Domesticity

Sitting here, Sunday morning. Coffee. Cereal. Sunlight pouring through window onto faces of children. Dirty dishes. Discarded pyjamas.

Domesticity.

School goes back tomorrow. Today we will move our way through all the jobs Sundays require. I went through the washing basket before making my coffee this morning and found that we hadn’t yet washed the school uniforms… the washing seems to pile up so fast that often the top layers get washed but the bottom of the basket is forgotten. This is probably so unhygienic I’m not sure if I should mention it publicly. Never fear, all the uniforms are in the machine now and I’ll hang them out in front of the heater later this morning.

The girls both have holes in their navy school leggings that I put off as a school holiday job. They haven’t been mended. In January this year I bought a few metres of navy bamboo jersey material to make them new leggings. They haven’t been made.

I always look ahead to a place where there will be more time, where life will move a little slower. It seems to be an unending lesson that this time never actually comes. These holidays I have to give myself a break though, as I have not simply been contending with time; I’ve spent the entire two weeks coughing and spluttering with a second bout of a wintery virus that has its tendrils tightly wrapped within my chest.

On the long list of holiday jobs we are slowly working our way through is sorting and clearing our home as we get ready to put it on the market. A few days ago I found an old journal I wrote when I lived in London in my early 20s. Despite being excruciatingly disturbing to read, it made me realise how domesticated my life (and I) have become. The majority of its pages had me galavanting around London at night, begrudging what he said and what she said and complaining that I can’t afford to top up my phone and there’s too much plastic on the broccoli at Tesco and maybe I’ll quit my job and move to Edinburgh among a variety of other things that I’ll never mention here, or anywhere, ever. I had nothing to worry about beyond the 18p on my phone and where I was going to buy my next can of corn.

In comparison, domestic life is… what is it? It is full and busy and intense. I like to tell myself it is rarely dull, though at times when wrapped up in the cycle it can be endlessly dull and repetitive. Sometimes it seems like a ridiculous game, a never-ending attempt to reach a certain point (that never eventuates) and I wonder if I’m trapped in some sort of experiment. Eg. Once I’ve washed the dishes I’ll… or If only I could get through this washing basket, then I’ll have time for… or Once I’ve written these emails and filled out those school notices I could… and somehow (I still haven’t quite figured out how) that moment never, ever comes. If you want it, you have to allow it to barge through the wall of domesticated life. If you want to write something, make something, listen to something, you have to grab the moment by the horns and if the proverbial hits the fan, ignore it. At least, that’s the basic theory. I can’t say I have mastered it, although, I am sitting here typing so I suppose in some ways I have. The girls are all at the table with me, colouring in. Between every third word I type there is a question usually beginning with a repeated Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyyy Mummyy if I don’t answer within the required millisecond. It’s delivered in that kind of whiny, elongated pitch, that cuts straight through your motherly ears (I know you know the tone). That’s ok. I can truly say I love this life. I love the messiness of it, the chaos. I love being around these little, crazy people, despite it being the most exhausting, all-consuming, insane thing I have ever done. I love hearing their conversations, I love organising their things and planning out activities, birthdays, clothing, food. I love cuddling them and reading them books from my childhood, reliving them through their eyes and minds. I love the safety and cosiness of family, of a solid family unit. I love all the nerdy things associated with motherhood: meal planning, wardrobe organising, sewing lists. Sometimes I wonder if I am really an 80 year old trapped in this 36 year old body.

I know that by the time I have figured all this out, my girls will be grown and this brief window of my life will be over. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, I just move with the motions. But now and again I try to tune in, to pay attention. Because domestic life may be inane at times, but I don’t want to miss a second of it.

In an hour or so we will head off to the farmers market and stock up for the week. I don’t know what we’ll cook this week. I’ve been so unwell that we haven’t eaten very well or cooked much over the holidays. The day will flow on as all days do. We will try to make sense of the messiness, and then we will let it go.

summer food

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I just love it when we pick up our weekly fruit + veggie box from our local food host. A lot of people say they don’t like getting a veg box because they like to be able to choose what vegetables they want to eat. But for me, the thrill of discovering new vegetables, new recipes and the challenge of using everything in my box, along with ensuring that we are eating (mostly) local and seasonal produce makes it worth it.

On my goals list I really should have set out to use everything in my box absolutely every week… that might have to be number 31. Last year my two most troublesome vegetables to get through were kale and bok choy and unfortunately our compost bin saw more of them than they should… here’s to lots of inventive ways to use these veggies this year.

