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Project runway…

I am going to mumble on today about a few of my favorite new foods we have tried recently… The first and my most favorite is a new salad mix from Costco, I am totally in love with this one, but unfortunately I have not been able to get it now for 2 weeks… Boo hoo! It is a super food salad made up of kale, shredded brussel sprouts and other great green leafy veggies, you add to that dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a poppy seed dressing… I am telling you, it is out of this world delicious!

Another first try for us is the puffed and lightly sweetened rice rolls from Trader Joes, OMG, so good for a light low calorie snack, especially when you are craving something sweet! They are the right amount of sweet and fill an empty hole in your tummy with only 45 calories per roll… Delicious and good for you!

A favorite in our house, especially with Mabel is quinoa, this has now replaced her love of cous, cous! Quinoa is a fabulous healthy grain that is so versatile and delicious mixed with salads and endless other dishes, last night I paired it with a warm chicken curry salad… Super healthy!

On the subject of new favorites, but on a slightly different subject… Cooking, I am loving making warm summer salads at the moment… with our BBQ not working at the moment, we are still deciding which direction to go with this one… An overhaul and service or a brand spanking new one? Anyway warm summer salads have been a food direction I have come to love, especially with this new salad mix made up of my hardy green leafy vegetables and raw sugar snap peas, add to that whatever you choose, beans, pulses, healthy grains then I have been topping the whole thing with the warm casserole I have made, last night it was chicken curry, the sauce acts as a warm dressing for the hardy raw salad and tossed together is delicious, slightly strange I know, but it really does work well!

Changing the subject now… Crafting has become a big addiction in my life, I have sewn a tepee playhouse for my Florrie’s 2nd Birthday, crocheted three sun hats and knitted a cocoon blanket in the last month. My ongoing project is a granny square blanket and now my new sewing project is an outdoor seat cushion for my old wicker sofa for the new deck area… I am loving discovering how much I love to create handmade things for the people I love in my life! Happy crafting!

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Juice with me…

Organizing tip number 1… Do not pick up your crochet hook and begin another granny square… Bad, bad idea as you really don’t get a lot of organizing actually done, but your granny square pile grows nearer to becoming an actual blanket!
Organizing tip number 2… Stick to your list… Your plan of action is your key to all things organized!
And finally, organizing tip number 3…actually start your week with a positive attitude and the thought in your mind that your Mum will be arriving one week from tomorrow… Ahhhhhhh!

Guess what I am going to be doing this week?

Several weeks ago I bought a set of new plates and bowls, it’s time to get rid of all those chipped, mismatching plates that I have hanging around, so with that thought in mind, I decided it was time to do exactly the same with all our odd, well dishwashed glasses, so I bought a sparkling set of 10 tall and 10 short matching glasses from Costco last week! Finally my cupboards will have sets of nice new china and glassware sitting on the shelves!

Spring arrived here over this past weekend, things are changing today again, but I think it’s definitely time to give my closet a spring makeover… Time to put away all my grey winter clothes and bring forward the bright colors of summer!

As far as food goes, we have already been in the salad mode for a while, my fridge remains ultra organized, clean and healthy, my pantry is exactly the same… So no organizing required there! But my actual kitchen is in need of a spring clean and re-organizing, so I’m onto that this week, I am definitely the type of person that does not cope well in a messy kitchen, I also have a brand new juicer to fit into a cupboard somewhere so that I can free up my kitchen side where it is currently residing!

Super Healthy Smoothie Recipe
Serves 2

Freshly juiced fruit and veggies (I used a handful of spinach, 3 strawberries, a few slices of pineapple, 3 satsumas, an apple and 1 orange)
2 Activia yogurt
2 teaspoons of chia seeds

Freshly juice your fruit and veggies, then add two yogurts, flavor of your choice to the blender, add your freshly pressed juice and blend together… Serve in a tall glass then stir in your chia seeds! (Super tip of the week, chia seeds are the best value in Costco $14.99 for a huge bag… So for someone like me who uses them all the time, it’s a bargain!)

I have bought some preserving jars to store my juice in, and also to make up smoothies for Paul to take to work with him… A quick shake and his smoothie will be ready to drink!

