Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Been busy - honest we have!

Haven't posted for such a long time :(

Been so busy with life, family and business that I haven't had time to write it down - barely had time to record important stuff in Jack's homeschool diary records!

The homeschool community is quite active here in little old Gladstone - we have been involved in whole days of activities, Science workshops and this Friday we're off to the Fire Station for a tour and in a few weeks we have an art day.

Best day out recently was our trip with Dad (on a rare day off) to a local Crocodile farm - very interesting. We even ate crocodile kebabs for lunch - yum! The kids all got to hold a baby crocodile (mouth taped) even Lily this time who had been asleep last time at the Expo in the Botanic gardens.

Jack finished his first book, "Jack and the Lost Cow" It is fully illustrated, he dictated the text and then he copied my writing into his book - love it and so proud of him. He's writing one about pirates now - again brilliant illustrations!

My Phoenix trading business has been keeping me busy with new traders, remote parties, donations for charity events and markets.

My craft business is also taking off with me providing donations for a couple of charity events and hoping the exposure is good advertising.

Off to craft with the kids tomorrow at Calliope Crafty Capers - we love Tina - she's awesome!
Thursday we are off to Playgroup - great, relaxed gathering of like-minded mums and their kids.

Here's hoping we've seen the last of this flu that knocked us off our feet for a while there :(

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Allergy friendly chocolate cake

Chocolate cake free from dairy, gluten, wheat, eggs, soy and nuts - the true allergy friendly chocolate cake!
A friend of mine posted on facebook tonight answering a plea for a gluten and dairy free cake with my name! Knowing I have had to deal with so many allergies and intolerances these past 7 years with 3 kids to make birthday cakes for she knew I would have one.

Of all the recipes I keep coming back to it is one from the New Zealand Allergy cookbook because it always seems to work. We are now Failsafe as well as gluten, dairy and nut free. Trialling eggs at the moment so I actually used eggs this time rather than egg replacer and have to say the cake took a little longer than the recommended 40min to cook and I'm in a rental and it is only the second cake I have baked in this oven! (I didn't have any glucose syrup so I used rice malt syrup instead, I also used carob powder instead of cocoa powder and I used Nuttelex for my dairy free margarine)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil or 125g dairy-free margarine
2 tsp egg replacer mixed with 2 tbsp of water
3 tbsp golden syrup
2 cups rice flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup rice milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder (wheat free)

1. Preheat oven to 180oC
2. Lightly grease a 20-22cm ring tin
3. Cream sugar and oil in a large bowl for a couple of minutes
4. Blend egg replacer with golden syrup, then add to sugar and oil mixture
5. Sift in flour and cocoa powder
6. Add milk with baking soda dissolved in it
7. Then add baking powder and mix together
8. Pour into prepared cake tin
9. Bake for 40minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Failsafe cooking...Thermomix?

We have a history with food allergies and intolerances.

Through hives from being kissed by someone who has eaten eggs, to peanut anaphylaxis and onto dairy and gluten intolerance - my son has been through it all. He is allergic to dustmites, pollen, cats and sometimes we think just 'life' generally. Born 3 weeks early (induced for toxaemia and low amniotic fluid) he had severe jaundice (almost requiring blood transfusion) and suffered from recurrent ear infections, tonsillitis and eczema, mouth ulcers, styes and more.... he suffered massive hour long tantrums sometimes 3 or 4 times a day! Some days were really tough. He was obstinant, a late crawler (one year), late walker (16 months), late talker (2 1/2) but could pick up a raisin at 6 months, complete jigsaws in the dark when he was only 18 months old and starting drawing the most amazing sketches while his peers were scribbling in circles! He suffered from physical/verbal tics, resisted all attempts at toilet training. Used to bang his head on floors, walls until he would have huge lumps on his head, one time he threw his head back so hard on a hearth he cut himself. We suspected that artificial food colours were causing hyperactivity and aggression. There is nothing more heartbreaking than trying to hold your child to calm them and prevent them from hurting themselves, but to prevent yourself from being thumped and slapped you have to do this with them wrapped in a blanket. Everyone said, "He'll be fine once school starts", "He'll grow out if it"! At the age of 3 we embarked on a diagnosis for ASD (Aspergers) and discovered we were coeliac gene carriers so gluten was eliminated from our diet.

