10 Oct 2014

lost and found

For a moment this week I lost my child. 

It was probably only fifteen or twenty minutes in total but it felt like centuries while my body and mind raced frantically to find him. Somehow while I was on the phone to his dad about garden supplies he disappeared out the front door and off after one of our housemate's dogs. When I got off the phone I heard silence - that familiar prompt you get as a parent to inspect what your child is up to and what it occupying them so intently! He's never opened the front door before so it didn't occur to me that's where he could have gone - I wasted time looking around the large house and the backyard. Then when I noticed one of the dogs was gone too I thought, oh no, he's probably trying to take him for a walk... 

I ran out onto an empty street - nearby a neighbour was fixing his bicycle. Have you seen a toddler and a dog I asked (the question choked in my throat). He wasn't sure... but he'd help me look for him and immediately rode off on his bike to look. Around the corner ran the dog and a joggler who asked if he was mine - she'd seen him wandering stray up the road. And a child I asked? My two year old was with him? She asked what he was wearing and jogged off to look. The dog was loose and likely to run off again so I carried him back to the house. I grabbed my key and left. I ran up the road after the jogger while countless cars drove past - it's such a busy road I thought, he'd never venture across it, surely? He's usually so cautious near passing cars... I prayed and ran, out of breath. And there he was - being held by a lady in her garden - the jogger beside her. He was sobbing. The dog had wandered into the garden, my boy following - the kindly owner of the house noticed, scooped him up and rang the police. I've never been so glad, so so thankful... 

On the walk home, I held my still crying boy tight, it's alright my love, you're okay now... we found the dog, he's at home, oh Reu you're only wearing socks, and they're wet through... 

There are countless moments as a parent you miss the detail - of a wobbly chair they might try to stand up on, or not deadlocking a front door (because you don't think they'd ever open it) and you feel defeated, a failure... I know there will be other moments of terror in this journey as a mother to my children - moments I can't control or prevent or even prepare for.. that is a sobering reality but not something to stop us living a full and spontaneous existence.

That and I am reminded
of the kindness of strangers,
of the newness of each day -
of how we can choose to embrace
a present, connected life -
of my trust in Him who found me first,
loves me best, my child too. 

6 Oct 2014

the whole beet

 I love beetroots. I will be the to first confess however, that I usually only use the root and dump the rest in the compost - that I even thought the root was the only edible part! Then while thumbing through the vegetable chapter in Nourishing Traditions I read how the "tops" or leaves of a beet are just as edible and nutritionally dense as the root - not only that, but that the process of grating, cooking by heat or lacto-fermenting actually helps the body absorb it's nutrients and eliminate acids that are troublesome for the gut.

In France farmers would sell great baskets of cold beets which had been steamed with skins still on for preparing various traditional salads. I was reminded of their wonderful smell and taste as I wandered through our local farmer's market this weekend - I spied a bunch of colourful heirloom beets from a local organic farm and snapped them up without hesitation. Home they went and minutes later became part of an experiment - my take on Turkish beetroot dip - but this time using the whole beet - leaves, stalks, root and all.

The result is an absolutely delicious, earthy dip - a perfect accompaniment we discovered to the grass-fed beef sausages we also acquired at the market and backyard grown cos lettuce salad! And just as wonderful spooned atop buckwheat crackers and carrot sticks...

. the whole beet dip .

1 large beetroot (leaves, stalks, root), washed thoroughly
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
handful flatleaf parsley, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup thick, unsweetened greek style yoghurt or labneh

Peel and grate beetroot, chop finely leaves and stalks. In a small frying pan gently sauté beetroot with a tablespoon of olive oil. Once softened, add crushed garlic and continue to stir until completely cooked (you may need to add a little boiling water if it gets too dry). Set aside to cool in a mixing bowl. Add parsley, lemon juice, spice and sea salt. Using a stick blender - blend beetroot mixture until it resembles a paste. Stir in yoghurt and season with extra salt or lemon juice to taste. Serve in a bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Should keep for up to a week in the fridge in a well sealed container (not that it will last that long)...

