Thursday, 29 March 2012

Thursday Things

aka a random blog title for a random post!!

I'm finding that, without a camera phone, I am forgetting to mention a lot of things as I haven't taken photos.

Take today - these are the photos I took at home in the morning...

And the story behind the photos - would you believe that this is a winning hat??! Haha. Izzy's school had an Easter Fayre today, and years R, 1 and 2 did a hat parade. There were lots of hats - clearly made by the parents - with nests on top/super tall/pink and fluffy etc etc but the majority of Izzy's class had bought hats like the one above. Anyway, 2 children from each class were chosen as "winners" and, much to my astonishment, Izzy was one of them. Her teacher said the reason Izzy's hat was chosen was that it was clearly made by the child...well you can say that again!!! Last year Liam helped Izzy to make a hat from scratch, and she then refused to wear it. So this year I just gave her the bonnet, some Easter stickers and the sellotape and left her to it...clearly the way to go in future!! She was happy that she won a bag of little chocolate rabbits anyway, and it meant I got out of queueing for the tombola - the queue was so long, and standing still in the heat was really uncomfortable, so as Izzy already had some chocolate, we went to the ice cream shop instead. One mango yoghurt cone for Izzy and a raspberry tub for me and Toby...we then headed to the park for a bit before coming back home. We also walked along the seafront - such gorgeous weather, so pretty - I wish I'd taken the camera with me!

In other news today, I lost 3.5lbs at Slimming World this week, whoop! Obviously I won't lose anywhere this much each week, but it was a nice 1st week boost! Afterwards, *ahem*, Mum and I went for cake. She has made a "deal" with me that each week after the meeting we'll go for coffee, and if I've lost that week, she will treat me to coffee & cake, whereas if I stay the same or gain then I have to pay but - more importantly - we will only have coffee. Motivation right there (!!) Today I had marmalade bread and butter pudding with (lots of) double cream, mmm! Next week I think I will have some kind of cake instead though - this was delicious but quite stodgy. When the lady first poured the double cream I thought it was loads, but the pudding soon soaked it all up!

On Monday evening I placed an order with Cream Supplies which arrived on Wednesday morning:

Chai tea syrup for a friend's birthday present, gingerbread syrup and raspberry iced tea syrup for me (but I'm resisting opening them until Sunday in case my friend has already bought the chai syrup in which case she can have one of the others), salt and kale chips. I wish I'd taken a photo of the inside of the kale chips, because they are already all gone. De-licious! :)

During the day on Monday, my sister and I went shopping. No photos of the food I ate as I didn't take the camera - times like those are when I'd always have used my camera phone. I ate way too much but it was all delicious - iced coffee and (divine!) emmental and mushroom toastie in M&S for breakfast, and lunch in Cafe Rouge. I ordered a small houmous with crisp breads and a small salad with chicory leaves, walnuts, blue cheese and pear...but then I also ended up eating most of Toby's macaroni cheese and chocolate ice cream! Needless to say I was stuffed after this, but I still managed to fit in an iced chai latte from Starbucks...I don't live near a Starbucks so I have to make the most of it when I'm near one!! ;)

As well as lots of food, my sister helped me choose quite a few new clothes to buy. The closest I get to an OOTD photo:

No idea where the jeans are from, but new top is from the Mantaray range at Debenhams. I tried on four tops in Debenhams and this one was the one I liked the least, but was the only one I ended up buying! I really like it now though - the shape actually seems to fit me properly for once :)

In Debenhams I also bought a pair of exercise trousers as I currently only have one pair which limits how often I can work out (well, that's my excuse anyway!):

I also bought a few strap tops in H&M to go under other tops, plus the pink one might be acceptable to wear on its own once I've lost a little bit more weight - I bought it tight as the next size up was already baggy and would have (hopefully!) been way too big by summer!!

And finally, we stopped off at M&S where I bought a pair of black leggings (to wear under dresses that I haven't actually bought yet!) and two more tops...

Hopefully these will last me for a while! I deliberately tried to buy slightly longer tops as they are so much more comfortable, especially for the bending/twisting/picking up etc that is involved with spending time with Toby! Because I don't have a huge number of clothes that fit me/I feel comfortable in, they get worn so quickly. The tops I bought last summer for my honeymoon are already super faded!

