Friday, 19 September 2014

Monday (Friday) Motivation 19 September 2014

Many people I have been speaking to lately, tend to feel 'stuck in a rut', that the same things tend to result from anything new they attempt, that every relationship or new project follows the same path. Is this the same for you? Have you also noticed that your life seems to be following a repetitive pattern?

We tend to have the same expectations, the same goals, the same driving forces for each different aspect of our lives, for each new project or relationship. We follow the same path, have the same insecurities, the same outlook, but expect a different result every time. If 0 + 0 = 0, no amount of wishing or crying or anger is going to get it to equal 1.

 The only way we can every get a different result, can change our path, or reach a different destination, is if we change our way of doing things. Shake it up a little. Set new goals or boundaries, and break our old habits and old ways of thinking.
I loved reading those 'Choose your own Adventure' books as a child, and was always amazed at how the whole outcome of the story could change if you chose the left or the right path at the fork in the road in the middle of the forest. Life is still like that, we are still the masters of our own adventures, and the possibilities are endless.

So be brave dear one, be brave enough to decide you are not happy with the current outcomes of your life, and be fierce enough to change your result by shaking up the formula of your life.

And remember, happiness is a choice. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies with Choc Chips (GF)

My sons love baking! Seriously! Any time spent in the kitchen is the greatest fun for them! And I love doing it with them too. It's great bonding time for all of us.

Recently, Jonathan had his Grade R school play, it was cuteness overload! The second night, Mikey and I stayed home while the rest of the family went to watch the show. I decided to try out a super easy recipe that I've seen everywhere on Pinterest. Speaking of Pinterest, follow me if you use it!

Of course, I never stick to the plain recipe, I always tweak it somehow, but I love how these turned out! I added desiccated coconut for some added crunch, and chocolate chips, because nothing goes better with peanut butter than chocolate! I guess the beauty of an easy, basic recipe like this is that you can customize it to your liking, and what is better than personalized cookies!

Peanut Butter & Coconut Cookies with Choc Chips

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Peanut Butter (Substitute Sunflower or other Nut Butter if you are Peanut free. Also make sure that the Peanut Butter you use is Gluten Free)
2 eggs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use all white or all brown as well)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, plus extra
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Again, use a Gluten Free brand; you can also substitute nuts, raisins etc for dairy free cookies)

Method 

1. Preheat oven to 180*C
2. Combine Peanut Butter, sugar and eggs in a bowl.


3.  Add in the coconut and choc chips, and mix well. Should the mixture not come together properly, add a little bit more coconut to stiffen it up.

4. Scoop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a well greased baking plate, (or use baking paper) and flatten slightly with a fork.

5. Sprinkle the cookies with some extra coconut before baking for some extra crunch.
6. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until brown on top.

7. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the baking tray.

These are definitely kid-approved in my house, and the boys are already requesting another batch! Guess I've got some baking to do this weekend!




Monday, 8 September 2014

Monday Motivation 08 September 2014

Have you ever experienced the feeling that as soon as you think your life is going good, you get thrown a massive curve ball which messes with everything you thought you had figured out?

It happens to me often. Really often. So often that I've sort of come to expect it. But that's the thing, life doesn't always go like you plan it. Things go wrong. Plans don't work out, Your car breaks down, or your pet gets sick, or you don't get the job you were dreaming about. Your relationship ends, your best friend moves away, your party cake doesn't turn out how you imagined it. 

Whether big or small, curve balls happen. Experiencing them is part of life. What sets you apart from the person next to you is the way you deal with it, the way you react. Do you sit and cry, or do you take the curve ball in your stride and see it as a a learning curve? Do you feel sorry for yourself and lash out at life, or do you see it as a way to re-plan your mission, to realign with your goals? 

Like everything in life, it is your choice how you react. It's your choice how you deal with these changes to your goals.

Just remember, you are stronger than what ever gets thrown your way. You are stronger than that which is designed to destroy you. You have within you strengths that you do not even know of yet.

