Sunday, March 29, 2015

I should have picked the corn yesterday

We have been growing some corn and it was just about ready to pick however on the Saturday it was raining so I thought Sienna and I would pick it on the Sunday however we should have just picked it in the rain as animals ate all the corn overnight.  It could be a possum, rat or turkey or all three however we were one day too late and I'm very disappointed because I was looking forward to eating some home gown corn.  Our cucumbers took off growing but didn't end up producing any cucumbers even though there were lots of flowers.  The poor old garden is not looking too good as all I'm growing is the rosemary bush which has been growing for the past 4 years and is a constant in the garden.  Here's some photos of the poor old corn.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some interesting Internet Reads

I thought you might like to take a look at these articles that I have found interesting.  It's nice to see what other people find on the interest outside of your own little blog reads.  Crab a coffee and take a look at a few of things.

How to paint an Abstract Art Piece for your home with very detailed instructions with pictures and words from Kristine from The Painted Hive.

Continuing with Kristine's blog here's a link to her most popular how to posts. My favourite is her instructions for doing labels for her jars for the pantry.

From Whole30 instructions on making the perfect Mayonnaise.  Once you've got the Mayonnaise you can make any number of these variations.

A link from Rhonda's Down to Earth Weekend Reading last week is this link about organizing your flours.

The recipe for the carrot cake above was in my last "Interesting Internet Reads" with the recipe here.

If you are into knitting here is a beautiful blanket you could try.

I love this blog calls "She Makes Hats" as Robyn knits hats and gives them away.  She also makes up patterns and had a shop on Etsy but recently changed it so that her patterns are free also.  She knits every day and makes lots of hats and is very inspiring lady.  She's a Mum to two young kids and loves to knit.  If I was a knitter I would love to make one of these to carry around the yarn.

Remember I posted about the Canberra father and son and their "Flow Hive" wanting to raise $70,000 well they are now up to $7M raised in 4 weeks.  They hit $1M in a day $2M day two and it has grown from their.  I suggest these two men can stop worrying about money in the future and can focus on their business.

I posted this recipe for Seeded Crispbread about a year ago and they were yummy.

And for the mothers, breastfeeding a post from Erin from Reading My Tea Leaves blog.  It's normal for this to be difficult and you are not alone in all the emotions that go along with breastfeeding your baby.

I found this post from Brooke from "Slow your Home" very comforting about having rhythms to your days.

A Multi-Grain version of the No Knead Bread which I would like to try.

A post from Live, Love Simple and how Dena saved $10,000 in 6 months.

I hope you find some of these posts interesting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Letter of Reply

A little while ago I posted the story of why I was writing a letter to the Queen of England and this week I received a reply from Buckingham Palace...YES....amazing.  Official Buckingham Palace stationery and post marked from Buckingham Palace.  I was so excited to receive a letter back and what a delightful letter (it's the only way to describe it).  We know that the Queen's Senior Correspondent Officer wrote the letter on behalf of the Queen and not the Queen herself however it is a beautiful letter taking time to relay the story in such a beautiful way and wish James well in his school presentation.  It was such a buzz even getting the letter back this week even though they do not have the invitation in their archives.  I will now get onto Perth and have a go there but this was the highlight of my week (given James fractured his collar bone and wrist this week, more on that later).

Here is a copy of the letter from Buckingham Palace.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Around Here

Around her footy training is in full swing, Sienna went on her school camp today for 3 days, and I've found I haven't picked up the camera too much.  So here's a few things from our life.

Off to school camp to a farm stay camping in tents and thankfully they are actually under shelter so it doesn't matter if it rains which it did as their bus was leaving this morning.

Looking outside James bedroom window.

Afternoon light and shadows while sorting out the washing.

Nearly to the bottom of the pile.

My friend helped me tidy up my pantry as it was in need and normally I do it on my own however she had just done hers and was inspired to help me so I jumped at the chance for a catch up.

Writing letters to Nanny and Pop to be posted to Melbourne.

My sister Lisa patting Lucy the Cockatoo at Maleny.  She was so soft and loved being patted.

In the Aviary at Maleny this bird is eating a peanut.

Wandering through the lovely gardens at Maleny.  I'll do a separate post on this place with more photos later.

James and Sienna with the Glasshouse Mountains in the background.

