blackberry and coconut muffins. and friendship

muffinwindow

In recent years, I’ve become more and more aware of how blessed I am to have lifelong friends. Friends who I know (with absolute certainty) will be there during the highest points of my life whilst also traversing the earth-shattering lows. Friends like these are a rarity in the transient nature of modern life. I’ve somehow been blessed with a few.

I’ve written a few times on this blog about one of my best friends, the absolute treasure who answered to Hippy Vic (I’m using past tense as she’s progressively abandoned the blogging game). It was her birthday on Monday and I still haven’t given her a hug.

It frustrates me how life has steadily crowded out the times when we just used to sit and breathe. Nights when we’d talk unrestricted til the air grew cold and the sun emerged from hiding. I miss smiling til my face hurt and soaking in the relentless swell of youth.

At least it seemed relentless; perennial in the best of ways, tinged with blissful ignorance and folly. But youth finally faded, as it always does. Responsibility awakened like a lofty giant. Age brought maturity, and with that came both beauty and perpetual loss. I’m trying to appreciate both.

berries eggs

Back to the issue of time, or rather, lack of it. I’m sure most (if not all) of you can relate to the burden of conflicting responsibilities, the absorbent qualities of full-time work and the joy (but occasionally overwhelming nature) of parenthood. I often experience pressing guilt or regret after choosing to do one thing over another. I also spend endless moments reflecting upon what I want to do as opposed to what I need to do. This year, I wanted it to end.

Last weekend, I spent some very deliberate time reflecting upon how I spend the majority of my waking hours. The past ten years have been largely consumed with study and work, the remainder being fragmented into time with family and friends. I’ve long been aware of a glaring imbalance between time spent with lifelong friends and that spent with ‘incidental acquaintances’, i.e. colleagues or people attached to my personal pursuits. All very nice people, mind you. But not those whom I’d call ‘sisters’ when I’m old and grey.

coffee

I’ll spare you the rest of my weekend contemplation. Let’s skip through to some very purposeful time spent last Sunday eating muffins on the crest of a hill. Time spent chatting in the cool of the morning until hours disappeared and the afternoon arrived.

Time spent with my other best friend and heart sister, Lucy.

hands

We arrived around 9:00am, armed with fresh pencils, paints, snacks, one furkid (Loki) and our two favourite boys (Aaron and Lucy’s little boy, Isaac). Over the course of the morning, we etched images on paper, cracking almonds with our teeth and breathing the scent of warm eucalyptus.

Lucy was Lucy, beautifully creative, always kind and encouraging. The same strong-but-gentle woman whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for over fifteen years. She’s seen me crumble under pressure and glow with happiness on my wedding day.

I’m so, so grateful for the journey that we’ve taken together. And most of all, I look forward to the days to come.

scribblelucy

So, back to Sunday. Before leaving the park, we took Isaac to Synergy parkland to climb stone dinosaurs and eat rainbow ice creams. Loki nosed around in the wood chips, making friends with stray children and chasing abandoned balls.

We lay on freshly watered grass which left stains on our clothing and huge smiles on our faces. We loved every minute and, as usual, we’ve promised to ‘do it again soon’.

isaac

And this time, we will.

I’m already baking the muffins.

aerial

Blackberry and Coconut Muffins

Makes 18

  • 1/2 cup coconut yoghurt (I used CO YO, substitute natural yoghurt)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup organic, cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (substitute oat or dairy milk)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 cup organic oat flour
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking (bicarbonate) soda
  • Optional: coconut nectar and coconut chips/flakes, to garnish

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Whisk the yoghurt, water, eggs, milk and coconut oil together in a large bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined.

mix1

Spoon into lined or greased muffin pans and bake for 20-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

If using coconut nectar, prick holes into the top of the muffins and drizzle over a little coconut nectar whilst still warm. Garnish with toasted coconut chips.

closeup

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59 responses

  1. It’s so important to take the time to do those things that feed our heart and soul, like nurturing special friendships. Life does get so busy that it can take extra effort at times, I find. Your day and your muffins both look nourishing and beautiful :)

