Saturday, 23 February 2013

Half way there…

Unbelievably, we’re already half way through this sugar-quitting experiment!

I am becoming used to being a sugar free person. It’s not so hard for me anymore to decline offers of sweetly iced cakes and cherry ripe slice at playgroup, and I don’t feel like cheating. I’m actually quite happy being sugar free.

I think I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t feel like I’m missing out anymore. I’ve found enough alternatives for the things I love to keep me happy. I can still bake and take my own goodies to playgroup. I’m finding incredible ideas all over the internet for ways I can still eat my favourites, like ice-cream, and even lemon meringue pie. If you’re interested you can check out my I Quit Sugar board on Pinterest to see my collection.

I’m loving coconut – I talked about it in my last post, but it’s a great snack to tide you over, a nice little sweet-hit when you feel like one and so versatile. This last two weeks we’ve been experimenting with some delicious recipes, including granola (made from coconut flakes, oats, nuts, seeds, rice malt syrup and coconut oil or melted butter – just mix and cook in a slow oven until toasty. Delicious!) and an incredible sugar-free grain-free gluten-free cheesecake. We actually made that twice for two different social gatherings last week to share with people who do eat sugar and it was a hit both times. You can find the recipe for that here. So much yum!


I sprinkled some of the delicious granola over the top of this one, and sprinkled a handful of blueberries onto the cheese mixture. I think it would also be nice with a little lime. So many possibilities!!

Peter is struggling a little more. He has stayed strong, but because he has cakes and sweeties offered to him at work pretty much every day he’s had to fight a bigger will-power battle than I have. Last week though when we had dinner with friends, he allowed himself a small piece of super-rich Nigella Lawson brownie, and struggled to finish it. He commented to me how surprised he was – the old Pete would have easily eaten three or four pieces, whereas now he was quite content with just the one.

I’m again surprised at the change to our tastebuds. I can taste the sweetness in things that I haven’t before. Prior to this I have always had sugar in my coffee. Obviously I have given this up, and I honestly don’t even notice. I had read in Sarah Wilson’s book that she says she can taste the sweetness of the lactose (which is a sugar also) and scoffed, but it really is true. The milk in my coffee tastes sweet, and my coffee tastes so much more delicious without the sugar. I’ve also started eating plain natural yoghurt. This was not something I could stomach before without adding some honey or a good dollop of fruit. Again, I can now taste the natural sweetness in the yoghurt, it just tastes tangy and yoghurty, none of that sour yuck that it used to taste like. I shudder to think how sweet a yoplait or ski yoghurt would taste now!

I have noticed that my skin is fabulous. It feels and looks so healthy. And overall, I feel healthy too. I have more energy (though I’m sure I could have even more if I would get to bed earlier!!) and I no longer feel bloated. I have not had one gall bladder attack (something that I have really been struggling with on and off over the past few years) since I quit sugar, and I haven’t had any of the indigestion or reflux pains that I would regularly get either. Oh and my stupid teeth have stopped being achy. Also fabulous news.

The best news of all is that quitting sugar seems to have kick-started my metabolism. I have lost around six kilos in the last four weeks! I cannot tell you how much this has excited and motivated me. My current weight is lower than it has been since Peter and I got married, and it’s a really big deal for me. I think I’ve spoken before about how my weight has just constantly plateaued from a certain point, no matter what I’m doing – even when I was going to the gym for an hour a day six days a week! The only change I have made right now is eliminating sugar from my diet, and low and behold my body is changing, literally before my eyes. I started back to Zumba this week, and I’m excited to see how the combined affects of my new eating habits and some exercise will manifest in my body.

I think the really positive thing that this journey is teaching me is to be aware of what I’m eating. I’m learning to listen to when my body is actually hungry, and also when it is full. I’m understanding what kind of foods my body is looking for when I’m having hunger pangs, and how they are settled more quickly by some proteins (like cheese, nuts, or a rice cake with coconut butter) than if I scoffed down a couple of biscuits. I’m reading labels of foods, and am often astounded by some of the ingredients I’m seeing in foods where I wouldn’t expect to see them. I suppose cutting out sugar isn’t just chucking out the white crystals from your pantry, it’s cutting out all of the processed stuff that, let’s be honest, probably isn’t that great for you regardless of the sugar factor. We’re eating more fresh food, more vegetables, more ‘from scratch’ recipes.

