Sunday, July 21, 2019

A love story

Twelve years ago, I was lucky enough to marry my love, Paul. We're actually celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary this weekend, and it's got me reflecting on the crazy way we got together.

I was 20 when I met Paul. We were both leaders on a Scripture Union camp that I wasn't supposed to be at. I didn't even know what Scripture Union was until my friend, Ellie, rung me up and invited me to be a camp leader with her.

Ellie and I both applied to lead on a camp at Lake Tarawera, but were told it already had enough leaders. Ellie decided to lead on a horse camp instead, and then someone got in touch with me and asked if I could lead on a camp at Lake Okataina. I said, "Sure," even though I didn't know anyone else going to the camp. It seemed like a fun way to spend a week - swimming, kayaking, tramping and playing sports.

As it turned out, I made many wonderful friends that week on camp. Friends who are still dear to me to this day.

I also met Paul.

He was the studies leader on camp, which meant he gave talks about God and had prepared the bible studies we did in our small groups that week.

Paul and I hit it off, but to me it was just friendship. The two of up stayed up too late every night, playing cards with the cook and the camp director, discussing how camp was going, figuring out how to deal with difficult situations. Having fun.

On the last day of camp, everyone wrote warm fuzzies to each other, where we told each other what we liked and appreciated about each other. We all left camp on a high and vowed to stay in touch.

A month later, I received flowers on Valentine's Day from an anonymous gift-giver. I figured out they were from Paul when I read the card and saw it said the same thing Paul had written in my warm fuzzy at camp:
Emma, you are beautiful inside and out.
I loved receiving those flowers and started to wonder whether my feelings for Paul could go beyond friendship. We had been emailing back and forth since camp and his emails always made me laugh. I looked forward to them every day. Since I didn't have the internet at my flat (it was truly the dark ages), I had to open my emails at work. My boss heard me laughing away every time, and was convinced Paul was the guy for me.

Yet, every time I hung out with Paul in person, which didn't happen very often since we lived in different cities, all I felt for him was friendship.

Meanwhile, another of my co-leaders from camp was also showing an interest in me, and I did find myself attracted to him. He ticked all the boxes. He was tall, good-looking and charming, and he was a Christian. I had dated guys who weren't Christians in the past and had vowed never do that again, because I knew it wouldn't work out longterm, once the nitty gritty decisions of life came into play.

I liked this guy, but when I asked God if he was the one for me, I got a clear, "No."

I had only received such a clear dismissal one other time, when I was 18 and had asked God about a guy from my church who I really liked. Liked so much I basically stopped eating for three months so I could fit into the guy's image of what size a girl should be. Thankfully, God showed me a clear picture of that guy marrying someone else, so I knew he wasn't for me.

I was disappointed both times God shook His head, but later learned I'd had two lucky escapes. Both men went on to be unfaithful to the women they married, and their marriages ended in divorce.

It reminds me that God doesn't tell us, "No," to hurt us, but because His ways are higher and He knows so much more than we do. It also reminds me that just because someone goes to church and says they're a Christian, doesn't necessarily mean they love God and are obedient to him. "The way is narrow and few will find it," as Jesus pointed out.

Back to Paul.

A year after meeting Paul and my other friends at Lake Okataina, we all got together to lead on the same camp again. Rinse and repeat. We had another amazing week together and, once again, I stayed up too late every night playing cards with Paul, the cook and the camp director. I loved Paul's friendship, but I wasn't attracted to him like that.

After camp, I returned to my flat in Auckland and was writing in my diary about the amazing week I'd just had, when I was flooded with the sure knowledge that Paul was the man for me. It was almost an out-of-body experience. I saw all the ways Paul and I were right for each other, and I saw a future with him that was good. I was flooded with such a peace about it that I knew the vision could only have come from God.

But then, my friend, Heather, and I travelled down to Hamilton to visit Paul and help him shop for the new bachelor pad he'd just moved into, and I completely freaked out. I still wasn't attracted to him like that, so shopping for items that might actually become mine one day through marriage was equally surreal and terrifying.

I was so distraught by my lack of feelings when it was obvious how much Paul liked me, that when I got back to Auckland, I ripped out the page in my diary where I'd written about the vision from God - the vision telling me I was going to marry Paul.

I didn't know what to do with the vision after that. It hung over me, but I did my best to ignore it.

I ignored it even when Paul sent me Valentine's Day flowers for the second year in a row and asked me on a date that I turned down. I made it clear I wasn't interested.

