Thursday, 31 May 2012

Foodie Pen Pals May 2012


I haven't been blogging as much lately. I miss it, but we have so much packing to do that I feel guilty sitting at my laptop for long! Hopefully once we are in our new house from this weekend I will have more time to write again. I had to blog today though as today is Foodie Penpal reveal day! I'd heard about the foodie penpal swaps in the US, but it wasn't until last month that I read about the UK version on Jess' blog. You can read more details about the UK & Europe Foodie Penpals here.

This month I received my parcel from Lisa, who doesn't have a blog. Lisa was so generous and sent me some great treats:

It was all packed so neatly into the box, with even more goodies hiding underneath...

I let out an excited squeal when I saw the Urban Fruit dried cherries - my absolute favourite, and I can't buy them anywhere near me! I also adore 9Bars and Nakd bars, and have never tried the Dorset Cereal bars before but my Mum was with me when I opened the parcel and said she has had them before & loves them. Trail mix, hot chocolate powder and cashew butter too - yum! I let Izzy have the Bear yo yos and the mini muffins for her packed lunches, and she has already eaten all of those, but the rest of the treats are waiting for me at the new house. I never normally have such self-control but as I took a box of all my unopened foods round to the new house, I have had little choice but to wait to enjoy them...another thing I'm looking forward to once we're moved in!

Thanks so much Lisa, all your choices were perfect! :)

The person who I sent my parcel to, Sandra, also doesn't have a blog. I haven't heard from her since I sent the parcel a couple of weeks ago, so I hope she's received it ok! This is what I sent her:

Tea, chocolate and fudge babies...such a blogger stereotype! ;) Hope you liked everything Sandra!

And thanks to Carol Anne for organising the swap so well. If you are from the UK or Europe and want to join in you need to fill in this form before the 3rd of the month. You can also see the details of the US swap, and all of the foodie penpal reveal posts linked up at The Lean Green Bean.

Have you ever taken part in a food swap before? What type of things did/would you send? I always enjoy shopping for food swaps, but do tend to second guess myself over what things would be good to send. My swap partner doesn't like nuts and avoids added sugar (apart from her love of dark chocolate), and I was surprised by how many of the things I eat include one or both of those! It was also quite challenging to think of things that will post well - I was wary of sending things in glass jars/bottles both because of the weight and the likelihood of breakages. Although I received a glass of cashew butter and I noticed that Carol Anne received a bottle of wine all the way from the Netherlands, so maybe I need to be more adventurous next month!!!

Monday, 28 May 2012

65th Birthday BBQ

As requested, I made him lots of brownies and rocky road!

Happy Birthday Colin!

And my Grandma made him a coffee cake :)

We celebrated the special birthday a day early with a BBQ yesterday.

This was the best photo I got of Colin, ha, he does not like the camera!!



and delicious food...

...equals a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Have you had any BBQs yet this year? Favourite meat-free things to cook? This was actually our 2nd BBQ this weekend - we went to one on Friday evening as well! On Friday, my friend had only decided on a BBQ a couple of hours before, so I just took a box of veggie burgers with me. Yesterday though, Mum made stuffed peppers which were really tasty. I also just love all the salads too - the beetroot, feta and walnut one Mum made yesterday was amazing! :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

WIAW - Gardening and Swimming

Hello! Happy What I Ate Wednesday! :)

Jenn has been doing WIAW for 70 weeks now, wow, that's a lot of food that we've all enjoyed seeing...thanks Jenn!

I've decided to do a double WIAW this week as I couldn't decide between Monday or Tuesday - both great days!

First up, Monday. It started with oats in a jar for the first time in ages! Mashed banana oats in a chocolate chip peanut butter jar...simple but delicious!

As you can see, I like a little bit of porridge with my peanut butter! ;)

After the school run I had a quick coffee to wake me up a bit...

Had to fight Toby for it, but I won!!

...and then spent a couple of hours playing with the boy before he went for a nap about 11.30am. I then had a raspberry iced tea to give me a sugar boost...

...before spending a couple of hours tackling the garden. There's a reason I never normally show photos further than the decking! Before:


Not perfect, but a lot better than it was. The garden is a bit of a nightmare as there is netting under all the gravel, but weeds constantly grow up through it and then are really hard to pull out. Urgh. My legs were shaking after 2 hours so I thought I better stop as I had important plans for my legs later that day!!! ;)

I had a cider ice lolly mid-way through gardening...

