Asher turned 3! A gluten free, healthy and mostly paleo party.

Oh hello there! Welcome back to my little space. I haven’t been far. Just pre-occupied with a few things. This time however, I’m back to document Asher’s 3rd Birthday Celebrations. 

birthday set up

This year, I have been sucked in the whole concept of birthday parties. Asher, having his love for wheels suggested one day he likes a fire engine theme party (what would a 2ish year old know right?!). Anyway, having hear his sales pitch of his list of guests and his love for fire engines, I was sucked right in (didn’t take much) and went researching how do I give a fire engine theme party.

I did take the easy way out, and managed to come across a 1960s vintage fire engine that is being re vamped for kids parties. From there, it just seems certain that we are having a fire engine theme party. 

Our family continued to lived with our philosophy of eating- as healthy and as real as it can be. From that, food planning was easy. An afternoon spread of: 

 

birthday cake

Asher’s Strawberry and Chocolate Birthday Cake with Ganache and Coconut Caramel. 

I’m not sure what I was thinking and used coconut/tapiaco- not an usual blend for a big party. It turned out “okish” but certainly not my best bakes so far. 

fruit kebabs

Fruit Kebabs that appeared to be gone in an instant… 

fruit jellyFruit Jelly- Made of grass fed gelatine, coconut water, strawberries and kiwi. I buy my gelatine from here. I’m really happy with this jelly and made it quite a few times for parties/pot lucks or just because. 

miso butter

Miso Butter Chicken- Something warm for winter

smoked salmon loaf

my all time favourite! Smoked Salmon Mediterranean Loaf. Adapted from this recipe here

vege and dipsDips and Veges- Featuring my Cashew “Cream Cheese” and Chives Dip. LOVING nutritional yeast. Who would have thought blender cashews and nutritional yeast and chives would give such lovely protein hit of a dip? A lovely friend brought a gorgeous garlic and herb dip. 

cheese platterCheese and Nuts

sushiSushi

13754134_10153740997178091_7595983491908787864_n

Sweet Potato Chips 

That’s pretty much it! We went against the usual norms I guess but it is food that we would generally have + a few treats (like sushi, cheese, sweet potato chips..). 

asher birthday 3rd

I love how much fun our little man enjoyed himself!

13686596_10153740997488091_5151506763638500218_nI wish we have a photo of him running away when the tap was being turned on! Still, he enjoyed every minute and thought it was very special.

asher 3 flowers

From a blink of any eye, my little baby is turning into a little boy (Big boy he would correct me). His cheekiness, laughs and that twinkle in his eyes. His sense of humour, affectionate ways, cautious, empathic, yet curious amazes me. Not to mention how creative he is starting to become, stacking things, role playing and building… I cannot imagine what he would be like when he is 4, but the beauty of parenthood means I get to enjoy him. The way he is. Right now. 

 

 

Raw Berry and Lemon Slice + Expectations

IMG_3319 (640x427)It has been a journey of self acceptance with my weight gain and loss journey. From time to time, there will be circumstances that would make me question if I’m doing the right thing or should I be “achieving more”. 

Walking out of an appointment recently, it was suggested that the judgement of self was too high. A general checkup with a kind and warm doctor suggests that perhaps I have too much on my plate. I laughed. In case you are wondering, my physical health is great! Doc was more concerned about the level of expectations I have. IMG_3321 (640x427)

I laughed because deep down I have a fighter voice that query  “is it enough” and “what could be better”. There is a certain drive that carries me. As a child, I was taught that it is the effort and self- discovery that counts more so than the results. 

As a parent, I wondered if I carry that towards Ash. Did I suggest that he should know more because there is always something more to learn? Or have I provided a “I recognise the effort and I am proud” vibe? 

As a wife, did I ever come across as always wanting more? Have I pushed my husband more than what he is ready for OR is it because of MY own expectations, but not recognising where he wants to be and what he wants? IMG_3323 (640x427)

As someone who loves good, health and fitness, what is the point of being on the quest of “being better” because it is endless. Still, not wanting to fall into the trap of being “getting by”. 

Improvement I think is never enough. It is however a fine line between the intention of improving and competition with self. At the end of the day, there is no finishing line. It is about what we do best in God’s plan for us. 

I love this refreshing slice. It’s a raw slice that I have attempted 2 variations (in my quest to “perfect” this). A raspberry and a blueberry version. Personally, I like the blueberry version better. Asher thinks it is “Ice cream cake” as it is creamy and filled with natural sweetness from the berries. IMG_3324 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’145′]

Pumpkin Nourish Bowl with Apple Pie (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Connection

IMG_3275 (640x427)Connection. 

