Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Summer Solstice and a chocolate Christmas Tree

Christmas is upon us again! Angus has just dozed off on the armchair next to me, Hamish is boobing himself to sleep as I type and the big kids are out the back playing basketball. My father and his partner have flown down from Sydney to spend the silly season with us and meet the baby. All the food is prepped so there will only be very minimum cooking to do tomorrow. 

There's a flourless chocolate fruit cake on the cooling rack, and I just tipped a hip flask of brandy over it. The salads are prepped but will need dressing. We were planning on cooking some chickens but the shop had run out of them so we ended up with turkey (you'd think it'd be the other way around but no) and the turkey is in the fridge all stuffed and dressed, ready to bake with some kumara and potatoes. 

I've been asked to share the recipe for our famous chocolate christmas tree so without further ado, here it is! 

What you need:
A sheet of cardboard 
Baking paper
Strong tape

Vast quantities of milk or dark chocolate, or you can use both. 
3 blocks of white chocolate
Green food colouring (needs to be powdered not liquid or it will separate the chocolate)
Vast quantities of dried fruit, nuts, and lollies
Lollies to decorate the outside
Shredded coconut
Green liquid food colouring

Here's what to do:

Roll the cardboard into a cone shape. Roll a good sized sheet of baking paper into a cone and put it inside the cardboard. 

Melt small quantities of dark / milk chocolate, mis with fruit and nut and lollies then our into the cone shapes. Keep doing that til you fill the cone up and run out of chocolate. Allow it to set over night. 

Melt white chocolate and stain it green. Tip it gentle down the sides of the tree and stick lollies on to decorate it. 

Stain the shredded coconut green by putting it in a jar with the liquid colouring and shaking it. Put it on a plate and set the dried tree on top. 

Yes it's really that easy! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Grand Opening

Tonight we cooked on the new stove in the half new kitchen for the first time. It was a super delicious effort so I'm sharing the recipe for 

mexican inspired beans with cauliflower rice, grilled peaches and chives in sour cream. 

1 tin organic kidney beans
1 tin organic butter beans
1/2 jar organic passata 
Green beans
2 carrots 
4 cloves of garlic
1 fat brown onion
TMX veg stock
Ground cumin
Ground coriander


Sour cream


Grated cheese

Add oil to a frypan and sauté spices, onion, and garlic. Add beans and carrot and cook for a couple of minutes. Add everything else and a cup of water. Cover and cook on low until everything is ready. 

Grate cheese and set aside. 

Grate 1 whole cauliflower. I do it in the TMX until the chunks are a similar size to rice grains. Steam in the varoma for 5 - 10mins until tender. Stir  in coconut oil andvegetable stock (note this is for concentrated TMX veg stock only, you could use a powdered stock but not liquid stock).

Chop chives finely and mix through sour cream. 

Grill some peach slices on a griddle. 

Serve cauliflower rice topped with bean mix, grated cheese, sour cream mix, and a slice of peach. 

New stove in action with TMX cauliflower on the go

Bean mix putting the induction top to the test. 

Finished product. We used orange cauliflower which is why it looks like couscous.

Kitchen Renovations Take Shape!

At long last, just over three years after we moved in we've begun the kitchen overhaul. First we bought a pantry. Then we bought a dishwasher. Then we got a stove top, oven, sink, and all the bench, cupboards and drawers for that side of the kitchen where we're starting the whole process. 

Pantry, complete with 3yr old. 

Sink and cupboards come out

Everything in!

A close up of the finishes. 

We still need to get a splash back behind it and move the powerpoint away from the sink, but the electrician came and plugged the stove top and oven in today so we got to try it all out. It's made such an enormous difference! I can't wait to knock out the wall and do the other half.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Springing into Spring Like an Iceberg.

Spring is upon us and as usual the weather here in Antarctica is unpredictable. One day will be glorious and the next icy, windy, and pouring rain. Today falls into the latter category, I can see sheets of rain coming down on the hill however the sun is shining brightly as if it's telling us not to give up, Summer will come eventually. 

We have a happy vegetable garden started with tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, radishes, peas, snow peas, asian greens, lettuce, corn, capsicum, cabbage and seeds as well. The herb garden is coming along nicely, regrowing after winter and we've added a curry plant and some coriander to it. We also have lots of flowers on the fruit trees, the apples are covered in pretty pink flowers. 

