Diet and nutrition, Uncategorized

Chopped Salads… 

I try my very hardest to eat healthy and cleanly as much as I can, of course it’s more difficult when you are out or busy but on the whole we eat a good healthy diet… this is a difficult thing to do when you have a large family of picky eaters.  Getting my two youngest children to eat well is a challenge, I believe in never forcing them to eat, but I do try and encourage them to try something, sometimes they love it, like Florrie with fresh peas at the farm when we were picking them,  she took one taste and loved them, but when I was spiralizing the carrots she asked to taste them and hated them straight away, the face she pulled was quite funny.  I have discovered recently that their best meal of the day is breakfast, they love fresh eggs fried with coconut oil every morning, and now we get freshly laid eggs from our neighbor next door, they are delicious, they love strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and watermelon, they love smoothies and homemade pancakes, Jamie Oliver’s one cup recipe, so simple and quick, they will eat these until the cows come home, they are also delicious when you swap the flour out for a gluten free flour too. I try most days to make breakfast their most important meal of the day as they eat really well, then I feel there  is not so much pressure for the rest of the day as I know they have eaten one good meal that day.


Lunch is another meal I kind of miss with,  it’s usually just me I’m making lunch for, my babies are happy to graze after a large breakfast, I kind of always fail for myself.  I make fresh salads for Paul and Mabel, but I always forget myself… I’ve come up with a new plan, Salad lunch prep for the week, I will make enough basic salad for a week, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and scallions,  a tip I have just learnt is to line your containers with kitchen roll paper to absorb the moisture, then daily using leftovers from dinner change each salad up daily, today we will be having a lemon rosemary roasted chicken, I’m having shrimp, with a kale Cesar salad and tortilla wraps, so I’ll shred some chicken, or add shrimp and add it to the salad and bake a couple of wraps to crisp them up to add to the salad… I’m hoping this will keep me on track instead of snacking with my children.  

I have recently discovered I absolutely love chopped salad, we have had it before a few years ago, recipes from Jamie Oliver again, but I really hadn’t thought about chopping every salad we have until I visited a new salad place that has just opened in a local town, in Chopt you pick your salad then they ask if you want it chopped up, Kale Cesar salad with tofu totally chopped up and it was totally delicious.  I thought I’d try it out on my family… huge success, they prefer their salad ingredients chopped up, but as you can imagine chopping 8 salads is very time consuming, each person likes certain things in their salads, so I’ve been tossing salad ingredients into separate bowls then emptying the bowls onto a board and finely chopping them… until last night when I came up with the genius idea of the food processor, you can start with the harder veggies like carrot and broccoli, pulse them a couple of times then add the rest of the salad ingredients, it worked perfectly, and it was a lot quicker, you just have to clean up the food processor bowl and blade, but not too bad.  So my chopped salads have been a huge success, my family are enjoying them so much they are saying they do not need the carbs along with their protein just the salad it’s so filling… My only problem now is how much Salad veggies I am getting through, but at least everyone is eating their greens, well except for one extremely picky eater, who likes everything as plain as it can be.


I’ll leave you on a sweet note… I was visiting friends for lunch yesterday, I usually take desert with us, but I’ve been in search for healthier sweet treats, some I’ve made have been ok, but just not quite right, yesterday I came across this recipe for Lemon coconut muffins, they were healthier because the sugar was very low, and could easily be swapped out for honey, or some other healthy substitute, they contained coconut oil and yogurt, I think they would even be good with gluten free flour instead of all purpose flour… they were a huge success both at lunch and at home, but be warned if you try these at home, the batter is extremely thick, she does say that on the recipe, but I was surprised at just how thick it was, I added a little more coconut milk just to loosen it a little… but despite that they will definitely be something I will be making again and again.


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Christmas time…


Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide  carols being sung by a choir, and folks dressed up like Eskimos… this is my vision of Christmas, growing up I loved to listen to Nat King Cole sing this song on our record player… we always had Christmas with family ate a huge roast turkey dinner, with Brussels sprouts (which I hated by the way… what was I thinking), drank snowballs, a treat as it contained a little alcohol… shhh don’t tell anyone, and opened presents all day long, or at least that is what it felt like back then.