More stunning views.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bliss Balls with Nuts and Cacao

Following on from my post on "That Sugar Book" this wholefood recipe has been floating around the internet for a long time however I haven't made them before today.  My girlfriend has made them and says they are great and I've tasted hers last week so I popped into "Simply Good" which is a bulk bin food store at Alderley to get my ingredients.  I love this store because you can buy a tablespoon of Chia seeds instead of a $10 packet when you only need to use a tablespoon in your recipe.


10-12 pitted medjool dates (I used normal dates)
1 Cup of Nuts of your choice (almonds, cashews or any combination)
2 Tablespoons Cacao
2 heaped Tablespoons of Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Shredded Coconut
1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
1 Tablespoon of Pepitas Seeds (recipe called for Hemp Seeds)
Additional Coconut to roll balls in


Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined.

If you have a Thermomix place all ingredients into the Thermomix and blend for 15 seconds on speed 7.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and blend again for a further 15 seconds on speed 7.

Roll into balls and coat in coconut.  I made 22 balls out of this mixture.

Refrigerate for around 1 hour until set and then enjoy.

Best kept in the fridge as they will "melt" once they get too warm.

Bliss Balls can also be stored in the freezer and brought to room temperature to eat.


I understand that medjool dates are fresh dates (imagine a soft prune vs a hard date) and are quite expensive.  They can be purchased from the supermarket however I purchased dates from Simply Good as they were going to be blitzed anyway.  I'd imagine they would probably make the texture more wet/soft I might give them a try next time I make these.

The recipe called for Hemp Seeds which I could have purchased from Simply Good but they were in packet and cost $11.50 so I replaced them with the Pepitas Seeds instead.  By the way on the packet of the Hemp Seeds it says "Not for Human Consumption in Australia" which is for legal reasons however I'd just stick to the Pepitas Seeds anyway sounds safer to me.

My Coconut Oil was liquid as it's summer but in winter it is a hard mass like butter so I used 2 tablespoons of the liquid and my balls are dry vs moist (delicious) however I might add another tablespoon of Coconut Oil to the recipe.  They are yummy and healthy and a great chocolate taste/hit in a wholefood way so I will be making these again.  I'm sure James and Sienna will agree with me when they try these treats.  I'm going to put mine in a zip lock bag and into the freezer for an evening treat.

If you were after another variety of wholefood "balls" to make you could try these or these from Eleanor from Petite Kitchen blog in New Zealand.  I haven't made these but anything she makes I think would be a big hit.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

That Sugar Book

My friend told me about "That Sugar Movie" last week and we looked up the advanced screenings in Brisbane and realized sessions have sold out.  That led to me being in Big W and seeing "That Sugar Book" (of same fame) on sale from $39 to $22 and I bought it.  I got home and read it cover to cover during that afternoon and evening which happened to be Friday and was the only day last week we didn't have anything on.  I'm a big lover of books but I'm not a book reader as such.  I don't read novels and don't read really from week to week but if I get a book and I love it, I read it very quickly.

This book was written by Damon Gameau and it is great and scary at the same time and here's a little summary.

It is not a new thing that sugar is not good for you and there are lots of books out there promoting this from David Gillespie's "Sweet Poision" to Sarah Wilson's "I Quit Sugar".

When I read a title like "I Quit Sugar" I think of having to give up sugary sweets and treats for life and I think there is no way I could do that or would want to do that.  I mean how could you go through life without celebrating with a birthday cake or having a biscuit or a chocolate....I say life is too short to think about that and since I'm addicted to chocolate (and have been as long as I remember) I think it's impossible and something I wouldn't want to do.

What is interesting, and here comes the scary bit about Damon's experiment is that for 60 days (8 weeks) he had 40 teaspoons in his diet a day which apparently is not hard to do even being healthy.  His 60 day experiment was based around "perceived healthy foods" remember those giant profit making companies selling us "perceived healthy foods".  Apart from some take away food he did not add chocolate, lollies, cakes and biscuits or soft drinks to his diet.


He must consume 40 teaspoons of sugar a day.

These must be "hidden" sugars found in "HEALTHY" foods and drinks, such as breakfast cereals, muesli bars and juices.  So NO SOFT DRINKS, ICE-CREAM, CONFECTIONERY or CHOCOLATE"  

The sugar must consist of SUCROSE and FRUCTOSE specifically, whether they are "added" or naturally occurring.  Despite carbohydrates like break breaking down into a type of sugar in the body, they will not be counted.