The front garden is full of flowers, and we put a shelf in the alcove near the front door and have some flowers growing there too. Spike wanted his own garden so we created a shelf attached to the side fence and he has a number of pots with flowers growing there. He quite enjoys gardening. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Birth, as only I can do it

Although this birth is an unassisted birth after two caesareans and a stillbirth and a homebirth and a vba2c, I've decided to drop all the acronyms. So this birth is NOT a ubahbavba2c .... it's just a birth. And I'm so glad I finally had one of those! He arrived on my birthday, which also happened to be Mother's day so it was a very auspicious date for a birth indeed. 

I don't really know where to begin the telling of this story so perhaps right at the beginning and we can work our way through it and see where the story goes! I suspect that I will muddle it up a bit because the order of everything isn't clear in my mind at all so whilst I might have things a bit topsy turvy it is all true and correctish, and it is all in keeping with the type of labour that I excel at. It's completely bonkers!

This last pregnancy was a surprise to us all. We weren't thinking we wanted more babies until we found out we were having one. It was a hard pregnancy with lots and lots of nausea until 6 months and no blood pressure and tiredness and children from previous pregnancies.

I made it to 35w and had worked through the bulk of my fears of loss when out of the blue I started leaking hind water. I was concerned that it was a sign the baby was going to come early but given my  history I should have known that was about as likely as a win in the lotto. We reassessed my due dates and determined that the first guess was possibly out by a couple of weeks so even if the baby came now they wouldn't be early so to speak.

I leaked for more than a month, taking high doses of vitamin c and colloidal silver to be sure there was no chance of infection. (I think I'll do a separate post on how we worked out that it was amniotic fluid and not any other bodily fluid.) So after leaking for all that time I did three stop / start labours the baby finally moved his head right into my pelvis and blocked the leak up.

The day I had set as my original start to wait date (NOT a 40w mark, I was 41+3 by original guess) I started having contractions at about 7pm. I didn't pay much attention to them, I assumed they'd fizzle out and we had plans to collect our interstate doula from the airport the following morning so I ignored it. I decided to go to bed at about 9, assuming I'd wake up in the morning and go to the airport. It didn't happen quite like that though.

I was up and down like a yoyo, unable to lie down through them. I had a couple of showers thinking they would stop but all they did was take a longer break between. The irregular breaks made me assume it was more stop / start. By 2am I was tired and grumpy that they weren't stopping to let me sleep when we had an early start the next day. I decided to wake A up and work out whether or not to ring our local doula, Katy. I had another shower, they kept coming. I watched 1980s music on TV and drank tea, they didn't stop, I paced about leaning on stuff and rocking and they still kept coming so we rang Katy at about 3.

Katy arrived and A brought the pool inside and started filling it. I was worried it was too early and that getting in the water would stall things. I really didn't want this to stop because waiting and starting again seemed like my idea of hell. The previous stop / starts had made me woefully tired. I started feeling things  were getting heavy but emotionally it felt like nothing was happening, like the stop / start labours I'd been having. I got in the pool and tried to rest but of course that didn't work. I didn't actually like being in the pool so I got out and kept pacing and trying to rest on the couch, all the while convinced this was going nowhere.

I kept doing this as the hours went by. I didn't notice as the irrational thoughts crept in and took over, and what I did notice I put down to needing to sleep when this darn stop / start labour stopped.

By sunrise I was well and truly irrational beyond redemption. A friend had agreed to collect our out of state doula, Mem, from the airport. She arrived at our house around 10 and I gave her a guided tour of the house whilst telling her how pointless all this was coz it was all going to stop. Katy took the kids out for a while, I kept waiting for labour to stop so I could sleep. I remember thinking that no one who is in transition thinks they are in transition and since I thought I was in transition I was obviously only in early labour. My reasoning is exceptional ... when I am in transition.

I decided to go to bed to sleep. I felt a great sense of relief until the next contraction hit (weren't they meant to stop?!) and I had to leap up to manage it. A came and lay in bed with me for a while. Hugs were very nice in my exhausted and irrational state. Lying down was too much so I got up again. Had one contraction at the doorway and one in the hall. I left A in bed to rest. There was no point in him being tired .... I'd need him if REAL labour started.

