Yom Kippur Honey Cake

It feels slightly ironic to discuss fasting whilst sharing a honey cake recipe, so here is a bit of background...  Yom Kippur is all about contemplating & reflecting your year behind you as you welcome in the year ahead. It's  a day when you are offered up an opportunity to really say sorry and hold a genuine place of responsibility for your actions in the months gone past.  This magical day is also a gateway to the possibility of stepping outside of the physical attribute of what makes us human and expanding our consciousness to an elevated spiritual place where we perhaps one day will return to; a place where we don't need to be dependent on food and water for survival as we are pure energy and not ego.  Traditionally it is also known as a day where sins are repented and the endurance of fasting 26 hours is welcomed in with a cup of sweet tea and a slice of honey cake.

I love Yom Kippur, whether you are religious or totally secular I always find that it's a day that really unites everyone.  In israel no one is driving, the roads are empty and kids are riding bicycles down the freeway.  Most people dress in white and are congregated in the streets reflecting, talking and just 'being'.  Whether you choose to fast or not, a piece of honey cake is a must, as is taking the time to switch off, be with your family and remember the greatness of our human & spiritual potential.

Honey is a real part of jewish life, 'Chai', means life and raw honey is a symbol of this.  It is used to celebrate sweet forthcomings and celebrations and in particular shared out before and after fasting on this festival day.  I love honey cake and save it for these special moments, it fills me with a comforting child like satisfaction, all sticky and delicious.

I created this cake with a desire to have honey cake this yom kippur whilst being able to maintain a gluten free and non refined sugar diet.  I have substituted flour with almond meal and sugar for coconut sugar which has a lower GI content.  honey is honey is honey!

  • 2 cups of almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (or clove)
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup coffee (espresso)
  • juice of 1 tangerine or orange

Put the almond meal, spices, baking soda and powder with the coconut sugar in a bowl.  in a separate bowl whisk up the eggs, coconut oil, honey, coffee and juice or the tangerine or orange.  Add the wet to the dry and mix together.  Put in a loaf tin and bake at 350/180 for 30 mins or until knife comes out smooth.

G'mar chatimah tovah

Kasia's Story

Kasia Olszko, Mother to her toddler, Jasper is starting out a new venture as a Mindfulness Coach.  After leaving her career in TV and Film production, she is excited and feels a real sense of purpose.  I can see this and her passion to be in the workforce jumping out of her new website, which is rather beautiful I must add!  Kasia is very driven and has a personal desire to make this world a better place.

The Mindful Workshop

have you always worked?  I have worked since I was 14 years old, I am a grafter... before I had Jasper I worked full time as a TV & video producer. I took maternity leave for 5 months and after returning to work I realised that I didn’t want to work full time. I soon learnt that part time in TV production didn't really work for me, this was when I decided to retrain and start a new chapter in my life, it was a perfect time and a move I had been thinking about it for a long time. It seemed like now or never.

how do you feel about your job?  Very excited, I feel a sense of purpose; I really want to reach as many people as possible.

do you think there is social pressure to be a working mother?   In my opinion, pressure if it is external – ignore it, do what it is best for you. We are all different and on a different journey, no point compering anything.  If the pressure is internal, have a closer look. Where is this pressure coming from? Maybe there is a deeper need, maybe it is an expectation, maybe something else but it is key to work out what it truly is, so you can take care of yourself. 

How do you juggle everything? It is hard work, you have to be really organised to make time for everything and not loose your mind. It is also about prioritising, asking yourself what is more important to in each moment. Often I just don't have time to do everything I want, so I need to make sure I make honest choices. 

has becoming a mother changed you?  Massively!  I much prefer my  'newer self', it also proves my long time belief that love is the answer.

 3 words to describe being a mother.  Mind-blowing, emotionally challenging, fun.

how do you manage on the really tough days? I’d like to say I ask for help but it is not true!  I am definitely learning to ask for it more and more. I take a deep breath, accept that this day is going to be hard and try to take it slower, be kind to myself and I will admit, I cry if it makes me feel better.

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum?  I am still as driven if not more but very much focused on flexibility and purpose.  Days are too short and I have no interest in wasting time on things that do not serve me.  Working mothers are really great at multitasking, planning, maximising opportunities and time, this can be very valuable in the work place, as well as at home ;)

do you feel guilty going to work?  I feel ok as long as my boyfriend and I are sharing responsibilities.  It's important for me to know that Jasper is spending time with him as well as the childminder. If I had to leave him somewhere for a whole week I would definitely have a problem with it.  

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum? Finding time and energy to shave my legs! Hehehe :)

whats the most rewarding?  Connection, sense of belonging, experience of pure unconditional love, lots of opportunities to be silly, kissing the softest skin there is, watching him sleep, hearing the word “mama” over and over. Feeling more powerful than ever.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing?  I make time for myself. This might mean going out with girlfriends or having a bath. I practice yoga and meditation, this keeps me grounded and balanced but also helps my body stretched and relax. Physically I more tired then I have ever been. I eat well. I practice gratitude and mindfulness every day. I also make sure we take every opportunity we get to go out with my boyfriend. My relationship is very important to me.

how do you manage your stress?  Mindfulness, Yoga & Self Compassion practice.

Do you have a vision of what you wish for your kids regarding work and home life balance and the roles of men and women in the work force?  I would like parents to have a choice, this to me is the ultimate freedom. Where man can choose to take time out for as long as woman are able to. Where people have a real freedom to share responsibilities, when they are not forced into a situation by their work place. Where employers trust that people can work in a way that suits them personally and be as effective.  I also like the idea of a 4 day week. 3 days for your passions, family, self-development and 4 days at work. When you do come to work though you are fully present, you are working hard and really giving it your all. I am sure we can achieve more in 4 days with this approach than we do in 5, spending 30% of your time thinking or doing other things.

biggest lesson learnt?  Every baby is an individual, a separate human being, so there are no rules, good or wrong ways to do stuff. One advise will work for one child but not work for another. There is no golden rule.  Do what works for you, listen to your intuition, you know everything you need to know and it is OK to make mistakes.  

what are your dreams?  I would love to reach a point when I am truly financially independent. When I can choose how much I work and what I want to commit my time to.  I dream to introduce mindfulness and self-acceptance to as many people as possible. I dream that I can one day find the strength to have one more baby and  travel, travel, travel.

pearls of wisdom?  Allow your partners and family to help, involve them as much as possible. Drop this believe that you will do it best. I know it is hard but it is worth it.  Getting involved makes everyone happy and gives you some very needed space. No matter what, you will always be their mum and by opening up to other points of view you might even learn something useful

 

Tangerine & Cardamon cake

What to do with a sad looking orange and a Tangerine who has seen better days?... why... create a cake of course!!!  I took a basic almond meal recipe and added some magic to it and it came out SUPER yummy.  You could make this more intense by adding Orange Blossom Extract to it and top of the Middle Eastern vibes by adding chopped Pistachio & Rose Petals to the top of the cake.  It would be super tasty with an orange drizzle on top too...  This cake is light, fluffy, melts in your mouth and makes you feel like you're on an exotic holiday somewhere. 