 Now I’m an adult I love the tradition of Christmas but I also love to be different, a few years ago we took our family to Florida and California for Christmas, oh how magical it was… there is nothing like Christmas Day in Disneyland, Christmas music blasting out everywhere you go, decorations like you can only imagine and children running around in pure delight… I haven’t mentioned the torrential rain, the sea of ponchos and the crowds, because I didn’t see any of that… it was pure magic in my eyes and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Boxing Day was much slower, sunshine, swimming and drinking cocktails in an adirondack chair in Downtown Disney with Silver Bells being sang away in the distance… my brother could never quite see the vision of a Christmas not spent at home, but to me Christmas is exactly what you make it whether at home or away… I’m hoping his Christmas cruise this year will let him see my vision of A magical Christmas no matter where you are.


Santa Monica Pier, CA … Christmas 2005


Disneyland, Anaheim CA… Christmas Day 2005

This year was much more traditional for us… a few years ago we decided that we would put names of all the older members of our family in a jar, this included Paul and I, my Mum and Dad too this year… each person only bought for the name that came out of the jar, and we set a budget to spend too, this didn’t include Blu, Mabel and of course Florrie and Tate, they still got presents from everyone.  It gets harder and harder each year to think of presents for everyone, we all buy everything we need all year, life is so much more different from when I was growing up, we all have phones, laptops, clothes, toys that we just buy all year, so how do we make it special for that person we are buying gifts for… well the name in the jar gives you the opportunity to really think about that person, I must admit I was not very good this year but Jordan who pulled ‘Mom’ out of the jar really thought about what I might like, we had a little Antique shopping afternoon, he walked silently with me and just observed all the things I touched and loved… I was so delighted with his gifts he really put thought into each one… Kit Kats and mini Twix bars, because he knows they are my favorite, natural face wipes and Lush complexion soap, all natural just the way I like it, then my favorite and Florries too an old typewriter, taking me straight back to my childhood… he then gave me a card with money in it, just in case I didn’t like anything… well guess what Jord, your gift was so thoughtful, I love it… thank you ❤️

I am not usually a fan of going to the shops on Christmas Day, those poor people that have to work instead of being home with their families, but I was naughty this year, I’ve been running around so much organizing the day an hour in Starbucks with just my Mum seemed the perfect way to wind down before the festivities began, so that is exactly what we did…

Of course I can’t be too traditional, so I added a spin on the food… with our Thanksgiving feast just a few weeks ago I decided to change things up for Christmas… an Aussie style BBQ for breakfast, eggs, sauasages and warm bread, of course there was some smoked salmon too, then later in the day we had a gigantic charcuterie board, baked ham and fresh cooked dill butter salmon, cheesecake, mince pies and lots of chocolate… all of my favorite things… and as it turned out everyone else’s too!


After presents were opened, food was eaten we drank the best mulled wine I have ever had, made by Jord courtesy of Jamie Oliver and everything was cleared away, we opened the game Dom had bought us all… there is nothing like a good game of Cranium to inspire the creativity in you, or not in my case… we drew, acted, thought a little and drank more alcohol, ate more chocolate but mostly we just spent time with each other… peace, love ❤️ and happiness.

Photographic diary

The making of a Christmas card…

Well the forecast is COLD COLD COLD next week as the polar artic blast is set to freeze our socks off… but the weather has been very mild up until now, so mild in fact that we even managed a Fall trip to the beach…

The beach… that is when I decided I needed a mini Christmas card photo session… I love to be non-traditional at this time of year, I love the idea of cards set in something you would not necessarily think of as Christmas, with a little twist… so I planned outfits and simplistic prop and off we went…


It was so mild my children even decided to take a quick dip, I freaked out thinking the water would be freezing, but after a little investigation I agreed with them the water was very pleasant and kind of warm.  It was a good job I had packed several outfit changes as Tate was having so much fun at the waters edge he fell over flat on his face and got soaked… Mommy to the rescue, quick change into dry clothes before he got cold, then he was up and running around again.


