Poker Face

What's your 'tell'?

I'm about as opaque as a pane of glass - it's rare that emotions don't show on some part of my body. Sad? Eyes (usually leaking). Happy? Bursting out of my skin. Anxious: pasted on smile, crazy eyes. Angry? Tense shoulders, old-lady-smoker mouth. Speaks in short, staccato bursts. Stressed? Pimples, ashen skin, can't make eye contact, angry. See also: Angry.

Now I'm older and I have a seemingly never ending set of stress tests that are aged 3 and 5, my stress tell is what I can only call Snappy Tom. It's not disastrous, but not pretty. I am much more tightly wound than my usual brand of tightly wound and at times the inanity of answering the same question five times in a one minute period wears me down and Snap! There I go.

I like to think I can hold my Tell and let it all ride - because stress will disappear tomorrow after a much longed for great night's sleep and everything going smoothly. Like a gambler who will just take one more hand, this is not a great solution. I will rarely have a great night's sleep everything will rarely go smoothly. It's about being able to bend and roll with the punches.

I recently injured my hand (and documented it at length over on Instagram) and I think my stress levels are a continuation of this, coupled with a highly stressful work situation, a still-fresh going back to work with daycare and school situation and a dark wintery time when grief hits the hardest.

Self care is crucial at these times. Stopping giving all the fucks is also crucial at this time. Sorry for the language Mum, but it's true. Being nicer to myself and ergo those around me is crucial.

When I feel Snappy Tom, I wonder how I let it all unravel. Again. I even wrote songs about this. Again, as I age I realise that these ups and down, they're a part of my life. Being able to weed out the parts that I really don't need (Snappy Tom) is a useful skill to continue my journey. However, Snappy Tom serves as a good barometer for when things aren't going quite right and it's time to mix it up again.

I was re-reading some old posts and I miss Positive Me. She's pretty awesome and she's still there, but she's been hiding. Anxiety is sitting there in the corner, coughing and clearing it's throat most days. Thankfully Depression moved out a few years ago to Change Her Life. Sadness is moping around at the moment. With any luck some sunshine will appear in this wet, cold winter.

This is my new guide for life until I find a better one:

I've also been listening to a lot of great music recently. Music is a huge part of my life, but it takes a lot for a song to break me down. I was driving through the city a few months ago with a sleeping Lady Pip in the back seat when 'Village' came on. Such a beautiful song with haunting lyrics - I think you'll like it. In fact, check out the entire album - there's some absolute beauties on there.

The relief of being ordinary

Somewhere between the roof leaking into our newly renovated room, requiring an emergency electrician, half a roof worth of new roofing iron and a continually backing up septic tank I began to troll the job adverts. Not seriously, mind, because I was staying at home with the girls until Pip went to school in 2017. But just having a peek.

I applied for a remote position with a company whose ethics and transparency mirrored my own, but it wasn't to be. I went for an interview at the university, but it also wasn't to be. I applied for a job locally, but it wasn't to be. Actually, the last one made me raise my eyebrow enough that when I got a rejection letter, I hit reply and asked for feedback. They called me, asked me for an interview. A few days later, they offered me the job. I mowed the lawn whilst the girls were at daycare, wondering if I was completely neglecting my children by doing this. How would they (me) cope without me (them)? However, the promise of a part time job with decent pay and conditions lured me in.

We were off. The first few weeks were brutal. Everyone hated daycare (same previously adored daycare, just an extra day), I hated dropping them off, I hated picking up screaming children who had been seemingly fine moments before I walked in. I still hate 'Feral Thursday' where both of my kids have a day of just letting it all out, whatever 'it' may be. Just typing about Thursdays makes my shoulders tense up.

I have noticed the benefits. There is money in our bank account. Millie has blossomed with confidence. Pip has had a language explosion and is making friends. I really enjoy talking (or not talking) to adults. I have Things To Talk About when I get home from work. Mr S gets to not listen to me worry about money.

