On Kitties and Cooking and Healthy Living

I have spent the past week pretty much involved with dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s – sometimes getting muddled and crossing my i’s and dotting my t’s – just because I had the really good idea of opening an Etsy shop!

It’s been quite demanding – requiring me to think everything through and do a lot of research into really boring matters like the cost of postage  and how best to package things.  You know, somebody might actually want to buy something and then you have to not let your first customer down …..

Anyhow, today I had other things to attend to, so I stopped all that thinking and fussing and decided to spend the morning in the kitchen replenishing my dwindling supply of healthy edibles.

It’s all very well being a Contented Crafter intent on becoming an artist – and the hours at play are fun and sometimes even rewarding – but neglecting ones healthy lifestyle choices, not so good!

I had rushed off first thing this morning to see to Stanley – Stanley is YD’s companionable, confident and highly opinionated puddy-cat.  YD has taken herself off to Christchurch with tLK for a week of racing and socialising and general good times and I am in charge of the kitty.

This is a photo of Stan catching a few zzzz’z in a reusable grocery bag:

Stan in Bag

And this is Stanley resting a while on the guest bed – luckily no guest in need at that particular moment.

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When left in charge of said kitty, I try to spend an hour or so sitting with him and, it must be said, he has come to expect this.  After my flying visit this morning he accompanied me to the car belligerently demanding to know where I thought I was going because he was up for some good times if I cared to sit down on his couch for a bit.

I declined his charming invitation, promising to return later in the day and canoodle with him and left.

I have stuff to make!

My new friend Wendy over at quarteracrelifestyle recently published a post which had me all excited to try and yesterday I had finally made it to the local Organic Store to refresh my depleted supplies of walnuts, chia seeds, coconut chips, rolled oats etc etc etc.

Already in process was the mix for a nut and seed bread and another mixture of pepitas and sunflower seeds had been put into water for activating – both these tasks done around 10.30 last night.

I put my seed bread into the oven, mixed up a batch of organic yoghurt, put it in the yoghurt maker and got on with my muesli mixture.

I dry roasted the rolled oats, browned the sesame seeds and toasted the coconut chips.  I do all this in my large super modern cast iron fry pan, just moving the bits around over a moderate heat until the colour starts to change and, in the case of the seeds and coconut the oils are released and a delicious aroma starts to fill the air.

I have learned not to walk away from this job.  Once I went to put something in my craft room, got side tracked and some fifteen or twenty minutes later, smelling the unmistakable odour of charred oatmeal rushed into a smoke filled kitchen and a pan of black inedible chaff.  Not good!

When all the browning and toasting and releasing has been done I toss everything together along with a goodly amount of cinnamon, a couple of cups of activated nuts and seeds and voila, breakfast is taken care of for the next couple or three weeks.

With the muesli made it was time to turn the bread – apparently something that this loaf needs, so I’m all for doing it right and proper – well, the first time anyway.  This was a bit fraught however, as it is perfectly possible my mixture was a bit on the wet side and while the loaf exited the pan easily enough, turning it and getting it back in was a bit trickier – it wanted to crack and fall apart.

But, “No!”  I said firmly and hustled it, almost intact, back into its container.  Another 20 minutes in the oven for it and I made myself a lovely batch of Cheese and Oatmeal cakes.

This is my bread substitute and I make up a batch a couple of times a week.  If you are a long time reader of my blog you may possibly remember a post about this back in March I think.  Its a recipe I’ve been making on and off since the 70’s.

My kids were raised on these things – and sourdough bread made from a real sourdough bug!  [Ask YD about that and watch her face wrinkle up in disgust]  Once upon a time I was a real back to nature, clean, green, don’t-eat- it-less-you-made-it hippie mom and my kids ate food that was Good For Them!   Then I lost my way a bit in the teaching and teenage years [shudder] but now I’m kind of back there again…..

Anyhow I have recently modified the recipe a tad, and now add a good teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the mix which just about blows my head off, but sure does keep me regular.   🙂

The cakes are made, the bread is done and now the activated seeds go into the oven to dry out and crisp up.

At this point I deliberately toss a couple of seeds onto the floor.

