Category Archives: gratitude

The offering

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They draw often, my children. They both love it and for Mr 5 in particular it is his peaceful place. When he is overwhelmed it is a place to which he quietly retreats and centres himself. That he knows how and when to do that makes me proud.

Of late, I have thought much about the (willing) sacrifice of mama-hood. It’s been a discussion point with friends. For me at least it is a dance of trying to find the quiet I need on occasion with the needs of my boys. Their seemingly boundless energy is something I have learned I can’t keep up with though I do try.

Sometimes though, there are moments where it is clear to me how much my little men show love in their own way.

Today they conspired to draw what is pictured above as I hung washing. “Come Mama, we did this for you!”

An offering for me. An offering of love.
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Ode to a soccer ball

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Of all the sports there are I’ve always warmed to soccer. As the least sporty kid around, even I didn’t mind playing soccer. My dad even coached our primary school team once.

Lots of things about being a Mama have stretched me. I’ve had to relax in to a lot of things and quashed my inner control freak … Hello painting with toddlers! Other things still have forced me out of my comfort zone and in to, literally, the outdoors. Mr 2 especially loves being outside and he has naturally taken to ball sports. I play outside a lot more than I would be naturally drawn to doing on my own. They are much better for it too.

My boys have an interesting relationship. They’re both incredibly strong of mind. Mr 2 especially has been blessed with oodles of strong will and cannot be forced to do anything. Mr 5 is more malleable but he frustrates easily. Because of this they often argue….sometimes I’m convinced screaming is the soundtrack to my life. I try not to interfere with their dynamic too much….unless it comes to fisticuffs.

Last week though, after school, I set up the soccer goals as I cooked their dinner. I left them to it and kept an eye on them from the kitchen window. And they played. Really, really played. Mr 5 tried to show Mr 2 how to dribble the ball – a skill I didn’t even know he had. And Mr 2 tried to copy. There were shrieks of laughter, shouts of, “red card”, goals scored and screaming of the happiest variety. They played together for 40 minutes. Then, they screamed unhappily as I beckoned them in for dinner.

Thank you Mr Soccer Ball. You will forever be in my heart.

“I picked these for you”

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He presented me with these two shells…”of all the shells I saw today Mama, I picked these two for you. You don’t mind that one of them is a bit broken do you? I like that it’s got a jagged edge, it makes it more interesting don’t you think? The sand has made it less sharp over time you know?” The wisdom of a five year old.

I’ve felt that internal sharp and jagged edge more keenly in the last few months than I have for a long time. It’s starting to smooth as I allow myself to slow down and cocoon in the haven of my family, my boys especially. Delighting in the small, laughing more and walking. Lots and lots of walking.

Life has never been more full and I have never been more blessed.

Loverly Food: Ricotta, spinach and tomato pie – aka KINDNESS pie

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I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I really only found a joy for cooking when Mr and I first moved in together more years ago than I can remember now.

When Bebito was born I began to focus more on making things from scratch. As much as I knew breast feeding would give him the best start I wanted his belly to be full of nutritious, tasty food. And he has rewarded me ten fold with his appreciation of what I set in front of him, his willingness to try new things. I never cook anything I don’t think he will enjoy eating. Little Lion can be hit and miss but I hope one day he too laps up all manner of different flavours. Mr too has an appreciation of good food. In giving my family good food I feel like I am giving them my love and care.

But there’s more to why I spend so much time in the kitchen. I find it meditative. Especially so when I am able to potter on my own. It is a time to think too. To process my feelings, thoughts, dreams and hopes and after an afternoon of cooking I often find myself revived or more at peace. I often think how I am connected to the generations of women before me in my kitchen labours.

Today I’ve baked a bunch of lunchbox items, dinner and some muesli. At the same time I’ve reflected on the news I heard earlier today of Charlotte Dawson. I know little of her, only that she was a woman who struggled with depression and she vigourously defended herself against online bullies. I also thought of the people in Kiev who are fighting – and dying – for what they believe in. For the asylum seekers on Manus Island who are trapped there, fleeing from horror only to be greeted with a different sort of horror – the horror of detention in limbo. And as I think of these people in their struggles I cannot help but wish that people could act with more kindness.

Kindness. It’s such an easy place to start. And yet so many are not kind.

Perhaps if everyone spent some time cooking for the people they care about, an act of service in which they put the needs of others before there own there could be more kindness?

What say you?

Here’s my recipe…

You could buy some pastry – shortcrust or puff, your call entirely but I made my own using Maggie Beer’s rough puff recipe here

I actually used half of the pastry and froze the other half. Our local supermarkets don’t stock decent premade pastry and I make mine in batches, then freeze for another day.