The hardest bit about being married is to remain connected spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Hubby and I are great team players. We operate our household in sync. From meals, to budget to even parenting- we are the A team. 

As life responsibilities increase (or perceived increase?), it is so easy to fall into the trap of talking about the everyday stuff or coordinating our time table. We became so tired that when we do talk, it is usually about something we have to do. Not how we are, or what we need… but the doingIMG_3277 (640x427)

 At home, I known to say it the way it is without mincing my words. Perhaps too harsh at times. On reflection, it is the way I speak to myself and it is a learning curve on how not to do that- because I never intend to have that sort of harshness to my husband and son. When I become tired though, those tolerances become lower. 

Oddly, sitting and talking is hard for me just as it would hard for my hubby. There is a feeling of being drained. Like every piece of me has been taken away and it is much harder for me to connect emotionally to anyone. There would be some changes soon which I’m looking forward to.

1) We are starting to fall in love with the hills. From gorgeous fruit farms to our favourite cider place… not to mention its only 30 minutes. Even the drive up feels like we are going away somewhere

2) I resigned from one job. In August, I would just focus on having 1 job. That is a relief as it takes up quite bit of my mental head space

3) In July, I’m having a day off each week! What a luxury!

4) Hubby and I are trying to put time aside to just be with each other. Sometimes we don’t have to talk. Just presence is lovely. The other day, I found a cute little card with a love message from him. What a surprise! That used to happen heaps when we were dating so it is nice to feel that there are little touches, rather than us co-existing as life partners. 

5) Every alternate Sunday, Hubby gets the morning to run while I handle breakfasts. I’m recognising how he benefit from alone time too.

So 5 little changes in our household in hope for a more peaceful and loving one. Talk about a mid year review! 

So this little pumpkin nourish bowl was made when I had left over roasted pumpkin. Honestly it’s so easy to eat for breakfast. Top with some apple pie filling, it is warm and comforting as the cold 4C mornings set in. IMG_3278 (640x427)

 

[yumprint-recipe id=’144′]

Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Slice aka “Snickers” (Paleo, Raw, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Dairy Free) + Coping with changes

IMG_3142 (640x427)It has been a busy few months. It is now May but time just seem to be ticking quickly away. So far we have,

  • Travelled
  • I have had a few stressful encounters at work 
  • Job offer followed by job change
  • Making the decision to slow down and focus on one job rather than two
  • Being immersed in the world of essential oils. Learning and using them
  • Making some goals around fitness and hitting them 

I have also learned to be kinder to myself and my family. That was a hard one to realise. As I become grouchier and grouchier, the realisation that I have not been taking time to re charge dawn on me. The decision to leave one job and focus on one was not an easy one. In the midst of trying to weigh up the pros and cons, thinking about how to make it work while still focusing on doing “my job right” ultimately lead to the biggest sacrifice.Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Slice

My family.

The symptoms were there. Snappy. Unable to be present focused. Feeling like I’m always in a rush. Feeling unappreciated. Forgetting things. 

So here we go again. Is there ever such thing as lesson learnt? While those indicators were there, it took me a while to realise what was going on. So to re focus I did

  • Decided not to schedule any thing for a day or two of the month. I did that on the past Monday and boy, Asher and I had heaps of fun together
  • There was a week when I had to swop work days. Instead of taking Asher out, I took a day out. I ran errands, met up with a friend for lunch and baked. No cleaning allowed. 
  • I spoke to hubby and he realised that perhaps he has been in the rush himself that he didn’t see the signs. So we made some changes there including scheduling some time to check in with each other.
  • There were some afternoons where I napped with Asher. Rest somehow is quite liberating.

There could be a few more changes in the next few months. Winding down a job, increasing time in one. Adapting to my current job. Still, I’m writing this list to remind me that it is ok to not having it all “balanced” all at once

Of course, indulging in what I love. Playing with my favourite ingredient recently- Peanut butter. I absolutely love this raw Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Chocolate Slice. It actually resembles snickers! IMG_3139 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’132′]

Happy 7th Year Wedding Anniversary + Persistence + Super Fudgy Brownies

pre weddingThis weekend mark our 7th year wedding anniversary. It is such a cliche, but 7 years seem to have fly  by quickly. 

