Saturday, January 29, 2011

cooking evolution

There has been some progress in the kitchen that I wanted to share.  This time of year is rainy and chilly here on the west coast, the perfect time to indulge in soups that warm us up and keep the damp out.  My staple go to soup is Red lentil and carrot.  It is colourful and I can use local carrots that are still available from my grocery store.

The ingredients are simple enough and this goes well paired with burgers, sandwiches or the kale & corn griddle cakes from Cooking Like a Goddess: Bringing Seasonal Magic into the Kitchen.   I also made my family's traditional Shepard's pie this week with a slight twist on the mashed potatoes, creamed corn and beef trifecta by using the Kale Mashed Potatoes recipe from How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet.  (Ironic or sacrilegious  for all the vegans out there I'm sure but I love that recipe and still use several others despite the fact that we are not vegan.)
The dinner that I was most proud of however was my own creation of Butternut Squash Coconut Milk Soup that accompanied, salad, and a cheesy garlic bread from A Bread Affair (who are my favorite bread makers in the Lower Mainland by far)  This was a first in my evolution as a cook.  I saw the bread at the store, thought we needed a soup to go with it.  I noticed organic coconut milk on sale and then found a yummy butternut squash.  I added a couple of potatoes, an onion, garlic, some some stock and to give it a slight kick some mild curry powder and voila...a very tasty soup.  I used a similar recipe in Vegetarian Perfection (Hinkler Kitchen) as a guide I must admit and that is also where you'll find the recipe for the Carrot Red Lentil soup.  It gave me quite a bit of satisfaction  to know that I can put ingredients together with taste and memory rather than needing a recipe.  Kyan and I also made some banana bran muffins with walnuts and chocolate chips this week. We froze half for breastfeeding snacks for me down the line and enjoyed the rest.  All in all it was a good week in the kitchen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

out on Saturday

This Saturday brought a much needed respite from mommyhood with an excursion to the Vancouver Art Gallery with a very dear friend.  She had visited this exhibit and several pieces reminded her of me and so she invited me to go.  We had a great time looking at art, eating crepes, and talking about our brains, how they wire themselves depending on attachment and how our lives go through stages where different aspects of who we are come to the forefront.  Then I headed to the big downtown library and sat in the interior decor section because I couldn't find the sewing section and looked at books.

The first that I enjoyed was Amy Butler's Midwest Modern: A Fresh Design Spirit for the Modern Lifestyle.  I wouldn't say that my/our style is midwest modern but there are elements to how she designs that are just so lovely and comfortable.  Her casual pile of folded vintage tablecloths on the kitchen counter was very appealing to me.  Simple, colourful and soft in a room filled with hard lines and appliances.

The other book that struck several cords with me was The Family Home: Relaxed, Informal Living for All Ages by Joanna Copestick.   The designs were slightly dated since this book is over 10 years old but I loved the concept of designing for having a family rather than trying to create a home that looks like a magazine and is full of things that shouldn't be touched. 

Colour, warmth and functionality were important factors in all the designs.  I found the book made me think of a more European sense of design since technology was not as prominent on the pages.  But of course being from over 10 years ago the techie age was not nearly as big as it is now.  It's amazing how quickly flat screens in every room and digital everything has become the norm in interiors.  

Another excursion I took this weekend made my living room curtain dilemma even larger since drapes are not going to work as I had planned.  They would just come to close to the base electric heaters which are right below the patio doors.  So plans B, C and D are in the works.  I wanted to have this resolved before baby arrives since my sewing time will all but disappear but we'll see.  Hopefully we'll get something that works before I am forced to tack up sheets again in the middle of a July heatwave.  All in good time I'm sure, all in good time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book of the Month: January

Since I tend to gravitate towards books that speak to where I am in each moment I checked Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin out of the library this month.  Ina May Gaskin is an innovator and activist for natural childbirth and this book chronicles the founding of The Farm and how she became a midwife.  This book is mostly birth stories with a parental section and a midwife section.  The birth stories tell of the births of a generation of kids who are now in their 30's and 40's.  The language used is very far out and psychedelic which was amusing and transported me to a time when women were pushing boundaries that were much more rigid than the ones I face today.  I was very obsessed with reading birth stories with my first pregnancy, this time I haven't been as much.  Having experienced it once I am not seeking out the experiences of others.  There is some God talk in this book but it wasn't enough to deter me from reading as it comes from a personal place where mothers and fathers are sharing their perspectives in their own language.

