Uncategorized

We are what we eat…

Getting older sucks… I have gained weight and I haven’t changed the way I eat, your metabolism slows down and the middle age spread begins… are you kidding me? Really?

Ok, so I admit I really do need to excercise more, but I’m a busy Mom of 8 children, I include my older ones too, from first thing in the morning until I sit down with that much needed glass of wine I’m on my feet rushing from here to there, but according to my OBGYN that’s not the type of excercise that is going to burn off those calories at my ripe old age, well he didn’t mention the ripe old part, I’ve just added it in so you get the picture… he says I need at least a 20 minute cardio routine per day that will get my heart racing, so even my gentle morning yoga routine does not fit the bill for getting my heart racing I’m afraid. Food is also important and consistency, 4-6 healthy small meals a day, well the small portions are not a problem for me as I’ve never eaten large meals, but 4-6 is a huge problem, I can go hours and sometimes forget to eat… ok so here we go, new me, I am determined to beat this middle age spread.

I love healthy foods, I love salads, I love soups, I love fish, I love veggies, I even love radishes too, so how hard can this be? 4 to 6 small portion meals/snacks a day together with a low impact cardio workout, just to start me off and some yoga to keep my joints supple. The hardest part of a carefully thought through menu plan is the prepping, to have a healthy menu for Paul to go to work with is the planning a prepping the day before… this week we are keeping it simple and doing a ‘let’s see what we can make with what we have in’ using up supplies in our refrigerator, freezer and pantry… so next week we can start a fresh in an organized way… does anyone else do this once a month, to clear out the old ready for the new?

Let’s start with Breakfasts that I can easily prepare in advance… healthy banana, oats and honey waffles, perfectly preprepared and easily transported if you have to go out…

Serves 2
One cup of gluten free oats
I cup of dairy free milk, almond or coconut (if using coconut I suggest 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water)
1 egg
1/2 a banana
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 egg
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon of extra virgin oil

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend for about 1 minute… add 1/4 cup of the batter to a lightly oiled waffle maker and let it cook for 2-3 minute.
Serve with fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt or for a dairy free option a tablespoon of almond butter 😋

My next easy to prepare breakfast is raspberry, coconut chia pudding…

Serves 2
1/2 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
1 cup of coconut milk
1 tablespoon of raw honey
2 1/2 tablespoons of chia seeds

Take the first three ingredients place them in a blender and let them blend for 45 seconds, divide the blended fruit milk into two mason jars then add 2 1/4 tablespoons of chia seeds, place the lid onto the jar and shake to mix the chia seeds, place in the refrigerator over night… top with a few raspberries and a tablespoon of sliced almonds 😋

Now if I’m staying in I love a slice of whole grain gluten free bread with avocado and grape tomatoes drizzled with balsamic glaze and if Paul is going to work I make him a super healthy veggie omelette ready to cook in the microwave for a couple of minutes and a piece of fruit. Another healthy on the go breakfast is a smoothie served with a hard boiled egg for protein.

Lunches are much easier when you are at home, your choice is endless, I love salad, cheese, eggs, veggies, homemade hummus and steamed veggies, but planning a healthy portioned out work lunch takes a lot of prep… 5 meals, 5 healthy carbs, 5 healthy lean proteins and plenty of veggies ready for a busy week of working… quinoa, brown sprouted rice, sweet potatoes, ground turkey meatballs, oregano chicken and Cajun pork, all leftovers from a past week dinners and lots of veggies, but when you are home you can quickly bake some sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper, add in a little arugula and a lightly fried egg, finally whip up a Harrissa dressing… so good 😃

Heathy fish and chicken tacos are my favorite dinner option, polenta crisped salmon and chicken tenders served with warm corn tortillas, salad and a healthy mango salsa, easy healthy and filling. Dinners are always a challenge in my house, some of us need GF carb options, some of us don’t like veggies, some of us are mainly vegetarian, except for a little fish and some of us are such basic eaters that meat and plain pasta is all they will eat. Salad is my friend, I can add a protein and then a healthy carb and it covers most diets in my house… but soup season is on it’s way, although I love Summer, I personally love soups they are so versatile, healthy and can stretch your budget sideways.