Fast forward another year and, instead of going to Lake Okataina, I spent my summer holidays in the South Island, visiting my brother and his family with my parents. I ended up leading on a Scripture Union camp at Lake Johnson in Queenstown and had a wonderful week there, although I discovered that Southlanders are very different to Aucklanders.

The weird thing was that while I was away from all my North Island friends, the person I missed the most was Paul. I texted him a few times while I was away, and his replies always made me smile. He never rejected me, even though I had rejected him several times.

Six months later, I decided to travel to Hamilton to visit one of the friends I had made in Queenstown, who happened to live in Hamilton. While I was there, I invited Paul to a picnic at the Hamilton Gardens. He showed up, just as enthusiastic as ever, and that was the moment I fell in love with him.

I didn't want to leave Hamilton after that. I ended up delaying my departure as long as possible, going to the Sunday night service at Paul's church, and then heading out for dessert with him and some of his church friends.

Sadly, I did eventually have to drive back to Auckland since I had work on Monday morning, but I wasn't sure what to do about my sudden feelings for Paul. You see, now the tables had turned. He had moved on from me. After two years of pursuing me to no avail, he had given up and was off on an overseas adventure. I wouldn't see him for another six months.

When I finally did meet up with him again, it came about in an unexpected way, just like our first meeting had.

Instead of signing up to lead on the Lake Okataina camp, I decided to venture out and do a camp at Ponui Island - seeing more of my beautiful country. Sadly, one of the male leaders died just before the camp was set to begin.

I had never met the leader, but many of the other leaders had and were completely devastated by his death. I rang Paul and asked if he could come and lead on the camp with us, since we had an urgent gap to fill.

As always, Paul was keen to help, but wasn't able to because he had already committed to leading on the camp at Lake Okataina, which started halfway through the Ponui Island camp. However, while I was on the phone to him, he told me that Okataina was short of female leaders, and asked if I'd consider coming for the second half of that camp after Ponui. I agreed.

It was hard work going from one camp straight into another. Camps are awesome, but exhausting.

When I arrived at the Lake Okataina campground, I walked out onto the sports field and saw Paul leading a game of Touch Rugby with the campers. And just like that, all the feelings for him I'd set aside for six months came flooding back. I joined in on the opposing team to Paul with all the other leaders, but watched Paul the whole time. He was equal parts fun and patient with his team of campers, teaching them how to play and encouraging them even when they fumbled the ball. He did such a good job teaching them that they beat our team of more experienced leaders.

I slotted into camp that week just fine, and found myself constantly drawn to Paul. Yet, I wasn't sure if I had a chance with him anymore. I shed more than one tear washing dishes in the kitchen after meals, thinking I'd lost my chance with him. If only I had said, "Yes!" when he'd asked me out.

When camp wrapped up, I didn't want to head back to Auckland without knowing one way or another if I had a chance with Paul. A bunch of us drove into Rotorua and wandered around, eating food at various food places and talking all afternoon. I refused to leave, so Paul also stayed because he can never leave a party. Another leader, Mike, also decided to stick around, so the three of us hung out until about 10pm at night. Mike wouldn't leave until we did, and I couldn't say anything to Paul while Mike was there.

I was beside myself.

By 10pm, the two back-to-back camps I'd done had fully caught up with me and I had no idea how I was going to safely make the drive back to Auckland. I said as much to Paul, and he offered to drive in convoy with me as far as Hamilton, so he could make sure I was safe.

We arrived at Paul's flat in Hamilton, which was basically empty since he'd just moved into it. His parents were there, measuring up the kitchen, because they owned the house and were planning to renovate it.

It was very surreal getting to meet Paul's parents, not knowing if they were going to be a part of my future or not. They seemed to be night owls just like their son, so we ended up playing cards together until about midnight. They eventually toddled off to bed and it was agreed that I was in no fit state to drive to Auckland, so I grabbed my sleeping bag and pillow out of my car and rolled them out in Paul's lounge.

Paul didn't actually go to bed though. Instead, he climbed into a sleeping bag of his own and sat in the lounge with me all night. We talked and talked. The only reason I was able to keep my eyes open was because I had constant surges of adrenaline racing through my body, while I agonised over the age-old question, "Does he like me, or doesn't he?"

By 5am, I was completely done for and decided to just say something to Paul. I figured that if by some miracle he did still like me, maybe he was hesitant to tell me so because I had rejected him in the past.

Holding onto courage with both hands, I said the words, "I like you."

