If these hands could speak..Assyrian Biryani

IMG_1945.JPGIf these hands could speak what would they say..

..my Nan grew up in Baghdad, Iraq as a Christian. Fleeing persecution by Saddam, her family made their way to Australia. The older I get the more I cherish my heritage and want to preserve as many things from my grandparents as possible.. Last week I stood in my kitchen and documented my grandma making Assyrian Biryani.

As kids (and maybe adults) we made jokes about how, for our entire lives, we always ate the same 5 dishes when Nan cooked but you know what.. I am desperately trying to learn how to make those dishes so that when she passes on I can tell my girls that their grandma stood in a kitchen in Iraq and made this.. it’s something that will be with the women of this family for future generations.

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Assyrian Biryani

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

4 thigh fillets

1/2 kg of gravy beef or beef fillet

120g Slivered Almonds

2 cups of basmati rice

2 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 white onions, chopped finely

2 cubes of powder chicken stock

2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Biryani Spice

2 tsp curry powder

Vegetable oil

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper

How To

..cook the Rice

  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes. Wash the rice and drain.
  2. Heat a pot with olive oil (enough to fill the bottom) on medium heat, add chicken stock, turmeric, biryani spice and curry powder to the pot, stir to combine.
  3. Add 3 cups of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the rice, cover and cook until water is absorbed. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked.

..cook the Chicken

  1. Place the thigh fillets in a pot on medium heat. When the juices of the chicken are gone place ½ cup of water into the pot, when the water is gone add another ½ cup of water etc until the chicken is cooked.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into small pieces and place in a bowl.

..cook the Beef

  1. Place the beef in a pot on medium heat with a sprinkle of salt. When the juices of the beef are gone place ½ cup of water into the pot, when the water is gone add another ½ cup of water etc until the beef is cooked.
  2. Cut the beef into small pieces and place into a bowl.

..cook the Potatoes

  1. Wash the potatoes in cold water and drain well. Place on a paper towel and pat dry.
  2. Place enough vegetable oil in a pan to reach halfway up the potatoes and fry the potatoes on high heat until golden. Drain on absorbent paper. Once golden place the potatoes on top of the chicken pieces.
  3. Divide the oil from the potatoes into two seperate bowls.

..cook the Almonds

  1. Place the almonds into a pan with half the oil from the potatoes on medium heat and cook till golden.

..finish the Beef

  1. Place the other half of the potato oil into a deep pan- add the cooked beef and chopped onions. Fry on medium heat until the onions are softened. Set aside

Assembly

  1. Combine everything except the almonds in a pot and stir to combine. Once heated serve warm sprinkled with almonds

A fed baby is a happy baby..

IMG_1814.JPGI’ve been debating whether to post this or not for the fear of being seen so controversial but to be honest I felt that everything that’s to follow needed to be said.. for all women out there who will one day face the exact same situation I’ve experienced.

Breast feeding vs bottle feeding..

I read an Instagram post while I was pregnant which said something to the extent of ‘we support you women who can produce milk but choose to formula feed’. Choosing to bottlefeed formula as opposed to breastfeeding isn’t an easy decision, for some they don’t make enough milk, for others it’s a matter of mental health or perhaps for medical reasons you actually cannot breastfeed- whatever the reason you do not need to justify yourself.

Yes, midwives and hospital posters- we know, breastfed is best. Yes, random stranger who sees you pour formula into a sterilised bottled- we know it would be so much “easier” to just use what God has designed our bodies to produce but we’re not going for what is “best” by the standards of research or what is “easier” by the standards of convenience- we’re going for what works for me and my family.

So if you choose to formula feed and not even try breast feeding I cheer for you. I had a moment a few weeks ago where Raegan was struggling to poo (I know TMI..)- we were going on a few days. She would cry and only pass wind so I knew it was hurting her- I thought it may be the formula.. with tears in my eyes I felt to see if I had any milk (I had worked on suppressing my milk straight after she was born)- I barely had anything.. I felt so guilty for a split second and then snapped myself out of it and started working through exercises to help her poo. I was feeling guilty because of what other people had shamed me into thinking and feeling which was not okay.

So here we are 4 weeks later, she is actually a month old tomorrow and we are growing and thriving! We’re working out new routines for the girls and I and we are loving life (most days)! If you are where I was a few weeks ago, mumma, you have chosen to do what is best- don’t let anyone make you question your decision or shame you into thinking you’re not a great mum!

Family Photos!