Our son changed overnight and was a calmer, happier more responsive soul - we were astounded!

A few more years on and things were better but I knew there was more. As a consultant for Total Learning I used to sell Sue Dengate's Fed Up book and of course read it but decided that as we were already gluten, dairy, egg and nut free that FAILSAFE would be too hard and the Elimination diet impossible. Wish we had been stronger then.

Two years ago we went failsafe and did the elimination diet. We eliminated as many environmental nasty chemicals as we could, we reduced our intake of salicylates, amines and glutamates (natural food chemicals) and eliminated all artificial food colours, flavours, anti-oxidants and preservatives. The withdrawal was terrible - we nearly quit after 10 days because everything got worse but we made it through the two weeks to experience the best health and behaviour ever! Apparantly the worse the withdrawal the more you need to continue with it. After a few weeks at elimination we did our first challenges: salicylates (we ate all the high salicylate foods we had been avoiding and paid dearly within a few hours/days can't remember now), we challenged amines too and faired a bit better! Glutamates we never bothered trialling because most of the glutamate sources were high salicylate and amine anyhow and no-one fairs well with MSG!

Colours, flavours etc we continue to avoid but since moving to Australia we have let some preservatives into our diet. We have also been letting the kids try small amounts of dairy and eggs - eldest son (nearly 7) especially is starting to look very pale, thin and his temperament could be better. Had blood tests done to satisfy myself we didn't have vitamin or mineral deficiencies from our restricted diet over the past 7 years. All good - just need to check Vitamin D levels after some recent research I read.

So, we are about to embark on elimination again and get back down to baseline.

How does this post relate to ThermoMix?

Many failsafers have one because we make most products from scratch and this machine does it all with ease allowing you to: chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and weigh with ease!

I want one but need to seriously think about how to justify $2000 for a kitchen appliance which admittedly is the equivalent of 10 different machines!

Feeling much more positive today!

The kids decided to build their own little restaurant this morning, they made a kitchen out of their Maxamec (giant Meccano) and used their playfood to serve me up chicken drumsticks and chips with gluten free cake for dessert. Jack even wrote down my order and created a menu in his own made-up srcibble language (Literacy - hey the thought was there). On realising they only had 4 pieces of playfood pizza, Jack set about drawing 2 extra pieces to fill in the circle (Maths) complete with toppings.

Decided we needed some exercise (PE) and Vitamin D exposure and husband wasn't asleep so we went for a bike ride down by the river (haven't been brave enough to go by myself for fear of crocodiles and snakes!) Boys rode their bikes and we pushed Lily on her trike. Met two dog walkers and one older couple out for a stroll in just under an hour. Happy to report no crocs sighted - looked in all the bushes though! Lots of birds and butterflies and some monster sized ants (nature study)!

For lunch I stir-fried mince with courgettes, beansprouts and red cabbage and served with rice noodles.

We made vanilla cookies (Cooking and shapes (how to get the most cookie shapes per roll)) from Kersten's recipe E-book - fabulous - no sooner were they cooled down then we ate the whole batch (not bad for sugarless cookies).

The boys went on Reading Eggs for a while and then continued with their playfood restaurant. When I start to wonder about them spending time on Clever Dragons and Reading Eggs I usually get an email report letting me know what they've been up to - yesterday they watched heaps of educational videos on Clever Dragons and my report listed them:

