Thursday, May 30, 2013

The reality of working from home

You may have noticed my lack of posts lately....
Let me be honest and tell you that I'm suffering from 'screen overload'.
And on top of that - 'messy desk syndrome'.

One of the reasons for these is because I work from home.
Often when I mention this to people they comment like this "oh isn't that wonderful", "how lucky are you", "isn't that just the life" and other statements that lean towards thinking that it is the ideal work situation.

Well today, I'm here to tell you what its really like.

Its not fun
Its not enjoyable
Its not sociable
Its not easy
Its not convenient
Its not wonderful
Its not 'the life'
Its not ideal

Working from home is hard...
and lonely...
and frustrating...
and takes effort...
and self-control...
and requires A LOT of motivation.

I travel to our office once a week where I interact with the most amazing bunch of work colleagues anyone could ever hope for - I feel priviledged to call them "friends". And I also have the most amazing boss!  
Whilst in the office I have appointments with clients and finalise details of what I've worked on showing any issues to my boss. 
I then pack up piles of clients information and files and make several trips to and from my car to transport them home.

REALITY NUMBER ONE: Transporting files is a lot harder than leaving them at work! 

Have you ever thought about how it would be if once you arrived at work you needed to make about 4 trips to and from the car to get everything sorted? I don't even do that many trips when I do our grocery shopping and parking in the garage is a lot closer to the kitchen than the parking spot that I often find at work!

Once home I then move all the files into my office.
REALITY NUMBER TWO: Work comes into the 'home'.

I know its often mentioned how healthy it is to keep these two separate - but for some of us, that's not possible. 
I have one desk. Work and home have to share.
Thankfully its a large desk.
I have added more shelves underneath so that on non-work days I can put files away so they aren't sitting on my desk, sometimes they don't all fit though so they sit on my desk anyway! 
So when people talk about walking away from work - that also means for me sometimes I just don't want to sit in my office doing things that are 'home' things because work is still there!

Contrary to popular belief, on work days I don't get to run in and out of the house catching up on washing, or doing the dishes that I wasn't feeling up to last night. 
Guess what, I actually work! Huh - funny that!
No I don't spend my time in the kitchen baking cakes & sauces & spread, even though that is much rather what I'd like to do!
I actually sit at my desk and work.

REALITY NUMBER THREE: Some days I spend the entire time sitting at my desk.

Yep, so next time you're in the office and you enjoy stretching your legs as you walk across the floor to give someone a phone message --> appreciate it. There's no-one to walk to here!

I have learned to make the most of lunch breaks, not just sit in-front-of-your-screen lunch breaks --> real lunch breaks. I love a sunny day to sit outside and appreciate the space.

Its hard to sit here and not have anyone to run random questions by, to discuss the latest news with, to show off your new shoes to, to comment on the client's work that you just "don't get".  All of which I thoroughly enjoy on my day in the office!

REALITY NUMBER FOUR: Sometimes I don't see an adult other than my husband for days at a time.

And for someone who is quite the social butterfly let me assure you THAT IS HARD! And realllllllllllllllly depressing.

I have learned the importance of social interactions and as such my daughter now catches the bus to and from school so that at least I can see a few mum's up the road each morning and afternoon!

REALITY NUMBER FIVE:  There is no down time between work and home.

The down time between work and home is quite relaxing. I realise now how much the travel time home from work really calms us! By the time we're home we often forget the work hassles of the day! When working from home there is no break between work and home. 

Today's post was inspired by a teary moment in my 'lunch break' when it was all too hard & I just wanted to be able to work back in our office.
And yet I must not forget the positives that come from working at home:
Despite rainy days being lousy for a lunch break - it means that I get the privilege of having my kitty on my desk all day.
Sometimes I'm even blessed with this on sunny days too!

I also appreciate having use of our oven and stove at home because that means whatever I want for lunch I can pretty much have. I love a warm home-made lunch on cold days!

And despite all my frustrations the biggest positive is that I can still be a 'mum' to my daughter. I don't want her spending her afternoons in child-care and me not being a part of her life. I honestly believe that after school time is such a valuable time to connect with what's happening in her world.

....And so for that reason, and that reason only..... I have my cry & then I plough on. I close all distractions and get back to work knowing that I value both my job & my daughter!

So next time you hear "working from home" mentioned - instead of rushing in with the lucky/easy comments, take a minute to think - perhaps it isn't that easy. Tell them you've heard that it can be hard & ask them how they find it! Perhaps they don't find it so enjoyable either!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

In My Kitchen - May

This month's edition is bought to you by the letter "M"...
Hang on, wait - that sounds a bit like Sesame Street doesn't it......?!?!?

thought I'd post some of my favourite "M" things for May's In My Kitchen.

