Friday, 29 June 2012

Foodie Pen Pals June 2012

This was my second month taking part in Foodie Pen Pals. You can read more about it on This Is Rock Salt's blog, and in case you missed it, this is the blog post I wrote about what I received last month. I was lucky enough to receive another great parcel this month, this time from Beth who writes at Unearth Your Potential.

I put the poster up in the kitchen immediately - it shows all the fruit and veg in season each month...really interesting and the children love it - Toby keeps pointing at it whenever we enter the room!

The first food I opened up was the pack of tamari garlic rice cakes. These were delicious and so moreish! I was hoping to keep these to myself but my Mum looked after the children for me that afternoon and they each had one...well after that the rice cakes had no chance, between the 3/4 of us they were gone within a couple of days!

These are only about 30 calories each so are perfect for a late afternoon snack. I have a bad habit of eating whilst I'm cooking dinner, and then ruining my appetite, so these work well to keep my tastebuds happy without filling my tummy too much - must buy some more!

Next I ate the Nakd lemon raisins. I've actually tried the pineaplle version of these and wasn't too keen - I can't remember if it was the flavour or that fact that the raisins weren't juicy enough. Either way, the lemon ones were completely different - I loved them! The lemon flavour was much stronger and the raisins were lovely and plump...another must buy again soon! :)

The final food I photographed separately was another huge success - Happy Kitchen pecan brownie:

The photo doesn't do this justice as I ate it late at night, but it was truly amazing. I absolutely adored the texture of the brownie - really soft and almost truffle like. I immediately looked up where I could buy them from and Goodness Direct stock them. The pecan version is temporarily unavailable, but they also sell chocolate raspberry and chocolate orange versions, as well as plain chocolate.

I haven't tried the puffed spelt, white chocolate chips or tea bags yet, but we are working our way through the bag of little hazelnut biscuits. Izzy has been taking a couple to school in her lunch box some days, and I have been crumbling them on top of yoghurt. Yum! Thanks again Beth for everything you sent me, I'm so happy to have found some new-to-me products that I now love! :)

I sent my parcel to another blogger this month, Charlotte at Gin Fuelled Blue Stockings. She hasn't written about the swap yet, but I'm looking forward to reading what she thought of the things I sent her!

Interested in joining in with the foodie penpal swap next month? You can read more about it and sign up here. You need to fill in the form by July 3rd to join in with the July swap. I'm really glad I've signed up for it, I enjoy shopping for someone else and also receiving new things in the post - a great way to discover foods you might not have otherwise tried!

Right, time to get off the laptop and start packing! I'm off to London first thing tomorrow morning so I won't be posting again til next week. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

This Week: Food and Exercise

So, yesterday I told you about all the family fun we've been having recently, now it's time to talk about the food and exercise!

This might be a bit of a random post - I want to have a "clean slate" before I go to London for the weekend (eeek! Excited!!) but I will try to only post the highlights rather than everything little thing I've eaten!!

Right, let's go! This first meal was what I ate before Boot Camp this time last week. I've started getting better at eating my main meal two hours before the class, and then I just have some kind of snack when I get back home. This meal was a good one as it was all cooked on one tray - less clean up! :)

Two meat-free burgers with goats cheese put on top for the last minute or two of cooking, plus roasted courgette coins...and ketchup!

Friday included a whole box of baklava, minus about 3 pieces that I let Toby have...

but I balanced it out with lots of cute peaches - who needs cake when you have summer fruit to put on your cake stand! :)

I made an easy, but really tasty dinner with these...

Mozzarella, emmental, goats cheese, roasted peppers and tinned pineapple for the girls, the same minus the pineapple for the boring boys! To be fair, Toby would have happily had pineapple, but he was sharing one of Liam's!

Mmmm, oooey gooey cheesy pizza that I can pretend is slightly more healthy than normal! ;)

And the reason for the easy meals and extra sugar? This was Toby at 9.15pm on Friday night...

Awww! Luckily a few nights after thi the novelty of his "big boy bed" wore off, but we went through about a week of him waking up 2 hourly during the night and running into our room each time, just so that one of us could walk him back to bed...hence we decided to move the stairgate to his bedroom door!!!

