Friday, March 30

Definition of Success

How do you rate success? A good salary? A beautiful house? A ‘perfect’ figure? These images and many more are those we see every day and aspire to reach. Success goes hand in hand with happiness, we’re taught that if we’re successful we’ll also be happy.

I went to a school that pushed achievement. Getting 6A’s and 4B’s in my GCSE’s (exams taken aged 16) was seen as average and it was expected that students would want to be doctors, lawyers and other such ‘successful’ careers. While I appreciated the education, I don’t regret that I haven’t followed some high-powered career after school and university.

Currently as a family we’re living on 100% faith support, so no salary as most would define it. The amount that we live on would make the majority of our friends laugh and probably think wasn’t actually possible. So success in the everyday understanding of the world is not likely to be how our lives could be defined.

As a mum of two young children, the daily routines of nappy changes, food, snacks, sleeps, laundry, shopping, cleaning etc ... doesn’t really ooze success either. But I’ve long come to appreciate that this is just for a season and every second counts with my girlies, so to make the most of it and find my own version of ‘success’.

In the first few months after Naomi was born, I considered my day to be a ‘success’ if the washing up from the day had been completed by the time Mark got back from work! Now it’s always my little way to judge whether I’ve had a good day or not ... I can’t remember the last time I failed on that count!

Yesterday I took the girls shopping and it was a success! Not terribly exciting ... but considering we’re in a new town, travelling to a place 20 mins away, along roads that were numbered differently to how they were on the map I was following (just as well I’m good a directions!), that there were no poo explosions from one daughter or panic potty trips (or worse!) for the other and no-one had a major meltdown, me included ... I would definitely say it was a success. 

Even more exciting for Abigail were the $1 pink Spongebob Squarepants socks we bought to keep her focused on the task in hand! Thank you Target for combing two of my daughters’ favourite things, the colour pink and Spongebob! She obviously rates success on a whole different level to me!!

A friend of mine recently had her Facebook status as ‘What started out as a quick trip to the shops turned into a stop on the side of the road to pee, which of course gets her clothes all wet. New clothes becomes the first stop to make. Then lunch where more food ends up on the floor ...’! We’ve all been there, it did make me chuckle and all the more relieved when my trip out was fairly straight forward.

How do you define success? For me right now it may all sound a bit dull and boring ... but we’re all happy and having fun, which I consider to be a success and that gives me a buzz I don’t think I would find even if I earned all the money in the world!!

Thursday, March 29

When in Rome ...

We broke up our big road trip last week, once just for sleep and once to be tourists for a few hours! That second stop was in Savannah, Georgia ... A beautiful southern town on a river. We decided to make the most of this stop, so booked to stay down town so we could walk around and experience some of the amazing architecture, town squares and just drink in the atmosphere for the afternoon. Abigail enjoyed this part of our newest adventure as a family.

We took the chance have a delicious meal in Huey's one of the gorgeous restaurants on River Street. I looked at the menu and saw some 'safe' options, things that were familiar and then looked at the more local dishes. I drank sweet tea, started with warm cornbread and then had grilled salmon on a bed of wilted spinach and Parmesan grits ... Definitely opting to try out something new!

The South is renowned for sweet iced tea, cornbread and grits, amongst other things ... so I figured if I were to order it in a restaurant anywhere, this would be the place! Having never had grits before, the waiter even brought me out a small bowl to try them before I ordered! The meal was delicious and I was too stuffed for dessert.

When I was younger I used to be quite a fussy eater! There were lots of things I wouldn't eat or didn't like ... Baked beans, pizza, cream are just a few I can think of off the top of my head! I didn't like to mix foods on my plate either. How times have changed! Now I am always up for new experiences and taste sensations ... The most authentic the better!

For example, when me and Mark were in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2006, we celebrated his birthday in Carnivore, a meat lovers heaven where you get to try different kinds of game meat. We got to eat crocodile, camel and ostrich ... Some were a lot more yummy than others!