The 7 years have been filled with adventures. There were moments of stillness, but mostly, we stood side by side each other. 

pre wedding 2The low lights

  • Managing through cancer in the family
  • Stumbling through my grandmother’s health and death
  • Dealing with infertility
  • Work issues
  • Finding out feet as a couple, learning about our values 
  • Learning how to live with each other and working out how to manage our differencestea ceremony

Then we have our high lights

  • Celebrating pregnancy and birth of our son
  • Travelling
  • Learning and embracing our identity as a couple
  • Building and moving into our home 
  • Learning how to be a couple againpregnancy

I’m sure we have more in both lists πŸ™‚ 

The last point about learning how to be a couple though rings so true to us right now. Being a parent certainly adds to a different dimension of being a couple for sure. So far this year, we have decided to change a few things to enjoy tine being parents but also to have time being together as a couple. We are definitely finding that hard as whatever little time we have together is filled with conversation about everything else. 

Yet 7 years of marriage has taught me one big thing. Persistence. That’s the beauty of marriage. While there needs to be an element of urgency (if not, we would be pushing our marriage to the back burner!), it is the persistence and the vow of commitment that stood out clearly. The “ok, that didn’t work out too well, let’s try again..and again..and again..and again” with the most important thing reviewing and trying. thomas family

Here is to even MORE years of being us and loving being us!IMG_3084 (640x427)

I would return soon with our celebration cake but HEY nothing spells celebration than chocolate right? This uses tahini, coconut butter and almond butter. It was so good that I cannot stop licking the spoon! Best of all, it is raw so it really takes seconds to whip up. IMG_3082 (640x427)

Happy 7th Year Wedding Anniversary πŸ™‚ 

[yumprint-recipe id=’130′] 

Vanilla Custard Tart (Paleo, Gluten Free) + Hubby’s birthday

custard tartIt was hubby’s birthday back in Jan. As we become parents, it seems that our birthday celebrations are less important. The attention is naturally directed to our little man. 

I read a post about a father walking to the front of his house. He heard his wife asking their children to pack up and get ready for daddy to return home. I read that the father took a deep breath and left all his worries and stress behind. He put on a smile, and filled his embrace with love. At the end of the day, all that matters to him was returning home to his loved ones. IMG_3009 (640x427)

Hubby is that man. While we have just one child, I know and appreciate that his priority is us. I care that he always greet Asher with a big smile and hug. His first question to me was “How was your day” and would listen to my rambles before telling me what happened to his. This would happen daily despite me asking him first at times- his answer is always “Your day is far more exciting than mine and I want to hear it.” Later on, he would tell me about some stressors or dramas that have occurred- but at that minute that he entered the door, his priority is to listen to how we went in our day despite what he had endured. IMG_3002 (640x427)

As a working mum, I have to juggle heaps. Day care drop off, pick up (mostly), meals, cleaning, packing..etc. Hubby helps as much as he can but somehow, it seems more “natural” or “easier” for me to do some of the tasks. When my tank is low, it was hard to give. While hubby may not juggle as much, sometimes, I fail to recognise that his tank gets low too. It isn’t easy to work full time, and attempt to give the best he can to his household. That I really truly appreciate. 

I thought that this year, I would make a child hood favourite of ours. A fruit flan. Danielle Walker’s recipe was fantastic and I made a few minor changes to suit our family. This is a must make again in our household. IMG_3007 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’121′]

Mango Bread (Paleo, gluten free, dairy free) + Murky Roles

IMG_2866 (640x427)Is being a father/mother = to being a good husband/wife? 

The other day hubby and I had a conversation about roles in parent hood. While it may seem clear cut on what our roles are, it can often be more murky than what it seems. IMG_2869 (427x640)

First up, it does depends on your definition of what a husband or wife should be. For some people, it is about being a partner in life. We uplift each other, we give honest thoughts, we pray. Perhaps we enjoy checking out cafes and coffee. We have heart to heart conversations, have similar thoughts on current affairs. We may share a love for musicals. We do housework together and is there for each other when the going gets tough.We have a good laugh. Most of all we like each other.

Then we have definition of what a parent is like. The usual routine, caring for a child, playing. We may think that providing financially is also one of our roles. IMG_2866 (640x427)

Gently, we teased out the differences. Being a mother/father may contribute being a partner in a relationship but it does not define it. I love seeing hubby being a dad. It gives me great joy when I see hubby plays with Asher or teaching him a skill that I did not even think of teaching. I love seeing how Asher looks up to his dad with those eyes that says “daddy is his hero”. It makes me warm and fuzzy. It fills me with love. Yet I also long for those days and luxuries when I have hubby’s undivided attention. Flowers and gifts. Notes in my lunch box and sweet words. Hubby too realises that he misses being the centre of my attention where I am more flexible in my scheduling, more spontaneous in checking out food places and perhaps less snappiness when I’m tired. He misses my messages on why I love him, and why I respect him. He cares for those evenings when we do not have to rushed to finish getting ready for the next day but just enjoy each other’s company. He would like our conversation to be round us and our dreams/goals- and not just be around what we need to do and need each other to do.