 -  How Its Made-Doughnuts
 -  Sid the Science Kid: The Journey of a Germ
 -  SUPER WHY! Alpha Pigs Pumpkin game
 -  How strong is a strand of hair?  
 -  Making coins
 -  How It's Made Hot Dogs
 -  How It's Made: Violins
 -  Apolo Anton Ohno, Salt Lake City, World Cup Short Track 2008
  -  How its Made - Oil Tanker Ships
 -  1 Learning: Playing Tuba/Trumpet/Euphonium/Baritone/Flugelhorn/French
 -  Learning About Diabetes: A Walk with Tim and Lindsey
 -  How It's Made: Gold
 -  How its made-potato chips
 -  Polar Bear Moms and Cubs  
 -  megalodon monster sharks - still alive?
 -  Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel - Steven Sharp Nelson
 -  Pony birthday cake - How to make a pony cake
 -  Tim and Moby tell you about Swine Flu
 -  BrainPOP UK- Flu and Flu vaccines
 -  How It's Made - Fluorescent Tubes
 -  Cool Fish!
 -  How It''s Made: Helicopters
 -  Bill Nye The Science Guy on Static Electricity (Full Clip)
 -  How Mozzarella is made  
 -  Dr Suess - Green Eggs And Ham
 -  How It's Made - Darts
 -  How It's Made Swords
 -  Rocket Balloon
 -  How much sugar is in a can of soda?
 -  how its made s5 ep13- toothbrushes
 -  Dry Ice Bubble  
 -  How It's Made Baseballs
 -  How It's Made Skateboards

What a fantastic resource!

See for yourself - they both have FREE trials!

For dinner we had leftover lunch mince with rice this time and fried courgette slices which the boys reliably informed me were 'YUM'.

Now I feel the need to make carrot cake but it's 9.30pm!
So maybe tomorrow?

Friday, June 15, 2012


Warning: This blog post contains personal information some readers may be uncomfortable with!

I owe some apologies....I have allowed the self obssessive part of me to take over for a little bit (sometimes it just catches up with me and I can't stop OR choose not to). If I hold it under control for too long it takes over, I can feel it happening and the majority of the time I can check it before it gets out of control. What have I been obsessing about? Homeschool, food allergies, renting in suburbia, marriage, kids, my businesses, cars, money? A little...but....


There I said it - Facebook - it has become an obsession - I have tried not turning the computer on - lasts until about my second cup of decaf (ditched the caffeine again about 2 weeks ago), have tried setting aside a time to check posts, notifications and messages - I hear that ping of a new message or a chat box opens up and I have to answer (one friend actually asked me a question once joking that I would be quicker than Google! - I wasn't because I hadn't been at my computer - I know rare!)

Maybe, it's not Facebook I'm obsessed with but more what it provides - access to people, their comments, their businesses and their lives. I have always been pretty awful at making friends and then maintaining those friendships (problem with being Aspergers - I know that now and working hard to change a little but within my rules/comfort zone). I want to help, want to share my knowledge of allergies, food intolerances and their links with autism, health, behaviour and general well being. I see so many posts from people hurting and dealing with the situations we have been threw and I want to point them in a direction that may help - I wish someone had shown us where to look for help years ago. Everything I have learned from my own extensive research and experience with my family.

I started my own website years ago - when I was just learning about websites, blogs and the big 'world wide web' Sensitive to Food if you care to look (little neglected these past few months but still some basic info to start you off). Need to add more about our FAILSAFE journey and elimination diets.


Oops back again - sorry new post in one of my many facebook groups and an email from one of my Phoenix team. I am beginning to think I am spreading myself too thin again, in danger of losing me! Actually to be honest - I haven't be able to find me yet - lost somewhere between wife, mother, sister, daughter and teacher! In danger of getting grumpy with my kids and husband because I am too busy and have too many little projects started and nothing nearing completion. Haven't written any dates down in my diary and I know there are things I need to deal with because I have been opening the letters and filing them away in a big pile on the kitchen bench next to the computer - actually they're in a box around here somewhere (had guests visit so had to hid the disorganised chaos) - bills to pay, stalls to book, email newsletters to write, customers to follow up with, meals to plan and a budget to get on top of etc...

I still dream of writing my autobiography one day. Every night as I fall asleep I write another imaginary paragraph in my head - I wonder if I actually had written these down I probably would have most of it written by now? I remember reading "Look me in the eye" by John Robison, about a boy who grew up with Aspergers but wasn't diagnosed until he was a lot older - he wrote his book in 2 weeks. I know that if I let myself go I would do that too, but then who would look after the family if I went off on a manic! I am not a diagnosed manic depressive but I could be? I fill out those online questionnaires - don't you? I can usually tick all the symptoms in the conditions lists!

