Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Easy Guacamole

One of the principles my Mother has stuck by when buying food, is to support local businesses as far as possible. This is something that I have always wanted to aim for, as it would be so sad to see local businesses close down, because you can buy everything in one place at the supermarket. So, I was thrilled when a few months after we moved into our house last year, a little greengrocers opened up around the corner from us. At the moment, the avocados he is selling are just delicious and we have been ploughing through them with great gusto. Today, I whipped up some guacamole for lunch, and polished off the lot. It's so simple and versatile, it almost doesn't need a recipe, but here's what I used:

1 ripe avocado (To test ripeness, press gently on the base - the widest point - of the avocado. If it has a little give in it, it's ready to eat.)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp creme fraiche or natural yoghurt
1 spring onion (scallion)
pinch of salt
plenty of crushed black pepper

Blitz everything together in a food processor, until it has reached the desired consistency.
Alternatively, mash by hand with a fork!
Serve with crackers, fajhitas or anything you like.


We haven't started giving Ruby food yet, but she was so fascinated by watching me eat the guacamole that I gave her a slice of plain avocado to explore. As you can see from her expression, she is certainly intrigued by it! 

Monday, 28 April 2014

The 52 Project: 17 / 52

'A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week in 2014.'

Dear Ruby,
You are five months old today, and each week has brought with it a lot of new changes recently. The sounds and squawks you make have changed a lot, and you love to grab my face with both of your hands and your mouth wide open, and chew away on any part of us that you can get your mouth around.

In other news, John fixed my laptop screen, so I can now blog normally again. As with everything that goes with having a baby we are constantly establishing a new 'normal'. In the early weeks of Ruby's life, she would sleep for great chunks of the day, making it very easy to get things done. In the last few months, that pattern of sleeping has totally changed in a way that I realistically can't blog until the evening. Please bear with me while my posting is so sporadic! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The 52 Project: 16/52

Dear Ruby,
This week you have tried drinking water for the first time, grown out of your pram, developed yet another cold, giggled a wonderful amount and gazed at bluebells. Thank you for bringing so much joy to us. 
Love, your Mama

Friday, 18 April 2014

Music and Memories

One of the things that I have marvelled at since Ruby was born, is the number of songs and nursery rhymes that have come to mind as I sing to Ruby, that were once sung to me as a child. I love how memories that were create separately can connect beautifully to one another, simply by the association of bring sung to as a baby, and singing to my own baby. 

My mother in law sat with Ruby on her knee, reciting the rhyme, 'this is how the lady rides, trit trot, trit trot, trit trot...' And I am taken back to visits to the eye hospital as a child. I remember sitting on my Father's knee and asking him to do the train ride game again and again. He wound bounce me up and down, making the sound of an old style train, chugging along with a chickety-ch, chickety-ch, and then at any given time, he would hold me tight and let me fall through his legs. I loved that feeling, the anticipation of what was to come, the whooshing in my tummy that's synonymous with roller coasters and love, but not quite knowing when that moment would be. 

While I was pregnant, I made a playlist of music that would help me relax during labour. I really loved having the calming influences of beautiful music playing on repeat as I laboured at home. One of the tracks was 'storms in Africa' by Enya. When Ruby was 15 weeks old, I started incorporating massage into her bedtime routine. I wanted to include some calming music to accompany this quiet, calming time before bed, and started playing 'Storms in Africa' as this is one of the few tracks on my phone that isn't one of my heart thumping, blood pumping running tracks. Knowing how strong our associations with music can be, I have continued playing this one track as I massage Ruby and settle her to sleep. And as she is lulled to sleep, I wonder if she remembers hearing the very same music that played as she journeyed into the world. 

This morning I watched a video that had a song by Enya as the background, and I smiled as I thought about admitting to you all that secretly, I kind of love her music. I thought about where this enjoyment for her music came from, and just like that, memories that were made years apart from oneanother, connected together like far flung star constellations, with nothing in common except for the music that is associated with those memories. As I listened to Enya's gentle voice,  I pinpointed where I had first heard her music. It was in the waiting room of the Orthodontic Practice that I visited for a good number of years as a teenager. I would sit there, wait for my name to be called, heralding my ascent of the spiral staircase, up to the Orthodontist's chair. And in that moment of recollecting the memory, my mind leapt forward to my final year of university. Enya returned as a musical companion in my final semester of my degree, when Hannah and I would study together in the beautiful Medical Sciences library. Hannah would bring her iPod along, and I remember scrolling through her music and discovering Enya. So, this wasn't just music for listening to in waiting rooms as a teenager, but to be shared with a kindred spirit while studying, and to keep me calm in the hours that led up to me meeting my daughter for the first time. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Blogging in brief.

There are a couple of factors that have affected my lack of frequency in blogging lately. One of these is that I trod on my laptop and consequently broke the screen. Until it is fixed, I have no way to upload the photos that I take on my DSLR, and rhek Blogger app for the ipad is somewhat limiting compared to the normal format. 