I like the way Gaskin encourages birthing women to use their internal power to create the birth reality they desire.  So thinking of contractions as rushes and not thinking of pain but a sensation that you have to focus on to get through.  She also encourages one to stay relaxed and loving rather than letting yourself become inflexible or mean.  I like that perspective and will see if anything else that I read here comes through for me in the actual experience.  I'm not putting pressure on details this time around as last time doing that didn't help me, not that I think it hindered anything since the birth was positive.
So if you are pregnant, a birth junky or professional I think this book is worth a look.   It also has a great example of a community of women, men and birth professionals working together to create a culture that recognizes the sacred power of birth which is a doctrine that is lacking in today's society.  Inspiring to say the least.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Belly Update: 31 weeks

Tomorrow I'll be 31 weeks along on this journey.  I would like to pretend that I'm all rainbows and lollipops but I can't say that I am.  Words to describe how I'm feeling these days: grateful, tired, apprehensive, uncomfortable, irritated, melancholy, excited....I don't like many of those.  They make me have less patience, be prone to emotional outbursts and introspective.  Being pregnant is the ultimate in being introspective.  I feel this little guy within me all the time.  The glory of sharing your body with another is that intimacy.  What I find challenging right now is that I need to be solitary and between a three old and a gestating baby I am never alone. 
I can't remember feeling this way with my first pregnancy but my life was so different then that it's almost ridiculous to compare the two. 
I am so blessed to have the opportunity to carry this child, to learn some of his little quirks even now without having seen his face.  Getting ready for him is coming along nicely.  There are some timing issues that are a bit stressful but they are completely out of my control.  So what will be, will be.
If I was better at this process I may be one of those women with a brood of children.  Two will be plenty, thanks.  However challenging I may find pregnancy it is worth it to add this little man to our family. 
Another difference this time has been that my creative impulses have been humming along.  The first pregnancy  I lost all interest in sewing and did no art that I can remember.  This time I've felt lots of desire to sew and I've even completed 7 rows of piecing Ky's quilt together.  I have another 5 and then I will piece them together along with the 4 outer pieces and be done the top.  It may be too ambitious to say but I'd love to have the top done before little man makes his entry.
At 31 weeks I can say that I'm in a place of trying to keep one day at a time in mind.  Get through this hour, this minute, laugh when I can, enjoy these last weeks of having just my big boy around, not let things run away in my head and of course breathe.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art of the Month: January

It's time for our next installment of the Memory Keeper Project.  Here is the third block in what will be a quilt of my life.  (to see block one and two)  2010 was a year when the ocean called me and I carried over an interest in Runes from 2009.  Thanks to my mother-in-law giving me Runes:: Theory & Practice for a holiday gift I was able to research the Ansuz rune which seemed in the beginning of the year to herald a new year of health and cleansing.

What it ended up bringing to us though was an opening. A feeling of push and pull, two steps forward, three steps back and ultimately our family of three was faced with opening up to the addition of another soul. 
I quilted a wave across the background as a homage to the cleansing of the ocean.  The effect is subtle but peaceful to contemplate up close. 

...A message comes to you.
Open eyes and ears
to the gods who speak
with tones loud as an avalanche,
soft as a feather's fall.

                                                                   -excerpt from Modern rune poem by E. Vongvisith

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spiritually speaking.... a new year & year in review

2010 spread with my Sacred Circle deck
2010 was low-key in terms of my spiritual path.  The celebrations I attended or organized were simple and some like Spiral Dance were included more out of habit than by a distinct calling.  As I mentioned briefly in my previous post I try not to be hard on myself about my lack of focus in that area since my life right now is very mama focused.  When I felt called to do something I made the time and otherwise I let life just flow from day-to-day trying to keep each moment as connected as possible to the bigger picture.

My one serious personal ritual was making the herbal amulets made for my parents.  I had a lovely walk on Imbolc and  had fun with the kids on Spring Equinox.  Beltaine was not really on the radar this year, Summer Solstice was spent in nature with friends.  Lughnasad  saw me at the height of morning sickness and moving prep.  Autumn Equinox was spent outdoors in the leaves with friends and attending feasts.  Samhain was introspective and Yule was peaceful.