For the longest time I wore a frugal badge with pride. Oddly enough, I seem to be more frugal, homemade and Suzy Homemaker than ever before, perhaps because it's a choice, not a necessity? I don't know. I do know that when my HR department sent an email asking if anyone wanted a bag of apples 'past their due by date' (snort) for their animals, I ran down the hallway as fast as my hot pink high heels would allow to collect my bounty.

'We didn't know you had pigs Amy.'
'I don't! I have a dehydrator and a Fowlers Vacola unit!'

8kg of perfectly fine apples. Yes please.

I digress.

I am also in the incredibly confronting position of missing my girls so much it makes me want to cry whilst filing in the compactors, then when they're home with me and asking me oh so many question at the same time, or yelling because I said we weren't buying icy poles, I just want them to go away and GIVE MUMMY SOME SPAAACE. So much love. So much frustration.

M starts school next week. I'm not mentally ready for it. It's hard to grieve your firstborn tiny baby going to big school when said almost-five year old is PUMPED and READY FOR ACTION. All I can see is the baby years slipping away. P starts next year. I'm absolutely not ready for that one, but she will be. This year is a juggle of daycare arrangements, work rosters, wonderfully understanding supervisors, exceptionally accommodating daycare providers and a little family called Smyth, growing up and into the world.

I devoted a lot of time last year to professionally writing, and building a blog with an audience, and piece by piece, I lost love for it. Facebook blog groups seemed to be SO many people shouting into the void 'HERE IS MY BLOG. HERE IS MY AWESOME POST. SHARE IT. WHY AM I GETTING NO SHARES? WHAT DO I DO? HERE IS MY BLOG. HERE IS MY AWESOME POST.' and then I was done.

It felt icky. It felt fake. I felt like I wanted no part of it. So I stopped.

I didn't realise the relief I felt when I got a job and started going to work. I didn't have to participate in a fake world to get reads to get sponsored posts and free products and make a living doing it. If that's the world, it's not for me.

I read a lot of great literature whilst job hunting, the best being Jon Acuff's 'Do Over'. Do yourself a favour, go and check it out. There's many ways to love the life and the job you have, and many ways to get great tools to make a change.

Many musings aside, there is a light in all of this. For three days of the week, I go to an office where everyone can wipe their own butts, no one yells at me AND they pay me to go there. Winner.

Refined Sugar Free Banana Cake

There's so much contention over the terms 'Sugar Free', or 'Refined Sugar Free' or 'Fructose Free'. Since we stopped adding refined sugar to our lives I have struggled to explain the way we eat to those who have asked.

For a while I said 'Sugar Free', then 'Refined Sugar Free'. Last week I got sick of trying to find a name for it and simply said 'We don't eat food in packets and we don't add sugar to things.' It makes me grumpy that there needs to be an explanation for how we eat. I want to shake people and say 'JUST EAT REAL FOOD'. I don't think sugar is 'evil' or 'bad', I just don't think it's necessary to add to food. We get enough natural sugars from unprocessed foods that I don't want to add anything extra. When you cut out refined sugars, it's amazing the changes that happen to your body. All food tastes sweeter and more complex. Ordinary smells smell sweeter. A heady bouquet of flowers will knock my socks off now. And then, when you do indulge in sugary treats, they're either AMAZING or so sickly sweet.

Ahem, I digress.

A fellow follower of 'The Nutrition Guru and The Chef' mentioned that she was looking for a sugar free banana cake recipe. My sister's been making one religiously for years and I always scoffed until recently. I was delighted to taste it and have it be as good as I'd hoped. Even better, it had been under my nose for my entire adult life in my staple favourite cookbook 'The Commonsense Cookbook'.
I thought I'd share it with you here, so you too may experience the deliciousness that is the Sugar Free Banana Cake. Although in the interests of proper food labelling and Giving Our Healthy Diets A Particular Slant, I present to you...

