On Making Gifts

The big changes in our life has led to the necessity of making big adjustments. One of these big adjustments is living to a budget, something we haven’t had to give a lot of thought to for a long time. We used to spend money with little consideration or planning, but going down to one income means that things have to change.

I have been working on a few ways to cut our spending, which I will go into more detail about another time, but one of the areas that we have to make cuts is in gift-giving. Rather than buying things, I am planning on making them. A handmade gift, a gift that someone has put thought and time and energy into feels a lot more meaningful than something picked up at Kmart on the way to a birthday party.

On that note, I’m proud to say that this is my first handmade gift! You can’t really tell from the picture but it is a lined library bag for our dear little friend Ella.

It took me a while to make, but I’m so happy with how well it came out, despite having to unpick the handles three times.I am trying not to buy things new, so the fabric is from the local op shop (a bargain at a dollar, enough for two good-sized library bags) and a pair of pants that no longer fit. Wrapping paper freaks me out (but that’s a another post for another day), so the bag is folded and tied with some rag twine I made. I hope she likes it!

Lined tote tutorial here

Rag twine tutorial here

How do you feel about handmade gifts? Any suggestions for my next project?

 

 

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A Change In Direction

Like all good things, life here at Anarchy Road has changed since I last posted almost three years ago. Our values are the same but our circumstances are hugely different.

Our duo became a trio when we welcomed our son, August, to the world in February 2016. We have moved from Melbourne to Geelong, back to the original home of Anarchy Road, back to our vegetable garden and chickens.

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These life changes have also led to a change in direction for this blog. I am on leave from my job indefinitely, and the plan is for me to take the role of looking after our child and home while Tyson works. Anarchy Road is still about good food, but our focus has expanded to making a good home as well. And by good home, we don’t mean an Instagram home. We mean a home that is simple, clean and healthy, full of love and family and good times. We are taking inspiration from simple living advocates, our families, and our desire to live a simple, ethical and creative life.

Tyson and I have always considered the name Anarchy Road to be an overarching title for our joint projects, be they food, home or otherwise.  If you are new to the blog, welcome! You can check out our old posts for lots of stuff about food, particularly ancestral health related content. If you are a seasoned Anarchy Road reader, we hope you will continue to follow us on this journey.

 

 

 

Fig and Lemon Balls

Today is a cooking kind of day.  It’s blustery, rainy and cool outside, I have the day off (because it is school holidays!) and there is not much I need to do. Perfect for firing up the oven and turning some ingredients into delicious meals and snacks.

So far I have made skinless sausages (pork, fennel and thyme), roasted cauliflower, lemon and fig balls and coffee-chocolate balls. Still going is the slow cooked beef and sweet potato stew (in the oven), roasted pumpkin and beef jerky. Up next is grain-free crackers and some pumpkin hommus.

I just wanted to quickly share the recipe for the fig and lemon balls because I just created it, and it is pretty good. I had an Emma and Tom’s Fig and Lemon bar a while ago, and it was ok …but I thought I could do better. So I did.

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Fig and Lemon Balls

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Ingredients

1/2 cup of almonds

6-8 whole dried figs, depending on consistency of the mix

The juice and zest of a small lemon

Method

Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they are in tiny, even chunks. Take the almonds out and put the figs, lemon juice and zest in. Process for a bit, then add in the almonds. Process until it is of an even consistency.

If it is too dry, add another fig and some more lemon juice. If it is too wet, add some extra almonds. You might need to tweak this according to the size of your lemons and figs, but it will taste good either way. The mix shouldn’t be too sticky, it should hold together and mold nicely when pressed.

Roll the mix into balls and store in a container or a jar in the refrigerator.

My mix made about 10 but it depends on the size you make your balls.

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And now to the worst part of having a fun time making a mess in the kitchen – cleaning up.

Hayley’s Whole30

I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of September! I’m super excited about it, looking forward to getting back to basics and having a bit of a detox. My last Whole30 was in August last year, and I really got a lot out of it.

For those who aren’t familiar with what a Whole30 is, it is basically a 30 day nutrition program that eliminates all foods that may be having a negative psychological or physiological effect on how you look, feel and live. This includes grains, legumes, dairy and sugar.

I didn’t want to jam up the Anarchy Road blog with my own Whole30 stuff, so if you are interested in seeing what I’m up to this September, you can check it out over here.

Happy September, everyone! Enjoy the sunshine!

Enough

A while ago, Mark Sisson wrote this blog post  and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. If you’ve got a minute you should check it out. In the article, he says ‘I don’t want the perfect to become the enemy of the good‘, and this phrase resonated for me.