I love the beach when it is quiet, the waves crashing in and the sand stretching for miles shining in the sunshine… I was expecting a very empty beach when we arrived but we were surprised to find a lot of people had had the same idea, and who could blame them, it’s not often you get a lovely day at the beach this near to Christmas… oh to live in a warm climate all year round near the beach… that’s what dreams are made of.


As I’ve got older I’ve learnt to appreciate the simple things in life… I’m in the process of decluttering my life and so with that in mind I wanted my card to be simple, no fancy Christmas colors, just shades of white to match the sand, sea and sky, a very simplistic prop was all I needed to highlight the time of year and it was done. (Gorgeous dress by Mini Boden and the cutest boys clothes by ZARA)

Now I consider myself to be very lucky to have two of the very best models around, they love the beach so I just let them do their thing and snapped away, I think it came out pretty well considering my amateur photographer status.  

Some of you may ask ‘why are only two of your children on the card?’ Well the answer is simple, most of my children hate having their photos taken, Mabel said if she was around she would have loved to have been in the photo, but she is a social butterfly these days and so she was out with her friends on this day out at the beach… you have to take what you have been given and in this case I think I was very lucky to have these two beautiful babies let me take photographs of their day at the beach.


Happy Holidays xxx xx xxx

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‘Joy to the World…’

I always feel that this time of year is chaotic, the shops are full of crazy people filling their carts with anything and everything they can find, they spend as much money as they can on their loved ones… well my friends that used to be me, but not this year, I’m simplifying my life, I have set a limit for each child, all year they get things they need, I do not need to break my bank account to prove I love them with gifts and possessions, there are more important things in life like experiences, family time and love.


I want to teach my children about giving, not just about receiving, I want them to learn that this season is not just about what they want or need.  I don’t think anyone of my children actually need anything, they are loved, we live in a nice house that has running water, heat and a new kitchen (wink, wink), each one of them has a closet filled with clothes and we eat good healthy meals, most of the time, anyway.  In addition to all of the basics of life we have phones, iPads, computers and a lot of the luxuries in life many people just dream of… so I ask myself what can I really buy each of them that they don’t already have in one form or another…


What we do need from time to time is a vacation, not just a trip away but a vacation from just our day to day life, a day trip to the zoo, an hour in a coffee shop sipping a hot drink and just talking to each other, or even a longer stay in a new place, somewhere to rewind, relax and recharge… and all these things are really what Christmas should be about, not who spent the most money.


My plan this year is not to get stressed, my two younger children have been told Santa can only give five presents to each child, big or small, so Florrie wants a Baby Alive doll, Baby Alive diapers, a kitten… and then she struggles to think of anything else, Tate wants a Tonka cement truck, that is all… so really five gifts each is more than enough.  My teenage daughter’s list is the most difficult and the longest, trying to make her understand has proved the hardest, her list of four makeup products is $200 in itself, that’s without the rest of the list, usually I would stress myself out getting every item on her list but this year she has had to prioritize the things she wants most, and Blu is easy, computer games, a couple of items of clothes, even an IOU for future games that are coming out next year and he’s done.


As for my older children, well a few years ago we all decided to put names in a hat and just buy one larger gift for the name you pulled out, at first I was opposed to this but as time has gone on it has simplified my Christmas a little so I just have to think about Lewis this year, of course he is the most difficult to buy for, I just need a few hints… now if I can ignore everyone else asking me for ideas for their person it will be truly easier for me to concentrate on my one present I have to buy.

We will also be donating a gift this year at our local library, I feel we are truly blessed and there are so many people out there who are not as fortunate as our family… whatever your plans this Christmas, just remember the most important part of this festive time of year is spending time with your loved ones, not money, and if you can’t get that most wanted gift it really doesn’t matter, it will all be forgotten this time next year and they will want something else… just have FUN 🎄🎄🎄

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Anything your heart desires 💟

I cannot believe it has taken me so long to get my self organized, I’m not fully there yet, but I’m getting there.  Yesterday was the first time in a very long time that I got to sit down in a reasonably clean and tidy house and watch tv, I caught up on the show Welcome back Potter, Tate slept on my lap, Florrie was playing at her friends house across the garden from us, Paul was working and everyone else was out… peace and quiet time just for me… that is exactly what getting myself organized is all about.