Immediately, Paul said, "I like you too."

The angels sang, "Hallelujah!"

I smiled and fell asleep, my equilibrium restored.

Poor Paul had to get up and go to work the next morning, basically two hours later, but he gave me a hug before he left and asked me to come and meet him for lunch. I happily did. We ate sushi together in a cute little spot in Hamilton's CBD and I was full of joy.

A year and a half later, we got married.

Twelve years and three children later, I love that husband of mine more than ever.
Sometimes I wonder why God showed me I was going to marry Paul, when all it seemed to do was terrify me and slow down the process of Paul and I actually getting together. Yet, it didn't slow things down that much, and it meant I got to know Paul over many different seasons, instead of rushing into a relationship with him. During those seasons, I got to see that Paul is consistently kind, faithful and generous with his love. I got to see that he doesn't hold onto anger or offence.

He never let bitterness at being rejected drive a wedge between us, even though he had many chances to.

In the hard times during our marriage (which, of course, we've had our fair share of), I've always known that Paul is the man God set aside for me. I've never had to wonder for too long if I made a mistake by tying my life to Paul's. I know I didn't, and I continue to have hope for our future together.

Happy anniversary, Paul! Thank you for marrying me. I love you to the university and back (as our adorable eldest daughter once said).

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How our garden is feeding us over winter

Even though it's winter here in New Zealand, my garden is still cranking out a decent harvest each week - and I'm loving it.
I have my pick of kale, spinach, coriander (cilantro), basil and parsley every day for salads, smoothies or sandwich toppings.
I've also been harvesting and boiling beetroot to add to my salads when I feel like it. They add such a lovely pop of colour. Yesterday, I even remembered to chuck the beetroot leaves into my smoothie for an extra iron boost.

Nut Fox has starting laying an egg a day, and although they're pretty small (since she's a young Silkie), they taste great. Rosie Posie is a few weeks younger than Nut Fox, but she should also start laying soon. Fluffles seems to have aged out of laying for us, but that's okay. She's still leaving her fertiliser deposits around the raised beds, which is the main reason I wanted to get chickens.

Fruit-wise, our feijoas only finished a week ago, but we're still getting a steady supply of limes, mandarins, lemons and oranges. In fact, I'm drinking a freshly squeezed lime juice as I type this. It's my absolute favourite drink.

Oh, and it's not just fresh garden produce we're eating. Many of our dinners also feature homegrown veges I froze during the summer months. I regularly throw grated zucchini, tomato puree or cherry tomatoes into meals such as curry or spaghetti & meat balls.

It's so satisfying eating all this fresh, vibrant food we grew right here at home. And it seems like every year the harvest is multiplying, especially now that our fruit trees are getting more established. I can't wait to see what next year brings.

What has your garden been producing for you lately?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Our homeschool schedule for term two 2019

After a fantastic Easter holiday, we're back into all our homeschool activities for term two. This is what's keeping us out of mischief this term...

The girls have both signed up for netball again. Last year we were blessed to have the girls in the same team as each other, which meant training and games were all at the same time. Alas, this year they're in different teams, so we're out at the netball courts three days a week. The girls love it though so it's worth it. Netball is such a fun sport.
L is still doing Suzuki violin lessons and will be performing in her first ever Town Hall concert this month. She's nervous about it, but there will be so many other children performing with her, I think she'll be okay.

We really tossed up whether to continue S's piano lessons this term. Her teacher is wonderful, but S has been throwing way too many tantrums around practise time at home. In the end, I decided to keep her in the lessons because I think music is so valuable, but it wasn't an easy decision when lessons cost as much as they do. She seems to be doing better this term, so I'm glad we kept her in.
As part of our Christian homeschool group, the kids are all doing Touch Rugby for their sport this term. The group also runs art classes, and this term J is doing salt dough modelling with the littlies, while the girls do lino screen-printing. All the kids are loving their art classes.

Last week we stayed after the official sessions had ended and had lunch with everyone and then played for a couple of hours. My kids all ended up playing soccer on the field with their friends and didn't want to leave.

Every term we go on a couple of trips with our Christian homeschool group. This term we've already been rock climbing at Extreme Edge in Panmure. That was such a great day and we're now planning to hold J's birthday party there, because it was so fun.  With our homeschool group, we'll also be going to the Auckland War Memorial Museum in a few weeks. Oh, and we're going to see the stage show of Annie, as an extra activity one of the mums organised.