Last week we were gifted with a newborn session by one of our very talented photographer friends- Rosalie Sweeney! Here’s a few of my favourite pictures.. most of them were absolutely beautiful (new mums can be really hard on themselves regarding how they look.. like, hello.. we just birthed a child and spent 9 months putting on weight).. but to be honest she captured our family so beautiful it almost doesn’t seem real! I’m a mum to two girls- what the?!

Introducing Raegan!

It all began on Monday morning, the 6th of May- we woke up and decided to go into work with Greg. We had been home for a week earlier with no sign of baby so I had resided myself to the fact that the baby wasn’t going to come till I was over 42 weeks and needing to be induced..
Once we got into work Ava and I walked to the local cafe to get a coffee then headed to the park to try and waste some time. We spent the day plodding or more like waddling around the office and ended up leaving around 3pm.
I dropped Greg and Ava home and went grocery shopping considering the baby wasn’t coming for a week I actually meal planned and needed to buy groceries. I remember also stopping into Kmart to finish off a baby shower gift for a friend and browse through the aisles a little. Once I got home I noticed that I was bleeding a little- something similar had happened with Ava so I called the birthing unit who recommended I come in to be checked.
We loaded up my bags, called a friend that lives close by because of course my sister decided to work a double shift at her hospital that day and headed into Liverpool hospital. We got to the hospital at 5:42pm- the street parking in front of the hospital is free from 6pm (with 15 minutes free), so we parked and stood outside the car for 3 minutes waiting for the timer to tick over to 5:45pm so we wouldn’t have to pay for parking (that was how non urgent the situation felt!). At this point I had only had one contraction in the car.
We went up to the birthing unit- after about 20 minutes a midwife came in to put me on one of those machines that monitor contractions and heart rate. At this point I was starting to get contractions somewhat consistently but still nothing significant. After about 20 minutes of monitoring they took me off the machine and decided to do an internal examination. After two different midwives checking they confirmed that I was 5cm already! Greg and I were both shocked- I barely had felt any pain and I was already halfway there! Thank you Jesus!
I knew I wanted an epidural but the contractions were manageable at this stage so I didn’t want it yet as the midwife assured me that if I was coping I should keep going because the epidural is known to slow down labour.
Greg and I started walking the hallways as contractions started coming every minute. I could feel them starting to build so I’d stop and lean against the railing until they passed- Greg and I have an understanding that when I’m in pain I don’t want to be touched or rubbed or spoken to so he would literally just stand there until the contraction passed. I can’t remember what we talked about but the contractions were still manageable. I tried counting through them.. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but after a few contractions It wasn’t helping me to cope- I just breathed through them which seemed to work a lot better.
Mum arrived around 7:30pm with dinner (McDonald’s)! I ate in between contractions. She suggested I get in the shower to see if that would help with the contraction pain.. so I jumped in the shower for about 20minutes.. at this time it was around 8:30pm. The midwife came in to see if I wanted to get an epidural- apparently the anaesthetist was next door doing another ladies one. She said he would be about 20min so I put my order in..

The two original midwives came in again and needed to examine me before the epidural- I had a contraction laying on the bed while the midwife confirmed that I was 10cm and needed to push. We were all in shock.. his words were- do you want the good news or bad news? I said good news first (obviously)- he said- you’re 10cm.. the bad news.. I finished his sentence- it’s too late for an epidural.. I distinctly remember saying “this can’t be happening…” I looked at Greg and started crying and he said to me “Steph.. you can do this.. regroup.. you can do this…”

The head midwife quickly started ordering the student midwife around asking for warm blankets etc. She started ripping the plastic off the tubing for the gas (pain relief) but the head midwife told her it was pointless- I was literally pushing..

I asked him whether I could sit on my knees and hold the top of the bed- with Ava I had had an epidural (which didn’t work) but I had to give birth on my back.. I quickly flipped over and hung off the top of bed- I felt a contraction build and started to push.. I think I pushed twice and suddenly heard Greg say “her head is out..” Followed by a frantic “stop pushing.. stop pushing… ” To be honest the pain was completely bearable.. I think because I knew what has to be done and I knew I was so close.. When I say bearable I mean it was a weird dull ache painful rather than oh my goodness I’m being stabbed or dying pain..

Two or three more pushes later and her body was out..

It was the quickest and easiest labour, especially compared to my first delivery! I have felt amazing since giving birth- barely any pain- I’ve already been out a few times and today we even went for a walk (without Greg)- though it took us a bit longer to get out the door we did it and loved it!

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She’s here!

Well, on the 6th of May at 8:52pm Miss Raegan Jean decided to join us! After a quick labour (more to come on that another day) we were delighted to welcome her! I’m feeling amazing and the entire family is absolutely smitten including her big Sister Ava! I can’t wait to share more photos and thoughts on being mum of TWO girls!