Saturday was the day of the family fun day, but I didn't show you the amazing sandwich I had first - emmental cheese, fig preserve and fried eggs...divine!

Every weekend we have the "battle" of what type of eggs to have - Liam prefers poached eggs (and apparently doesn't like fried or scrambled!) whereas Izzy and I would both rather have fried egg sandwiches - normally we give in to Liam but this time we "won", yey! Toby doesn't like eggs at all, weirdo! ;-)

It seems that since the weekend I've got lazy about taking photos of my meals. I've actually been eating quite well, and I'm sure I had to taken photos of some of them, but the only photos left seem to be let's go with that!

Strawberries with dark chocolate dreams...planning to stock up on more of this in Wholefoods at the weekend! :-D

Mashed avocado with tortilla chips...

Raw-bite bar from Maria - this was like a chunky Nakd bar, really good! Thank you :)

White Reese's Cups from an American food order I did a while ago. I wasn't overly convinced by these - they were ok, but I definitely prefer the milk and dark versions - the peanut butter in these seemed so salty compared to the sweet white chocolate!

Speaking of Reese's, look what my Dad gave me on Wednesday! He got back from a business trip to America at the weekend and managed to fulfil my request for peanut buttery goods! :) This was the first "test" of his grocery shopping time I'll send him searching for Justin's nut butter! ;)

Thanks Dad! :)

Shall we end with something slightly healthier...I bought a carton of Almond milk last week (£1 per carton in Tesco!) and have been making lots of smoothies with it. This one was just frozen strawberries, frozen banana and almond refreshing!

I also nearly forgot - the title mentions exercise doesn't it! I've had a few good workouts this week. On Monday I went to Body Pump and, as I'd seen that quite a few of you had had the new release, I asked the instructor about it before class. We're not getting the new release til the 7th July (but I'm missing it next Monday anyway so I'm quite glad I'm not missing the first week of it) but instead he did a mix of tracks from all the old releases. Omigosh it was so difficult! The triceps track and lots of lunges using the barbell were especially killer! And then on Tuesday I went to a new spin class, taught by the same instructor, and that was also a lot harder than I'm used to - pretty much all high resistance, no hovering, just switching from fast sitting to fast standing and back again. My poor legs!!! I then had yesterday off and tonight I went to my usual Boot Camp class which was good but not as difficult as the start of the week! No more exercise now until Tuesday, but I'm sure we'll be doing lots of walking around London.

Oh and one final thing, today this arrived for me...

I finally got round to phoning to upgrade my iPhone on Tuesday, and 2 days later it arrived! It would have actually been here yesterday but there was an issue with which address they could send it to. Transferring all my photos, contacts, calendar notes etc over from my old iPhone 3gs to the new iPhone 4s was really easy too - thanks to iCloud (which automatically backs everything up every night) all my settings were restored in 6 minutes - the new phone even has the same background image and remembers my web history etc! I was very impressed, so much easier than the lengthy process that backing up via iTunes on the laptop used to be! It does mean that my new phone doesn't seem all that different to my old one, but the key difference is battery life. My old phone had got so bad that I didn't dare take a photo or send a text after 50% battery...on Wednesday it even died at 79% which then meant I was without a phone whilst I was out on Wednesday morning, which I hate incase school need to contact me about Izzy. So I am very happy to have a reliable phone again...ramble over!!

What type of phone do you have? What do you most use it for? I rarely play games on my phone (unlike Liam who seems to spend most of the time in some alternate reality game!!), but I do use it a lot for internet (checking email, reading blogs...) and for taking photos if I'm out without my camera. I send texts a lot more than I make calls, but if I do make calls I tend to use my mobile even when I've got a perfectly good house phone! It's kind of scary how quickly technology becomes part of your life...I remember when my old iPhone broke a few months ago so I didn't have a phone for a couple of weeks (well, I borrowed my Mum's old brick after day 2) it was horrible - I was very glad the switch over was so instantaneous today!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Family Fun

Hello! It feels like ages since I last sat down to write a blog post! As the title suggests, we have been busy having lots of 'family fun'...