We still haven’t decided what we’ll do at the end of this 8 weeks. I definitely don’t want to go back to where we started. Our current thinking is that we’ll continue to eat like this at home, but allow ourselves treats for special occasions or when we are out. I can see how much good this is doing for our bodies and I don’t want to throw it all away.

If you’ve been thinking about it, just try it. You don’t have to do it forever, and you might be surprised with the results…

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Dear Reuben {ten months}

Ten! Yes really. I had a minor heart palpitation when I realised that in two short months, you will be turning one! You are growing up so fast my darling boy, and I cannot believe that the first year of your life is drawing to a close.

Monthly pics

Reuben, 1 day to 10 months

This month has been huge for you Reubs. I have noticed such a change in you. You are far less baby and I can see far more toddler in you. You just seem to have come alive somehow. You are so much more interactive and cheeky, you love to engage us in your games and ‘conversations’. You laugh at funny things and respond to games like peek-a-boo, and you so desperately try to play with the big kids at playgroup and other outings.


This month you have perfected your crawling style. No more army crawl for you mister, now you’re up off the ground, usually using one knee and one foot to get around. If the ground is uncomfortable or feels funny on your knees, you use both your feet and do some kind of hilarious crab crawl. You pull yourself to your feet at any opportunity, and enjoy it when we hold onto your hands so you can walk with us. You love walking along the furniture in the lounge room, but know that crawling is faster! You also do this hilarious dancing, where you bring yourself up onto your hands and feet and kind of head-bang and bounce at the same time. That’s your favourite way to move to music.


In the last week or so you’ve figured out how to clap. You were watching me sing ‘If you’re happy and you know it clap you hands’, and you focused carefully on what my hands were doing. Next thing you held up your right hand very still, then slowly started flapping your left hand to hit it. You grinned the hugest grin as if to say, “I’m doing it!!!!” and have hardly stopped clapping since. When you are happy you clap your hands and yell out ‘Raaaaayyy!!’ which I’m guessing is a mimick of the way we ‘hooray’ you when you do something clever.

The first time Reuben clapped his hands….

You are such a dream baby Reubs. You eat well, you sleep well, and you’re generally a very happy boy. The only downer is your puking, but we’re working on that. You really do love your food, and sometimes out-eat your sister… already. I sometimes am shocked by the amount of food you can put away! You’re very tactile with your food and sooooo much messier than your sister ever was. Must be a boy thing. Even when we feed you, you still somehow end up covered in food. You love, for example, to take a spoonful of wheetbix out of your mouth and rub it through your hair. And when you’ve had enough food, instead of just refusing to eat anymore, you let us pop it in your mouth, then take it out with your hand and throw it onto the floor. You’re so cheeky sometimes boy-o!


You still absolutely adore your sister. No one can make you light up the way that she does. People often comment on it. She’s so patient with you too, even when you pull out handfuls of her hair, or mess up the shelves in the toy room that she’s just tidied. I hope you guys always feel about each other the way that you do now.


Another new skill of yours is waving. You’ve been working on this one for quite a while, but you get it now. When someone arrives at home, or is leaving, you quickly sit up straight and begin to wave. You especially love waving hello and goodbye to Papa when he leaves or comes home from work. You get so excited when Papa gets home, and if he doesn’t pick you up for a cuddle straight away, you yell crossly until he does. The two of you are great buddies, and he seems to have a calming influence on you. You love to sit and chill with Papa, but you cannot be still with me!!


You have four teeth now, and I think in the last few days you have been beginning to work on a few more. You have the two front top and bottom. Your top teeth look so huge in your little mouth, and they have the cutest gap between them. I’m kind of hoping they come together as your other teeth come in, because a braces bill at the end of all this won’t be so cute. You surprise yourself by chomping too hard on your fingers sometimes, and look at me as if to say, “What was that!!!?” The other day you slipped in the bath and managed to put one of your teeth through your lip – your first real accident with real blood. Of course it would be in the bath, where the water makes it look worse! You had a fat lip for a few days but you’re all better now.
When those teeth poke through your cheeky grin… it just gets me every time..


Can you see the teeth??

I love you my little buddy. I love this phase of you growing into a little boy, who knows what he likes and doesn’t and is beginning to be able to communicate that with us. You’re just the cutest, and I love having you in our family.


Love, Mama xx

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

a glimpse into a brain that never shuts up

On any given day, at any given moment, you can be sure that my brain is busy. Even if I'm giving the illusion that I'm veging on the couch watching TV, I can assure you, there's elventy billion things zooming around up there.

