Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Slowing down

As I sit here and write this, i'm looking out onto my very small living/dinning/playroom.  It's a mess! newspaper cuttings decorate the floor (my daughter is learning how to use scissors) and all the cuddly toys in the house are keeping me company!  Jigsaw pieces, half eaten apples and welly boots are all in sight; there are places where I can not see the floor.  My daughter has gone out with my partner to use her scooter and I, my friends, am sitting here, cup of mint tea in hand, fresh out of the bath, typing away at my laptop with a filthy screen ignoring the mess; for I my friends, am slowing down!  I would usually use this precious time alone to blitz the the house, but my pregnant body is screaming no, just stay put on the sofa.  

My body has given me a bit of a wake up call and told me that I need to slow down.  Aches, pains and breathlessness were all signs that at 7  months pregnant it was time to slow down.  At first I ignored the signs but as they persisted it became impossible to ignore my body's cries.  

Second pregnancies are so different to first.  At points, I forgot I was pregnant as life just took over; work, looking after my daughter, doing up the house, trying to keep in touch with old friends, cementing new friendships, hobbies, blogging, following the Labour leadership contest all took priority.  And then there were times when I was very aware of the fact that we would be bringing another human being into the world and I became consumed with 'getting things done' before the babies arrival;  I suppose you could say I was 'nesting' It became impossible to balance my need to get things done alongside my need to rest.  

We moved into our current house two weeks before F was born.  Anything that didn't get done in the two weeks before F's arrival remained not done for at least a year.  I'm going to be honest here and say that, at times, it could feel pretty depressing sat among the clutter, the dirty carpets, the net curtains and unpacked boxes with a new born.  Two and half years on though and things are different, and our house has come quite far, carpets up, walls painted, floor boards sanded, new curtains hung and even a new bathroom but I can't quite forget that niggling memory of sitting with with a screaming baby, in amidst a sea of pink walls, green carpets and net curtains.  

During my first pregnancy I meditated, went to hypno birthing sessions, practiced yoga, went swimming, rested and went to bed early.  I have done none of this this time round, in short I have neglected my pregnancy a little.  So from here on in i'm reclaiming my pregnancy. I have started by cancelling a few plans, going to bed when my body tells me, changing my diet a little and I have.  Already after a few days of taking things slower, staying closer to home and have even indulged in a little meditation. I feel so much better. In some ways it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I have stopped trying to do a million fun things with F and my final day of work is very much in sight.  My daughter has watched a fair few cartoons the last couple of days, and I don't feel guilty like I would have done before, I need to indulge in a spot of self care in the next couple of months!


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Elderberry Syrup

'Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.'
George Elliot

We are in full autumn swing over here at PJTM.  Hats coats and boots have been dug out, the rain coats have been worn (maybe a little too much for my liking) and the inevitable snuffles have paid us a visit.   Foraging season is well under way.  A lot of rain and a daughter who eats the blackberries faster than I can pick them has meant i am still yet to gather one full crop of blackberries that I can make a crumble with, so I switched my sights to Elderberries.  These are too high and too bitter for my daughter.  We work in happy equilibrium together; my daughter chomps the blackberries at her level, whilst I reach up and gather plentiful armfuls of elderberries.  

Elderberries contain high levels of Vitamin A,B and C and stimulate the immune system.
Given that I have had a niggling sore throat and a runny nose for a couple of weeks now, I decided to make an elderberry tonic.

You will need
2 x teacups full of elderberries
5 x teacups full of water
4 x tablespoons of fresh ginger
2 x teaspoons of cinnamon powder
1 x cup honey 

Raw honey is recommended as it has anti inflammatory properties.  I didn't use it because, budget wise, I needed to use what was in the cupboard.   

Elderberries should be washed, unripe berries should be discarded and the berries should be cooked before consuming.
How to make
  • Pour the water into a saucepan with the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves
  • Bring to the boil, once boiling simmer for 1 hr.
  • Pour the liquid through a strainer into a large bowl.
  • You can discard the berries now.  When the liquid is luke warm you can add the honey and give the mixture a stir.
  • Decant into your desired sterilized glass jars.

The syrup can be taking as a preventative and the suggested doses for an adult are a table spoon a day and that this can be increased for up to 4 x a day at the first sign of illness.

