Strange Dreams and Making Stuff

It’s 4am, and I can’t sleep. I had a strange dream, and that led to lots of thinking, which is never conducive to getting back to sleep. I dreamt about hospitals. Being in one, visiting people I knew who were there, and the trickiest part, dreaming that my dad was visiting me there. That part was the most real. I remember my hand on his arm, feeling the warmth of his skin, and the strangeness of the vibration of his fistula (he was on dialysis for many years).

Last week, I was given the eviction date for my baby boy. I’ll be having a c section at 38.5 weeks. It’s a strange thing to know in advance the exact date your baby will be born. Of course I knew there’d be a c section happening, and let’s face it, there’s not really any fun way for a baby to come out! That said, it’s got me thinking a lot about hospitals, my last two c sections, and wondering what it will be like this time.

My first was born via emergency c section, 26 hours after I had been induced. It was surreal and dramatic, full of fear and confusion (perhaps it is always a bit like that the first time?). I remember the slowness of the induction. Waiting for things to “happen”. Wanting to be shut away alone as the contractions increased. It felt quite primal, despite the medical intervention that got me there. I remember my sister and my husband trying to entertain themselves through the long, and rather boring hours (for them, anyway). No iPhones back then! Arguing with my husband about whether he was allowed to video the event – no bloody way, as far as I was concerned. Then suddenly things got very serious very quickly. A whole bunch of people rushing into the room, strange faces telling me what they were about to do to me, being rushed down a corridor to the operating room, the terrified look on my husbands face, and that painful wait to hear my baby cry, and know that he was ok.

I spent the next few days shell shocked, while I tried to process exactly what had just happened. As I lay there in pain post surgery, doped up on morphine, I thought of my dad, and how brave he was to have so many operations, so many times. Despite what people say about mummies who are “too posh to push”, a c section is really bloody painful. I know it isn’t always like this, but I couldn’t walk upright for weeks. Getting out of bed, out of chairs, pretty much everything, hurt for months. I still have a numb section on my stomach from the nerve damage. After that, I was pretty nervous about the prospect of baby number 2.

My second c section was very different. I had a date booked at 39 weeks. At just over 36 weeks, my daughter decided that was too long to wait, and I went into labour. 10 minutes after I got to the hospital, the spinal was in, and I was off to the operating room. 30 minutes later, she was out. It was all so calm and civilised. While I was in recovery, I chatted to the nurses about their holiday plans. Then up to my room for the first proper cuddle. It was surreal, in that it was so fast and calm, but had none of the terror of the first time around! The recovery was painful, but no where near as bad as the first time.

I am expecting (hoping?) this time will be more like the second. It’s still hard not to feel fearful though. Scared of the procedure, scared of something going wrong, scared of the pain and recovery. I won’t be able to take as many painkillers (I can no longer tolerate NSAIDs), and that makes me nervous.

This time around, I also have two older children. I think they will be helpful, and love their little brother. I also suspect they will be a bit cranky and resentful of the amount of time he takes up.

All of the contemplation and waiting of pregnancy is a great motivator for creativity. When pregnant with my son, I painted about 70 watercolours. With my daughter, I took up knitting and did lots of abstract acrylics.

This time around, I’m making endless flowers. Watercolours, pen drawings, collages and embroideries. It’s like there is a surge of ideas, and an urgency to get it all out NOW, while I still have the chance. I kind of like that while my body is performing the ultimate act of creativity, my artistic self is on such a roll.

Here are some of the things I’ve been making…

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Apple, Carrot and Oatmeal Bread (gluten free, dairy free and nut free)

I’ve had a few people request this recipe, so here it is! This yummy bread is delicious for breakfast. It makes a great alternative to banana bread for those who are sensitive to Amines. You can vary the sweetness according to taste.

Gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, nut free, can be made soy free and egg free

Ingredients

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
2 green apples, peeled and grated
1/3 cup of melted nuttelex or coconut oil
1 cup of soy milk or other milk substitute
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs (this recipe will work well for egg allergies as it’s quite moist. Substitute your preferred egg replacement)
2 1/2 cups of gluten free Self Raising flour
2/3 cup of wheat free Oats (I use Bobs Red Mill Uncontaminated Oats). Substitute with the same quantity of rolled quinoa if you can’t tolerate oats)
2 teaspoons of gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/3 cup of brown sugar (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Grease a loaf tin
Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. If you’d like a sweeter loaf, add the brown sugar. It is still nice without, for those with less of a sweet tooth.
Beat the two eggs together in a second bowl. Add vanilla, grated carrot and apples, melted nuttelex and milk to the bowl. Mix with a spoon.
Pour wet ingredients into dry, and mix with a spoon.
Pour into a greased loaf tin, and bake for 45-50 minutes. Loaf is cooked when a knife comes out of the centre clean.