First, on Saturday, our town's actual "family fun day". I wrote about this last year too, it is an afternoon of craft, cake and fun that is funded by one of the local churches. Izzy looks forward to it each year - she loves it!

This year Izzy managed to do every single craft activity they had going...

Aquariam paper plate
Biscuit decorating (not surprisingly, her favourite from last year!)
Paper fan

plus there were also a couple of origami projects - a frog and a heart - that escaped the camera. As if that wasn't enough, she was also sent home with the kit to make her own braided bracelet, as she ran out of time to do it there!

The moment she happily realised how to do it herself! It was quite a clever template involving counting 3 threads along, tucking under, repeated many many times!!

Toby was happy that there was lots of food - lots and lots of cake...

Ice cream (that my friend bought for her child who then decided he didn't want it - this was the one thing you had to pay for and I'm clearly a mean Mummy!!)...

Bacon rolls...Liam ended up eating 2.5/3 of these so he was very glad he hadn't been cheeky and got one "for" me too!!

And he also decorated a biscuit too - as you can see he was very eagar to eat it!!

Finally, before we went home we visited the balloon man. A dog for Toby...

and a 3-balloon flower for Izzy...

Izzy also got a little flower painted on her arm. Another example of my "mean-ness" is that, when there were so many other things to do and she'd just had her face painted a week or two before, I didn't let her stand in the really long queue for (admittedly free) face painting. Luckily for Izzy, one of the ladies who was running it recognised Izzy from toddler group years back, and insisted she jump the queue for a quick paint. Slightly embarrassing but very sweet, and Izzy's arm went perfectly with the flowers we passed on the way home...

Such a great day again this year! We were really lucky with the weather too - the rain held off until about an hour after the event finished, phew!

Sunday was more fun with family (and more sunshine!) at Liam's Auntie's house - she held a BBQ to celebrate one of Liam's cousin's birthdays. Weirdly, when I was looking back at last year's post above, this same weekend last year was also the family fun day on the Saturday and then Ben's birthday BBQ on the Sunday! Anyway, the thing Izzy was most looking forward to was the trampoline, so she made a beeline for it as soon as we arrived...

Izzy soon convinced Liam's other cousin, Mat, to join in - he is always so great with the children :)

Toby surprised us by absolutely hating the trampoline, but luckily he was kept entertained and fascinated by the little pond...

So Liam and I had time to eat, win! Liam had the usual meaty BBQ food, whilst I stuck to the salads - two plates of salad (potato, coleslaw, waldorf and rice...I somehow skipped the green, whoops!), plus a cheese roll with the first plate...

and then birthday cake and many unpictured chocolate fingers, ha, Liam's Auntie kept refilling my glass of Pimms so by this time I was super snacky!

Final bit of "family fun" (I promise!) has been this evening, as my baby sister is currently at her end of GCSEs prom! We went round to Mum's house for a few photos before heading down to the seafront where the entire year group met up to check out each other's outfits/have a huge official group photo taken. After Livs went off to the prom, Liam joined us after work and the four of us plus my Mum, Dad and other sister went to a local cafe for hot chocolates and cheesy chips, yum! I'd had enough of taking photos by that stage though - I snapped so many of Livs and her friends on the seafront, plus quite a few group photos at the house. I haven't had time to sort through them yet, and I'm going to leave most of that to Livs anyway, so I will just share a few photos - one of the prom girl in her lovely custom-made dress...

one of the 3 sisters...

and an actual nice photo of me and the children, with us all looking at the camera and smiling, yey - this never happens!! ;)

Right, that is us all caught up on the family photos I think. I have obviously also been doing lots of eating this week and, for me, a fair bit of exercise but I will leave all that for another post as this one is already super long!

