“Every journey begins with a small step…”

“… every race has a starting line.”

So begins one of our Year 6 songs this summer, as they prepare to leave primary school.

What journey are you starting out on? Or rather, what journey do you have to start out on, but haven’t yet made that small step?

For me, I’ve been in a seemingly endless cycle of mistreating my body and my health: drinking excessively; smoking; late nights and early rises; over eating; under eating; exercise regimes that never quite last.

The journey I am on at the moment is a difficult one. I am a mother, and a wife, a daughter and a sister. I want to be healthy, to live a long life. I want to be physically strong, so my own daughter will have an example of what it is to live well. And yet, when I snatch a glimpse of myself in the mirror before bed, it all comes back down to weight and aesthetics once more.

As I said in my previous post, I did not start running earlier in the year because I wanted to lose weight. My journey began because I wanted to be fit, both mentally and physically. And that’s still true. What’s changed is that I have come to realise that it isn’t enough to simply run 5K 3 times a week, nor play a bit of netball. I need to get serious about how I fuel my body.

Over the last 10 days or so, I have felt exhausted. Clearly, I am not getting enough sleep and my body isn’t getting the right sort of energy from the food I am putting in. (Seriously, any tips would be gratefully received!!)

So I am stood at the starting line, waiting to take that small step. As with much of my life, I’ll be winging it and seeing what works well. Let’s see what this body of mine can do when it is fuelled correctly.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honour God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20)

Breastfeeding Exhaustion

When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s a God send if you can get them to take a bottle. Not necessarily with formula inside (if you don’t want to, but if you do that’s also fine), just expressed milk. It means you can have a few hours ‘off’, where your baby is not wholly reliant on you. That’s a God send for 2 reasons: responsibility and exhaustion.

Responsibility is great. We work towards gaining it in careers, and as we go from children to teenagers to adults. We learn that it is a good thing to be responsible and to have responsibilities. But when you are solely responsible for feeding your child, because they flat out refuse a bottle, that responsibility can be quite heavy. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love breastfeeding. Really love it. I’m thinking about training to be a breastfeeding support worker, so I can help other women to feel empowered about feeding their own child with what nature has blessed us with. But there are 2 sides to every story, as they say, and the down side of breastfeeding, when your child won’t take a bottle, is that all of that responsibility is on you.

Rather like in Mad Max: Fury Road, where the ‘mothers’ are constantly having babies so their milk production will continue. Their milk is then pumped all day and night, to ensure that the King and his cronies are nourished and hydrated in their droughted land. Those mothers are entirely responsible for the feeding of their King, where they are physically enslaved.


Now, it’s not to say I feel enslaved. Just that it would be nice if she might take a bottle every now and again.

But the bigger, seemingly unspoken / not understood thing about breastfeeding is the exhaustion. Now, this isn’t because my little girl is awake all night. That’s just normal parenting tiredness and, actually, she only tends to wake once in the night now which I can just about manage. This is about the physical exhaustion that happens because your body is burning an extra 600 calories a day. 

That’s right, 600 calories! I thought the best way to give you an idea of what that means would be to list some of the things you’d have to do to burn 600 calories.

1. Swim for 3 hours continuously.

2. Run at a pace of 10mph for around 3 hours.

3. Cycle for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

4. Do an hour of sit ups.

5. Walk for 3 hours.

Choose one of those activities, and imagine how hungry you might be afterwards. Imagine the physical toll it would take on your body if you did it every day. 

Breastfeeding is wonderful. Breastfeeding (now we have latch sorted and supply established) is simple, clean and easy. Breastfeeding is free. Breastfeeding is empowering. Breastfeeding is remarkable – I’m in awe of my body. Breastfeeding is the best thing I’ve ever done; the thing that’s made me proudest in my life. 

Breastfeeding is exhausting too, especially if your baby won’t take a bottle. It’s worth it though. It really is. It is such a short time in her life, in the grand scheme of things. And it is such a small sacrifice in what will be a life filled with sacrifices.

Next time you see a lady breastfeeding, perhaps tell her she’s doing a great job (if you feel brave enough) – you should probably tell any parent this anyway, because words of affirmation are amazing when you’re tired and making it up as you go along. If you’re sat in a cafe, and feeling kind, maybe tell a waitress to send over a glass of water and a slice of cake. Cake is good because it feels like a guilty pleasure, but we literally need the calories. 

Remember, breastfeeding is great. I’d recommend it to anyone. But make sure you’ve got a supply of cake and or biscuits to hand. You’ll need them!

Also, post-feed sleepy cuddles are amazing!

Tea & Cake

In my final year at university, part way through my final teaching placement, my godmother gave me a lovely teacup, saucer and side plate set. Her reasoning, as a retired teacher, was that sometimes you just have days where a lovely cup of tea and a slice of cake on a pretty plate is everything you need.

