Sunday, March 22, 2015

{Sugar Free Chia Jam}

This month, March, is celebration month in our house. We have had a lot of food, a lot of sugar and a lot of quick & easy meals on busy nights whilst hubby travels or whilst we recover from my sons surgery.
I'm feeling it too. I feel bloated and just that heavy feeling. I need to kick my butt into gear. 

It's time to get back on the wagon of eating clean, cutting out refined sugar and feeling myself again. I fell off the wagon hard this fact I don't even know where the wagon is! 

Whilst grocery shopping on the weekend, I picked up a bargain bulk buy of strawberries. 
Then we had a beautiful cool change come through with some rain and I love being in the kitchen in that type of weather. 
I felt inspired to create some sugar free chia jam that I pinned ages ago. 

3 cups berries (fresh or frozen)
3 tablespoon sugar free maple syrup or rice malt syrup
3 tablespoon water
5 tablespoon chia seeds 
(I added a split vanilla bean, cinnamon quill and some lavender flowers)

1. Place berries, water, syrup and chia seeds in a blender/ processor. 
2. Once it's blended, place in a saucepan on a medium heat until mixture bubbles. 
Reduce the heat to low and stir for a few minutes until thickened. 

3. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for a week. 

Ideas for use (some suggestions may defeat the purpose of a healthy sugar free diet - hehe):
1. Serve on freshly baked scones with whipped cream.
2. Spread on warm buttery toast.
3. Use it to turn a vanilla biscuit recipe into jam drops. 
4. Make healthy pancakes (1banana and 1 egg) and top with 'jam' and Greek yoghurt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

{Family Verse of the Month}

We are mainly focusing on the second half of our verse from 1 Peter 3:8 this month. "Love one another, be compassionate and humble."

Do you have a family verse cycle? Weekly or monthly? If so, what's yours right now? 

Lauren x

Sunday, March 8, 2015

{Family Sick Bucket}

If the kids are going to ever catch a bizzare tummy bug, it often comes without warning? Am I right?

I remember once (or twice) being woken up by a sort of a yelping or wailing sound coming from their room or a random shadowy figure standing right next to you as you sleep that whispers " tuuuummy feeels fuuunnny". The timer starts then. You never know how long you have until your cleaning up after a sick child. One of the glamourous parts of a parents job description.

I decided to put together a little bucket full of supplies that I could call on when needed. Usually in the middle of the night. 

So here is my bucket which is now stored in the linen press. I chose this location as it's upstairs and central to all 4 bedrooms.

A bucket (obviously)
2 plastic bags (I line the bucket with this when they are sick which makes cleanup much easier).
Vinyl tablecloth (this is handy to place next to bed on the floor to help contain the mess).

Cleaning items:
Packet of tissues
Hand sanitizer
Paper towels
New clean toothbrushes
Carpet and furniture deodoriser and sanitiser. 

Replenish and Re-Hydrate:

Bottle of hydro lite or other electrolyte drink (I chose the tablets as it's easier). 
Packet of sugar free lollies to get rid of that taste in their mouths
Dry crackers and Apple sauce with a spoon
Coconut Water
Probiotic Tablets

Now, this is one project that I'll be happy if we never use. However, when and if we are hit by a yucky bug, everything is in one place. 

Is this something you would use? Is there something else you would add to the supplies? 

Lauren x 

{Bone Broth}

For many years now I have suffered with digestive issues that have been quite frankly a bit of a mystery. 

Every now and then I do some reading up when things catch my eye with things I haven't tried. 

When reading Sarah Wilsons blog (founder of 'I Quit Sugar' movement), I was fascinated with the claims that she made about bone broth. It's not the first time I've heard of it having digestive benefits, but it could my attention. 
Not only does she explain the benefits of the broth on your GI system but also on your joints. I have had done recurrent pain in my left knee for a few weeks now that I can't seem to shift. 
The main benefits she lists of making and using the bone broth are 
1. Our immune system loves it
2. It's great for arthritis and joint pain

3. It's a digestive aid
4. It rebuilds the gut
5. It combats stress and inflamation
6. It's great for thyroid issues
7. It's great for nails, hair and women generally.

Read more about these on her blog by clicking {here}
Worth a try right? 
Worst case I've made something from scratch that is delicious and healthy. 

So I started to assemble my ingredients. 

I turned on the slow cooker and added the above plus some vinegar (1/2 a cup - essential to have the acid component) and some fresh thyme. 

Most recipes just use the bones. If using meatier bones (e.g. beef) they are roasted first. However, my aim in using the whole free range chicken, was to firstly slow poach it for a few hours and then remove the meat to use in a meal later on in the week. 
Afterwards, I will then leave the bones in the broth and let it continue to do its job until I go to bed or maybe even the next day. 

Have any of you been regular fans of a bone broth? I think I am going to make a batch of this a week and see how adding it to my diet regularly helps me. 