  2. You know those friendship quotes and poems that come up all the time, ‘true friends pick up where they left off and blah blah blah, I don’t need those poems, I have the real deal, I don’t mind one bit that I’m still to receive my birthday hug :-), I know it’s there, in your thoughts and heart, that’s enough, more than enough!
    I’m actually quite excited about getting old and grey and sipping G n T’s for lunch on the balcony of a retirement village, those are going to be some good times, we can regress back to the way we spend our days years ago, a dazed kind of bliss, but I don’t need to live in your pocket to know you’re my sister.
    Big love,
    Vic x

    • Oh I love you. We will do all of the above, my precious sister and friend. Past, present and future – that’s the kind of tapestry that I’m happy to be weaving with each day that passes. So lucky to be doing life with you xx

  3. What a beautiful post, laura. I totally relate. I was just lamenting about all the people i want to see that i don’t always make time for. I do think cooking and blogging, while work, are also a time out. They serve to highlight for me the people with whom is like to share a meal. Very well written and beautiful thoughts. Glad you are being mindful. It will pay off.

    • It’s so difficult sometimes isn’t it? I appreciate your reflections on the same issue. I love being able to reflect and spend a bit of time on my own, writing and cooking. But I think I will always struggle with being able to balance work and the ‘rest of life’. Sigh! At least awareness is a start xxx

  4. 1. I adore these muffins. 2. It’s too long and lengthy to write here, but my very best friend (of almost 45 years) and I are still extremely close. We live 8 hours apart (too far), and I remember the years when our children were little and work and life got in the way (also, before cell phones and the internet). It was difficult to have time together, but somehow, we still remained best friends, and as the years have progressed, we’re in a stage now that we can be away from each other for over a year, but when we are together, it’s like we’ve never left.Thank goodness for cell phones. Our conversations aren’t long (although, sometimes they are), but we rejoice in each other’s joys and grieve over our losses. You’ll see her when Stephie’s wedding pictures are published, as Sheila will be coming up here to help get things ready for the big day. Treasure your friendships, and even though you have to work to keep them, they will always be there (and we are truly planning our days in the old lady’s home. Sheila will be planning the games, and I’ll be over there making crafts). Thanks for the post. I’ll be thinking about Sheila all day (and Beverly is another story). xx

    • This is beautiful Julie. I’m glad that you and Sheila will get to spend some quality time together soon, so exciting! Haha – my friend Vicky and I are also planning our days together in an old lady’s home. We figure we should start picking spots now! Love your reflections and yes, I am treasuring each and every friendship that I’ve been blessed with in this life. People who have known you for most of your days on this earth are hard to come by… and hard to keep with all of the ups and downs, peaks and troughs, moves across oceans etc. Sheila and Beverly are lucky to have you (and vice versa I am sure!). Sending you hugs and thanks for sharing your thoughts. Oh, life is a complex and heartbreaking thing. I am glad that we have open hearts, warm hugs, hot tears and God’s grace to get us through xxx

  5. Your weekend reflections were right on point Laura! One of the hardest things for me is living far away from my close friends. It definitely makes it hard to maintain those close connections. It does often feel like life is all about trying to find the right balance between many competing priorities. P.S. these muffins look quite delicious!

    • Thanks Heather, I appreciate your reflections on this issue. It’s SO difficult to find balance sometimes. I guess I find that I pick relationships over anything else in these ever-shortening days xx

  6. It is so easy to get caught up with the escalating busy progression of life and forget what it important. those simple pleasure with besties. I too sometimes neglect this side of life and stopping to take time out to laugh, live and love with those few kindred souls in my life. So happy you managed to dedicate a whole day out in the sunshine with one of your besties. It makes all the stress and flurry of life have so much more meaning

    • Yes I definitely agree lovely. It’s so easy to neglect those who aren’t as ‘demanding’ as other aspects of life (eg work and other commitments). Never mind. However few these catch ups are, they refresh our hearts and make us appreciate precious friends even more. Sending you hugs (and oh, how precious are animals in those times when you just need unconditional love and a hug!) xx

  7. What a fantastic picnic! You already know my story about those dreaded picnics. These muffins too, they look amazing. It was so nice to read about your friends. I’ve come to find out that I really don’t have any who will be with me when we are old and grey. Yes, I have friends, but it sees, I put forth more effort then anyone else. It’s very disheartening, and disappointing. No one really values friendship anymore. I just don’t need my husband to tell me “I told you so” He’s the more anti social type and besides me, no one else is really necessary for him. I wish I could be like him, but I’m not.
    Gorgeous muffins, btw.

