A life of health and wellness…with kids!


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Projects in progress

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I have started a few bits and pieces of knitting this past week – mainly because we have had a week of unseasonably cold weather in Canberra and going outdoors is just plain unpleasant. Also I have been feeling like getting on with making some winter woolens now so that when the weather really does turn cold I am well on the way to being ready. The kids have outgrown their hats and gloves and I like to have a new hat and scarf for the winter.

The above pic is a second pair of Wabi mitts that I started while watching season 4 of Downton Abbey last weekend. I am using the Amuiri Possum Merino again but this time the second yarn is King Cole Mirage in the Helsinki colourway. It has created a really pretty effect. These ones will most likely be a gift.
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These are some socks that I have had the yarn sitting there gathering dust for a few years (It is Moda vera Sock yarn from Spotlight) – somehow socks always just seemed to be in the too hard basket – the yarn is so fine and there was always the mysterious talk of ‘turning the heel’. Now I haven’t gotten up to the heel turning part yet but I am quite enjoying the process so far. There was the small problem of the 3 year old pulling out a needle when I was about 3 inches in and I tried to salvage it but just couldn’t. So I pulled it out and started over. I find the sock  just so easy – there is no pattern so it is basically just knit knit knit  – so when I don’t want to think – this is the knitting I pick up.

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This is the beginning of a Yowza Weigh it Shawl 2 – I decided to join the Susan B Anderson shawl knit-a-long and this yarn has been sitting around my house for ever. It is Cleckheaton California 8 Ply in the ocean colourway- although it is a very thick 8 ply. I have to say that i’m not loving it – I think it is mostly the way that the colour development in the yarn is working with this pattern. I’m a bit dissapointed about that because I thought that this would be the project for this particular yarn. This is the second time I have tried to knit it up into something when it hasn’t really worked.- so perhaps I need to give up on this yarn!

What are you working on at the moment?

Andjxx


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Project 333: A long time coming

333

I have been thinking a lot the past few months about simplifying my life so that I have more time for me, more time to be with my family and more time to get everything done. One of the things that I would love to simplify is my wardrobe. I have lots and lots of clothes – and most of them seem to live on my bedroom floor – clean or unclean – 90% of the time.

I want to spend less time doing washing.

I find I avoid doing my own washing because I know that it is going to take me about an hour to put all my clothes away and another hour to do the ironing.So because I avoid washing I wear everything I own until I have nothing left to wear – and then I have to spend an entire afternoon and evening putting away and ironing. That is not how I want to spend my time on a weekend!

I want to think less about getting dressed in the morning – know that I have a planned outfit or two in the closet that will look great.

I first discovered project 333 a few years ago and have attempted to get my wardrobe down to 33 items a number of times over the past few years. However every time I have tried I have found a reason not to just get on with it – the biggest reason being that I didn’t seem to have enough things that mixed and matched to get the who  process happening properly – and for me to have enough variety in what I wear.

This Christmas just gone (in an attempt to commence the simplification process) I have done lots of cleaning out and assessment of just what I have in the way of clothes. About two weeks ago I did a major edit and got my wardrobe down to about 60 items that I wear regularly.

Just this morning I have narrowed down the 33 items that will see me thorough the new few months until it starts to get chilly here in Canberra. Surprisingly with this slow process I have found it to be more simple than before – although I have figured out my wardrobe to mix and match a little better I feel also (with thanks to Pinterest and instagram!)

I’m not one for outfit posts but I may take pics of my 33 items and post them here and I might be able to talk my 6 year old into learning how to take a photo or two over the next few months.

Here is my list of 33 items.

1. Black Cardigan

2.Grey Cardigan

3. Red Cardigan

4. Black Blazer

5. Blue linen t-shirt

6. White linen t-shirt

7. stripe t-shirt

8. Black t-shirt

9. Black pencil skirt

10. Print pencil skirt (colourful)

11. Long floral skirt

12. Denim Skirt

13. Black shorts

14. White Shorts

15. Green canvas Skirt

15. Black work slacks

16. Skinny Jeans

17. Bootleg jeans

18. Black blouse

19. Black and white floral blouse

20. Black and white jersey dress

21. Purple and green jersey dress

22. White and black jersey dress

23. Purple and black jersey dress

24. Yellow handbag

25. Black handbag

26. silver tiffany necklace

27. Silver slides

28. Yellow loafers

29. Black patent ballet flats

30. Black court shoes

31. Neutral flat shoes

32. Red resin necklace

33. Yellow resin necklace

The only caveat I have is that I will also allow myself to wear items that I have made by hand in my wardrobe selections. I have a few items floating around that I have made that I do wear quite often and it would be a shame to have these things hiding away in the closet and it’s not like it is 100 dresses or anything like that. Just a few handmade blouses and dresses and knitted shawls.

