Thursday, December 29, 2011

adventures in fructose-free treats: icecream

It's been great hanging out with some others on this fructose-free journey and picking up their tips and tricks. The main message for me is that it seems to be more difficult the second time, so best to stick with the program. The other thing is that croissants make excellent sugar free treats (as long as you don't buy those ones from the supermarket that you stick in the oven - it has to be the super buttery flaky ones... I think I can hack it).

In the spirit of the boxing day sales we picked up an ice cream maker. I wasn't sure which one to get since Choice hasn't done a review (and seeing as it makes their top 20 of least used, most re-gifted gifts, I'm not sure they're going to do a review any time soon). So, we just waltzed into DJs picked their most popular model which also was on sale and we're giving it a go.


We chose The Sweet Poison Quit Plan chocolate ice cream recipe. Super easy. No eggs even. And I'm loving using all my mum's retro baking accessories.

I also inherited my sister-in-law's dextrose stash as they move overseas next week. It looks a little like caster sugar but is less sweet, weighs less and is squidgy like brown sugar. It takes a bit of getting used to. But here goes.

Now here we get to amateur hour. I hadn't realised that you need to freeze the ice cream maker's mixing bowl for 12+ hour before you can make any ice cream. Oops. So the ice cream mixture went into the fridge to be cooled which isn't a disaster and we ended up putting on the churner at 8am this morning.

Giggi waiting patiently for the churning to occur:

Churning under way:

Final product after a couple of hours in the freezer, with some blueberries and grated 99% Lindt:

The verdict pretty good first effort. Probably could have done with another churn as I didn't leave the freezer bucket in long enough to begin with. But yummy! Here's to our first ice cream this month!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

the christmas wash-up

I know that there are people who only go to church at Christmas and Easter, turns out we don't go at Christmas. I suppose it was inevitable but I was still surprised that my body decided to pack it in and not cooperate at Christmas. I eventually got out of bed at around midday on Christmas day after battling a splitting headache all night and all morning.

I suppose on reflection I should have seen it coming. The last few months haven't been the best. My husband resigned from his work, our kids have been tag teaming infections for the last few months, so there hasn't been much unbroken sleep and they have been miserable the poor poppets. And in the last week I organised my first ever toddler carol service, we moved house, drove interstate and then had a big family dinner on Christmas Eve as we prepare to farewell my brother and family as they move overseas, and as we miss my Dad who died this year. There you have it.

So I was so thankful that I had been doing an advent calender with my sons. They and I had been reflecting all month on the exciting story of Jesus' birth, as God came to dwell among human beings. We have been 'getting in the mood' for Christmas the last 3 and half weeks or so. So I suppose that it wasn't a disaster that Christmas morning wasn't all I had hoped. And we all quite enjoyed our lunch of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon instead of the more gourmet meal we had planned. 

As Arch Hart would put it, I've been living 'outside the box of my human limitations' (it's not exactly the same but there's a summary of the idea here) and my body finally let me know about it. I seem to recall the same thing happening last year but on boxing day. Of course then we had a four week old baby, but there always seems to be something.

Now to spend some time with family and friends and away on holidays and recharge the batteries. Needless to say we're praying for a calmer 2012...

Friday, December 23, 2011

no crib for a bed

Christmas is almost upon us so here's the last installment for this year. Humble King Jesus lying in an animal trough. The wonder of the incarnation - God with us.

Much love from Louisa and Rene, Giggi and Badger xox.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

haircut happiness

I decided to go back for that haircut. It's a cliche I know but the cathartic value is not to be underrated. We have had a tough year. But now we've moved out of the tough situation, we've moved our stuff into storage, we're making a big life change, we're getting ready for holidays. Perfect time to get a radical haircut to signify the start of something new or really the end of something old. We're praying for better things to come and contentment in the mean time. Meanwhile I've been excited about this haircut.

I assured the hairdresser that I was happy to do whatever she thought was best my only 2 constraints were no shaving and no colouring. And it needed to still be feminine, which is the only theological constraint I could think of. I've had the same haircut for about 7 or 8 years I think so it was time for a change.

