February 24, 2013

8/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

Time for a little check in and reflection time on my gratitude practice. How is it affecting my days? I know it's really about the small, simple things we do day to day where we often feel the biggest changes. Firstly, I gotta say some days gratitude flows much easier than others,  a rainbow appears and instantly I see the beauty and feel grateful. Nature is like that. It's much much bigger than us, often gobsmackingly beautiful and brings such pure joy, calm and happiness.

But other days I just don't really feel it AT ALL. It doesn't feel like it's something that comes naturally to me and I have to remind myself to seek out something to be grateful for. A few times I've asked myself "Why am I not feeling it? Am I not doing it right? Am I not putting in enough effort? Do I just suck at gratitude?" Oh dear, we can see that's heading to no place good! So instead of continuing down that path I've pulled myself back,  taken a breath or two, laughed and thought hang on...why don't I just try to relax about the whole thing. Hah! Simple!

I've heard many times about the idea "fake it to you make it", and without realising it until writing it down today, I've put that idea into practice with gratitude. Even though I may not feel anything was that special on a particular day, I've still found things to feel grateful for, acknowledged the thoughts and written them down  in the hope that soon enough gratitude will start to be an everyday effortless way of being for me.

Was it fate this week that led me to with grace and eve's blog and to her posts on Gratitude (via linking up for 52 weeks of gratitude with maxabellaloves- sharing the love really does build a community).  I've been very inspired reading eve's posts on gratitude, and perhaps a teeny bit jealous of Elisa's ease in practising gratitude. Elisa's view on the world, and the way she translates that in words is beautiful.

I'm going to keep reading, practicing, writing, reflecting and trying new ways to see gratitude in my days. 

This week I continued starting the day with three things I was grateful for.  It wasn't until I was chatting with my massage therapist about managing work and my struggle to get up in the mornings, did I even think about being grateful for the long, restful sleep I had each night. And I probably still wouldn't of thought to feel grateful for sleep if Cassandra hadn't suggested it as a morning practice. Perfect, one of three grateful things ticked off my morning list. 

The rest of the week was long and dampened by a cold. 

By Friday I was listening to my body and was so so grateful for having a day off to do absolutely nothing. I lay in bed all morning. Read, napped. Ate homemade carrot and orange soup for lunch. Went  back to bed for an afternoon nap and rejoiced that I wasn't required to do anything or be anywhere. Life's little treats. I am truly grateful for having the opportunity to do this and for my soft, comfy pillow.  

Earlier in the week I made a gorgeous nectarine and raspberry crumble I had mentioned here. I had so much fun chopping the nectarines, taking time to notice their colours and textures. To me it looks like the inside of each nectarine has been kissed. So pretty. I felt grateful to have this abundance of nectarines and to share them with loved ones.

And books! How I love them. A big thanks to Graeme Simsion for writing The Rosie Project. A real delight.  As reviews are saying "it's the feel-good novel of 2013". I completely agree.  

What helps you to practice gratitude?

Linking up with Maxabella for 52 Weeks of Gratitude.

February 20, 2013

Vegetable and Goat's Feta Muffins (gluten and grain free)

I've been a long time fan of home baked sweet muffins (anything that combines sweet and home baked is pretty much a sure thing with me). Homemade sweet muffins look or taste nothing like those big, puffed up blueberry muffins that in every second cafe these days. They look a bit rustic, each one a little unique with good sized chunks of berries or nuts bursting through the nicely golden top. And warm from the oven with a dollop of butter you've got yourself a perfect any time of the day treat. 

Until about a month ago savoury muffins had never really registered on my radar. I don't recall ever having had a savoury muffin, possibly the closest thing would have to be a mini frittata muffin and I would have to rate them as average. At a friend's place recently I was introduced to Tania Hubbard's Gluten Free Grain Free Food We Love cookbook and after sampling two of the grain free recipes that my friend so kindly cooked us for lunch (thanks Kirst, it was an amazing meal) I rushed out the next week and borrowed the book from the library. 

Tania has a great wholesome recipe for savoury muffins and I got straight to testing it out. The result you ask...wholesome goodness!  Very easy to make, extremely satisfying, nourishing, great to pack for lunch or when you're in a rush and they freeze well. And you don't have to stick exactly to the recipe. The goats feta though is a must!  I've made quite a few batches now, each time including different vegetable combo's depending on what I have on hand, and slightly mixing up the flour mixture.

