Health. Primal Nutrition. Exercise. Motherhood. Sustainability & Creating various things.

My Creative Space: Homemade Wall Art

Recently, I've been doing a bit of homemade art work for our walls such as……

These are original old matchbox car boxes that I cut up and put in a thrifted frame.

Jacinda's frocks were too pretty to hide away in a cupboard, so I hung them on her bedroom wall.

And this framed Abbey Road puzzle I put up awhile ago, but I still like the look of it on our living room wall.

How Dietary Fat Improved My Health (yes, you read it right)

We live in the era of the Low-Fat diet. Simultaneously, we live in the era of obesity,heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Suspiciously, our Great-Grandparents who enjoyed cooking with Lard and ate Bacon and Eggs for breakfast were a generation relatively free from the effects of these diseases. Instead, as our generation eats their low fat cereal and sips at Trim Lattes, the rates of these common diseases soar. These lethal conditions of obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes are rampant in our society and not showing even the slightest hint of decline. If the Low-fat diet is as effective as the media portrays why are the rates of these modern diseases climbing?

I've tried the low-fat diet. At the time I wouldn't have classified myself as being overweight though, I was competing as a lightweight single sculler in the sport of Rowing, this meant I needed to keep my weight down, regardless of my bodies composition in order to meet the weight limit of my races. During my efforts to eat low-fat I was plagued by a number of maladies that I now realize were caused by a combination of my low-fat diet and long endurance training sessions these included: constant hunger, frequent colds and flu, depression, chronic headaches, lethargy, high levels of cortisol in my blood (caused by stress), deficiency in Vitamin D  and Amenorrhoea. Was I successful? well that depends what you call success, I achieved the number I needed to have on the scales but I wasn't what I would consider lean and I definitely was not what I would consider healthy.

One of the first things I did when I decided to try the Primal way of eating, was to add back the fat to my diet and lot's of it. While the typical dieter would cringe at the thought of butter, cream, full fat milk, avocado, nuts, chicken skin and pork crackling I was devouring the lot! waking up my poor neglected taste buds, replenishing both my nutrient starved body AND mind and looking at the clock in astonishment as I would go for 4 or more hours without even the slightest pang of hunger.  Now, I will forgive you if  you think that this type of eating sent me on a downward spiral towards a life of chubbiness and feeling breathless walking up the stairs, since it is the complete and utter opposite way of eating that a health conscience individual would strive towards, I had my hesitations too. But I did some reading on the subject and felt confident that is was worth at least a try. This is why….

1. Fat does not induce an insulin response. Since excess insulin is what promotes fat storage,I would not risk gaining body fat.

2. Fat makes you feel full, which means that I would not overeat or feel the need to snack on sweet foods in between meals. This would help the constant hunger that I was experiencing.

3. Fat aids the digestion of the Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. This would improve my Vitamin D deficiency naturally, which in turn would help my depression and immunity since I was experiencing frequent colds and flu.

4. Fat is needed for digestion. In Nina Planck's book 'Real Food: What to Eat and Why' she states that "Without Fat, digestion literally fails and you starve, even if you are eating plenty of food". Again, dietary fat would help the constant hunger that I was experiencing.

5. The human brain and nerves are made of 60% fat. Which would mean improvements in my chronic headaches and depression.

After a month of eating like a primal cave woman, fat and all! EVERY one of my previous complaints mysteriously vanished and  I was setting new records almost weekly at the gym. As for my body composition, I will not lie and say I was lighter than my rowing days or that I was now sporting a six pack. I was a few kilos heavier than when I was rowing, a direct result of muscle gain from lifting weights but my body fat was, at an educated guess, the same as when I was training up to four hours a day and eating a low fat diet (taking into account that I was nursing my first baby at this time and adequate fat stores were still vital for this time of life).

Here are some of the small ways that I now get fat into my diet everyday:

 - A put a big Tablespoon of coconut oil into my smoothies (interestingly the times when I have run out of coconut oil my breakfast smoothie doesn't get me through until lunchtime and I need to have a morning snack)

 - I add lots of Avocado and Olive Oil to Salads

 - I snack on nuts

 - I cook with butter - YUM!

 - I eat chicken with the skin on

 - I no longer trim the excess fat on meat

 - I use cream and Full-Fat dairy products such as Greek Yogurt

Loving....'The Kings Speech'

 'The Kings Speech' has been the best movie I have seen so far this year. Not only is it entertaining and funny, but it is also a true story!


Although it's early Autumn, it still feels like Summer

'365 Days of Nothing New'. Done!