Having none of those things I settled for a sprig of Rosemary which worked well too and my cupboard of stocked baking goods, these include:

  • 4 eggs
  • juice of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 tangerine
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamon powder (who has patience for the pods?!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup soft honey
  • 3 cups almond meal

beat the eggs in a bowl till full of air. Add the juice of the orange and tangerine and keep whisking, add the cinnamon, cardamon and baking powder, whisk up again.  Beat in the melted coconut oil and honey - be mindful they are not too hot, you don't want to cook your eggs!  Beat everything together till smooth.  Fold in the almond meal to keep things nice and light.  Spoon into a cake tin and bake for 30 - 35 mins at 350 / 180 or until knife clean.

Veggie Taco Soup

I love these flavours, they are spicy, fresh, fulfilling and just delicious...  I live in California now and have been opened up to some incredible Mexican food here and am slightly obsessed with tacos. So... How can I get that flavour hit without the fiddle.  Making taco's is such work, the guac, the salsa, the fillings, where as this soup is so easy and satisfying and now I have discovered it I am going to make this a staple.  It's vegan and gluten free so great for everyone.

It's light, fragrant and great for the end of summer as it's not a thick heavy soup.  This recipe is also super fun as you can basically add whatever veggies you like to it!  I used black beans, I also used tinned.  It was faster, same for the sweetcorn...  You could totally use fresh beans and any type you like, pinto, navy or black.  Also I imagine corn raw off the cob thrown in would just taste incredible! Use whatever you have the patience and energy for.  It is the week end after all :)

This took about 20 mins total to make.  You will need:

  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 garlic clove diced
  • 2 table spoons of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • approx. 1/2 teaspoon chilli (flakes, powder or fresh, whatever you like and add to taste)
  • 4 tablespoons of chopped coriander (again, add more to taste)
  • approx. 4 cups of hot water or veg stock.
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 courgette diced
  • 1/2 a yellow bell pepper diced
  • 2 tomatoes chopped up
  • 1/2 can of tinned sweetcorn
  • 1 can of tinned black beans - drained and rinsed
  • Round soft corn tortillas sliced (you can fry or griddle these if you want them crunchy) or just use tortilla chips from a bag if you don't have fresh ones.

Dice the onion and garlic and saute.  Add the carrot & courgette, let sweat off for a few mins until soft.  You don't want the courgette too soft.  Add the cumin and chilli, then add the tomato puree and add the water or veg stock and half the coriander.  I think veg stock adds a greater depth of flavour, but you could just add some celery salt or a stock cube if you like.  Let this simmer for about 5 - 10 mins, until you have a taste of it and it has real flavour.  Then add the rest of the coriander, the tomatoes, the peppers, sweetcorn and black beans.  let simmer for about 5 mins.  you want the peppers to remain nice and fresh and crunchy so don't cook for too long.  Add more chilli if it's not hot enough for you.  Cut the corn tortillas and add to the bowl with a bit more coriander when serving. 

HOW EASY WAS THAT!!

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One Bowl Wonder

Possibly one of the most welcomed Monday night 'leftover meals' I could ask for.  After a long day it was so comforting to know I had made bulk on Sunday to tide me over the first day of the week working full time with my husband away.  I'm discovering that the challenge of this gig is not really about logistics, it's about emotionally supporting myself, so that comes in the way of eating as well as I can to really nourish myself to get through another 20 hour day.  This meal is a sort of accident but the flavours work so well together, so I have broken it down into the 3 main elements, then threw a handful of almonds on top, why... just because.

The Leeks.    The Roast Veg.  The Roast Chick Peas. 

  • 3 leeks, washed and chopped up - sliced
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt / pepper
  • mint sauce - the kind you get in a jar
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • teaspoon of tomato puree / paste
  • water / veg stock - enough to fill your chopped tomato tin

warm some olive oil in a pan, add the leeks, add some salt.  Let them saute for about 5 mins on a medium heat, you want them to go all green and juicy, not burnt and cooked just so all the water comes out and they look tender.  Then add a generous dash of Worcestershire sauce, let simmer another minute or two.  Add pepper and a can of chopped tomatoes, add a can filled with water or veg stock so all the leeks are covered with liquid, then stir in a spoon of tomatoes paste / puree.  Let simmer for about 10 - 20 mins depending on how reduced you like your sauce, add more salt if required.  Once cooked to your liking add a teaspoon of mint sauce / jelly through the mix, it makes it super yum!  Serve on a bed of brown rice topped with some nuts.  It's literally perfection.


  • peppers
  • aubergine / egg plant
  • red onion
  • yellow and orange peppers

Roughly chop, put on a baking tray with some olive oil, salt and roast in an oven for about 30 mins or until golden.  I like to leave it in there till the peppers are almost burnt it adds such a great flavour.


  • can of chick peas drained and rinsed
  • garlic salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • sumac
  • cumin
  • olive oil

Put your chickpeas in a bowl, coat in olive oil, add the spices above until you get the taste you like - you can literally add ANY spice combination to these.  Put in the oven to roast with your veggies on a separate tray for only 10 - 15 mins.  Take out and eat warm or cool. They are such a yummy snack or great addition to any dish.


 

 

Banana Brownie Cake

This is a really nice week end treat cake and PERFECT for a Monday leftovers lunch box :) 

I have an overwhelming sense of relaxation when I make this cake, partly because it's super easy and makes me feel like a pro! Also, I usually do it at the end of the week and the aroma of banana bread filling my home just fills me with comforting memories.  This cake is great as it's a one bowl wonder with no refined sugar and no gluten.  I do add eggs but you could always substitute them with flax meal or chia seeds if you rather.  

I also love this recipe as there are ALWAYS uneaten slightly black bananas in my fruit bowl and I just don't like eating bananas that are too ripe so this is a great way to use them up!  You could totally glitter this cake up by adding nuts, chocolate chips or a handful of whole rolled oats for texture.  I call this a banana brownie rather than a cake as it does come out more dense than a cake, due to the amount of banana and that it is gluten free, but it's moist and full of flavour and very satisfying and keeps well in an airtight box, it's also rather yummy in the fridge too. 

You will need, in this order:

  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 bananas mashed
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of oat flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour

mix the honey, oil and eggs with an electric mixer, add the banana and milk.  Then add all the dry ingredients to the bowl mixing it all together till you get a lovely batter that has lots of air bubbles in it.  Put in a cake tin greased with coconut oil and bake in 350 / 180 for about 45 minutes or until the knife comes out clean.  Cool before eating as it sets better.

ENJOY!

Ria's Story

Ria has made a very deliberate choices allowing her work to fit around her family,  alongside unearthing that she gets bored of doing the same job everyday, Ria Butler a total polymath, she does things her way and in a real variety of ways with a varied career.   She has a plethora of skills under her belt including; massage therapy, wellbeing events production, teaching and facilitating.   Having been a actor for over 10yrs, Ria was constantly doing different jobs and thus built up a broad diversity of skills; from sales to support work, from bartending to blogging.  

Mother to Isaac (12) and Leila (10), she realised a decade down the line that no parent is perfect and her dream is to live somewhere hot by the sea and have my grandchildren come visit and make me tea and have a moan about their parents!! 

 

3 words to describe how you feel about your job. Rewarding Flexible Creative

How do you feel about being a 'working mother'?  I definitely CHOOSE to work. It is so important for me to have a sense of self and purpose outside of parenting. I like to feel I am having a wider impact on my community and my world. Hopefully in turn that teaches my kids to do the same with their passions. I am pretty bad at having an empty schedule, I may moan at times but I actually love being busy and wearing different hats, I guess that comes from the acting, it keeps me sane, allows me to constantly interact with new people and gives me a sense of my purpose. 