And then after gardening I popped some meat-free burgers in the oven whilst I had a shower. I only came back downstairs just as the oven was beeping, so I didn't have time to come up with anything creative to have with the burgers (!) so I just topped them with smoked cheese, ketchup and munchy seeds...

Doing the gardening over lunchtime threw off my timings a bit. I was planning to add more things to my lunch, but then I realised it was already 2.30pm and I needed to have an early dinner on Monday too, not ideal! I ended up just having an orange before the school run...

which was a good thing as on the way home Izzy asked really sweetly "Mummy, why can't we go for ice cream?" and I couldn't resist! Izzy and Toby both had butterscotch ice cream:

but I chose to have a tropical "Yoggie", which inevitably they both preferred!!

This was made of frozen pineapple, kiwi, mango & melon, orange juice and frozen tasty!

Finally, just before 6pm I had a random snack plate of smoked tofu, smoked cheese, dried pineapple and dried pear...

before getting my exercise gear on and heading out a little while later... The reason my eating was off on Monday is because at 8pm I had a Body Pump class to go to! :-D My eating for the class still wasn't right, but the class itself was brilliant, sooo much better than last week!! :) I am happy to report that my legs have been slightly painful for the last 2 days (yey!), but I haven't had any pain in my arms so I think I need to up my weights for those tracks next week! It might hurt, but I love it!

After Body Pump I came home for my "proper" dinner...Liam and I ended up eating French toast at 10pm!

With banana, chocolate chips, cocoa powder and agave...delicious but more than a little too late to be eating! Next Monday I will have to make sure to be organised enough to eat lunch early and then proper dinner early too.

Moving on to yesterday, I started the day with a smoothie for me and the children. I am trying to eat up as much food in the cupboard so this had frozen mango, tinned pineapple (incl the juice), milk and coconut...

This was delicious, and made loads, so I put the rest in the fridge to drink throughout the day...

After the school run, Toby and I went straight down to the pool before I chickened out to go swimming. Toby is not the biggest fan of swimming (understatement) so we don't take him as often as we should at the weekends - he usually lasts about 15 minutes in the pool, whinging the whole time, which tends to ruin the experience for Izzy. So I have decided to take him during the week instead. It doesn't cost anything as swimming is included in my gym membership and Toby is under 3, so it doesn't matter hugely if he doesn't last long. I hadn't even imagined it would be as bad as not getting in the pool at all though! He had me worried at the beginning - I managed to get him changed, but then he crouched in the corner of the changing room refusing to move!!! I eventually persuaded him to at least come see the pool, and after sitting on the edge for a while, he eventually, thanks to some pool toys, decided to come in the water. Once he was in he loved it! It helped that the water seemed warmer than it usually is, but we ended up staying in for 45 minutes which is definitely a record for him! At first we stuck near the edge, but by the end we were in the middle of the pool with Toby splashing about. Yey! Between Body Pump on Monday night, and then swimming Tuesday morning, I had the biggest grin on my face for most of Tuesday!! :-D


After swimming, we headed home for lunch of raw carrots, houmous and more smoothie...

And for dinner I made a delicious stir fry with sesame tofu, pak choi and spring onions straight from the veg box, noodles, soy sauce and agave nectar:

This was a perfect dinner. Simple, quick to cook, fresh ingredients, and really tasty too! I'm sure I must've eaten other snacks yesterday, but my camera isn't showing them so no idea what!

What are your favourite "chores" to do outside? & what is your favourite type of exercise? I have so many housework chores that I should be doing ahead of the house move, but with the weather being so gorgeous I just want to be outside! Gardening was a good one, but today I have been mostly stuck inside sorting paperwork, boo! I did take the children outside to meet friends for a couple of hours after school this afternoon though, which was lovely, and not too hot by 4-5pm so ideal for the children to have a good run around.
As for exercise, body pump/weights all the way! My sister finds it really funny (& good!) that I say I love Body Pump, but as I pointed out to her, that is the only exercise I can really say that about - cardio, not so much! I quite like swimming, but if I could just do weights and never bother with cardio, except for walking everywhere that is, I would be much happier!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Two Weeks To Go! {Moving House}

This weekend it's almost felt like we've moved house! Although sadly it was only the tip of the iceberg...the real thing isn't happening for another 2 weeks! Let's talk about moving fuel first anyway. We've been out of the house lots, and not having a lot of time to think about cooking so meals have not been great, and lots of things have not been photographed. This is what I've got though!

