Posts filed under ‘home life’

just keep trying

”Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep trying” – Barry Finlay

October 17, 2017 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

baking with chickpea flour

I’ve dabbled lightly with using gluten free flour in baking before but steered toward savoury recipes or pancakes to avoid being duped by the palatability of gluten free puddings laden with sugar.   I do have a gluten free lemon drizzle cake recipe on my blog but that is a case in point – it’s so totally delicious and moreish because it contains a ton of butter and sugar!  To be honest I’m not too keen on gluten-free flours, the results have always tended to be brick like and unattractive.  But today I happened across the gold medalist of gluten free flours judging by the totally spongy cake produced.  I found this recipe for chickpea flour banana cake on Camilla’s Power Hungry website and the result exceeded all expectations – I never imagined I’d be using the words “light and fluffy” to describe a gluten free cake! As Camilla describes in the comments section of her blog this recipe is intentionally sweetened for a more cake like texture.  I always look at the comments from other readers for insights into successful adjustments to a recipe, particularly sugar quanitities, the changing of which can have more than just an impact on the flavour.   I thought two bananas would have enough sweetness for a not-quite-savoury gluten-free carb alternative so I only used 2 teaspoons of honey melted with the coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of cashew nut butter (just using up almost empty jars). The result was a terrific texture and not very bananary at all as I only had newly bought firm bananas in stock (I’m guessing it would have tasted sweeter the more ripe the bananas are). Luca and I enjoyed it buttered and topped with jam and I’d happily dunk it in soup too.  I shall definitely be using this as my go to base recipe and re-work it with other favourite additions like lemon curd, spicy ginger and grated carrot and walnuts.    The other variation I made to the recipe was the addition of Pulsin pea protein powder. Camilla had suggested reducing the amount of yoghurt if using honey instead of cane sugar but as I’d already whizzed mine up I decided adding another dry ingredient would work just as well. I’m not generally very experimental with protein powders other than blending them into smoothies but as the Pulsin pea protein is flavourless I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. You would never know it was there and with no added sugar or sweeteners and 80% protein there’s really no limit to what you could sprinkle the pea protein powder into. It was lovely to do some baking with L. It doesn’t have to be complex cooking with children, a bowl and a wooden spoon suffice more often than not. L even had a go with my Oxo good grips hand held mixer which E tried for the first time around the same age. 4 years later stainless steel bowl and mixer still look like new and continue to survive being used in the bath for whizzing up bubbles and as a hat and accessory, as well as for so many different cooking tasks!

Making Camilla’s chickpea flour banana cake (with variations)

  • 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey (Camilla uses 0.5 cups sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons nut butter (your own choice preference)
  • 0.5 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large mashed bananas
  • 0.25 cup melted coconut oil
  • 20g Pulsin Pea Protein powder
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.  Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking tray.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon).
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, banana and oil in another bowl until well blended.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until moist.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
  6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.
  7. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

October 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm 3 comments

big shadows

worry gives a small thing a big shadow

.
”The nice thing about being a second time Mum is that you know what to expect (from pregnancy through to life with a newborn). And the wisdom that comes with age is that fretting about ifs, buts and maybes doesn’t prepare you any better if those worries become reality. So with less than 6 weeks to go now until baby I’m waddling along in a bubble of ”I’ve got this” Mumma courage”
– Me, Feb 2016

It can be so amusing looking back through journal entries, emails or in this case, unfinished blog drafts. It’s true that caring for baby second time round has been easier and less fraught with worries about little things. What hasn’t been so easy is juggling the needs of two children, as well as my own (practicing self-care is not something I’ve ever really mastered in all honesty). It can feel so messy sometimes when my own emotions are becoming frayed, energy is low and both boys need me at the same time. We get through it of course and with not too many wounds but the Mum guilt around attending to one child at the expense of the other is heavy baggage to carry. And sadly my own tendency to anxiety in such moments sometimes leads to impatient, abrupt juggling rather than the calm, unflappable response I’d prefer. I’m learning in tentative steps to keep my own niggly, lecturing voice in check when I’m feeling tense and snappy (if I’m talking I’m not listening afterall) and reach out instead with a warm, silent embrace. Loving touch and calm connection, with a soft ”I’m right here” is always the better choice for everyone.

17-7-16 - boys in a bucket_cuddle 4BParenting is hard and we bring to it familial conditioning about how things should be done, what is expected of us, how children should behave. It can be hard to tune in to your own intuition and forge your own path. Especially if you feel a sense of judgement from others who observe your way is different to theirs and mistakenly feel criticism of their choices in your opposite view. When hurtful experiences from your own past, triggered by your child’s outburts or mis-behaviour, are thrown into the mix it can be difficult to remain calm or respond tenderly (there is a brilliantly insightful article on Aha Parenting about why we get so angry when our kids act up and how to handle it). Understanding why we overreact sometimes to small things can be really helpful. Being empathic is where healing lies, for ourselves and our wounded past self and for our children.

If I had to give our parenting choices a label ”gentle parenting” would be the closest I guess. I’m not about to write an essay on what ”gentle parenting” encompasses – if you’re interested L R Knost has it covered and has tons of fab resources. She very simply says

”Gentle Parenting is about guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It’s about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating”.