The main reason I declined the gas when I was in labour with Reuben was because when I'd had it with Mayana it made my thoughts go fuzzy and that was one of the scariest feelings I've had in my life.

And when Pete asks me what I'm thinking I never know what to say because I wouldn't know where to start.

Here's a glimpse of what's going on in my crazy brain right now.

I am so. over. vomit. Reuben's reflux is getting worse, not better. It's not cool that I have to mop pretty much every day to clean up the sticky snail trail that he leaves behind that is never quite all picked up by one of my ever present 'pukey cloths'. It's also not cool that I am wearing a bright purple patch of left behind blueberry vomit on my brand new dress. Because as if this whole reflux thing wasn't fun enough already, Reuben now manages to 'possit' (which by the way is such an inane way of describing what actually projects itself out of my son's mouth) solid food as well as milk. Sounds fun yeah? Especially when you're out or other people are holding him, or you have to change his (literally) stinking clothes three or four times every single day.

Brand new dress. I had the best shopping trip the other day. Three dresses for $40. One was $10 down from $95. Really. One was $15 from $35 and one was $15 from $80. And they all fit and all looked good. That my friends is a successful day. Even if one of them is now sporting purple puke.

I'm feeling pretty good about the fact that I easily found three dresses that fit and looked good. I'm also feeling pretty good knowing that I've lost nearly 5kgs in the less than three weeks since we quit sugar. It's going we'll. I'm not finding it half as hard as I thought I would.. Though Pete is finding cravings harder when he has 'no foods' under his nose at work every day. Tonight I ate plain, unsweetened, natural yoghurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and it didn't even taste a little bit sour. I think I have new tastebuds.

I found a recipe this week for salted caramel chocolate brownies that are sugar free and actually healthy. Things just don't get much better than that.

Mayana is one of the funniest kids I know. She makes me laugh every day from something she said. Sometimes she is trying to be funny (she has a mad sense of humour) and sometimes the funny just happens. Like yesterday when she asked me what our house was made of. When I told her brick she replied, "aaaah so that's why I can't blow it down..." Aah that kid!

She is also incredibly smart and it blows me away. I can't believe some of the stuff she knows and can do. She soaks up new knowledge and asks to 'do learning' every day. I hope that we and her future teachers can continue to keep her challenged and loving learning.

Having a boy is so different to having a girl. Boys are gross. Just saying. I don't remember Mayana ever reaching her hands down to her nether regions during nappy changes and smearing poo on both her and myself. Yes that really happened. He also has this thing about stretching... his ... thing as far as it will go and screams blue murder when I tuck it safely back inside a nappy. He also takes food out of his mouth when I feed him and rubs it in his hair. Just because he can. Think wheetbix. Totally gross.

Luckily the kid is especially cute... Almost enough to cancel out the vomiting and gross factors. He has these MASSIVE two front teeth with a big gap between them and when he shows them off with a grin it's just the cutest. He also has these hilarious sound effects, like the brrrrrm of a car and this deep growly roar which cracks me up!

I'm tired. Really should go to bed earlier. There is no logical reason to stay up past eleven o'clock every night. I get too caught up in watch TV series with Pete (we're doing Heart of Dixie and Parenthood at the moment) and making things. I'm taking orders for toadstool ikea stool covers and I've also done a few bunting orders lately. Today I started experimenting with little tooth fairy pockets made from super fine vintage crochet cotton and a 1.25mm hook. Cramping hands. I suffer for my art I tell you.

There are so many things I want to do... Things with the kids, things with Pete, cooking, playing, making. I'd love to start an art group for kids. I'd love to do more sewing and make clothes for my kids. I'd love to go back to work and teach kids in a classroom instead of over the phone and computer... Not yet but one day. I'd love to do something in missions and feel like I'm doing something for God outside of my little comfort bubble. I need more hours in the day but I guess we all feel that way to some extent!

Anyway. Enough of my blah for one night. My brain is still going, but my fingers have had enough!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

We’re Quitting Sugar

You know, I never thought we’d be those people. I always have looked at people who give up sugar with a kind of awe. Part of me thought I would never even want to be able to do it… I mean who wants to give up cakes and chocolate and all the good stuff right? But part of me also thought that I probably wouldn’t be able to do it even if I tried.