Why?  Because throughout this entire process I have been maneuvering around another pussy cat, a marmalade one this time, who has been shadowing my every move, purring encouragingly and making the odd dart at nothing to get his point across.  Something has to be dropped so that he can play too.

Now I have time to get down on the floor and hunt out the seeds that get shot under the rug, the cooker, the fridge.  We both spend a large part of this activity with our heads down and butts up peering hopefully for a needle in a haystack.

After a bit he has lost all his seeds, I’m bored and he wanders off to have a wash.  I check the remaining seeds, give them a stir and turn the oven off.

I take my three tier seed sprouter from the window sill where the alfalfa and energy mix have been enjoying a couple of hours of light and transfer them to three tubs.  I eat some as I finish they are so crisp and juicy.  This is a major player in my daily salad and I credit fresh sprouted seeds, chia seeds and good old fashioned chicken soup with my full return to health in less than six months.  That and deleting all processed sugar and most forms of wheat from my diet.

And that’s it, I’m done.  I have my staple foods ready for the rest of the week.  There is still chicken stock from my last batch in the freezer and the fruit bowl overflows with all kinds of salady yummies.

Now I can go play – the paints are calling!

But oh no – I forgot about the other kitty.

Stanley.

Stan

Better go – I think he’s waiting!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did 🙂

Blogging – A New Community Concept

I finally got around to signing up for the Freshly Pressed  posts – I’m slow on the uptake sometimes, I just live in my own wee world….. It has taken me a while to figure out that some of the bloggers I follow are using the weekly and daily prompts to express themselves, to practise the art of  photography, poetry, writing – whatever it is they are into, and I have been so impressed with many of the posts I am reading on a regular basis.

Inevitably I decided to join in too.

And this has meant that even more of my time has been spent drifting about in the blog-o-sphere getting to know a few more folk, dipping in and out of lives like a ghostly eavesdropper….. sometimes leaving a message, sometimes not.  Sometimes remembering to click ‘follow this blog’ and sometimes not [which I know will lead to a moment of angst when I want to find that post or person again.]

I’m new at this stuff and have been amazed at the world that exists here – I wrote a post a couple of weeks back titled I Like Blogging!  where I attempted to explain all the unexpected delights I was discovering, and now those delights just keep on increasing.  

There are so many interesting people out there – it feels like I can sit in my wee home and meet the entire world!  I’m in danger of never actually doing anything ever again – I may just spend the rest of my days sitting in front of my computer, reading about all the things other people are doing and experiencing!

I enjoy posts from all kinds of people, on all kinds of subjects and I especially enjoy a good chuckle, if not a belly laugh.

But – and now I’m getting to the point of this post – more and more I am reading autobiographical posts that are heart-wrenchingly honest and open and wounded and raw.

I have read posts that leave me sitting silent at the final word, or saying ‘Wow!’ out loud – posts that remind me of – or take me back through –  my own life experiences, posts that make me sit up and take notice, posts that move me to tears.

Some posts deserve slow and careful reading to truly take in the events, to taste the descriptions, to hear the music, to touch the soul of the writer.

All are open and honest and trusting that their words will be read with respect if not full understanding and empathy,  

I read their words and I meet the soul of the writer – the shining being who is suffering or who has suffered, and who is over-coming and is learning and growing and becoming stronger and wiser.

Pain gives us the opportunity to grow and mature and become better people.  Through pain we may learn our life-lessons, to develop our empathy and intuition and perhaps even get an inkling of an understanding of our reason for being here.  Painful events do not define us, it is what we do with those events that we will be remembered for.

This then is the real gift of the blog-o-sphere.  In our fast paced, ever moving, technologically driven modern time when community is fast becoming an endangered concept, and more and more people live outside of the accepted ‘norm’ the blog-o-sphere offers a new community – an enlarged extended family of people interested in people, supporting and caring, empathising and listening to each other.  

So I remain impressed, I am enchanted and most of all I am uplifted to see that here there is a safe platform for expression of personal pain and a community that allows that expression and responds in kind with affirmations, sympathy, empathy and sometimes even [the kindest of] humour.

Rock on bloggers!