Alongside other gentle parenting websites I read like Sarah Ockwell Smith’s and Dr Laura Markham’s Aha Parenting I also love the Hand in Hand parenting approach developed by Patty Wipfler. All four parenting experts have empathy, respect and kindness at the core of their approach but Patty also recognises the need for peer support as parents precisely so those toddler like reactions we all have from time to time have an outlet that is not directed at our children. Patty advocates listening time with a non-judgemental adult to release the frustration and hurt our child’s behaviour may be triggering in us. Developing a listening partnership with another parent also helps develop listening skills for responding to our children’s complaints!
Hand in Hand parenting meme - deep hurts are erased by many cries copy
Children naturally release their hurts through tears so it’s important we respond lovingly and supportively to allow them to release their tension/fear/upset completely. If we shame them with our response (”what are you crying for? You’re ok, don’t be silly. Stop crying right now or we’re going home” ) we risk plugging up their emotional release system. When E gets upset we tell him all feelings are allowed and do not limit his need to cry and rage (safely of course ensuring no-one gets hurt and nothing gets broken). As an adult I find it hard to extend this free expression to myself after years of swallowing down my feelings when I was younger. I wrestle with difficult emotions inwardly and don’t expose big shadows cast by worrying to the light in the way that I should – ‘‘no I’m fine, really {said through gritted teeth}. As a parent if I allow my feelings of impatience or frustration to create a response that is anything less than kind I risk chipping away at my child’s self-esteem and making him feel responsible for my emotions. E hasn’t yet learned to filter out negative comments yet at 5 years old so the way he is spoken to shapes how he sees himself. He believes everything he hears so feels the pain of being told his pictures are rubbish by a classmate or is paralysed by fears about drowning if he goes in water when he cannot swim (both true examples for my lovely sensitive boy). I always want the words he uses to describe himself to be kind and empowering and while I can’t protect him from others negativity I can do my utmost to ensure he always feels supported and championed by us.

E wears his heart on his sleeve and has such love and compassion for his brother and his friends. Slowly he’s learning to check in with himself if someone says something that hurts him. ”I felt sad when they said my pictures were rubbish with such a mean face. But I like my style and I am an artist aren’t I. I’ll just ignore them and keep drawing’.

Love wins.

October 9, 2017 at 7:06 pm 3 comments

a (would have been) 100th birthday

11-5-12 - Euan holding nan's hand* 4BWe would have been celebrating my Nan’s 100th birthday today if she were still with us. She died 4 years ago which seems a lifetime ago in terms of her absence from my childrens lives but is just a blink in terms of the miss from mine.  She was such a beautiful, funny, loving soul and my childhood is filled with memories, both momentous (taking the train to Weymouth to stay in a caravan two days ahead of my parents arrival!) and ordinary (the best maker of dippy eggs and soldiers and banana fritters).  If I close my eyes I can still hear her voice over the crackly intercom at her flat – ”oh it’s you Nic, I’ll buzz you up’‘ in her lovely Forest accent and with so much surprise and delight you’d have thought I hadn’t pre-arranged it at all.

2002 - Nan & Tom at Christmas  I wrote a little bit of Nan’s life story in a post to mark her 96th birthday, the first birthday we had without her.  She was born a triplet and one of 14 children so I’m sure life was challenging at times.  Yet she always responded to any suggestion of that with  ”we were lucky, there’s always someone worse off than you.  It was hard sometimes but we had a lot of fun too.  Mother always had a smile and joke so we did too”.  And then she’d cry laughing as she recalled stories of sleeping in the bath or 6 to a bed or scrumping apples in her knickers.

N&G 16-4-76 + nan & grandadEuan was 15 months old when Nan died and when we visit Gloucester Cathedral he always asks to light a candle to remember her.  When L is older we shall start to show him photos and videos of a very special person he never had the chance to meet.

Collage - E with Granny copy

September 23, 2017 at 6:23 am 2 comments

telling tall tales

E loves nothing better than to role play and weave stories. Since starting school and developing his writing skills he’s started to experiment with creative writing. He wrote this epic story entitled “Euan’s tall tales” for his best friend back in March and it’s been sitting forgotten in my drafts folder just waiting for it’s debut!

To Iri

I hope you get crazy by these years on these days and also on Sunday I bounced on a trampoline and I hurt myself and I got off the grass and I didn’t know where I was.
I found that I was in a desert with lots of cactuses but they weren’t just normal ones they were electric! When I touched them they electricked me!

the end

Footnote from E:  ‘‘don’t worry this didn’t really happen, it’s a tall tale!!!”

September 16, 2017 at 10:45 am 4 comments

truly brave

”If you’re afraid and still go forward, then you are truly brave”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Babies are amazing.  Feisty and determined they teach themselves to roll, grab, climb walk and talk simply by being unable to resist the urge to do so. Their self-belief (not that they know it as that) is unshakeable – they see others around them doing all these things so effortlessly, why not them too?

3-5-17_L climbing into the lego box copy 4B.jpg

Tears of frustration are an inevitable step on the journey to developing a new skill but giving up is just not in their nature. If only I had a scrap of the unshakeable ”I can do this” spirit that baby Luca encapsulates. I’d be … well now… there’s the question…

September 11, 2017 at 10:04 pm 6 comments

a bronze wedding anniversary

Today is our wedding anniversary and I had no idea what symbolises 19 years of married life.  I had to look at one of those funny gift idea websites and apparently buying G a ”stunning bronze statue” or a ‘Grow old with Me‘ sundial will show him how much I care.  When I broke the news to G that I could love him without saying it in metal ware he gave me a wry smile and said “or you can buy me a new cymbal”.  I didn’t of course, we still don’t even exchange cards, bringing up children together is all the evidence we need of enduring love.

My best friend.  So lucky to have found each other at 19, so lucky to still be together. Parenthood is the greatest strain on a relationship and it was gifted to us late in our marriage.  Perhaps that’s our greatest strength too, that we supported each other through some difficult years and learnt to do so without taking each others struggles personally.  It reminds me of lines from Kahlil Gibran’s ” On Marriage”

…let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. 

… Love one another, but make not a bond of love

… Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

…Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

…Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping

…And stand together yet not too near together: for the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Our other anniversary stories:

11 years12 years15 years16 years, 18 years

September 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm 4 comments

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