Last year I posted about my '365 days of nothing new challenge' now that the 365 days have come to an end I cannot claim complete success, but I can claim a greater awareness as to  how I spend my money.

This awareness is not solely about saving some pennies, because although the majority of the time I am choosing the thriftier option by buying secondhand or making something myself, there are times when the ethical option is a more expensive option, such as buying New Zealand made, handmade or opting for higher quality items in order to last the distance therefore reducing landfill and excessive consumption.

Here are a few tricks for buying secondhand and handmade that I've picked up during my year long challenge and some great resources that I would love to share with you……

Op Shopping:
This one has no rules, just get stuck in and see what you can find! it can be daunting walking into some of the op shops as they initially come across  smelling of dust and looking like a pile of rubbish in some cases. But there are gems to be found such as…..

These Leather McKinley Shoes for Jacinda

A Children's gardening Set

Retro Sheets that I made into a Change Mat and Place Mats

An Autumn Scarf for me

Vintage Children's Books

And these Vintage Sewing Patterns and Frames that I put together and hung up in my sewing corner

When it comes to Op-Shopping I have been guilty of getting a bit carried away and coming away with things I don't really need, so to prevent this  I now keep a running list in the back of my diary of things I need, although not straight away, and I can pop in to my local op shop every couple of weeks to see whats on offer. At the moment this looks a little like this….

  • Small forks and plates for Jacinda
  • Winter Clothing for Jacinda 
  • Good quality fabric for sewing (in the form of tablecloths, sheets or large sized clothing)
  • Good Quality wool (either in balls or clothing/blankets that I can unravel)
  • Sewing Patterns 
  • Cot Sheets (or big sheets that can be cut down to make cot sheets)
  • A Soup Ladel

Online e.g Trade Me or Ebay
I found that online auctions are better when you know exactly what you want, down to the brand, size or colour as well as bigger, more expensive items. It is really useful to place a search that emails you when new listings appear as many of the best deals get snapped up fast and it saves you from getting side-tracked while trawling through all the adverts.

A few online bargains I got this year have been…..

Chuck Taylors

Nature Baby Moses Basket (unused)

Raincoat for Jacinda

and cosy merinos that needed some minor repairs

P.S To avoid hassle, remember to check feedback ratings and postage prices

Handmade from Craft Markets
Craft Markets are splendid! I love looking at the goodies made by the array of creative people in my community and they make great gifts for friends and family. They goods aren't exactly cheap (if they were to make them the same price as in the mall these talented people would be working for nothing, maybe even a loss!) but by buying these crafts you are supporting locals to do what they love doing, as well as getting some original pieces of top, handmade quality.  Check out Felt too, as this is just like a craft market, yet online and New Zealand made.

Handmade Online
Etsy is the creme de la creme of online vintage and handmade goodies from all over the world. I could literally spend hours looking through the listings and getting very excited by what I see (which also makes it a good source of inspiration for my own projects!). Although I love Etsy dearly, I would have to call her an "occasional treat" a " guilty pleasure" because she is, at times pricey and not the greenest of options due to the worldwide shipping in most cases (although, in saying that  you are able search within your region)

What Etsy is best for is sewing and knitting patterns, as there are many users with beautiful designs from beginner to advanced and they can be sent to you as a PDF file, which is nice and easy.

Here are a few of my Etsy treats this year

Felted Wool Slippers

Handmade Waldorf Dolly

A Todos Los Dias Grises Raincoat

And a Leila and Ben Dress Pattern

Go on then, I challenge you to '365 days of nothing new' !!

Tropical Smoothies

This Smoothie is great for hot afternoons and you can even freeze it into ice block moulds for the kids!

1/2 a can of coconut milk 
1/2 a can of crushed pineapple (drained)
A few ice cubes 
Juice of 1/2 a lime 
Good quality whey protein (optional)
Few Mint Leaves (optional)

The 'Primal', 'Paleo' or 'Caveman' Lifestyle, What is it?

Before I became a Mother, I was a Personal Fitness Trainer and a Competitive Rower. During the past two years, I have stepped back from the fitness industry and the world of competitive sport in order to raise my children, but I have continued to read and research the subject as it still remains a great interest of mine.

Maybe it's because of my absence from the fitness industry or that I now have freedom to read my choice of material (as opposed to what I was required to study to keep my P.T registration up-dated) or that I no longer have to adhere to a pre-set training plan regardless of my energy levels, but my perspective on what health and wellness is has definitely changed and I am now 100% sure that the majority of what I previously learnt about Exercise and Nutrition is incorrect.