Sugar Free Banana Cake

aka the Refined Sugar Free But Includes Dates Which Have Natural Sugars In Them And Oh Yes, There'sBananas In There Too Which Are Also A Naturally Sweetened Food Banana Cake. Milk Also Has Sugars In It. Then There's The Carbs In Flour.
F**k it. It's Cake and It's Good.


1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
60g butter
1 egg
1/2 cup finely chopped dates
4 ripened mashed bananas
1/3 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 180oC.
  2. Grease two bar pans well. (I use a loaf tin and a mini muffin pan)
  3. Sift wholemeal flour, plain flour, baking powder, soda and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl.
  4. In another mixing bowl cream butter, egg and 1 tbsp of dry ingredients. Beat well, then stir in dates and bananas.
  5. Fold in remaining flour mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Spread mix into pans bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, let cool in pan for half an hour, then turn out. I like it with butter on top. Oh yum!

I don't have a picture for this one, you'll have to trust me. It's delicious!

A Note About Slowing Down, Keeping Calm.

A Catch Up

This past few weeks have been a blur of kid snot, my snot, visiting in laws and a roof that suddenly, DIRELY needing replacing.

image from This is from my favourite kid's book, 'Once Upon An Alphabet' by Oliver Jeffers.

image from
This is from my favourite kid's book, 'Once Upon An Alphabet' by Oliver Jeffers.

Those events barged into my life, and my Mojo bustled past everybody muttering:
'Sorry, so sorry, just, uh, need some time, no one reads this anyway, so, uh, I'll, uh, be back soon. Popping out for some milk.'

Thanks a bunch Mojo. Inspiration nicked off with you, perhaps for a dirty weekend in the city? EXCEPT YOU GUYS NEVER CAME BACK.


We finished the never-ending dining room renovation, and the next week we had an epic hailstorm, complete with rain for hours on end. I went out for a coffee after dropping the girls at school and came home to this.

dining room1.jpg

No power, and a water feature in the dining room. My neighbour answered my calls to come over PLEASE and got in the roof cavity with towels. I called an electrician who came fairly immediately to disconnect the light, so we had power again.

The roof needed replacing. It transpires that the people who built our house used second hand bits of tin that didn't span the entire roof height and therefore sucked the water into it's joins, rusted through and ruined everything. By everything, I mean our bank account, my day off and Mr S' three day weekend. Mr S is a super-handy Andy (everyone needs one) and has spent the better part of this month on our roof replacing tin, altering the roof pitch (you read that correctly) and learning mad skillz like replacing roofing tin and altering roof pitch.

That's as far up a ladder as I care to go. The condition of my roof terrified me as much as the height.

That's as far up a ladder as I care to go. The condition of my roof terrified me as much as the height.

'Uh, Dad, I think we've got a problem.'

'Uh, Dad, I think we've got a problem.'

However, whilst he was completing the tin replacement, he mis-stepped on a beam and BAM! VOILA! INSTANT SKYLIGHT.

It's cool because this is the roof ceiling that we replaced.

In the middle of all of these shenanigans, the girls developed a monster cold/flu, complete with body aches and endless snot. M also got a middle ear infection and a cool viral rash. The day before my in-laws arrived, I awoke feeling a bit funny in the head. And my skin hurt. Then my ear hurt. And oh yes, my nose was running. My neighbour's wife pumped me full of cold and flu tablets and sent me on my way to continue moving rusty roofing tin from one end of my yard to the other.

Once the in-laws left the girls were at a loose end and recovering from both daily sugar hits with Nanny and Poppy and their colds. Suffice to say their manners were less than ideal and after a day in town where I spent a LOT of time being that mother who yells 'MILLIE ALICE SMYTH WHERE ARE YOU?' in the shops, I was done.