Trust in yourself, trust in your abilities to adapt to your circumstances, and remember, happiness is a choice. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Spring Day Motivation 1 September 2014

New day, new week, new month, new season! What could be more exciting than that? Seasons are changing, the weather is warming up wonderfully, the world is blossoming and flowering all around us and we are also feeling renewed and energised.

Spring is a time of growth and rebirth, of shaking off the damage of the winter that has passed and awakening to the endless hope that the summer holds. It is a time of cleaning out the clutter, both physically and emotionally, that has built up over the past year and creating space for the possibilities that lie ahead.

Like a butterfly breaking from its cocoon to feel the first sun rays on it's wings, spring is about opening yourself up to love and happiness, about shaking off the bonds of the past and looking towards a bright new future.

Embrace this new season as a time of growth and learning, Open yourself up to what life holds for you in this season of change and possibility. Believe in your worth. Believe in yourself. Believe in life.
And remember, happiness is a choice!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday Motivation - 25 August 2014

Bad things happen to everyone, I'm sure you're aware of that. What sets people apart, the "can's" from the "cannot's", is the way we handle adversity. 

Image source: www.thedailyquote.com

The "cannot's" are those people who take everything life throws at them as a personal attack. They are convinced that life is out to get them, that they drew the short straw on everything. They are the people who sit on a heap, feeling sorry for themselves, and blaming everyone else for where they are in life. Does that sound like someone who will get anywhere in life? Is that who you want to be?

The "can's", on the other hand, are those tenacious go-getters who take the worst that life can throw at them in their stride and soldier on through it. The ones who never back down from life, who don't expect anyone else to take responsibility for their actions. 

I'm not saying that to succeed, you need to be emotionless to the things that happen to you. What I am saying, is that you need to  accept your role in any situation you find yourself in, take responsibility for your actions, and figure out how to go on from there. Understand that life doesn't have a personal vendetta against you, that the things you face are not some cosmic attack on you. 

Only you can decide which camp you are going to fall into. 
Only you can decide to roll with the punches life throws at you, or to curl up into fetal position and hide.
Only you can change your life, no one else can do it for you, so choose your reactions wisely.

And remember, happiness is a choice.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday Motivation 18 August 2014

Life seems ruled by time, doesn't it? Alarm clocks blaring, rushing from one place to the next, meetings, responsibilities, every day seems filled to the brim with stuff to do and people to see and places to be. I often feel like I am giving so much of myself, between raising two children and working two jobs that my passions have been left by the wayside. I would tell myself often that I 'don't have time to read a book, play some piano, enjoy a quiet cup of coffee, or do some writing', and I believed it.

Starting this blog, and doing what I love, prompted me to relook my time-management skills and re-prioritise my schedule. I decided that Sunday nights would be 'my nights', devoted to blogging, reading, cross-stitch etc, anything that made me happy.

Image source - www.howjoyful.com
Follow the link of a beautiful free printable of this saying! 

Find one thing that brings you joy, one thing that makes you happy, something you love, and schedule time to devote to it. Just half an hour to do something that brings you joy. Soon, you will be so used to having that 'you' time in your schedule that you will wonder what ever kept you from devoting that time in the first place. 

Doing what you love will make you happy. Happiness in one aspect of your life will spill over into other aspects, infecting all areas of your life with love and happiness. Go on, you deserve it!

And remember, happiness is a choice! 


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Baked Potatoes and Gluten Free Cheese Sauce

A few weeks ago, my children went back to school after the winter holidays, and back to school means back to school sports. This term Mr J started min cricket, which is a bundle of laughs so far!
I love watching my children take part in school sports. I love watching Mr J learn and grow, interact with his team mates, and have fun. What I don’t like about afternoon sports, is the fact that it happens from 5-6pm, twice a week, which means that me and my two hungry little boys only get home around 6:30 on sports nights. Before going gluten-free, that meant picking up takeaways or throwing together a quick pot of pasta. Now that those are no longer options, I have had to work on new ideas to get dinner on the table quickly after practise. My go-to meal for these instances at the moment: baked potatoes!