This will store for up to a week in the fridge, in an airtight container. I like it best slightly warmed or served at room temperature.

Line Drawing and reigniting my creative spark

Recently I went and did a little course at Longina Phillips Design. The class focused on drawing for fabric design. I had such a lovely time. I was surrounded by some seriously talented artists, gorgeous flowers, not to mention snacks and tea!

We did a series of drawing exercises, and then got down to work on our main drawings. There were some lovely flowers to use as inspiration

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How gorgeous is this enormous rose?

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I had the most fun with this magnolia branch.

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I’m not sure what I will make with my drawings yet. When they are finished, I’ll scan them and have a play on photo shop. Regardless, it was great to do a class for the first time in years. I’m feeling a lot more motivated and inspired! I’ve been working on a lot of detailed roses, and I’m really enjoying the meditative process of all of the detailed line work.

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Lemon and Blueberry Cake (gluten, dairy and nut free)

This lovely lemony cake is really quick to make as you don’t need a mixer. It works well as muffins too.

Ingredients

2 cups of Gluten free self raising flour
1/2 cup of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 cup of soy or other milk
1/2 cup of melted nuttelex or butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup of fresh blueberries

Lemon Drizzle Icing
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2/3 cup of icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, milk, nuttelex and lemon together
Pour wet ingredients into the dry. Combine well with a spatula, getting paid if any big lumps in the mixture.
Stir through blueberries

Pour mixture into a greased loaf tin. Bake at 180 for 30-35 min (about 25 minutes for muffins). Cake is cooked when a knife comes out cleaning from the centre.

You can eat it as it is, or make a quick lemon drizzle icing to put on top. Simply combine lemon juice and icing sugar in a small bowl, and pour over the cooled cake. Enjoy with a cup of your favourite tea!

This cake is best stored in the fridge after the first day, as it will spoil more quickly if kept out. Take it out a little before serving, to serve at room temperature.

 

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Gluten free orange and Rosemary cakes with caramelised figs (vegan)

These are lovely, simple cakes, that you can serve on their own, with icing, or if you want to get a bit fancy, with the caramelised figs. My kids love it with the orange butter cream icing. I kind of like it with both! Boiling the orange takes a little time, but making the cake itself is simple and very quick. A nice treat for a Sunday afternoon!

Gluten, dairy, nut, and egg free. Can be made soy free. Vegan.

Ingredients

Cake

1 large orange
sprig of Rosemary
2 cups of gluten free flour
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup of soy milk (or alternative milk. Coconut or rice milk work well)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange blossom water
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Nuttelex for greasing baking tray

Icing

half cup of nuttelex
half a cup of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
zest of an orange

Caramelised Figs

2 teaspoons of nuttelex
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 sprig of rosemary
3-4 figs
Pinch or salt
Method

Cake

  1. Boil the orange and one small Rosemary sprig for 1 hour. Allow to cool. Remove orange. Cut in half to remove any seeds, and then blend orange and Rosemary until smooth.
  2. Combine gluten free free flour, coconut flour, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine Pureed orange, olive oil, vanilla, orange blossom water and soy milk.
  4. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients. Mix gently with a wooden spoon.
  5. Grease patty tin liberally with nuttelex
  6. spoon in mixture until each patty is roughly half full.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes at 170 degrees.
  8. Allow to cool if icing. Can be served warm with caramelised figs.

Icing

Place all ingredients in a large bowl, and beat until light and fluffy. Gently spread over cooled cakes.

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Caramelised figs

Add sugar and nuttelex to a small frying pan. Simmer on medium heat, until sugar has completely dissolved, and it starts to thicken a little. Add in half a teaspoon of finely chopped rosemary, and diced figs.
Cook figs in caramel syrup for a couple of minutes.
Pour a little syrup and a couple of figs over the orange cake to serve. You can add a dollop of icing or icecream as well if you like!

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