A year ago

Tomorrow is my daughters birthday. I don’t know if all mothers do this, but when one of my children has a birthday coming up, I can’t help but think of how I was feeling when their birth was imminent. In my daughters case, I remember pacing all around the living room, for hours. I was pretty certain labour was beginning, but nervous as it was too soon, and my c section wasn’t booked for another 3 weeks.

This year feels a bit different. Last year, I nearly lost my little girl on her birthday. We were on a weekend away. We’d packed a special lunch for her, and gone to a cafe for a special treat, so she could have a glass of lemonade. As I always do, I checked her seat, wiped the table, and made sure the area was free of allergens. She sat down, and took a sip of her lemonade. She started to cough. We thought she’d just drank too much at first, but then the coughing didn’t stop. After about a minute, I turned to my husband and said “I think she’s having a reaction, we need to get her outside”. He stayed with our baby and older son, and I carried her out, sat on the ground and laid her on my lap. I got the epipen out, ready, but was second guessing myself. Surely it couldn’t be anaphylaxis? I tried to get her to talk, so I could hear if her voice was croaky, but she wouldn’t. So I asked her to sing her favourite song. She struggled, gasping for air as she tried to get the words out. So I took the safety lid off the pen, and called an ambulance. As I was being connected, she lay limp in my arms, and I used the epipen.

After I called the ambulance, I called my sister to come and help my husband with the other children, and our car, while I went with my daughter to the hospital. The paramedics were nice. They gave her oxygen and a funny little knitted doll to cuddle. She recovered after about an hour, but we stayed for a few more hours, in case there was a secondary reaction.

It’s still surreal to think about it. Of course we’ve had so many chats with her doctors and nurses over the years, but you never really know how it’ll be until it actually happens. It was only a few minutes, but time slowed down as I held her that day.

Afterwards, we went home to the holiday house, and my sister had decorated her birthday cake. We sang happy birthday, and ate chocolate cake. Such a simple thing, but how different it felt, after a day like that.

 

It’s not easy being green… Making all the green things, plus Zucchini Brownies!

We’ve had some big changes this year. First my oldest changed schools. A couple of weeks later, after lots of planning and meetings with her medical team, my middle child was able to join him and started her first year of school. So exciting, and plenty scary, but she is so happy about it.

So now, for the first time in a few years (!) I suddenly have a couple of spare hours during the day when the baby is asleep. As any parent knows, there is no time to waste once the baby is sleeping. It’s off to the studio, cup of tea in hand, and straight to work!

At the moment, I am not sure what direction my work will take. There will definitely be some colouring pages. But mainly, I just need to make all the things, and see what comes out of it. I’m focusing on colour, foliage and florals.

For the past two weeks, it’s been all about leafy greens. I can NEVER work on just one piece, so here’s a snap shot of what I’m making…

Since I’m all about green at the moment, I thought I’d throw in a recipe for our latest family favourite – Zucchini Brownies! I got this idea from a friend (thank you Mel), who swore the zucchini was undetectable, and she was right! I usually replace half the sugar with 1/2 a cup of granulated stevia, or you can just stick to regular sugar.

Zucchini Brownies

2 cups of gluten free self raising flour

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of cocoa

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

2 cups of finely grated zucchini

2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

1 tablespoon of soy milk

1/2 tsp of salt

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a large bowl
  2. Pour in oil, eggs, and vanilla, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add grated zucchini and stir through
  4. Pour mixture into greased baking tray, and bake at 170 degrees for about 30 minutes.

 

Vegan rice, quinoa and chia balls (gluten free)

 

Gluten, dairy, nut and egg free. Vegan

About 6 months ago, my 8 year old son made the choice to become a vegetarian. In a household that is gluten, dairy, nut and legume free, this presented a few challenges! Together, he and I have worked on a few new recipes that would suit our family, and this one has become a firm favourite!

These rice, chia and quinoa balls are extremely versatile. We’ve made little ones to serve with dipping sauce as canapés, large ones squashed flat to replace burger patties, medium ones to replace meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, or we just eat them with a side salad for dinner. You could also add other vegetables to the mix, like cooked peas or soy beans if they are suitable for your family.

We make a large batch, and the freeze the leftovers. This recipe is enough for about 20 balls.

Ingredients

3 cups of cooked brown rice
1 cup of cooked quinoa
2 carrots
2 zucchinis
2 tsp of salt (it sounds like a lot, but most of this is squeezed away)
3 tablespoons of chia seeds
9 tablespoons of water
1/2 – 1 cup of rice crumbs or other suitable breadcrumb
1 tsp of vegetable based stock powder if desired
Canola or olive oil to shallow fry

Instructions

  1. Finely grate carrots and zucchinis
  2. Sprinkle salt on the grated vegetables, and mix through well with your hands. Allow to sit for 10 minutes
  3. While waiting, combine the chia seeds with the water, and allow to soak.
  4. Squeeze as much of water out of the grated vegetables as possible.
  5. Combine rice, quinoa, chia seeds, vegetables (and stock powder if you choose) in a large bowl. Knead together with your hands until well mixed.
  6. Gradually add bread crumbs, while continuing to mix. You may need a little more bread crumbs, depending on how much water you were able to squeeze out of the vegetables. If you want to add peas or soy beans, add them at this point so they don’t get squashed. Add enough bread crumbs, that you can easily roll the mixture into balls. It will still be a bit sticky.
  7. Roll into roughly tablespoon sized balls.
  8. On medium heat, shallow fry until golden on both sides.