Snacks are my biggest challenge for planning ahead, each time we eat we are meant to have a complex carbohydrate, a protein and a fat, so getting that right in a snack is a huge headache for me… protein bites were simple and nutritional for a snack, gf oats, almond butter, honey and then I added chopped nuts dried fruits and seeds. Another idea is brown rice cakes, and almond butter, or fruit and a handful of nuts… but with all the planning snacks still remain something I think about last and quite often forget to eat myself… I am working at it though… slowly 🙃

… and then we always need an occasional treat, I try my hardest to make these treats as healthy as possible, like lemon muffins made with yogurt and honey… light and delicious 😋

Whatever you eat, try to make it nutritional, delicious and make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated throughout the day.

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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.


Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Really my camera is totally awesome and I never knew it!

Having made the decision to take my camera off of automatic mode I knew I had to get to grips with how the camera actually worked, everyone said the photos would improve and I would never want to go back, but I just couldn’t get my head around exactly what settings were for what.

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I decided photography blogs and you tube should be my first port of call… I found an excellent video on you tube that explained all of those buttons and dials, that I had just ignored for so long… I suddenly could see what each button was called and exactly what it did, I watched it several times with my camera in my hand going through each button and dial as the guy in the video explained what it was and what it did.

Next I found some excellent photography for beginners blogs, I read, and reread them, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, I wrote notes and found cheat sheets on Pinterest… next I gave myself exercises to understand how each aspect of the exposure triangle worked with each other… when you reduce the ISO the shutter speed needs to be increased, and when you increase the ISO in darker situations you need to decrease the shutter speed, what I did not realize was that changing the aperture, F-stop would then affect both the ISO and shutter speed too… so much to think about.

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I found an excellent guy on you tube who has created these fantastic short videos using his real life to explain everything from lighting to shutter speed and everything inbetween. Moose Winans sang to me, his videos are short fun and speak my language when it comes to photography, I love to sit watching his videos and they seemed to explain this complicated world of a DSLR camera to me.

This changed the way I set my camera, suddenly I began to understand a little bit more, I start with a setting of ISO 400 shutter speed of 320 and f-stop of 1.8, then I adjust it from there depending on whether I am inside or outside, if the light is good, if there is shade, I always change my ISO first, more of less depending on how much light I have I set my white balance to the type of situation I am in and then I look at shutter speed, moving it up or down until my white balance meter is set to either 0, just above + or just below -.

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Once I gathered a little knowledge it was time to get a new lens, I wanted one with a lower F-stop than the two lenses I had, I wanted to take portrait photos both indoors and outside, I looked at both 35mm and 50mm, in the end I chose the 35mm, just because I like to take a lot of photos indoors, but I am now looking to invest in the 50mm too, just because I want something with a longer exposure for outside and I am now looking at the lens with a lower f-stop of 1.4.

I also decided it was time to switch from the basic photo editing software on our Mac computers and iPads, I looked at lightroom and photoshop, lightroom seemed easier to use, but photoshop although more difficult to learn could do much more creative effects that I would eventually like to do, so I found the monthly $9.99 deal for both online by reading blogs written about both lightroom and photoshop… after a little research I signed up and I am loving it.  There is so much advice online about settings for different types of filters you want to create, the list is endless and in lightroom it is so simple to achieve a look you require.

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I have endless amounts to learn in all areas of photography, everyday I take my camera out and snap away changing the settings and experimenting with it, I then go onto lightroom and I am trying to learn how to change the photo for different filters, the above vintage setting is one of my favorites. I may have slightly over used it recently, but with my newly acquired skills I think I am allowed a little creativity over use.  I am tending to set the camera for a lighter setting, some might think it looks a little over exposed but I am loving the new lighter effect of the photos, I hadn’t realized quite how dark the photos looked on the auto setting of the camera… one of the bonus’ of setting your camera to manual you get to choose the settings exactly the way you want your photo to look.

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I had read so many times that once you switch you camera off of Auto and start to really learn your camera in Manual mode you would never want to go back… As someone who has recently made the switch I don’t think I will ever go back, sometimes I second think my settings and panic a little, but usually I have made the right choice, so I should have more faith in myself…  everything I read was completely true… I have thought about doing this for a very long time, but always doubted myself, the Manual setting is so much more fun and you have complete control instead of relying on your camera guessing the type of photo you want… if I can do it, you can do it to… it wasn’t as difficult as I first thought and every day gets a little bit easier.

homeschooling, Uncategorized

It’s Fairy week at our homeschool.

Homeschooling is finally starting to feel like a way of life, I feel I’ve finally got into a good routine and have somewhat an understanding of how Florrie likes to learn, mostly though art and creativity, she is an imaginary child, she loves to create new paintings, glitter the world around us with stories straight from her imagination and most of all she inspires me every single day with who she is.