I must be honest and admit that I do have a bit of a fettish for kitchen bits and pieces and both mugs and measuring cups fall into that category!
I love having a big range of mugs to drink from. 
Here are some of my favourites currently in my mug cupboard: These are my standard tea & coffee mugs. I use them when I'm just having a drink by myself.  These cow mugs were picked from the shop by my daughter who is obsessed with cows. We have these when we're having a cup of tea together and are sometimes used when I have a friend over.
Here's 2 mugs that my daughter and I painted for each other :-) We take these to a coffee shop when we go out for a special treat together. I'm sure the people making our drink have a bit of a chuckle! We also use these for having hot chocolate.
Anything pink and French falls into my 'like' category! These are just too cute - and the perfect size for a cup of tea I must add!
This set (of 3!) is my most favourite set! These are for special occasions - so know that if you visit and you get served your hot drink in these cups then know that you are very important to me and that I value our friendship!!! ;-)
If I ever see this range available again I will buy a 4th just to complete the set!

Now onto measuring cups!
There are so many different types of ones you can get & I find them all so lovely and fascinating.
Here's what's currently in my cooking drawer:
This purple set formed part of my Christmas gift from my husband which was many purple kitchen items! I sure didn't need any extra measuring cups but they sure get used!!!!
I'm instantly attracted to a bright range of colours so I couldn't resist purchasing these ones! 
This set is really handy for baking with because it has teaspoon and tablespoon measurements on the ends!
This set is great for travelling - they all hold together with a mini ring clip. They are also great for measuring when you need to pour - eg. when a recipe calls for each waffle to use 1/2 cup!
This set comes from Tupperware!
Its so practical because it also has 3/4 cup and 2/3 measurements which not many sets contain.
This set is just way too cute! I just LOVE them!

Question of the day:
Do you have a special mug that you like to use for warm drinks?

Next month I hope to have a new blender to show you since our one broke on Friday!

You can share inside your kitchen on the Fig Jam and Lime Cordial blog. Thanks again to Celia for hosting! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Couscous with mushrooms and green beans

I love a warm lunch!
This was so quick and easy to make and totally filled the spot!

You'll need:
1/2 cup wholemeal couscous
6 mushrooms, sliced
100g green beans, topped and tailed
1 shallot, chopped
juice of half a lemon
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

Soak the couscous in 3/4 cup boiling water, cover with a lid and allow to stand while the rest is cooking.
Put the mushrooms, beans and shallot into a frying pan. Gently stir until the mushrooms start to brown. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Serve the vegetables mixed into couscous.


Submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday.
You can add your recipe at these blogs:
carrie on vegan           veggie nook        greenthickies  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pumpkin and Kale Soup

Its not easy being green in winter!
Summer naturally leans towards delicious green smoothies and tasty salads but when winter comes I find my greens sit in the fridge for longer than they should.....

This is a great way to incorporate greens into your winter lunches :-)

You'll need:
1/4 of a whole pumpkin
1/2 onion
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon stock powder
leaves from 4 steams of black kale (or other green leafy as desired)

Chop the pumpkin into small pieces and scoop out the seeds.
Place in a large saucepan with the chopped onion, sage and stock powder.
Pour in enough water to just cover the pumpkin pieces.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft.
Remove from the stovetop and blend with a stick blender until smooth.
Return to the heat and add the torn kale leaves.
Cover and continue to cook on low heat for 7-10 minutes until the kale leaves have slightly wilted.

Serves 2

Monday, May 13, 2013

Meatless Monday - Dark Chocolate

Welcome to another edition of Meatless Monday A-Z.
 Today's food is Dark Chocolate.
Instead of using dark chocolate as an ingredient, I decided I would cook something that mimicked the taste of dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Date Cookies
1 & 1/2 cup dried dates
1 & 1/2 cups strong coffee
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup oat bran
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 Tablespoons ground flax seeds 
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup almond milk (or other plant milk of choice)

Chop the dates into small pieces and place in a bowl with a lid. Pour the coffee over the dates and allow to soak for at least 1/2 hour.
Mix the flax seeds with 2 Tablespoons water & allow to sit for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, oat bran, cocoa powder and bicarb soda. Mix well. 
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the agave, almond milk and flax mixture.
Fold the dry ingredients in until all is moist.
The mixture will be sticky and will just come together. 
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Roll tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten onto the baking sheet.
Bake at 180C for 12-15 minutes until cookies are cooked through.

Makes 20 cookies
These cookies are very true to dark chocolate flavour, because often dark chocolate is strong but not very sweet.
These cookies have no added sugar so they aren't overly sweet. I think they taste better the next after being baked.

This mixture also works as a  fudge-type slice. You can press it into a 20cm square baking tray & bake for 20 minutes before slicing.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mother's Day Breakfast Mushrooms

With this weekend being Mother's Day I started to think about breakfast in bed.....
I started to dread breakfast in bed.....
Thankfully my family know this! 

Back to thinking about breakfast then......

I LOVE mushrooms for breakfast...... but I feel sadden that it is generally considered that the best way to make breakfast mushrooms is to fry them in more butter than there is mushrooms.
Now as a mushroom for breakfast eater, let me assure you that to make them taste good it has nothing to do with the butter and more to do with the herbs and spices that are added.