Do you think there is pressure to go back to work / be a stay at home mum - either way? There is financial pressure to work. I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and deal with the realities of mortgages, impending university fees (it'll come around before I know it!) and my annual need for a beach holiday!! But I'd still work even if I didn't have that pressure. 

do you think working mothers are as good at their jobs as women with no kids in the work force? Absolutely!! I have worked with many amazing mothers, and mothers are constantly developing organisations skills, emotional intelligence, resilience, time management etc...all the things that make great leaders and collaborators. 

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven? I guess I'm not wildly driven, as in, if I'm generally home when the kids get in from school and I can pay for all the extra curricular stuff that they want to do, then that gives me great joy and satisfaction.  I like to be my own boss. I don't enjoy working on dead end projects or things that are not up to standard. Doing a really good job is massively important to me, so I'd say I'm driven in that way. I'm hugely fortunate to have a really supportive husband who encourages me to work in the ways that I like to.

do you feel guilty going to work? Not at all. I think it's great for all of the family to see you working. When my kids were really little, going to work was like having a mini holiday which was good for all of us! 

how do you manage your stress?  Prosecco with friends! 

3 words to describe being a mother. Wondrous Surprising Overwhelming!

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  Time tabling! I manage three people's schedules and the dogs. It can get confusing at times. 

whats the most rewarding?  Spoiling your kids and yourself. 

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too?  It can go too far. I would like people to remember that looking good is about looking happy, having an individual sense of style, being well cared for, having love in your heart and 'letting go'. These things make anyone beautiful. On the other hand, we all have an internal standard of how we want to look and feel. It's important to strive for that for your own self esteem. So 'no' to poster girl but yes to someone who takes care of themselves, gets regular massage, exercises, eats yummy food and does things that make you smile! It has to be YOUR standard not the medias. If you baby is under 5, focus on that, not on your six pack. There is a lot of narcissism about and all of that makes me uncomfortable. I think people often get all that stuff completely wrong. 

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids?  We do stuff that we all enjoy. I am grateful when we are all happy and well. I try to deal with things as they arise. We do things together but also do things one to one as sometimes four people's input can be an overload of stimulus. Remember to pick your battles wisely and try not to shout! 

biggest lesson learnt  Turn things down. Don't try to take every opportunity that's offered. Learn to say 'no'. I'm still learning that one actually! 

has becoming a mother changed you? Can't really remember not being a mother now. I guess the obvious thing to say if that you party less. But I still find time to party. It obviously gives you more dimensions to your perspective. It's amazing! Sometimes I enjoy just getting lost gazing into my children's faces, they are constantly a wonder to me. 

what do you hope for your kids?  I hope my kids follow their passions. Right now, Isaac wants to be a zoologist and Leila a dancer. I am excited to see how those aspirations evolves. I hope that they surround themselves with people that support them in doing whatever it is they want to do. That's it really. Needless to say they both fiercely defend equality.  

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  Do things your way. 

 

 

The One Piece...

I remember the days, not that long ago, when I would ask myself  "why would you wear a one piece bathing suit?  I mean, how the hell do you tan your tummy?!"  The irony is that, currently (6 months postpartum, baby no: 2), I wouldn't dream of wearing a bikini, I let my tummy remain 'untanned' and I ponder the changes in perception towards women and bodies who have carried and birthed children.

The distinction between the internal perception 'I am uncomfortable in my new  shape and skin'  and the external 'Will other people judge my figure'  or simply a combination of the two is very present and learning how to celebrate  'war wounds' and 'newly establishes curves, bumps and scars' revelling in their beauty without it being anarchic statement is a real art to discover.  It reminds me of the assumed love a mother is expected to have for her newly born babe; to some may come  naturally and easily, but to others is one of the most confronting challenges she will ever face and takes time to learn to love and accept.

I admire all those who do wear a bikini by the way - the mums with the dreamy postpartum body that bounced back a week after pushing that watermelon out and who's boobs stayed all perky and fresh, those who clearly have worked SUPER hard to get themselves to a place that they feel really proud of their bodies and 'getting it back' and the other women who silently empowered exhibit their battle scars, blubber and saggy boobies and are just so so mesmerising  for doing so because they radiate a deep inner 'Mother Earth' beauty that radiates from their souls and says 'I am changed and that's ok, I am embracing who I am now'.  

The body image conversation is a really interesting one as it's by no means new and every now and again gets  confronted by a few articles of those wishing to backlash against societies messages to women. A sort of silent protest, an anarchic statement towards the social media news feeds that create misleading and detrimental messages of motherhood and body image to fragile postpartum women desperate to gain some control or sanity in their lives during one of the most transformational and confronting periods in their lives.

Here are a coupe of beautifully empowering examples featured in the Huffington Post that I really like:

 Postpartum Body Image & Jade beall's Beautiful Body Project

The cult of the Insta 'perfect-fu*&ing-mother-blogs' (as I call them) and articles about how you can be like the Duchess of Cambridge or Kim Kardashian and loose your baby weight in 6 weeks just feed a rather dark and ungrounded perception of women, their bodies as well as motherhood in general.  No one looks deeper to unearth the rest of the story - the disclaimer underneath every Instagram image that should say something like"

"this was the 10th attempt I took to take this perfect photo as I had to keep reapplying my make up to cover up the dark circles"  or   "Please note, the Duchess of Cambridge &  Kim Kardashian has the following: a nanny, a night nurse, a cook, a housekeeper, a gardener, a hairstylist and a personal trainer".  

So, with all of the above in mind, I was recently really inspired by this video from NOWNESS, it is the raw confronting side of motherhood, facing sexuality as well as the physical body, how it changes after birth and and I feel like it's one of those few positive silent beautiful statements to all the women, and men in the world to really connect back to what it means to have a child and the beauty that comes with it both spiritually as well as physically.  This short film explores the process women go through and the many areas we transform and evolve through on our journey of motherhood; self of love, self acceptance, sexuality, how we perceive ourselves and how the world sees us in our new domains,  it's beautifully shot with a lovely narrative, short and to the point and well worth a peek.

For a full interview with the creator of 'Redefining the Mother Figure' Director and NOWNESS check out:

LBBONLINE 'Redefining The Mother Figure' - Natasja Fourie & Katie Metcalf

To 'love yourself' after such a transformational experience is such a personal journey, and the above the touches the surface on the many facets of the many discussions that surround it.    I won't sugar coat it,  I can't, motherhood changes you, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, it's not good or bad, for the better or worse, it's just different, everything is different, it's a matrix you enter without even realising you took the darn pill and there comes a moment when you realise you can fight it, this is the new status quo, this is your new tummy, these are your new boobs and this is your new life and a new journey through a new reality, in a one piece or a bikini, one suit, either or neither! ;) 

I am humbled and consider myself stupidly blessed;  my husband tells me all the time how gorgeous I look and to be so proud of my battle scars as they tell the story of our lives and what we created.  he says stuff like:  "Yes, LIFE, you have created life, you didn't buy it, tag it, share it or post it.  You MADE IT."   He encourages me all the time to wear my bikini with pride, I'm getting closer, it's in the drawer, I am starting to take it out and try it on every now and again ;)

Gluten Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

Having 2 birthday parties means having two types of cakes!  Both gluten free, both without refined sugar!  So me being me, I just bastardised one recipe to make the other!  This one is Almond Chocolate, a similar base recipe with a few more additions to it, this cake is moist and fluffy, I think it could do with a little more density of flavour to it, so you could add real chocolate chips into the batter or just more cocoa powder to it as it was slightly overpowering with egg flavour, but it was still good.  I topped the cake by melting dark chocolate chips on the top and smoothing it over, yes it has a bit of sugar in it but made a massive difference.  you could make a ganache cream or fill the cake as a sandwich, any of these would really lift it even more.

