Five years ago, when I first started my blog and Twitter was a free-for-all every-night house party, I met Cate Bolt. I say “met”, although I’ve never seen her in the flesh in my life. She could be a 13-year-old called Steve, for all I know. But that’s quite a commitment to an extensive back story – Steve has nine children and an orphanage in Bali keeping vulnerable young girls out of sex trafficking.
It’s been quiet here, huh? I’ve had a lot on my mind (and on my to-do list) so I’ve been re-evaluating some stuff. I still don’t know what I’m doing, or where I’m going, but I think I may arrive at a conclusion soon. I think. I hope!
While my brain’s been whirring and my heart’s been AWOL, I’ve just been trundling along, doing the mundane and finding relief in its mindless usefulness.
I posted this on Instagram a little while ago – someone asked me what I was doing, and I replied I was wondering if I should change this uneven picture situation, or if I should let it go.
Like many people I’ve talked to, my life organisational skills are half pen-and-paper, half something-that-will-ding-on-my-phone-and-remind-me.
I love handwriting things so I can see it all at a glance (plus I’m a stationery fiend) but nothing on any bit of paper ever will remind me when it’s actually time to do something. Bless you, phone alerts. I’m not sure I could function without you.
Once upon a time I was at uni (and doing very well with paper schedules thankyouverymuch), and I read my usual Betty Crocker email that landed in my inbox that week. I think I signed up sometime in 2002 and I still get it to this day although the recipes are either very meaty or very from a processed box and I don’t eat either. Nostalgia? Who knows. Probably laziness.
To cut a long story short, in one of those emails was a link to Cozi – a new website with calendars for you to keep track of all your family’s schedules. I didn’t have a family, but I like that sort of shit, so I signed up. And never used it. Oh wait – I did use the shopping list feature. You could have one massive master list and then create a smaller list from that. It was super-handy.
When I did end up with a family, I logged back in and poked around and it has become the greatest thing that has kept me sane in the last four years. When they came out with an iPhone app, I just about cried.
Allow me to explain how the hell this has been so useful (and this isn’t sponsored, just very, very handy!). Cozi is free, but some of the features require a membership payment of $20 a year. Which I paid. Gladly.
This is the home page – where you can see the day’s calendar, today’s to-do list, and the links along the sides for shopping lists, meal planning, and other to-do lists. I usually hang in the calendar section.
I put every event I need to keep track of in Cozi as soon as I get it or I know I’ll forget. I have the app on my phone and iPad too, so there’s always something handy. You can choose which person the activity or event belongs to (the coloured dot) as well as blocking out time in 15-minute increments. You can opt to have yourself (and the person who’s activity or event it is) sent a reminder via email and/or phone. You can set up to three reminders if you’re a Gold member (hehe Goldmember), and Cozi will also send you an email Sunday night with the schedule for your week ahead.
You can also sync it with Google calendars, iCal, or other calendars you are a part of. You can also opt to have your country’s public holiday calendar added. Very clever!
The list section is my second most-used section and it keeps track of everything, including a rough daily schedule. I assigned them all to me (the pink dot) but if there is a list of stuff I need Lunchbox to do, I’ll assign it to him. We have a family password and although he’s never logged in, he gets the email reminders and can access the list from wherever he needs to.
A while ago I had to come up with a game plan for daily life or nothing would get done. It was hairy for a while there and I was wasting what precious little time I did have. So now I have a Monday list, a Tuesday list, etc, to remind me what days I respond to email, what days I clean the bathroom, that sort of thing. It’s changeable and it sounds REALLY GOOD when you check something off your list. So productive. I put things on the list just so I can check it off and hear the little checked-off noise. So satisfying.
Each day I just uncheck the things that need doing and start again.
It’s super handy because I can have separate lists for separate jobs, all accessible in one place from all devices.