There is however a lot of contradicting advice out there.  Some sources say the tonic shouldn't be taken if pregnant or breast feeding and caution should be taken for anyone who has an autoimmune condition. Some suggest only taking when you feel the first signs of illness and then for 2 days after before discontinuing.  You may wish to do your own research before taking this.  I feel happy to take this tonic whilst my niggly sore throat persists.  I have been taking mine on porridge and in herbal tea. 

This syrup should last about a month, if kept in the fridge.  You can freeze it if needed.

 How's Autumn been treating you?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Cake in the house.

The other day I bought some cheap bananas from the market, however every single one was very bruised inside (not visible on the outside). I salvaged bits of them to put in porridge but they started to frustrate my daughter every time she opened one.  In the end I opened them all, whizzed up the good bits with a hand blender, and popped them in the freezer. This it'self makes a nice ice cream but unfortunately my daughters palette has been ruined by the sugary creamy stuff, after our recent holiday, and she now won't touch the healthy banana option!  A friend came over for tea at the weekend and I decided to make a cake using the frozen banana.

The recipe mostly follows the recipe in the River Cottage Fruit book. The cake is a loaf/bread rather than a cake meaning that I feel more confident changing the ingredients to suit what I have in the cupboard, rather than having to go out and buy additional ingredients.

You will need 

100ml oil (i used rapeseed but you could use sunflower or coconut oil)
1/2 tea spoon cinnamon
175g sugar ( brown is suggested but I only had white)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium eggs
300g ripe banana ( the recipe is very forgiving so don't worry if you don't have enough!)
75g plain full fat yogurt
200g flour (I used wholemeal)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g dark chocolate chopped up
2 teaspoons of demerara sugar to sprinkle on top of the loaf (Again any sugar will do)

How to make

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4.  Grease and line a loaf tin that roughly measures 11x 22cm

2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs.

3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas (obviously miss this step if using defrosted bananas). Add the yogurt and cinnamon, mix well before adding to the oil mixture. 

4. Sift the flour with the bicarb, baking powder and salt into the banana mixture.  Add half the chocolate. 

5. Pour the mixture into the loaf tin.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate and demerara sugar on top of the cake.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

6. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack to cool before cutting.

This cake tastes pretty great with a cup of cardamon tea.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Zero waste week

Zero waste week is well and truly under way. I actually meant to get this blog post out at the start of the week, but alas, my week, thus far, has been one of computer woes! 

If you haven't already checked out the Zero waste week website go check it out. It has lots if great resources about how to reduce your waste. This years theme is reuse. 

To celebrate Zero waste week, i thought i would share with you some of my favorite blogs that are in the ethical sustainable category, all with a strong emphasis on all things thrifty. 
Moral Fibres
Firstly, no surprises here really, I have chosen 'Moral Fibres'. I think this blog is already a firm favorite among some of my readers. Wendy, the writer, is so knowledgeable and all the blog posts are so well researched. Her photos are great too, so it makes for a real treat for the eye too. Its my go to blog for all things ethical and sustainable.  She features a lot of articles about sustainable fashion, which I think is how I first came across the blog.
Feed a Family Oxford

Next up is' Feed a Family Oxford'.  This blog is very new to me. It has blown my mind!  In this blog Caroline shows how she feeds her family of three, for a month, using as much local and organic produce as she can, all for £100.  Caroline is a nutritionist and herbalist so all the recipes on this blog are on the healthy side.....we are certainly not talking tesco value oven chips here!  The blog is super inspiring and has a whole section on food scrap meals, some of which I have not been brave enough to try; crushed up egg shell calcium sprinkles anyone?  or potato peeling crisps?  This blog really encourages you to think hard about the food you prepare and the food you throw away.  It's great for thrifty types and I really urge you to have a look.

Little eco footprints

'little eco footprints' is a slow, gentle relaxing read. I suppose it's a family lifestyle blog of sorts.  Tricia's blog shows ways of reducing your carbon footprint.  Her ethos is living better with less.  It's a blog that you can easily loose yourself in for a few hours.  It's a nice Sunday read.

Eco Thrifty Living

Lastly 'Eco Thrifty Living'.  This blog is a great resource.  My favourite section being the money saving one.  There is alot lot's of information about plastic free and zero waste.  The blogs author, Zoe Morrison, also hosts an online sustainable book group.

What are your go to green blogs? Do share I'm always looking to expand my library of resources.

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