve got all the fancy equipment here to do it, so there’s no excuses.
  • Go exploring with O more often – along the street, at the park, in the shops… wherever.
  • Less Wiggles time for her. It’s just so easy to whack an 11 minute episode of the colourful dudes on while I do the dishes but it’s no good for her… especially when it’s 3 or 4 times a day (oops).
  • Keep finding my gratefuls every day.
  • Drink more water.
  • Wear more of my wardrobe.
  • Sign Olivia up to swimming lessons for next term.
  • Meet up with some friends. Say yes!
  • Keep chasing leading my dreams, thinking positive, manifesting… it’s working!
I’m ready to smash February like we did to January. 2014 is so far fantastic!
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{12WBT} Pre-Season

I hate counting calories. I believe it’s an unhealthy habit. There, I said it. It leads to obsession and then guilt when you eat over your allocated calories. And what about fat, protein, carbs, sodium, sugar, minerals, vitamins etc… they are just as important! Focus on them! I understand people who are overweight need to look at their calories in order to lose weight. I understand weightloss is 80% food. I understand the main factor for gaining weight is the calories. But for me (who doesn’t need to lose, but just tone up) I’m finding it hard to think like this.
So why am I doing this 12WBT? For my husband. He needs me. He needs the support. He needs my commitment and I’m his wife… of course I will do it. I’m excited about the exercise part of this program but not so much about the food – my diet is so particular these days: superfoods every day, raw as much as possible, vegetarian/vegan for most meals, no dairy, limited gluten, no refined sugar. And we definitely try to avoid additives, preservatives, colouring etc. And clearly it works – I’ve been the healthiest and lightest I’ve ever been as an adult. Yes, post baby too!
Something I’ve noticed with the 12WBT is a lot of recipes have sugar. And colouring! One dessert had food dye in the ingredients. Whaaat! Not to mention Michelle is big on low-fat options. No no no! Remove the fat and it’s replaced with other shit! And she uses a shit load of ricotta in her recipes. No good for the lactose intolerant/sensitive (meaning Olivia… which also means me until she weans). I think there should be a focus on a healthy lifestyle, not just losing the weight. Being skinny doesn’t mean you are healthy.
The meal plan has lots of meat but luckily you can change it to vegetarian and then filter the recipes even more with options like “lactose free” or “gluten free”. It does then become very limiting but I think in a few weeks time when we have this down pat I’ll add some of our usual recipes, but count the calories for the Hubby.
So pre-season is done. Tomorrow we do some food prep for the week ahead. The rest of the list is looking good… Shopping, tick. Fitness test, tick. Measurments, tick. Before photo, tick! Workout gear… need to do! I need a supportive bra. I don’t wear underwire because I breastfeed and I live in the Bonds feeding singlets which has an inbuilt bra. But I need a proper underwire workout bra if I’m going to exercise every day. And I will invest in some thick socks… say no to blisters!
MEASUREMENTS
Height: 164cm
Weight: 57.5kg
Body Fat: 23.9%
Chest: 94.2cm (not fair, I have big milk-filled breasts!)
Waist: 74cm
Hips: 90cm
Arms: 25cm
Thigh: 47.4cm
Distance from knee: 26cm 
FITNESS TEST
Continuous Push Ups (on knees): 16
Plank (on knees): 1:35
Sit + Reach: +11.5cm
Wall Sit: 1:08
1km Time Trial: 6:55
My result was actually pretty good and I am fitter than I thought. I’ve been recommended to do the “intermediate” program but I’m sticking with beginner for now! Why not try the above fitness test and see how you went?

12WBT

So. I’m completely against diets. I’m not into all the “health programs” out there. Which is really just another word for diet, right? I’m of a healthy weight (lighter than ever in my adult life) and have a healthy relationship with my body. I never thought having a baby would make me happier with my body but it’s true. 
However, I’m not fit
If you challenged me to a foot race, I can promise you you’d win. Even if I gave 100%. And I can promise you I’d get black eyes from my boobs. Ugh. I can’t even tell you the last time I did deliberate exercise. The only muscles that exist are in my arms from holding Olivia and next in line are my fingers from scrolling my Instagram feed non-stop. Seriously, I get cramps.
This part isn’t is my story to tell but the Hubby has battled weight his entire life. One night we went through his childhood medical records and found a hospital visit that had “obese” written on it… he was under 10 years old. Pretty disturbing. In his adult life he has done well to lose weight, get fit and start a healthy lifestyle. But it’s up and down, back and forth, for him. Life gets busy, time is short bla bla, we deal with the same excuses as everyone else. And he is still overweight and keen to shift it.
But when a kid is on the scene it feels paramount to have your weight and health in check. I mean, this little being in your care is looking up to you. You are it’s example, it’s light, it’s model. I know for the Hubby that he also wants to change for his own reasons – he wants to feel good, comfortable, confident. He wants to reach overhead and not have to worry if his gut is showing. He wants to prove that he can beat all odds.
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In the years we’ve been together we’ve tried lots of tactics. CSIRO eating plan, bootcamp, personal training, juice fasts etc etc.. Some have worked and others haven’t. And since Olivia was born we’ve really changed how we eat and live. We are pretty much vegetarian if not vegan. Just not strict! Come on, cheese is so good! We eat lots of raw food, lots of veggies, we avoid dairy, gluten and refined sugar. And while this feels like the optimum eating and health for me personally, my man is still struggling with his weight. I mean, we don’t exercise one bit so I’m sure that doesn’t help! But it was time we tried something else, for his sake.

And being the awesome supportive wifey that I am, I told him I am totally on board with whatever he wants to do. So that’s why in 5 days we are starting the 12WBT – Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. I’ve heard about it before and seen a lot of success stories with it. I signed up because a) being in it will mean I’m more committed and will therefore be able to better support the Hubby and b) apparently it’s not just for losing weight but also for toning, getting fit and stronger. Turns out there are others on the forum who do not need or want to lose weight, so I’m not alone. And while it’s mostly women doing the 12WBT (I’d say at least 80%?) it’s been good to see other men have signed up for this round. You can check the website out here.
I’ll be documenting our journey through the next 12 weeks here on my blog. Wish us luck and success!