What I now believe to be the most effective way to achieve optimal health and well being is to follow what is known in various circles as a 'Primal', 'Paleolithic/ Paleo' or 'Caveman' Lifestyle. The deeper I venture into the subject the more I am amazed by how intricately our bodies are tuned to the earth and the more I realize I need to write about what I have discovered in order to spread the word about this ridiculously simple way to achieve an abundance of health and energy.

Being such a broad subject, I am going to start off with a brief overview. I also welcome any questions that you may have or suggestions for blog posts that would be of interest to you, you can do this by posting in the comments box below.

So, What is Primal Living?
Once upon a time, us humans only ate what we could hunt for or forage for with our bare hands (or maybe if we were lucky, a stick!) This hunting and gathering was also one half of our physical exercise, the other half was protecting ourselves from larger species that were hunting after us for their food!

The result of our ancestors lifestyle was a body free from the diseases and ailments so common today, a physique that would match that of an Olympian and an energy level unknown to most of us who now live with the malaise that results from the overtired, overstimulated, overstressed world of today. To live a Primal Lifestyle in 2011 is to replicate within our culture the life our paleolithic ancestors lived and thrived on.

What is Considered Primal Nutrition?
In short…
  • Meat 
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit 
  • Nuts 
  • Seeds 
  • Coconut 
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • herbs and spices
  • Water
  • Limited dairy
  • Preferably local, organic produce

What is NOT Considered Primal Nutrition?
  • Anything that comes in a Packet
  • Grains
  • Legumes 
  • Margarine
  • Hydrogenated Oils 
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol 
  • Artificial Sweeteners e.g nutra-sweet, Equal 
  • Anything that wasn't around for your great grandparents to eat

What Is Primal Exercise?
Our paleolithic ancestors exercise was purely hunting and gathering for food as well as protecting themselves from becoming food! To hunt, paleolithic man would of walked around looking for his prey and then attacked using his maximum capacity of speed and strength in order to make the kill. To Gather, he would of walked around looking for the produce the current season had to offer by climbing trees and lifting up heavy things such as rocks and branches in order to locate his next meal. Therefore, Primal Exercise in 2011 is replicated by lots of low level intensity such as walking at a comfortable pace interspersed with short maximal efforts that utilize sprinting, heavy lifting and body weight exercises.

What ISN'T Primal Exercise?
Our paleolithic ancestors did not jog or power walk (unless it was a life and death situation) because it was not efficient and would leave them fatigued, therefore more susceptible to becoming prey for the animals who were higher up the food chain. They did not repeat isolated exercises within small muscle groups e.g bicep curls or crunches because it was unnecessary and they did not use exercise machines.

I hope to share with you the things I am continually learning about this way of living, my personal experiences as well as some of the more practical solutions to modern day Primal Living such as recipes (most of the recipes I have previously posted are Primal), what to look for when buying food, dealing with social situations that offer non-Primal food, Children and a Primal Lifestyle and deciphering the way your body tells you if it likes or dislikes your food and/or your exercise regime.

Loving......Etsy Rainwear.

Last year, when I was in New York during their 'Fall' we had a few rainy days. The people of Manhattan don't have the luxury of driving everywhere in their cars, many of them commute on foot even when the rain is falling, and I have to hand it to them, they do so very fashionably! with funky rain coats, gumboots and umbrellas.

Here's a snippet of some Etsy finds that remind me of New Yorkers in the rain.......

Vintage Rain Coat from Max and ChiChi

 Yellow Rain Jacket from Todos Los Dias Grises

Pink Rain Coat from Just Kitsch

Vintage Umbrella from Vandylee Vintage

Vintage Waterproof Black Rubber Wellies from Vintage Darling

Happy Rainy Days!

From Old T-Shirt to Dolly Sling (No Sewing Required!)

Only 7 more weeks now until Jacinda becomes a Big Sister! 

She loves playing with her Dolly, she also loves imitating me! So, I am getting her prepared for our new arrival by showing her the ways I'll be caring for her new brother or sister, and giving her some little handmade items, such as this sling, so that she can 'Copy Mama' by looking after her baby too.    

You Will Need:
  • A old, adult sized T-Shirt or Singlet, in a stretch material (to avoid fraying and make putting dolly into the sling easy for little ones)
  • Scissors

To Make:
  • Place the T-Shirt on a flat surface and cut off the neckline and sleeves so that you are left with only the body.

  • Choose a side seam and cut down either side so that you are left with a single layer of fabric.

  • Place the Fabric diagonally around your toddlers chest and back, securing with a knot on the shoulder. Adjust if needed.

  • Pop Dolly in the sling for a cuddle!