And if you knew all this before I apologise for taking up your time – but thanks for reading to the end 🙂

And I promise this is my last post about my thoughts on blogging 🙂

Have a great day and reach out to someone who needs to hear your voice, feel your empathy and touch your soul.

Beverly Sills – Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life – Victor Herbert – YouTube

Beverly Sills – Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life – Victor Herbert – YouTube.

Please read the previous post with the title ‘Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life’ then come back to this if you want to hear what I tasted ……………[yes, that is correct] click on the blue script.  I wanted to put this at the bottom of the post, but seem to be unable to do so – requiring some further education on the art of creating a blog page!

Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life ….

You know how I’ve made this life style change in as far as food goes …… well, there’s been an interesting outcome – apart from all the benefits I’ve mentioned in another post and I’ve made a discovery!

And just to remind you, this is what I’ve done:  12 weeks ago I gave up on sugar and wheat.  This meant I had to make all my own food to ensure I wasn’t taking in all those hidden additives and I also haven’t eaten any fruit the whole time.  I’ve been very wary of high sugar vegetables too – potatoes have rarely made it to the plate for instance – concentrating instead on leafy greens, home-made sprouted seeds and the like.

I’ve loved it, and the results have been so spectacular that I have no intention of reverting to my old habits.  I have been pleasantly surprised by the fact that I haven’t missed my old friends – bread, buns, fried chicken, chocolate, ice-cream, fries, crisps.  Pasta and potatoes have been replaced with brown rice, quinoa and lentils. .A staple foodstuff has been chicken soup the way grandma used to make it,  and my daily diet mostly consists of my old friends those cheese and oat cakes mentioned in another earlier post and a variety of salads.

On two occasions in these twelve weeks I found I wanted something sweet – and wandered over to inspect the fridge, the freezer and the pantry.  Finding nothing, I drank a glass of water and, getting out of my own way, forgot about it.

But after the initial detox period of eight weeks you are supposed to gently reintroduce fruit back into your life.  I’ve been slow to do this for a couple of reasons.  One is I’m scared.  I don’t want to undo the good that has been done.  I don’t want to live in a sore and painful body again, I don’t want to risk regaining the inflammation and weight that has so miraculously disappeared.  So for three weeks I conveniently forgot to purchase some fruit from the market and carried on as usual.

But I found a yummy and healthy sweet recipe – something for those times when you just want a little something extra – and thought I might have a go at it.  In place of sugar it uses pear syrup, so I duly went on-line and purchased a bottle of organic pear syrup, guaranteed to be nothing but and therefore free of those nasty things that scare me.

When it arrived I took the cap off and removed that little plasticky cover from the top. It had a film of pear syrup on it.  I ran my finger over that plasticky cover and put my finger in my mouth.

A few moments later I removed myself from the ceiling and, holding the top of my head firmly in place, gathered my wits about me and said to Orlando “Wow!”

My palate was buzzing with flavours and sweetness and layers and layers of summer memories.  It kept on buzzing for at least a half hour.  The taste in my mouth would ease back and then zoom up again.  I gave myself over to the extraordinary sensation of experiencing a natural sugar high.  I wandered if this is what it is like for a heroin addict – you know the effect of that first shot that they try to recreate by using again and again.  [Have I just discovered the cure for drug addiction?  You can only use once every three months if you want the high!]

So this is my discovery:  ‘Sweet’ is not found in our daily intake of sugar in all its disguises.

This is my suggestion:  Remove sugar from your diet – and all those nasty pretend sweeteners also – live your life for three months, then stick your finger into some natural fruit syrup and taste it.  Then you will understand what ‘sweet’ is.

I tell you, an orchestra will play, violins will soar through your palate, cellos will hold the base-note, and a soprano will trill her high C’s through the top of your head!

And I know you will join with me and holler “Wow!” as you remove yourself from your ceiling…….

.Now go listen to the other post – it’s all in there!

Thanks for dropping by and have a great day…………

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I like to take notice of how I am feeling when I wake up in the morning.

One of the things that living has taught me is that if I pay attention to that primary waking feeling then I can manage the endless crap that tries to take over and fill up my head and turn my day to mush.