Baked potatoes – golden, fluffy mounds of starchy goodness, perfectly customisable to suit any taste. I have tried numerous toppings with my boys, and so far our favourite is bacon with cheese sauce. I spent a long time after my gluten-free diagnosis lamenting the fact that I would never again be able to enjoy a creamy, decadent white (or b├ęchamel) sauce, which is traditionally made by mixing a roux base  (melted butter mixed with cake flour) with cream or milk and then heating it up until thick, creamy and luscious. After feeling very sorry for myself for quite a while, I decided to sit down and rethink the situation, which is when the solution dawned on me. Cornstarch (or maziena to us South Africans) turns out to be the perfect substitute! Now, my favourite go-to dinner for busy nights is back on the menu!

Baked potatoes with Gluten-Free Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

Potatoes or sweet potatoes – I use about 1 medium potato per person
Your choices of toppings – bacon, chicken, mince etc

Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 – 2.5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
¾ cup grated cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

1.       Scrub potatoes and pierce well with a fork. Put into the microwave on high for 5-10 minutes, turn occasionally, until soft.

2.       Cook toppings

For the sauce:

3.        Melt butter over low heat in a sauce pan. 

 4.       Add cornstarch little by little, mixing well, to form a stiff paste.
  
5.       Mix in the milk, whisking well to ensure all the cornstarch is incorporated.



6.       Keep over a low – medium heat and simmer gently, stirring often to avoid lumps from forming.

7.       I’ve noticed that cornstarch white sauce takes longer to thicken up than regular white sauce, but once it starts thickening, it thickens quickly. Once it has reached your desired consistency, remove from heat and add seasoning and cheese.

8.       Stir while to melt the cheese. You can add a little bit more milk if the sauce has thickened up too much.

To Serve:

9.       My children prefer me to cut up their potatoes into chunks before serving, but use your own discretion for this.

10.   Serve potatoes in a bowl topped with your toppings and cheese sauce.

11.   Garnish with some extra cheese or fresh herbs.
I used some left  over mince and veggies out of the freezer as our topping, which made dinner even quicker and easier! 

From famished to fed in 20 minutes! Enjoy!



Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday Motivation 11 August 2014

I am one of those people who always has a motto in life. Granted, it changes every year or so as I transition through life, but my current motto is 'Choose Happiness'.

It sounds simple doesn't it? That you can choose happiness as easily as you choose what to wear in the morning or choose what to make for supper at night? But don't be deceived. Choosing happiness is not about sticking a fake smile on your face and pretending to the world that you're okay.

Choosing happiness is hard work. It takes conscious effort and daily work. It is about learning to accept that the only person you can control, is yourself; that by changing the way you react to a situation, you can change the outcome of the situation.

 Image credit - www.thedailyquotes.com

Choose to see the happiness in small moments of your day, choose to not let others dictate your reactions to a situation. Choose that happiness is important enough to fight for. 

Have a Happy week friends!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Gluten Free Apple Crumble

I have been craving a good apple crumble for weeks now! Warm and fragrant, topped with a crispy crumble and drowned in fresh cream, what sounds more perfect on a winter's day? Luckily for my tummy, we had a family get-together this weekend and I graciously offered to be in charge to pudding for the day! Yay!

Family get-togethers in my family are big and loud and rambunctious and delicious! I love being part of a big, crazy, close-knit family and am so glad that my children get to grow up surrounded by loving family members and playful cousins! But anyway, back to the food!

Gluten Free Apple Crumble (serves about 6)

Ingredients:
8-10 apples, cored and thinly sliced (I kept the skin on mine, but you can peel them if you choose)
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
2 cups Gluten Free Oats. GF Granola would work well too. (South African readers, I found some at my  local Dischem)
1 cup desiccated coconut
50g finely chopped, mixed nuts (either raw or roasted would work)
75g chopped butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Fresh cream or ice cream to serve

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C

2. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the apples and toss to mix. Arrange evenly in an ovenproof dish.
This is my baby cousin Chloe, who I quickly roped into helping out!

3. Combine oats, coconut, nuts and sugar for the crumble topping.
Look at the yummyness!

4. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over the arranged apples. 