Final thing in this random post, Liam and I made plans today for our wedding anniversary weekend. It is still 3 months away but I am so excited - we're going to London for the weekend!!! :-D We're going to be there from the Saturday lunchtime until the Monday afternoon, so any recommendations of places to go/things to see/places to eat etc are very welcome! I can't remember the last time I went to London...not since I was about 12 I don't think. When I was growing up we only lived about an hour train away, so we used to go several times a year for shopping/theatre etc, but now we live more than 3 hours away so never go...sad times but it does make this trip extra exciting! We haven't actually booked anything at the moment - hasn't even released tickets for the dates we want yet - so I imagine I will be mentioning it even more as we get closer and our plans start happening a bit more. In the meantime I already have a very long Word document listing all the things I want to do - I imagine the 2-3 days are going to fly by!!

So, obvious question...have you ever been to London? If yes, where were your favourite places to go/eat? And if no, what would be at the top of your list? Wholefoods Kensington was the first thing I wrote down, haha, but I'd also need to include some non-foody things in the plans for Liam, and perhaps some sightseeing as well as eating!! ;)

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

WIAW - Broccoli Frittata

Hello! Happy What I Ate Wednesday! Thanks as always to Jenn! This is the last WIAW in March - aka Green month - I haven't eaten quite as many green vegetables this week, but over the course of the whole month it has definitely inspired me to try some new green combinations.

I'm a bit late writing this post today - now that the evenings are lighter, the children have been going to bed later, so Liam and I have lost at least an hour of "sit down time" once the children are asleep, the washing up has been done etc! Oh well better late than never...this is what I ate yesterday. The day didn't start off too green, so I put my meals on green plates/dishes instead...that totally counts right?!! ;)

Breakfast yesterday was amazing - so good in that that I had it again today! Chai banana porridge:

This was just oats, milk, mashed banana and 20g spiced chai powder. So good that it didn't even need a topping - the chai adds sweetness and extra flavour. Yum!

My sister started her new job today, so yesterday she came over for a couple of hours to spend some time in the garden. Izzy was off school as well, so I made Sarah Izzy and Toby macaroni cheese for lunch. I didn't fancy that though - it was way too hot to have a hot lunch! I had an iced latte instead (mmm!) and then when Sarah left I had some raw carrots with lemon coriander houmous:

I had planned to have a 2nd part to lunch, but I hadn't realised how late it had got - it was already 3pm by the time I ate this! Instead I had one of my current favourite snacks to keep me going until an early dinner - Greek yoghurt mixed with cocoa powder and vanilla stevia...

I've been eating this a lot this week - either eaten like this just with a spoon, or spread on toast. I also love it mixed with berries but I haven't got any in at the moment (Toby easily eats a punnet of blueberries in a day so as soon as I do buy them they disappear!!).

Liam's Nan was transferred from the local hospital to a nursing home today. Great news for her, but it does mean that she's now a half hour drive away instead of just down the road. Liam only found this out on Monday so he went to see her straight from work last night. Liam not at home for dinner = a chance to eat something he dislikes. I'd really fancied a frittata as my 2nd part of my lunch so I decided to make a large one for me and the children to have for dinner instead. Liam used to like frittata, but has recently gone off the texture of the eggs apparently. And he hates broccoli so this was perfect! ;-)

Broccoli and Cream Cheese Frittata
(serves 3)
  • 200g tenderstem broccoli
  • oil
  • 6 eggs
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 50g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia original)
1. First chop the tenderstem broccoli (I chopped each stem into 3 pieces) and lightly cook in boiling water just for 2-3 minutes.
2. Crack all the eggs into a bowl and mix with salt and garlic powder.
3. Add a small amount of oil to a frying pan and bring to a medium heat. Add the broccoli and then pour over the eggs. Mix around to get the broccoli evenly dispersed across the pan.
4. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low to medium heat for approx 4-5 minutes (until almost cooked)
5. Blob the cream cheese across the frittata and put under a medium-high grill for a minute or two until the frittata is thoroughly cooked/lightly browned as you prefer. Slice in the pan and serve with salad and/or buttered bread.

