Author Archives: Ciao!bella

Not Another Blog About Becoming ORGANISED?!

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I’m not sure how many hours I’ve spent pottering about on the interweb looking for inspiration on how to become better organised – until now. Usually I end up on some beautiful stationery website with an online order worth too many digits which promises to magically whip my days into shape.

Beck.
Put. Away. The. Credit. Card.

Last Sunday on my way to my favourite local late night cafe, seeking some sorely needed solace and solitude, I realised I left the house in my slippers. After shutting down my inner ‘ohmyGOD you can’t go out like THAT!!’ voice (who the hell does she think she is, anyway??) I sat, drinking my overpriced but very necessary camomile tea, staring at my fluffy purple cozies that resemble Grimace a bit too much and thought that I needed to get my sh*t together.

In my exhausted mama headspace, I thought of this amazing blog I follow: Seven Cherubs, and remembered Naomi’s little tip on how she manages her routine in her house, and thought I’d give it a whirl. Lucky for me, I carry around all sorts of superfluous baby related miscellania to entertain, distract and cajole my wee one when out, and a notepad for drawing numbered among the detritus in my poor overstuffed handbag.

Thus, my new system was born. One task per piece of paper. Turn it over when you’ve done it. Do a little dance. (Earworm, anyone? Hee hee)

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I’ve been using this little assortment of wonders for a week now and I have to say it kicks the butt of my iPad notes, scribbled lists, so-called reminder apps and the muddled grey matter in my head. I think it’s the only way I can keep on top of my own health, and do my best to reduce my little girl’s terrible asthma. I also have days when I’m feeling a bit depressed or anxious or thyroidy, and these keep me from feeling a bit overwhelmed and not knowing where on earth to begin (hence some of the apparently blindingly obvious ones!).

Before you all freak out and call me insane for the amount of things I aim to do every day (which I know you won’t, because you’re all awesome and polite and wouldn’t dream of dissing a stranger on their own blog), my rationale is this.

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If I manage to complete all my tasks in the one day, then I go to bed feeling incredibly satisfied, and bloody knackered, and will hopefully have sweet, sweet dreams of race car drivers and movie stars. I mean my husband. (Love ya honey!)

If I miss a few, I don’t worry about it, because I’ll remember to do it the next day. And if there are some things I only do four or five times a week, well, I think that’s pretty damn good. And it’s probably four or five times more per week that I was doing before I got organised, going to bed lying awake completely ridden with guilt that I was destroying my baby’s health and generally sucking at being a mama.

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I’d really like to make this simple system a whole lot sexier. Print it on scrap booking paper, stick it to a magnet sheet thingy that other creative bloggy types know about, buy a cute little magnet board and something teeny to hold each part of the day’s reminders. But really, this way I can finesse and refine and play with it. And it works, it cost me no extra money, and I don’t have the time for that anyway, right? I’ve got rooms to dust! Hahaha 🙂 No, you’re right, you know me too well; probably one day I will. Making pretty things is part of this whole ambition thing, right?

Thanks for the inspiration, Naomi!

What do you think of this little system? Do you have one? Tell me about it! I need all the help I can get!

Thanks for reading,
Beck xxx

So. I’m Back! What’s News?

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One day you’re waxing lyrical about craft, cooking and contrivances, the next its one year and 1,300 page views later! Wow, Blogland, thanks for the love while I’ve been away!

So what’s news in Beck’s world? If I tell you all at once, your head may begin to spin as fast as mine has been – and the blur is slowing to become slightly more recognisable as life. And so I’m back.

Back to keep encouraging myself to pursue my ambitions.

Back to share it all with whoever can relate, inspire or just read along with (hopefully) mild amusement (hi Mum!).

My ambitions are broadly the same; I suppose what has changed is the list is possibly longer and priorities adjusted.

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It will come as no surprise that my little girl, now 21 months, is top of the list. Her diagnosis with ‘severe life threatening asthma’ by our unbelievably wonderful paediatrician has changed our world somewhat.

>>I am dust demon!<<
(You may be confusing my cape for a dressing gown – it’s ok, many people do.)