Let me show you how to please mum's taste buds as well as her thighs ;-)

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 chopped spring onion
1 teaspoon each: minced garlic, paprika, sage, thyme 
1 large handful baby spinach leaves
1 Tablespoon tomato paste

Add the mushrooms, onion and all herbs to a frying pan and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Don't stir. Mushrooms work out best when they aren't stirred! They release more of their own juices then.
You can add a few teaspoons of water if the mushrooms stick to the bottom of the pan too much.
When you can see that the mushrooms are nearly cooked, stir in the spinach and tomato paste.
Stir for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Serve on toast.
Make sure you're hubby sees this before Sunday morning!

Talking about men, I want to share with you all this awesome soon-to-be released book for men:
Preorder it now to get the added bonuses :-)
You can read more about the book on the vegans are cool website.

Do you have anything special planned for mothers day?

Submitted for Healthy Vegan Friday.
You can add your recipe at these blogs:
carrie on vegan 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

WIAW - Trade

I'm sure by now you know that on Wednesdays I have oats for breakfast, salad for lunch and soup for dinner! Today I also enjoyed snacking on these delicious pumpkin cookies from Kari @ Bite-Sized Thoughts:
Try them - you won't be disappointed!

So this week instead of showing you yet another What-I-Ate-Wednesday, I decided I would trade Wednesday for the weekend (same letter after all so I can still call it WIAW)!
That's because we went camping last weekend!
How is it that something so simple can be so fun & relaxing....???

I love going away camping (when its not too long).

I thought I'd share with you our camping stew.

This is such a great meal to prepare when you don't have your full kitchen available & especially in cooler months. 
Its very easy to transport the food needed for this stew too.
I pre-chopped all our vegetables at home before we left just to make it easier.

Camping Stew
3 medium potatoes
1 zucchini
1 carrot
1 onion
1/2 chili
1 tin butter beans
1 large tin diced tomatoes
Sprinkling of italian herbs

Chop all vegetables.
Put all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40 mins. 

Serve with fresh crusty bread.

 Sit in front of the fire and enjoy your steamy stew!

Now for camping breakfast:
Soaked oats! This was too easy.
We boiled water in our billy. Poured it over the oats and left their lids on for 5ish minutes. Then added apple sauce, raisins and cinnamon.
Delicious warm camping breakfast!

Is it just me or do the oats on the left remind you of the 3 bears??? ;-)

Question of the day:
Do you have certain meals that you always eat when you go camping?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Kids Lunchbox Club - Homemade Muesli Bars

Homemade Muesli Bars

Line up the kids lunchboxes cause they'll all want a piece of this.....

This is so easy to make - and very versatile - you can substitute many different flavours and varieties to make muesli bars options that are endless!

This is what I used: (for the batch pictured!)
1/2 cup soy or coconut flour
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup rye flakes
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy yogurt (I used blueberry flavour, any would work)
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup soymilk
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vinegar

Pour the soy milk into a measuring jug and stir in the apple cider vinegar - this will curdle the milk and make it thick. 
In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and add the yogurt, apple sauce, milk mixture and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all dry ingredients are coated with wet mixture.
This mixture will be very sticky.
Line a 25cm square baking pan with baking paper. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at 180C for 25 minutes.
Allow to cool before slicing.

This makes 12 bars - depending on how wide you slice them.
To avoid arguments I recommend slicing them evenly ;-)

* You can sub any muesli you like or just use oats. 
* I don't normally use coconut flour due to it's high fat content but had some on hand that needed to be used up - you can sub almond flour or other ground nuts,  dried plant-milk pulp or nut/seed milo.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WIAW and a Product Review

Happy Wednesday to all my readers :-)

Today I'm not only going to share with you What-I-Ate but also one of my favourite products.

Recipe links:
Lunch - Cabbage Shiitake Stirfry
Dessert - Chocolate ice cream

Now let me share with you a product that I totally LOVE:

This is such a great alternative to oats for breakfast. Don't get me wrong, I do love my oats but sometimes I like something different. 
This porridge is just brown rice (in flake form) with dried fruit. No added nasties. 
Its cooks really quickly and tastes delicious (even when cooked just with water).  It totally ticks all the boxes - low fat, high fibre, low salt, no additives, and made in Australia by an Australian owned company. Its also gluten free for those who need that option. Its readily available in the health food section of grocery stores & is very reasonably priced.

Put it in your grocery trolley this week and I promise you won't be disappointed! :-)
I first tried this porridge when I initially went vegan. I was won over straight away, however I did used to put quite a bit of brown sugar on it - which I realise now was my massive sweet tooth that I previously had! I still LOVE this porridge but I am now pleased to say that I am perfectly satisfied with the sweetness coming just from the dried fruit!
Isn't it amazing how our taste buds can change over time?!?

Question of the day: 
Have you noticed that your taste buds have changed over time? 
Did you do something to help that process or did it just occur naturally?