30 Sep 2014

growing, of a different kind

for thirteen weeks now
I've been growing a little one
and already so in love with this
child to be born in my favourite season
which is autumn,
days after my birthday (maybe)

oh what blessing,
a babe for winter hibernating
swaddled close and tenderly
waiting for spring to come again -

it feels good to be telling you,
the past few months I have struggled
with the constant sea-sick feeling
and tiredness,
which seemed so mild the first time round
but maybe my body was telling me
it's different every time
or there's so many other things to navigate
(a move, a farm to grow, a business course, a toddler)
or it's a wee girl, perhaps -

this week I feel more myself,
some pleasant surges of inspiration
to create things, to get organised,
to stretch my body and enjoy eating -

I came across these dainty star flowers
in my friends garden,
I was taken with their beauty
in being so simply formed and tiny -
like all life really,
that starts small
and grows and grows...

29 Sep 2014

this is spring

I am disarmed by the beauty of spring,
in our friends' garden 
there is too much to gaze lovingly at 
or smell sweetly or soak newness in -
blossoming trees, bulbs, bush and thicket,
and everywhere the bees! 

I dig away at garden beds
I planted out months ago
in faith - before we left
that I would return for a harvest
and in the meantime my friends would see 
something growing where the ground had been dry,

it's hard work breaking the clay,
pulling up overgrown radishes
and strangled beetroot seedlings,
on my knees I grab handfuls of weeds 
and grasses nudging up around healthy
cabbages, fennel bulbs, kale, celery -
I am filled with glee at the thin garlic tendrils I spy, 
I imagine a bountiful purple clove harvest 
(but am prepared for nothing special)

then, I find treasures -
in amongst the leaves are broccoli heads 
mauve purple and lime green;
the colours only heirloom seeds can bring,
in between clusters of grass
are tiny strawberry plants 
planted seasons ago -

I water and listen
my small companion chicken chasing
or watering can dancing
above me the sway and shhh of grey gums 

this is spring...

20 Sep 2014

Little makes

In the weeks before we left city for the country I finished off a number of little makes which we are still enjoying and making use of now: 

. a reversible soft cotton fleece robe (with bicycles and trains of course)
. a little boy's linen and corduroy vest and pant set
. a drawstring train bag for keeping safe those (often misplaced) wheeled friends
. woollen hats - two more aviator-style caps for Reu and a red riding hood for me (which I made up the pattern for) and will most likely wear for our afternoon walk as the wintry winds have not finished blowing just yet...

I wonder what you have made to wear, or use, or eat lately?

15 Sep 2014

the life and times of a cabbage

sowed in march
transplanted in april
rediscovered in august
savoured in september
this is a simple story really of growing a thing with a purpose in mind. I bought purple cabbage seeds at the beginning of the year dreaming of batches of homemade sauerkraut come the end of winter. they were sown in seedling trays in a makeshift shelter of concrete blocks and a poly-plastic covered door. they grew and were watered while the ground was fed lime and compost in readiness for their arrival. sure enough in april they were transplanted in the ground with bare hands. a few weeks later we said goodbye and I wondered what would become of them.. months passed and I was asked to return to the farm to help pack eggs for a few weeks, so of course I went to spy on those cabbages now ripe for picking. I was giddy with happiness - my first cabbages you see. home they came and soon shredded, salted and squashed flat to ferment into kraut... and each time that vibrant pink appears on our dinner plate I remember all those months of beginning, growing, becoming...

10 Sep 2014

walnut and honey breakfast cake

This lovely cake was made on the weekend and it's almost all eaten.  It is special because it used eggs I collected, washed and polished from a local farm, applesauce I made back in April along with local walnuts and honey from the farmer's market. I was inspired by the Greek celebration Finikia cookies which feature orange, honey and ground walnuts. A heavenly combination. This cake is so moist, only mildly sweetened with apples and honey and makes a wonderful gluten free breakfast. It is perfectly accompanied with a generous dollop of tart yoghurt...

. Walnut + Honey Breakfast Cake .

3/4 cup walnuts (plus 1/4 cup extra for garnishing)
3 eggs, separated
1 cup unsweetened apple puree
1/2 cup honey
zest and juice of an orange
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup rice flour 
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of sea salt

Preheat a moderate oven (180'c). Lightly roast walnuts on a tray in the oven until golden and fragrant, shaking once or twice. Grind walnuts in a food processor or by hand with a mortar and pestle. Combine walnuts in a large bowl with egg yolks, apple puree, honey, orange zest and juice and mix until combined. In a smaller bowl whisk flours, spice and baking powder together. Gently stir flours into wet mixture. In another clean bowl whisk egg whites until frothy. Fold into batter. Pour into a paper lined baking tin and bake for 45 minutes or until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin. Garnish with extra chopped walnuts and a drizzle of honey. 