   It's pretty short but good for summer, I think.

Here's me and my hairdresser:

We had such a good time. I love Christmas time, and I like how people like talking about Jesus at Christmas time. There are plenty of people out there who care what Christmas is all about: God come down to be with us as a tiny baby, to do for us what we can not do for ourselves, bring us forgiveness. It's a great time to pick up one of the biographies of Jesus life and have a good read of it.

week 3 fructose-free

We are still on the bandwagon possibly more committed than ever. I've finally read the Sweet Poison Quit Plan by David Gillespie and found it thoroughly inspiring. He's a bit sarcastic in tone for me and despite my scientific training I kind of skipped over all the medical stuff. I'm a bit ambivalent about it: he's not medically trained himself and I'm happy to just try it out and see if it's good for us. Although if even half of what he says about fructose is true, it's pretty frightening stuff. Besides the putting on weight issue there are purported links to diabetes (my concern - got to love your genes), dementia, heart disease, stroke, cancer, PCOS, depression and anxiety.

He also has great advice about how to break the addiction. There's the obvious stuff of clearing out your cupboards (anything > 4g of sugar per 100g has got to go). Then there's working out when you're most tempted to indulge in fructose and having a plan of what you're going to substitute instead so that you don't feel deprived. Like the way I have a handful of cashews with my morning coffee... But I found it helped my mindset that we just don't eat the stuff anymore. If you're eating it sometimes you're constantly weighing up 'can I eat this or not'? I love just not having to make the decision, it's just automatically out.

I also LOVED his chapter on how to help your kids in the process. Insightful and wise.

The thing I'm trying to weigh up is whether to eat the sweet substitutes or not. I'm pretty much against the 'artificial' sweeteners. Not loving the metallic aftertaste anymore. I'm just trying to decide whether to go down the road of making your own cakes, biscuits, custard and ice cream using glucose (sold as dextrose in the home brew aisle). I guess it's good for celebrations and helping your kids not to feel left out but I've actually enjoyed not eating that stuff for the last 3 weeks and don't want to get back in the habit. Maybe we can make it less frequent - and I guess if I have to make it all myself (it's not commercially available) we won't be having it as frequently anyway ;-)

We're also giving 100% chocolate a go. Koko Black has a 100% Dominican chocolate bar (around $7.50 for 40g). And Lindt has a 99% excellence bar ($5.10 for 50g). It is a bit like eating cocoa powder but at least you don't demolish the whole block in a sitting. I'll get back to you on which one we prefer. We started with the Dominican...

PS is it terrible to re-gift chocolates or other sugary delicacies we've received when we think it's poison but the recipients are happy to receive them???

Saturday, December 17, 2011

finished in the nick of time

We have a birthday. We have two socks. They may be boring but they fit.

Now to make sure they don't get lost in the move.

a sugar-free update

Well, we've been largely fructose free for 2 weeks now. I'm still addicted to sugar. I still crave something sweet with my coffee. I haven't caved yet though :-)

I've finally started reading David Gillespie's book 'The Sweet Poison Quit Plan' and it's been thoroughly motivating. Plus I've lost a kilo and a half, which is helpful too. Feels weird to lose weight while bumping up your intake of chips, cheese etc. while riding out the addiction phase...

I'm still enjoying being less food focused. But I haven't adjusted to my hunger signals being more finely tuned. I forget to dish myself less and still eat too fast. The result has been a few evenings where I have just felt uncomfortably full even though I've eaten less than I used to. It really is quite amazing and I'm hoping that I can stick to it.

It's still hard for the kids. Giggi keeps asking for pieces of fruit. But I've got more savoury snacks on hand. And the other day when the dr was handing out lollipops we went to a cafe and had a mineral water instead. Giggi wasn't ecstatic about it but he wasn't devastated either. We'll keep persisting.

Here's the largely fructose free cake I made for Rene's birthday:

You can find the recipe here.