About 10 years ago I got to travel to Vietnam where the delicacy is dog. Unfortunately the good dog meat restaurants were a little way out of one of the towns I was staying in with my friend. She was a lot less enthusiastic than me to try dog and so I regret to say it but I didn't get to visit one of those restaurants either. I am both sad and relieved about that, as I would definitely like to have said I had taken the opportunity but am still not sure how I would feel about eating a little pooch!

I hope that in spite of my very picky start with food, I have shown that I am now up for anything. I also hope that because as a family we have shown we are up for trying anything, our girls will also be open to do that too. So far, so good on that count!

Tuesday, March 27

Order vs Chaos

Packing has to be one of both mine and Mark's least favourite things to do ... ever! Ironic that we've chosen a path for our lives which includes a constant round of packing and unpacking. Whether it be moving across the world or going home to update supporters and see family, we seem to be inevitably putting things into piles, boxes and cases and taking them out again!

Last week was no exception. Mark is on rapid response for the second time in 2012. This time is a bit different though as me and the girls have been able to tag along as well! We drove to Florida, over three days at the end of last week (there will be more about that in our family blog sometime soon!) but road trips and a family of four equals a lot of packing. Thankfully everything fitted and we had two angel daughters who slept a lot of the way down here!

When we take big trips, I like things to be 'just so' and organized way ahead of time, to reduce stress levels and racing around like idiots late the night before we travel. Mark on the other hand is a last minute, chuck it all together kind of guy! When you throw two little people into the mix as well, it can be an interesting experience! We are learning with each trip and move that we make, how to refine the process so it suits both of us and each time it seems to be better than the last ... but we still have a long way to go!

On the flip side Mark has the patience to pack lots of things snuggly into small spaces which means we can fit more in ... Not that we need it! So we both have our own strengths that we fit together. Our van was completely jam packed last week with stuff which has now been successfully unpacked in our home away from home here in Florida! Already I can see that the three girlies in the house have way too many clothes with them but most of the other bits and pieces are about right.

The positive part about our next pack is that we just have to collect all our stuff up again before heading home, instead of having to go through and decide whether or not we would need each item. The return trips are always easier but I'm not sure we'll ever be fans of the whole packing process!

Saturday, March 24

Climate Change

One part of living in different cultures is the different climates and seasons that I've been able to experience! Here in Ohio there are four distinct seasons, whereas back in the UK, some of them seem to have blurred into one another a little bit.

The summers here are long, hot and humid ... and my least favourite of the four seasons. It just gets too hot and sticky to function normally. It would be totally different if we were on holiday but when you've still got to do all the boring mundane stuff it's not as fun! When I lived in Tanzania it  didn't even get as hot and humid as it does here. The dry heat of Dodoma was much more liveable in, even with all the AC in America ... something I never imagined I would say before moving here!

The Autumn, or should I say 'Fall' is absolutely beautiful in Ohio. The Fall foliage is amazing and lasts a lot longer than at home. As it's not as wet as the UK, you get to enjoy and play in the crunchy leaves with the kids too which is always fun!

We have loved the harsh winters. Abigail especially has enjoyed all the snow. In fact, this year she was thoroughly disappointed as our third and final winter here was so mild that we hardly noticed it at all and she was all ready to spend hours in it and introducing Naomi to every possible way to play in it!

This week we celebrated the first day of spring and had temperatures in the 80's ... a good 20 degrees higher than the seasonal average. The flowers are already blooming in our garden as you can see below. Everything is fresh and lovely and we just want to be outside enjoying it!

One of the downsides of the this time of year here are also the storms ... severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Something I'm glad we don't have the privilege of 'enjoying' in the UK! Our first spring didn't seem to be so eventful with regards to Tornado warnings but our second one (2011) certainly was, with several trips down into our basement, taking cover, just in case. Let me tell you pre and post-pregnancy hormones do not mix with tornado warnings. I got unreasonably stressed about it all and am thankful that I have such an understanding husband! 