The kids also attend classes run by another homeschool group, and this term J is doing the Little Ferns nature class again because he absolutely loved the one he did last term. Every week the teacher brought in such interesting and exciting material from nature - like birds nests and fossils - and she ran really fabulous activities that the kids got so involved in. This term, J is also doing Gymnastics, Art Play and Fit Kids.

S is doing a polymer modelling class, a Jazz fun dance class and a visual art landscape painting class.

L is doing the same Jazz dance class as S, as well as basketball and a Lego class. We tried to get her into the polymer modelling class with S, but it booked up too fast. The homeschool group is getting bigger and bigger each term, with more families joining. I'm not sure if that's because more families are homeschooling, or if more people are finding out about the group.

For our school work at home, we are continuing to use Math U See for mathematics, but we are also supplementing that with Prodigy Maths sometimes, which the kids all love.

We are continuing with The Good and the Beautiful for language arts, literature and geography. I've been so pleased to see how J has progressed in his reading. He's the only child I've ever taught to read, so it's amazing to see it actually happen like it did for the girls through school.

We trialled Mystery Science last term and it was a roaring success. I've now bought us a subscription because it's so well-done and we wanted to unlock all the mysteries. We were able to get a discount on our subscription through NZCHENZ, so definitely check that out if you homeschool and are wanting to get subscriptions to different online resources.

We're still working through Story of the World Volume One for history, although we're getting close to the end. It's cool to see how the stories work their way into the kids' playtime. J went through a stage of drawing Minotaurs after we studied ancient Crete.

The kids are also part of an after-school club that meets once a fortnight at our church. Every term there's a new theme, and this term the theme is ancient Egypt. The kids have been exploring the food and culture of the time, and having so much fun doing it. Older kids dress up like Egyptian characters to run the activities for the younger kids, so it gives them great leadership experience too. I think L will be part of the older group next year. 

We've been listening to audiobooks in the car, like The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and The Princess Academy and The Goose Girl series by Shannon Hale. Now L has started carrying a wireless speaker around the house to listen to audiobooks every chance she gets. We borrow the audiobooks for free through our library.

I think that's everything we're up to this term. It definitely feels like a busier term than last thanks to netball, but I've still got a couple of days each week when we're completely at home, so that helps me catch up on stuff around the house, and breathe.
Kitekite Falls.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

How the chore chart is working for us

A few weeks back, I told you about a new chore system we'd implemented for the kids.

We've been using this system for almost two months now, so I thought I'd update you on how it's going, mention some of the changes we've made to the system, and explain why I think it's important for kids to do chores.

How it's going
It's going surprisingly well. The kids are taking pride in their work and doing a better and better job each week.

I still have to remind them to do their chores sometimes, especially if they're on dishes, but I've added an incentive to help motivate them with that.

Incentive
The kid who does the best job of managing their chore for the week gets a 20c pocket money raise.

Cool, huh?!

I tell them every week that the behaviours I'm looking for when deciding who gets the pocket money raise are:

  • doing their job without needing to be reminded
  • doing their job with a cheerful attitude
  • doing their job to the best of their ability
  • doing their job every day

I figure that in the real workplace, people are rewarded for doing their work well, so this incentive will teach my kids about how the real world works. It also means that the children who regularly do their work well, will get compensated more for their work than the children who are not so diligent. I'm happy to reward the hardest workers more.

Changes
Apart from adding the pocket money raise incentive,  the child in charge of bathroom for the week now has to wipe the vanity down each day. (Previously they just had to clean the vanity, shower and bath once in a week.)

That's because my children were usually choosing to clean the vanity, bath and shower all in one day, which made it hard for me to compare their diligence in doing that job against the other jobs that require daily attention - dishes and toilets. By requiring a daily wipe down of the vanity, I'm now more fairly able to compare diligence in the three different areas of responsibility, which makes it easier to judge who should get a pocket money raise each week.

Why I think chores are important for kids
In our parents group, which meets monthly, we've been discussing the current age of entitlement our kids are growing up in, and thinking about ways to combat it and/or make the most of it.

I think getting kids to do chores can help them understand that they are not the centre of the world, but are part of a larger community that depends on them.

Doing chores can teach children responsibility, how to meet obligations, how to pitch in even when the work ain't fun, how to take pride in a job well done, and that the world isn't here to serve them, but that they can make the world a better place by their contribution to it.

I've just ordered the book, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, from the library on the recommendation of a friend, so I can delve into other ways to teach my kids about serving and helping others.