BTW he wasn't turning 2, it's just that it was 2 people's birthday. It really wasn't very sweet. I think I would add some sweetness to the 'biscuit base' or maybe use a more sweet nut such as cashews. But the filling was delicious.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

magical magi

Here's some Matthew 2 magi goodness... enjoy...

Special props to Rene who managed to whip this up in the middle of us moving house!!!

Remember, select the picture, right click, save as, and then insert into a word processing document. Should work :-)

Friday, December 9, 2011

one week on - a sugar update

Well we've pretty much managed to stick to the sugar-free plan for the past week. I was surprised to find that I didn't get headaches or even many sugar cravings. The worst is just that first morning coffee, I'm desperate for something sweet. But when you're off sugar even a handful of raw, unsalted cashews tastes creamy and slightly sweet. Actually quite yummy with a cup of coffee.

BTW some sushi seasoning vinegars are sweetened with glucose syrup which is allowed. Yay!

It was quite odd to go and buy a lot of food that I haven't bought much of in the past few years: cheese, crackers, nuts and the only dip we can have is that basil and cashew one. The plan recommends upping your intake of fatty foods in the initial period so that you don't feel as though you're denying yourself. And it is amazing without sugar in your diet you don't even feel that hungry and are easily satiated.

It's great not to feel so controlled by food. It's weird that following this plan feels strangely liberating... a pale imitation but similar nonetheless to the liberation that's found in following Jesus... Anyway, that's just occurred to me, I need to think it through a bit more.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

awestruck shepherds

For those of you waiting with bated breath here's the next instalment. Particularly good for Luke 2:8-12.

Remember click on the picture, right click and save image as...

packing packing packing

Sorry about the blog silence... We're busy packing packing packing up our house at the moment. It's our third move THIS YEAR but that's another story. Needless to say not much gourmet cooking, knitting or pondering life is happening.

For some reason I always start with the laundry and that is almost done. Almost, aaarrrggghhh. I hate that you can't finish it completely, but it's probable that I'm going to have to do some washing and cleaning in the next 10 days.

My strategy this time is to make up 4 big boxes each morning that have to be packed that day. I know I'll still have to do a big push at the end, but at least this means 56 boxes will get packed over the fortnight. I'm a little bit behind but it does make it seem more manageable.

We're also using a different colour pen to label the boxes from last time. So hopefully the contents of the box for this move should be obvious.

The spare room is mostly done.

The kids' clothes and toys we won't need are done.

I'm thinking that I might have to start on the kitchen next. Dreading that.

Of course this move is further complicated by the fact that 2/3 of our stuff will be going into storage. So we have to store the packed boxes in different places depending on their final destination. I'm also trying to see how diligent I can be about numbering and labelling boxes and filling out my spreadsheet. Trying to find something in the storage unit is not going to be fun.

Well I better get back to it.

On another note, my mum is also moving in the next fortnight, and my brother in the next month. We didn't plan that well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

more advent colouring in goodness

For your advent pleasure here's the next colouring in page. Good in particular for use with Luke 2:3-5.

Remember click on the picture, right click and save image as...
Enjoy :-)

more advent adventures

Yesterday we spent some time reflecting on how Mary responded to the amazing news she heard from the angel. That she was going to have a baby. The activity was to get dressed up as Mary.

Mary riding her donkey:

Mary with her "new" baby, Jesus:

Good times. Thanks go to Oma for her fantastic photography skills. :-)

Friday, December 2, 2011


Giggi built a stable to 'protect the baby from the veggie muncher'....

advent adventures

So far so good.

Yesterday we did the fabulous colouring in sheet from here.

Today's activity was to put together our nativity scene.

I think we might need to find some shepherds.

(We've been reading verses from Luke 1, following 'be a fun mum's' advent template.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am quitting sugar

I guess this makes it real :-)

I'm trying Sarah Wilson's I quit sugar program. But also want to read the Sweet Poison stuff from David Gillespie.