Wholesome Vegetable and Goat's Feta Muffin Recipe 

Recipe adapted from Tania Hubbard's cookbook
(gluten and grain free) 

2 small zucchini
2 small carrots
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin
1/4 cup firmly packed silver beet, stalk removed
1 tsp dried thyme or mix of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and sage
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
180g goat milk feta
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (you could use coconut flour instead or 1/4 buckwheat and 1/4 coconut flakes chopped finely)
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp creme of tartar
6 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 180C. Use a 12 muffin tray, either grease or use cupcake papers. I used left over roast pumpkin, if you don't have any on hand, chop pumpkin and roast for 20mins both sides. Grate zucchini and carrots into a large bowl. Chop or crumble goat milk feta into small pieces and add to bowl. When your pumpkin is done add to the bowl. I used my hands to shred silver beet into smallish strips, add to bowl. Add dried herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl. Use a spoon and combine until well mixed through. Add flour, bicarb soda and creme of tartar. Blend well. In a separate bowl lightly whisk the 6 eggs and pour into the main mixture. Stir until all ingredients are well combined. 

Spoon mixture into cupcake papers, about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they spring back when lightly pressed in the middle. Or use a cake tester and put through the middle of a muffin, when cooked it will come out dry. They will be golden brown on the top. Take out and let sit for 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking rack until ready to eat. Serve warm with good quality butter and a side salad.

Keep in the fridge for about 4 days. Excellent to freeze.

Makes 12.

February 17, 2013

7/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

Frog Lane and gumnuts in blossom. I'm grateful for the surroundings of my new work place. Being surrounded by trees and listening to birds chirping has an instant calming effect on me. Each day at work I seek out a little patch of green to stretch out on or wander around to see what flowers, trees and wildlife I may find.

Grateful for the day this week where I felt really, really happy. You know the kind of happiness where you skip instead of walk. I was beaming.

A simple meal enjoyed by 3. Grateful for simple, yet precious time with family.

A good 'ol fashioned trip to the cinema to see Silver Linings Playbook- an American Rom-Com, yes...but much much more than that. I read a review that said it was  an 'intelligent rom-com' (if there ever was such a thing!). It had a definite 'real' feeling to it. I always feel a bit more alive after watching a good film.

P.S I'm linking up with Maxabella over here for 52 Weeks of Gratitude. 

I also thought it was about time I added a follow button over there on the sidebar if you want to jump on in and follow what's going on over here xx

February 14, 2013

Favourites (14.2.13)

I've got a stack of recipes to share but no time to write them up...so instead here's a quick favourites list of what has been rocking my little patch of grass over the last month (though I tell you, most of it has come my way in the last week, and it is all too good not to share!). Wishing everyone a delightful weekend x.

  • A dear friend of mine (who also happens to be a very talented children's author, presenter and a really good person to chat with if you're in need of a good book) has been busy setting up her new blog and has recently teamed up with Mandy to co-edit a lifestyle blog The Hunter Woman. They have their first giveaway closing 5pm Friday 15th!
  • Mindfully Green is another new blog that enticed me into it's lil corner with a post on The Sweet Power of Tea (need I say more!). It must be giveaway month because Amber is also running a giveaway- a copy of Bread Revolution- closes this week. 
  • Against All Grain - another new discovery for me and I can't wait to try this bread recipe. (Grain free bread! I know it's like a decaf, soy cappuccino! not the real thing... hopefully better).
  •  I hate food waste and so was quick to save a bucket load of bruised nectarines from the garbage after a work function this week. I'm going to play around in the kitchen on the weekend and make a nectarine and raspberry crumble based on this recipe. No grain, no sugar, no nasties. 
  • One day I'd love to own this lovely lady's cookbook 'A Homemade Life'.

Photo: Florist in Manly from my recent Sydney trip.
P.S I've added a follow button, scroll down on the sidebar, if you'd like to follow along.

February 10, 2013

6/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

Sand between my toes, the sound of crashing waves silencing my busy mind and gently pushing me into the moment, the pandanus trees surrounding the beach. This was Burleigh Heads on my Saturday afternoon walk. Oh, and not to forget the grey cat on a lead enjoying the beach (I swear the dogs looked more confused than anyone. I wish I had a photo but I was a little embarrased to ask.)

With the promise of 'Tension-free neck and shoulders' and the personal story on healing grief and loss through yoga by Nikki, aka The Wholefood Mama, I indulged in buying a copy of Australian Yoga. It gave me that little push I needed to get on the yoga mat to stretch and breathe. Gratitude for yoga and meditation. It really brings me peace.

