17 Aug 2015

how to improve your gut health after antibiotics


The jar of wildflowers on the dining room table is a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner. And frankly, it can't come soon enough.  Winter saw us succumb to more than our fair share of runny noses and general malaise and what with the extra strain that breastfeeding places on a Mumma's body, I unfortunately was hit the hardest. After battling a nasty cough for weeks as best as I could with natural remedies and rest, I finally had to wave the white flag and take a course of antibiotics. Although a necessary evil that soon worked wonders on my respiratory health, their potency all but wiped out my gut flora. So now begins the slow task of healing my digestive system. Here are the ways I go about restoring my inner balance after a course of antibiotics:

~  A large jug of homemade bone broth or chicken stock is made weekly and added to almost all meals (to deglaze the pan, to loosen a sauce, in soups and stews...the uses are endless). It makes for a quick lunch when heated with freshly grated garlic, ginger and turmeric, a few snips of shallots and soba noodles and a substantial dinner when served with a big salad or roasted root veggies.  I often sip a small cup in the late afternoon to avoid the sugar low. Easy to make it is both soothing and healing to the gut with the added benefit of immune boosting qualities.

~ I take a daily high quality pro-biotic to help repopulate gut flora. It's no secret that antibiotics kill bacteria and while that is a winner on the sickness front, they are indiscriminate assassins killing off the "good guys" on their warpath. I find this one of the easiest supplements to remember to take - its the first thing I take in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed. Digestive activity is usually low at these time so gives them a great chance to work their magic. A daily dose of cod liver oil is also a must have supplement to helps reduce inflammation.

~ Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and miso make an appearance at least once a day. As a potent source of probiotics I like to make a quick soup for lunch with this miso and love the fresh crunch of this sauerkraut on fresh sourdough toast. With the warmer weather coming I'm looking forward to experimenting with my own homemade water kefir. Tricia has a wonderful tutorial I've bookmarked to refer to.

~ Minimising my sugar intake. Now this one is a tricky one for me!  As a self confessed sweet tooth I will always prefer a sugary treat over a healthier alternative but with sugar aiding in the growth of bad bacteria I simply have to make better choices. A mid morning snack of a cup of  tea and a slice of cake is now swapped for a handful of blueberries, some almonds, perhaps some hummus with raw veggies or a coconut milk smoothie. There's still cake in my world but for now its a once a week indulgence.

~ Eating a diet rich in pre-biotics. Now with the risk of over jargonising, pre-biotics are the foods that fuel the pro-biotics, nourishing them and helping them grow. Garlic, leeks and onions are gently sauteed to begin most meals as well as adding legumes (lentils and chickpeas) and beans, barley and root vegetables. I chop up a selection of both orange and white sweet potato, carrots, parsnip and pumpkin most mornings and stash them in the fridge until dinner prep. A quick coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and  pepper and then roasted in the oven for an hour makes for effortless veggies and a daily supply of pre-biotics.

Has the cold and flu season been unkind to you?  Do you have any fail safe ways to protect your intestinal health?

Steph x


3 Aug 2015

today

  
Lately the day's have  been a jumble of pilled nursing bras, an on the move baby with a fascination for pot plants and mouldy windows.  Life has been good but adjusting to a new rhythm involving a mobile and food loving baby has taken it's toll on this space. What with the constant "wash clothes, hang out, bring in, put away" dance and the endless tasks of keeping a family of five thriving the words simply weren't there. My pencil has sat idle at the end of a day and evenings revolve around a bath and a hot cup of tea, a row or two of knitting and bed. And on the days when the veil of tiredness parted for a time, the words were stuck behind a wall of  judgement. What did I have to say? 

But today, today I cast aside the expectations and let the words tumble out. It felt good to write. 