We only have a few more seasons left here in Ohio to enjoy ... who knows if they will follow any kind of pattern for what we're expecting now or not. Then we'll have to learn something new for another continent and country!

Thursday, March 22

Property Ladder

Many people dream of owning a home, a place of their own and work towards achieving that goal for years. When I applied to study at All Nations, I was torn whether I should first work, save and buy property or just trust that God would work it all out and start studying straight away. 

It felt like the biggest sacrifice in the world, as a lot of my friends had just bought or were in the process of buying, places of their own and doing them up. It was something I would love to have been doing too and the hardest part of following what God was telling me to do. As it turned out, soon after I started at All Nations I met Mark ... and one of the 'perks' of marrying him was was that he had a flat. So technically once the ring was on my finger, I also owned property. (Apparently obedience to God results in him giving you what you wanted in the first place!)

Ironically though, today we have officially taken our feet OFF the property ladder! In a totally counter-cultural decision we realised it made more sense for us not to have a property in the UK right now ... for reasons I won't choose to bore you with! This morning we had the confirmation in an email that someone else now owns what yesterday had belonged to us! And we are so excited about it!

Since we first got married, we have never lived in the flat we owned, just rented it out. We have lived in 3 different places so far ... all of them rented and we will continue to do so for the at least the next decade because of the nature of our mission work. Our second home was the cutest so far (see below). A little stone cottage in a tiny village in Dorset, UK called Bradford Abbas and it's where we welcomed Abigail into the world so it will always hold a special place in our heart!

About four weeks after we first met we were talking about what our dream homes would be like. It was the most bizarre conversation as both myself and Mark found ourselves describing the same house!! That is not a joke!! We now continually find ourselves starting the sentence "When we eventually have a place of our own it will have ..."! So much so that we now refer to it as our 'Forever House' and what it will be like. Who knows where that house will be, but it's going to be amazing and in the meantime we will make wherever we are living home, even if we don't actually own it!

Monday, March 19

A Family Favourite

Once I'd married my husband, I had one more important obligation to fulfil ... find a great Lasagne recipe. The way to a man's heart is meant to be through his stomach and so once I'd snagged him I had to make sure I could keep him by making the best lasagne, as it is his favourite meal!

Teaching in Tanzania, a lot of my fellow workers at the school and other missionaries living there were from Australia and New Zealand. They all seemed to have a very basic but reliable cook book on hand and would swear by all the recipes, The Edmonds Cookery Book. At first glance, I wasn't overly impressed. There aren't many pictures and I'm definitely a  picture person when it comes to cookbooks. However, the more I was cooked meals from it, the more I realised what a staple cookbook this would be in anyones collection, full of basics and tips, first published over 100 years ago in 1907. When I back-packed round New Zealand back in 2001, one of my first stops was a book shop to get my own copy and it's definitely going to come with me wherever I move to too!

On my search for a good lasagne recipe I thought I'd check in with this reliable collection of recipes first and we loved it so much, I've never tried an alternative one. It fast became a family favourite and a friend of ours who is known for being a great cook and caterer has even asked me for my recipe because she rates it so highly ... what more can I say?!

Since we moved to the States, our oven has taken progressively longer and longer to cook the same meals. 15 min bake cookies were taking an hour by the beginning of February this year! Shortly afterwards, it would only turn on over a certain temperature until it finally gave up the will to live by the end of February! One of the drawbacks has been no lasagne's until the oven was replaced at the end of last week ... I'm pleased to say that it's back on the menu again now (along with a lot of other meals we haven't been able to eat recently!)

Anytime we cook lasagne we always do a double batch and then freeze one of them before the last bake ... ensuring yumminess on hand when we need it, either if we're having a bad or busy day or if someone else needs a meal! The never ending supply certainly keeps the hubby happy too!