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When life gets tough get your crochet hook out…

Well life has certainly been crazy for the last few weeks, crazy in a weird, not so good way really, but we are working our way though the craziness… I think when life throws you a curve ball it makes you realize we cannot take this life for granted, it makes us stop and take stock of the things that are important to us and then move forward… Well that’s what has happened to me!

Back to life as we know it… Well life as I know it anyway… the sun has been shining and spring has finally arrived here in our little corner of New Jersey, yesterday saw the temperature rising to 79f, I don’t care what anyone says, the feeling of spring and the thoughts of long summer days makes everything feel so much better, no matter what is going on in your life!

Healthy eating is back on the agenda in our house, after a few weeks of eating, well all I will say on this subject is JUNK food, and sitting around like fat cat couch potatoes… It’s time to break out the salad leaves and chop some tomatoes… My grocery shopping this week was so healthy, fruit, grains, vegetables and beans, it has freaked out my older children and now stop and shop is their hang out place for their addiction to all things unhealthy!

Weekly Menu plan

1). Broccoli rice bowl

2). Chicken … white bean ragout on toast

3). Chicken …Pasta salad with grilled vegetables and mozzarella – whole foods app

4). Grilled steak with Thai summer salad – whole foods app

5). Sausage. .. Red potato and asparagus salad – whole foods app

6). Kale, carrot and avacado salad – whole foods app

7). Lentil and cous cous salad with arugula – whole foods app

I have also picked up my crochet hook again, I love to crochet, it is very therapeutic… I love to knit also but there is just something about that hook compared to a pair of needles, it really helps to organize my thoughts and just chill out… I am making a blanket from last months Mollie Makes Magazine… Oh how I love that magazine… The blanket is super easy and my little granny squares are fun in different colors!

I am also in super organizing mode, my whole house has been a disaster zone, with all the craziness I have been very uninspired really, but the sun has inspired me to go crazy and get my house sorted out… For anyone that knows me really well, I am a huge shabby chic fan, I love distressed mismatched style and after living in this house for 4 years I really want to make it my own, pale colors, shabby chic, shaker style, stripes, checks (plaids) and faded florals, are all in the future of this old, newish house! Flea Markets are on the horizon for weekend outings this summer, also pots of beautiful geraniums out on my deck… Time for this one time decorating freak to get her long lost mojo back!

With thoughts of spring gardening, and pots of pale paint ready to adorn my walls… I will wish you all warm sunny thoughts and get on with my day!

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Addicted to crochet…

Ever since I was very young and my grandmother taught me to knit, I’ve been a knitter, granted I have gone through phases in my life of knitting and then not knitting, but I can knit so I would say I am a knitter… Well now I have a new found passion for crochet… I have had a yearning for quite a few years now to learn to crochet, I dabbled a little bit last year, I could crochet a granny square but I was not using the correct hands, so I really wanted to master this craft! A couple of weekends ago I set about actually learning to crochet correctly, I you tubed a few videos on how to begin, voila i finally undestood how the yarn should go through your left hand, so far so good, I have the hands correct now, I would even say my tension is not too shabby, the next step for me is reading actual patterns… I’ll let you know what happens!

The other big thing for me this week is a two week menu plan… This is a first for me and I am not sure even if this will work out… Do I shop for two weeks? will things last long enough? questions, questions, but the thought of having a menu planned and shopped for, including lunch meals too… for two weeks has me so excited… This is one task I can halve completely, hopefully it will work out… Fingers crossed, grocery planning and shopping are not on my list of favorite things to do!

2 week menu plan

Day 1
Pesto bean soup , rotisserie chicken, pasta – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pesto-bean-soup-recipe/index.html
Lunch – pasta salad

Day 2
Italian marinated chicken -http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/italian-marinated-chicken-with-red-potatoes-recipe/index.html
Lunch – chicken salad rolls

Day 3
Sausage bean pasta
Lunch – sausage rice salad

Day 4
White turkey chili and brown rice (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – baked potato and left over chili

Day 5
Sausage with zucchini and tomatoes served with ciabatta (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – rice and sausage salad

Day 6
Lasagne and salad
Lunch – left over lasagne and salad

Day 7
Green salad with buffalo chicken and blue cheese (Whole foods recipe)
Buffalo chicken salad sandwiches