The waiting game..

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Still pregnant.. 40 weeks + 2 days.. overdue and feeling it…


I read a post by a friend the other day about having gratitude in circumstances that we may deem as hard or terrible to help with perspective- so..things I am grateful for in this season of waiting..

  • my health and the health of our unborn baby
  • being able to carry a pregnancy to full term plus a few days extra
  • a hospital, only a few minutes away from our home, that has all the facilities and technology to birth a baby without complications
  • a roof over our heads so when this baby does come we have somewhere to bring her home to
  • the financial peace (that has come from the Lord) that has enabled me to take months off of work to help nurture and be present with our children
  • friends and family who have continually checked on us and offered to help with Ava when we do bring another little one home

Just naming a few of course, but we truly are so grateful, even in the waiting..

Baby Girl Items

IMG_2544.jpgInstagram has definitely connected the world in a lot of wonderful ways such as me being able to find boutique small businesses that I would never have come across had I not used hashtags or spent a few time looking around on insta! Below are some of my favourite baby items for our new little one that I am loving!May 9 _ The Red Room +1-202-555-0143 tickets@jazz.mail.com.pngone- Linen Bow (3 little crowns) | two- Jumpsuit (Zara) | three- Cashmere Set (Zara) | four- Amie Dress (Jamie Kay) | five- Beret (Janie & Jack) | six- Muslin Swaddle (3 little crowns) | seven- Tiny Girl Gang T-shirt (Jean and June) Picture source here  | eight- Newborn Moccasins (Freshly Picked)

Banana and Chocolate Muffins

Due to a natural phenomenon called humidity all flowers and bananas (random I know) in our house are dying/rotting at an extremely fast rate! I’ve had rotten banana’s in my freezer for weeks now- we buy them over the weekend and by Tuesday or Wednesday no one will touch them which means they then sit on the bench for another 2-3 days until someone peels them and throws them into a ziplock in the freezer! Two weeks ago I made banana bread- this week I made banana and chocolate muffins. The recipe is for Taste.com which means it’s super simple and you probably have all the ingredients in your cupboard already!

Banana and Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 60g butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup choc chips (milk, dark, white- pretty much whatever you would like)

How To

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan-forced.
2. Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients.
3. Add milk, eggs, mashed bananas and butter in to dry ingredients. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix ingredients until just combined. Stir in choc bits. Don’t beat the mixture or the muffins will be tough.
4. Line a muffin tray with paper cases. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm on top when lightly touched
5. Leave in the tray for 3 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.

I assumed that I had muffin paper cases- I assumed wrong.. chances are Ava was playing with them and has misplaced them.. anyways.. I found a tutorial online from The Kitchn for using baking paper to make cases- they actually turned out pretty well.

Connecting with Baby No.2!

IMG_0104I saw a picture on instagram a few months ago of two pictures side by side of a baby. The left was a beautifully designed picture of a baby with a super cute outfit on against a white fur background with a little place card that read 2 months old (similar to the photos Greg and I took of Ava as she grew from 1 month to 1 year old). The picture on the right was another baby the same size with only a nappy on with a post-it note stuck it’s forehead which read “2 months old.” The bottom caption was first child vs second child. Greg and I had a big laugh about it because already this pregnancy is so much different to our first! We would watch the week by week videos together one night a week, Greg would come over and feel Ava kick any chance he got. I washed her clothes months early and had the diaper bag packed for weeks this time around I have been so busy working and keeping a toddler alive I haven’t had the chance to really do anything baby related.

IMG_0110I’ve written a checklist on my phone of things I need to grab but that was about it until Tuesday last week. Last Tuesday I decided I needed to get some clothes out and start washing them to try and connect with the idea that we would have another baby in the house in a few short months! It was surreal pulling out 0000 and 000 clothes for this baby that is not yet here with us- the clothing looks like doll items! I washed and dried so many things- we still need to wash the singlets and whites and then there’s the bassinet to wash and the car seat to install.. the list seems to be never ending.

IMG_0112Do you have any tips on how you connected with Baby No.2? I can imagine that we’re not the only ones struggling to really focus on another baby coming to our family when we have a very active 2.5 year old!

Baby Adelaide

Recently I became Aunty to a beautiful little girl over in Perth! My best friend of 25 years had her first little bundle of joy. When we were over there a few weeks ago I was able to spend a few hours taking photos of this beautiful baby girl.. all the heart eyes you guys..It took a lot of hard work to not post all 200 photos!!

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