    • Haha, yes I just read your picnic story!!! Thanks so much… ah, sadly I know how you feel about being the one who makes all the effort, gives out time and energy and doesn’t experience any kind of reciprocity. It’s disheartening, tiring and sad. I do hope that things will change for you as… well, however beautiful your marriage is, I do feel that it’s necessary to have others to share your emotions, frustrations and life experiences with. However, I don’t think it’s worth holding on to friendships if they just leave you feeling empty and depleted… many people on this earth are happy to just ‘take’ but then when you go through hardship, they are nowhere to be seen. If I was living somewhere near you I’d suggest we catch up for coffee, but being millions of miles away… all I can say is that however you are feeling Nazneen, please know that we (your online/blogging friends) are those who care a lot about you!!! It’s no replacement for friends in the immediate who can give you a hug when you’re feeling down… but I hope you hear my heart in what I’m saying xxx

  8. Laura, I love this post. I had coffee on the weekend with one of my oldest friends, and I am so glad that we have stuck by each other for the last fifteen years, and have a whole future together to look forward to. One of my other heart sisters is a very busy lady at the moment, and oh how my heart aches that we don’t see each other very often. She was my absolute rock during some very tough years in my life and no-one can replace her. I know life will settle down soon, but the ache is sometimes unbearable.
    Of course, I was also born with a built-in best friend. My little sister was the one thing I have ever really, really asked for in my life and the best gift, and friend, I could ever have wished for. She would love these muffins too by the way :)

    • I always wished that I had a sister!!! Nevertheless, I do love my brothers and I am glad to have family to do life with. Love hearing your stories of friendship too… it’s so precious to go through life’s ups and downs with someone who loves you dearly. Hope that you manage to have a good catch up with your heart sister soon xx

  9. I tend to think of friendships whenever I’m baking, probably because I hardly ever bake for myself. This post is as sweet as you are Laura! Your warmth always comes through in your words, here and in the comments you leave. I will definitely try this recipe, having two large jars of coconut oit waiting in my pantry. Love the idea of berries!

    • Thanks so much Paula. Yes, me too… I always bake for those I love rather than myself! I do hope that you enjoy these muffins if you try them. They’re a product of my healthy baking ethos over the new year (mostly for Aaron, who adores baked goods but wants to eat healthy things these days!). Sending you hugs, so precious to be in touch with you again! xxx

  10. As I get older, I forget that I am old. I am stunned to look back and realize that I have friendships that are going on 50 years. How can that be? When I am with my friends from early days, I am still that young boy, that lost teenager, that coming-into-himself 20-something. These friends have been with me all the way – yet it is only now that I have been realizing the value. You are much wiser than I, Laura, to see this when you are so young and can appreciate it as you continue on your path. This was a lovely and heartfelt post. Thanks for the reminder of what is important. (And for a wonderful muffin recipe!)

    • Thanks for these wonderful reflections David. I know what you mean about life passing in a flash… I feel the same way. I refuse to accept that you are ‘old’ (no way!) but I do understand your sentiment. Friendships over 50 years are amazing… I hope I’ll be in the same boat as you one day. And for you to have retained those friendships? I am pretty sure you’ve been doing quite a few things right ;) Thanks for sharing with me and for being a friend across the seas! Hugs x

  11. Laura– do love your thoughtful style of writing. I’m 62, and I still have to stop often and evaluate how I’m spending my time– to know what’s true and important and lasting, where I really want to be. Your friends are blessed to have you… (and muffins look super– we have blackberries in the side yard — but none ripe til May!)