You will need:

  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup water

stir together almond meal, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Beat in a separate bowl the eggs with whisk or electric mixer. Add water and mix well. Add butter and mix again. Add vanilla and sweetener and mix again.  Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Stir/mix until thoroughly blended. Pour batter into pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 min.  Let top of cake get completely cool to the touch before cutting or removing it from the pan.

Party Popcorn

I have recently become obsessed with pop corn as a healthy snack.  It is so fun to make and you get really cool Amish blue corn here, which I thought would pop blue but doesn't although it has a lovely sweet flavour to it.  I decided to play around trying to make a toffee popcorn without all the butter and refined sugar and created this yummy one, it went down a storm, just be mindful not to let it burn so AS SOON as the corn has popped take it out the pan or it will just burn and not taste good at all.

You will need:

  • popping corn
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add all the ingredients to a big pan and heat up.  Cover and allow temperature to rise so the corn pops and the liquid caramelises.  As soon as the pop corn has stopped popping tip into a bowl and serve.   YUM!  If you store this in a tupperwear or tin it will last overnight, but good luck having any leftover to store ;)

Kirsty's Story

Kirsty is Mother of Lyra, her 5 year old daughter, she is also the founder of Yoga-Luxe, the online store that sells Yoga gifts whilst giving back 5% to charity.  She is a freelance Producer and Yoga Teacher and juggles more balls than a circus juggler whilst maintaining a total 'can do' attitude she is up for new experiences and whatever life throws at her.

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work? Literally the word 'juggling' sums it up, no two days are the same, you can have so much planned and then you're up all night with your child who's poorly so that plan goes out the window. There is always something to do and I've learnt that the hardest thing to do can be to switch off and remember that the world won't fall apart if you don't do that one thing you think is SO important.  

what’s the most rewarding?  The flexibility of it all, I am my own boss, I am responsible for it all. That, for me, is freedom.  

how do you typically split your time? give an example of a day where you are working and have your daughter .  My daughter now goes to school so a typical day is get her ready for school, come home, plan a yoga lesson, do a few hours on marketing for my online business, catch up on errands, eat, walk the dog and then its school pick up. My daughter now gets my undivided attention until she's in bed. I realised I wasn't respecting her or myself by trying to juggle working whilst looking after her.  

tell me about the moment you decided you were going back to work after she was born, were you happy about it?  I put a lot of pressure on myself to get back into work as soon as I could. I had mixed feelings, we had moved cities so I had to start up my yoga business all over again so I was apprehensive but also felt emotional about leaving her. 

Would you feel fulfilled being a stay at home mum if you had the opportunity to be so? No.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too? We all have to take responsibility for what messages we want to take onboard. We are teaching our kids, not just by our words but mostly by our actions. So, personally I think mothers are already under too much pressure let alone having to worry about looking good. Jeez, I had days where I didn't want to go out in case someone saw me, that is not a supportive way to treat myself. So, I changed and made a concerted effort to love me, just as I was, with 2 hours sleep or 10. I'm still the same person inside.

what’s your wellbeing focused around? Rest, gratitude, great food, lots of water and sunshine when I can get it. Oh and yoga, meditation and cuddles of course. 

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? Deep breaths, meditation . Noticing when I am not coping (usually shouting or really not knowing how to deal with situations) and reading up on techniques on how to handle behaviour.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there? Simplicity is key, small steady steps, know that these things take time and ultimately your health is key over all of it, if you are working yourself into the grindstone you can bet your bottom dollar your body/mind will let you know about it. Listen.

 

 

Gluten Free Orange Almond Cake

This was the perfect birthday cake, not too sweet, moist, golden and delicious.  What was even better was there was only 1/2 a cup of honey in the whole cake to sweeten it of which I used just a little less.  It also had a really nice orange tone to it and would have been really eastern with a bit of rose water added to it as well or adorned with rose petals.  As I had neither I stuck to raspberries.  I like this cake because it's gluten free, I would love to say it's totally vegan but the eggs really lift this cake more than I think flax meal would.  I served this with some home made strawberry lemonade, it was just such a fun combo!

You will need:

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil at melted
  • 1/2 an orange zested
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Mix together in a bowl: eggs, honey, coconut oil and orange zest in a bowl and mix well. Now add the dry ingredient mix to this bowl. Mix well and make smooth batter.

Bake for 30-45 minutes at about 350 degrees / 180c until top is golden brown. 

Nuala's Story

Nuala Murphy is a 35 year old Taurus. She is also mother to her 2 boys, Henry 2 ¾ and Conrad 13 months, whilst simultaneously running her own marketing firm  (malone.marketing) and still finds time to explore a new tech idea.   Nuala believes that a mother should have the choice to do what she wants, a grounded feminist, her issue is the "Not having the choice", I hear that and ultimately agree with Nuala's sentiment that work, ‘outside of the home’ and ‘inside the home’ both present their own challenges.   I really respect her 'honest, no nonsense' answers in this interview, it's refreshing and hearty, a true feminist with a bull like Tauren core and appreciation for the finesse and softness of motherhood and being a woman.

what’s the hardest thing about juggling motherhood with work?  Getting the time to spend with my partner.

what’s the most rewarding? Snuggles, laughs, giggles or when they repeat something back to you as a ‘minime’

what drives you? Helping people drives me whether in business OR whether via HappyMummyHappyBaby (MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING APP THAT SCREENS FOR ANTENATAL AND POST NATAL DEPRESSION AND ASSOCIATED ANXIETIES) or lean in.  I want to help people be the best they can be

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed? I spend time at my moms, or I stay in bed. 

how do you typically split your time with your work and kids?  My kids are in a full time private nursery.  Being my own boss means I can help get them out the door and schedule a first meeting for 9.30.  This gives my husband and I the space to have stress free mornings.

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers? Women get it from all angles, to be successful mothers, have careers and keep trim and great wives keeping great houses.  My husband and I don’t fall victim to this nonsense.  We work together.

What made you decide to have kids?  Didn’t ever think about being a parent, delayed having children for a few years as my husband and I wanted to travel and get used to living together first. We didn’t live together before we were married.

what’s your wellbeing focused around?  Balance.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids? It is important that I am fulfilled as an individual because a HappyMummy has a Happy Baby.  My husband also says that a "HappyWife -HappyLife".

how do you manage your stress? Sometimes I don’t, sometimes I do usually by shopping, going for walks with the dog

what are your dreams? To live a full and healthy life.

how has becoming a mother changed you if at all?  It has made me know that I can do anything at all.  Because being a mum is both the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done.

biggest lesson learnt?  A problem shared is a problem halved.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there? Whether you are working or not, cut yourself some slack.  Everyone is a new mom for the first time. Everyone goes through similar challenges, some more than others.  Whether we work inside or outside of the home own your own space and be proud of what you are doing.