Lauren x

Thursday, March 5, 2015

{Lunchbox Life}

How is it that a small box made of plastic can evoke such strong feelings of fear or apathy in the average school Mum. I am in fact talking about the lunch box. Many mums I speak to dread the packing of lunches and love the freedom that the school holidays bring when we get a few weeks 'off' this chore.    
When I started Kindy there wasn't a lot of variation the actual lunchbox itself either. 
I seem to remember mine looked a bit like this. This was before the days of 'naked lunch' (no plastic wraps), bento boxes and lunchboxes with insulated bags and characters. There 

Image result for decor lunch box and drink bottle
There also weren't as many rules about what you are allowed to pack inside the lunchbox back in my day either. Things sure have changed. I frequently get asked what I pack in my kids lunch boxes. I try my hardest to find food that is healthy and balanced, food to keep them interested but not going so far as to create a ridiculous edible artwork. Like this:

My children, I love you dearly. But I will never be the mum that creates a Disney character out of Swiss cheese, rice, an edible food pen and strategically placed poppy seeds. I'm just not that that mum. Something tells me you'll cope though ;) 

However, a new sandwich alternative has been a big win here this week. And it's easy too. A lot of days it's a jam, ham or Vegemite sandwich, which they are happy with. But these 'wrap sticks' have won 2 big fans here. 

I just used some mountain bread and rolled it up with ham and cheese. Cut the wrap into 4 pieces and thread onto a skewer (I cut the ends off so there weren't sharp pointy edges). 
I included some cherry toms and carrot sticks also. If this was at home I would have added some homemade tabouli...but that's too messy for school. 

Morning tea was pretzels, dried strawberry cubes, and an apple. Some blueberry yoghurt for after lunch too. Both lunchboxes came home empty which is the biggest tick of approval I could ever get! 

Q: What's something new you've tried in lunchboxes recently?
Lauren x

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Family verse of the Month : February}

As many of you know, our faith is a big part of the day to day running of our house. I have shared before about ways that we integrate this into our daily routine. 
One of those ways is our monthly family verse. It is written up in a central location of the home. It is often a great reminder for us all to focus on what is important for us. 
This month the verse is from Psalm 34:17  which says: "The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help."


Having a verse for a whole month allows a lot of opportunities to discuss this in conjunction with what we are dealing with in our every day struggles. I started doing this for the benefit of our children, however I find that it blesses me just as much!

Q: How do you incorporate scripture into your home?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

{School Notes Galore}

We are one week in to school for both my boys. As school mums know, once school starts - it means two things. 

Notes and contact. 

The notes have been pouring in. POURING IN!

Permission slip for swimming carnival. Notes which layout the allocated days for library/ news/ sport/ gross motor. 
Welcome notes from teachers. 
iPad info for Mr 8. 
Volunteer opportunities.
Planned pick up arrangements for Mr Kindy.
Oh the many to read. 

However, my 5 year old had one that asked me to overview a basic family tree, interests and likes etc... to help the teacher get to know the students.

I chose to focus on the positives here and talk about his love of reading, playing card games and imaginative play. 
It may have been less acceptable to admit he likes to negotiate a lot, sometimes run away if he isn't happy and we are working on the occasional nose picking. I'm sure most of these will be discovered without my help ;) 

The question on this seemingly rather innocent survey was when they asked about the parents job titles and likes/ hobbies etc...

I refrained from writing domestic goddess and put stay at home mum. Which was fine.
But then when I read the question about likes/ hobbies I suddenly paused. It began an 'slight' internal existential crisis which I was not prepared for amidst feeding pasta to the baby and reciting spring words to my 8 year old. I put it aside and thought I'd tackle that later. 

After clock off time (bed time) I sat with my dinner and thus blasted survey with one question unanswered that was starring at me and judging me. 

Hobbies. Hobbies??!?

I don't have time for hobbies. Sure there are things I enjoy but they barely constitute hobbies.
Why did this seem to bother me? Was it because it made me confront the fact I feel like I don't have a life sometimes. Or maybe because I'm knee deep in the busiest season of motherhood and if I get to the end of the day with the kids fed, a clean kitchen, a candle lit, dinner with hubby and most of my sanity in tact I feel like I've scored! 

I would love to write something glamorous or romantic in this blank space. Like hiking, aerial yoga, painting landscapes whilst in my country house, pruning my bonsai collection or polishing my collection of pre-modernist french antique teaspoons. Pfffft!    

I started writing something down - 'cooking'. Yes, that will slide.
I was going to follow it up with sewing. Although I like to play on my machine, I didn't want to be asked to sew costumes or puppets for the end of year concert. The vaguely related 'crafting' would have to do. 

Ok, that's it I thought. If I spend any longer on this form, I'll rip it up in a fit of note rage. 