5. Dot the topping evenly with the chopped butter.
All ready for the oven! My assistant was very pleased with her handiwork!

6. Bake the apple crumble for 20-30 minutes until the apples are soft and the topping is brown and crispy. I like my topping extra crispy so I left it in the oven for a bit longer.

All warm and toasty from the oven

7. Serve warm with fresh cream or ice cream.
Total Deliciousness! 

I hope you enjoy this!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Monday Motivation 4 August 2014

If you are anything like me, Monday mornings suck enough as is. Back to routine, back to work, back to school, with just the memories of a great weekend to carry you through. So I figure, everyone can use a little inspiration and good vibes to enjoy along with their early morning cup of coffee!

Following on from the epiphanies I shared in my previous blog post, I'd like you to bear this one thought in mind for the week:
Image taken from here.

Think of the one thing that you want to achieve, the one thing that you want to do with your life, where your passion lies.

Now think of the reasons keeping you from achieving it, whether self-imposed or from external influences. Take a moment and really think about them. 

Now, forget about them. Forget about the fears and insecurities and self-imposed boundaries. Forget about the blocks that exist only in your mind. 

Believe in yourself and your abilities, believe in the power within yourself and the capabilities that you were born with. Believe in your inner strength. Believe in you!

Happy Monday friends! Go out there and kick butt!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Waterval Boven Adventure Weekend (Part 2)

What a crazy week!  I've been meaning to bring you this post all week but life got in the way!

A few days ago, I brought you part 1 of my 'Cure to Cabin Fever' weekend, a spur-of-the-moment trip to beautiful Waterval Boven that I took with my good friend Frans from trailblazerguide.com. There was way too much adventure to pack into one post, so, here is the day 2 post as promised!

There are few things in life more perfect than a good cup of coffee early on an idyllic morning, and Sunday did not disappoint! After an early start and a cup (or three!) of Joe, we headed out to the crags.

Waterval Boven boasts over 500 climbing routes with something for all levels of climbers.We decided to head out to 'The Creche', an aptly named beginner route perfect for a newbie like me! First of all, the views are amazing! Nothing can prepare you for the awe you feel looking down at the Elands River valley from the top of the crags!




Seriously, the photos (thanks to my little camera and lack of photography skills!) do not even begin to do this amazing place justice! 

As I mentioned in my last post, Frans is an avid rock-climber, and so has all his own gear and safety equipment. He is experienced and  safety-conscious and knows his way around these crags. He hooked up an abseil rig for us in The Creche, and gave me a full safety briefing before I descended. I have abseiled before (many, many years ago), but it was always an assisted abseil (connected to a belayer who controls your descent for safety). The rig that Frans set up for us on that wonderful winter's day, was totally different though! I would be doing an unassisted abseil, which basically means you, a rope, a harness, and only your own strength and skills to get yourself safely to the bottom! No pressure, right? 

View from the top!

Wrong! Lots of pressure! I was a nervous wreck! My mind was spinning a thousand miles a minute about my feeble upper body strength and how I'll never make it to the bottom in one piece! Talk about mind over matter! But none-the-less, down I went. Inch by inch, little by little, fully reliant on my own body to get me to the bottom. Half way down, my arms started shaking, my legs started trembling, my mind started wandering, and I felt myself start to slip...
Down we go!

I quickly remembered my safety briefing from Frans, and held onto the rope with all the strength I could muster! Precariously clinging to a rock face on what feels like the edge of the world, with only me and myself to stop a plummet to the ground, I came to a very important epiphany...

When all is said and done, the only person you can fully rely on in life, is yourself. If you don't believe that you are strong enough, or clever enough, or capable enough, or beautiful enough to tackle the situation at hand, then who will believe it? If you don't see yourself as perfect, forget about your hangups and insecurities, and feel confident if your abilities and your worth, then you have nothing. If you can't see yourself as capable enough to live your own life, then you are defeating the purpose of life. 

My brainwave over, my strength renewed, I soldiered on, and a few minutes later, was shouting my victory cry to the whole valley! A short while later, Frans joined me on the ground, and I could swear he was still giggling at my victory dance! I was still beaming from ear to ear, and ready for the next challenge he had planned...