So I will be honing, refining, adding and subtracting ways to run our house and cook nourishing food to minimise the all-too-regular hospital trips and horrible sypmtoms and drugs my brave baby must endure. And my unending stress, worry, paranoia and ‘check breathing’ midnight alarm setting. Not to mention sadness at medicalisation of my bub when I’ve so closely adhered and aspired to avoid it as much as possible. (Even though I thank Chocolate every day that it exists.)*

Being properly diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, along with the Hashimoto’s Disease, has provided angst along with answers. And some solutions.

I am doing much, much better than one year ago, but hope that writing, planning, aiming and doing things on my lovely little blog will help me to conquer these illnesses rather than merely control them.

Doing all of this while being a working mama – now there’s the challenge. How the heck am I going to make it happen? Watch and find out!

Thanks for welcoming me back into your cyber world. Follow me to keep in touch, and leave me a little note to say hi!

Beck xxx

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* When I think about this, I also think about my own family and friends, and other parents out there, who deal with so, so much more than I do. And then I feel selfish and guilty for my relatively insignificant worry. Even though I can only relate to my own circumstances. So, so many amazing parents are out there doing an incredible job and the best they can and I send them all strength and love and respect. And chocolate, if I could.

Fast and Easy Homemade Bread

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Baking my own bread has always been a rather intimidating prospect. I’m not sure why I became so afraid of it, perhaps visions of being up to my ears in sticky, flour-y dough, and kneading and proving for hours on end scared me off. I love to bake, but spending hours in the kitchen on complicated recipes isn’t my first choice of how to use my time. And now there’s a seven month old in the house, well, it’s just not an option anyway!

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Warm bread with homemade jam and organic butter – dee LISH!

An episode of  River Cottage (a fave UK lifestyle show of mine) inspired me to get my bread making on. I found what I thought was a good way to dip my toe in the dough at The Stone Soup; a foodie blog made just for me – and you no doubt! Jules creates and shares recipes with 5 ingredients, loves fresh and seasonal produce, and espouses the thrifty kitchen – what a trifecta! It is her recipe for Rustic Homemade Yeasted Bread (it’s titled Rustic Sourdough on the website, and even has a video!) that I’ve been loving up and raving about.

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Newly Mixed Dough

My first attempt at this bread was with generic brand flour and table salt. It was freaking amazing. I was so excited I think I told everyone I knew, who – lucky for me, bless ’em! – at least feigned interest. This makes my first loaf of Jules’ bread cost less than $1 in ingredients. Without horrible additives. Making my house smell divine.

And no kneading.

I know. Its true! I couldn’t believe it.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Proved Dough @23hrs

I’m sure there are bread purists out there who will gasp and call me a philistine. That’s okay. The fact is, Jules has me baking fresh bread for my family, and that makes me very happy. I even do a little dance when I get it out of the oven. And when I’m eating it. Bub finds it all very entertaining. 🙂

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Proved Dough @ 23.5hrs

And. It takes 5 minutes to prepare. Mix in a bowl some flour, water, salt and yeast. Cover it with some cling wrap. Leave it for 12-24 hours. Tip it onto a floured surface; fold the edges in, place inside a floured tea towel for half an hour while you warm your pan and oven. Plonk the dough in the pan, cover, bake for half an hour; take off cover, bake a further 15 minutes. Slather on some butter and jam and congratulate yourself on baking a beautiful, fresh, uncontaminated loaf of bread.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Almost done – taking lid off

Jules recommends using a round baking dish with a lid. I didn’t have one of those, so I used a shallow pie dish and some foil. Then I experimented with a loaf tin and foil, with superb results – primarily so I can freeze some (so I don’t keep going back for ‘just another slice’ – far too tempting!) and make a good sandwich. I did reduce the baking time though – 20 minutes then ten. Just give it a try with whatever you have, it’s very forgiving.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Mmm fresh bread smells uh may zing

I usually make up the bread at night once bub is asleep and bake while we’re all eating breakfast. Today’s bread, however, sat for 23 hours before I turned it out of the bowl, and I think it tasted better when the yeast had extra time to ferment. I have started using organic flour; it is nicer, a bit more moist and springy. But when we have to tighten the purse strings, I’ll have no hesitation in using generic flour for the benefits of good, wholesome, homemade bread.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

First attempt – round loaf

While you’re over on The Stone Soup, have a good look around. I particularly love her approach to minimalist menu planning, and her checklist for a minimalist kitchen is great – excellent for people setting up a new house.