Today was not one of those days. Today was a fabulous days. We didn’t do anything particularly wonderful; it was like many other Mondays. We drove to Casterton and had a wander around the school; we played and sang and giggle; we fed and changed nappies; we smiled and had naps. Like I said, much like any other day.

Today was, however, also the day I realised that I had reserved my dainty cup of tea and slice of cake for days when I was beaten down, tired, or stressed. Days when lessons hadn’t gone well, or if an observation hadn’t been good. Days when I needed just a little something special to make me smile. But what about the days that are brilliant? The days where I laugh, and smile, and sing in the shower? What about those days? Don’t they deserve a little something special at the end of them?

So, this evening I baked a very sticky lemon drizzle. I cut myself a slice, and poured myself a cup of tea. 

Mummy’s Chicken Curry

Mummy’s chicken curry, because it’s the first curry my mum taught me to make, and it’s the curry that sustains me as I breastfeed my lovely little one. It is so simple to make, and very tasty. If you don’t like courgettes, you can switch them out for anything. I like potatoes and brocolli, but would make less sauce for that.Ingredients: leftover chicken breast, 1 courgette, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 tin coconut milk, powdered spices (chilli, paprika, coriander, ginger, cumin), cornflour, creme fraiche

1. Brown chicken meat on a high heat, with a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. It’s already cooked (leftovers) so you don’t need to do this for long. 


2. Chuck in the chopped courgette and cook. Turn the heat down.

3. Chuck in the spices. Now, how much you use is up to you and your taste buds. I always start with 1 teaspoon of cumin, coriander and ginger, and 2 teaspoons of chilli and paprika. You can always add more later on. I usually end up adding another teaspoon of coriander and chilli. Once you’ve put the spices in, stir it all in so the chicken and courgettes are nicely coated in spice.


4. Throw in one can of chopped tomatoes, and stir in.

5. Throw in one can of coconut milk. This is my second favourite bit… It’s amazing! The cream is a thick paste at the top of the can, and as you spoon it out, the watery coconut milk suddenly pours out. Yum! Once that is all in the pan, stir it all together.


6. In a bowl, mix one tablespoon of cornflour with 3 tablespoons of creme fraiche. If you use heaped tablespoon of cornflour, make sure you use heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche too. Essentially, it’s one part cornflour, three parts creme fraiche.

7. Stir the creme fraiche cornflour combination into the curry. You will need to heat the curry gently for a couple of minutes until it thickens, and serve it with rice and naan bread.

Fork

A challenge this morning, to write a post prompted by the word ‘fork’.

Whilst visiting a mission partner in Kenya in 2013, each night the team and I ate with the children at the children’s home. Each night they would lay the table with just 6 knives and 6 forks, despite there being far more people. Why?

Because they didn’t use a fork to scoop the food into their mouths. The first night I observed and then, consequently, copied the following nights. The children were clearly amused at me, as I learned a new skill.

I would have to take the corn starch and pat it together in my hand, before using this improvised fork to scoop up the meat and sauce into my mouth. It was a challenge, very messy, but good fun.

Leftovers

About 3 weeks ago my husband and I decided enough was enough. We were forever throwing away bits and pieces of food, never using everything. Sometimes we would remember to freeze it, or maybe eat it for lunch the next day, but we were mostly just chucking stuff. What a waste!

So, we are in week 3 of mission leftovers. #economygastronomy

On the Friday evening we do our weekly shop, buying enough for 4 whole meals and lunches. But… We only buy one joint of meat. The rest is vegetables and carbs and pulses etc. We have had great variety of meals; I am feeling healthier and leaner; I have more energy; and we have barely thrown anything away. Below is our meals…

Week 1 – Roast Chicken with leeks, cabbage, potatoes (mashed and roasted). From that we had chicken enchiladas, chicken broth (including the bones) and a hearty chicken and leek pie. I even used the leftover pastry with some leftover cheese to make cheese straws.

Week 2 – Roast Beef with leeks, cabbage, potatoes (mashed and roasted). From that we had stir fry, and a Moroccan beef with couscous. 

Week 3 – Roast Chicken with leeks, cabbage, roast potatoes, roast parsnips. So far from that we have had chicken broth, and Eddy has had some yummy chicken pieces. The rest of the week will see homemade chicken curry, and chicken Caesar salad.

Ok, so the roast dinner is pretty much the same each week, but we know what we like so why mess with it? We have rarely had a roast since we’ve been married, because it seems like a lot of effort for just the two of us, and for only one meal. But now, we get to enjoy a roast dinner together each week, and then enjoy the meat into the week. It just requires a little forward planning, freezer bags, and some imagination.

How can you use your leftovers? How could I use mine? Got some recipe ideas for me? Comment below!