Thursday, April 30, 2015

Green Goodness Smoothie

Got five minutes and a blender?
Vibrant Green Goodstuff
It's the strangest sounding combo ever- but I promise it tastes great and bonus it's packed with all the goodness that green things provide.  Good enough even for dessert!

Best of all it's kid approved

Green Goodness Smoothie

  • 1 Banana
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • Handful Swiss Chard (Leaves Only)
  • Handful Basil or Mint
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
  • Splash Almond Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Dash Cinnamon
Cooking Directions
  1. Toss all ingredients into blender and whizz away. You may need to adjust the liquid amounts to achieve desired consistency.
{Keep in mind I cook by intuition so feel free to tweak measurements}
Told ya!
Whats your strangest smoothie combo?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Farm-Raised Aussie Family: A Weekend in Photos

Side of the country-road photo op

My husband grew up on a potato farm. I grew up in the burbs. He actually attended a one room school house, the kind I only read stories about. Almost every school holiday, he and his siblings had to help out and work the farm. My only job at that age was to get good grades.

The farm hay shelter
This gives our relationship an interesting dynamic and together our memories cover a broad range of experience. I still ask him the question; "Wait, have you never heard of that (insert any 80's or 90's pop culture reference) because you are from Australia or because you grew up on a farm?" For a while there I thought hip hop music never made it's way over here because Matt did not know of The Notorious BIG.

So excited to see her beloved cows from the car window

I'm a city person at heart. I love the people-watching, the anonymity, the noise, the randomness. Looking at my hubs with his silver side-part, immaculate presentation, his beloved shoe collection and full wardrobe, you would never guess that he can drive a tractor, build a barn, or herd sheep (not 100 percent sure about that last one, I'll check with my father in law.) But that just adds to the richness of Matt's diversity, realism and work ethic.

Feeding the abandoned calf

If I'm being completely honest, when we have to pack up our toddler to head out into the middle of nowhere for a few days I always think about the million other things I could be doing. Every time we arrive however I am surprised by how stunning the place is, how inspiring. Maybe I couldn't live there full-time but spending a weekend with family in those surroundings is a gift.

Here are some photos I took last weekend on our visit.

A beautiful tree on my in-law's property
Farm equipment from a city girl perspective, I think they look like sculptures.

The next day we went to Uncle Mick's dairy farm and saw more calves and two-week-old piglets.

Enjoying the high view with tall, Uncle Shane

The family seems to be growing as quickly as the farm

The cutest!

Photo I snapped from the car on the way home with my iPhone
Do you prefer city, country, or someplace in-between?

Update: Matt informed me that he can indeed herd sheep (and cattle) but they call it 'rounding up' sheep and 'herding' cattle. He's not sure why. That's how they roll.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

16 Inexpensive Ways for Mums to Relax: Sponsored Post

{Airwick Australia offered to send me some candles in exchange for a post and I gladly accepted because I looooove candles. All opinions are honest, and my own.}

I’ve been thinking about this list for a while now. It’s easy for anyone with unlimited funds to unwind during child-free time; massages and pedicures and shopping oh my! Money is easy to spend when your time is free.

But for those of us on a fixed income (and a big home renovation looming) I thought it would be helpful to come up with a list of things that are inexpensive or free, that you can easily do at home, during nap-time or after bed-time to chill the funk out.

Over the last few days I’ve realized just how precious nap-time is to me. It’s when I do my writing and creating. But for some reason Lavinia is going through this phase (gawd I hope it’s a phase) where she plays around in her cot for an hour without sleeping a wink. I really miss those two-and-a-half hours I used to have in the afternoons. 

Anything I do in my golden, spare moments feels more indulgent with scented candles or scented oils burning in the background (aromatherapy is free!) Almost everything on this list can be complimented by a romantic flame. Obvs not the napping one (#7) but you knew that. So go ahead, treat your nostrils and light something!