The other thing I love about getting a seasonal vegetable box is just that – it’s seasonal! I’ve been getting one for a few years now and our eating habits have completely changed now that we eat seasonally. It has also taught me a lot about what produce is in season throughout different times of the year where we live.

This week our box has carrots, potatoes, pumpkin, lettuce, kale (ugh), bok choy, spring onions, grapes, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli and zucchini. Before that our fridge was literally devoid of fresh foods so inspiration was running low. I’m not in the swing of things with us all on holidays and keeping organised with food has been hard.

So tonight we had salmon on the bbq with a mashed potato + carrot blend and a salad of kale (ugh), fancy lettuce, grated beetroot and cherry tomatoes. The baby: she had the mash and devoured it. Us adults also had spicy kim chi on our plates.

The rest of the week will look something like this:

 

// breakfasts //

chia seed pudding + coconut cream + fruit

porridge + yoghurt + almond milk + fruit

toast and avo or nut butter

// lunches //

blackbean toasted wraps

salad

eggs + avo

// dinners //

pad thai

zucchini fritters + salad

zen bowls: roast veg, kale, chickpeas, brown rice, yeast flakes, nuts/seeds, tahini dressing

bbq veggie burgers or meat + salad

lentil dahl + quinoa

leftovers

// snacks //

bliss balls

nuts/seeds

boiled eggs

cherry tomatoes

// the baby //

We just introduced Peach’s first grain today (quinoa blended with some butter) so her meals this week will be based around getting to know quinoa combined with some fruit and veg combos she has already had along with one or two new ones (like cantaloupe and zucchini from the box). She has just started having two “meals” per day (though depending what it is she may do more playing than eating!)

mashed potato + carrot blend

baby kitchari

avocado + quinoa

banana

cantaloupe

zucchini + mash

Considering we are all eating quite different things at the moment, I think there should be enough on here to keep us all happy. We’re heading back to the beach for a few days so there will no doubt be the appearance of icecream cones and fish and chips at some point, because: summer, holidays, carefree, etc.

meal planning

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The last six months have been probably the fullest, busiest, craziest six months in my short history of parenthood thus far. With me heading back to work three days a week, Birdie starting three year old kinder plus a day of childcare and little Pixie going to childcare one, then two days per week, along with Prince Charming working his regular two jobs, our lives were jam packed with drop offs and pick ups, tearful goodbyes and all the in-betweens – cooking, cleaning, dressing, bathing, and so on. I’m not sad at all that the juggle of those six months are now behind us. We are starting the year with a clearer outlook and a readjustment of priorities. After seeing my little Bird develop a tendency towards being anxious and panicked, and less like her normal cheerful and bubbly self over these past six months, we all knew it was time to make change. She was not the only one feeling like this.

So. Last week was my final week of working three days. From this week onwards I’ll be working 1.5 – 2 days a week on average and the plan is that I will have a little bit more time, more energy for my girlies and will slowly wind down between now and end of April towards maternity leave, again!

And more time means one thing in this house: meal planning! Oh how I have missed being able to actually think about what we are going to eat for more than five minutes before we actually need to eat it.

This morning the girls and I spent an hour and a half cleaning out our fridge while PC was at work. It was actually frightening to see its contents, vomiting (literally: vomiting) out onto the kitchen floor. Needless to say, there was unfortunately a lot of waste and horrid, nasty things hiding in the dark depths that I never want to have to think or talk about again. Like in most other areas in our life, we are now ready for a fresh foodie start and I can see what we’ve got to work with.

This week we are planning on having:

:: Lentil loaf with sweet potato mash and veggies (using a combo of this, this and this recipe I reckon, all of which I’ve cooked before but I am missing at least one ingredient from each so there will be a lot of improvisation – ah, time for cooking improv, my favourite thing!)

:: Scrambled tofu and veg using a recipe I’ve made up myself after lots of failed and dry scrambled tofus!

:: Quinoa salad and roast veg.

:: Coriander chicken burgers and salad.

:: Stirfried brown rice with toasted nori and sesame, with maybe some avo, homemade hummus and veg, recipe from one of my all time favourite recipe books.

:: BBQ something and salad.

In the past two days I’ve made hommus, almond milk, chicken stock, candy bars (one of my fave recipes!), smoothies, egg free mayonnaise for this preggy belly (naughty!!!), and a variety of other meals around these staples. Yay. I’m baaaa-aaaackkk!

eating

One of the questions most commonly asked amongst my friends:

What’s for dinner tonight?