I tried showers, I tried walking, lying on the couch. It wouldn't let me rest. By now I was totally off the air visiting the evil faeries in my mind. I sobbed my heart out about it. What if it stopped and I had to do it all again? What if it didn't stop and I was too tired? What if I couldn't cope in transition? (mmmmhmmm) At some point Katy came back and I sobbed on her about it all. My support team deserve an award.

At this point I decided to phone a friend. A friend who happens to be the midwife I had with Angus, someone who knows just how much fun I am when I'm in transition. I told her all about it and she told me .... that I was in transition. She told me everything my doulas and A had been saying for hours. I had to give the phone to Mem when a contraction hit and I heard her knowingly agreeing with Sonja and saying "yep, tried that, tried that, tried it all". Why did all these people think I was in transition? Why were they getting my hopes up? Contractions were CLEARLY only early labour, I was clearly just over tired. (I later learnt that they were agreeing that contractions were not actually five - ten minutes apart as I kept insisting, they were actually one minute apart and not irregular, or pointless)

I decided to try the pool to get things moving but once in I hated it. Soooo I got out and kept going with the walking and talking and begging for sleep so I could "manage transition when it arrived". I decided that since no one would believe me that I was NOT in transition, I needed to go to hospital for drugs. Once again they ignored me and told me they weren't prepared to face my fury after the birth if they took me for no reason. I tried the pool again. Hated it.

In order to demonstrate how clearly I was thinking and how certainly I was not in transition I heaved myself out of the pool and demanded a transfer and drugs. I demanded they call an ambulance so I could have happy gas on the way. (I can't even type that with a straight face now...) But once again. I got nowhere so I walked and talked myself up into a lather, and tried to sleep. I lay on the couch angrily, determined that it would now STOP and l would sleep.

Had a shower (you guessed it, to make things stop) and my body pushed and grunted. Gee I thought to myself. Maybe I AM getting on! Walked and argued. Argued and walked. Focussed lots on relaxing. I noticed quite a few grunts and odd pushes at the height of contractions at this point, and I noticed that my body was shaking like crazy as well. I actually thought it might be transition when the crazy shaking happened and the hideous nausea set in. I also acknowledged that the contractions were mightily unpleasant, and maybe I wasn't being a giant baby about it.

At this point the team had had enough (although they are far too polite to tell me that even now) so they told me they were putting me in the pool and I was going to have the baby. I really didn't know what I wanted, I needed them to make decisions for me. I'd decided that I was actually in transition by this point. I was getting really angry at it because I wasn't moving through it. So I let them haul me into the pool and I practically collapsed onto all fours as a contraction hit. I decided by this point that I was SO infuriated by this whole process that I would have to force myself to over come it. Waiting for logic to embrace me as it did in my previous labour. I made an executive decision that I was going to push for all I was worth and that within three contractions the baby would be born.

Next contraction hit. I pushed. I pushed REALLY HARD. I remember the sound of anger that came out, it was quite amazing. I was really mad! Despite that I felt no movement. I was about to give up and announce that it was pointless again when I remembered the decision I'd made about THREE contractions. So I waited and I pushed again, and this time I felt movement but the head went back up again. Movement encouraged me so I gave my third push and this time I felt real movement and nothing went back. The three pushes had been a good idea, even if they weren't quite enough to get a baby out.

I kept pushing and roaring. I made lots of odd noises, I hissed and shouted and roared and grunted and pushed for all I was worth with every contraction and sometimes without one. I called the kids in when I felt certain movement.  Very soon the team could see a head and I reached down to touch it. I felt really relieved but OUCH my pelvis hurt! I pushed soooo hard and so angrily, I could feel this amazing sense of RAGE propelling me to the end and strangely enough, with the rage I could feel an enormous sense of relief. Surprisingly soon everyone was telling me they could see the top of a head, then eye brows, then a nose, a mouth, a chin and then at last a whole head was out. It actually took a long time for his whole head to come out and at one point I wondered if it was stuck but I instantly banished that thought in order to keep forcing myself through it to the end. After his head I waited and I felt lots of strange wriggling, it felt like arms and hands all poking me. Very odd. Then out came his body. To those who were watching it appeared to slither out. To me it was more like a freight train. Mem passed the baby through my legs because A had stitches and a bandage on one hand and wasn't able to catch him.