And can I just say, that I was shocked at the price of scented candles when I moved to Australia? There were no nice-smelling cheapies, not even at the supermarket. I used to make my Mom send over candles in the post because I missed them so much (told ya, I love candles.) I’m so pleased that Airwick Australia has actually made an affordable candle that smells awesome. No, they don’t look high-end like those candles you buy just to display (you know the ones you don’t light so they don’t go to waste.)

Candles like these ‘Good to Be Home’ ones are meant to be enjoyed: Buy em,’ burn em,’ and enjoy em’ because you can replace em.’ These Lemonade Stand candles smell more like lemon pie than lemonade. Yumm-o.

  1. Give yourself an at home spa pedicure.
  2. Try Guided Meditation- if you’re a beginner use an app or YouTube.
  3. Sit in the sun and read a magazine.
  4. Make a cup of tea.
  5. Take a bubble bath.
  6. Read a book- books on an e-reader are far less expensive than paperback books- bonus: you don’t have to leave the house to purchase new ones!
  7. Take a power Nap- sometimes it’s just nice to sleep.
  8. Write in a journal- unclutter that mind! Penzu post is a free, private, online journaling website that I use.
  9. Make something crafty, take a look at Pinterest if you need inspiration.
  10. Do something you've been putting off, even if it’s a chore, it will feel good to cross something off the list.
  11. Stretch or do some yoga- there are plenty of yoga classes on YouTube!
  12. Sit outside in the sun with a magazine.
  13. Bake something healthy.
  14. Frame some photos.
  15. Talk to a friend on the phone- Points if you don't send a preemptive text.
  16. Have a cup of tea and listen to some relaxing music.

Which ones will you try first?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Take Charge of Your Health: Recap #mindbodyweek

Un-freakin believeable. I woke up this morning before my husband (the chipper morning person) and even before my daughter.

I thought my body was tricking me, that I would need to head back to bed exhausted after a couple hours. But let me tell you, we are well into our Saturday morning and I feel rested...and good!

Saturday mornings I usually sleep in. Normally I drag myself out of bed because I hear Lavinia giggling and I want to be part of the family. Sometimes I’m crabby and it takes me forever to fully wake up. I think Matt and Vin would rather I still be in bed.

I’m amazed that in one week, I was able to bring myself from flat and lethargic to rested and energized.  It wasn’t easy but I’ll tell you exactly how I did it. You can do it too- and you should!

It’s all about what you think you need as an individual. I usually eat well so for me, I had to focus on exercise and clearing my mind.

I made two lists. One list of general things I wanted to incorporate into every day. I did pretty well with these but I think next time I might write them out and stick them someplace where I can see them as reminders (forgot the vitamins a few times.)

Recap: I will do these things:
Healthy, homemade meals
Homeopathy (an appointment I rescheduled due to over-sleeping)
Vitamins- A daily multi with iron
Reduced Social Media Time

Then I chose one major thing to do each day of the week, balancing out both mental and physical exercises.

Recap: Main Goal for Each Day:
Monday- Gym
Tuesday- Therapy
Wednesday- Bikram Yoga
Thursday- Homeopathy appointment (& gym)
Friday- Long Walk with Lavinia

What I Would Add Next Time:
I did this anyway by default but I would add get outside at least once a day, if the weather is crappy- go somewhere indoors for a change of scene. This can really help reset, even when you might not realize you need resetting.

I would also plan my meals a little differently. Everything I ate was homemade (except for the dark chocolate I had for dessert at night) yet decided to do this challenge after I had already done the meal planning and shopping for the week- don’t get me wrong I ate healthy but I could have taken it one step further. 

Next time I think I’ll keep the TV off at night. That way I can have more conversations and quiet time with the hubs. The relationship is an important thing to work on too!

I would definitely recommend having some healthy, high protein snacks that you can grab and go (my quiche was great for this) because I found myself much hungrier than usual with all the activity.

Make yourself a playlist of songs that you can’t help but dance to- even if there are only a few. And listen to music one notch above your mood all week.

Schedule in some rest time. Your body is going to be working hard, and healing so be sure to take some time to chill out, read or just have a quiet cup of tea.