I have realized I am just not happy and contented in disorganized chaos, I have no time as I’m always feeling there is something to do, which there normally is, but right now I’m content to look at toys sitting there as I know it’s a five minute job to clear it up, I’m happy to do my laundry as I’m so organized there is only a tiny pile, washed, dried and put away each day.  I have a lot to still do, but I can feel my house slowly returning to my true self.


My biggest problem is training my older children, shoes and clothes left anywhere and everywhere, food remnants scraped from their plates left in the sink… am I being too picky here? they are putting their plates in the dishwasher after all, but the clothes and shoes drive me crazy.  Florrie has discovered she likes things tidy and is my biggest helper, she loves emptying the dishwasher and knows exactly where everything goes, she loves cleaning, sweeping and mopping the floors, she could teach my older children a thing or two.


Anyway, the point of my story, enough of this rambling… I’m so organized this year I’ve actually organized my Christmas cards, they were ordered, printed and have arrived and it’s not even the middle of November yet, now this may seem pretty normal to all my organized friends out there, but to me it’s just so impressive, I am giving myself a huge pat on the back for this one… now all I’ve got to do is address the envelopes and mail them in good time for Christmas… fingers crossed I can get this done on my new organized schedule 🎅 

I think when all is said and done we can all change who we are, who we have been our whole lives it just takes a little work and belief in yourself that you can do it… I’ve even managed to fit in yoga and meditation into my busy schedule, I love it and hope I can continue the way things are right now.

Have faith, peace and love in your life and you can achieve anything your heart desires 💟

Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Summer is drawing to an end…

Well who agrees with me, Summer went so fast… One minute my children were finishing school and we were all looking forward to switching off our alarms and laying in bed in the mornings with no real plans for the day, then just like that it’s August, back to alarms as Heat Week kicked off, then early morning soccer practice every day, followed by thoughts of school buses, school supplies and back to school haircuts.

Summer for us always begins early, we are so lucky to have good friends with a beautiful pool… Once the weather turns and Spring is in full bloom, we are in the pool, and this has become over the years a big part of our Summer fun.  We usually visit two or three times a week, sometimes we stay for a BBQ too, but this year it’s been much more difficult to juggle with our kitchen renovation, we’ve managed it somehow and it has been so worth it, Florrie is now swimming without her armbands and Tate has gained so much confidence it’s crazy, he loves jumping in now and going under, it’s a pleasure to watch them.

 

We kicked off our Summer with some fruit picking at a local farm, it was a hot and dusty day, but we all had fun, ate way too many raspberries and Florrie discovered she loved fresh peas straight out of the pod… This made me very happy.

When we arrived in England earlier this year we discovered everyone was drinking Prosecco, what? It had become a craze, and I’m not going to lie we thought it was crazy, but as in all crazes we got hooked on our return home, this Summer has become a Summer of drinking Prosecco on the deck, with no kitchen to speak of we have grilled and grilled on our brand new BBQ and drunk copious bottles of Prosecco.


  

We Spent our Fourth of July at our friends pool, we had a BBQ too, then grabbed our suitcases and caught our late flight Down to Jacksonville, Florida for our 10 day vacation.  First stop the beautiful town of Saint Augustine, it was VERY hot, extremely picturesque and so busy, but we had a fantastic time, our condo was beautiful, the pool was warm and it was so much fun to swim every evening before dinner.  Next stop a flying visit to Daytona Beach on our way to Orlando, home to the Happiest place on earth… Disney World, it was extremely hot 103f, extremely busy but it was so magical to watch Florrie and Tate’s faces take in the whole experience that is Disney.  The first of our two days in Orlando was spent in Magic Kingdom and the second was spent in a slightly quieter Hollywood Studios, both very full long days, two days was more than enough time for me in theme parks, next year I’m taking a year off from them completely.