I just threw out my first shopping bag full of sugary things from the pantry. It's bin night here and so there's no going back. Funny, but I couldn't yet bring myself to throw out all the syrups, sugars and sauces that we won't be eating any more, or at least not for a while I hope. It's an experiment, we'll see. I couldn't bring myself to throw out all the advent calendar treats, Giggi has been looking forward to them too much. But if I can't cut out most of his other sugar, at least he'll still be having less...

Apparently this is as hard as quitting smoking. I'm so thankful not to have been a smoker. But I'm not sure I'm prepared for how hard this is going to be. Bring on the headaches, let's get this detox over with.

wednesday knitting update

Wednesday again, well here goes. Here's a run down of my w.i.p.s. The good news is that I've finished one raspberry sock. And cast on the toe of the next one, which is the most fiddly bit. Evidence here:

Must give a shout out to my symfonie wood KnitPro dpns. Loving them. I picked mine up at Sunspun, Canterbury, one of my favourite knitting shops. I'd love to try these but no way I could justify them. Anyone out there tried the signature needles???

The next piece of progress is on some socks for my lovely husband. This is obviously a not-so-secret project. He, himself, is not at all boring but he does have boring taste in socks. They are a super plain ribbed sock. Pattern is a free ravelry download found here. To my shame these were started on the 1st of October and sock 1 was finished on the 8th of October... yet poor sock 2 has languished. I have now finished the leg and turned the heel, and I feel we may have turned a corner...

Sock 1

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

a suitably awesome angel

As I mentioned yesterday there seems to be a dearth of good angels to be coloured in. So it took awhile but having realised that my husband is quite a good artist perhaps he could give us a hand. So here it is.

A suitably awe inspiring Gabriel bringing Mary the shocking news. If you like you could use it for an advent activity alongside a calendar. Feel free to contact me if you'd like the pdf file. Post a comment. However, I recommend just clicking on the image above, right click and choose 'save as'.

Monday, November 28, 2011

all aboard the advent calendar band wagon

Well it seems that every blogging mum out there has done their advent calendar post. For some beautiful ideas see here and the master of all advent stuff (creative and Christian) here. Well here's my contribution for those of you who might be running a bit behind as I am. I'm fortunate in that my friend Pamela made this beautiful quilted pocket calendar, so it looks pretty impressive right off the bat.

I wanted to find some wrapped lollies to put in the pockets. And found these at Aldi. There's the party pack of haribo gummy lollies. They also have the chocolate coins.

Obviously I want the calendar to be about more than just lollies. There are a whole bunch of collections of Bible verses and activities, or lists of more general holiday activities if that's more your thing. I've decided to go for these activities from be a fun mum's advent calendar activity template. So far it looks pretty good, especially for younger ones. However, I think I'll be adjusting things a little bit. Day 1 for example has a link to a colouring in page of an angel. To my taste however I like my angels a little more awe inspiring. I'm going to use the colouring pages from the following pdf booklet which seems pretty good until at least half way.

So here's the final product. Ready to start on Thursday.

All I needed was a piece of dowel and I'm using the coat hooks that usually hang over our bedroom door to hang the calendar in the kitchen.We are very excited and definitely getting in the mood for Christmas - which is what advent is all about.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

badger's birthday cake shenanigans

The key to making children's birthday cakes is resourcefulness. You inevitably end up making the cake very late at night. And something always goes wrong. I was endeavouring to make 'Wally the Whale' from The Australian Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Cookbook. You can find other more successful attempts here and here. But needless to say, Badger's cake does not bear much of a resemblance.

The underlying cake structure for Wally the Whale is a very large rectangle. I was endeavouring to make sure that my cake was nice and flat so left it in the oven to slowly cool overnight. Unfortunately I forgot that I tried the same thing last year and that it's very hard to get a cake out of a tin the next morning. It's best to do it sooner rather than later.

So unfortunately a vertical half of the cake was all that came out intact. Here's the detritus of what was left behind.