It is so easy to get caught up in ideas and plans and to become obsessed with doing things perfectly. I’m guilty of this all the time. I do the best that I can to nourish my body with natural, chemical free foods, quality sleep and regular exercise but if something slips through that isn’t optimal, now I just roll with it. Once upon a time I would have beaten myself up and promised to be more strict in the future. But, for the sake of my sanity, I take a breath and look at what I am doing and how far I have come and let it be enough.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Do the best you can with what you have, and let good be enough.

Not Eating for Productivity.

Eat-Stop-Eat-Intermittent-FastingBefore I get to the core of this post I’d like to share a little back story.
I left University with a Bachelor of Music, a stack of unread books, a catalogue of lecture notes and a to-do list the length of my arm. I was overwhelmed with the enormity of my ambition.  I contemplated my options and made a plan.  I decided to invest one year of full-time study/practice at home, working only weekends and nights.  This was for the year 2010.
My first task for the year was to study the process of learning.  I figured that if I could improve my quality of learning I could get more done in less time.  Under the umbrella of learning I studied health, nutrition, fitness, sleep, meditation, happiness, task management, goal setting, art and art related theory, Alexander technique, presence and nootropics amongst other things.  Although I did get a lot healthier and a lot happier I wasn’t getting anything done.  I knew exactly what to do and how to do it but study itself became a form of procrastination.
So, my brain working the way it does, I decided to study productivity…….
Then, about two years later I started to get things done.  I started writing my own music.
Regardless of your goals and ambitions, how you think and process the world around you has a huge impact on your life and how you go about getting things done.  Clarity of thought, focus and energy can all be enhanced with small considerations to your diet and nutrition.  I’d like to share a few things that I have experimented with that may help you stay sharp and be more productive.
First things first, you’ve got to get your base-line diet under control.  The aim is to eliminate peaks and troughs and maintain consistent energy though out the day.  Avoiding sugar, grains and high GI carbs should do the trick.
Plan your meals.
If you know what you are going to eat (and roughly when you are going to eat it) you don’t have to waste energy thinking about food during the day.  Like will-power, decision making is a limited resource and when it’s up for the day – it’s up. Save your brain power for your work.
Bulletproof Coffee. 
I’ve been drinking Bulletproof Coffee every morning for the past two months now and it’s had the most impact on my day-to-day productivity than anything I’ve ever done.  Coffee stimulates the brain, the butter gives you energy (about 6 hours) without affecting the balance of your hormones and the MCT oil cranks your body into fat burning mode (the key to intermittent fasting).
Intermittent Fasting.
When you fast you tell yourself you’re not getting any food until a specific time, and until that time, work gets done. Different people recommend different periods for fasting based on an eating window. The most common is 16-8, 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating.  Whatever 8 hours suits your schedule.
If you are interested in intermittent fasting I would recommend taking a look at Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof fasting, Leangains, Paul Jaminet or James Clear.
Supplements and Other Specific Foods.
I find that most supplements that claim to boost memory, focus and clarity of thought are not really measurable.  Because you are sitting down and doing your work, you’ll never know if the supplements are helping or you are just practicing the process of focusing your brain.  This is similar to specific foods recommended for brain health, like blueberries, wild caught salmon or mixed nuts. They’ll get you on the right track to a clean diet but they won’t make you sit down and do your work (what is actually important).
Once you have your diet and sleep under control you may need a little help getting the work done.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. 
Regardless of what you are trying to get done this book will help.  It’s short and beautifully written.
The Seinfeld Method. 
James Clear wrote this excellent post on the Seinfeld method and it is well worth a read.  Basically, your aim is to do your task every day and be accountable.  Seinfeld recommends a yearly calendar, when you start crossing off days with a red X you won’t want to stop.
 
If you would like any more information or recommended reading leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

It’s A Cookie Kind Of Day

It’s miserable outside. Drizzly, cold and grey. When the weather is like this I crave three things – hot drinks, good books and fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits. I must have been preparing for this subconsciously – I absentmindedly picked up some organic dark chocolate chips while running the gauntlet that is Terra Madre on a Saturday morning. So when the longing for a warm baked sweetie knocked on the door of my brain, I was ready.

I waded through about a zillion websites, trying to find a grain-free, low-sugar recipe that didn’t look like balls. It took a while. Just when I thought I’d found a good one it would include something completely whack or the comments would annihilate the recipe and it’s maker.