Meat Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 500g/1lb minced beef
  • 100g mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat oil, add onion & garlic - cook til golden
  2. Add meat & brown
  3. Add rest of meat sauce ingredients
  4. Simmer for 40 mins
Cheese Sauce
  • 50g butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup cheese, grated
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp parmesan, grated
  1. Melt butter & add flour - cook til frothy
  2. Gradually add milk til it boils & thickens
  3. Stir in cheese & season with salt and pepper
Layer in Lasagne tray ... I always start with lasagne ... then meat, lasagne, cheese, lasagne, meat, lasagne, cheese ... then sprinkle with parmesan! Bake for about 20 mins or until golden at 350/180. (It's meant to make enough for 4-6 servings ... depending on portion size! With Mark around it's definitely more like 4!!)

Saturday, March 17

Food Glorious Food

While I love both my girlies to bits, it is difficult not to compare them, as I'm sure many other parents will agree. 

Abigail was the perfect textbook baby when it came to practically everything (apart from potty training!!) She ate well, slept for 12 hours a night from 3 months old and has been quite predictable on many fronts! Naomi on the other hand has been the opposite. She projectile vomited all over the place on a regular basis, still has no particular sleep pattern night or day and was walking around from 9 months old very confidently!

Over the last four weeks Naomi has finally mastered the art of eating!! Second time around it has taken a lot longer. Abigail was into it straight away but with Naomi we have endured mealtime after mealtime of giving her food that she just won't open her mouth for or even consider, over months and months, which felt like they would never end!

Now you would never know it. Some of her favourite finger foods to eat are avocado and banana (that is her order of preference!) ... but she will eat anything we have to eat, just blended down. The meal that seemed to be the turning point was a roast chicken dinner. Thankfully she has finally shown that she is not the fussy girl that she had appeared to be and we were praying she wouldn't! Her culinary delights in this week alone have included garlic chicken stir fry with udon noodles, stuffed peppers, chicken pot pie, chilli ... the list goes on!! Tonight she kept going and got seconds!!

Needless to say, just like with weaning her onto the bottle, our perseverance has paid off and her stubborn determination has finally given in. She is a cheeky one and I foresee lots more battles in the future but I'm pleased to report that for the time being ... Mummy and Daddy 2, Naomi 0!!!! Now to tackle the sleeping, although hopefully the full stomach will help!

Thursday, March 15

The Lost Art of Drying Clothes

When we moved to America to work with MMS, it was perfectly timed for many reasons. One of those being that another family were just packing up to leave and needed to sell all their furniture and we needed a house full of furniture for when we arrived, to make a home! For a job lot we were able to buy everything from dining-room table and chairs, beds and washing machine to kitchen electrical goods and children's toys. It couldn't have been a more perfect arrangement for either family.

It was an extra special treat for me to know that there was a tumble dryer included in the deal. Tumble dryers aren't as common in England as they are here ... people will often use a washing line outside in the summer months or radiators inside during the winter ... neither of which can be found as easily here in small town America. In fact, most of the time the only people you find who use a clothes line outside are the Amish, as they have no electricity. It's just another one of those cultural differences. 

Since Naomi was born I have become even more attached to my tumble dryer ... I had already become a BIG fan! Where Abigail was quite clean and tidy as a baby, Naomi could projectile vomit with the best of them ... as well as 'poop' through multiple outfits in a day for weeks on end. Cleaning her clothes, mine, blankets, pillows and sofa covers over and over again would have been a nightmare in the house we lived in when Abigail was born! I'm very grateful that God gave me my daughters in the order that he did!

Imagine my surprise and disappointment yesterday when I went to check on some washing in the dryer to find that after 10 minutes it had turned itself off ... never to start again. ARGH! That was just not allowed to happen but it did! After the initial panic (yes, I know ... strong word but that's how I felt!) I called the repair man who will hopefully be here in the next day or two and then realised how grateful I was that I had done two loads the day before so we are good for clothes for the time being!