Super-handy feature number three (besides the birthday reminders which are awesome because I always forget everyone’s and I can also remind myself in advance/contact list where I can write every man and his dog and their address and birthday and kid’s birthday) is the dinner planner. You can write a meal a day and it shows up on your calendar so you know at a glance what you’re doing that day/week. It’s changeable so if you don’t feel like pasta that night (how could you) you can swap it for something else.
Et voila, a reminder every day what you’re having in case you have to defrost something, or have to get something from the shops. They even have another app called Dinner Decider, and it will plan you a week’s worth of meals without you having to do a thing. It will even print you a shopping list.
I don’t often use the journal function, nor the messages function because nobody reads it but me.
So there you have it – the mothership of VMHQ information, from whence all my organisation comes. I’ve used a few online organisational apps and this is the only one I really gelled with.
I’m curious though, what do you use? Something online? A trusty diary?
Once upon a time, my great gut and I were on the cover of Peppermint Magazine, which is a favourite of mine. A beautiful collection of all things eco-friendly and sustainable in the areas of fashion and lifestyle, I always find at least twelve things I want to buy and eight people I fall in love with.
One of those people is Peppermint’s founder, Kelley Sheenan. An absolute powerhouse breaking the rule that says print is outdated, and breaking stereotypes that sustainable fashion revolves around hemp pants that retail for $800 apiece that you wouldn’t be caught dead in.
Kelley’s drive to make her magazine the best it can be was obvious from the start. It is 100% carbon neutral and filled with only inspiring, creative, thought-provoking editorials and features. I wrote a few pieces and have never in my life had my articles sent back so many times for reworking – time and time again until it was just right. I was embarrassed, but in awe of Kelley’s unflinching standards. I love anyone who can kindly but firmly bring out the best in people to create a product that shines. Say hello to kick-ass Kelley!
What was the catalyst that made you start Peppermint?
I was living in Auckland and producing a very small clothes range that I sold at a local fashion market. The more I started learning about the detrimental impact of the fabrics and the ethics (or lack of) in the industry, I was stunned – as a designer myself, how could I not know those things? And obviously that meant the general public had even less information – so I decided I wanted to try and combine my background in graphic design and fashion to bring that knowledge to everyone else. But I decided it had to not just be informative, but fun and inspiring… and so Peppermint was born!
Why a print magazine, and not online?
I always believed it was important to have a presence on the newsstand, to be an alternative to the usual mindless gossip mags, and to bring the magazine and its ideals to the mainstream.
What is your inspiration?
Sounds cliched but it would be my son. I don’t want him growing up in a world where ethics, health and environment are ignored for financial gain. While I can’t protect him from it completely, I want to help create and showcase an alternative way – to show that there are options, and that these issues matter.
How did you find your groove with work and family?
It was incredibly hard for the first few years – I definitely would be the first to say that it wasn’t juggled that effectively! I used to work through the night, work frantically when he went to sleep in his pram, and snatch any spare moments I could. My ex-husband helped a lot, and some family members did too. I was a woman on a mission and didn’t give up! Thankfully now we are in a much better space, but it wasn’t easy for a long time. Now that things are flourishing (and I have more help!) I get to spend more time with my son, pick him up from school as often as possible and be there when he needs me, which makes it all worth it in the end.
What do you wish you had more time in the day for?
Time for me. Being a single mum with my own business doesn’t leave much me time.
How do you hold yourself back from buying one of every amazing thing that you feature?!
It’s insanely hard!!! It’s like a giant wish list. At least friends know what to buy me for presents…
Where do you see Peppermint in the future?
I think it will be an evolving creature… I would love to see it reach more people and grow fantastically! Having said that, my ultimate goal would one day for it to be redundant, due to all fashion being fair and sustainable.
Vegemite or Peanut Butter?