    • Oh Rhonda, thanks for the lovely reflections. I am sure that this kind of sentiment will always continue, no matter what age we are! Sadly, life seems to be so busy and packed full of commitments these days. You are a blessing also and I do pray that this year will be a bit ‘slower’ in terms of quality time with those we love this year xxx

  12. Ah sadly I guess you’re speaking from many people’s hearts here. Good for you to make a resolution to try and focus more on friendship. It’s something I need to do too. Wise lady you! X

  13. Your picnic reminds me so much of my childhood, how lovely. The way you reminisce makes me reflect on my own choices of how I spend my time :)
    Beautiful blackberry muffins, they would make every breakfast a good one!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Oh you, thanks beautiful!! I do spend quite a lot of time reminiscing, possibly too much but hey – it’s me trying to sort out what’s important. Hope that you have had a lovely start to the new year Uru xx

  14. Another gorgeously written post, as always Miss Laura! I suspect that slipping away of youth that you talk about is exactly why so many twenty-somethings over here in the U.S. (at least) have trouble adjusting to the real world. From college, an intense phase of youthful stupidity, to being thrust into the real world? It’s just yikes. Also, I so echo your thoughts on spending time with people that matter. It’s a constant battle, it seems, to weed out the people who drain your life rather than add to it.

    Beautiful muffins to pull this piece all together! Blackberry and coconut sound like heaven right now!! <33

    • Yes yes! Your reflections are exactly how I feel… college is definitely a breeding ground for stubborn activism, self-seeking behaviours and exploration of self but not so much an avenue to discover what’s important. Ah well. It’s all experience, isn’t it? Thanks so much for your lovely words and for being a friend who also teaches me through HER words. I appreciate every time you write and reflect, even if it’s just over cake (cake is an important thing!). Sorry I have been a bit absent recently too, I am attempting to answer these comments through my phone and it is driving me mad. Never mind. Better than nothing (shopping for a new computer next week!) xxx

  15. Your writing never fails to bring so many smiles to my face. I empathize with your struggle of how our time is spent. It’s been about seven months since I started my “big kid job,” working 40 hours a week and having not nearly enough time to spend enjoying my hobbies and loving on my loved ones. It often leaves me wondering, “Is this just what life is now?” I suppose it is, but only if we let it! Right? So I’m going to follow your lead and make a conscious decision to actually “do it again soon” and make the time for the people and activities we care most about. :D Your outing in the park with sketches, dinosaurs, and ice creams sounds most wonderful.

    P.S. Have you submitted anything to Wolftree yet? Their latest issue comes out this weekend, and the next one is currently accepting submissions for a hopeful May release. And your writing is just too good for the world not to see!! :)

    All the hugs
    xxxx

    • Aw Ali, no I haven’t submitted to Wolftree yet! I would like to, I am just so packed out with thoughts at the moment (I am also working the 80 hr week and I hate it. And I still need to save for my new computer – this iphone just doesn’t cut it!). Thanks for your beautiful thoughts, so precious to have you as a friend and I do wish that I could drop round for a cup of tea, a hug and walk in the park! Maybe one day. Hope that your life finds some more balance too – I know God has it all in His hands xxx

  16. Laura what a beautiful post. I’ve been way too consumed with work and need to spend more time with my friends I have to admit. And what beautiful muffins. Anything with berries, I adore. Coconut too, but berries come 1st in my books ;) Have a lovely week! xx

  17. So spot on, Laura. I don’t know if I ever properly appreciated the time afforded by youth, opportunities to do a whole lot of nothing – but such pleasant nothing – with friends, when everyone was carefree and living close by. Eternally grateful for all of them worldwide though. Wish I could send them muffins! :) xx K

    • Haha, I love that idea. Muffins by post! I can imagine that it’d be hard for you, living across countries and at times apart from friends too. I miss my friends and family in England dreadfully! At least we have the ability to keep in touch via social media etc. You are beautiful and I’m thankful for your thoughts Ksenia xxx

  18. The post’s words and images are beautiful! And I’m salivating at the sight of those muffins, especially because they include those tart blackberries x

  19. Pingback: The Last Days of Summer + Pet-friendly Holidays in WA « Laura's Mess

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