I remember the ever brilliant Stacey saying that she was So Done. And MAN, this past week, I was done. I couldn't handle another day of a 2 year old screaming at me and everyone for every little thing we did/did not do. I couldn't handle another day of a 4 year old refusing to sit in a trolley, promising she she'd stay with me then nicking off into another aisle and refusing to answer me. I got sick of both of them demanding endless Netflix, then STILL talking my ear off or standing next to me saying 'Mum. MUM MUM MUM.' 'Yes?' 'MUM.' 'Yes?' 'MUM.' 'YES! WHAT?' 'Don't YELL AT ME.' I got sick of cooking dinner every night that no one ate, no one said 'Thank you' for and no one sleeping all night. Look, that last one is part and parcel of the job, but it makes the other things so much harder on the nerves.

So the next day, we slowed our roll. We went to the shops and did our errands early. We came home and began to craft. I set up my sewing machine on the dining table and just went like blazes all afternoon. M sat opposite me and cut, glued and glittered to her heart's content. I felt my shoulders uncurl a little bit and there was a tiny ray of sunshine on my horizon.

I also worked out that my epic cold that wasn't shifting was perhaps a tiny bit different to my real cold and was in fact the mysterious cold that hits me for approximately two months every year at the same time. In other words, it's hayfever again. Every year I forget. Most years I go to my GP who sits me down and says slowly, looking deep into my eyes 'You have hayfever again.' This year I took some tablets and got on with it.

I cooked and made dips. I made tahini* from scratch. I dried coffee grounds for my face scrub. I made pear butter. I made SkinnyMixer's wraps (without a thermomix omg). No one eats the dinner I cook for them, but they do say thank you more frequently now. We've got some reward charts back in action now, which pretty much translates to 'I know this is bribery but for f**ks sakes, let's do this.'

I was still feeling pretty blah blah blah-di blah, and then I dragged my pity party butt to my computer and did a Skype interview with the glorious Rach from An interview for what? For my podcast silly. That's the other thing I've been beavering away on quietly behind the scenes. Speaking with with Rach made me laugh the entire time because she's not only crafty and gorgeous, she's hilarious. I told her that we have to be friends now. That's not scary and stalkerish at all, right?

In closing, today I also had a most excellent conversation with a lovely lady whom restored my confidence in my abilities, and left me wanting to go on out there and just DO IT! Thanks Al.

We're on the improve over here, and I feel much better for having cathartically spewing my woes out.

There's lots to be grateful about here. It is indeed a very good day.

* PS. I was washing the Tahini jar for re-use, read the ingredient label and felt like slapping myself across my forehead. Ingredients: sesame seeds. I promptly roasted some sesame seeds, threw them in my every trusty will not die so I can buy a fake Thermomix food processor, added a drop of liquid and bam. Tahini. Apparently it's not the same because it's not slow stone ground, but I'll take it.

The Art of Kid Simplicity

'I love how you and Dad both play with me.' she says. 'I love to play these games with you, and I KNOW Dad loves to play games with you too.'
 'But you're grown ups. Why do you still love to play?'
 'It's so fun! I don't ever want to stop playing. Grown ups can still play.' 

Just like that, the conversation is over for her. She's listened, processed and moved on to the next block tower or car race. But it leaves me thinking for a long time. 

Some parents are natural born players. And sometimes playa'sssss. But mostly I'm referring to the get down on the floor, make believe cars and fairies games. 

It's pretty safe to say that I'm not a natural born player with two children. With one child it was easier and simpler. Less distractions in the form of 'It's Pip's turn with the wand. Now it's your turn. Don't ride the cat like a horse. Do you need to go to the toilet?'. With one kid I found/find it far easier and enjoyable.  

I have to make the time and mental space to sit down and play. When I do, I find it extremely rewarding. My kids have the most vivid imagination and listening to their play stories is something that bring me extreme joy.