Do you really want to start me on food?! I recently started a personal blog about our lives – sideorderofglad.com – focusing on wholefood, health and happiness for kids… it’s my next incarnation (when I find time!!). If I had to choose one, I’d say vegemite. I don’t eat peanuts – they are not nuts (they are a legume) and are too high in omega 6 and also usually cooked in vegetable oils. Sorry… I’ll stop now!!! (cashew or almond butter wins every time)
Kelley is also very generously giving away a year’s subscription to Peppermint Magazine to one very lucky duck! All you have to do is answer the question “If you could start a magazine, what would it be about?” One winner will be chosen on the merit of their answer next Tuesday February 3 and contacted by email. Good luck!
We ate pancakes and homemade jam.
We saw the sun set on 2014.
At 10pm, thanks Melbourne.
We saw 11 sets of midnight fireworks from our bedroom balcony, including the city ones. Rad.
I finished three books.
What did you do? Was it fun? Did you have a good Christmas? Did you eat New Year’s Eve cheese? That’s about all I ate.
I can’t say I’m much of a “cleanser”, a “detoxer” or whatever the buzzword is these days. I figure as long as my kidneys and liver are working correctly, I don’t eat too much shit, and I drink enough water, then I’m detoxing pretty much constantly as a natural part of my body’s function, right?
Plus I really, really like food.
I tried a juice cleanse once, in my very early 20s. The glossy magazine warned if my party season had been especially hectic, to expect a headache somewhere on the second day. I got it halfway through my first, and gave up by 6pm, desperately eating vegemite toast on the floor in my green laminate kitchenette.
Intrigued by the current cleanses featuring actual food, I recently tried the Dr Oz 48-hour Weekend Cleanse. I made it through exactly 24 hours. The thought of facing the food that wasn’t particularly palatable again the second day was a little bit too much for me to bear. The intrigue had well and truly worn off by day two! But I couldn’t ignore the fact that sometimes my diet was utterly reprehensible, and I reached for many a white carb where I should have been reaching for veggies. Something had to be done.
When my husband told me he was going on a pretty strict regimen first thing in the new year, I decided to join him. His would be four weeks, mine would be at least one. I cobbled it together from the Dr Oz cleanse, the Goop Detox, and basically everything out of The Whole Pantry cookbook – gluten, sugar, and dairy-free, veggie-packed goodness.
I didn’t really have any except to see what I would eat when forced to ignore my usual standbys, and when I tried harder to eat more nutritious foods (including veggies). I didn’t need to lose weight, I wasn’t particularly toxic – but I can’t deny my diet needed a shakeup.
The usual. No dairy, gluten, sugar, soy, processed food, drink lots of water, lemon water in the morning (to “kickstart” my already perfectly-functioning digestion, but what the hell), basically an elimination diet with extra fluids to flush things along. I was going to take a probiotic at least once a day as well as my usual multivitamin and dose of iron (I take Floradix).
I can’t really call today the start of my cleanse (for want of a better word), but I will. Even though I fully intend to indulge in a little of last night’s leftovers: half a bottle of crisp white wine, and assorted cheese – admittedly not the good ones, but party cheese nonetheless. I do feel as though the morning juice after several jalapeno margaritas the night before was exactly the right choice, though.
I seemed to power through today no dramas, and I definitely wasn’t hungry. I didn’t snack until just before dinner as I was busy having an accidental three-hour nap. I woke at 6.30pm and began assembling the dinner salad, which I didn’t finish until nearly 9pm in between feeding the kids, bathing the kids, and putting them to bed.
The salad is a lovely little Yotam Ottolenghi number, one I totally bastardised because I was out of broad beans and currants (shameful, I know). It required bits of things to cool down in between.
The wine gave me a cracker of a headache after only a few sips so I passed it along to the husband.
Forgot the lemon water today, but the smoothie probably made up for it. A little too much maca, though… ick. It lasted me most of the morning, until I realised just before we left for the pool that I might get hungry soon. I had apple slices with almond butter in the car, and complained about the heat.
I swam, and then sunned myself in the 39C business like a contented beached whale. (wait, is that an oxymoron?)