Please enlighten me as to what hobbies you have. Maybe you might inspire me. Even if your hobby is reading junk mail. No judgement I promise ;) 

Lauren x

Monday, February 2, 2015

{Trolley Bags}

If you know me personally you will probably know that I'm a 'bit' of an Aldi shopper. In fact, I think that people who are Aldi fans love telling people about it. Imagine if a vegan doing Cross-fit also shopped at Aldi lol ;)

I joke about my Aldi obsession but I love how it has saved my family so much money and their range has improved a lot over the years. 

One of the main complication people have with Aldi, I find, is remembering to pack all the bags. 
However, I just received a gift that has made loading the trolley a WHOLE lot easier! 

Trolley Bags are a great invention that take the 'enviro-bag' concept to a new level. 

Such a simple concept right? It's so well thought out. 
Here are some photos of the bags in action: 

For me (and my love of order and organisation) the wonderful bonus is that the 4 bags have neatly corresponded with the way I have written my shopping list for years. In four columns:
Groceries / Fruit & Veg / Cold & Frozen / Cleaning & Personal 

They are only $34.95 for a set and it is a great way to organise your shopping. The link is available {here}. 

You should seriously have these bags in your car boot, Aldi shopper or not. You'll love the way it makes it easier to load. 

Lauren x 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

{After School Snack}

I love finding healthy and yummy treats that my kids love. One of their favourites at the moment is so simple. They call them grape sticks. Basically you thread grapes onto a bamboo skewer (or paddle pop stick for younger kids - no pointy end). Then stick into a snap lock bag or container and freeze. In summer they eat them at almost any meal breakfast/ morning tea/ after school snack/ dessert. 

As sweet as an ice block but a much healthier option! 

Lauren x

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

{A Letter to my Son : Dear Daniel}

Dear Daniel, 
My baby boy you are so very dear to my heart. The moment I held you in my arms you took my breath away. 

As we watched you grow, it became clear that our life would never be the same again. You add a spark to our family that we cherish dearly. 
You have an infectious laugh that we hear often, as you approach your life with 100% tenacity and fullness. 

You are pure joy, strength and can bargain and negotiate better than many grown ups I know. Frequently we hear the words "here's the deal" from you as you assert your wishes on the person standing next to you. Even if you don't know them particularly well. 
You are a great communicator and always have been. I admire the way you make friends and love and protect those around you so fiercely! 

You see the world in a totally different way, you do things your way in your time. Right now it often results in hilarious moments like the time you read a magazine with your head in a box UNDER a trolley. Yes, I laughed hard that day.

You are generous to the core. You will give to those around you and you love to do it! 

My precious, crazy, chocoholic son. As you step into the world of big school tomorrow I want you to know that your mumma is a praying mumma and you are on her radar. 
Reading is important. Writing is important. Mathematics is important. 
However, above all these, I pray that as you learn in the classroom over the following years, God will continue to reveal his dreams and purposes for you.
Don't let the world steal and change who you are. Don't believe the lies of the world, that you need to 'find yourself'. God made you and you are HIS son with royal lineage. He created you to be who you are for a reason. He made you fearless, determined, generous and strong. He has a destiny and a future for you that requires these traits. It will fit you perfectly! Stand firm in your love for your GOD and may your footsteps always walk in tune with Him. May you always hear his voice and trust him. 
I love you my dear Daniel and no matter how tall you grow, you will always be my baby boy! 

Mummy xx

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

{Back to School}

This year the back to school routine doubles for me as I prepare to send my second son to kindy. I can't believe he is so grown up...there were any days where I didn't think this wild child of mine would make it haha!
I have wanted to streamline the school storage process for a while and with Mr 5 starting, I want to implement this as he starts. If I can begin the year with a good system, it 'may' help him to learn to organise his things that little bit more. 
For those that know me, you know that I love order, organisation and labels!  So I was bursting with this project. 

Under our stairs is now neatly set up with a school storage unit. Excuse the poor photos, it's a hard space to photograph. 

On the wall over the shelf, I turned a photo frame into a dry erase board with a weekly calendar underneath. It says "A peek at Daniels week". On it I will write which day is sport, library, news etc...

There is a photo of them each and also a frame with their two words that they are focusing on for the year. My eldest son has humility & patience and my second son has listening and obedience. These key words are a great way to set goals that are appropriate for their age and make it easy to understand. We asked them to choose their own words too. 
There is a clip board for any art works or creations and their 'devices' are charged here also. We finally found the perfect spot as not to be charging in their rooms.

The in-box sits on the first shelf and says : "homework and notes". 

Bags go in the big middle shelf. Then the red bins on the bottom hold the school shoes & socks, hats and ties etc...

We used a bookcase we already had (a small bookcase from IKEA), some storage bins from Bunnings (under $5 each) and some 'in-trays' and photo frames from Kmart (all very cheap). All up including the 3M Velcro strips it cost me under $50. 

I am so excited to have things sorted before the onslaught of paperwork and school supplies bombard the house. 

Next post I will suggest some great ways to kickstart your lunchbox organisation ahead of school starting. 



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