If you would like to check out my instagram account to see if I have managed to post any outfits pics please check out @Andjxx on instagram. But I am sure they will get posed here eventually as well 🙂


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Why I won’t be buying a Thermomix

THermomix free zone

Thermomix Free Zone

Yes – you heard me correctly – this post is all about why I decided not to buy a Thermomix.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to go along to a Thermomix demonstration – and let me tell you I was hooked. I came away from the demo and I desperately wanted one of those things. It was just amazing…You could do so many things with it and it was so speedy…and such little amounts of washing up…

So off I went an began to plot how on earth I could possibly begin to afford one of these gadgets. But here’s the thing..in my life right now I could simply not justify the near $2000 cost for a machine that did everything I could already do with the gadgets I already had at home.

I still wanted one.

But as the weeks of my obesession wore on I started to do some research into people who had a Thermomix and did not like it or didn’t use it as much as they thought they would. I started reading things that I found myself nodding along to. What kind of cooking did I do? Lots of quick things – stir frys and grilled meats; lots of long slow cooked things – set and forget stews etc; baking baking baking…using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Real cooking with real ingredients that I chop by hand because I enjoy the process of chopping and stirring and cooking.

How would this gadget fit into the way that I cook right now? It just wouldn’t. I had a multi function cooker that is a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and risotto maker in one. I had a Kitchen Aid food processer and Stand Mixer, I have a Vitamix blender with the dry blending canister for making nut flours and other grain processing. I already made my own yoghurt with the Easiyo. I can make Custard on the stovetop. I can make bread dough by hand. There was nothing  that I needed to spend $2000 on a machine to do for me that I didn’t already have the capacity to do.

I completely understand the value if you do not already have all of these gadgets in your kitchen, or if you have a very small kitchen and need to maximise gadget for space capacity, or you didn’t already cook most things from scratch and you were wanting to learn – but for me – the investment would have simply been one of ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’. So I came to my senses and decided against it.

I think they are a great gadget for the right person – just not for me.

So that’s why I won’t be buying a Thermomix.

Andjxx

 

 


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How does my garden grow? October 20th – 26th

Posie from my garden

For the love of an abundance of flowers! I am truly grateful for spring bulbs and their reliability to provide a beautiful, uplifting display well into the spring and summer. Bulbs are something that I knew noting at all about prior to moving to a cooler climate, growing up in Brisbane – they just weren’t all that popular – and possibly not all that easy to grow.

It took me a few years before I noticed that everyone in Canberra had bulbs in their garden – but not us. When we bought our house, the front garden was planted with an easy care garden which we quickly allowed to become overgrown with a jungle of grassy weeds as we fell headfirst into the blur of being parents of small children. Somethings just get let go …you know 😉

But over the next few years I slowly persisted with the weed eradication program and started putting in just a few more bulbs each autumn, and then watching how they grew. Adding a few strategically place plants here and there, and slowly growing the variety of plants that grace our front yard. It is very much a work in progress.

This year I planted some Ranaculus bulbs and I absolutely adore them. The colour and life that they add to the garden is such a delight to come home to each evening. As with any garden that is ‘in progress’ there is still much to do and many plants to be added.

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In the meantime, I enjoy the unfolding of the buds to see what colour that new plant (Columbines, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks) will bring – and hope – oh how I hope – that I get a variety of colours rather than all the same colour.

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Often my little helpers (or hinderers) are out there with me. Demanding that I take their pictures.

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I am thoroughly enjoying exploring the world of seasonal flowers and slowly trying them out in the garden to see if they grow at all in some cases, but more often that not to see the shape that the plant takes as it grows. I have planted a few varieties amidst the veggies and other plants this year to act as both  beneficial insect attraction and to use as cut flowers in the house – Cosmos, Carnations and poppies and hopefully some zinnias in summer. I planted some Dahlia tubers but I am not sure if they will grow – we can only wait and see. That’s half the joy.