 

Rock-a-bye-Baby...

Babies cry, it's what they do, it's their job, they are so good at it, they cry to get their needs met, be it food, toilet, comfort, gas or just wanting to be held tight to feel safe.  Sometimes babies cry cos they are having a rubbish day, I can understand that! There is a concept called the 5 cries of a newborn that claims to expose the different sounding cries of a baby to help you distinguish their needs,   it must be true as it was on Oprah!  Being brutal, I tried this a few times, me and my husband would look at each other with question marks floating above our heads.  Having said that, when you have a crying baby you will try ANYTHING and it's worth checking out, you have nothing to loose!

 

I found there was a check list when Reno was newborn and crying:  boob, nappy, burp, boob, rock, sing, boob, nappy, boob

I had an ethos that a lot of lactation consultants adhere to which is "whenever your baby cries offer the boob"  I liked that and followed it, my kids never took a dummy/pacifier, which I sometimes wished they had.  I reckon too if I had bottle fed from birth I would have shoved a bottle in their mouth instead of the boob too! 

But sometimes, babies still just cry and I totally get it, and it's the most helpless feeling in the universe when your baby just won't stop.  But something I learnt was that before the age of 3 months, one of the best ways to keep my baby calm and therefore crying less and sleeping more was to keep him on me 24/7.  Now, this doesn't suit everyone, nor am I preaching to tell you this is the ONLY way because it is not, but it is ONE way that worked for me and I will explain why.

It's very simple, when a baby is first born it has no concept of ME or I, it doesn't really know if it's day or light or dinner or breakfast, what it does know is it's been listening to your heart beat for 9 months solid, and suddenly it is not, so that gentle hum that has been there fore 24/7 has gone. Are you surprised they cry until you hold them tight in a way that they know you are not going to put them back down again a few moments later.

I remember a friend of mine who had a baby close to me and after he was born she called me up in tears wondering why her baby would not settle when she put him down.  I quietly comforted her and reminded her that for 3 months following the birth it may as well be like her baby is still inside her. She was initially slightly shocked and I think offended as it went against what she thought her baby should do, "won't I spoil him" she said... But, I encouraged her to put the baby in the sling rather than in the stroller trying to force her baby to sooth himself, she soothed HIM and it worked!  

It was SO simple, but often goes against so much of what we are told...  I was very clearly advised when Reno was born:  "put him down"  "don't hold him all the time"  "you'll spoil him"  "he is playing you, he knows how to get what he wants" 

These quotes disturbed me a lot as I was having a conflict inside, 'am I spoiling him?  Is that even possible at 2 weeks old?!'  So my Husband and I chatted and we came to the conclusion that there was no way in hell a new born baby could be spoiled.  My husband said, verbatim; "babe, have you ever heard of an adult who complained they were loved and hugged too much by having their needs met as a kid?"  To be honest, I had no answer to that, it rang truth to me too.

Our grand parents generation were raised just trying to get basic needs met like having enough to eat, moving post WW2 to safety and finding refuge and sanctuary.  They didn't have time to think about their babies emotions the way our generation does.  We, on the other hand are equipped, most of us to cater to our babies needs in the physical sense, be it food, clothing, housing etc... so now we are focusing more on their emotional and mental wellbeing and development.  With this in mind, the idea of leaving our baby to 'cry it out' didn't feel right to us.  So I held him.  I held him all bloody day and all bloody night.  But it worked, he didn't cry, his needs were met.

I am not for one minute suggesting that holding your baby 24/7 is possible or convenient and ALL mothers need a break, some go to work before 3 months, but it sure did help us in nurturing a calmer baby and now child.  I got a really comfy sling and just kept him in there for at least the first 8 weeks.  It was only towards the end of the first 3 months it got heavy and annoying, prior to this he was still small and cuddly.  I decided that the time goes so fast who cares if I have him strapped to me all day and night, he won't even remember but I will, and I do, I remember so fondly how relaxed he was and how sweet he was snuggled up to my chest all the time.  I just sniffed his head.  mmmmmm

After the 3 months, I noticed a massive shift in his energy, he woke up.  He was no longer a sleepy baby trying to recreate the womb all curled up.  His limbs were stretched out, he reacted and smiled and understood communication in it's most primitive forms.  So... I put him down and instead of him crying he was happy as anything.  I truly believe that going to him every time he initially cried trying to sooth him made him learn to trust me and to trust life.  His needs were met, he didn't have to resort to self soothing and believing that his tears wouldn't be addressed.  Now he is 2 years old he is so confident and trusting and happy and when we leave him as a toddler to 'cry it out' at bed times it comes from a VERY different place.  he gets it completely.  We go in and remind him we love him but with a gentle but firm tone tell him it's still bedtime and not play time and it works.  USUALLY!?....

I now TOTALLY trust myself and this way of being with my new born Eden and everyone who meets him says "wow, he is so chilled"  " you got lucky"  "does he ever cry?"  I just smile politely, but I know that although it looks effortless to hold your baby all the time and have him calmly hanging out on you,  it's bloody hard work, but 100% worth it and pays off!

Our 4th trimester came to a close 6 weeks ago now and Eden  happily sleeps in his crib on him own and fingers crossed he is doing really well, unless I just jinxed myself by writing this article!... ce la vie ;)

PS: disclaimer & apologies to any mothers who have done this method from birth and their babies STILL cry...  

 

Cigdem's Story

Cigdem (or 'C' as i call her) is one of the most gorgeous Dutch women I have had the pleasure to meet, she is stylish, gentle and yet a secret powerhouse, currently working as the Head of Institutional Relations for Europe and the Middle East, she is also mother to her nearly 2 year old son, Mason.  I always see photos of her on Facebook in exotic countries and wonder how she does it, so I thought I would ask her... 

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven?  I would say I’ve become more ambitious and am hungrier for success and professional achievements. Becoming a mother has definitely changed me in the sense that I now have a clear view on what I want. And I’m sure other moms will recognize this: I have become much more efficient in how I work. 

do you feel guilty going to work?  No, while I definitely feel guilty about many things being a mom, I don’t actually feel guilty about going to work, I see it as something you just do. Just like my husband goes to work. In my family there’s always been this extra pressure on us girls to study hard, work on your career and ultimately be able to provide for yourself and not be dependent on anyone else. My mother especially has been my greatest example; she’s always worked and I think growing up with that dynamic, I have found that very normal and not something to question. I’ve always envisioned myself combining motherhood and a job.  Also, I think it’s so important you feel good about where you leave your child. Mason absolutely loves his nursery and key workers. We’ve never had any problems with him having to adjust or having separation anxiety. I think that is key for peace of mind.

have you always worked?  Yes, I’ve always worked. I used to work part time during university to gain work experience. Currently I’m the Head of Institutional Relations for Europe and the Middle East. I manage a team of 8 and we’re responsible for building and maintaining relationships with investment decision makers at pension funds, insurance companies and family offices.