Yesterday I had laid out an entire quilt top on my bed, switching blocks back and forth to get the layout just right. Millie ran into the room with Princess Cadence. Princess Cadence had a rope (USB extension cord) wrapped around her middle with my childhood Rainbow Dash attached. Princess Cadence tried to land on my quilt blocks and I said 'Argh! Millie! Not on the blocks!'

 'But Mum! Princess Cadence has been flying for a long time. She needs to land. She's almost out of pixie dust and she'll crash!' 

Who am I to argue with that? 'Oh I see! Make sure you tell her to land gently then please Mil.' Princess Cadence landed gently and all was well. I was so amazed at her internal dialogue and the way her stories follow through with consequences, and apart from anything else, they're so damned fun. 

At 2.5, Pippa's stories are beginning to expand and flesh out minor details. Her cars are playing nicely with each other, the Barbies go to get their hair done and go down the slide and she and Millie play schools with the chalkboard. 

I understand that it's important to be involved and play with your kids, but I think that it's equally important to encourage independent play. I could give you a Montessori Steiner Alternative Unschooling reason for this, but truthfully... this Mama needs some space to think and cook dinner.


I know there are parents who play with their kids All. The Time. The majority of parents I've met who do this genuinely love it. Then there's some who don't love it, but perhaps just like it enough and think that it's what they need to do, so they do it. My take home from this thought is that if you're doing what works best for you and your kids, then that's enough. I've made a concerted effort to play more and enjoy playing more because the look on my kid's faces when they ask 'Mum? Will you play with me?' and I say 'YES!' - that's worth more to me than all the spare time in the world. 

This is but a stage of life. Soon they'll be at school, primary school, high school, leaving home, being grown ups, and I'll still be here. So for now, let them be little and let them play games. Sometimes, I'll play too.


My Sugar Free Minimal Waste or... My Life.


I've been meaning to write this post for a few days, but I couldn't think of a fetching title that didn't sound preposterous.

My Sugar Free Minimal Waste Life

I mean, I want to punch me in the face.

But... it's true. Just not in a smug internet kind of way. You won't find me wearing a flowing tunic with Birkinstocks and a beatific smile.

Let's call it:

My Eating Real Food Life. Or, more simply: My Life.

Wait. Shouldn't that be normal?

Less clickbait and sexy, but also less likely to get me eyerolled and rickrolled Foo Fighters-style in the street.

We stopped eating refined sugars four weeks ago, and truly, I've never felt better. My head is clear. My skin is better, I sleep much more soundly and shopping is WAY easier. The first few weeks were absolutely not easier, but I cut myself a break and reintroduced dates into my life and things were a lot better. The girls are coping pretty well too, Millie had a week of asking for toast with honey, or bread and jam every waking moment, but she's moved past that now. Pip couldn't really care less.

Re the minimal waste... well that's a work in progress. We have an elderly septic tank that copes perfectly 99% of the time. The 1% is truly something. Two weeks ago I was out in the rain in my gumboots and work clothes, crowbar-ing the lids off septic access points, washing 'septic scum' off the workshop floor, and poking the innards of my septic tank with a crowbar to see if it was full or simply the victim of a toddler toilet paper incident. It turns out it's a much larger problem than those two involving an overflow pipe connecting to another pipe connecting to another pipe that does not drain into the drainage pit on the road. No one knows where it goes. Then the roof leaked and we kind of forgot about the septic pipe to nowhere.

Since then I have been washing my dishes in a small tub in my kitchen sink and tipping that water out in the paddock or the garden. That works fine for me and I don't worry about kitchen things going down the pipes.

It was also at this time that I listened to The Lively Show episode with Bea Johnson and it got me to thinking about our waste. When we moved to our house in 2009 our municipality had no recycling collection. Once a month we'd load our bins into the car and drive them to the nearest recycling depot. Then we got kerbside recycling pickup and it became easier to put things in the recycling bin and forget about it. We only have a small-ish general waste bin and it's usually full by pick up day.