For the last few months, Peter and I have dabbled with lowering our sugar intake. I guess just being more aware of how much of it we’re eating, and the hidden sneaky places it gets you. I’ve read stacks of blogs about the whole ‘Why You Should Quit Sugar’ argument (I don’t have particular links, I just googled!). We started cutting down, experimenting with using alternative sugars and sweeteners… like rapadura (which I’ve developed a bit of a taste for), coconut sugar and dextrose. I started stalking #iqs and #sugarfree and #iquitsugar hashtags on instagram. And I started reading Sarah Wilson’s blog. I found out that her ‘I Quite Sugar’ eBook was going to be released as a hardcopy book, and talked to Pete about buying it.

The more I read about the whole thing, the more I wanted to try it. I don’t want to be all hardcore about it. I want to try the whole 8 week quit plan, and see what it does. I talked in the New Year about how I want to make some changes for my health this year. I want to look after my body, and I was curious to see how my body would respond to giving up sugar.

On Australia Day long weekend, Sarah Wilson listed her eBooks online for half price. Pete and I, cheapskates that we are, decided to buy them.  I liked straight away that the book talks about my exact approach to the whole thing… just trying it, out of curiosity.  My lovely husband agreed to join me on the journey. I think mostly out of support for me, but also because he is also up for a healthier body. Love that boy.

The more I read the book, the more giving up sugar makes sense. It really isn’t that great for us. Our bodies were not meant to have much… like, a really small fraction of the massive overload that we feed our bodies these days. And since I’ve been looking, I’m finding that sugar is in EVERYTHING. It’s unreal.

We’re up to week two now. We have gone pretty much off all sugar. I am learning how to listen to my body about food. Not to eat just because I’m bored. To have a drink of water instead of heading to the fridge when I feel a bit peckish. To have a little hit of protein instead of a couple of biscuits when I need a mid morning or afternoon snack. I’m feeling good about it.

I’m not really that much of a sweet tooth to be honest. My husband is. So I think I’m finding it easier in a lot of ways. I don’t get cravings for chocolate… he does, and they’re worse because he’s not having it.

The only time I’ve been naughty was when we were out helping people clean out their flood-ravaged house on Saturday. Lovely people provided some food and drink for sustenance, and I had a can of lemonade and a cupcake. To be honest I could only drink half a can of the soft drink. It surprised me A LOT to find that it was so sweet to me that it was disgusting. And I usually love lemonade. It was almost syrupy. I was shocked to find that my tastebuds have already become accustomed to NOT having sugar. I’m proud to say that even today out for morning tea, I didn’t give in to the delicious looking and smelling cakes that were offered to me, and I even didn’t eat the Picnic bar that someone gave to me!

Pete and I have committed to the 8 week plan. We definitely intend to reintroduce fruit sometime in that 8 weeks (Sarah Wilson recommends to go off it only in the first few weeks, so your body can fully detox from fructose). After the 8 weeks… well we’re not sure yet. I guess it really depends on how our bodies are feeling. If we can see and feel that our bodies are loving it, then we will love our bodies back. We don’t intend to become hard-core, in that we will have treats. BUT I guess the shift is that instead of something we have whenever we feel like, we will let things like chocolate and cakes and lollies and dessert out with friends actually be treats. I’ve also been and will continue to experiment with baking using alternative sweeteners such as dextrose and rice malt syrup.

The eBook bundle we bought includes a recipe book full of delicious sugar-free treats. Our favourite so far is coconut butter. It’s so easy, and full of yum. All you do is pop a bag of shredded coconut (sugar free of course) into a food processor for about 15 minutes of until runny. I poured it into ice-cube trays and set it in the fridge. It is so delicious. Kind of reminiscent of coconut ice, but without the sickly sweet. I find that one piece of it is enough for me, it’s very satisfying, and definitely squelches any sugar cravings that I’ve had so far. Pete and Mayana both also really love it. Pete says it helps to quash his chocolate cravings, and Mayana calls it Coconut Chocolate and thinks it’s the best treat around. You should try it.. it’s soooo good.


I’m actually kind of excited about it all. I’m really hoping that it will help me to lose weight. I have such trouble losing weight. In our uni days, Peter and I used to be gym members. I went to the gym for an hour, five or six days a week, for six months, and I lost less than half a kilo.  So far, so good. I’m not feeling too deprived, and I’m learning heaps about my own eating habits. It’s been really good actually, becoming more aware of what is in the food that I’m putting in my body.