3 words to describe how you feel about your job  Committed, driven, energizing

how do you typically split your time? I really really like routine! I remember when I found out I was pregnant, I went to the bookstore and asked the sales person there for a baby manual. He said he did not have one but he did have something that came close: enter Gina Ford. During the week I have an early start at work, while my husband does the morning shift and gets M ready for nursery. At the end of the afternoon, I’ll pick M up, make his dinner and get him ready for bed. I then have the rest of the evening to do some  work, maybe get a little workout in and relax.

how did your maternity leave work where you are?  I had 8 months of maternity leave (in the UK your role stays reserved for you for one year) which I am forever grateful for. I enjoyed and needed that time with my newborn and for myself to get back to me. I decided to come back just before the summer period, which was a conscious decision. September is when it becomes very hectic and this way I gave myself some time to ease back into it and prepare myself over the summer period.   Upon my return, I was offered a new role where I head up the team I used to be part of and take on a new region (Middle East) as well. This was great motivation for me however it did mean I would be coming back full time and there is a lot more travel involved in my new role.

 I take it that you wouldn't be a stay at home mother? I don’t think being a stay at home mum is the best option for me, personally. I like the routine of getting up, getting ready and heading to the office. After having enjoyed being at home with my baby for 8 months and practically living in my pj’s, it felt good to wake up and have somewhere I needed to be, people to meet, things to do. Also, living in central London, it’s not even a realistic option. This city is so expensive. I guess I like and need the balance. As long as I can have and do both, I’m happy.

3 words to describe being a mother  Fun, challenging, rewarding

how do you feel about messages that are out there to mothers, juggling everything and trying to look good too?  I think there is increased pressure on women in general, I mean just take a look at (social) media. Everyone seems to be living perfect lives. But at the same time I do feel inspired by women who are successful in multiple aspects of their lives. And of course everyone has good and bad days. I think you can only control how you choose to react or how much you let things affect you personally. I used to be a lot more concerned about what other people thought of me or if they liked me. These days I simply do not have the time (or the energy) to even think about things like that.  To me, it’s a lot more important to be able to do all the different things I do, if that makes sense. I love spending time with M, I love going to work and challenging myself that way, I love dedicating some time to work out. It’s what makes me happy as a person and I try not to think about guilt or perfection.  

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  In my case, I travel quite a lot for work and that requires a lot of planning. I’m extremely lucky that my husband steps in when I’m away and supports me in that way. It’s not excessive and only for a couple of days at a time, so doable. But it can definitely be challenging at times. It’s usually challenging when Mason is not feeling well and my amazing schedule goes out the window.

whats the most rewarding?  Just being able to combine work and home life is rewarding for me. And I just really love my job because I work with an amazing group of people I know really well.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing?  For me, what works is to try and maintain a healthy lifestyle. And of course I will go all in for a few weeks and then undo all the good with a week living off of stress, sugar and caffeine. But overall when I’m able to work out and take some time here and there for myself, I feel energized and ready to handle everything better.

how do you manage your stress? I absolutely need to get my workouts in! I try and do 20-30 min of high intensity training wherever and whenever I can. If I don’t have that much time, I’ll grab my skipping rope and skip for 10 min, anything to break a sweat and clear my mind. It’s also a great way to fight jet lag or keep up the energy levels when working abroad. And sometimes I love being lazy! Just not having to do anything, baby asleep, watching a movie or a tv show.

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed?  To be honest, I hear Mason’s voice and that gets me out of bed – always, even when I’m not feeling well. And if I’m really struggling I have my husband to fall back on. A while back the three of us got a massive flu and we kept taking turns. That was a pretty intense week actually!

has becoming a mother changed you?  Yes it has, one thing I’ve noticed after becoming a mother is that I’ve become less judgemental of other people and choices they’ve made. I now understand that every parent wants the best for their children, has the same love and the same worries I have. And no parent is perfect. Also, I have so much respect for single parents and I can get very upset when I hear or read about children suffering.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  My advice would be to (and I know it’s hard!) let go and trust everything will fall into place for you.  I remember the first few weeks I used to wake up to M crying and my first thought would be: ‘Oh, he’s still here.’ It was the strangest feeling. Of course I knew he was here to stay but it just took me a while for that to click and become normal to me.  You feel overwhelmed, you think, my life has changed forever, you have a million extra worries and anxieties added to your stress levels but really, with time you realize that not a whole lot has actually changed. You’ve just added to the love and adjusted your normal routine a little bit.  Also, you will probably realize that pre-baby you actually spent a lot of time doing not that very much (how I miss those days sometimes!).

 

 

 

 

 

Clio's Story

Clio Wood, (33) is Mother to Delphi (21 months) and also a female Entrepreneur and Founder of &Breathe Postnatal. She is a woman after my own heart, she has an idea and rolls with it.  A total self starter and motivated, she was uninspired with the post natal support to get healthy with her kid around, Clio decided to take matters into her own hands by creating retreats for new mothers welcoming their partners and babies along to. She has created retreats, full of accessible and effective fitness classes, healthy food you could cook yourself and some great treatments, all without having to worry about what to do with the baby.   Hosted in the Manoir that Clio owns with her husband, Bryn, in south west France.  Manoir La Croix de La Jugie it is a haven of calm where you can take time to focus on your fitness & diet, and relax in beautiful surroundings with wonderful therapists and trainers.   Seeing the success of her concept, Clio is now bringing it to London as day retreats.  

3 words to describe how you feel about your job  I love it!

3 words to describe being a mother  a balancing act

what drives you?  Feminism

Would you be a stay at home mum if you could or do you choose to work?    No, absolutely not.  I feel undernourished and frustrated when I don't have an outlet other than parenting.  I think it's due to my terribly short fuse! It's been super frustrating at times and really challenged my perception of my own independence and identity.

Is there pressure to go back to work / be a stay at home mum - either way?  I've learnt that there's pressure every which way as a parent.  Particularly so as a mum.  If you listen to critics, you'll be made to feel guilty about any decision you make!  It's especially unfair that women are made to feel more pressure than men as parents, no-one talks about men juggling work and being a dad, and that's because the expectation is not on them to be the primary caregiver as well as performing at work, and looking good too!

Did your profession change after you became a mother?  Yes, but it's been a gradual evolution.  Before becoming a mum, I was self-employed and I still am.  But previously I was an Interior Designer and had my own upcycling label, Clio the Muse.  I was also transforming our house in France (lajugie.co.uk) into a holiday property and wedding venue.  When I had Delphi, I was looking for a retreat to re-boot as a mum and for us as a family, but couldn't find anything, so &Breathe was born and La Jugie seemed the perfect place to hold it!

do you feel differently about your work now you are a mum or are you still as driven?  Given what I do, work is enhanced by my being a mum, and I would say I'm still extremely ambitious for &Breathe.  If I were still in a full time office job, my husband and I would have both dropped down to 4 days per week in order to parent a little more equally.

do you feel guilty going to work?  No.

whats the hardest thing about being a working mum?  The fact that there are no 'working dads'.

whats the most rewarding?  Getting to see my baby and work in a job I love.

how do you typically split your time?   Working from 9am-4pm, which is covered by nanny 9-1 and then nap time 1-4.  I'm lucky she's still a good sleeper!  After that we go for a walk and run errands until suppertime then bath and bed.

how do you maintain a sense of wellbeing whilst devoting your time to your kids?  Apart from every day eating well and hopefully getting at least one or to exercise sessions in per week, I find it really hard to relax and switch off.  I think this is partly my own personality and partly the fact that I run my own business.  Time away from family is often spent working, so although I'm not devoting time to Delphi, I'm not devoting time to me either!  It's something I'm aiming to do better at - booking a break away on my own (yoga retreat) later this year is a good step!

biggest lesson learnt   That you can't do everything and you should know when to ask for help.  Also that being a mum is bloody hard!

how do you manage on the days when you are just so tired you can’t even think about getting out of bed?  Thankfully they are very rare these days, but in the old days, I cried a lot!  Things got better when we arranged more systematic childcare and I had some time to recover.  

has becoming a mother changed you?  Yes.  I'm a bit more patient than I was.  And I have developed a capacity for love that I didn't know existed.  I appreciate my own parents so much more now, which is great, but sad that I didn't realise sooner.

what would you like to see the future be for your kids? Equality not only of policy but of expectation for parental roles.  Policies are changing but fathers are still not under the same expectations as mothers to perform a dual role.

any pearls of wisdom for other new mums or working mums out there?  If you have an idea - give it a go!  The worst that can happen is it doesn't work and you try something else...

