Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The things that make you feel warm and fuzzy

Torgerstuen is just such a place. It means Torgers' sitting room and that is exactly how it feels. You walk off Åkerbergveien near Tøyen and into a warm, mellow and quirky, but unusually beautiful room with friendly faces and a deliciously relaxing, inspiring and heartwarming feel. The atmosphere and the cafe is created by sisters Mette and Trine Torgerstuen and it feels that everything is done with absolute love, care and an attention to detail, with freshly prepared food and beautiful flowers in every part of the cafe. You could not wish to meet two more lovely people and i do feel that there are some days where there is no where else i would rather be. It lifts my soul and makes me feel in some way like i am coming home. I know this may sound over the top but it was a place in the early days of living in Oslo, when the snow fell daily and the city had that wonderful bubble like winter wonderland feel, where i felt i could just go whenever i needed to feel seen. Even though i knew people in Oslo they were out at work all day while i was at home with my 5 month old son. I had a golden opportunity to explore the city which i did almost every day and loved, but it was often lonely and for this reason Torgerstuen became a haven.
Funnily enough being alone so much gave me the chance to start taking on board just how huge the recent changes to my life had been and to acknowledge how much i had been reeling from them. I became a mum just a week after my father in law died, an incredible man, and not long after that we started to pack up our house in order to move to Norway when our son was just 4 months old. This time meant that i could really begin to fully enjoy being a mum and spending time with Theodore without the huge stress of the impending move and the thought of the loss of support of my family and friends. I could just relax into it all, drinking him in and living more in rhythm with him which is really a nescessity if you are to keep sane and alive when you are a new mum. When Theodore allowed i could sit and read, drink chai lattes, gosh what decadence it felt like (heaven to discover now living in Oslo that the city had caught up since my holiday visits and now served soya milk)and let the world take care of itself.
A huge huge heartfelt thank you goes out to Mette, Trine and Bruno who made me feel so welcome and still do, they gave me a place.
If you are in the neighbourhood or even if you have to trek a fair distance to have that home baked bread or just to sit and drink in the atmosphere, do go and visit Torgerstuen, there really is no need for an introduction, it simply speaks for itself.
Update: Torgerstuen is now Det Grønne Kjokken, see my blog post about that here.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The incredible all in one 'MAGIC' soap

Sick of all the natural shampoos that i had tried over the years which either smelt good but didn't leave my hair feeling clean or vice versa and bored of making my own i was on the look out for something else. I was also wanted some way to reduce the cost of buying all of these different natural products: shampoo, soap, loocleaner, washing powder,washing up liquid etc. So i went back to Helios, the best health food chain i have discovered so far here in Norway, and i was recommended Dr. Bonners 100% natural and Organic all in one cleaning soaps and my god they really are the best discovery. There are absolutely no synthetic ingredients or petrochemicals used in these products whatsoever, and Dr. Bronner's has recently become Fair Trade certified. They are an exceptionally environmentally and socially sustainable company, and their all in one soap can be used to clean literally anything: body,home,clothes etc and that's exactly what i have started doing. I began using it as a body and hair wash (the citrus orange one) and loved it but after my Ecover washing powder ran out i started using it to wash our clothes, including my sons cloth nappies and then amazed by it's effect, everything else. Wow it is so much better than any natural product that i have used before. The nappies, towels etc actually come out far softer and fluffier than ever before and really clean. Sadly the only thing it doesn't seem to clean well are dishes when used in the dishwasher, but as a washing up liquid it is brilliant.

From Dr. Bronner's website:

"Organic integrity in body care means that the main ingredients as well as secondary ingredients in an organic labeled or branded product are certified organic, produced in compliance with the National Organic Program. Our products are certified to the USDA’s National Organic Program, which consumers rightly trust to ensure the organic integrity of organic labeled products." INGREDIENTS: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut*, Organic Palm* and Organic Olive* Oils (w/Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Essential Oils**, Citric Acid, Vitamin E
* FAIR TRADE Ingredients
** Available in Peppermint, Lavender, Almond, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Unscented Baby-Mild, Rose and Citrus Orange

"All soaps are not only certified by Oregon Tilth to the same rigorous USDA National Organic Program standards that certify organic foods, but also are certified Fair Trade by the respected Swiss certifier IMO."