Eventually, I found one that sounded pretty good and tried it out. You can find it here. I made a few changes (added extra choc chips; halved the recipe because I WILL eat that many cookies if they are around; subbed coconut sugar for palm sugar and cut it by a half as the coconut flour I use is quite sweet already) and they came out great … although I was not paying attention towards the end, and the cookies came out a little browner than I would have liked. But they taste lovely, have a nice texture and are just the way I like my choc-chip cookies – thick with a soft inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

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Now the heater is on, I have a full tummy and all is well in the world. Happy cookie day!

Four Ways I Improved My Health

I’m an experimenter. I like to try different things and see if they work for me. If they don’t, I ditch them. Sometimes I may be a little hasty in doing so, but I don’t see the point in sticking with something if it is clearly not right for me. That being said, here are four changes I have made that have undoubtedly improved my health, and that I have stuck with, and will continue to stick with.

1. Cutting out gluten

Not minimising gluten. Not eating gluten on cheat days. I just don’t eat it. That isn’t to say that I will never eat it again. When I go to France, one day, I plan on eating a bootload of baked goods and enjoying every bite. I also plan on spending the following 24 hours locked in a little room, holding my tummy, groaning, cursing and dealing with other unmentionable side effects that make it impossible for me to be around other humans. Until then, I’ll skip the gluten, thanks.

2. Increasing my healthy fat intake

You probably read Tyson’s post on bulletproof coffee. I’m a fan. It lets me jam in maximum fat in minimum time, and I thrive on that stuff. I physically can’t eat as much butter as I would like to – I put butter on everything. Think I’m exaggerating? Pop around one time and watch me eat butter on cheese, I dare you. How do you like your apples? Buttered, thanks. After I eat butter (or other healthy oils) I feel satisfied and rarely am I left craving sweets. It reduces the amount of food I eat but it makes it taste so good I don’t mind.

An important side note here – I’m talking about butter. Real butter. Organic butter from healthy cows. I am most definitely not talking about that monstrosity that pretends to be butter, the devil margarine. I would never encourage anyone to eat margarine. It tastes like crap because it is crap.

via tappmd.com

3. Minimising my consumption of processed food, grains and sugars

This is a bit of a no-brainer. I like having steady energy throughout the day. I like my unpregnant belly not to look pregnant. I like not turning into a demon because I am craving sugar. I like eating real food.

4. Keeping a food journal that details what I eat and how I feel after eating

This keeps me accountable. I regularly visit a Chek practitioner, Vanessa, who has access to my food journal (thank you, Google Docs) and she lets me know if and when I am getting out of balance or letting things slide too much. For example, without the journal and Vanessa’s expert eye, I would never have questioned the amount of sweet potato that I was consuming. Let’s just say it was a lot. Multiple times each day. I was taking in far too many sugars from carbohydrates through the level of sweet potato in my diet. So now I am aware, I am eating less sweet potato. Easy.

Different horses for different courses, my friends. As always, what works for me might not work for you. But what have you got to lose?

What changes have you made that have improved your health?  We’d love to hear about it!

On Bringing Your Own Food (You Weirdo Hippie)

I’m a teacher. One of the questionable perks of the job is the fun activities that you get to do. This morning I am heading off to the funnest of the fun activities – school camp.

Now, don’t be fooled. Despite what our delightful former premier tells you, it’s a little bit more than a normal working day. We are on duty twenty four hours, from the time the kids get to school to the time we deliver them back to the welcoming arms of their parents. If a kid starts vomiting in the middle if the night, we sit up with them. If they have nightmares, or wet the bed, or miss their families, we soothe them. But despite those things, camp is fun. I like camp. And I especially like this camp because we get to ride bikes all day.

What I don’t like about camp, apart from watching thirty prepubescents spend five dollars each on lollies and the shenanigans that follow with the subsequent sugar highs and crashes, is the camp food.

It wouldn’t be bad to most people. Pretty much your run of the mill stuff, spaghetti bolognaise, cereal, toast… But if I ate that, things would go seriously wrong. My energy levels would be all over the place, I’d feel sick and cranky. What’s a girl to do?

When I agreed to go to camp, I kind of forgot about the food. My dear friend Nat is the camp coordinator, and while organising the camp paperwork, she came across the section for dietary requirements. I’m sure she looked at it and thought ‘Oh shit, here we go.’

It got me thinking. What are my requirements? First and foremost, no gluten or sugar. That’s the bare minimum I could cope with. Preferably, no processed food, refined carbohydrates, sugar or low fat anything. It’s a big ask. So I decided to take my own. Two breakfasts, three lunches and two dinners.

Three hours in the kitchen last night and I was good to go. Here’s my camp food…

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Apple crumble and coconut milk for breakfast, zucchini and sweet potato frittata and salad for lunch, Spanish meatballs and vegies for dinner.

Steady energy, steady mood, feeling good – bring on the bike rides!