I sliced our frittata into 7 slices - 2 for me, 2 for Izzy and 1 for Toby to have for dinner with salad...and 2 more for me to have cold later as an evening snack - Liam was disgusted but I love it almost more cold than I do hot!!

When Liam came home from seeing his Nan, he brought a whole 4 cheese pizza with him!! He tried to persuade me to help him out by eating a few slices, but I resisted. I'd already eaten dinner and really didn't need it, so instead I ate the above two slices as my evening snack. It did strike me that the frittata would make a great pizza base. Not a new idea by any means - I've seen quite a few other people using omelettes as the base for pizza before - but one I definitely want to try sometime soon.

And that was the end of my WIAW - at least it ended on a green note!

Do you like frittata/Spanish omelette/tofu scramble? What would be your ideal fillings/toppings? My Grandma makes a traditional Spanish omelette with garlic, onion and potatoes which is gorgeous. I'm always too impatient to wait for the potatoes to cook though, so tend to just use whatever vegetables I have to hand instead. I do like blobbing either Philadelphia or goats cheese on top as well, gives it a nice texture contrast and different flavour. I also quite often mix smoked paprika in with eggs as well, not sure why I just stuck with garlic powder this time but it was still delicious!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sport Relief Weekend

Hello! Have you all had lovely weekends? The weather has been gorgeous where we are, so we have been making the most of it!

I started the weekend off yesterday with a big bowl of fresh pineapple and strawberry yoghurt.

Sunshine + this bowl + fresh fruit = summer to me! :)

I kept breakfast quite light as we were meeting my Dad and sisters mid-morning for brunch. I had a latte and poached eggs on toast:

This was sooo good. I hadn't been to this little cafe for a while, but they do the best cooked breakfasts! Even something as simple as poached eggs on toast - the toast is thick cut amazingness and the eggs were perfectly cooked with super runny yolks so I didn't even miss having butter! Yum.

After this we headed back home. Toby had a nap and the rest of us headed out into the sunny garden...

Unfortunately seconds after I'd taken this photo, I tripped up on the decking. Because I was still holding the camera, I held that high above my head to protect it, which meant leaving my toes unprotected. I thought I'd just stubbed my toe badly so I went inside to put the camera down, and then noticed I'd got a bit of blood on the carpet. Ooops. Luckily I made it back out to the french doors (the white plastic step bit is easier to clean!) before the blood started pouring out...yuck. I had to get Liam to help me clean me up as I needed to sit down as I was feeling super dizzy! I will spare you photos of my even uglier than normal feet, but I now have three quite big gashes on my big toe which are super painful to walk on :(

I still managed to get outside and enjoy the sunshine once I was all plastered up though (I just ignored my throbbing toe as best I could!) and then once Toby woke up we took a quick trip to Waitrose and then Liam dropped me at my Mum's house (as Colin's daughter, Clare, was staying the night so I went to see them all). Liam fed the children dinner while I was gone, and then when I got back he made me dinner too - thank you Liam!

Just a quick stir fry - peppers, peas, Quorn pieces, noodles and soy sauce - but it was delicious, and even better for not cooking it myself!

This morning we were all meant to be doing a mile walk/run for Sports Relief. As if hurting my toe yesterday wasn't off putting enough, my body decided to give me a night of little sleep by developing a urinary tract infection (UTI). I managed to get one hours sleep, then woke up in pain so spent 3.5 hours in the bath (I hadn't realised it had been quite that long until I got back out!!) and then was so tired that I passed out for another 3.5 hours. 4.5 hours sleep total is not enough, but I was a feeling a little better this morning so decided to still go to the walk and see how I felt.

As I woke up quite late, I had to have a quick breakfast. I didn't know what I fancied, so popped a couple of slices of bread in toaster while I thought, and ended up making this amazing spread - Total 0% Greek yoghurt, a few drops of vanilla stevia and a tsp of cocoa powder. I spread some on the toast and ate the rest with a spoon...amazing, I wish I'd made even more!