Sorting through photos I was warmly reminded of this splash of colour in the Botanical Gardens from my recent Sydney trip. 

Cassandra at Pendulum Body Therapies knows what she's doing and honestly I felt like my neck could spin 360 after the magic she worked on my neck and shoulders.

On my way home from work on two occasions this week I drove towards a rainbow. Gratitude always for the changing beauty of nature.  

Why bother practicing gratitude in the first place?

This week has been quite a challenge and a bit of a blur- my first full week at the new job- get up, rush around, do yoga, shower, eat and be at the desk by 8.30am! I haven't worked for about 5 months so needless to say I found this routine quite exhausting and rather overwhelming.  It's very hard to feel grateful if I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed.  

So what role does gratitude play in managing stress? This is a great article with simple ideas on how to practice gratitude. I'm like a fish in a bowl, needing to be regularly reminded on why I should bother practicing gratitude at all! The following from Bush really resonated with me:
"Gratitude is the antidote to our most stressful thoughts. In an environment of gratitude, negative emotions cannot thrive. Dr. Robert Emmons, a positive psychologist, has shown how practicing gratitude can raise your happiness level. Neuroscientist Rick Hanson, Ph.D., promotes the practice of "taking in the good' because it deactivates our bodies' stress response and counteracts anxiety and depressive moods. 
Focusing our stressed minds on the things that we're grateful for is like dousing a fire with cool water. Gratitude is habit-forming. With some practice, we can develop the habit of turning our attention to the plethora of blessings in our lives. Gratitude is not about ignoring the hard things in life; it is about honoring the gifts." 
This week I'm going to try practicing morning gratitude. On waking I'm going to think of three things I feel grateful for. Sounds like a good way to start the day.

February 04, 2013

5/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More hope. More love.

My own range of Essential Oils. Ha! No just kidding, but I did trick my sister with that for a few seconds at Christmas time when I gave her a couple of oils and wrote that this was my new range. After a rather challenging Sunday I decided a bath was needed. I ran the water, only to find after a short while that one needs to put a plug in to keep the water in the bath (you see how tired I was!), put a few drops of lavender oil and soaked. Grateful for silence and balance restored. 

Grateful for finding an article in Nova Magazine on Shanaka Fernando. Shanaka is so inspiring. If you're ever in Melbourne I can highly recommend eating at one of the  restaurants Lentil as Anything. Put simply he runs a set of vegetarian restaurants based on a pay as you feel principle, ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else’ SF.  But it's about so much more... and there are so many good reasons to check it out for yourselves...the food, the ethos, the community. I'm looking forward to reading his new book Everybody deserves a place at the table

And yep I'm pretty happy right now that I've caught up with my gratitude posts!

February 03, 2013

4/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More gratitude. More love. More hope.

A photo of my old bike from Cambodia popped up on Facebook, posted by my old colleague Keo, with the message that it's still in good use. Wow, that made me smile. The bike has been going strong for over 7 years now, and let me tell you it's not all first class smooth paved roads for this bike. It's more used to the tough life.... bumpy, dirt, muddy roads. I was flooded with memories of that very wonderful time in a little town in Kompong Thom province.

Beautiful morning swim under grey clouds. I love when I get up early!

Seinfeld continues to amuse me.  I'm definitely grateful for having a good laugh. The episode "The Comeback"- Elaine reminded me of the finer qualities of VHS! when she hires a bad movie and says "I'm not even going to rewind it" (before she returns it to the store). Ah...VHS rental etiquette.

3/52 Weeks of Gratitude

52 Weeks of More Gratitude. More hope. More love.

I found this beautiful dragonfly hiding in the corner of a room. Whilst it's soul had long fled its body and it was lifeless, I was grateful to have been able to explore the details of its wings and shape. 

You've got to love when something just falls into place. One week day when I was trying to remember how to to make turkey meatballs I found these two cookbooks which I was certain would have meatball recipes. And low and behold on the inside cover of 'Greek Cooking', staring at me as I turned the page, was my Mum's personal note. Meatballs! And whilst it was a recipe for Keftethes (which uses beef) it was perfect as I wasn't actually searching for a recipe with turkey as I knew that would be too hard to find. I was looking for general 'how to meatball' method and flavours. They were good!

And lastly, I'm very grateful for news of a new job! Dad and I clapped our hands in delight.