8 Sep 2014

Full of glad

Spring enfolds us in sunlight and blossoms - creamy jonquils and natives I don't know the names of... the farmer's market on saturday morning is brimming with hats and sandals and pots of hellebores and crocuses (remember those lush crocuses that would appear in the grass in France)... We lick frozen juice ice blocks and chat about chickens... We wrap gifts for father's day and prepare a big batch of rocky road (with homemade marshmallows)... Next morning we prepare a special breakfast of buttermilk pancakes with bacon, fried tomatoes, strawberries and maple syrup.  We shower him we love with kisses and our gifts laced with brown string and toddler-painted labels. We church and take our lunch out to the property we plan to grow our farm. In the shade of old old gum trees we eat and rest and talk with friends. We ramble over rocks, we soak in magnificent views of sweeping gorge, running river, rolling hills... We draw with our fingers the outlines of a orchard, vegetable gardens, grazing routes for cows and patches for cutting hay. We dream of a house nestled in the hill and the thought of watching a day of light fall against the rocks. A hawk soars in circles above us... For almost an hour we stand by the water and throw stones - delighting in the bubbles and ripples each splash makes. We walk until we're out of breath and I carry all fifteen kilos of boy up hill till my heart's racing in my chest. We close the weekend with boundary lines on a map and kinship by the fireside. We drive home in the dark, tired and full of glad...

4 Sep 2014

two years seven months

Little one,
Today is the first (and only) day you will be two years and seven months old, exactly. I want to pause and remember you just as you are now - so full of energy and light of feet...

I want to remember the way you talk - your command of new words and sentences every day. The spontaneous pleases and thank you mama after I give you something you asked for. The way you hurry to say goodnight to all on your way to the bath: goodnight dadda! love you! sleep well! Those wonderful mispronounced words: flying socks (flying fox), jump-o-line (trampoline), more movie (smoothie). Once you were watching a trail of ants crawling up the road - so you crouch down low and ask very seriously: what you doing ants? And one time at dinner you lean over to me and ask: It's yummy dinner mama? It's nice? I say yes, and you exclaim: Amen! 

You can name colours and shapes. You can count with ease to nine with a deliberate skipping of four and five. I haven't worked out why....You can grate carrot and cheese which you eat with gusto on corn chips smothered with avocado. You can help pack away toys, juice oranges and shape little rolly-polly snakes from play dough. You can sleep eleven hours without a peep - and did most nights last week. You rouse me from bed with a cuddle and freezing fingers on my neck...

Much to my delight your love of books continues to grow - we borrow books every week from the local library. Before your nap and at bedtime we pile favourites onto our laps and read and pause and point. From when you were tiny I would stop on pages to point out details in the illustrations and then when you were older ask you to point them out for me. It was a wonderful surprise when a few weeks ago (before I had the chance to cut in) you began to ask me: where's the clouds mama? where's the... sky... cows... dump truck? Last week while I hung the clothes out to dry you put the empty basket on your head and announced I'm a tiger... ROAAAAR and ran about wildly. Which could only led to one thing: mama chasing you...

You are our sensitive soul, and seem to hate hearing disappointment or frustration in our voices. You need many kisses on a sore finger or bumped head. You ask often for cuddles and lean in for kisses. You also spend a lot of time doing your own thing. I give you a lot of time and space to play by yourself - which is when you play happiest - mostly it's with a wheeled-vehicle racing through the grass with a ambulance or fire engine sounding behind. I love hearing your imagination at work. You have discovered the drawing potential of markers and watercolour paints (far superior to pencils) and are especially partial to black, green and red hues...

You test limits most days - and sometimes I loose my temper and need to say sorry. You protest most about getting out of the bath and coming to the table for meals. You occasionally have fantastic meltdowns in public over a trivial thing and I wonder if anyone feels as helpless and judged as a mum with a screaming toddler in a grocery store. You are empathetic too - and will ask "are you okay?" if we hurt ourselves, sigh in frustration or tiredly yawn.  We are learning to set boundaries and find positive ways to empower you. Above all we want you to know you are loved and able.

For all this and more
today and always,
I am so glad to be your mama... x