Salad leftovers were for lunch, which tasted better than the day before. Always the way.
Got almost a quarter of the way through Gone Girl this afternoon, so obviously wasn’t expending too much energy. Had a mugful of pea soup as a midafternoon snack, then spent the rest of the evening cooking things. I’ve borrowed a Thermomix, so I made the veggie stock concentrate and the thai curry paste. I also made sweet chilli sauce and the Berry Chia Jam from The Whole Pantry cookbook. I attempted the quinoa flatbreads for our taco dinner but it was an epic disaster. I just couldn’t get the dough right and it was getting late – I was too hungry to keep experimenting. I’m positive it’s me, not the recipe!
For the taco filling, I sautéed two cloves of garlic, half an onion, and a handful of kale until soft. Added drained canned black beans, two chipotle chillies with a bit of the sauce, some tomato passata, salt, and roasted diced butternut pumpkin. Would have gladly added cumin if I’d had any.
The flatbread disaster dictated I eat all of this out of a bought taco shell (or two) as I just couldn’t face wrapping the lot in a lettuce leaf after all I’d been through. Too hungry and disheartened for that shit. Added organic cheddar to soothe the frazzled nerves, what the hell, I deserved it. Also added red onion, coriander, lettuce and a splash of hot sauce. Dutifully avoided the sour cream and avocado dip available. It took me a while to recover from that.
January 3, 2015
It is still hot as Hades outside, so we’ve declared today a blinds-down aircon day. I remember the lemon water this time, but still can’t make more juice owning to the fact we left a vital piece of the juicer in Queensland. The first day I made it in the blender (after I learned the hard way about the missing bit), but that is entirely too much dicking around.
We make pancakes from The Whole Pantry cookbook, a buckwheat/brown rice flour/nut milk affair, topped with the raspberry chia jam we all appear to love, a little maple syrup, and what I hoped was the thick coconut cream on top of the can of coconut milk, but in reality was just coconut milk. Still tasted good. Healthy, but good.
We brave the stores as the husband has something to get, and by lunchtime, I’m starving. I buy a juice and nibble on a Loving Earth Luvju I have in my purse for such emergencies. It’s made from organic dates and cashews and rose oil and other virtuous things.
Lunch proper is soup again, but it’s delicious so I don’t mind carrying on for three days straight. I sauteed an onion and some garlic until soft, added a kilo of frozen peas, some mint, and a litre of stock. Simmered until soft, and blended. Topped with cracked black pepper and fresh watercress.
Earlier at the shops we were buying Vegemite, for the kids, and I immediately wanted to eat it. I realise I can’t eat all the usual Vegemite vehicles, so I buy a bag of rice cakes. Eat two later when I get hungry but they don’t cut it. Eat a pancake with almond butter instead.
It’s another epic afternoon in the kitchen – I make playdough, ketchup, tomato relish, and strawberry jam. Trying to make the most of the Thermomix while I have it, and I’d bought a ton of beautiful truss tomatoes super-cheap that needed to be taken care of. I made the jam on the stove.
Dinner was The Whole Pantry’s Wild Rice Salad as I had a lonely 1/2 cup of wild rice in the cupboard (and little clue of what to do with it), and a bunch of radishes (ditto). I had cooked the rice earlier that day, and also pickled the ginger. I mixed it with green beans (no broad beans still) and asparagus, and a dressing of tahini and lemon/orange juice, and garlic. Belle’s definitely onto something.
Eat three pieces of virtuous Loving Earth chocolate after the kids have gone to bed. Glorious.
Today I made the worst smoothie of all time. Too much coconut water and maca, not enough anything else. It is watery, slime-coloured sludge. I drink it anyway.
This is followed, unfortunately, by a hideous breakfast. I know, it sounds good on paper, but it was disgusting. I smothered it in homemade ketchup and managed to choke most of it down. I’ve made derivations of it before and it’s never been so bad, so I put it down to not having any gorgeous buttery toast to accompany. Plus, kale is just really rubbery. In the end I throw away the last few bites – it’s not worth it if it makes me feel sick.