I'm noticing Winter's skyline is evolving and I can feel Spring in the air. A renewal we are all looking forward to after the hibernation of the cooler months. As we play in the morning sunshine, socks and shoes feel cloying and my feet are enjoying dewy grass beneath them. Time to pay a little attention to those palid, dry feet and prepare them for Summer sandals. On my potting bench paper packets of seeds are lined up ready for planting. Poppies, cornflowers and Queen Anne's lace to attract the bees and Spring veggies; tomatoes, cucumbers and salad leaves.

Some time ago I found a mosquito net at the local op shop and today I hung it from the roof. Armed with vintage sheets and books Remy has created an undersea grotto beneath its ethereal clock. If the weather is mild again tomorrow we might suspend it from the branches of the jacaranda tree and let the baby cloud watch from within the gauzy haze.

Our local apiarist (an elderly fellow with bee hives in his suburban backyard) sells honey from a little stand in his front yard. It has been empty for the last few months but on our way home from school today I was thrilled to see a collection of golden jars. Pure and raw it tastes of fresh air and eucalypt blossoms. I replaced my usual English Breakfast tea with peppermint and a generous dollop and marvelled at nature's bounty. This could become a new morning ritual.

Today may you cast your eyes to the changing blue sky and be inspired. Go gently.

Steph x


15 Jun 2015

24/52


" A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."

Bijou - Her hair is getting darker by the day. 
Remy -  Playing wombat amongst the fallen branches.
Inès -  Always so calm. 

Steph x

12 Jun 2015

healing basket


The camellias are in glorious, full bloom and the days are mild.  Come mid morning we are bare foot in the sandpit and peeling off extra woollen layers. There is tea, gentle sunshine and a wriggly babe on the mat; so far, King Winter is being kind in his ways.  But ails will come regardless of the temperature. Sniffles and grazes are part of every childhood and especially those steeped in outdoor adventure.

Lately, like apothecaries of old we are choosing to heal our minor ailments in a more natural way. Our collection of tools fills a small, easy access basket - simple yet powerful remedies that are reached for time and again. Together we choose the appropriate therapy and spend some time restoring and re balancing our bodies and emotions. There's something calming in the ritual of it all.

 In our basket we have:
  • gentle salves that soothe and heal. We love arnica for bruising, calendula for scrapes and grazes, eucalyptus balm rubbed onto chests and feet for coughs and colds and lavender for headaches (massaging a small amount into temples and the nape of the neck followed by a large glass of water seems to keep most niggly headaches at bay). Although medicinally potent, perhaps their strongest healing powers lie mostly in their need for touch.
  • lavender essential oil . One drop applied directly will ease the itch or sting of an insect bite and a few drops diluted in a bowl of warm water provides a wonderful antiseptic wound wash. The calming aroma is a lovely bonus when little people are hurt.
  • our Magic Water. I fill a 50ml amber glass bottle with filtered water and then add about 20 drops of rose otto essential oil.  A fine mist of its sweet vapours and listening to a whimsical tale of  a healing fairy collecting rose petals always calms my hurt and distressed little ones.
  • a Chinese soup spoon for gua sha. When my babies show the very first signs of a cold I like to use the traditional Chinese practise called gua sha to stimulate the acupressure points associated with the lungs.  Using very gentle pressure, it is a tactile way of helping little bodies to fight germs and one they accept with delight. 
  • rescue remedy – 4 drops on the tongue to help in stressful situations (this got me through those first few weeks of school runs with a new baby!). As Bach flower essences contain small amounts of alcohol we also have the child’s version which uses vegetable glycerin as it’s preservative. I’ve found a few drops in their water bottles goes a long way to ease distress.
  • a silky eye pillow filled with flax seed for rest and calm. Combined with some lavender balm or a gentle spray of our magic water these soft pillows soothe little bodies and overwrought tempers. Sometimes lying down for a few moments with your eyes covered is all that’s needed to regroup and recharge.
  • bandaids, tweezers and small bandages.
Other helpful house hold items for healing;