400 grams ricotta
Half cup Parmesan cheese, grated
A cup of baby spinach leaves
A small handful basil leaves, chopped
1 cup cream
3 eggs
Pinch grated nutmeg
4 tomatoes, sliced

Grease a 30cm x 20cm pie or flan dish. Actually, any will do but just make sure you have enough pastry to cover your tin.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Blind bake the pastry first – I did mine 10 minutes lined with baking paper and pastry weights then 10 minutes without. Make sure it’s quite golden as the top won’t get much cooking when you put the filling in … But not too golden. If you’re using puff pastry let it settle a bit and not be so puffed before you put the filling in.
At the same time as your baking the pastry, place your sliced tomatoes on an oven tray and bake with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Remove from oven and set aside.
Combine all the filling ingredients and mix well.
Pour filling ingredients over your pastry and top with the sliced tomatoes.
Bake about 25 minutes, or until golden.

We will be enjoying it with a rocket, nashi pear, walnut and balsamic vinegar salad tonight.

Share with your loved ones for most enjoyment.

Christmas Cheer

I’ve been really enjoying the lead up to Christmas this year.  Well, I’ve enjoyed it since I finished up work and study for the year last week anyway!

Mr 2 is getting excited about things like lights and Christmas trees and is old enough to participate in a number of our advent calendar activities.

I revisited my Pinterest boards and chose some activities that I’d been hoping to do for a while and added in some teeny presents and the odd treat.

032Mr 5 wakes every morning begging to see what is in the “pocket calendar”. My favourite activity to date was this one where we made washi tape trees in our hall.  Here’s Mr 2 with his “cheese” smile.081I’ve also made a number of presents myself this year – trying a bunch of new craft projects in particular and of course, enlisting the help of the small ones.   I can’t show too much but suffice to say our table is full of paint! 🙂

Mr 2 made some paintings with some cars…008Both my little lovelies painted on some fabric for a secret project – paint was ALL over the floor!035I made some sugar and orange hand scrub.039 We used some air dry clay to make some dishes and candle holders… 102And of course I’m making a bunch of food gifts….

Mini panettone using this amazing recipe – it’s umm, not exactly kid friendly as it’s heavy on the booze but it is darn delicious.  I made a big one too for us to crack on Christmas Eve.  This is a really sentimental cake in my family.  My Dad brought it around to my Grandparents as a gift the first Christmas after he met my Mum and my Grandpa, who was the funniest man you ever could meet in the great, dry way that I love most, asked if he’d cooked it in the BHP ovens.  It’s been nicknamed BHP cake in our family ever since and we eat a slice, along with a glass of bubbles at midnight on Christmas Eve.  I’m really looking forward to trying it with my family!142I have also whipped up a batch of two of Amy’s favourites – dulce de leche shortbread sandwiches and salted dulce de leche brownies (which my Grandma has requested for her birthday on Sunday too).

001We’ve done pear and vanilla jam and I am going to make up some lemon curd using lemons from our garden and some nutella meringues in the next few days.  I’ll package up various goodies for family and friends though exactly how I’ll package them I have no idea as yet!

With all this baking, crafting and making it’s been a fun and busy time and the Christmas spirit is in full swing around here.  I love imbuing my making and baking with love and considering what gifts people would like but most of all, having the small ones around is what makes this Christmas so special….because THIS!

003Merriest of merry times to you all lovelies.

xxxxx

Real

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When Bebito was first born I wanted to gift him a special book. Something that meant something. I remember this passage above from when I was 14 from The Velveteen Rabbit so this was what we bought him. It means something. In fact, I think real means everything not just something.

It hurts to be real with ourselves and with others but it is the only thing we can do I believe. It is the only way I can sleep easily.

I find it easier to be real sometimes than others. Some of what I write here, like my last post, is raw and real and I don’t think you have to be raw to be real.

I also think my version of real may be different to yours. And that is how it should be.

I don’t think real means mean or brutally honest either though I think some people see it that way.

Sadly, I think being real opens us up to being hurt by others who don’t know how to respond to the real within us because the real within them is buried too deep.

Yesterday I was given great advice by a health professional to be pragmatic about what my life involves at the moment and to take far better care of myself or there will be consequences. Time to be real about my health. I needed to hear it. I had to hear it.

Today I received a beautiful gift and note that really touched me from Pip. It means a lot to me to know my version of Real is understood by others and I’m not completely neurotic.

“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly”.

La dolce vita

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Image credit

I posted the above quote on my Facebook page yesterday and I think it contains the recipe for a really good life.

My days are long and full. It’s a fuller life than I ever imagined. My mind races and stresses far more than I would like. But I have created this life. I have let some things go. Set my priorities. Set goals even. I need to let more things go. Prioritise more. Find the fun in the mundane and even the irritating. Be braver than I thought I could be. Push myself a little. Count my blessings.

For years I thought myself an extrovert. I thought because I like to chat it meant I was an extrovert. And maybe, 15 year old me was an extrovert but if she was that was fleeting and only because I was finding my way in the world. Trying on different outfits so to speak.

But I’m not. I’m an introvert. Someone who is internally motivated. That is what an introvert is. I love to feel connected to people but I need to seek out the quiet. Sit back. Think. Process. Be.

La dolce vita. For years I’ve been thinking that a good life is a balanced one but I believe now that balance isn’t about keeping the scales even all the time but giving things the due attention when they need it.

What’s your recipe for the good life?