I have only tried the Citrus Orange and the Peppermint ones so far but both i love for different reasons. The Citrus Orange is uplifting, gentle and delicious smelling
while the peppermint is refreshing, invigorating, fresh and clean smelling if that makes sense.

A bit more about Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap from their website:
"Our most popular fragrance. The peppermint essential oil tingles the body and clears the mind. Because therapeutically peppermint oil is a mild stimulant it increases vitality and clarity. All oils and essential oils are certified organic to the National Organic Standards Program. Packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles."

(Peppermint scent): Water, Saponified Organic Coconut & Olive oils (w/ retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil, Organic Mentha Arvensis, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.

So if you are on the look out for a great organic, fair trade, all in one 'magic' soap that does the job do give this one a go. It will not only save you money but your body and home will love it. For ease you can even buy it on amazon!

p.s I haven't yet used it to clean my teeth yet, but i have heard that some people use it for this too, perhaps tonight i will try it.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Chocolate Smoothie with hidden depths

So after all the Christmas and New Year celebrations here is a perfect way to kick start 2010 - a green smoothie in disguise. It is simple, delicious and full of life enhancing foods.

2 Tablespoons of Organic Raw Cacao nibs or 2tbsps of Green&Blacks Organic Cocoa Powder
1 Banana
Handful of kale

1-2 Teaspoons of Organic Honey or Raw Agave Syrup
1 Tablespoon of blended Organic milled seeds (e.g Linwoods Organic flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seed and goji berry mix)

Blend all the ingredients together

About Raw Cacao
Raw Cacao contains a wide array of unique properties and minerals, including high levels of sulfur and magnesium. It may increase your focus and alertness and contains nutrients to keep you happy. Chocolate and cacao are often associated with love. All this is due to phenylethylamine contained in the cacao. Anandamide can be produced in the brain when we are feeling great, cacao makes anandamide stick around longer.

Cacao may seem to diminish your appetite, perhaps due to its MAO inhibitors (monoamine oxidase enzyme inhibitors). Cacao's rare MAO inhibitors may allow serotonin and additional neurotransmitters to circulate in the brain. It also may facilitate youthening and rejuvenation, according to some.

These cacao nibs taste like real chocolate. Some use a sweetener like raw organic agave nectar when preparing chocolate treat recipes. A great chocolate dairy free shake consists of water, cacao, agave nectar, ice and macadamia nuts. Blend together.

About Kale
Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Prebirth Communication

“A thought, conceived by the heart, nourished by the breath, takes root into every cell of our body”. Binnie A. Dansby

One of the main things that i loved about being pregnant was being in constant communication with my unborn son. He felt like a person from the beginning and i instinctively talked to him every day throughout the pregnancy as well as after he was born. I even talked to him occasionally before he was conceived because i felt his presence in the months beforehand. It helped to form a wonderful bond with him before we 'saw' each other face to face and it has helped a great deal in my understanding of him since his birth. Listening to the telepathic/nonverbal communication as well as the verbal has been invaluable, especially now that he is 19 months old and although he is beginning to communicate verbally he gets hugely frustrated by not being able to say more. He has been strongly communicating from the beginning firstly in dreams and flashes of insight but then in strong feelings, images and thoughts. I simply included him in everything, chatting to him about everything and anything; what was happening, how i was feeling, how much i loved him as well as telling him stories and singing to him. My husband did the same, making sure that his voice was also heard, he is Norwegian and we were living in the UK at the time so it was really important to him that our son heard some Norwegian from early on. Infact the Norwegian lullaby that he sang to him almost every day for 9 months is still the one song that calms our son to this day.

Communicating with my son on this level not only made me take the time to 'listen' to him but also to myself. It was reassuring to be able to tune into him and to feel that he was a very strong and happy baby from the start. Somehow because of this i knew that everything was going to be ok with the pregnancy, despite the obvious worries that you have when it is your first child.

We had been thinking about names even before our son was conceived but hadn't found a name that we both liked or that worked in both Norwegian and in English and coming from these different countries it was important that it worked in both places. At about 5 months of pregnancy the name Theodore appeared from a dream i had in which i felt like he was showing me how he would like to be born- in water, at night, in a peaceful setting, with low lighting and with very few people around. The experience and the name  just felt right and we loved it immediatley so that almost without thinking about it he was named from that moment on and it felt very magical as if he had chosen the name, which i suppose he had. I also love the fact that his name means 'Gift from God' and he does feel just that, a very magical, bright and shining star baby.