So, how could I make a change at my end? I already frequent a bulk food shop in my town, the sugar free life meant that we pretty much don't buy pre-prepared packaged food but even sugar free things come in packages. Pasta, cereals, milk - the list goes on.

 I gathered all my jars together and went for an expedition to the bulk food shop. After a few mishaps we got the jars weighed and goods paid for. It was so much easier to bring my containers home and put them in the cupboard. There's a larger bulk food shop in the city that I'll investigate to see if I can get things like coffee and cereals too. They have a website but no product list, which is infuriating for a country dweller like myself who has to travel with two small people.



We still use disposable nappies for P's one sleep per day and overnight. That's not too many and I lessen my guilt by remembering how many years I cloth nappied for. Right? I ran out of paper towels and I just didn't buy any more. I have a container of old rags (facewashers, cut up microfibre cloths) that we use as paper towels. Clean up a spill, wash. Dry some spinach, wash. Wipe the bench, wash. Cover up a pineapple in the fridge, wash. It's been effortless so far.



I'm stuck at shampoo and conditioner. I'm intending to purchase Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap (sensitive skin, liquid soap is cleaner for showers and septic systems) for handwashing, dishwashing, hair shampooing, body washing and basic spray and wipe cleaner. After years of having a differently scented awesome product for every occasion, I've infuriated Mr S by declaring 'Soap is soap is soap.' He muttered 'I've been SAYING THAT FOR YEARS.' But conditioner? Everything I've googled is either vinegar or eggs or BOTH. Yikes. Ideas?

Toilet paper we will still purchase. I don't wear makeup so that's not a concern (#makeupfreeselfie EVERY DAAAY), and I'll not be investing in a Diva Cup anytime soon.

I'm googling compostable toothbrushes (YESSSSS I GOT SOME AT EUMARRAH!), but you will need to pry my electric toothbrush from my cold, dead hand. Toothpaste? I'm not terribly keen on bicarb soda mixed with peppermint oil. Again, ideas?**

**I made a mix of 50:50 Bicarb/Coconut Oil with a dash of peppermint oil. There's a chance I might have almost cried whilst brushing my teeth with it, followed by rocking back and forth in the corner. I have purchased another tube of toothpaste and gone back to the drawing board.

Terracycle have some awesome programs that we'll be playing along with, namely the bathroom waste one. I'm hoping Mr S will be able to get on board with the plastic gloves one for his workplace. I'm impressed that there's a Nespresso one too, as Nespresso pods account for a massive amount of coffee related waste.

You may call me bag lady. 

You may call me bag lady. 

I've been saving the bags that our bread comes in to take to the local bakery and ask them kindly to put my bread in. My butcher is happy to put meat in whatever I bring to put it in. There's a greengrocer nearby but my local supermarket doesn't have plastic bags so you need to bring your own carry bags regardless.

When I empty my SealPods of their coffee I dry the coffee grounds on baking paper in the oven until they're toasty and dry. Then I use them as a face scrub/wash. It depends on how firm you rub your face with it! BAKING PAPER? It's the staple of my kitchen... I reuse it as much as possible. Do I need to invest in some more SilPats?

It's an interesting journey to think about, and I when I pause I have a highlight reel of my childhood. I realise that my mother with her awesome perm was the original earth saving hipster. She took her shampoo bottles back to the hairdresser for refilling, we didn't have prepackaged snacks for school (I desperately wanted chips like the other kids. BBQ Shapes were a treat!) and was composting well before it was cool. Rock on, Mothership.

It's now Friday as I'm typing this and our general waste bin was picked up this morning. I was very proud of the Smyth household, we produced ONE bag of general rubbish + nappies for the entire week. I'm pretty sure that's a record for us. We didn't recycle any more than normal, nor burn any more paper in our fire. We just consumed less. High five!