That was, until I heard what the next challenge was! Apparently, if you can climb down it, then you can climb up it too, and so, I started on my first rock climb! Climbing up was definitely tougher than abseiling down. There is no fixed route, you are attached to a rope and a belayer at the bottom for support, but other than that, it's just you and a mountain. Picking my way inch by inch up the steep rock face, Frans shouting encouragement from below, I realised that self-reliance comes in many different forms. Some of the foot and hand holds I needed to use were only a centimetre or two wide, and I would never have thought that such a tiny strip of rock was enough to support my weight and get me up to the next ledge. I'll be the first to admit that I nearly gave up, more than once. I was afraid to put my life into my own hands, afraid to take the leap of faith that would be needed to rest my weight fully on the next foothold, afraid of the consequences of 'failing'. After a long pause, I realised that I had no guarantee that it wouldn't hold, no guarantee that I would not be able to make it to the next ledge, non guarantee that I would fail. All I had, was the knowledge that I am capable and strong, and that if things did go wrong, I was connected to a safety system that would not fail me.

And so, I did it. I pushed up with my right leg, reached and grabbed with my left hand, and slowly but surely, I made it to the top. I had conquered what I thought as unconquerable, I had quelled my fears and learnt to trust in myself and my instincts, and the mountains and crags echoed my shouts of triumph! 

Back on solid ground after abseiling back down, clouds were building and the wind was picking up. We decided that two life-changing epiphanies were enough for one day, and set out on a hike to get us to the top of the crags near the vehicle. Birds and butterflies and unbelievable sights made the hike seem to fly by, and in no time at all we were enjoying lunch in the shade of a tiny waterfall.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and so also my unbelievable weekend. Sunday afternoon was spent travelling back home, quietly contemplating the experience I had just had, and determined to take the lessons learnt to heart and apply them to my everyday life.

I would like to thank the original Monkey Man, because without him this weekend would never have taken place. As I mentioned before, Frans has his own equipment which made this whole weekend easier on planning and budgets, but commercial climbs and abseils are available through out the region. If you ever find yourself with a case of cabin fever, take to the roads and experience all that life has to offer! You might learn some amazing lessons along the way!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Waterval Boven Adventure Weekend

A few weeks ago I realised I was stuck in a rut. Life had just become a seemingly endless tunnel of work and home and life. I was getting antsy and irritable and realised its time for some me-time. Luckily, I have a great friend Frans over at trailblazerguide.com who was going through his own bout of cabin fever! A few emails back and forth, and an adventure weekend was born!

Imagine my surprise to find Adventure Central within an hour and a half's drive from my home town! Waterval Boven is a quaint, historic town situated along the Mpumalanga escarpment. The town, along with its sister town of Waterval Onder, was established in 1895 along the route of the Pretoria - Delgoa Bay railway line. Here, the railway line had to climb 208m over a distance of 7.5km to traverse the escarpment, necessitating the installation of a rack-railway through a steep curved tunnel. Its location among the crags and buttresses makes it a mecca for both national and international rock-climbers and adventure seekers. In fact, see all about it in Frans' movie about the town here.

So, back to the adventure! After arriving in the town, we took a hike down beside the old railway tunnel to the base of the waterfall. Frans knew the trail well, and dragging along someone who is clued up is definitely the way to go! Security guards have been employed at the start of the trail and it is recommended to pay them a tip for keeping an eye on your vehicle. The hike down was easy enough, even for a beginner like me, and in no time at all, we were above the Elands River. Frans is an avid white water kayaker and has run parts of the river before. He took great pride in showing me the gorgeous rapids as we approached. He also took great joy in the fact that I was so distracted by the rapids tumbling and gushing beneath us that I didn't notice the majestic, 75m Elands Waterfall until we were almost right below it!
Elands River Rapids

We had lunch on the rocks in the shade of this breathtaking waterfall, watching the water cascading down, contemplating how few people had sat where we sat, how many people had viewed what we viewed,  how many people just scurried on, rushing past this phenomenal sight, and how few had taken the time to leave the road, to take the winding trail, and to see life, and the waterfall, from such a different angle.
What a view for lunch!
After an amazing afternoon spent exploring the river and rocky outcrops along it's banks, we headed back into town. We booked into a delightful backpackers for the night and then headed out for supper. True to my new 'try new things' motto, I had fresh trout, and it was amazing! 
Getting some photography hints from a pro. This is part of the old railway station that was once the life force of this beautiful town.