After this we headed to the meeting point to meet up with the rest of my family. The reason I'd been keen not to pull out of the walk is that we were doing a "four generation" team - Izzy, me, my Mum and my Grandma:

Colin's daughter, Clare, also took part with little baby Theo:

And Liam also pushed Toby round in the pushchair:

Family outing!

In terms of speed, Izzy was the fastest out of all of us! Well, for the first half anyway, she didn't have the stamina to keep running at that speed for the whole mile, but she and Mum did run ahead and get to the finish line way before the rest of us!

Then looped back to catch us up for a four generation finish...

Luckily my symptoms were a little better this morning than they were in the night, so as I was feeling better than I'd expected we hung around at the finish line to clap everyone else in (well, there were only three children on space hoppers slower than us, but there were also others doing 3 or 6 miles) and took a few more photos...

and then the four of us and Clare and Theo headed to Costa for a well deserved (!!) post walk snack! I've made sure to drink lots and lots of water today to try and flush the infection through my system as quickly as possibly, so I didn't want to hamper that by ordering a coffee. Instead I had a raspberry iced tea and a granola bar:

I hadn't had this granola bar before. I liked it - soft, chewy and sweet but not too sweet. Good for days when I want something with a bit of substance rather than pure sugar. I do love Costa's chocolate brownies too though - best shop/cafe bought brownies I've had recently.

Before we left Costa, the cousins all snuggled up to show off their medals...

Izzy adored spending time with Theo today - she spent the whole time walking to and from Costa holding on to the pushchair to "help" Clare...cute! :)

Because we had a late snack at Costa over lunchtime, I didn't sit down to eat a proper lunch today. Instead I snacked on an avocado with some Munchy seeds (eaten straight from the skin with a teaspoon - perfectly ripe) and *ahem* a couple of Reece's peanut butter cups. Sitting down for meals is definitely more satisfying, and tends to result in me making "better" decisions. Although the avocado was delicious, and peanut butter cups are my "I know I shouldn't love them, but I do" treat so it could have been worse!!
This evening Liam cooked dinner again - there are benefits to being mildly ill/injured!! Mince and tatties using Quorn mince. We hardly ever eat Quorn and yet ate it twice this weekend. I suppose it's easier for Liam to cook as he is more used to cooking traditional meat-based recipes, plus this Quorn mince was reduced to 70p so was quite a bargain.

Could have done with a bit more mashed potato (we always seem to cook too much or too little) but apart from that it was another great meal, thanks Liam!

Now I think I am going to get a much needed early night. Busy day planned tomorrow - shopping with my sister Sarah (and Toby) which needs to be fitted in between school drop-off and pick-up, and then going round to see my Grandparents after school. Sleep first!

Have any of you done anything for Sport Relief this weekend? As well as a lot of races taking place locally, my littlest sister's secondary school did a fancy dress day on Friday. Olivia went in a David Beckham shirt and leggings, but I saw one girl wearing a full on wetsuit. That must have been quite uncomfortable for a full day at school!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Slimming World and Body Balance

This post has turned into a bit of a wordy ramble about my body/weight. Feel free to skip it if that will bore or upset you...I've got it out of my system now and will be back to normal posting next time!

I finally bit the bullet and joined Slimming World yesterday. Some of you may have noticed that I've removed my 'Weight Journey' tab from the blog. My weight has been going up and up, and writing it down each week was depressing me rather than motivating me so it had to go!

Slimming world has, two whole days in, been a positive experience so far though. As I don't eat meat or fish anyway, I am following the green plan which means that as well as all the "free" fruits, vegetables, pasta, grains etc I get two healthy extra As (which I've been using to have between 375-750ml skimmed milk a day - I love my lattes and they are one of my protein sources) and two healthy extra Bs (a wide range to choose from, but yesterday and today I had mine in the form of 35g porridge oats and two slices of wholemeal bread, I will also have houmous or nuts for one of them sometimes). I've previously calorie counted, and I like that I now don't need to weigh my "free" foods. For example, tonight we had egg fried rice for dinner (brown rice, eggs, peas, sweetcorn, soy sauce) and it was great to be able to not have to worry about the weight of everything, or the proportion of my portion size in relation to the whole recipe. Family cooking whilst calorie counting isn't always easy!