If you want to read in depth about what I did each day here are the links to my daily posts:

So for an idea that came to me while exercising Monday morning, I think this little experiment went really well!  Next time I’ll try and rope more of you on board to do it with me (kind of hard when I don’t give you any notice right?) And you can always give it a go on your own.  Please share with me if you do! I would love to hear about it.

Go on! Do something healthy for yourself.



Purple Kale and Basil Pesto

Serve over pasta for an easy, healthy dinner. Also delicious on sandwiches or as a dip.

It tasted as good as it looked
The beautiful purple kale from our veggie box was starting to wilt. I knew I needed to get it into our bodies because the longer it sat in our fridge, the more nutrients it would lose. Not to mention it turns bitter quickly too.

Did you know that it’s best to store kale in the coldest part of your refrigerator (the back)in a plastic bag. Otherwise it turns bitter. Martha Stewart told me (for more info on storing and preparing kale here’s a link to Martha’s site.) 

When I get my food processor out of the cupboard, I fall in love with it again. Every. Time. Too bad I’m usually way too lazy to bring it out, especially once I think about cleaning it. Someday soon I'll have a butler's pantry...I digress.

Get some kale into you with this delicious pesto creation.You won’t regret it.
It's like a salad on a noodle

Purple Kale and Basil Pesto

  • 1 Cup Roasted Pine Nuts
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 bunch Basil
  • 1/2 cup (depending on consistency) Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Roasted Garlic
Cooking Directions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F or 150 C.
  2. Put Garlic on a baking tray and immediately into the oven as it heats up.
  3. Once oven is warm, add pine nuts to baking tray with the garlic and let roast for about 10-12 minutes (you can skip this step but it really adds a depth of flavor.)
  4. Zest the entire lemon and set aside.
  5. Blanch kale in boiling water for a minute or two, then rinse with cold water and squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Don't worry about being rough, kale can take a beating. I tend to remove some of the thicker parts of the kale stems because they can get a bit too chunky in the pesto sauce.
  6. Once kale, garlic and pine nuts are cool, add to food processor (remove skins from garlic first.)
  7. Throw in your cheese, some olive oil and juice from half the lemon and grind away. Check the consistency, the pesto should be moving along easily. If necessary add juice from rest of lemon and more olive oil. I used all the lemon juice when I made thiss.
  8. Add lemon zest last. I usually stir mine through with a spoon or if I'm serving this pesto with pasta, I sprinkle it on-top along with some extra cheese.
  9. Enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Take Charge of Your Health: Friday #mindbodyweek

TGI to the F!

I made it through my week-long challenge. And not only did I make it, I actually accomplished every single goal I set for myself which honestly took me by surprise.

This morning I had every intention of driving to Mums group instead of walking (I knew you guys would understand if I bailed) but you know what- I walked! Thirty minutes, both ways, and massively uphill on the way home. I thought it would be the perfect blow-out for my aching legs (from squats) but I may have made the situation worse- in a good way of course.

Usually when I’m out walking, I have a thousand thoughts running through my head. Today I did not pick up my phone once to jot down notes, add to my to-do list or put things in my calendar. I just walked (and snapped a few pics.) If I had to guess why, I think it's because I have given myself a variety of outlets over the week: exercise, counseling, talking to friends and even meditating.

It's so completely unusual to be walking around feeling sane, and centered. Wow. I dig it.

Upon getting home, I sat down to write my final post, planning to give myself a nice pat on the back when I realized I had one more thing to do. Meditation. Rachael Able recommended this free guided meditation series on youtube and I promised her (and myself) that I would check it out.

The first video I watched was “Who are the Honest Guys?” (video) and I must admit that when I heard the first words, “You are amazing, you are unique and you matter,” I was like oh bring on the cheeeeese but then the sentence finished, “- we’re here to help you see that.” Right-o. Maybe I rolled my eyes at the first few words because I don’t necessarily see how my amazing, uniqueness actually matters to anyone but my family- and that’s mainly because I keep them fed.

There are a lot of videos in this series, all free, some are like 8 hours long so you can play them while you work, study or even sleep. That’s pretty cool I guess.