It's a work in progress. This week we are trialling using no garbage bag in our bin under the idea that if it's wet, we can compost it. If it's not compostable we can put it in a paper bag and then put it in our bin, or straight in the outside bin. So far, not so bad. I'm keen to see how the next few weeks roll out - I'll keep you posted.

Darkness and The Light

I'd like to think I'm a fairly positive person, but man. This last week kicked my butt good and proper. 

It's been a week of wakeups averaging 3am, 4am and often being out of bed and ready to roll by 5am. Which is not neccessarily a bad thing, but continually so? No early night seemed to prepare me for this. By Thursday I was officially Not Coping With Life. We set off to playgroup with a grumpy two year old and a yawning four year old. P (2) was hollering after half an hour but we persevered. 

All was going ok until I suggested we go to the toilets. P jumped up and down screaming 'NO I NOT GO TO THE TOILET', and I'm not quite sure how it happened. Her head met with my lip and chin and I saw stars. And tears. I realised that P was now crying and screaming, but I was concerned that I'd heard an almighty crack when she made contact. My teeth were thankfully intact but my lip was bleeding and I was crying and furious all at once.  

Last night it was still hurting and when I took a good peer in the mirror I saw that two of my bottom teeth now have hairline cracks in them. FFS. The next morning I also had a bruise under my bottom lip. 

I took myself to bed last night vowing that no small people would enter my bed. And so the stars and moons aligned, I had a decent sleep and I feel human again.

My point? Happiness is awesome. Positivity is the best. But how do you have these things without the flip side? I've always been terrified of not Being Happy, because did that mean I was depressed again?  

Thursday was a huge turning point for me. The thought crept into my mind in the afternoon afternoon. I feel depressed. Ugh. The best bit was that I was able to honestly say 'Nope. I'm literally just so tired I can't feel my toes anymore. This too shall mo********ing pass.'  And it has.

A few years ago one of Mr S' besties was staying with us after the boys had been on a huge hike. High on endorphins he commented 'I love feeling like this. You've got to have the lows to have the highs. It makes it all worth it.' I remembered this a few years later and it's always stuck with me.

I guess the difference is knowing how to navigate the lows so they don't feel all consuming, like a black hole threatening to suck you in. 

Simple Ways to Not Let The Lows Bring You Down

  • Perspective. It's a tough one I know. When you're feeling shoddy it can be hard to find, but search deep, take a deep breath and tell yourself that this is not forever.
  • Acceptance and planning. Sometimes it's best to accept your mood and say 'It's okay, today I feel like this. But Imma be like Kanye and not let these MTV awards bring me down and Imma still come to the party. First, I need to have a sulk. Just like Kanye.' Translation: feel the mood. Let it happen. Then get fantasical.
  • Make Believe. Feeling crappy? Pretend it's your birthday and do all the things that make you feel awesome. Go Shorty, it's your (kind of) birthday. 
  • Quadrants. Divide your day into four. Right now, I feel awful. Buuuut by 11am it's the next bit of the day, so I'll be awesome then.  
  • Connect. Call a special friend, pat the cat, lie in the sun with your kids. I find building the most awesome lego towers with my girls to be the best remedy for me. 

Once upon a time an awesome counsellor I saw told me something super awesome and important. She said: 'Amy, it's okay to feel sorry for yourself. Have a pity party by all means. But here's the rules. You can't invite anyone else and it can't last for longer than a few hours. How many great parties last forever? Get it done and get it done quickly. Then move on.' So true.  

There's a great article on Psychology Today titled '10 Quick Ways to Get Out Of a Bad Mood' and it's awesome. Go and check it out. 

Sometimes these things can help. When they still don't seem to help I remind myself that SOON it will be bedtime and SOON it will be tomorrow. Everything always seems to look better in the light of a new day. 

If you're feeling like you might need to speak to someone call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or check out Beyond Blue  for strategies to cope and more contact details.

I Quit Sugar*

*Lies. I have quit seeing chocolate as a food group. However 'I Quit Eating Lots of Processed Sugar and Stopped Adding It To Things' is quite wordy and far less emotive.