Anyway, I'm not always going to talk about Slimming World, promise, but I thought I'd mention it today. I've actually found that my meals are pretty much unchanged, the only real differences is are switching from white bread to wholemeal bread and not adding cheese to everything. My main change is when I want to snack - I've been choosing fruit over chocolate/biscuits/cake...long may it last!

Here are some of my meals from the last two days anyway...

Yesterday brunch (I had a latte first thing, then went to Slimming World meeting 9.30am-11am so this was after that) - porridge with mashed banana and peanut butter:

Pretty new bowl - £1.50 from The Factory Shop

This was actually my only Slimming World "shock" so far. You are allowed 5-15 syns a day for extra foods, and I decided to use some on peanut butter. I decided to have 1 tbsp which is 4.5 syns, but my "half a heaped spoon should equal a tbsp" actually weighed the equivalent of two tbsp...whoops!

For this morning's porridge I decided to just use half a syn for a tsp of cocoa powder, alongside the oats, milk, banana and blueberries:

Not quite as pretty, but still tasty! The SW portion for oats used to be 28g, but it has gone up recently to 35g. I used to eat 40g but I couldn't really notice the drop, this still kept me full.

I've also been eating wholemeal bread. Yesterday I had poached eggs on toast for dinner, today was an egg mayonnaise & cucumber sandwich...

Delicious, and even better when eaten outside. The weather has been gorgeous here today, so this was my "home" for a couple of hours this afternoon...

Bliss! Thank you Toby for having a nice long nap!! ;-)

I had done some kind of activity in the morning to justify my relaxing afternoon. As the title suggests, I tried out Body Balance this morning. Toby went to creche (loved it - so happy (and relieved!) that he's settled in so well!) and my sister and I went to the Body Balance class. It was...interesting. I could feel it was doing me good - my feet and calves (which are my particular problem areas) were on fire for most of it. Sarah didn't find that though so I don't know if it was just me. Haha, even standing on my tiptoes for any length of time made my calves hurt!! The instructor was a bit irritating though, but I'm guessing part of that is how the class is meant to be. For the last song of the class, we all had to lie down with our eyes closed (one lady even put a blanket over herself!) and think about "the hard ground beneath us supporting us as life will support us the more we let go". I don't know. I might give it another go as it is exactly what the podiatrist I saw recommended, but I definitely don't enjoy it as much as I did Body Pump.

Sarah and I were also planning to go to Boxercise at our local gym last night, but annoyingly they are no longer running it. (They've replaced it with a boot camp style class, shudder, we didn't go to that!!) I noticed this morning that the gym-with-creche is starting Body Combat classes (Les Mills same as Body Pump and Body Balance) mid-April so we're looking forward to giving that a try instead. Although my sister is starting her new job next week so I'll either have to go during the day (with Toby in creche) on my own, or in the evening with Sarah if the classes are late enough for Liam to get back from work first. I'm going to miss having my sister as my driving/exercise partner - I feel so much more confident driving with her in the passenger seat, and it's nice to try new classes with someone I know for the first time! She's still going to be in the same town as us though, so like I say, we'll hopefully still be able to go to evening classes sometimes.

Anyway, back to food. Whilst this new "diet" is still in the early stages, I am of course full of enthusiasm. It's nice to finally have some motivation back, I just hope it stays long enough for me to get down to a healthy BMI/weight I'm happier with. As I already mentioned, it has encouraged me to use fruit as my first choice for snacks when I want something sweet. I've been snacking on mango...

and apples...

and also iced lattes - summer's coming! For this I poured a glass of milk with ice, and then made up an "espresso shot" with two tsps of instant coffee, vanilla stevia and a little boiling water. I do also make iced coffees by brewing a pot of coffee then placing it in the fridge overnight, but this way is quicker!

Before stirring obviously!

Mmm, loved this. Iced lattes seem so much more luxurious than the hot version, even though they have exactly the same ingredients!