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We are a bunch that love to cook and swap recipes and inspire each other in this way. Another one of the most commonly repeated phrases:

I’m so bored with cooking! I don’t know what to make! I’m sick of all my recipes!

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I love hearing what my friends are making for dinner. It’s more often than not something I haven’t thought of making myself, which encourages me to try something new. I love hearing what other people’s staple meals are and what they cook if they have nothing planned and nothing in the fridge (this happens around here all too often due to bad planning on my part).

In saying that, as a rule I fill out a meal planner each week. I have tried to do this fortnightly or monthly but the longer my plan goes for, the more likely I am to run out of food or not have the ingredients I need so weekly works best for us.

I am finding it especially hard to think of things to eat while the heat wave continues in Melbourne. Yuck! We don’t have very good air conditioning so it makes it difficult to cook anything extravagant. I’m using my slow-cooker a lot as it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, along with the BBQ.

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This week we are having:

Monday // chicken, barley and veg stirfry

Tuesday // lentil dahl in the slow-cooker with brown rice and greens

Wednesday // salmon on the BBQ and salad

Thursday // brocolli and chickpea noodles

Friday // ooh potentially have a girlfriend coming over for a movie night so will put some more thought in here!

Saturday // rice paper rolls with raw satay sauce and salad (sounds la-di-da but is ridiculously easy)

Sunday // kid friendly pad thai with tofu

When I’m thinking about what to cook I have some basic rules. We are currently trying to eat more fish so I’m trying to schedule that in once a week. We eat red meat about once a fortnight and chicken around once a week. We don’t eat pork aside from bacon every now and again from our free-range butcher. Outside of that we eat vegetarian meals mainly based around legumes or another protein combination. I limit tofu to once a week, if that, due to high levels of processing and being unsure about my thoughts around soy consumption for the kidlets. That’s about it!

What’s for dinner at your place tonight?

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Some other food related posts you might be interested in:

Ditching the big guys

When breastfeeding costs more than formula

Comfort food

Feeding a small child: what has worked for me

 

getting organised

List, list, scribble, scribble. Quite boring really, isn’t it? Am I intriguing you with my wonderfully whimsical photography? What a bundle of entertainment I am. Nevertheless, the scribbly scribbly you see in the pictures above are a little insight into the daily runnings of our life. I’m sure you’re sitting on the edge of your seat.

Although I went back to work two days a week TEN months ago, I have had a lot of trouble getting into a weekly rhythm, and flowing between my work and home lives which I have talked about previously. Months later, I am slowly getting there. I thought I would share with you today the things that have helped me get things together and not feel like a headless chook (most of the time).

:: I have a million places where I record my week including a paper diary as well as my iPhone/mac calendar, which I am slowly trying to consolidate, but we sit down usually on a Sunday to bring the whole family’s activities together on our weekly planner. We were given this one as a gift but you could just as easily whip up a similar table in excel or word and use that.

:: I plan out our meals weekly according to what is in our organic fruit and vegetable box. I work Mondays and Tuesdays, and our fruit and veg arrives on a Wednesday, so it works quite well getting organised at the ‘start’ of my week. I have used a few different meal planners but prefer this one which I found here along with some other great meal planning resources.

:: Wednesdays I make a soup using all our leftover veg from the previous week which gets eaten for dinner that night and subsequent lunches/freezer meals. This will change soon due to summer coming, not sure quite what I will do for the Wednesday meal then (ideas?).

:: I have a daggy old notebook that sits on the kitchen bench. As I plan meals and run out of things during the week, I write it down straight away either under ‘supermarket’ / ‘organic shop’ / ‘local shops’. The next step would be to have a set day that I go shopping on, which currently doesn’t happen and is very sporadic.

:: Clothes in the washing machine each morning + hung out in the afternoon/evening, including a nappy wash every second or third day. This seems to work semi-well although we often run behind and have to catch up on weekends.

:: Sunday afternoon cooking session. On Sundays I usually cook up some brown rice or quinoa to have in the fridge for odd lunches or other meals throughout the week. I also try to make a batch of veg muffins and have just started making these amazing power bars from a great blog my sister introduced me to which have been a hit.

There are many more things I’d like to incorporate into my weekly rhythm, and many I have in addition to those above that I have not included here. It’s a work in progress, but that’s life, right?

Do you have weekly routines or rhythms that help you flow through your day to day life?