Then I had to figure out someway to dry the towels and things that were in the machine ... with no radiators or clothes lines I had to get a little creative. Thankfully the weather was warm, sunny and dry so I used the frame of our swing seat for some things and had other stuff dotted strategically around the house hoping grubby little fingers wouldn't make them dirty again before they even had the chance to dry! 'Chinese Laundry' comes to mind! For a few seconds I felt like a total fish out of water, wondering what to do with everything, ridiculous but true ... it just shows how much I've come to rely on something that up until 2 years ago I'd never even had the privilege of owning! 

Tuesday, March 13

A Quick Trip to the Zoo

A couple of weekends ago, we were having breakfast together on a Saturday morning when Mark piped up "I wish we could all pile into the car and drive down to Brighton, it just feels like one of those days"! Brighton is a seaside resort about 45 minutes from where I grew up in England and is great place to go and have fun without spending too much money.

Obviously that isn't an option for us right now but it got us wondering. What is about an hour's drive from here where you can wander about and not spend too much money? Not a lot! 'Wandering about' doesn't seem to be much of an American pastime anyway, it is definitely more of a culture of car drivers. Visit somewhere and then get it your car to visit somewhere else!

Since we've lived here in Ohio, we've visited the Columbus Zoo a couple of times. It's about an hour and a half away in the car and while there's lots to do there, little people get tired easily. So the expense of getting in, sometimes seems to outweigh the idea to go ... now that we're on a much tighter budget than we used to be on when we lived back in England. 

One of my friends mentioned in passing last year that they always buy an annual membership to the zoo. They said they definitely get their money's worth as anytime they are nearby, whether for shopping, picking someone up from the airport or they just fancy a trip out, they can 'pop' into the zoo for a quick visit and not worry about making the most of entry or parking fees.

Where we live there is no 'proper' shopping unless you drive at least 45 minutes!! So, on Saturday we drove to Columbus to get a few bits and pieces that we needed, had some lunch and then finished the day with a quick trip to the zoo! We were literally there for just over an hour and had a great time ... Abigail loves all the animals!

We budget some 'holiday' money every month and don't touch it until holiday time. We felt that a membership to the zoo would be a legitimate use of some of what we had stored away ... so it didn't even feel like it cost us anything! We now have a family plus membership which means we can take 2 unnamed guests with us for free every time we go too if we want!!

With the number of trips we make to the airport to pick up friends and family alone, including a visit to the zoo we will easily cover the initial cost (we'd only need to go 2 more times!). But now we can just decide on a Saturday morning, if we want, to jump in the car and have a trip out without spending anything at all! 

Our only regret is that we didn't think about doing this earlier ... after all we've been here two years already! I think in the future I will make sure I find out about this kind of deal for a day out within an hour or two's drive of where we live straight away so we can really make the most of it!

Saturday, March 10

The Naughty Chair

We are big fans of Jo Frost, Supernanny. She puts commonsense into action when discipling the munchkins, showing just how effective it can be. 

Since coming to the States we have seen that she is an even bigger phenomenon here than in her homeland of the UK. So much so, that one of my friends here asked me if we had Supernanny in England. Really? She's British. Where do you think she started out?! I tried to keep a straight face when I pointed this out!!

When we had Abigail we bought one of Jo Frost's books, Confident Baby Care. It was really simple and helpful ... especially as we felt totally clueless about some things when Abigail was so tiny. I can't recommend it enough. We still have it now but haven't had to refer to it second time round. Yet!!!!

Discipline is something that every parent has to deal with. Interestingly, here in America is seems that smacking, paddling, the wooden spoon, belt, whatever you want to call it ... is more prevalent than in the UK. You're likely to get prosecuted for that in England nowadays! When you watch Jo Frost in action, you soon find out she's a great advocator of the Naughty Chair, something we use too.

Abigail isn't all that naughty but she's a toddler, what more can I say?! At the beginning using the Naughty Chair was a REAL battle that we thought would never end. Yet now it works a treat. In fact she doesn't have to sit on it all that often at all and the mere mention of it will quickly adjust her behaviour! So if you're considering it ... stick with it, it will work eventually.