I truly recommend a stay in a backpackers for the adventurous at heart! The place we stayed at was full of climbers and thrill seekers from all across the globe. Much to my surprise, we met a group of young rock-climbers from a well known South African university, who were out in Boven for a weekend on the crags. We stayed up late out on the balcony, drinking coffee, chatting and laughing, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes from being part of community of adrenaline junkies. 

Late that night, I crawled into my warm sleeping bag, exhausted after a day of fresh air and adventure, and excited to see what day 2 of my adventure weekend will hold!

Stay tuned for day 2 of this amazing adventure!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Gluten Free Tuna Cakes

This is a quick recipe that I whipped up for dinner the other night! I have been focusing on recreating our favourite recipes into gluten-free versions, and this one will definitely be on the menu again!

I used this recipe from Taste.com.au as inspiration, and tweaked it a bit as I went. I am really bad at following recipes, and so end up tweaking most recipes as I go!


Gluten Free Tuna Cakes

Ingredients
2x tins flaked tuna - the tins I used were 215g each
1/3 cup instant mashed potato
+/- 1 cup boiling water (for the mashed potatoes)
2 Tbs mixed herbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
A pinch of salt

*You could use real, homemade mashed potatoes if you have on hand, I was in a rush and didn't have time to make from scratch

Method
1. Mix up the mashed potatoes. Brands vary in the amount of liquid they need, so go slow on the water. You don't want your potatoes too soggy. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly.

2. Drain the tuna. I always use the tuna in brine, it just seems healthier to me.

3. Mix the mashed potato, tuna, onion and dry ingredients together in a bowl.

4. Add one egg , mixing it all up with your hands, so that the ingredients are all nice and combined

5. Check the consistency before adding the second egg. You want to be able to form the mixture into patties that won't fall apart while cooking. You also don't want the mixture too squishy, as soggy fish cakes aren't going to please any tummies!

6. Should your mixture be too soggy, add some more coconut flakes or polenta to bulk it up some more.

7. Let the mixture stand for a few minutes for the polenta to soften slightly.

8. Form into 8 patties.

9. Shallow fry the patties in oil, for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

10. Serve and enjoy!

I served this with steamed mixed vegetables and a side of fresh cut papinos. Pure bliss!






Thursday, 24 July 2014

About me!

Hi there! Welcome to my blog!

Since this is my first first, I thought I'd share a little bit about who I am and what I am doing here.

My name is Elmarie, I am a gluten-free, single mom to two busy little boys. We live in sunny South Africa and love the country and the climate!

I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant a few months ago and it completely changed my view on food and cooking. Previously, supper was thrown together quickly and easily from mostly ready made sources. Now, I am focused on cooking healthy meals from scratch for my little family, and love doing it!

I have been on a journey of self-discovery over the past year since my separation and divorce, and love the person I am becoming. Part of the motivation behind starting this blog is to rediscover my passion for creativity, and adventure, which I had lost over the past few years.

I see myself as a total extrovert, I love people and socializing and sharing about myself and my experiences. Speaking as I have been lately with people from all walks of life, I have realised that I have a totally different outlook on life than the general masses. I am more focused on the small things in life, more honed on in on the beauty around us. I came across this picture that defines me to a tee:
(Origin unknown)
Initially, the word 'gypsy' drew to mind images of social outcasts, old broken caravans, and flowing skirts; but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that such intense passion and inspiration are rare in today's world. Life is so full, we are all so busy, that not many people take the time to stop and smell the roses, to see the beauty and purpose in the world around us. Thankfully, I was able to notice that within my own life, and am trying to break that cycle. This blog will be an account of that journey - Taking back me, one day at a time!