Andjxx


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School Canteens and the Food Giants

evil food giants

Many of you may recall the recent *ahem* disagreement between certain high profile chefs and nutrition experts over the marketing of ‘liquid breakfast supplements’ as a healthy alternative for kids who don’t like eating breakfast.

It could certainly be easy to think that these food products have been created with the best interests of those who consume them in mind – especially considering that  Kelloggs is marketing their products in particular, directly at parents who are short on time and need a fast solution. Kelloggs marketing director John Broom is quoted in FoodMagazine saying “The new breakfast drinks are made with 90 percent low fat milk are low GI and contain around 10 percent sugar. They also score green on the Schools Canteens approval rating system, which indicates the drinks are among the best commercial products available for young children”. Sounds good right?

It’s true – they are BUT – and there is a big but – does this mean they are healthy and that it is perfectly OK for your child to consume these on a daily basis?

My question is How does a highly refined product such as this, without a skerrik of whole food (other than sugar) as an ingredient – even get onto the Green rating in the school canteens approval rating system?

Lets take a look at the ingredients?

cocopops ingredients

The reason it is allowed under the green category is because it is a low fat milk product – and low fat milk products under 375ml are considered to be in the green category. See below:

Canteen guidelines

However, what is alarming is that plain old full fat milk – the type that was forced upon our parents and grandparents at primary school on a daily basis – falls into the Amber category – Why is this so? Because of the FAT content.

Yes I understand that our current Australian Dietary Guidelines place an emphasis on the consumption of low fat food but in doing this, the green light has been given to food companies to change the composition (read increase the amount of added sugar) of their foods to ensure that the flavours, taste and textures remain unchanged. What alarms me most is that the same serving of full fat milk contains less calories than the example given above.  Remembering that it is consuming more calories than our bodies expend that causes excess weight gain – when food companies are telling us that it is OK too feed this manufactured ‘food’ to our children on a daily basis – it is not surprising that we have an obesity epidemic.  I haven’t even mentioned how the conversion of unnecessary (added) sugar in our diet actually contributes to fat gain metabolically – because others have done it far more eloquently than I. While I am not generally an advocate of Sarah Wilson and her I Quit Sugar tirade I do agree with her on the topic of ‘quitting  added sugar. If you are feeling scientific and would like to watch a video on the topic go and have a look at this talk by Dr Kieron Rooney from the University of Sydney speaking on the topic – it is truly fascinating.

Back to the milk.

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You will see that a 250ml serving of Full Cream milk contains 703kj, 12.3g Carbohydrate (which is all Lactose – no added sugar) and 9.5g Fat. In comparison, the product above contains 740kj, 24.3g of Sugar (of which 13.8g is Lactose) and 3.3g of Fat. Yes the full cream milk has more fat, however it also has approximately half the sugar – and none of it is added sugar – assuming you are not lactose intolerant – our bodies can metabolise Lactose very well. So in the flavoured liquid breakfast you get extra sugar  AND extra calories – not to mention extra chemicals in all those stabiliser and enhancer numbers.

I know that I would much rather my children to have plain old full cream milk with half the sugar (and I don’t know about your children but mine go a bit cray cray when they have extra sugar) and a little bit extra fat than the chemical laden liquid breakfast substitute.

We as parent have to wise up to the evil marketing that the big food giants use to appeal to parents and children if we are to win the battle against childhood obesity. If you think – who am I to be able to do something about this? Actually, you can!

Sarah Wilson has teamed up with Kieron Rooney to lobby the NSW government to make changes to the NSW School Canteen guidelines – and they need 10 000 in person signatures to make it happen. If you live in NSW and the food your children have access to in school is something that you feel passionate about then do your best to try and sign this petition. Every little bit of effort from an individual helps.

What else could you do? If you see a food item in your school canteen that you are unhappy with – let your P&C know, have a look at the healthy school canteen strategy (Other states have similar guidelines/strategies) – to back up your lobbying efforts. Many small efforts add up to results and your opinion can make a difference!