Today I wake feeling a familiar feeling, but one that I have difficulty naming accurately.  I

tend to call it ‘hopeful’, though I’m not sure that is altogether the right noun – there is a vague feeling of excitement that generates from somewhere in my solar plexus and skitters up to my heart and makes it sing.  A small upturn at the corners of my mouth is willing me to smile and my body wants to dance.  I feel alive and expectant of good things.  I feel happy!

I have no idea of why I feel this way – nothing untoward, exciting or inspiring is planned for this day.  I hope to eventually escape the blogosphere and make it to my play room and start work on turning a box into a book, and there is more daunt than hope around that intention!

But nonetheless, this is the feeling that I wake with.

I rise at 6 am, it is just dawn, the grey sky lightens while I fetch and carry for Orlando who warbles and purrs his approval and rubs his head against any available part of me – leg, arm, hand – and I know this is why I woke feeling this feeling.  My little fella makes me happy!Orlando at window

I make my morning coffee,  turn on the laptop and settle down to  read my emails.  Good news lurks there, I’ve won not one but two bonus tickets on the lottery drawn last night, another try tonight then!  This makes me happy and I smile with anticipation!

While involved in catching up on news and Facebook and daily bargains the day emerges and my wee house is suddenly flooded with sunlight and warmth.  This makes me happy!

Saving the best to last I eventually arrive in blog heaven.  At first I don’t understand what is happening on Char’s blog – I wonder if WordPress has made a mistake and put my blog title on her blog – I follow it into the sphere and read the latest post from Lesie’s World and see that, bless her cotton socks, the girl has mentioned my post in her post and ‘pinged’ me.  I didn’t even know you could do that!

This makes me really happy!  What a great compliment, what a great way to start the day!

I spend an hour or so, wondering around blogs, I have found another like soul in Patricia Awapara and enjoy time admiring her stunning paintings and reading her book excerpt.  I visit new people and stay awhile with some and move on more quickly from others.  I discover another writer worth following.  Ah, such happiness!

My cat curls up beside me and warbles himself into sleep.  And, of course, this makes me very happy!  cropped-019.jpg

And now if you’ll excuse me, I must get on with my day.  I wonder what will come next?

Thanks for visiting, I hope you are having a great day!

Eight Weeks Later …… An Update

I started this blog at about the same time I decided to improve my life style – the two were not linked, purely coincidental …….. My reason for starting [the blog] was to make myself keep track of what was coming from my craft room, something I was – and am – notoriously shabby at!

The reason for changing my lifestyle was to get out of my own way and do something about the state of my overall health.

If you have read previous posts – about 6 of you I believe – you’ll have a bit of an idea of what I’ve been doing in the kitchen.  I thought I might do a couple of days and then quit – missing bread and sugar too much – but I didn’t.

So I said to myself ‘Well, I’ll finish the week and see’.  I did and carried on.

I said ‘Well, I’ll do it til I can’t any more’ [which statement can only come from a place of deprivation].  And still I happily continued.

Somewhere along the road I realised I wasn’t deprived – I was eating more than I did before – now partaking of delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners whereas previously I had often not eaten all day and found myself on the verge of keeling over about 4 pm.  At that point I would head for the fridge and start grazing, often continuing until late in the evening……  Now I happily potter about in the kitchen creating great tasting food which heals my body and feeds my soul.

Now I’m not a person who likes to share her aches and pains with the rest of the world.  If you ask how I am I will smile brightly and chirp ‘Just fine thank you – and you?’  Or if it’s a person I know will share all their woes with me and I’m in a ‘can’t be bothered’ kind of a mood I’ll chirp ‘Why, just a box of fluffy ducks thank you’ and continue on with a change of subject or bustle busily away.

But now that they are all gone I think it is time to list the reasons why I needed to do something.  Her’s how it all began back in ’99:

  • Me and a stressed out, exhausted, workaholic lifestyle
  • Me, a steep flight of concrete steps and an ambulance
  • Me, a left knee and a right hip – neither of which worked at all any more
  • Me, a cigarette and a heart attack – or three
  • Me, no cigarettes and a box of chocolates stuck in bed due to points 2, 3 and 4
  • Me and a greatly increased girth due to all of the above points
  • Me and the passing of 10 years with not a lot changing except point 1

General health liabilities included unstable angina, stiff and painful joints, hip problems, knee problems, difficulty walking due to hip and knee issues. Obesity – and an inability to lose weight.  Low functioning thyroid, unstable cholesterol rates, high blood pressure or low blood pressure depending on the weather I think……  Add into this panic attacks and agoraphobia, sadness, depression, and loss of motivation and interest in life.