So much for clean eating helping to remove “brain fog” – I spend five minutes trying to remember the word “smoothie” while I was staring right at one, and I haven’t been able to rightly name what bread is after it comes out of the toaster in about three days. This baby brain is impossible to shift.
We head into the city in the early afternoon and I promise myself hot salty fries for my troubles. Fried foods are definitely out, but I’ve had a morning. I valiantly gulp down another cup of smoothie before we go as I can’t bear to waste it. It will probably flush away the fries.
It turns out I can’t really find any fries I like and the kids are getting hungry, so we get food court Mexican as I know at least the kids will eat a quesadilla or corn chips (but basically nothing else in existence except a donut). The few bites I do eat of the Mexican (I scavenged bits of everyone else’s) is also an assault upon my taste buds, and not in a good way. I’m having zero luck. Even the avocado roll is meh.
I don’t feel terrific afterwards and I suddenly fear that my body doesn’t like nachos. Which is actually terrifying, because *I* like nachos. I don’t want to not be able to eat nachos, nor have to “healthify” them. I think it’s more that what I ate didn’t taste good. Nothing has all day. I feel fine after a while and I heave a sigh of relief.
I even go for a run when it cools down – I started the Couch to 5k before we moved house in October, but had to stop when I cut my foot quite badly, and the move took up a lot of our time. Then I couldn’t fit it in properly around my schedule. I pick up where I left off, day one of week 5. I do it easily (well, mostly easily) and am surprised. I haven’t run in probably a month.
So far so good – I can’t say I’m bursting with energy from all the extra nutrients I’m eating, but neither am I wasting away on a couch somewhere. I kind of wish this was more of a harsh diet that I hated so this story would be more interesting.
Dinner is Indian takeaway, as by the time I cooked something we’d be eating at 10pm. I had a recipe for millet risotto from an earlier Goop Cleanse Detoxy Thingy but it will have to wait. I have a very delicious, salty, hearty lentil soup and pappadums instead of my usual naan. I have a few bites of the kachumber salad (usually a favourite – tomato, onion, and cucumber with lemon and coriander) but I’m not really hungry.
My two squares of loving Earth chocolate while I watch a TV movie is most excellent.
Nobody is really up with me this morning, so I sip lemon water and read the news. I usually get hungry straight up, but the solitude is too nice to interrupt. When the kids come down I make their breakfast, and realise I’m now well past the point of hungry. I don’t know what I want so I eat the rice cakes until I figure it out.
I usually think detox teas are a load of absolute codswallop, but I was sent some to try a little while ago, and I figure a “cleanse” is as good a time as any to have one, in case the ingredients actually do what they say. The furthest I usually go is having one after a boozy night, first thing in the morning. It isn’t delicious, but I don’t mind weird herbal teas. I even drank copious amounts of raspberry leaf tea when I was trying to turf Child Number One, but it didn’t work. Had to be induced 10 days after her due date, thanks to stop-start labour for two days doing everyone’s head in.
Lunch is pretty late, as I’m not hungry until then. I’ve shelved the last of the pea soup, and swapped it for carrot. Roasted bits with olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Added to sautéed onion and garlic, simmered with salt-reduced veg stock and blended. Thumbs up. Chase it with a small baked sweet potato with a little salt and pepper. Briefly reminisce about butter.
Home alone with the kids for dinner, and I’ve done practically nothing all day, so pancakes it is after a request from the aforementioned First Child. We have leftover mix as I’d doubled the recipe for breakfast the other day. I finished Gone Girl this afternoon so I went to bed early and started a new book.