The next thing I’m going to do is make my own sourdough culture and make sourdough bread; I’m exploring fermenting my grains – like porridge, mmm – to make them more easily digestible a-la activating nuts, and to reduce the harmful effects of gluten.

easy homemade no-knead yeasted organic bread preservative-free

Makes a pretty good loaf-shaped bread

As someone with Hashimoto’s, gluten is something I need to kick. I have been able to do this in the past, and am going to wait until I finish breastfeeding until I quit again, mainly to spare bub from the detoxifying process that I’ll need to go through. However, any of you who have gluten intolerance or Coeliac’s disease will know just how sad gluten free bread is, and how expensive. It’s an ambition of mine to adapt this recipe to make a decent gluten free bread fresh at home, and I’ll share my results when I do. I’m hoping I can turn out something that is not just better than cardboard, but something that is yummy, inexpensive and that I can fit into my day. Spelt sourdough, perhaps? We’ll see!

Do you guys bake your own bread? If not, give this a try! You will not regret it. Let me know how you go!

UPDATE: SPELT IS NOT GLUTEN FREE! Fear not, I will pursue a yummy, no knead gluten free bread to bake at home, but Celiac.com has advised that it is not suitable for those with Coeliac disease. Spelt is much healthier than wheat flours, however, and is possibly okay for those with gluten intolerance, but if in doubt please be guided by advice from your health professional.

Nursing Breastfeeding Cover

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Breastfeeding in public is, I believe, one of the last taboos. What can be more natural than a mother feeding her child? I consider myself blessed to be able to breastfeed my bubba. It’s a choice that I feel all mothers should be supported to make (or not), even if its not always easy or possible, for the undeniable nutritional value it provides and the fact that its free and natural.*

Using DIY Nursing Cover

Using DIY Nursing Cover

Despite my view that mothers should be able to breastfeed whenever and wherever they need to, there are times when I am not comfortable to do so. For example, busy hospital foyers, shopping malls. Happily, in amongst the ever-growing and oft bewildering mountain of products thrust upon new parents are some practical and useful ideas, and I would include a nursing/breast feeding cover in the useful category. But not in the ‘sure! I’ll pay $100 for it’ category.

DIY Nursing Cover

DIY Nursing Breastfeeding Cover

In fact I find this nursing cover excellent if I’m in a sunny, drafty or cold position, and even just to help bub keep focused and not get so distracted!

Nursing Cover Pocket

Nursing Cover Pocket

I found this fabulous tutorial over at DIY Maternity to make a very easy cover. I love Megan’s website – lots of creative and thrifty ideas for re-purposing clothes; head over and check it out. It was even quick enough for me to make in short bursts during rest breaks, like when I was making Baby Bunting.

Nursing Cover Frills and Peek-A-Boo

Nursing Cover Frills and Peek-A-Boo corset boning

If you have a sewing machine, or know someone who does, this takes no time at all. I added a pocket to hold a cloth and a dummy, and ruffles just to make it pretty, but you don’t have to. I used some gorgeous fabric I picked up at Spotlight for $1/metre ages ago, and as my rather lame sewing machine can’t handle sewing through elastic as suggested in the tutorial, I used some press studs I already had for the behind-the-neck strap, which does the job just as nicely even if it isn’t quite as finessed.

Nursing Cover Peek-A-Boo and Neck Clasp

Nursing Cover Peek-A-Boo and Neck Clasp

I did buy 25cm of corset boning, to use as a little ‘peek-a-boo space’ to look at bubba while feeding, which cost me less than a dollar. (Megan’s tutorial has an even cheaper option!) So all together, this project *might* have cost me $2. And as far as time, well I’d say around an hour, if that. It really is just a hemmed rectangle and a strip of fabric to go around your neck!

What a gorgeous project to make for yourself or as a baby shower gift.

Nursing Cover Pretty Fabric

Isn’t this fabric with its see-through design pretty?