Day 8
Chicken noodle soup, ciabatta bread
Lunch – chicken soup salad

Day 9
Pasta with cauliflower and sausage (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Sausage pasta salad

Day 10
Chili and quinoa
Lunch – Left over chili and rice

Day 11
Italian chicken casserole and gnocchi
Lunch – Chicken and biscuits

Day 12
Salad leaves with sausage and fennel, served with baked potatoes (Whole foods recipe)
Lunch – Baked potato and salad

Day 13
Red Thai turkey curry (Whole foods recipe)) quinoa
Lunch – red thai curry flat breads

Day 14
left overs day
Lunch left overs lunch

Finally on this gray morning in March I want to say what a beautiful day it was here in New Jersey yesterday, the sun was shining, the sky was bright blue, it was a little chilly but still nice enough to think spring is on it’s way… Then BAM, we are expecting yet another snow storm later today… REALLY! Florrie and I attended book babies at the library yesterday too, it’s a 6 week class for 20 minutes on a Tuesday morning, well believe me 20 minutes was long enough for these 12 to 24 month olds, after a couple of songs, a couple of books their attention was completely gone… It’s so weird how we develop these things we take for granted over time… She loved it of course, although she was very shy for most of it, which believe me is not at all like my little Florrie Flower!

Stay warm and enjoy hopefully, our last snow storm of this winter!

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Happy Wedding Day…

Yay for March… Lets hope Spring is truly on it’s way now! Here in New Jersey the sun is shining, today, friday march 1st, temperatures are meant to be slightly into the 40’s, which I know is not high, but hey it’s not freezing, so I will take it and the snow is still lingering in large dirty piles in a few places, but at least we have a kind of strawy looking grass again!

My learn a new craft is coming along, I am deeply addicted to crochet, after being a knitter for so many years now, I am discovering how much I love crochet, I love the way the finished article looks very shabby chic retro, just my style, and I love sitting with my hook and yarn and just yarn over and create a stitch , I even took my growing blanket along to the baby gym yesterday and crocheted whilst Florrie played, I got a few looks from other mothers, but hey, it beats sitting on my phone for 2 hours! Mollie Makes is a great British magazine for the avid crafter, this month has a few crochet projects worth taking a look at, so here is the link if you want a sneak peak Mollie Makes

My menu plan for the week is very basic, I have totally had a spring clean of my pantry and now there is nothing left… I love to do this occasionally, you can start afresh and know that everything in there is tidy, necessary and fresh… But what it does mean is that you don’t have a lot in to plan your weekly menu…

Sausage pasta
White turkey Chili
Dumpling and bacon soup
Tortellini pesto chicken soup
Stuffed baked potatoes with sausages
Meatball sub
Spaghetti bolognese

Sausage pasta is an old recipe I have been creating for many years, it varies each time i make it, the secret ingredient is a can of Heinz vegetarian baked beans, it just creates a totally different texture to the sauce coated pasta

Take any sausage you would like, I used polish kielbasa last night, but anything works great, slice into 1/2 inch rounds and sauté in a little olive oil with one chopped onion, after 10 minutes add whatever vegetables you would like, I used chopped broccoli and cabbage, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a teaspoon on red chili flakes, a jar of tomato pasta sauce, 1 teaspoon of boullion, 1/4 cup of water and one can of baked beans bring to the boil, cover reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes whilst you make your pasta. Once the pasta is cooked add your sausage, vegetable mix and coat evenly, serve with garlic bread or a green salad… Very basic, but very delicious!

My shout out recipe of last week was the dumpling soup recipe from the food network not only was this recipe quick and easy, but it tasted delicious too, I used bacon instead of ham, which I think enhanced the flavor, and I also added a few wide ribbon noodles too… Try it, it was delicious… So good it’s on my menu plan for this week!

Today my friends daughter who I have known since she was 4 years old is getting married, she is a few months older than Dominic, we spent so many school holidays out and about with them I lost count, I have watched her blossom from childhood into her teenage years and now beyond… I cannot believe that she is old enough to get married, but she is… I hope she has a wonderful day and I am very sad I could not be there, sometimes the miles between us make a huge difference and sometimes they really don’t… Today is one of those days I wish I could still live in the same town and be there to watch her marry the boy of her dreams!

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