As a disclaimer to this post – I am not in any way affiliated with Sarah Wilson or her petition – it is simply a topic that I feel passionate about. Real food is more important than processed food and it is only though people power that we will get any government to take on multinational corporations. Additionally, I attended the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 conference last week and saw Dr Kieron Rooney’s key note presentation on this very topic – but it is the type on information that all parents should know – so if it enrages you too – please share!!

Andjxx


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The Trials and Tribulations of Losing Weight

Willpower and weightloss

So it has been about a month since I started on this fitness kick and things were going really well. I had some ups and downs over the course of the month and things were going quite well – I had lost about 3.5 kg. Then…sometime last Thursday it all went to pot.  I can’t really pinpoint what was the trigger but  I do remember that it started with being tired. Extraordinarily tired. Perhaps I overdid it last week – or something along those lines. I have found that I find it difficult to fit in all the different bits of exercise that I want to do. I want to do strength training so as not to lose muscle mass through cardio. I want to do Cardio because thats what I enjoy. I need to play Hockey on a Sunday afternoon. I want to ride my bike on the weekends. Problem is – it’s all too much – and perhaps I was pushing a little too hard.

The food thing is also proving challenging to me – as it seems that I have developed an intolerance to wheat and dairy (at least Milk based things apart from Yoghurt – I seem to be able to tolerate Yoghurt). Now I have fallen into complete denial – I will not be denied these foods that are so good – binge eating – for the past 5 days.

I don’t even want to look at the scale. I had been weighing myself daily – but I am not going to do that anymore as I tend to obsess over the number – I feel as though it is a trigger for me. I have bought some Tanita body fat % scales because in reality I don’t care what the weight in kilos or pounds is – I care about seeing the BF% number go down.

The thing is – I have been seeing improvements in other areas – such as strength and endurance – going ahead in leaps and bounds. I have managed to get my Parkrun PB for 5km down to 29min 15sec – that means in six weeks I have knocked about 4 and a half minutes off my PB – an awesome improvement given that the only actual running that I have been doing is Parkrun – the rest of the Cardio I have been doing is on the bike or HIIT at the Gym. The other thing I noticed is how much easier it was to run that PB this past Saturday – when I was fully loaded with Carbohydrates and had relatively fresh legs from not training the previous two days.

Now I have a dilemma because I want to run – I want to commit myself to running a half marathon later in the year – but I also want to strength train – but for the specific purpose of building strength for running – I also still have about 10kg to lose – and running makes you hungry….Very hungry.

So I think the bottom line is that I was trying to do too much – especially when I add work into the mix – and if I want to make gains in speed and train for a half marathon then the extensive strength training has to go to the side and the running specific training has to take precedence.

I would also like to post here about my training more often – particularly about learning to manage these apparent food difficulties and balancing it all with two very demanding small children and my work. All I can do is try.

Andjxx


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A week on from my Retreat

Buddah, Avrajita

This time last week I was sitting in a yurt  in Kangaroo Valley with a bunch of strangers about to embark on my first Yoga retreat. The weekend away – run by a Canberra local,  Simplicity Retreats was something I had planned for quite some time as my introduction to the world of retreats – and I was not disappointed.  Despite the initial nervousness of spending a weekend with strangers – we were all there for the same reason – time away from our stressful lives to find space and time to contemplate.

The amazing venue in Kangaroo Valley is just what you would expect from a retreat center – a hidden gem filled with many spaces of quietude and peace.

Avrajita

I have to say that while the yoga part was fabulous – perfectly paced and pitched for those who may not have done yoga for some time – the part I enjoyed the most was the free time. Time to sit in front of the continuously glowing fireplace and read from the well stocked library, to knit, to chat with others when you felt like it – or just simply to sit. And of course to snuggle up under those beautifully cozy blankets.

Yoga Retreat Kangaroo Valley, Avrajita

Avrajita

My second favorite part was the most amazing food that we were served all weekend by the amazingly positive and radiant Angie from Angie Gluten Free. The beautiful, nourishing, organic vegetarian fare was nothing short of amazing and it was fantastic to have the opportunity to try things that may have seemed out of reach outside of this environment. Angie instils love into every element of her food and I truly think that  you can taste that in the end result. I felt so clean at the end of the weekend that I was afraid to eat normally again!

Angie Gluten free, yoga retreat catering

The sleeping arrangements were in a separate purpose built area and consisted of king size bunks with an ensuite in each ‘cabin’. I shared with a lovely lady and was very comfortable.