*I know that many mums can’t breastfeed for a range of reasons, just as some mums may choose to bottle feed. I completely respect the choices mothers make for themselves and their families and in no way do I wish to add to any guilt or expectation on all our beautiful mamas. Bonds between mother and baby are still strong and lasting when created through bottle feeding. The best thing to do is the thing that works. 🙂

Post script

I also didn’t intend for this to relate to the storm in a teacup that is the TIME cover and article on attachment parenting, however it seems somewhat inescapable to talk breastfeeding and not mention it. Personally, I feel the cover image was unnecessarily challenging; it didn’t convey the nurturing, natural, motherly elements that breastfeeding entails, to me at least. Having the little boy stand on a stool to reach his mother introduced far too much ‘milk maid’ than ‘mama’ imagery for mine. The mother’s hands on hips issued a somewhat salacious challenge, aiming to tap into a sexualisation of breastfeeding, which is one of the primary concerns and complaints of women breastfeeding in public. Despite the fact that the World Health Organisation recommends mothers breastfeed until their child is age two and beyond for full nutritional benefit, it is ultimately a personal decision made by mothers and their families. It was photographed to sell magazines and ignite debate – but did it help? I wonder…

Being Present with Baby

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Amongst all my ambition, my drive to be super-crafty, super-organised, super-fit Beck, I try to remember that no matter how many little bits and pieces I get done, spending time with my darling daughter is the best thing I can ever do with my time.

Being Present with Adorable Baby

In ten, twenty, thirty years, I’m sure that I won’t be looking back thinking wistfully on how awesome my new method of folding sheets and doona covers looks in my linen cupboard, or how clever my idea for storing tupperware lids is. I’ll be thinking of sitting on the floor in my bedroom, watching cars and pushbikes and people walking past with my little girl.

As she watches things go past, I tell her about them, colours, sizes, makes and models (ha! Spot the wife of a motoring journalist!). What people are wearing, what they might be doing, where they might be going. I try to point out clouds, birds and trees in the distance, but I’m not so certain she can make sense of far away things just yet.

Being mindful is something I aspire to with many things in my life, hard as it is to not let my mind rush ahead… What’s for dinner/better get the nappies in the wash/where is my Hashi’s at/want to do another blog post/must call so-and-so/I should go for a walk/when is bub next due for a sleep/have to pay that bill… On and on it goes. Mindfulness helps me to breathe, to recognise that in this moment I am doing exactly what needs to be done, and to enjoy it.

Besides, its pretty easy to want to hang out with such a clever, gorgeous little creature. Don’t you think? 🙂

Red Telephone

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So the next thing I’m going to do is track down an old telephone. I’m heartily sick of my cordless and the many promises its failed to live up to – portability, user-friendliness… The ring is hideous. The sound is woeful. And its using electricity! What a wasteful expense for something so, well, disappointing. I want to go back to one of these.

Red Telephone

I have fond memories of phones like this. For some reason in particular, it reminds me of visiting my grandparent’s house, a long 8 hour drive from home, watching my gorgeous Aunty – who to me as a child was the epitome of style and cool (still is!) – use a pen to dial a number to save her nails. 🙂

Red is an accent colour I want to use in my living room/kitchen which goes really well with our gorgeous teal/turquoise couch (the colour changes in different lights. Its awesome.). Once I find one that works, I’ll paint it, a-la an episode of Spaced (where Brian has his art installation), one of my all time favourite TV shows.

I’ll keep you all posted when this wee ambition is realised!

Does anyone still use of of these phones for their landline? I’d love to know!

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Baby Bunting

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One of the most exciting things any expectant parent can do is set up their brand new little one’s bedroom. Certainly, for most pregnant women I know, decorating the nursery before baby arrives is a rite of passage; having something prepared physically gives a tangible element to what is happening unseen in our ginormous bellies.

Baby Bunting

Not all mums and dads can do this, for a range of reasons. I wasn’t able to do this as a result of severe pelvic instability. For five long months I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking of all the things I wish I was doing to get ready for my bubba, in my fantasy world of pregnancy.

In all my years of singledom, and those early fantasies of starting a family when I fell for my man, I had an idyllic vision of what I might be like as a pregnant Beck. I would be walking, changing my yoga to suit my growing belly, still going to parties and gigs and the footy “to get baby used to noises,” and crafting my little hand-knitted socks off.