I scanned for a short one because I really wanted to do the meditation and finish up my post before Lavinia woke up from her nap (great mindset to start a meditation right? Ha.)

I stumbled upon Mindfulness, a guided 10 minute meditation. Sounded good to me. I pressed play and watched the beautiful images of water and clouds drift before me. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to close my eyes or watch the video, so I closed my eyes. And meditated.

Yup, I drank the kool-aid and even watched another video about improving self-image and self esteem. The videos themselves can seem slightly OTT but if you concentrate on message and keep an open mind it can be really helpful and relaxing.

I didn’t like these meditations as much as I liked the Headspace App (but only the first ten of those are free) This Honest Guys channel is a decent library to fall back on. That’s my first impression anyway, admittedly I’m just curious enough to try some more.

So that was my week. It took a lot of time and effort but the return was more than worth it. I've uncrowded my mind, boosted my metabolism and best of all I don't have to drag myself out of bed or feel that horrible 3:00PM crash. 

The thing which amazes me most is each day this week I woke up before Lavinia. Did I mention I'm not a morning person?  I can never wake up without an alarm (that I set early specifically so I can snooze it several times) or screaming toddler. I would almost go out on a limb and say I woke up feeling refreshed. It's been a long, long time since I felt that way.

I really hope to keep this up. Each change of season (quarter) I plan on doing a #mindbodyweek although I accomplished a lot with this first one, there is still room for improvement (ie: less iPhone and TV at night.)

Don't take my word for it, try it for yourself, you deserve the effort. One week. One thing every day for your health. You'll feel like a new person by Friday for reals!

Here's a little playlist I made called Motivation: It's short but full of a few of my current favorite tracks guaranteed to make you move your booty. Maybe it will inspire some ideas for your own #mindbodyweek best wishes!

What did you do for your health today?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Take Charge of Your Health: Thursday #mindbodyweek

I'm tired, but not in that 'my eye-lids feel like sandpaper' way, more in that 'I've done a day of manual work' kind of way.

Today I woke at 6:15AM so I could Skype with my Buffalo-based homeopath (there is a 14 hour time difference.)  Me waking in the 6’s voluntarily is unheard of as I am the very definition of “Not a Morning Person.” 

Sally Williams has been treating me on and off for the last 18 years, since I was a teenager with Graves Disease. I swear by her and by homeopathy and I only have a vague understanding of how it all works. If you can bare it, I will try to explain in my own words:
Basically homeopathy is vibrational medicine, just like acupuncture is, but instead of relying on our own body it uses vibrations found in naturally occurring elements. It works under the premise “like cures like,” which means that if those substances were given in higher doses, they would actually cause the ailment they are meant to be curing. It treats each patient as unique individual and addresses not the symptoms but rather the cause of those symptoms (I recommend doing some reading, very fascinating.)
All these years later and I’m still using homeopathy to help with anxiety, depression, muscle, skin and digestive and sleep issues.

The timing of the appointment was perfect for this week and our sesh went really well. My new remedy is in the mail, I cannot wait for it to arrive so I can get a good night's sleep.

The only disadvantage to using homeopathy is that sometimes coffee can antidote a remedy (not caffeine, just coffee) so I have to steer clear of one of my all-time favorite beverages.

Nothing compares to coffee. It’s like a warm hug and simultaneous kick in the ass. When I’m struggling for energy, coffee is such an easy solution. Never fear, I have found a substitute. A poor cousin though it may be, at least it takes away my morning coffee jones.

Coffee Substitute

  • 1 bag Roast Dandelion Tea
  • 1 bag Black Tea
Cooking Directions
  1. Steep both tea bags in boiling water until nice and dark. Then add milk and sweetener. It is not coffee, but at least your eyes will be fooled! Enjoy.
Believe it or not, after such an early start I had enough energy to hit the gym at 9:30 for a class. Lavinia is currently fighting her nap while I write but for once I don't feel like taking a nap of my own.

Maybe this week, as busy as it is, might just be enough to jolt myself right out of that slump and back into a healthy routine. One more day, stay tuned!

Have you done something healthy today? I'd love to hear about it.