Avrajita

As tends to happen – this weekend away came at a time when I needed it ever so much. I definitely want to go away again next year – my intention is to go Bali or Thailand for a slightly longer retreat – but if that doesn’t work I would most certainly go to Avrajita again with Simplicity retreats – it was sublime!

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Whaere has the Happy gone?

Happy Life Quote

Happy Life Quote

 

This may be the truth but of late my outlook on life has not been all that Happy. To be honest I have been far from the mother I would like to be in the past few months and this makes me sad. Circumstances in our family and working lives right now are less than idea and there is not a whole lot that we can do about this in the short term.

As someone whose natural tendency is to awfulise and catastrophise – this combination makes it very difficult for me to see a way out of the bleak reality that is our life right now.

I have just had two weeks off work which has been an absolute blessing and as this break draws to a close I am feeling a much renewed sense of capability and a small element of vision to carry me forward for the next few months. But I have also realised that I need to quiet my overactive, overthinking mind and declutter my life in order to simplify my approach. More than anything, this is about  self preservation of Sanity. I can’t make my work go away – I am the only one working right now.

I try very hard to remain positive but to little success.

I need to do something to regain the Happy Mama part of this blog. I look back on photographs from 18 months ago and I see a completely different person. One who had energy and vibrancy, one who cared much more about her appearance and level of self care, one whose eyes sparkled in pictures who was enthusiastic about blogging and sharing her life.

Now all I see is blah, dullness and how everything is just hard – right down to getting out of bed in the morning.

Surely she is still there – I’m just not sure how to find her anymore.


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Why I’ve stopped ‘Liking’ on Facebook

Facebook is a minefield.

So much information passing through our heads every time we log in – its no wonder that more and more people appear to be having issues with focusing on everyday life!

But once you take care of all of the ‘friend’s that you didn’t have in highschool’, and the ‘friends that you met at a wedding’, and the ‘friend’s of friends’ – the list could go on – you are left with the constant feed of all those blogs, businesses, charities and causes that you have ‘liked’ at some stage.

I have recently started making an effort to go in an ‘unlike’ any of these ‘like’s’ that aren’t contributing to my clear headspace. Seriously, it is like a constant stream of advertising, of bloggers trying to desperately sell their latest get rich quick scheme, of fitness models pasting their perfection to make you feel guilty about the gym session you skipped today because there are only 24 hours in the day and the organisation guru ‘mom’s’ who make you feel sick to the stomach with their perfect Tiffany Blue and crisp white kitchens with perfectly pinterest worthy tupperware and linen closets with labels.

Well I am sick of it.

Isn’t there enough in this world to make us feel guilty as working mums?

It’s not enough anymore to just make it through the working week and managing to feed the kids and make sure they have enough clothes, apparently we have to check of the list in  our carefully preened ‘Home management binder’ while we work on creating a perfectly laminated menu board where we can plan our meals in advance for the next 30 days, have prepared our children a dairy free, wheat free, fruit free, nut free, sugar free…fun free…. weeks worth of stimulating lunches with cute “I love you lunchbox notelets in the shape of a heart” included

I am over the guilt that these apparently perfect people seep into our not so perfect lives. For those of us who fall into the perfectly OK category of ‘normal’, who do not feel the need to be organised to the n’th degree, who know that umm…towels and sheets…go in the linen closet. I salute you – especially if you can manage to get the said towels and sheets back into the linen closet before they are required for use again.

So the only things I am going to ‘like’ from now on are things that build up my self worth as a working parent, things that encourage my spirit, things that nourish my soul. No guilt, no shame, no sales pitches. I’m done.

I feel a little better now…..thanks!


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A Guest Post @ Happy Whimsical Hearts

Waldorf festivals southern hemisphere

Today I am guest posting over at the blog of one of my lovely friends.

Kelly blogs @ Happy Whimsical Hearts about all things magical, fun and enriching in the lives of her children.

I have written a post over at her blog today about Waldorf Festivals in the Southern Hemisphere and the dates of these festivals as they match with the Northern Hemisphere. This is something the I struggled to figure out when I first started exploring the Steiner educational philosophy.

Hop on over to Kelly’s blog to read my post and to check out Kelly’s magical home…enjoy xo.

aaname