My personal yearly tarot read was different this year as I used a new set of cards for the first time.   The Wheel of the Year spread was what I used, a twelve card circle spread which is great for looking at individual pieces of your life and how they combine to form a whole.  There was a lot of fire energy in the cards, some earth and a little bit of air carrying over from the 2010 spread.  My overall impression was very literal in terms of rebirth as a mother and as a family unit.  It also pointed to lots of internal work which makes sense to me since I seem to remember from Ky's babyhood being very introspective from all the late night feeding sessions.  You are awake enough to feed the babe but still hazy from lack of sleep so you tend to stay in a more internal, thoughtful state. 

With the new baby set to arrive around Equinox this year I hope to have the ambition to celebrate both Imbolc and Spring's arrival.   Once we get mobile I intend to explore our mountain with my boys and make spending outdoor time a huge priority.  Being outdoors, making artwork and caring for my family are the most "pagan" parts of my life right now.  Caring for my family being all the homemaking and celebrating we do, even budgeting and running errands.  Being connected to spirit for me is very much about being present these days.  Meditating behind closed doors is not a huge priority nor is continuing the trance work I was doing more of in 2009.  I think those things will come back to me but for now they are not compelling me towards making time for them.  Looking at something I've created that is being used by my family is very rewarding and the snippets of time that I spend sewing give me a great sense of joy.  It can be about the little things and I'm grateful for that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

a new year

As each year passes on this journey of mine I find myself greeting the new year in different ways.  In looking over my goals from last year I kept things simple and left the specifics for some other year.   That ended up being a good decision for me and us since small steps were taken which of course led to other paths not foreseen in the initial ideas.

Food and health were a huge component.  We established routines and some stuck while others faded away.  I wouldn't say in the end that 2010 was a particularly active year for us since the gym membership was abandoned, yoga on my own was sporadic at best until my prenatal class in the fall, and we certainly took fewer family walks than we had the previous year.   But we made a huge move towards eating more holistically.  I journeyed to almost vegetarianism and then back to a full meat eater.  Dave began eating meat after a decade of vegetarianism and noticed a marked difference in his health.  Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats changed my perspective on food preparation and began an at times overwhelming endeavor to eat with digestion and optimal nutrient absorption in mind. 

I took small steps towards being more pro-active in maintaining our health and avoiding sickness which we managed pretty well.  One stomach virus plagued us all, and Ky had a few brief colds and fevers but overall I'd say we made it through 2010 with little illness. 

Kyan joined the ranks of the potty trained, no longer breastfeeding big boys in big boy beds.  We indulged his love of singing and introduced him to more structured play environments in the community, while at the same time giving him plenty of space to evolve his personality and imagination organically.

Personally I kept up with writing as best I could and I did complete some art goals as well.  Making a picnic blanket, completing an art for art's sake piece,  and making gifts and home projects.  Pregnancy was planned and welcomed despite it taking its usual toll on me in the first trimester.  Moving was exciting and stressful but so worth the effort in the end.

As is so often the case for me with spiritual matters my practice fell by the wayside way too often.  Having young children does not aide me in this but I make the sacrifice without too much regret because I know it will come back.  I know that I will have more "me" time in every aspect when my children are older.  I see my crone self rising each morning to yoga, meditation and self-reflection.  Being an artist, writer and having a daily practice.  I will have those things in their time.  I plan on sharing more about my spiritual goals later this week along with my yearly tarot spread which I managed to do yesterday.  Yah!

I welcome this year with optimism and a serious re-organizing bug derived from nesting hormones and the completion of construction work in our storage room.  These next few weeks before our second son's birth will go by so quickly and I find myself trying to savor it being "just the three of us" while also feeling a sense that our family will be complete once this guy makes his big entrance.  I'm so grateful for the expansion of our family with a healthy nephew joining us and my parent's health being more stable.  And I am ever grateful for this space and the inspiration of the friends I've made here.  Having this little piece of me is always grounding and rewarding beyond measure.  Happy 2011 friends.  May it be your best one yet.