He must always CHOOSE LOW-FAT foods.

He must MAINTAIN HIS EXERCISE routine, three laps of his long, steep garden twice a week and 10 minutes in his homemade gym.

Prior to the experiment he was eating 2300 calories a day of whole foods and during the experiment he was eating 2300 a day but opting for what he understood was "healthy" and good for you. This is where you and I come into it and what we consider to be a good healthy diet is somewhat false.  For instance he had a bowl of Sustain for breakfast with low fat Yoghurt which by all accounts you would think is a good breakfast.  

Foods Damon was eating before he did his 60 day (8 week) experiment.

The types of foods he ate during his 60 day experiment.
Apart from the obvious things like Pizza in the lunch section and if you had to go a step further the "white" bread and "white" pasta as well.  The snacks of the kids fruit drink and the red drink would scream "sugar" to me however everything else doesn't scream sugar to me just looking at this picture. Sure there could be more fruits and vegetables however it could resemble (ignoring the pizza and the sweet drinks) just about anyone who has got an average diet with the exception of adding more fruits and veggies which is glaringly obvious.

What Damon was showing us during his experiment is that it's the so called "hidden sugars" in what is considered healthy food.  We all know cakes, lollies, sugary soft drinks have lots of sugar in them and he didn't include eating any of them. He swapped 2300 calories from the top chart to 2300 calories on the bottom chart.  He didn't change anything else but the food ie if he was doing some exercise before he just continued to do what he was doing so he didn't stop it, nor did he increase it.  

The very first breakfast where he had the first sugar hit of many years sent him into a state and his demeanor was immediately changed and his mood shifted and his wife wore the brunt of this.  He was shocked and his wife was shocked how he was in a mood which ended up verbally not in a good place.  This was the very first meal so you could imagine that they both realized that 60 days would be a long time.  He had a team of health professionals to monitor him and did tests and blood work as their starting point before he commenced and of course during and after.  He developed the signs of "Fatty Liver Disease" in just 3 short weeks.  It's estimated 5.5 million Australians now have Fatty Liver Disease.  Only 6,000 of these are the result of alcohol.

Remember he was not eating "sugary sweet foods" he was eating foods that had hidden sugars in them.  Well when I mean hidden sugars I mean, low fat yoghurt and cereals for example.  In 8 weeks he put on 8.5 kgs but weight was one thing it was the other health issues that was alarming that he gained in that time.

In the book he writes a section on what he did to lose the weight and get back to his former self including recipes.

I have written before about a book called "100 Days of Real Food" in this post where a family pledge to eat "real foods" for 100 days which I highly recommend.  This book has lots of information in it about all foods, how to shop, what to put in your pantry, how to replace "staples" with home made etc. and in line with "That Sugar Book" I think would make a perfect addition to anyone's library.

Given the old scenario of the calorie equation Damon ate the same amount of calories during the experiment that he did prior to the experiment so technically he should have stayed the same weight however it's about "wholesome" calories vs "empty sugary" calories.

We all know what we should be doing with our health and if you are into simple living you generally care about where food comes from and cook and bake a lot from scratch but I have sauces and condiments and cans of food in my pantry just like everyone else.  I can't see myself giving up sugar because immediately I think of denying myself the pleasure of those cakes and chocolate but I have to try and do is think "Whole foods" and therefore you can cook and bake using the right ingredients and you can still bake a cake etc.

Dr Libby Weaver spoke at an evening in Brisbane at the end of the year and my friend and I went along to hear her talk.  I have seen her a few years ago as well.  Anyway she and her husband worked out that she eats about 3,300-3,500 calories on average a day however it's all wholefoods.  The average person wanting to lose weight would consume 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day and would assume you would put on weight eating 3,300-3,500 calories daily.  Dr Libby has an amazing trim figure and I would be happy to look half as good as her.  She doesn't calorie count and hasn't for years but stays the same weight from year to year.  She and her husband only worked it out one day out of curiosity and she told us that the "calories in and calories out" equation is old school and doesn't take into account lots of things from medical history and of course the type of calories.

As you can see Damon ate the same amount of calories and put on 8.5 kgs in 8 weeks so you see it's all about what type of calories you are consuming.