The second reason is that in the last couple of months, Ruby's sleeping pattern in the day has completely changed, and she has gone from sleeping for hours at a time, to having naps that last 40 minute. Without fail, I can guarantee that she will wake up 40 minutes after she has fallen asleep. The only exception to this is when we are out walking, when she will sleep for hours on end. As you can imagine, the time I have whirl a Ruby sleeps is quite previous, and there is a very limited number of things I can do in that time. Writing a comprehensive blog post us sadly not one of them. 

While I am limited as to how much photo taking and editing I can do with my DSLR, and he time I have to write, something that is very achieveable for me and that I love, is Instagram. One of the things that I have always wanted this blog to be, is a celebration of what I love and the beauty I see around me. Instagram provides me with the perfect outlet to capture and share life and beauty. So, my plan is to share some of the photos from my Instagram feed in this space. If you already follow me on Instagram, feel free to skip these posts, and I apologise for the repetition. 
Lately, Ruby and I have spent a lot of time enjoying the sunshine in the garden, and taking full advantage of the opportunity to dry multiple loads of laundry in one day. Ruby's at a stage where she is so curious and interested in exploring things, but is not yet able to sit, or tolerate much time on her tummy. This makes playing independently a slight challenge when we are outside, so I have been using the Bumbo to enable her to sit upright and explore some of her toys freely while I hang washing or dig up our garden. 

So having written this post before adding photos to it, it turns out I cannot for the life of me work out how to copy my Instagram photos into my blog posts using an ipad. If anyone knows how to do this, feel free to help me out in the comments section! The photos in this post are ones I have shared on Instagram in their pre-edited state. 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The 52 Project: 15/52

'A portrait of my daughter once a week, every week in 2014.'

Dear Ruby, this week we rediscovered a polar bear that you were given as a gift from your Dad's colleagues when you were born, and from the moment we handed him to you, you have been intent on munching on his face, only pausing momentarily to suck on your own hands. I love the way you are exploring the world around you with your hands and your mouth these days!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Five Minute Friday // Paint

It has been quite a number of months since I last participated in Five Minute Friday - in all honesty I have lost any inspiration to just write. But today, I felt the pull to join in this blogging link up once again, and I am so glad I did. Thank you, Lisa Jo for the encouragement to 'silence the inner critic' and just write for five minutes. 
had been planning this for weeks - envisaging over and over again what I intended to do. The process of putting paintbrush to paper in order to create some art for my daughter's bedroom. 
It has been years and years since I picked up a paintbrush, and in the years between then and now I have lost my paintbrushes and got rid of many of the painting supplies that I used to own. But these days, I am feeling the pull to create with paint. 
As a teenager I longed to be artistic. I would look at the friends and family around me who were able to capture beauty through their brush strokes in a way that I longed to do. And so I would paint, then, without fail, I would tear what I had made into pieces in the hope that I could make something more beautiful out of the brokenness I had created. I was never content with what I had done, and somehow hoped to disguise what I saw as the flaws in my brush strokes by creating abstract collages - layering paper and paint with sketches and tissue paper. 
It wasn't until my Father once told me that he admired the way I tore up my paintings in order to recreate something new, that I saw that perhaps this process I had developed out of my own insecurities in my artistic abilities, might just be a positive one. Even so, I left painting behind in my first year of university, and found that I could satisfy my need to be creative by baking and taking photographs. 

Back then, the process of painting was therapeutic, but also tinged with disappointment in myself. And I think how different things are now. This afternoon, I finally made it happen. I lay my daughter down to sleep, knowing that I only had forty minutes before she would wake up. I ran downstairs, gathered my newly purchased paint and brushes, ignored the chores that need to be done, and got down on my knees to paint. As I pulled the paint across the paper I imagined how I will teach my daughter the difference between shades and dark and light through these circles of colour I am creating. I smiled with a thankfulness that I am no longer hindered by the feeling of disappointment in what I might or might not be able to make. Instead, I revelled in those few moments of quiet, with the sunshine casting glorious light over the paper where I painted shades of colour, with the inspiration of the hand stitched quilt beside me, that first gave me the idea that I am now bringing into being with my paintbrush. 

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The 52 Project: 14/52

Dear Ruby,
This week you and I have developed colds. I am pretty sure that you feel as rough as I do, if not more so, judging by the concerned expression that your face held all day Friday. Little whimpering sounds have replaced your usual gleeful giggling, and so I did what made the most sense to me. I wrapped you up in your sling and carried you around the house, just like we did for the first three months of your life. We rarely spend our days like this anymore - you are becoming so much more active and interested in exploring with your hands and feet - and you spend more time awake than asleep during the day. So although I am missing your smile and your babbling, I am cherishing the opportunity to have you sleeping close to me.
Get well soon, little one.