Baby Bunting

By week eight of my pregnancy, this vision began to blur. Then by week 16 it was edited and left on the cutting room floor as I finished work early and began a regimen of icing my poor pelvis every 2 hours, getting a breakfast/lunch/snacks picnic from my lovely husband for they day, researching mobility aids for me instead of knitting patterns for my little one.

Baby Bunting

Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had little choice but to ramp up the painkillers to start preparing my body for childbirth. One thing, mercifully, that I began to be able to do, was to sit up in a chair for about 20 minutes at a time, resting in between for a few hours.

So, with this new found time, I decided to sew!

Small Fabric Canvas

I found this gorgeous tutorial over at this wonderful blog that showed the loveliest, easiest way to make bunting. As I couldn’t paint the walls, a small-scale project that would add some colour into the room seemed a great idea.

My hubby would set up my sewing machine for me, and I’d maneouvre the wheelchair in under the table, and sew. Slowly, deliberately, not always very well, but it was the most exciting thing in the world for me to be doing something creative, productive and for my soon to be baby.

Nursery Corner

With some of the left over fabric, I covered some stretched canvas frames, in an effort to cover more of the walls.

Of course, being the crazy lass I am, now that bub is here and I am well on the road to recovering my mobility, I’ve decided that the colours “just don’t suit baby,” and I’m going to make some more in the cooler colours that my little angel seems to sit with so comfortably. And when I do, I’ll most definitely share the project with you!

Large Fabric Canvas

If you have kidlets, how did you set up your nursery? Before or after baby was born? Did you make anything for your little bundle? I’d love to hear your stories!

Banana Parfait with Home-made Yoghurt

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Recently, I bought an EasiYo Yoghurt Maker. It is one of my new favourite things. In my various quests to make and grow as much of my own fresh and healthy food as possible (in my apartment), and to get my budget living, stay-at-home-mum skills on, I’m becoming cultured.

See what I did there?

So. I made yoghurt. I used a store-bought sachet, but the next thing I’m going to do is make my own starter culture from organic milk. When I do, I’ll share a tutorial on how I did. (Don’t you love how ‘when’ is so definitive? Now I *have* to do it!)

Despite all these lovely, lofty ambitions, there are just some days when dinner is an afterthought. Eager to tuck in to my yummy, sugar free, fresh yoghurt, and find something quick and healthy to make for dinner, I made some Banana Parfait.

I crushed up a few handfuls of my Activated Nuts, which was wonderful, as I really need to show my mortar and pestle some more love.

Crushing my activated nuts

I don’t have parfait glasses, but I *do* have martini glasses. And while I’m still breastfeeding, cocktails are quite rare round these parts, so I’m rather excited to have found a use for them and bring them back from sabbatical.

Create your layers, as thick as you like, as many as you like.

The layers - activated nuts, banana, homemade yoghurt

I made two for dinner, served with some of my home-made banana bread, plus an extra one for my lunch the next day.

Parfaits in progress

It was a surprisingly filling dinner actually, with the protein and good fats from the yoghurt and nuts proving quite satisfying, while the banana bread added something a bit more substantial to the meal.

It only took a few minutes to throw together, and would be great to make for breakfast, or brunch for those of us Hashimoto’s sufferers who can’t have dairy in the morning!

Next time I make these, I’ll slice the bananas thicker, and add some dessicated coconut and layer the yoghurt between banana and coconut, with the nuts away from the yoghurt to stop them from soaking up too much of the yoghurt.

Yum!

What sorts of ingredients to you put in your parfaits?

Anyone for tea-ther?

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In our house, our beautiful babe is teething. Is she? Hang on, I’m sure there’s a few white bumps… Wait, she’s chilled out today. I’m sure those gums were swollen yesterday… Wait, what?!

I’ve heard tell of baby teeth that go up, then back down, and up again, and down… And so on and on that those lovely little milk teeth have clocked up some miles in those teeny tiny gums. Dubious as I may have been of such stories, I believe I’m seeing this happening before my very eyes.

Anyone for tea-ther?

In times like this, I think it best to grab myself a cup of tea! It will do us all some good 🙂