Enjoy!

Food Allergy Awareness Week… Plus Muffins! (Top 8 allergen free)

This week is Food Allegy Awareness week. It’s feeling rather poignant at the moment, as this week I sent off my little girl to childcare, for the first time since she was accidentally given dairy there a couple of weeks ago. So I wrote this, feeling slightly sick, with an undercurrent of anxiety at the thought of her being there again.

We were “lucky” this time. She didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction. She had one sip of milk, immediately coughed, then started vomiting. She threw up several times for the next few hours, and then spent the next week with abdominal cramps and an upset stomach. All from one tiny sip. It is scary to think of what may have happened had she ingested a bit more.

My little girl was understandably scared about returning, and it’s taken a lot of reassurance to convince her that it will be safe there. Of course, we’ve had multiple conversations with the childcare director, about how to ensure this won’t happen again. We needed a new risk management plan, ensuring that someone sits with her during meals, and that she cannot access the dairy milk the other children are drinking. Lots of conversations at home, about always checking, before she eats or drinks anything. It’s a lot of responsibility for a four year old.

To help her feel safe when she returned today, she asked for a special lunch box from home. As her centre is egg free, she couldn’t take any of her usual bread, so I baked these muffins as an alternative. They are free of the top 8 major allergens – peanuts, treenuts, dairy, shellfish, fish, soy, wheat and egg.

Chocolate and Banana Muffins (makes 12)

Ingredients

1 cup of gluten free self raising flour
1 cup of sorghum flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of xanthan gum
2 tbsp of raw cacao
2 tbsp of brown sugar
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup of melted nuttelex
1 1/4 cups of rice milk

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre, and pour in rice milk, nuttelex and mashed banana.
  4. Mix with a spoon until well combined.
  5. Spoon mixture into well greased muffin tins, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Muffins are cooked with the top springs back, and they start to seperate from the sides if the muffin tin.

These muffins will keep for a few days, but may need a quick refresh for a few seconds in the microwave after the second day.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

Its been quite a while since I last posted. Months! As it turns out, I have been rather busy – growing and birthing a human.

The last few months of my pregnancy were pretty brutal. Severe pelvic instability left me almost immobile, and then constant contractions resulted in bed rest for the last few weeks (can’t say i enjoyed the gestational diabetes diet either). In the end, my little boy was determined to arrive early, and he was born at 37 weeks. It’s been a rough recovery from the c section. Multiple post operative infections, and 11 weeks later, my pelvis still hasn’t recovered, so walking is still an issue at times. But, he is a beautiful, happy, smiley little baby, and has settled into our family with ease.

I’ve started baking again and have started a course in nutrition. (first exam is tomorrow, yikes!). I’ve had a little bit of time to play with some new inks, but most of my artistic endeavours are on hold for now. Newborns are somewhat distracting! I have been able to work on some embroidery as I collapse on the lounge watching netflix, so at least there is some creativity happening!

In the interests of easing myself back into the blogging world, I’ve decided to Take Stock of whats been happening lately…

Making – embroideries! I’ve been working on the same ones for a while. I’m liking that I can make things without having to worry about the mess, as I have limited time at the moment. Oh, and a human. I made him too.
Cooking – lots of baking. Banana bread, corn bread, muffins, cookies…
Drinking – lots of dandelion tea
Reading – dodgy cosy mysteries as my brain can’t concentrate on anything too complicated at the moment. And my nutrition textbooks. Studying with a newborn may have been a touch ambitious!
Wanting – a swinging chair for my garden, for cups of tea and baby cuddles
Looking – at my sleeping baby. All the time!
Deciding – on new cupboards for my studio after it was flooded last year
Wishing – that my body would hurry up and heal so I can go on nice long walks.
Enjoying – the gorgeous interactions between my older children and the baby
Watching – Downton Abbey on Netflix (yes, I am a few years behind the rest of the world!)
Wondering – who this new baby will turn out to be
Liking – cups of tea and cake
Listening – to my daughter sing as she goes to sleep each night
Considering – replacing my very tired dining chairs, but with what?
Buying – flowers and herbs for the garden
Hoping – that I can get more active with my children soon
Marvelling – that my body made and is feeding yet another beautiful human
Needing – sleep!!!
Questioning – whether my sons current school is the right choice for him
Smelling – peppermint and tea tree oil, as I try to rid my house of all of the ants that keep appearing
Wearing – soft comfy things
Noticing – that the sunlight is changing as we move into the cooler months
Knowing – that this baby daze will pass very, very quickly, and to appreciate it while it lasts
Thinking – about vegetables! The course I am doing has me thinking about all of the different things I can try to convince my children to eat.
Admiring – clever arty folk on instgram
Getting – better at managing my time with three children
Book marking – more courses to come back and study down the track
Disliking – my sore body
Feeling – tired but content
Hearing – right now, snuffly baby noises, city traffic, trains and birds
Celebrating – my family
Pretending – that I am better at this then I am!
Embracing – chaos