Monday, June 23, 2014

that's my body

nb: this post contains a photograph that is nsfw, as well as discussion of body image.

so tall, i block out the sun

i've had this on my mind for a while now, and haven't quite been sure how to frame it in terms of a blog post. i'm not sure how it fits in with the general scope of what the crowned finch is about, or whether it's too personal, too navel-gazey, or too something else. but because i'm me, there's been an inevitability about my jumping in and saying it all anyway. just bear with me.

i've been doing a lot more thinking than usual about my body lately. i'm in the process of actively trying to make it fitter and healthier and that's had me looking at it, embodying it, and thinking about it in new and different ways.

i'm starting to like it more than i ever used to, and feel more confident in what it can do. i'm taking lots of selfies (sorry, instagram followers...), and standing in front of the mirror naked a lot more than i ever did before, and this has all been part of a project - trying to get to know this body, and fit inside it.

but here's the thing. i have never, ever felt like my body is beautiful. not ever.

since i can remember, i have always been told that i'm a "big girl". which is true - i'm tall, i'm broad, and i stand out. and i have always felt like this was a bad thing, like being female and large is somehow rude, excess to requirements, and even a bit grotesque.

now, i know that expectations around women's bodies are socially constructed by a patriarchal society that wants to monetise and control us, but for me, understanding the root of my sense of offensive gigantism doesn't change the feeling. it's so long held, and deeply rooted that i've incorporated it into my identity.

then, the other day i was talking with a friend about game of thrones, and how amazing brienne of tarth is, and isn't gwendoline christie incredible, and he gave me a link to this photoshoot she did a while back with polly borland (before clicking that link be advised that many of the portraits are nsfw).

and as i scrolled through the images, this one appeared, and it kind of winded me:

from 'bunny' by polly borland, 2008.

this is my body.
i mean, i have a caesarian scar, some stretch marks, and a lot of tattoos, but the size of it, the shape of it... that's me...

and i think this image is strikingly, arrestingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

i'd like to say that seeing gwendoline christie's beauty has convinced me of my own, and that i'm now walking around in a glow of self love and acceptance, but i can't honestly do that. 

i can say that i'm really glad these images exist. 
i can say that i feel a complicated set of conflicting emotions when i see them. that they've had me feeling, thinking, and reacting over and over again every time i've looked at them.
i can say that a little bit of something has shifted in my head, and that i'm still standing naked in front of the mirror.

i don't know if i'll ever feel like a beautiful woman, but there's a beautiful woman out there walking around in a body just like mine, and somehow that's weirdly excellent.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

a paper flower bouquet

it's winter here in melbourne, so our garden is not at it's brightest. arty and i love to go out in the yard to pick a little handful of whatever's blooming, but right now there's really not a lot to harvest.

so today i decided that we would take things (literally) into our own hands, and make some blossoms to brighten the house as we approach the shortest day of the year.

a paper flower bouquet

what you'll need

coloured paper
a greylead pencil
assorted buttons
pipe cleaners
a single hole punch

what to do

  • before sitting down to start the activity with your child, use your pencil to draw flower shapes onto your coloured paper, cut them out, then use your hole punch to make a hole roughly in the centre of each flower (if your child is competent with scissors, you should obviously involve them in this step too, but at 2.5, arty's not yet up to that, so i just cut out a bunch while he was napping, and had them ready to go for afternoon crafting).
  • now with your child, take a pipe cleaner, and help them thread a small button onto the end of it, roughly 1.5cm from the top.
  • then thread one of the paper flowers onto the pipe cleaner (children who are only just beginning to develop their fine motor skills will find this step easiest, so it's the best step at which to introduce them to the activity).
  • choose a bigger button, and thread it on top of the petals.
  • bend the end of the pipe cleaner over, and carefully poke it through one of the other holes of the button.
  • repeat until your kid's had enough, or you run out of pipe cleaners!

this activity is great for:
  • fine motor development - arty found threading the paper onto the pipe cleaner a little tricky at first, but by the time we'd been at it for a few minutes he was poking the pipe cleaners through the much smaller holes in the buttons with relative ease.
  • concentration - this requires a bit of focussed attention, which is always good for toddlers to practise!
  • learning about colour - we talked a lot about colour while we did this. sometimes it'd be as simple as him asking for a yellow button, but other times we would have discussions about which colour button would go better with a particular colour of petal. it's definitely helpful for consolidating a toddler's understanding of colours.
  • giving - by the end of this activity you've got a beautiful bunch of flowers that you've made together. at least some of them will be going to school with sj tomorrow to brighten up her desk.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

six days of green smoothies: the good, the okay, the bad, and the undrinkable (a wrap-up)

my green smoothie experiment has been an educative and edifying experience.
i set out with grave suspicion, and was, more often than not, pleasantly surprised by the flavours i encountered.
they were certainly not all winners, but on the whole, i think i've started to get an idea of what i like in a green smoothie, and what i'm best off avoiding.

in order of yummiest to most disgusting, they went like this:

  • day two - banana, raspberry, spinach, pear, coconut water
  • day six - banana, kiwi, pear, spinach, water
  • day three - kiwi, apple, spinach, raspberry, coconut water
  • day one - spinach, blueberry, pear, kiwi, coconut water
  • day four - cucumber, kiwi, spinach, strawberry, peppermint tea
  • day five - spinach, parsley, blueberry, apple, coconut water

like i said in a previous post, i was really glad that i bought ingredients in advance and froze them. not only did this make the daily preparation a lot more straightforward, i think i prefer the texture of the blended frozen fruit.