More recently, now that Naomi is totally mobile I have come up with a new predicament. If I do put Abigail on the naughty chair and leave the room, Naomi makes a beeline for Abigail on the naughty chair and gives her a big cuddle ... seriously, every time! It is quite amusing but also a little frustrating too. I guess she's just looking out for her big sis, so now I'm going to have to start looking out for her!

Wednesday, March 7

First Day at School!

Yesterday we reached another big milestone in our house. Abigail started pre-school and was super excited about the whole experience!

I realise it is not the start (or even the middle!) of the school year and it's a very long and not very interesting story as to why Abigail's first day was yesterday ... but she was SO ready for it and so was I! It's only for a couple of hours twice a week and then three times a week from September but it's a good start!

When we dropped her off yesterday, she was gone ... too busy to even say goodbye to us and according to her teachers fitted in straight away and had a whale of a time! All afternoon she was telling me different things about her first day at school. They are working their way through the alphabet and are on the letter T this week. Even when she was brushing her teeth last night before bed, she was still full of it and explained very proudly that at one point her teacher put her on a special chair and told the other children that this was 'Abigail, their new friend'!

Some people had commented to me how it can be tougher on the mum's than on the little ones when it comes to the first day of school. I think I was even more excited than Abigail, if that was possible, to get a couple of hours 'off' twice a week and just have the littlest munchkin around! 

Does that make me a bad mummy? Absolutely not! I love both my girls and enjoy spending time with them but also haven't had a regular 'break' since Abigail was born. Now with two little ones in the house, it will seem like time off to just be looking after one who is a lot more transportable still and the little bit of extra headspace will probably make me a better mummy too!

Abigail is still talking all about school today and can't wait to go back tomorrow. I couldn't be happier that her first experience of pre-school has been so positive. When she starts Kindergarden we will be in a totally different country but I'm sure these first few steps of independence are helping her get prepared for that when the time comes! In the meantime, my only complaint is that the two hours with just me and Naomi went way too quickly!!

Tuesday, March 6

Sunday Afternoon Movie

When I married Mark, I not only agreed to spend the rest of my life with my best friend but I also gained a very impressive DVD collection in the process! Mark loves movies and anything to do with them and all genres too (except horror!).

With the inevitable multiple moves across the world we found a way to transport our collection without all the boxes ... they would be way too bulky! We also bought a multi-region DVD player ... which isn't all that expensive and I totally recommend it if you're on the move like us ... as unfortunately DVD's bought in some countries don't work on players from others and our collection includes discs from all over as we're both quite well travelled. (It does mean that you can't always loan them to friends as they won't be able to play them all though.)

This time last year, when I was 8 months pregnant with Naomi, Abigail started to get night terrors and subsequently 'gave-up' day time naps then too. While the night time sleeping readjusted over the following four months, sadly the day time sleeps never returned. Over the last few weeks a new family tradition has started to emerge on a Sunday afternoon. After church and lunch, at the point where we just want to snooze but can't because certain little munchkins are wide awake and raring to go, we have been curling up on the sofa all together and watching a movie.

It's been a really fun chilled out time together. We lay out a selection of 4 or 5 kiddy friendly movies from which Abigail chooses and then relax, watch, snuggle, read the paper ... this weekend I even fell asleep for a little while on the sofa. Naomi toddles around playing a bit and then coming back for more cuddles from time to time. Whether it be Tangled, Over the Hedge, The Great Muppet Caper, Flushed Away, all four of us have enjoyed the 'down-time' watching movies together on a Sunday afternoon. And it's something we will be able to continue doing wherever we go next too!

Saturday, March 3

World Domination

Our little girlies were born thousands and thousands of miles apart. Abigail in the UK and Naomi was born here in America. As Naomi is first generation Brit, she has both an English and American passport. You'll be pleased to know she currently shows no preference and finds both equally yummy!