Lots and lots of coffee has been needed this weekend. I've started drinking normal instant coffee which makes it a lot easier. I always used to either drink lattes using instant coffee (ie heating a mug of milk first) or use my coffee machine to make a pot. I still do prefer those ways but instant coffee is growing on me, with lots of sugar and milk of course!

Veggie Percy Pigs - as you can see by the nearly empty bag when I took the photo, I loved these! Thanks to Emma for first introducing me to them - if I hadn't seen them on her blog I'd never have gone looking for them! They have a green ear to confirm that they are veggie, cute!

Saturday lunch felt very "American" to me - tomato soup and cheese on toast grilled cheese!

I'm planning to write a post soon on a few parcels I've received recently, and one of them was from American Sweets - lots of American treats for me and Liam to enjoy! I've actually taken these, and another box full of unopened foods over to the new house already (I'm trying to make our current house look a little tidier before they start holding viewings to find new tenants!)...

...but when we were at the new house today, Toby opened one of the bars I was most looking forward to, so of course I had to eat it...

This lived up to expectations - amazing!

By the time we got home to our house this evening, it was too late, and we were too tired, to think about dinner. Takeaway curry it was! Vegetable Korma, Saag Aloo and Pilau rice, plus unpictured Naan bread & poppadoms...

I ate all this and felt so full afterwards...not the best idea - no more packing has got done tonight as all I'm capable of is lying on the sofa!! Oh well, it provided good motivation to actually write a vague meal plan of dinners for the next 2 weeks, to make sure we don't 'need' takeaway again until at least moving day!

Right, food photos over, here are a few photos I took at the new house. The main achievement today was Liam and his Dad building a fence! It went from this...

to this...

Pretty!! :)

and was clearly needed to prevent the children from going any further than this...! ;)

Liam also had plans to build a larder today, but sadly so far that has only gone from this...

to this...

It'll get there! At least he has all the wood and equipment, now he just needs to find time and someone to be his second pair of hands!

Other pictures that I randomly snapped... Please ignore the cleaning products in some of these - my Mum and sister have been doing a great job of clearing and cleaning this weekend!

Most important room is obviously the kitchen...

There will be plenty of space for our table and chairs in the kitchen too, yey, one of my "wish list" things for a house has been to fit my table in the kitchen! (and that dishwasher is another...cannot wait to not have to do washing up all the time!!)

The kitchen leads out to the garden which is another bonus of this house - much more child-friendly than our current one, and a great sun trap too! :)

There are a couple of other rooms downstairs - the "middle room" which, as we'll have our table in the kitchen, doesn't really have a purpose, and the sitting room which currently looks pretty much the same as it will when we move in - our amazingly comfy, but really old, sofas won't fit through the doors in the new house (sob!) so Mum is letting us keep the sofas that are currently there...

Upstairs we have Toby's bedroom...

Will have lots more furniture and different curtains etc when we move in

a bathroom, then Izzy's bedroom which is where we're currently storing all the boxes etc that we took up today...

Izzy happened to be wearing a tiara today (!) so loved sitting on the "princess chair", although it will actually be in our bedroom once we move in as it is Mum's and she doesn't want it getting destroyed by the children!

Our bedroom is currently the emptiest room in the house...

with a little en suite off of it - luxury!

Up some more stairs, there is the top bedroom which used to be my little sister's and will now be the spare room/toy room/place for Dad to stay when he comes to visit...

This was actually the children's favourite room to play in today - they loved the soft toys in the corner!

Right, that is house photos done for today I think! Apologies if they don't really interest you...I am super excited (if also slightly panicked!) about the move so photos of the moving process and/or finished rooms may crop up a few more times! ;) But in 2-3 weeks we will hopefully be all settled in and back to normal!

What is your favourite room in your house? Or the most important room on a house "wish list"? Definitely the kitchen for me. I remember when we moved house quite a few times as a child, having a big kitchen was always a priority for Mum - to the extent that she knocked through walls a few times to get more kitchen space! Since leaving home, I've never had a kitchen big enough to fit a table in before, so I am really looking forward to that. It will be so nice to be able to cook while the children do colouring at the table etc, and I'm also looking forward to having a dishwasher for the first time - hate hate hate doing washing up!!
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