I worked my way out of that last part of the litany of horrors and learned again to look for the sunshine, I spent years peeling back layers to get to the bottom of the issues and learn again to take responsibility and to forgive others and most importantly, myself.  Learning and relearning – no wonder I ended up as a life coach!!

My health would improve, then take a dive again for no apparent reason.  Eventually I came to see that certain types of food might be the issue and I tried various diets and fasts and all that – none of which I stuck to for very long [due to the deprivation issue.]

Then we arrived at the timeline of 8 weeks ago and little did I appreciate how very much would change!  Here is absolute proof that our wellbeing is defined by what we put into our mouths – who knew??!!

Look back at the paragraph below the points and at every comma or new sentence add in another word in parenthesesGONE ]  

But here’s the big thing – I wake up every morning with a vague sense of elation, a feeling of joy, of excitement, of expectation that the day will bring something good.  

And it generally does!!!

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It’s been a while since I posted – if you have read previously and are waiting to hear more about the new life style, all I can say is it is going well – I still spend more time in the kitchen than I have for years and am still experimenting happily with recipes both old and new.

More important though is how I am feeling [within my body and health and well-being generally].  At the end of week five I am pleased, proud and happy to report that all is going very well…… for the first time in over a decade my body is pain-free, the inflammation has subsided substantially – I can now touch my toes while keeping my legs straight – something that had eluded me for some time!  And I feel good – that ephemeral feeling of general well-being and ease within the physical translates into a sense of greater contentment.

I’m sprouting [mostly alfalfa and a seed mix known as ‘Energy‘], making yoghurt, cheese and oat cakes [ see a previous posting for the recipe]  Oat cakes on plate

and chicken broth [which becomes a yummy soup].       

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Did you know that when you put a dash of cider vinegar into the water it helps to pull out more of the vitamins and minerals from the chicken so that your broth becomes an even more potent cure-all.  There is wisdom in the old-wives tales and folk medicines!

My window sill is full of fresh herbs and regenerating bits and bobs such as celery and spring onions and my freezer is full of pureed pumpkin, chicken stock and soup, spicy nuts [for a quick pick-me-up snack] and bags of activated walnuts and almonds just waiting to be added to the next meal.

I’ve even made my own salad sprinkles – a tasty mix of various activated nuts and seeds mixed with dried karengo [a nutrient rich seaweed] and crisped coconut flakes.  This has been a great favourite and even though summer has given way to autumn, and salads are being replaced with hot dishes, I feel confident they will be just as tasty sprinkled over vegetables!

Now, just in case you think I’ve become a health nut, let me hasten to reassure you, all the old cravings for comfort foods are still being satisfied.  Why just last night I prepped up a couple of parsnips and sweet potatoes and rubbed ’em down with some oil and peanut butter [homemade, she said proudly] popped them in the oven with  good sprinkle of salt and enjoyed myself some hots fries and watched a movie!!  It was just that kind of night!

I think what I’m enjoying the most about this change in life style is that it is not a ‘diet’ – it is really a chance for me to enjoy good wholesome food without the crap that factory made stuff is liberally covered in and because I use home-grown or organic wherever possible I know it is good for my body and health too.  I’m enjoying finding out what my body likes and what it doesn’t like – perhaps for the first time ever I am really paying attention to the messages it sends me…….. a little later in the day, but hey, better late than never!

Now apart from all this, I’ve also been busy in the craft room – lots of stuff underway, lots more ideas waiting to be trialed in the art journal but here is a quick pic of the latest card:B'day Card front March 13 B'day Card Inside March 13

Front                                                     Inside

Made for my eldest daughters mumble birthday.

I’ve also popped those photos onto Orlando King’s pinterest page if you want to have them.

Thanks for popping by – leave me a note to say you’ve been, I enjoy hearing from you!