I picked him up and I was INSTANTLY overwhelmed with the most amazing flow of love. I've never felt anything quite like it. It was the most intense high of my entire life. I was crying and laughing and relieved and elated all at once, and probably a whole lot more as well. He instantly made noise, not crying, just noise that reassured me he was breathing perfectly.

The kids all had a job to do when he was born. It was Spike's job to announce if the baby was a boy or a girl. He announced that it was yet another boy. It was Angus' job to say "hello baby" (like the story we'd been reading him in preparation) and it was Stylish's job to choose some clothes for the baby.

I wanted to get out of the pool pretty quickly because I felt bruised and sore. The placenta came after I got out, I had the most awful after pain, pushed gently and it came easily. I climbed onto a towel on the couch, holding the baby. Oh the love! I giggled about Michel Odent saying "oxytocin, ze love 'ormone" in his French accent. I have a new understanding of the process now. 

After about 40mins he did the breast crawl. It caught me by surprise when he suddenly latched on. We didn't cut the cord, we kept it attached until it was really dried and hardened three days later when we became concerned about it ripping off with an active toddler leaping about.

He is now 4 days old and we've named him Hamish. He was 4.2kg which is a good half kilo bigger than the last baby I was told was too big for me to push out. Amusingly enough I didn't tear, I didn't even bruise.  He was pushed out much faster than my smaller baby with far less damage in the process.  I'm walking around really easily, not hobbling. Although pushing Angus out was physically easier, it took a lot longer. I guess there's something to be said for angry pushing!

So to sum it all up, it was one hell of a transformative birth! Kind of like mountain climbing. It hurt all the way, the bags were heavy, I was tired, my feet ached (or maybe it was my pelvis but that would ruin my mountain climbing analogy) but once I reached the top, the view was worth every moment of agony.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Extremely Slack Blogger Alert

Well I'm now 34w pregnant and rather round. I haven't updated because I'm extremely slack, there isn't any other excuse for it! I thought I probably should update though and include the recipe for my bliss balls because it's too good not to share! 

Very Hard To Make Bliss Balls

260g dried, pitted dates
30g cacao
15g coconut oil
shredded coconut for rolling.

Mix all ingredients. Make into balls. Roll in shredded coconut and chill for an hour.

Pretty simple isn't it?  I hear that a recent study showed that women who ate dates in the lead up to their birth "didn't need to be induced". In the absence of further information about why they'd need to be induced in the first place I'm assuming that what they really mean is that "women go into labour close to their estimated 40 week mark". I have absolutely no intention of ever being 44w again so I'm trying dates. 

Watch this space!

Monday, November 12, 2012

We've planted a heap of seedlings in the side garden now. And A has set up lots of climbing frames for the beans that are made out of old chair legs and string. We still have to clear the pumpkin's bed and put them in. The tomatoes in the hothouse are flowering nicely and we're harvesting snow peas as well. There's nothing quite as delicious as a freshly picked snow pea that's been stir fried. 

The herb garden is growing back nicely after we re-transplanted it back into the small side garden under the kitchen window. We've got thyme, rosemary, thai and normal basil, yarrow, parsley, chives and probably a couple of other things that I can't remember. Having fresh herbs right outside the kitchen is the best! 

The flowers in the front garden are so pretty and the roses are all coming out now. We bought a heap of pine bark to put around the flowers and since doing that they look so much happier. Not having to compete with weeds probably helps them feel a lot more relaxed ... if flowers can relax!? 

Yesterday we interviewed a midwife and we're hoping she'll take us on, we'd be happy with her if she does. She only works part time which I like, and all her kids were born at home without any scans or unnecessary testing. 

This weekend we're hosting Dad's 80th birthday party so we've been doing lots of gluten free preparations in anticipation. It'll be nice to see the family, it's been over a year. I'm doing as much cooking as I can now so there won't be too much to do when everyone is here but of course some stuff needs to be fresh rather than frozen so there'll still be plenty to do. 

I have to bake a loaf of milk bread today because the kids are on a toast eating bonanza, I might make two and freeze some because they're hard to keep up with! In between vast quantities of washing and folding I might even have time to catch up on the B+B!