Did your school have a prom when you were younger? My school didn't have a prom at 16, but when I went to a boarding school for my A-levels we had 3 balls a year. I tended to just buy my dresses from high street shops (and then *gasp* wear them to more than one ball!) - I was never much into fashion, whereas Livvy knew exactly what she wanted her dress to look like and luckily the local dressmaker was able to make it happen. Hopefully she'll be off having a fantastic time as I write this :)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Father's Day Weekend {Better Late Than Never}

Believe it or not we actually celebrated Father's Day early this year - last Saturday instead of's just taken me a while to blog about it! Better late than never though right, the food was delicious so I definitely wanted to share! :)

My Dad came down on the Friday night and my Mum babysat so that Dad, my two sisters, Liam and I could go out for a meal. Dinner at the local Indian restaurant first. I've been in a bit of a rut when we've ordered curry recently - always ordering two veggie side dishes, but this mushroom biryani was a really nice change and not at all greasy, perfect!

Followed by lots of Pimms & lemonade while watching England vs Sweden. Liam and I have got into the bad habit of buying jugs of Pimms when we go out. We buy a round or two of normal drinks first, and then get through two jugs of Pimms between just the two of us. Considering Mum likes us home by 10pm when she babysits I think we're drinking a bit too fast, but seeing as we go out less than once a fortnight it's not too bad I guess! Pimms = Summer though - love!

On the Saturday morning, Dad looked after Izzy and Toby so that Liam and I could clear the garden in the old house. We then rushed home to shower before heading out for lunch with three Dads - Liam...

my Dad...

and my Grandpa...

As soon as I looked at the menu I was very happy. We'd originally chosen the pub/restaurant as it has a good outdoor play area for the children, but the weather wasn't exactly outdoors weather last weekend! The menu had been recently revamped though so we were pleased with our choice anyway. For my main I had a mushroom "burger" with goats cheese and onion marmalade. I loved the presentation of this - the wooden boards even had a hole cut out ready for a mug of chips!

I gave Toby the top of my bun as it was huge and I needed wanted to save room for pud. The mushroom was really tasty but, even for a goats cheese lover like me, the log of goats cheese was a bit too thick - definitely the dominant flavour!

As good as the main course was, the thing I was most looking forward to was dessert - as soon as we'd sat down I'd spotted exactly what I was going to have...

As intriguing as the pineapple dish looked, it was the dark chocolate and salted caramel torte that was for me - homemade peanut butter ice cream, yes please!

Again, I really liked the presentation of this - the new menu is definitely a step up from the standard pub grub they used to serve!

The chocolate torte was nice, but nothing amazing, and the caramel sauce could have done with more salt. The best components were definitely these...

I don't actually like praline chocolates so wasn't expecting much from the praline dust, but it was lovely - like fine breadcrumbs of caramel. The peanut butter ice cream, thankfully, lived up to my expectations - so good!

All in all a really good meal with lots of family - both my sisters, my Dad, my Grandma and Grandpa, Liam and the children. We had planned to do it all again on the Sunday with Liam's family - but for a whole day trip to Lyme Regis this time. In the end, however, I decided to stay at home with Toby as he can get a bit difficult being in big crowds for that long and it would have made the day not-so-enjoyable for everyone. I was glad we'd made that decision when Izzy and Liam got home - they'd had a great day, but were out the house from 10am-6pm! Liam took the camera with him but forgot to take many pictures with it. They went for breakfast in Lyme Regis and then pub lunch in Uplyme, then back to Lyme Regis for ice cream! Liam did get a photo of the 4th Dad of the weekend - my Father-in-Law, Terry...

and also a photo of Izzy - she had a fantastic day being the centre of attention, ha, the benefit of being the only child there - she was thoroughly spoilt by her Grandparents and Auntie!! :)

While they were out for the day, Toby and I had lots of fun playing in the garden and having a "disco" (his two favourite things to do at the moment!), and when he napped I made brownies - can't have a celebratory weekend without brownies! :)

Yum. I actually managed to resist eating more than one or two of these, which meant they lasted all week for Liam and Izzy to take in their packed lunches too - a great portable treat! :)

Did you do anything to celebrate Father's Day last weekend? Have you ever had peanut butter ice cream? We are going to London a week today (eek!) - we haven't made many plans as yet, which is starting to worry me, but I have been making a list of whenever people mention eating in places in London - most of them seem to be fro yo or ice cream so hopefully we'll at least have lots of tasty treats, can't wait! :)
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