Veggie Oat Pancakes

These are DELICIOUS!!!!  I can't lie, I didn't invent them I got inspired by this FANTASTIC website:  Nutritionstripped. These yummy nuggets of fun are Gluten Free, Dairy Free and you can pretty much put what you like in the base.  I went for coriander, shredded broccoli, sweetcorn and spring onion.  I reckon they would taste great with Parsley or thinly sliced peppers.

I love these as they use oats instead of wheat flour which makes them a grain based meal and slow release energy with low GI.  I made my own oat flour by putting 1 cup of gluten free oats into the blender until a nice powder, you can also play with the consistency of your flour if you want it thicker and chunky.  It's like peanut butter, some like chunks others like smooth.  They took me about 7 minutes to whip up the batter and 10 minutes of cooking.  I used coconut oil but you could use canola oil also. Refrain from Olive Oil at high temps as it burns.  The original recipe used a spoon of dijon mustard as well which you could try to add another level of flavour and you could also swap the coconut flour for chick pea flour.

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup oat flour - see above
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of almond milk (add 1/2 then add more at the end depending on how thick you want your batter)
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut flour
  • salt / pepper
  • handful of chopped coriander
  • spring onion finely chopped
  • handful of shredded broccoli (the stem, not the florets)
  • handful of sweetcorn
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 garlic clove crushed

Beat / whisk all the ingredients together until you get a batter.  Be prepared for a lumpy batter with all the extra ingredients so keep mixing till it's as smooth as you can get it.  Mine started out a bit thick so I kept adding almond milk till it was a nice pancake consistency.  heat up coconut or canola oil in the pan and ladle out spoonfuls into the hot pan.  You will notice when they are done because you will see air bubbles, When you do, flip them.  Serve with salad.

The Magic Green Balm

The Green Balm.  I Absolutely LOVE this stuff.  I can not recommend it more.  Charlie, their Founder and Designer approached me about 3 years ago now when I was doing wellbeing events at festivals, she asked if she could send us some samples to give to people after their massages and yoga classes at our events.  we didn't think twice about it, who doesn't love a free gift.  Well... These things went down like a house on fire, everyone was coming back asking for MORE! Why?  Because you can use this stuff for EVERYTHING and it smells divine.  You can use this stuff for any of the following:

  • Fade pregnancy stretch marks and keep the skin supple
  • Use to soothe minor rashes and nappy rash
  • Gently reduces cradle cap on a babies head
  • Uses on bumps, bruises, grazes and minor burns
  • Helps calm eczema, psoriasis and dry itchy skin
  • Take on holiday for essential family first aid
  • make up remover
  • moisturiser
  • aftershave balm

The Green Balm is a 100% natural multi-purpose healing balm, suitable for the whole family to use, even those with the most sensitive skin.   Its lengthy list of first aid uses and wholesome ingredients makes The Green Balm an ideal product for using on delicate skin, just right for babies and children. It contains  MOA’s hero herb, organic yarrow,  known as Achillea Millefolium, which for centuries has been renowned for its nourishing and healing properties. Combined with tea tree oil, nature’s powerful antiseptic, yarrow creates an unrivalled healing synergy with endless therapeutic properties. Yarrow is both antiseptic and anti inflammatory, whilst has the unique ability to both oxygenate and staunch blood flow, promoting a speedy healing process.

This magical balm also contains:

  • Beeswax to protect, helps reduce itching and allergens.
  • Coconut oil with vitamin E to soften the skin.
  • Sweet almond oil with vitamin A, easily absorbed.
  • Soy bean oil high in anti oxidants and moisturising. 

MOA - Magic Organic Apothecary, have been presented with a winning SILVER award for BEST FAMILY SKIN CARE PRODUCT at the highly acclaimed Free From Skin Care Awards, held at Love Natural Love Organic  London Olympia and Charlie has recently started a new range of products including the MOA Aphrodite facial oil, it helps to smooth fine lines and ward off premature ageing with it's nourishing rose hip oil base.   

For more information, or if you would like to try a sample of this stuff e mail:  chiara@moa.lodon   Stockists include www.moa.london and Fenwick London

 

The Mother Island

I often feel like what I call a 'Mother Island'  a small self contained amazing and often rewarding island floating out at sea and I notice most other mothers in the same position. The islands float close to each other on occasions, with groups, play dates and vacations, but ultimately the foundations of the land is still separated.  This is the island where I pay for help and need to schedule my island activities to make sure I can get everything completed in a day.  This isn't a depressive or resentful island, it is simply the 'I do everything' island.   This is the island where a sense of achievement becomes really important and 'doing' overtakes 'being'.  Oh, by the way, my island is perfect...

On the flip side, I have friends who have chosen to live communally in San Diego and share their parenting (yes, you may call them hippies).  Once a week the mothers in the community take it in turns to make dinner for everyone, this means once a week you don't have to cook, whoo, unless of course, it's your turn. There is always child care which means the couples get time together without having to worry about the cost or availability of a baby sitter.  There are always other kids to play with outside, so less entertainment is needed and lots of nature is part of daily life and it really feels like these guys spend a hell of a lot more time on the 'BEING' side of life because they can and have created their village to allow them to.  I am not advocating that communal living is the only solution to parenting, it's not, but it sure makes things easier with other people around that you trust with your kids.

I keep reading articles about how 'it takes a village' to raise our kids (which randomly,  ends up making me hum 'it only takes a village girl' to Take That) and yet there are fewer and fewer examples of the above and more and more islands, just think of Dubai's ever growing man made islands.  The elements of motherhood that were so often taken up by extended families and other women who had children in the neighbourhood are no longer  there due to us living  far away or being too nervous to talk to our neighbours in case they are lunatics.  I just read an article in The Washington Post called 'Lessons from 'The Goonies' and the loss of unsupervised time for kids'.  It talks about a kid was watching the Goonies with his dad and was shocked that kids are allowed to go and play by themselves.  I found this to be so sad, but so true.  Will my kids only be able to play with supervised play dates?  I sure hope not. so, where are we headed as a society and where is our parenting taking us as we grow increasingly sedentary, screen based, and fear inflicted?  How do we manage Motherhood on our islands in 2016?  

I think about this  stuff ALL the time, I wonder about my life and how different the raising of my children is to my parents and grandparents generation is and whilst there are many things I am grateful for, like amenities, healthcare, facilities and standard of living, there are some things that make me uncomfortable.  Therefore, I am constantly listening to an internal conversation about my desire to be the 'Perfect Mother' without grudge, without malice, just whole heartedly trying to do everything I can for my kids attempting to fill in all the gaps that society, family and the world didn't manage to, or perhaps I don't trust to. In short I am trying to make my Island a 'perfect' village, single handed.