Now I'd love to hear your thoughts on raising outward-looking children.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Chicken update - Did they survive?

The last time I posted about our chickens, I'd built a separate emergency run for the newbies to hang out in during the day. It was to keep them safe from our original chicken, Fluffles, who had turned into a ferocious pecking machine at the sight of the two new invaders.

We kept the new chickens separate but side-by-side to Fluffles for a couple of weeks, so she could get used to them visually. It meant we had to manually shift them into the coop at night and even then, we were putting them in a box inside the coop, so Fluffles wouldn't run them outta town.

The little chickens didn't much like getting moved about at night, so they started settling down under the BBQ tray in their run area to sleep. I really wanted them to sleep in the coop with Fluffles, so she'd get used to them and because it was drier in there, so I made the call to reintroduce them to Fluffles' run full-time.
There was a bit of pecking, to be sure, but no blood was drawn and the little chickens got good at running away from Fluffles, using the kale for armour. The littlest chicken, Rosie Posie, also got good at hiding behind/under our medium-sized chicken, Nut Fox.

I really wanted to move the whole run area to a new spot, so Fluffles wouldn't feel so territorial, but I needed to wait for our potatoes to be ready to do that.
J and I finally dug up the last of the potatoes last week, so the girls were able to help me shift the coop, platform and run to the raised garden where the potatoes had been. (Check out this post to see how our chicken coop system works.)

I threw big handfuls of aged grass clippings from the compost bin into the potato garden first, and the chickens went to town looking for bugs in it as soon as they arrived in the new run.
Since moving the chickens to the new spot, I've noticed way less pecking by Fluffles. It's such a relief to see the chickens living together in relative harmony.
The younger two are definite besties, but Fluffles can hang out with them serenely too, most of the time.
The two gardens we moved the chooks out of were completely cleared out by the chickens. Nut Flox and Rosie Posie even ate all the kale, which Fluffles had never touched. I'm planning to turn over the soil in these gardens, to get the aged soil from the bottom up to the top, ready for planting some tasty autumn crops.

Although, for the life of me, I can't think what to plant at this time of year besides spinach and lettuce.

What crops would you recommend I plant (autumn in the southern hemisphere)?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Homeschool's not all rainbows and unicorns

Most of my posts about homeschooling have been overwhelmingly positive. That's because, in general, I'm incredibly positive about it. When I see the changes wrought in my eldest daughter over the past year, I'm blown away. She's so much more confident and self-assured than when we pulled her out of school towards the end of 2017 due to anxiety.

However, we've had a rough start to this homeschool year, so I thought I'd share a bit about that to give you a counterbalance to all the happy stories I've shared.

Nothing in this life is perfect. Even homeschooling. Everywhere we go, there we are, fallen humans making mistakes.

Our family started its 'official' school year on February 11, after a blissful two-month holiday.

Unfortunately, I came down with a cold on February 12. It both sapped my energy and made it so I woke up dozens of times a night, not getting the rest I desperately needed.

The cold left me with no energy to deal with anything. But I had to deal anyway.

It was our first week back and all our groups and music lessons had started back up right alongside us. I didn't want the kids to miss out on them.

Also, the first Friday back, we were to set off on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to Tiritiri Matangi, and I couldn't just not go, so I pushed through. But I somehow managed to get heat-stroke on the trip, which made me a complete write-off for the weekend afterwards and delayed my recovery time even longer.

Queue the song, Faded. That was me.

The thing is.... kids know when you're not really present. They have a sixth sense for it.

Suddenly fights over ridiculous things escalated at the drop of a hat. Everything was a drama. Simple schoolwork tasks like writing the letter 'P' in a handwriting book precipitated tears and fits of rage over how impossible it is to write the letter 'P.' (True story. That's 45 minutes of my life I'll never get back.)

No one was getting much work done because even the most basic tasks took way longer than I'd expected them to, due to meltdowns.

I was spending what little energy I had trying to calm the wailing one - whichever one that happened to be at the time. Meanwhile, my eldest was quietly plodding on with her work and reading books in her downtime, saving my sanity even as I felt guilty that she wasn't getting the one-on-one attention her good behaviour deserved.

It was all around hard, and I asked myself more than once why we were doing this. Why we were homeschooling.

All my kids could be off at school. I could have my days completely to myself (bliss for my inner introvert). The house could be tidy. Our meals could be organised. Somebody else (much more qualified than I) could be dealing with all the learning meltdowns and dramas. And I could rest when I was sick.