Being a parent is hard work. Being in a marriage and a parent = triple the hard work. The unspoken is that it takes a lot of effort to keep a family together. I certainly appreciate having this conversation to keep me in check, but in reflection of our day to day actions as a couple. IMG_2867 (640x427)

This is one of hubby’s favourite breakfast in summer. The sweetness and creaminess of mango means the bread does not need any other sweeter. Asher for some reason does not like mangos. I think it is the texture (I’m sure he will come around though). Sometimes I may not make something (in order to maximise amount of return for the energy output to make it) because Asher doesn’t eat it as much- but this time, it is for hubby because he likes it. 

[yumprint-recipe id=’118′] 

Guilt Free Time out + Powerhouse Pumpkin Slice (Paleo, Clean Eating, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free)

IMG_2740 (640x427)Earlier in the month, hubby and I spoke about our goals for this year. We dig deep and discussed having more time together as a couple. We discussed having individual time to ourselves. We spoke about our individual journey with God and needing to dive deeper spiritually. We chatted about family time and knowing when to say no- simplifying our routine. 

Time out individually, couple and as family can seem like an oxymoron. Truth me told, we need all 3. Individually and as a couple to strengthen our marriage but also to make us stronger as parents. When I asked hubby what would he like to see change. He replied “you to stress less”. That short sentence made me paused. At the bottom of my heart, I know why. When I’m less stressed, I give more. I see more and I do more. I’m kinder. I’m happier and I tend to be more present focused. IMG_2743 (640x427)

Yet on the other hand, I’m so conscious about us being an individualistic society that we need to see systemically what is required. My grandmother never had “time out” yet she had to manage. She just made do because that’s what she had to do. She did however, work closely with her large family and neighbours. She had a sense of humour. Her attitude was to do the best she can. She told me about liking what she does.

 The more we see that as a problem. The more we tend to feel guilty. IMG_2739 (640x427)

The thing is, time out is a term for re charging. Those days, my grandmother’s re charge was to have a cigarette. She was cranky as and she was “scary” in terms of her temper. She took panadols to deal with the pain. She had her bad days too but had to push on. She had to do what she needed to do. Looking back, I can see why she is strong but I can also see why her struggles to look after her body optimally lead to health issues. IMG_2740 (640x427)

My re charge? to do daily devotionals more regularly. To sit and read. To be ok with taking sick leave when I am sick. To have an occasional outing with friends. And if it all falls apart at times, it is to say that’s ok and just go with it! 

This powerhouse slice was invented in my kitchen when I was looking at an eggless but also less/no refined sugar alternative to bind a slice together. Often recipes call for a huge amount of rice malt/honey or brown sugar. I thought pumpkin might be an idea to add great carbs, but also a natural sweetness to it. This is more of a chewy slice rather than a crispy one. I think it is a powerhouse because it has great fats, good carbs and protein all in one. Best, it is easily portable for snacks. 

Oh, what will you be doing for Australia day tomorrow? We aren’t too sure yet, but it will definitely incorporate some family time together! πŸ™‚

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY FOR TOMORROW! 

[yumprint-recipe id=’107′]

We have arrived in 2016! Happy New Year!

Did you have a relaxing Christmas and New Year break? We worked through but certainly enjoyed the public holidays. We had a pretty chilled Christmas with us attending an awesome lunch with extended family members. On Boxing day, we hosted a lunch for some close friends. IMG_9237

Lunch with family- what a feast!!!

 

IMG_9278

We hosted lunch at our place on Boxing day! Friends brought over delicious food. Another round of feast- Healthy food with Prawn and avocado salad, broccoli and goats cheese salad, my christmas cookie tree, ham, japanese potato salad and turkey.

IMG_9170

Asher is now 2 years 5 months. He is growing to be a sociable child who loves a good laughs, anything with wheels and books. He is enjoying the outdoors and pretend play. His language is growing and he is actually negotiating (Insert horror face!). 

IMG_9226

Early in the year, we said that we want to chill more and really go back to basics. I felt that it was just yesterday that I wrote that resolution. I wanted to build upon existing relationships. I wanted to learn how to not sweat the small stuff, and also, have a bigger respect for functionality of the body- learning and re establishing my relationship with myself, food and fitness. 