Finally food picture - tonight's dinner - egg fried rice:

Very simple dinner, but it is one I cook quite regularly. This and pasta with passata and frozen peas/sweetcorn are my two store cupboard staples that I cook when I'm rushed/tired (ie Fridays usually) and both are already Slimming World friendly. The only change I made to this was not using sesame oil to flavour it - just soy sauce - and then Liam added some sesame oil to his once I'd served it.

Have you ever been to Slimming World before? Or any of the other weight loss groups/communities? I did Weight Watchers when Izzy was about 10 months old - although i followed the Core plan rather than Points, so it had similar principles to Slimming World. I did actually get down to my goal weight with Weight Watchers, but then went way off track the week after getting to goal, put 6lbs back on in a week and then never went back again. I was about a stone heavier than that goal weight when I got pregnant with Toby, and then put on lots and lots during pregnancy! I've recently been using the Weight Loss Resources website to count calories, but the problem with that was I found, for me, it really all or nothing. Either I'd be counting every calorie obsessively, and having to weigh/measure every single ingredient, or I'd just give up and not even try to calorie count - eg if I went out for a meal or ate cake made by someone else (or just for days on end when I went off track!) One of the things I like about Slimming World is that, because there is a list of "free food", it is easier to deal with occasions when you don't know exactly what you are eating. For example, if we go out for dinner I can choose to have something like a tomato-based pasta dish, knowing that it's only the oil used in cooking that I need to guess the syn count for, rather than also having to guess the portion size of pasta etc to count the calories.

I do find it frustrating though. I know what I should be doing to lose weight, and a lot of me thinks I shouldn't need to go to Slimming World or the like - I should just be able to eat healthily without following set guidelines and the at the very least be able to maintain my current weight. But the fact is I don't. If I'm not following a set plan then I ate way too much - too many sugary foods but also too much of everything. Left to my own devices I constantly graze on anything I can find. And then I gain weight. I'm hoping that by following Slimming World it will help me to make "better" choices more often. I was so surprised when I chose to eat an apple this afternoon. It was just before I started cooking dinner (about an hour before we ate) so perhaps I should have just not eaten anything, but normally I pick on chocolate/nut butter/dried fruit etc etc while cooking, so a plain apple is a huge improvement!

Sorry for the mega wordy post! I know a lot of you probably aren't interested in diets (in which case, I hope for your sake that you've skim-read this post!) but I just wanted to get some of my thoughts written down. As you can see, it's still a bit of a jumble - I'm not entirely happy that it's got to the stage where I need to go to Slimming World, so I suppose a lot of this post is trying to convince myself that it's what I need to do right now. Something needed to change. I can't just keep on gaining weight. It's not healthy, and I'm fed up of it. I'm fed up of none of my clothes fitting and my joints complaining from having to carry around the extra weight. I want to be able to buy summery clothes without worrying that if they fit over one body area they'll be too tight/loose for another. My tummy is disproportionately large compared to the rest of my body at the moment so I'm hoping that as I get closer to "normal" (for me) my body shape will get more balanced again. Maybe writing it down will help me actually stick to it this time. My Mum has joined Slimming World as well - to lose a few pounds, but mainly to support me. At the very least she's useful for holding Toby while I get weighed - he tried to cling to me when I stepped on the scales yesterday, but I really don't need to add his body weight on top of my own!! ;-)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Well, this post is a day or two late but I still wanted to share the lovely day I had on Sunday. I took Sunday completely off - from blogging, from cooking, even mostly from photographing - Liam cooked all our meals for the day, and photographed most of them as well. Thanks Liam! :)

Yesterday was mostly spent attached to my Kindle. Have any of you read The Hunger Games? I'm sure some of you have as I first heard about it on blogs. I started and finished the first book on Sunday, read all of the second and 75% of the third book yesterday, and finished the third book off this morning. Whoops. I love reading, but now remember that when I'm absorbed in a book I'm pretty useless at doing anything else except the essentials!!

Back to Sunday though, as well as lots of reading, I did manage to do some other fun things that day! Liam and I have our birthdays three days apart in May, and with Liam being in a new job now, this will be the first year we haven't taken the week off work. Liam's birthday falls on a Saturday anyway, but mine will be a boring school day Tuesday, so Liam and Izzy (well, and Toby but he didn't really know what was going on) made an extra fuss of me on Sunday to make up for it. No complaints here!!