Life would be so much easier. (For me at least.)

But my eldest is happier out of school. Whenever we visit her old school now, she points out the corner she used to cry in during lunchtime. There pangs my heart.

I could send the youngest two to school, since they are the causes of 98% of the drama. But then the oldest would be by herself a lot, and we'd be back in the halfway land we were in before, on the school timetable and needing to be back for school pickups; missing out on the freedom that homeschooling brings.
Photo taken by my daughter of her violin.
And then, when I really think about the fortnight of misery we had, I realise that, even though I didn't get as much done with the kids as I would've liked, the stuff we did do was worthwhile. And we did it together.

Paul and I were able to look at where things were going wrong and think of strategies to teach the kids to help them deal with their crazy big emotions. Those strategies have started to make a difference and now I'm looking towards the coming weeks with more hope.

And we still had a lot of really great times, even amongst all the tantrums and tiredness...
  • We went swimming at the local aquatic centre a couple of times. 
  • We got cute new chickens
  • We caught a ferry to a really great island. 
  • We had a playdate with lovely friends. 
  • We went to church. 
  • We spent weekends with cousins. 
  • We did athletics. 
  • We went to many great classes at our homeschool group.
  • We did music lessons. 
  • We learnt about volcanoes with fun science experiments. 
  • J nailed two new maths concepts (adding plus eight and plus nine). 
  • We went to the library where the girls learned how to order books on the computers there, so now they're reading even more books than normal. 
  • We started a new audiobook (The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis) for when we're driving around in the car. 
  • The two younger kids built a hut in the backyard. 
  • We rustled potatoes from our garden for dinner.
  • Paul and all three kids played Starlink in the evenings so I could rest. 
  • My eldest daughter started taking photos of everything for her new photography class. 
  • My middle daughter baked a cake all by herself and fed it to her siblings for afternoon tea so I could rest.
  • That same daughter then pretty much moved in next door, where they've just installed a gymnastics bar. 
  • The kids embraced their new chore responsibilities. (I've even added a couple more incentives with their new chores, which are really helping to motivate the older two at least.)
  • The children all sent letters and parcels to their dear friends, who have moved away.
  • And many more good things besides.
So homeschooling can be hard sometimes, but I still reckon it's worth it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Decadent chocolate bliss ball recipe

I've been promising you this chocolate bliss ball recipe since I did my What I ate in a day post during the summer holidays.

I make a batch of these chocolate bliss balls about once a fortnight, because they're delicious and handy for lunchbox fillers. They really hit the sweet spot after a savoury meal, and they're full of nutritious ingredients which make me happy to have the kids eat them.
We ate a lot of them when we were exploring Tiritiri Matangi last week, and I was so glad I'd brought them because they gave us the energy boost we needed on the uphill climb.

My kids didn't used to like bliss balls overly much, until I developed this recipe. Now they're all in love.
The secret ingredient, which has made all the difference, is cacao/cocoa butter. It gives these bliss balls a real chocolatey taste and texture, when mixed with cacao/cocoa powder.
Cacao butter chunks
I usually eyeball the measurements for this recipe, but for you I've tried to measure them out so that you can recreate it. It's pretty forgiving if you've got a little more of this and a little less of that. Generally speaking, I try to go for equal proportions of dates and nuts, and then just throw in whatever else I want.

The base recipe below will give you a basic chocolate bliss ball. You can then add in whatever you like of the optional extras to incorporate more nutrients and flavour to the recipe.
Base recipe

  • 2 cups nuts, eg. almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts* or a mixture
  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 2 chunks cacoa or cocoa butter (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 scoop (3 tablespoons) vanilla protein powder
*Brazil nuts have a somewhat dirt-like flavour that can overwhelm the bliss balls, so I usually just add a few of these for their selenium content, but use another nut for the majority.

Optional extras

  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds (for Omega 3 fatty acids)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (high protein source)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (nice flavour)
  • 3-4 vitamin C tablets (orange or blackcurrent flavour goes well with the chocolate)
  • 3 tablespoons freeze-dried raspberry
Method
1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until a meal-like texture is formed and the nuts have begun to release their oil.
2. Take a heaped teaspoon of the blended mixture and roll between the palms of your hand to form a ball shape, squeezing together slightly to create a firm ball.
3. Repeat until all the mixture has been shaped into balls. (Recipe makes between 20 and 30 bliss balls.)
4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. 

If you make this recipe, let me know what ingredients you decide to try and how it turns out for you.