So anyway… stay tuned! I’m sure I’ll post another update or two in this next 6 weeks.

Would you consider giving up sugar?

Monday, 4 February 2013

A Mermaid Party

Mayana’s fourth birthday party was over a week ago now… with all the floods and everything that has happened since then it feels like a month ago! I’ve finally gotten time to write a post about her party… better late than never. Enjoy!

Pretty much since her third birthday Pancake Party, Mayana has been asking for her fourth birthday to be a Mermaid Party.

And so, after much pinterest research (what would we do without that wonderful website?) and creative thinking, we managed to do just that… we pulled off a Mermaid Party for Mayana’s fourth birthday.


I designed the invitations, asking people to dress up either as a mermaid or their favourite sea creature. Mayana was quite insistent that her friend Max had to be Prince Eric, but other than that people could be whatever they wanted to be.


I found an awesome tutorial for making a mermaid tail online, and Mayana chose a deep turquoise velvet, so that she could look like Ariel. I drew the line at colouring her hair though! (just a note if you’re looking at the tutorial – I used velvet instead of the stretchy sequinned fabric, and tulle – soooo cheap, and much easier to work with, no fraying!- instead of the organza)

My sister and I spent half an hour plaiting Mayana’s hair in tiny sections so that she would have super-wavy mermaid hair for the party instead.


We originally intended for the party to be outside, turning the trampoline into a giant sea anemone and setting up ball games and other things to keep sugar-hyped kids entertained. Unfortunately the great rains started on Friday, so we had to change tactics. We cleared the furniture in our dining/family room area and set up the party there… food at one end and a mat at the other for sitting on to eat, play games and open presents. I had made a huge… I don’t know what you would call it.. banner maybe? decoration out of tulle and ribbon, and bought three paper lanterns to hang above the table.


The morning of the party we were very busy, finishing off the decorating, the food and dressing up our beautiful mermaid… Before we knew it Mayana’s friends were arriving!


I had planned a game of pass the parcel, and other than that the games turned out to happen organically – a round of musical statues, and then an impromptu dance party. Mayana has a thing for dance parties at the moment, and most of her friends were keen enough to join in eventually!


The cake was a Lady Flo butter cake, with buttercream icing and white chocolate decorations, topped with a mermaid Lala-Loopsy. I couldn’t quite get my head around a mermaid cake, and thought this was a pretty good alternative.


I had gone all out with the food… while there was nothing especially fancy, we had gotten very imaginative with the names, and everything had an under-the-sea theme, complete with a little mermaid label describing what it was.


We had chocolate fish, and the tiny coloured biscuits I’d made along with some multi-coloured jube lollies became ‘mermaid treasures’. Drumstick biscuits were ‘shark bait’ and carrot sticks in tatziki dip became ‘crablegs with seaweed dip’ (these were a huge hit actually, the kids and adults both loved them… I liked the idea of individual serves, because kids are notorious for double dipping!)



Triangles of cheese were ‘shark teeth’ and a bowl of potato chips were ‘sand dollars’. I’d made colourful rainbow fruit kebabs and named them ‘fruits of the sea’.



I think for novelty value, the ‘octopus in a blanket’ were probably the biggest hit. They were a cheerio/small frankfurt sausage cut into 8 legs, with the head wrapped in puff pastry then baked. As they cooked the legs separated and splayed out, turning them into octopuses! More simple were the ‘fish egg’ jelly beans.

I usually over cater and have heaps of food left over, but someone this time I did well. At most there were only a few things left.. everyone was satisfied and we weren’t eating sea-food for the rest of the weekend!



For drinks, I poured a bottle of lemonade into my funky new punch bowl, and added a few drops of blue food colouring. I had been making up the ‘goldfish’ all week, by freezing orange juice onto a fish mould I had bought from Ikea for 99c. It looked very effective, and the kids loved drinking it out of the cute little milk bottles (purchased from The Big Little Company for last year’s party) with the paper straws that I picked up from Typo!

All of the kids and some of the adults dressed up. We had a handful of  mermaids, some sharks, a crocodile.. a Poseidon (Greek God of the Sea) and a Neptune.. it was lovely and Mayana appreciated it so much!


Mermaid Mayana and her Prince Eric!


Peter and I loved putting on this party for our girl, it was so worth it to see her big smile and watching her have fun with all her favourite people.


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