While i was pregnant i found some wonderful Cds with guided meditations aimed at helping women to communicate with their unborn child and also to help them prepare for and visualise the birth that they wanted to create together with their baby. It was a wonderful process listening to these Cds and i think it definately helped me to be less afraid of the birthing process and to open up to the possibility that i could have an ecstatic birth rather than the fear filled and painful ones that i had heard about that obscured the idea that birth could be anything else.

Cd List:
1) One of my favourites were the Cds created by Kate Street. The first called Messages from the Womb which is "designed to strengthen and enhance your prebirth connection with your baby" and her second Cd which came free with the first called  Beautiful Birth Meditation which is designed to help you "manifest the Birth you WANT, not the birth you fear". See Kate Streets website for more information

I also used:

2) The "Peaceful Pregnancy" Cd created by Veronika and Paul Robinson (editors of 'The Mother Magazine' a magazine devoted to fertility awareness, conscious conception, peaceful pregnancy, sacred birth, full term breastfeeding, natural immunity and other holistic lifestyle choices for the whole family) The CD can be ordered online from  or from

"Some women speak of the joy and exhilaration of giving birth. It is well established that the personality of the baby reflects the feelings and state of mind of the mother during pregnancy and birth. Peaceful Pregnancy contains gentle, guided relaxations followed by affirmations and beautiful, calming music. The feelings you would expect to have in a joyous pregnancy and birth are reinforced as you listen to the Cd."

"Peaceful Pregnancy will help a woman get in touch with her feelings and her own body…to believe in herself and her ability to give birth naturally." Ruth Davison, midwife and gentle birth consultant.
"Paul’s encouraging message and soothing voice are a wonderful support in preparation for the beautiful experience of birth." Reverend Graeme Johnson, international motivator.

3) "Having a baby is the most natural thing in the world" is a Cd by Binnie A Dansby.

I loved this CD because it made me feel so calm and opened me further to the idea that birth could be beautiful, natural and pleasurable. Binnie Dansby is an expert in conscious birthing practices, a counsellor, spiritual teacher, breathwork therapist, lecturer, author, designer and artist. She has designed and led courses throughout the world for more than 20 years. This CD is designed to help support relaxation and confidence during pregnancy, labour and birth. It is available from and

4)  "Ecstatic Birth-conceive the possibility" by Binnie A Dansby

This is a Cd-Rom giving you pictures, videos and recorded interviews with people who have created their own ecstatic births as well as Binnie Dansby and other professionals speaking about the birth process.

"How would you approach birth if you were convinced that the baby is conscious and making decisions? I consistently observe birth as easy, satisfying and ecstatic for women, irrespective of age, background or medical history. Acceptance of the idea that an ecstatic birth is possible sets in motion a process that is both healing and empowering. We can give our babies, our projects and our lives ecstasy."

and finally with my second son i used this incredible healing Cd "Returning" by Jennifer Berezan during the pregnancy and also in the birth. You can listen to an extract of it here. It touched me deeply and i found it gave me the support and cocooning that i needed. 

"A long playing healing chant to the Mother of Us All, Returning CD by Jennifer Berezan, was recorded in one of the world’s oldest temples in a chamber created for sound. 

The Hyposeum in the Hal Saflieni district of Paola is an elaborate subterranean temple/tomb used for ritual activity and communal burials by the Neolithic people of Malta (south of Italy). Jennifer Berezan, evoking the lineage of ancient singing priestesses, weaves together this rich musical tapestry with chants, drones and vocal improvisations accompanied by guitar and hand percussion.The music was recorded in the Hypogeum in Malta which is an ancient temple/tomb built 6000 years ago for rituals. The round chambers were 'built for sound', the shape and carvings also symbolizing the cyclic nature of life and death."

It is wonderful to think that ultimately you can create or at the very least go a long way to create the birth that you want with the support of others who believe and wish to uphold your vision and while in constant comunication with your baby because he\she is very much part of the process and it is important not to forget their role in this.
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