My second-last day! I sometimes daydream about what my first “non-cleanse” food will be, but honestly, it hasn’t been a big deal. I can’t say I’ve craved anything, and it definitely hasn’t been a problem. I wondered if I would be skulking around the kitchen, eyeing off the bread and butter like Oliver Twist and crying into my teapot, but nothing like that really.
I think I might bake a loaf of sourdough overnight in the breadmaker and have a big ole slice with some butter melting into it and a huge mug of strong tea with a sugar in it. Then I might eat some eggs with the bread.
I almost have a half-thought this morning about packing it all in, I’ve done enough, right? But then I remember I’ve some leftover coconut milk, and it’s pretty delicious with toasted buckwheat. It’s better with berries and cold mango, but my banana, pear, and goji serve me fine.
A trip to Ikea means I studiously ignore the steamed veg and salad and go straight for the mashed potato and veggie medallions, which have to have dairy in them somewhere. They are awesome. So much for cleansing.
A juice for afternoon tea after I spend the afternoon feathering my nest – organising the purchases (mostly plants, picture frames, and candle holders), vacuuming, cleaning the car, that sort of thing. I briefly wonder if two stalks of celery in juice is too much. Find out it is.
Debate going for a run when it is cooler, but I have a 15-minute nap on the couch instead.
Dinner is parsnip gnocchi from The Whole Pantry, with greens pesto. I add a clove of garlic to the pesto, and regret not processing it further, my green of choice was silverbeet and that’s a chewy little bastard when raw. Add some parmesan on top because hey, it’s already in the gnocchi, and I’ve already eaten god knows what at Ikea.
Oh yeah, and my nightly squares of Loving Earth chocolate. Salted Caramel, and Coconut Mylk. All ingredients above board.
And here we have it, the last day. We could argue that I didn’t really start on day one, and technically should keep this going for one more day but the likelihood of that is zero percent. I’m done. DONE I tell you! I’m looking forward to grabbing something to eat without mentally going through a checklist first. Plus I eat really well today so that should do me.
I share my porridge with a certain porridge-loving three year old, although she doesn’t like the accoutrements so they’re all for me. I spend most of my morning tidying, more vacuuming (vacuuming two sets of stairs is so traumatic I have to break it up across days), laundry, fixing the washing machine which had stopped draining, and painting watercolours with the kids.
I take lunch upstairs to read my book and I stay there for most of the afternoon, wandering down to wonder about dinner, eat popcorn, and give the kids a snack. I also play dollhouses.
I prep dinner as I make the kids’ dinner (they wouldn’t eat stir fry in a pink fit, although First Child would eat the components separately). I quickly throw it all together with about half the usual amount of noodles I would include, and it’s fine – I don’t even really notice.
With pure glee, I put ingredients in the breadmaker and set the timer before I go to bed. I can’t wait for that first crusty slice with good salted butter… mmmm
(spoiler alert – The bread is a big fat failure! I’m forced to eat processed bread from a bag and that shit just ain’t the same.)
So what did I learn?
It was easier than I thought.
It used up all the veggies I had in the crisper, which is much better than losing some a fortnight later because I haven’t gotten around to eating them.
I should buy more broad beans.
I loathe mushroom sautéed in coconut oil.
I probably don’t have any food intolerances as I didn’t notice any change in digestion/energy levels from excluding most triggers, and I ate them all again after this with no trouble. I once went gluten-free for three weeks after my sister was diagnosed with allergies (not to gluten, but to wheat, barley, etc) and it was the same – no change.
I still can’t remember to drink more water than I’m used to.
What changes did I feel?
I felt virtuous for making excellent choices, but I got a bit weary toward the end when I wanted something easy to grab without thinking.
What choices will I continue going forward?
To make more effort with lunch (which is what I have been trying to do lately anyway but this gave me extra motivation), and I like the idea of a juice a day.
Would I do it again?
Hm, yes probably – if I felt I needed to break lazy, bad food habits.
Have you ever done a cleanse? Did you stick it out? Notice a change? Or do you think they’re bullshit?