they also filled a nice niche in my daily eating plan. i find that i have trouble resisting unhealthy snacks at around 3 - 4 pm, when my energy is running out and i still have a lot of day left.
i've found that having a green smoothie at lunchtime, and then having a more substantial lunch in the middle of the afternoon (instead of reaching for snack foods) has been a really positive change for me, so i think i'll keep that up.

i can't honestly say that after six days on these things i suddenly have a whole lot more energy, or that i'm glowing with a green light from within, but i do feel good about upping my fresh fruit and veg intake.
arty's currently sick with a virus, and i haven't come down with it yet, so maybe they're giving my immune system a boost? who knows? i don't think i can reliably give them the credit for that, but they can't be hurting!

there are a bunch of things i'm yet to try including in my recipes - adding seeds to the mix, using different green leafies instead of spinach, etc., and i'm looking forward to experimenting with a wider variety of fruits when spring and summer arrive.

at the end of the day, while they should definitely be healthy, for green smoothies to be something i make part of my daily routine, they also have to taste nice. i won't be adding powdered cow poo, or fermented kelp to my smoothies if they become the next big thing in healthy eating (what? weirder things have happened!). i will keep sticking the spinach and the berries in there, because they are both nutritious and delicious. it's as simple as that.

i honestly didn't think this would be the conclusion i'd come to, but i think i'll be having at least a few of these a week for the foreseeable future.

maybe i'm more of a hippie than i thought...

Friday, June 6, 2014

six days of (green) smoothies: day six

it took six goes, but i have finally achieved a GREEN green smoothie. i had kind of stopped expecting it, to be honest, so this verdant little number was met with genuine surprise.


1 cup spinach leaves
1 pear (cored, but unpeeled)
1 kiwi fruit (peeled)
1 banana
1 cup cold water

  • place all ingredients in blender, breaking the fruit pieces up as much as possible as you do
  • blend until smooth
  • you mat need to poke the fruit pieces down a little bit with a wooden spoon to achieve an even texture. turn the blender off before doing this.

this one was yummy, and has confirmed my suspicion that bananas are one of the key factors in making green smoothies essie-friendly. they make everything seem that bit sweeter and creamier, and pull things together into a more pleasing texture. i think they'll feature prominently in future blended adventures.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

six days of (green) smoothies: days 4 & 5

so, you know how i said these green smoothies were more delicious than expected?
spoke to soon, y'all.
spoke too soon.

day 4's smoothie was... odd. i decided to try using some peppermint tea for the liquid (instead of coconut water, which i have been using so far), on the assumption that it would compliment the cucumber that was also going in.

peppermint tea brewing

it certainly accentuated the cucumber. but it turns out that wasn't such a good thing.

green smoothie: day 4


1/2 cucumber
1 kiwi fruit (peeled)
1 cup spinach leaves
5 large strawberries (hulled)
1 cup peppermint tea (chilled)


  • place all ingredients in blender, breaking the fruit pieces up as much as possible as you do
  • blend until smooth
  • you may need to poke the frozen fruit down a bit with a wooden spoon to achieve an even texture. turn the blender off each time you do this.

minty fresh

this smoothie tasted... fresh? but it has an off putting sludginess to it that i didn't enjoy.
it wasn't yummy, but it was drinkable.

i drank it.

which is more than i can say for day 5's.

green smoothie: day 5


1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup continental parsley
1/2 cup blueberries
1 whole apple (cored, unpeeled)
1 cup coconut water


(as above)

is it green? i think it's green!

this concoction was the greenest of my smoothies so far, so i felt pretty positive about it until i put it in my mouth.
then my face went like this:

and then i tipped it down the sink.

i felt bad wasting the fresh fruit and vegetables, but i honestly couldn't make myself drink it. that shit was nasty.

with only one day of this project left my fragile optimism has taken a severe beating! hopefully the next one will redeem the green...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

six days of (green) smoothies: day three

after the success of yesterday's smoothie, i was positively... positive in my approach to this one.

this morning i did a 10km walk with friends to raise money for multiple sclerosis research, and half way through i started looking forward to the smoothie i would drink when i got home.

what is going on here? have i turned my brain into a sloshy brownish greyish pulp after drinking only two of those buggers?

our team at the halfway point.
soggy, but happy.

i tottered through the door, all damp, soggy, and covered in mud, and went straight for the blender (mentally high fiving past essie for her foresight in preparing and freezing portions at the beginning of this experiment).



1 kiwi fruit (peeled)
1 apple (cored, but unpeeled)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup coconut water


  • place all ingredients in blender, breaking the fruit pieces up as much as possible as you do.
  • blend until smooth.
  • you may need to poke the frozen fruit down a bit with a wooden spoon to achieve an even texture. turn the blender off each time you do this.

this went in:

and this came out:

kind of brown. and kind of delicious!

again, the fruit completely masked the taste of the spinach. this just tasted sweet and fruity. i really like the way the frozen fruit makes it icy and thickshakey. 

i gave katie a taste, and even she agreed, so i can't be hallucinating, right?... right?