On our return from Florida the kitchen renovation kicked up a notch, permits were attained and contractors began to arrive, also Summer Birthday Season began with Jordan’s 26th celebration, a quiet one at home, followed by Farrel’s 22nd, Mabel’s 15th and Blu’s 17th Birthdays.  Farrel was flying to Arizona on his special day, so we had a Birthday Starbucks for breakfast before he left, then Both Mabel and Blu had soccer practice on their Birthdays so we celebrated around the coming and going that is August Soccer, Mabel with Hibachi and Blu with smokin BBQ.  Mabels friends also organized a surprise Beach party for her, which of course involved some parent help too… The sun shone, Mabel was totally surprised and had a fantastic time.

The first week in August came and it meant that my Mum was going home, with kitchen contractors in most days it was difficult to get out and make the most of her last few days here.  We did manage an afternoon at Dingmans Falls, it was a beautiful stroll through cool woodland, the Falls were relaxing to say the least.  The first weekend of August was Lumineers weekend, 6 tickets were purchased for the Stone Pony concert arena in Asbury Park, our car was loaded with beach stuff and people, the day did not disappoint even though we got absolutely soaking wet when a short heavy storm came in. I sat in the outdoor free concert on the beach with my Mum, Florrie and Tate, whilst the others all stood for hours and watched the show from inside the outdoor arena.


The last part of the Summer has been quiet for us, lots of swimming in the pool, eating Rita’s custard ice happiness, Florence’s absolute favorite, soccer practice, dinners with friends, contractors coming and going, trips to IKEA for kitchen parts, family BBQ and prosecco time on the deck, the Great British Bake Off on a Sunday evening, shopping with Dom for vacation clothes, including lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, Moms Taxi rides and let’s not forget the Sunflower Maze, a family tradition for us year after year, we love the sunflowers and getting lost in the maze, it’s always so hot in there so of course after numerous photos being taken I bribe Florrie with ice cream for just a few more shots, it works and I snap a few more before we buy sunflowers to take home and head off in the direction of something cooler.

…And that was our Summer 2016, almost over for another year, just a few more things to do on this holiday weekend. ✨

Photographic diary, Uncategorized

A much needed vacation…

We have been back from our vacation for a week now and I am ready for my next one… Seriously you don’t realize you need to get away from life until you actually do it!


The problem with a vacation is its never long enough, Saint Augustine, Florida 2016 flew by… It took a lot of organization getting all 8 of us on the plane, settled in our condo, driving around in our rental cars and then onto Disney World… I was a tad frazzled by the time we parked our car at the airport on Monday evening, I had been packing, organizing and checking everything was in place for our trip away, it took me quite a few days to relax and enjoy.

 
We were very lucky our condo was fantastic, it was set in beautiful grounds with a gorgeous pool.  Historic Saint Augustine was a 20 minute drive away, well worth the visit, we chose to ride the trolley car, just so we could see everything in the extreme heat wave that was happening whilst we were there, although I have to say riding the trolley car to get around and see everything wouldn’t have been my choice had it not been so hot, I love taking photos and this method of being a tourist is very restrictive for someone with a love of photography.

Not to sound like a tourist guide, but if you ever get the chance to go to Saint Augustine Florida take it, but be sure to avoid July and August, it’s hot and crowded, it is truly beautiful though!
I had planned our vacation with a trip to Orlando, specifically Disney World, this was such a mistake, in hindsight we should have done this first, it was so busy and so hot it was exhausting, we needed a vacation from our two days in Disney.  I love all things Disney, unfortunately some people in our party didn’t feel the same, it was hot crowded, but in my mind Disney is where we all become children again and seeing Florence and Tate’s faces were just the most magical experience in themselves… It was worth every moment of the heat and the crowds…

On our last day in Orland we chose a slightly quieter option, when I say slightly I mean very slightly… Hollywood Studios was our destination for the day.  We got to sit down in the cool quite a lot which was a bonus and we got front row seats for the excellent Beauty and the Beast show, being a huge fan this was so magical and to just watch Florries face was just amazing.


The question now is ‘where shall we go to next?’

Happy Summer everyone 😍