Not to worry though because one long strip of cake is all that's needed to make a one which was all that was required in Badger's case. The artist husband helped to shape the one (which I think looks like the ones in channel 11) although Giggi the 4yo did think it looked like a 7. We also managed to find pretty special looking chocolate tools, so all of a sudden we have a Bob the Builder cake - the yellow of the icing didn't quite come out in the photo. A few m&ms and hey presto we have a cake that looks like we made a bit of an effort although it doesn't much resemble the initial inspiration. Never mind.

It all looks pretty spesh once you add a candle....

Friday, November 25, 2011

these lobster socks rock

I'm so excited to be able to blog about these socks. I'm thrilled with how they came out. These socks are a part of the Great Sock Gift Project 2011-12 and are for my beautiful sister. They are an interesting rib that are supposed to bring to mind the hedgerows of country England. An idea that was a little bit lost when I chose lobster coloured yarn. But I love the colour and I love how the rib goes right down the back of the heel.

They also have a rounded toe rather than a wedge toe which I find quite appealing.

I've gone a bit overboard with all the photos. But I just love love love these socks.

I've ravelled the socks here. And the free pattern is available here. I should mention the designer is called Jane Cochran and I think she is just so talented. These are currently my favourite textured socks - a bit more interesting to knit than a basic rib but not too hard.

I was also knitting them at the same time as I had these beautiful roses. And I think I must have a thing for this colour at the moment.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

here we go again

Well I don't have much to report for wip wedneseday. I finished another pair in the Great Sock Gift Project 2011-12, which I hope to be able to reveal soon.

So I went back to my cute raspberry ribbed socks. After having finished another sock with the same wool I'm convinced I was using needles too big to suit the wool. So I frogged the whole lot. Better to start again now and have socks that will wear better. I'm also making a bigger size to account for the smaller needles, plus the previous sock was looking a little on the tight side.

Not sure if it's possible to see much of a difference but here goes:

old sock

new sock

I think the pooling works better with the larger number of stitches in the round too... We'll see.

The good news is that in the last 6 days I've managed to get back to where I was and now only have about 3 inches of the leg to go. Better get knitting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"micro" a must have

Our branch church had their fair last Sunday. There was a remarkable display of amazing quilts, baked goods and all sorts of things. The bargain of the day however was some of the beautiful local produce. For $4.50 I managed to score 8 parsnips, a brocolli and half a shopping bag of micro pea shoots. Now I'm trying to muster all the salad recipes I can to make use of the pea shoots. I must admit to being a masterchef tragic, as soon as they said "micro" I was resolved to give it a try.

This was last night's attempt:

Ingredients: the micro pea shoots, coriander leaves, orange segments, avocado, radishes (of course), and a dressing made of juice of half an orange, 2 tsp grainy mustard and a splash of extra virgin olive oil all whisked together.


I served it with chicken drumsticks roasted without the skins for 90mins at 180C.

Mini-mods: no salad leaves or dressing and a dinner roll.

Verdict: everyone enjoyed it and it was a lovely fresh take on roast chicken.

Monday, November 21, 2011

reformer pilates

It's a really effective way of doing pilates. Love it. It's just that the name makes me giggle. The visual is a bit too much...

hair style dilemmas

Aaarrrggghhh finally found a good hairdresser nearby and we're moving again. I'm wondering whether I can fit in another haircut before Christmas. Seems a little extravagant, since I'm lucky if I get my hair cut every 3 months usually, but they are such good value.

Anyway if you're ever in outer southeast melbourne, look up Rhiannon at Stag Hair Studio, Cranbourne.

Here's a picture care of the multi-talented Laurence.

I'm thinking that next time I might let the hairdresser loose to do whatever she thinks might suit. I think my only restrictions are no shaving and no colouring. Is there anything else I've overlooked?

zingy radishes

Previously I had shared my dilemma regarding what to do with my leftover bunch of radishes. Well I've managed to find a few suggestions in case you ever are in the same predicament.