Isn't it time to take a breath from this impossible task?  How can I access 'being' perfect?

The desire / search / need to be a 'Perfect Mother' is such a self construct and something that I think is growing progressively more aggressive in today's world.  We are bombarded with consumer goods we are told we need, a body we are told we should strive for, lessons we are advised to show our kids, achievements and development goals we are given for our kids and more often than not mothers (working or not working) are thinking, being and breathing their kids 24/7 devoting every moment of their existence to them in the constant strife to be the best Mother we can be, so this abundance of outside noise doesn't help it only feeds our desires and internal struggles floating out islands further out to sea.  Amidst the waves... where is the self love for the Mama's?  I am often so busy 'doing' perfect in service of my family, I forget to take care of myself, energetically by 'being'.  Sure, I go to the gym, but all the while I am there, I am wondering how many kg lighter I might be and have I reached 'pre baby weight'?  Sure I go treat myself to a massage or get my nails done which I am very lucky to be able to do, but all the while feeling guilty and thinking about what I have to come home to and that pile of laundry still not folded.

I noticed that this feeling of guilt can be all consuming at times, a bit like that feeling after Christmas lunch, waiting for Eastenders to start, it's comforting but yet so revolting at the same time.   As mothers we often feel like we don't have the right to take a break, a real break as what will that make us?  It might make us imperfect, we might cease 'doing' for a while.  Perhaps this imperfection will make us better mothers, perhaps taking that time away and focusing on 'being not doing' will give us the energy we need to produce more milk, or chase after our toddler or evolve our isolated islands into communities.  Perhaps going back to work will allow a break in the brain from 'wheels on the bus' and welcome an engaging conversation that makes you feel valued as a grown up and not just for your boobs.

The truth is, I have had to dig deep to discover that no matter what I do as a mother the pattern that will forever run inside my head is 'it wasn't good enough'.  I think this is a quote that runs truth for many many people, actually, with or without kids, it's not personal it just is, and we have to uncover the layers to see where it comes from and set it free.  I am practicing mindfulness, that when I hear this little line pop up into my head when the dinner is not ready 'on time' or the house is a mess that 'Mrs You're not good enough, why aren't you a perfect mother' I simply reply to with 'I LOVE that about myself'.  If I say that, then it seems to loose it's power, like Bowie (RIP) in the Labyrinth.  Stare it straight in the face and say 'yes, I'm not good enough, I'm not perfect but that's OK, I'm an Island and I am 'being' perfect not 'doing' perfect'.  Try it - you will feel like a right numpty the first few times, but after a while it really starts to work, perhaps in time we will be able to see that amidst our imperfections we are actually BEING 'The Perfect Mother' all the time. 

 

 

Sleeping like a baby

Such a funny phrase isn't it... when you become a parent you realise how hard it can actually be for a baby to sleep, not to mention a parent... There seems to be a never ending discussion about new babies and sleeping, it's enough to give you insomnia. To co-sleep or not to co-sleep?  Tummy or back?  To have the baby in a basket, or crib?  To use a breathing monitor or video monitor? WTF?!!! As a first time parent there are SO many conflicting answers.

Truth of the matter is DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT FOR YOU.  

I won't deny for one minute it's not a big deal.  It is, how your baby sleeps is a serious matter as SIDS is a real issue that as parents we need to be aware of.  However, If you are scared the baby will suffocate put him / her in their own bed.  If you need your sleep, put the baby in another room, or, if you can afford it,  get a night nurse/ doula.  If you can't bare to be apart and want skin to skin 24/7 keep that baby in your bed.  No one is right and no one is wrong, just do your best to keep your baby as safe as possible.  If you do co sleep, make sure they have their own space in the bed away from pillows and if they are in their own bed make sure there is nothing they could suffocate on.  It's basic stuff but fundamental.  Personally I put my babies on their side, it felt right for me, this way they didn't get 'flat head' and i always thought, if they vomit / spit up, they are less likely to choke.  The doctors suggest back at the moment, but when I was a baby it was tummy, so every generation is different in their beliefs. 

Sleeping apparatus can be really stressful, there is SO much in the market, we learnt this when we had our first son.  Reno HATED the Moses basket we were given, he HATED being in a crib.  He just wanted to be close to us, so we co slept. To us, it was more important he was happy and relaxed and slept which meant we too could sleep.   

Something we discovered just after Reno was born, was this amazing thing called the French designed CocoonaBaby. We were given this as a gift and I can not stress to you how incredible this thing is!!!  We hadn't even heard of it prior, it solved all our issues. Their 100% organic cotton and very soft Fleur de Coton fabric makes for a beautiful and environmentally friendly bed for your new born.  The tag line of the product, which I believe is true, is that it simulates the feeling of being in the womb for a new born.  It's not flat, it's a cocoon, so the baby is snuggled and swaddled so baby feels safe and as parents we felt comfortable about co sleeping with a new born as he had his own world keeping him safe in our bed.  We all slept.... zzzzzzzzz  

This is how it works

 

We didn't have the stress of getting up out of bed when he stirred to see if he was awake, we didn't worry if he was breathing as we could hear his little grunts next to us.  We woke up and saw his beaming face next to us, happy and relaxed, we were all much more relaxed.  This thing became our life line for sleep! We took it everywhere with us, it travels so well.   When Reno was 6 weeks old we flew to Cannes and then drove to Tuscany and it was the best thing ever as it meant we didn't have to ask for a crib anywhere and it was small, light weight and soft so you could shove it into any bag.  It also meant that he felt safe and comfortable where ever we went.

Eden our second son went into this cocoon as a new born,  now he is heading towards 4 months and starting to roll and clearly too big for this cocoon I have moved him out of it.  It feels like a good time and he has an awareness now which new borns don't have until 3 months.  Those first 3 months are known as the 4th trimester, when I sincerely believe the babies have no sense of I or ME yet and crying is a primal request to have needs met.  All they really want is to be close to Mama.  At 3 months they suddenly wake up and become people, it's rather extraordinary!

We decided, for Eden, this time, in order to co sleep next to us, to give us the option of having him in the bed with us or next to us in his own space,  we bought a basic crib from Ikea (SNIGLAR CRIB) and just didn't add the 4th side.  It was WAY cheaper than getting a 'proper' co sleeper and works really well, we can also then use it as his own crib when he moves into another room at some point.  I have been really happy with this.

 

So, I could ramble on all day about what is amazing, but I am really sharing what I did with you to make the point that we had to find what worked for US.   Find what works for you and what makes you happy and comfortable.  there is nothing more important that your sleep as a mother.  Lack of sleep contributes to less milk production, anxiety, depression, as well as exhaustion. I hope you feel some what liberated from feeling like there is only one right answer.

Actually 'getting' your baby to sleep - that's a whole other blog post... :)

Oh - to end on something hilarious.  Just when you think you have cracked it and your baby is sleeping through the night, they will start teething, so you will basically have to start all over again.  I am not saying this to be an asshole, I am saying it as it took me a while to let go and realise that EVERYTHING IS A PHASE, nothing is set and nothing is forever and no better lesson to learn this with than a sleeping or not sleeping baby.  ENJOY :)