I have suffered postnataldepression each time with 3 children - but on reflection think I have always been depressed with periods of highs and that post babies were just a periods of intense lows, an exacerbation of underlying symptoms (tried medication and refer to that period of time as zombie mum - had no feelings). Ever read a book called MotherGuilt? We are on a no win from day one of even thinking about starting a family!

The elimination diet and prior to that having to finally admit I had issues with gluten and dairy and eliminate from them my diet (gf/cf for autism is well documented) have clarified many ills I had. I seem to be more in control of my moods but having recently suffered my 6th miscarriage in 7 years the cracks are starting to show again. I have 3 beautiful unique children and just want to try for one more time (have had 2 miscarriages in the last 12 months and am not recovering well from the last one). I'm 38 this year and don't feel I am too old - the pregnancies with the boys were hard, but our daughter was a breeze.

Mine has been a tale of love, sex, grief, relationships, travel, adventure, risks, higher education, employment, family, children, depression, allergies and autism - all the key ingredients for a cracking good read!

Well, if you came looking for a blog about homeschooling - my apologies. As well as blogging about being a homeschool mum I also try and cover autism, allergies, FAILSAFE eating and living, websites, internet marketing, running my own business as an Independent Phoenix Trader and also exploring my craft side by creating jewellery and accessories from buttons and fashioning womens neckwear from mens neckties! See my latest website Ties'n'Buttons!

I have Facebook pages for both my businesses (of course I do!)

Follow Phoenix on Facebook - Greeting cards, giftwrap, postcards, invites, stationery, accessories and more from Phoenix Trading.

Follow Ties'n'Buttons on Facebook.

Apologies for the lack of posts, promoting my businesses, the randomness of this post and for sharing personal information you may find uncomfortable - I have a habit of doing that - sorry!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Been too busy to write :(
Have photographic evidence of my existence for the last 2 weeks!!!
Stormy sunset over Gladstone

Lily getting close to the fish dissection action of Jack's first ever fish!

Too busy being creative to put it aside for lunch!

Lily multi-tasking on the banana phone (very important phonecall) whilst eating lunch!

Fabulous recycled music area at Ecofest

Tom holding a 2 year old crocodile

Jack with 2 year old crocodile

Boys watching a 4 year old crocodile who liked having his head and back stroked

Me holding the 2 year old crocodile - glad his jaws were taped closed!

Jack getting close with a carpet python

Tom no fear having python's head on his hand!

More Jack with snake - check out the scary snake lady!

Tom's turn with the python

No problem Mum!

My turn!

Very brave Mum working hard on conquering her fear of snakes! She was terribly heavy and so strong - and the snake lady was behind my camera - I was starting to get nervous by now and shook for 10 min after! So glad I did this though just to prove I can!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Finally submitted my application to the HEU to homeschool Jack - posted yesterday - now the waiting game to see if the application is up to scratch for at least provisional registration. Have been enjoying spending time with the kids, trying a few things out - basically what is referred to as deschooling and then unschooling.

We read together, watch You Tube videos, utilise online kids programs such as Clever Dragons and Reading Eggs (interactive learning fun for the boys - and Lily too!), CD Roms, jigsaws and most importantly a serious amount of time creating amazing things out of Lego.

Recently decided to get blood tests done to check for vitamin deficiencies - been mucking around with families diet for years now due to allergies and intolerances and have seen huge improvements being gf/cf and failsafe.

Jack was a shining star - said the needle didn't even hurt and sat so still while the nurse took 5 tubes of blood off him! Last time we had to get blood was a fight and his Dad had to hold him still :) As a reward we bought him a new wooden domino rally set we spotted in the chemist window on the way to get a new water pistol. Couldn't resist the wooden block set for Tom and a set of fairy wings for Lily either!

Our days are filled with spending time together and answering questions as the kids come up with them or I see a photo or video on facebook and it starts us off on a learning journey :)

Blood test results tomorrow - hope it's good?