1) definitely try the sushi salad from delicious. magazine
2) sliced in thin rounds they're good in almost any salad
3) they make an awesome dressing for oysters. Finely grate the radish and macerate in white wine vinegar for an hour. Thanks Stephanie Alexander for that one.
4) finely slice and add to a roast lamb and tomato sandwich


Sunday, November 20, 2011

conversing with strangers

I wish I was better at striking up conversations with strangers. Who knows where the conversation will lead? But so often I don't know where to start. Weirdly, sock knitting has opened up all sorts of conversations at the doctors' waiting room, the hairdressers', who knows where next. Now to make sure that I'm an evangelist of Jesus and not sock knitting...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

any day now

So, in light of my previous post (and just generally) I am trying to keep thinking of ways to be more conscious of my true home. And along to the rescue came my youth Bible study group. We were up to looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11. There's nothing like being reminded that Jesus might return any day now to get you thinking about your true home.

The passage makes two great points about Jesus' second coming, that it will be
1) unmistakeable
with all the trumpets sounding and the archangel calling and us rising in the air to meet him, we don't need to worry that it might happen without us realising
2) unexpected
it could happen any day now, so we've got to be ready

In light of Jesus' imminent return, Paul urges the Thessalonians to be alert, sober and self-controlled. None of which I find easy to do in my current sleep deprived season of life. But this week I've tried to just take some time out in the midst of what I'm doing to think of what it would be like if Jesus returned later that day. I'm not sure that at this stage it radically changes the mundane tasks that I have to do, but I'm praying that it will change my attitude and that I can pass this awareness on to my boys.

Any other suggestions???

Friday, November 18, 2011

an easy yummy lunch

One of our favourite lunches at the moment is baked asparagus on bread with poached eggs. My poaching could do with a little perfecting but it was still yummy.


We had some delicious swiss bread in the freezer. Thanks Z.

And the asparagus is sensational at the moment. Seasonal produce at its best.

Roasting the asparagus is pretty straightforward. Drizzle asparagus with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Bake at 180C for 10mins or if really thick like these ones more like 20mins. Then sprinkle with parmesan when finished.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

gorgeous gansey girl socks

Here we go another wednesday wip... I fear these socks are going to be a wip for quite some time... but they'll be worth it in the end. These are gansey girl socks and they are totally gorgeous. They're by Debbie O'Neill and available as a free ravelry download here.

The cuff is a beautiful. A little obscured by the slight fuzz of the wool.

Here you can see the contortions that I undergo for the perfect obscure angle shot. With an urgent baby's fist tugging at my trousers...

Crazy chart action.

Now the reason that these socks are going to take so long is
1) the small ply of the wool (3ply)
2) the resulting thinness of the needles (2.25mm to get gauge)
3) the complexity of the pattern. I've stuck the three charts together above. And the tricky thing will be that the charts won't line up the same way once you start doing repeats. Oh well, no chance of getting bored :)

Can't wait to really get stuck in to these.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

monkeying around

Here's my latest project completed and given away. I'm pretty happy with how they've worked out. The pattern is called Monkey Socks and they're by a well known sock pattern designer known as Cookie A. It's a free pattern available here. And I've ravelled my attempt here. It must be one of the most popular ravelry projects of all time, there are currently 14981 projects using this pattern posted on ravelry.

Anyway, I made this pair for a sister-in-law and they fit which is the main thing. This shibui sock wool was lovely to knit with and I love the shade (called Dragonfly). The only thing I don't love is the 'pooling'. It's the way that the colour variation has pooled into these wide stripes. It should be more like the colour variation around the heel.
It has a twisted stitches ribbed cuff which suits the lace really well. It also has a wedge toe and heel-flap. A technique I hope to keep using is to Ktbl into the stitches picked up along the flap sides when starting the gusset.
This is also my first attempt at a lace pattern of any kind. It really wasn't very hard at all. A good entry level project to the world of lace knitting. Now I hoping to attempt an Estonian Lace Shawl but that's another level all together. The most amazing book is the Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, I'd love to try one of these. But that will have to be after the big sock gift project of 2011 - 12 is over... Anyway so far so good :-)