I slept in until 9am when I woke up to the smell of cooking downstairs. Liam brought me up a tray with breakfast on, whilst a very excited Izzy bounced up after him!! French toast with banana, raspberries & maple syrup, plus my usual latte:

Liam took photos before bringing breakfast up, and he liked the look of the maple syrup on the raspberries!

After breakfast it was time for presents - it really was like my birthday! As with breakfast, Liam took photos of the presents before bringing them upstairs...

Love all the artwork Izzy made at school, and Toby made the blue hands at toddler group last week!
Purple tulips are my favourite flowers :)
Pretty earrings that Izzy chose :)
Love this bowl and mug set (with Monday's breakfast) - so cute!!

So many lovely presents, thank you Izzy and Toby!! (& Liam for helping them shop!)

Mid-morning the children had a nap, which is when I started reading the Hunger Games, and before I knew it it was time for lunch! Liam cooked again, such a treat to have a day completely "off" from cooking! I do enjoy it, but it's nice to have an occasional break too. He cooked this sweet potato and egg salad (minus the chorizo) and it was delicious!

I'd cooked this once before, but it must have been over a year ago as I used chorizo that time. Just as good without - griddling the sweet potatoes with garlic added lots of flavour, and I did add a bit of ginger-mandarin salad dressing to the leaves.

After lunch it was time to meet up with more family - my Mum, Grandma and sister Sarah - to go for a walk...

and then it was time for cake! I made a lemon drizzle cake (sandwiched with lemon buttercream, topped with lemon sugar drizzle and lemon glace icing - same as for Toby's birthday and Sarah's work leaving do) as this was the popular choice, but bless Izzy - she got Liam to buy a carrot cake as well as that is mine, my Mum's and my Grandma's favourite.

I had a slice of each. The carrot cake was pretty good for a shop bought cake (it was the one from Waitrose's fresh section) but could've done with more icing, and the lemon cake is always a crowd pleaser!

I also gave my Mum a couple of presents:

A voucher to have a manicure or pedicure, and a mug I ordered from Photobox with a photo of her and her daughters on it. I was really pleased with the mug - it arrived really quickly and seems to be good quality too. The photo isn't stretched or anything which I was a bit worried about.

Back home, the children were getting a bit tired and grumpy, so we chilled out on the sofas - them watching a DVD and me reading more on my Kindle (it was addictive I tell you - a sign of a good book!), and Liam cooked dinner! He insisted he didn't need (or want) any help in the kitchen so I left him to it, bliss. He chose to cook a meal that he has cooked once before - butternut squash and goats' cheese risotto:

Yum. I never really fancy cooking risotto, but whenever I (or someone else) do cook it, I really enjoy it. Must remember that for next time!

Once we'd put the children to bed, Liam and I finished off the day by watching a DVD (Liam's choice - Green Lantern - pretty good) and sharing a cider (apple with vanilla and cinnamon - Liam thought it tasted like bubblegum!) and finishing off the cake - there was only one slice of lemon cake left sadly but I was happy to polish off the carrot cake instead!

A really great day, thanks to all who were part of it! I couldn't remember how we spent the day last year, so I looked back at my blog post from Mother's Day 2011. Liam worked 7am-5pm, I was too tired to make myself breakfast, only managed cheese on toast for lunch, and we had meat-free burgers, chips and corn on the cobs for dinner. This year was definitely a huge improvement, although both years did include time with family...and purple!! ;) In all seriousness, Liam and I are both really lucky to live close to the majority of our immediate families. It's so nice to be able to get together for coffees, chats, walks etc on a regular basis, and days like Mother's Day are a nice reminder of that...with extra cake added in as a bonus!! :)

How did you spend Mother's Day this year? Or what did you do this weekend if you didn't celebrate it? (the US don't celebrate until May I think?) I can't really remember what we did on Saturday. Not much I don't think. I made the lemon cake while Liam took the children to visit his Mum and Nan, but I can't even remember whether it was sunny enough to go out or if we stayed indoors in the rain. One of the reasons I like recording things on my blog - my memory is rubbish otherwise!!!
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