My name is Amy and it's been forty hours since I last ate anything with added sugar.

On the weekend, Mr S and I sat down and watched That Sugar Film.

I snarfed down a mini Cherry Ripe before we started watching. Someone on Instagram warned me that I'd probably feel very differently about chocolate afterwards.

At the beginning of the year I started the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program. It is a fantastic 'diet' that shouldn't actually be called a diet, it should be just the way we are taught to eat. I decided to give up putting sugar in my coffee (I've never had sugar in my black tea) and to stop snacking on chocolate, which was a post pregnancy and breastfeeding hangover. I was remarkably cranky for about three days and then it was okay. As it stands now if I have a sweetened coffee it tastes like artificial sweetener to me and I cannot drink it.

Chocolate however... we've always been mates.

For those who haven't watched it yet, That Sugar Film is a documentary by Damon Gameau. He's horrified and curious about sugar and wants to experiment by only eating 'healthy' low fat foods for forty days. He is supervised by some hilariously named characters - 'Check Upz' is his mild mannered GP and my favourite. The results are, well, horrifying. Seeing the culture that surrounds sugar in our daily lives and it's role throughout history is one to open anyone's eyes. Hopefully. By the end of watching That Sugar Film I was fairly shocked at the amount of hidden sugars in most packaged foods. What was also a bit eye opening was a few of the foods that are pictured are foods I have in my fridge. Fruit yoghurt, I'm looking at you. Easiyo, I'm coming back to the fold.

I did a bit more poking around online and found this review by Catherine Saxelby that discusses how the foods that Damon Gameau eats in the film aren't necessarily indicative of a healthy diet. I argue that whilst he's eating WAY more packaged foods than the Smyth household does, they are foods that I can imagine a busy family purchasing and eating daily.

Gameau has a nifty little blog post that explains about ceasing to eat added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars. This is a really useful infographic to keep handy to educate yourself about the 'hidden' sugars lurking under a different name.

Sidenote to my sister: Yes, I now realise that rice syrup is just another name for sugar. You were correct.

I talked about the film with my friends, Mr S and I talked more about it and together we decided to see if it would make a difference to our kids and to a lesser extent, ourselves. Now, we haven't thrown anything away. I'm pretty sure Mr S still has a bottle of Vanilla Coke in the fridge (purchased pre film) and I've got about three blocks of chocolate stashed around the kitchen.

The Challenge

I wanted to see if I could happily stop adding sugar to my life in non naturally packaged forms.

It's now been almost two full days and I am cranky, I have a headache and I want to hide in bed with my book. Instead I have been:

  • eating the peaches I canned in a super light syrup in January (BEST IDEA EVER, PAST SELF)
  • snacking on peanuts mixed with sultanas (I know dried fruit is also a sugar, but it's a naturally occurring sugar. I'm watching my sultana quantity.)
  • sulking in front of the heater with my book
  • drinking too much coffee
  • going for an epic walk with a screaming four year old and a happy two year in the raincoat-ed double pram whilst it snowed on the hills around us and rained on me and
  • generally trying to feel smug about having gone two days without added sugar, but actually just feeling a bit shit.

The thing is, I've done this before and I know it doesn't last forever. I can't wait.

So far Millie is still asking for honey toast every morning but she understands about how sugar can affect our bodies and she's okay with peanut butter instead. Actually, that's a Instagram-worthy lie. She is not okay with peanut butter instead, but now understands that if she wants toast, it's peanut butter or Vegemite, or no toast.

The Plan

No major plans here, just more careful meal planning with even less packaged sauces/foods. I'll replace things with lower ingredient options (eg natural peanut butter from the health food shop) when they run out. I'll bake with applesauce or sugarless or just lower amounts of sugar where possible.

Have you watched That Sugar Film? What do you think? Tell me everything.