  • When applied topically apple cider vinegar helps to restore skin pH. A good splosh in the bath followed by a gentle massage of coconut oil is useful for dry and itchy skin. And at this time of the year it is becoming an almost nightly ritual.
  • Manuka honey - smeared over a splinter and covered with a band aid this golden elixir is all sorts of magic. Overnight the splinter is drawn to the surface of the skin and slides out effortlessly. Manuka honey also has strong antibacterial qualities so it is great to heal over the wound. A generous teaspoon also eases a raspy throat.
  • A large pot of aloe vera sits on our front door step and when skin is irritated a gel filled leaf will be snapped off and smeared over bites or minor burns.
  • When Winter sniffles show themselves I am quick to take out my germ fighting room spray. I walk through the house throughout the day spritzing each room; it’s potent aroma lifts the spirits and keeps airborne germs at bay.
Are you becoming more selective about the medicines you use? Do you have a favourite natural remedy you call on repeatedly?

29 May 2015

intentions


colour inspiration , Autumn sky, straw hats and cassia flowers

This weekend I will
  • stew organic pears and apples for a little lady who is showing a very keen interest in food
  • set aside some time to explore my daily rhythms
  • run a deep bath, light some candles and try to revive my post pregnancy skin with a slow facial massage
  • leaf through my garden books and plan a little flower garden for around the sandpit. The babies and I will wander the nursery and choose "bee friendly" plants and then take them home and plant them in the cool earth.  
  • Polish the winter boots with a beeswax salve and wash the wool blankets with eucalyptus and lavender oil. It is time to add them to our beds and I must admit to loving the ceremony of it all.
  • see if the bottle green kale leaves are finally big enough to pick a few. They will be sauteed with garlic and cubes of pancetta and then devoured greedily with a fried egg (runny yolk of course). 
  • Finally cast on a little yellow bonnet inspired by the yellow hues of Autumn.
I hope your weekend is recharging and peaceful.

26 May 2015

too much op shopping


Tucked behind a "World's Greatest Dad" mug and a half used scented candle, is a hint of powder blue. A delicate curve, a gold embossed rim - an ornate platter of days gone by. And so I quicken my step and snatch up this treasure for my own. All too often this scenario unfolds whilst op shopping and as a result our cupboards have been bursting with gilded, vintage treasures. I have dutifully applied a rule of "beautiful yet practical" to my purchases but how many platters does one family need?

Op shopping or thrifting is a wonderful way of making do; it is the epitome of recycling.  One man's trash is another man's treasure but the hard part isn't wading through the abundance of discarded "trash" , it's saying no to the "treasures".

Clutter comes in all guises and nostalgic pretties have the same habit of accumulating as less appealing fripperies. My hunting for delicate treasures made op shopping less about purchasing essentials and all about the "collecting" of something. I'd be heard exclaiming, "Oh, I don't have that particular pattern of Pyrex bowl!", regardless of whether I needed any more bowls or not (for the record, I did not!)

So I started taking note of my kitchen comings and goings. I noticed that I reached for the same tea cup day after day. The stacks of plates and  platters, no matter how beautiful, were rarely used bar a few. Balanced in hard to reach places, they made meal preparations difficult;  the constant un -stacking of fragile pieces in order to reach the one I wanted was frustrating.  These bargain beauties were not only cramping my cupboards but stifling my kitchen creativity.  And so a purge ensued.

I took everything out and spread it across the kitchen benches and spent a pretty moment casting my eyes over pastel hues. Those items that hadn't seen the light of day were quickly boxed up and passed on for others to enjoy. The fence sitters needed a little more thought - what exactly would I use it for, and how often? Finally I had a small selection of pieces, the old favourites, that I happily reach for time and time again. Coupled with pieces made with soul these vintage treasures grace our table daily; they bring joy. And isn't that really the aim of simplifying?


21 May 2015

20/52


" A portrait of my babies, once a week, every week."

Bijou - Always so expressive. 
Remy -  He's taken to having his morning tea outside while I hang out the washing. It's really quite lovely.
Inès -  Discovering the wonder of her hands. 

Steph x