It says in the book that "sugar" is as addictive as "crack".  Now we know drugs are addictive and bad for you and I would never take drugs however I know I'm addicted to sugar and that all makes sense.  I went 8 weeks without sugar as part of  Dr Sandra Cabot's Liver Cleansing Diet last year and I did not crave sugar after the first week and it "appeared easy to me" as my body didn't want it and it didn't miss it and I was okay with that.  It wasn't like I was "being good" not to have it, my body had healthy whole foods and didn't need it.  The second I did get back on the sugar it was basically like I couldn't get enough (like that drug scenario) and I needed my hit of sugar.  It's like you do well when you are off it but once you get the taste, it hooks you and draws you back in again.

So back to my story about "wholefoods" and "no low fat" options.  They say it is better to have a smaller amount of the full fat version than to have double the low fat version because after all I know our brain tells us because it's low fat we can eat twice as much.  They strip the sugar out of these products and then put back lots of chemicals to make it taste as good as the full fat version.

Paul West from the "Australian River Cottage" series posted a picture on Instagram this week as he was on a plane and was given a Bacon and Sweet Chilli Muffin in a packet to eat.  It looked like a nice muffin and it weighed 65 gms.  The entire back of the packet was a list of 60 ingredients in this so called "healthy" muffin.  Seriously, when was the last time you needed 60 ingredients to make a Bacon & Sweet Chilli Muffin.  The problem is this is considered very normal in our society.

As an example of hidden sugars "Just Juice" Apple Juice (and I'm not picking on this company, most juices on the market would be the same) a one litre carton has 25 teaspoons of sugar in it.  On the front of the juice carton it says "Apple Juice" No added sugar, no preservatives and high in Vitamin C. Naturally as a parent you would look at the front of the carton and think healthy, better than soft drink and okay to give it to your kids.  This is how we are getting tricked into thinking we are being "healthy".  I don't personally buy juice unless we go camping or sometimes on holidays as a treat however as we are all taught to read the labels the front of the products are meant to grab you and say "hey I'm healthy buy me".

Lisa Leake from 100 Days of Real Food says in her book do not look at what's on the front of the product and read the ingredient list.  She has examples of lots of products (mostly American) but you can get the jist of it working through these typical labels.  I have been reading labels for years but this actually was on another level and explained more about how they list their products and how they trick you into thinking that they are something they are not.  They have ways and means of so called "meeting the requirements" but also fooling you and I about what is in their product.  Lisa believed she was feeding her family a healthy diet based on her knowledge of products.  Once she got into it she was actually horrified about the ingredients and the misconceptions of her purchasing perceived "healthy" options for her family.  This book is a real eye opener and like a bible of "how to" go from where you are now to "wholefoods" and also has over 100 easy recipes.

Another great wholefood blog is Eleanor from Petite Kitchen in New Zealand and I've written before about her fabulous home made Baked Beans recipe which my kids and I love.  We have not bought a can of baked beans in over a year.  I make a batch and freeze it in one person containers or 3 person containers and this is what the kids had on toast for breakfast last week before school.  Much better than the sugary Sustain for breakfast.  If you can make a cake like this it wouldn't seem like you are "quitting sugar" because "quitting sugar" to me means missing out on my sweet tooth however these blogs and recipe books do just the opposite and show you how to make delicious wholefood treats.

So after this very long post these two books would be an asset to any family and are very enlightening and enabling and helpful.  I have always struggled with my weight and through emotional times I hit the sugar and there has been many of those in recent years and in fact are in my life in 2015 for reasons I won't go into now.  Sugar loves me, it makes me feel good and provides a service to me however it's a double edge sword in the fact that sugar loves my hips, tummy, boobs, thighs and whatever else it can grab onto.  I still want to make my kids diet better than what it is even though I cook lots and lots of things from scratch and these two books and Dr Libby and Eleanor show how it can be done living without sugar and eating wholefoods that are good for you.  Wholesome calories vs empty calories that cause you to crash and burn.  

I can't wait to see the movie/documentary after reading the book.  It will be same information however it was all filmed and he visited experts in science fields etc.

I think if I can do one thing better than the day before and swap out one food at a time I'll get there and as they say Rome wasn't built in a Day but once you read these two books you'll want to hire a contractor or two and get in and get it done.  One last note, first time I was alerted to the white strip on the packet of grapes I have bought many many many times before and have never seen it even though it's been there all along.  I read it on Rohan's Whole Larder Blog about the grapes.  Just goes to show "grapes = healthy" how can you go wrong but look at what goes on them.  I'm still going to buy grapes but seriously...........why are we doing this to the human race.