When we were preparing to move to the States with just Abigail, we knew we wanted at least one more child and that they would most likely be born during the three years we were living here. Mark noted that being born in the UK, Abigail could be Prime Minister one day and that being born in the USA, number 2 could be President. Basically, the Beckwith's could 'rule' the world! A scary thought some would argue!

Although possible, it's highly unlikely our daughters will ever go into politics, let alone run a country. Why? To be honest we're not into politics either. I may sound like a total political ignoramus now and I appreciate that there is a lot of good going on in many political forums but ... the main feedback I seem to hear is one leader stripping down another, making a personal attack in a public arena just to win a few more votes and spending (or wasting!) hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. Then, once someone has gained a position in parliament, they just seem to be get criticised for every decision they make and told if their opposition had won they would have done it 'properly'! Sounds like school-yard bullying for grown ups to me!

It has been interesting to live in the States during Obama's first term in office as President and now to watch the Republican race for a Presidential candidate. Voting is next week on 'Super Tuesday' here in Ohio, just for voting in the person who will challenge Obama before the actual vote for who should be president. A very different system from in the UK.

While we don't live in an ideal world (and I totally understand that!) surely it makes sense that once we've had the chance to vote, whether it be for who will run a country or just a small committee that we may be a part of and someone has been put in charge, then we should get behind them and support and encourage them in their role. Especially as a Christian, as long as the person in charge is not going against something morally wrong, we should set an example and submit to their authority. Instead, time and again I've seen Christians totally show disrespect and I want to cringe at how 'un-Christian' they come across as.

OK ... I will get off my soapbox now! Politics is not something I often talk about so you probably won't hear about it from me again ... I just think a little respect amongst politicians (and the rest of the world towards each other), wouldn't go amiss and then people like me might be a bit more interested in what they have to say!

Thursday, March 1

Five a Day?

How many fruits and vegetables are you having a day? How many are recommended? It differs from country to country. For example, in the UK it's at least five a day and on the Health Canada website it recommends a different amount depending on age and sex, according to them I should be having 7-8.

When Abigail was little, Mark who will happily chomp away on salad and vegetables but not fruit, challenged himself to eat 5-a-day. We printed off a list of suggested measurements for all fruit and vegetables and he noted down each day what he had eaten to ensure he had had enough. Although he didn't always manage it, one positive side effect was that Mark lost some weight while taking his 5-a-day challenge and he's never put it back on!

While we generally tend to eat quite a lot of fruit and vegetables in our house and cook from scratch rather than eat processed stuff, we thought that during Lent this year we would challenge ourselves again to eat 5-a-day again! I realise that the idea of Lent is to give something up or to change a behaviour, so that you can focus more on God and not to make your diet more healthy ... so we've changed a few other things too!

During Mark's recent trip to PNG he ate a lot more fresh fruit than normal and enjoyed every bit of it. See below a healthy feast he enjoyed full of home grown goodness, both fruit and vegetables. He reflected while he as there that the poorer population of PNG ate a really healthy diet, all home grown. Whereas here in the States and in the UK, those with limited income will find that processed foods are cheaper and more accessible and a lot less good for your health. Not good eh?

Recently I was reading an article about recipes that included added 'goodness' for families who wanted to hide some extra ingredients in so-called 'naughty' foods. While I am under no illusions that just because something includes some fruit or vegetables it makes it good for you, I thought I'd test out one of the recipes and at the weekend cooked some Zucchini Blueberry Bread. It was a easy and I thought really yummy too! I've yet to convince Mark to try it ... just the name of the bread turns him off, I'm working on it!
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (courgette for the Brit readers!)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  1. In a large bowl combine flours, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder
  2. Mix separately, eggs, oil and vanilla extract
  3. Add two mixtures until combined
  4. Gently stir in zucchini and then blueberries
  5. Spoon batter into prepared (oiled) bread pans - use either 1x9-inch or 4x5-inch loaf pans
  6. Bake in preheated oven (350) - 40 mins for small loaves, 1 hour for large - until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean
  7. Allow 10 mins to cool before removing from pans, serve warm or cold