 

  • Continue to provide my family with clean and healthy meals. I would like to make more chinese style broths and get back to my roots with more Chinese clean cooking. – We have chinese broth style soups weekly now! I’m learning more and more each month using different herbs and vegetables to make broths. 
  • See beyond the number at the scale. Getting stronger. Doing more drills with full pushups, using heavier weights for thrusters, deadlifts, turkish get ups and squats. I mastered the turkish get up! Definitely doing more full push ups, deadlifting heavier and even managed to do a 150kg leg press. 
  • As a wife, be kinder. I would be the first to admit that I have not been kind throughout the year. It’s something that I struggle with constantly. More on this in another post. 
  • Talk and communicate with my parents more. Weekly a couple of times! 
  • As a mother, to be patient and stay in the moment. Asher is growing too quick. I think I have a few testing parenting moments in 2015….
  • Maintain a gratitude journal.Ok, not doing a good job there. I did maintain one but did not do it consistently or daily. Will aim for 3 times a week rather than daily. 
  • Pray more. I don’t think I do enough of praying and reflection.  I’m praying more and especially with Asher. Never enough.
  • Schedule in rests. Ok, still pretty bad at this. I’m “resting” now. I rest by reading, cooking and doing housework! I guess this is another post by itself on what rest is. 
  • Connecting with friends. Regular meet ups with my mummy girlfriends. Maintaing contact with my close friends through whatsapp, phone conversations and any channels we can think of. Being a better gift giver. Happy with this goal! I can do better with a few friends. I have learned to maintain a few really close friendships but also be realistic on what can be achieved. 
  • Bringing this website to a wider audience ok, not so. Thank you for reading my little space if you are. I have not done any big changes or have a quest to reach a wider audience. I guess I have resigned to the fact that I cannot “not sweat the small stuff”, work on my marriage, relationship on myself AND market a small blog. I’m not even sure if that is a priority anymore! 

 

In 2016, I like to focus on my marriage a lot more. Being more mindful of how our marriage is going, spending time connecting with each other in addition to work and Asher. Saying no and not over scheduling! 

So where to in 2016

  1. Schedule in devotional time daily. Even if it is 5 minutes. 
  2. Learn how to play again. Be mindful and targeted when playing with Asher. 
  3. Utilising more fruits in my baking and snacks with naturally occurring sugar and try not to add any other sweeteners to it. 
  4. In our marriage, start prioritising and setting aside dates regularly. 
  5. Maintain a gratitude diary 3x a week. 
  6. Continue to grow stronger. Working out with heavier weights and focusing on strength
  7. It is ok to do things for myself. 
  8. Start a new hobby- I’m looking at learning about essential oils. 

A new year = new beginnings. Let’s begin!

IMG_9238

 

Rosewater, Orange and Passionfruit Loaf with Coconut Frosting (Dairy free, Nut Free, Paleo, Gluten Free, Clean Eating) + I’m grateful for…

IMG_2382 (640x427)Say WHAT? It’s my birthday TOMORROW! I’m another year older?!?! They say that time moves faster when you have a child and I do agree with that statement. 

It has been a special year with me learning how to juggle with work and family. IMG_2381 (640x427)

I am grateful for

  1. Having work arrangements that fit into our family life
  2. Being able to experience and be a mum
  3. Having a great relationship with my parents and in laws 
  4. Having a hubby who puts our family ahead and loves us
  5. Being surrounded by like minded friends. I know who I can always count on for a chat and a coffee
  6. Health
  7. Living in a country that is safe and conducive for a family to be in
  8. Friends to workout with
  9. Hot coffee
  10. ChocolateIMG_2391 (640x427)
  11. Cheese
  12. Strawberries and Blueberries 
  13. Tea
  14. Humour
  15. Books and magazines
  16. Workout routines
  17. Being alive and having our basic needs met
  18. Smell of spring
  19. Sleep 
  20. More importantly, our Father in heaven who always seem to know what we needRosewater Passionfruit Orange Loaf

Having quite a few passionfruit in our fruit basket, I paired that with a juicy orange to make this cake. The showstopper for me though, is the frosting. It brought the this simple tea loaf to the next level I think. I usually steer away from making any form of frosting as I find that cakes generally do not require any more sugar! This one though, balances out the acidity from the orange. Try it and let me know!IMG_2386 (640x427)

[yumprint-recipe id=’84’]