We start every week with a new theme, last week we learnt about penguins, I have to say this was not her favorite, but when I mentioned this weeks theme ‘fairies’ her imagination went into overdrive… my older daughter and her friends want to know how fairies can be educational, are they really too old as teenagers to understand all about imagination and how it inspires us to learn in so many ways, I was totally shocked by her statement I did not know really how to reply.

This week ends February and begins March, so although we are introducing new things my main focus is to review the things we covered over the past month… we have looked at the numbers 1 to 10, she can count them perfectly now, we have learnt to write each number and we have introduced some addition using our abacus, oh how I love the old ways like abacus and simple chalk boards.  In Math we have also looked at top middle and bottom, left to right, above and below and before and after.  The letters Ff to Ii have featured in everything we have done, we have learnt about rhyming words and began to build beginning middle and end stories with pictures and numbers.  Every Friday we look at sight words, matching words to pictures then using pictures to write the words.

Each week we have a theme as I have mentioned before, I try to keep our fun projects as near to the theme as I can.  Monday’s are art crafting day, we have made Valentine’s butterflies and necklaces, we have also made footprint penguins.  Tuesday is baking day, we have made heart shaped cookies, lemon cupcakes and good old fashioned English flapjack.  Wednesday is field trip day, so far we have visited our local zoo quite a few times, Thursday is my personal favorite Art Class day, we have made a heart tree using our arm and hand prints and newspaper hearts, we have coiled pipe cleaners into flowers and used wax crayons and water colors to create artwork.  Friday is my children’s favorite day, Experiments, we have exploded colors, seen how penguins keep dry and made ice cream in a bag with just ice and salt.

The month of March is an exciting one for us, we are kicking off a big Spring project with our theme of the week FAIRIES.  Over the coming weeks we will be incorporating the making of a fairy garden into our daily fun projects.  We started our week making a glittery painted fairy, or Pixie (for Tate) wand, to be used in our Friday Fairy experiment Fizzing Fairy potions.

For our baking day, today we have made Fairy Pretzel sparkling wands, we melted some white chocolate then dipped our pretzel rods into the white chocolate and sprinkled purple (our color of the week) sparkles onto them… viola edible Fairy and Pixie wands 😋

We are hoping to meet friends at the zoo again this week as long as the weather behaves and we are extra hopeful we will see the giraffes as they have been inside the last few times we have been.  Art day this week is all about the Fairy garden, I’ve been sourcing lots of fairy ideas from Pinterest, so we are starting this week with a painted wooden bird house that will become our fairy house in the garden… Florrie is very excited and has lots of ideas flowing for her little house 🏡

The rest of the month is organized like this…

Letters Jj to Ll, watching videos, reading, writing and sounds.

Continuing story building, word match and word webs.

Numbers 11 to 16, counting, writing, and simple addition.

Math fewer and more and looking at patterns, which we can incorporate into our Art class.

New sight words each week.

Colors and shapes will be added to each weeks learning activities.

Our themes for March are Camping, Mermaids, Spring and the weather.

Uncategorized

Resolutions for a mindful New Year

Resolutions are a difficult things to keep, we start each new year with things we want to change, things we want to achieve and just things that would make a little difference, but usually we don’t last very long and easily revert back to our old ways, so that is why I started earlier this year… 2016 is the last full year I will be in my forties, something I have struggled with enormously, but it has made me very critical of who I am and what I want to change in my life… I believe in peace, love and happiness, I believe you get what you give out, if you are a kind generous person, you will get those things back in return.

I began my journey of resolutions in my life with positivity, instead of being angry at everything and everyone I looked at the positives of what I had, my family, my home, who I am as a person… I let go of anger and replaced it with love, I began to decluttering my mind and my life of things that make me unhappy, it means that I have thrown away many years of possessions that I mindlessly purchased,  I have been  decluttering my home, I have a long way to go, but if I don’t love it, or use it, I toss it, well not literally, I recycle, I donate… I do not believe in trashing this world we live in, one mans trash is another mans treasure.


I have always been a person who believes in natural remedies before anything else, I discovered my love of essential oils a few years ago, I love to rub lavender oil into my babies feet, to boost their immunity, if I have an ache or just feel blue I rub my oils into my joints… I believe in a pure life, less chemicals more nature in all things. The same can be said for the food that we eat, now don’t get me wrong we eat junk food like anyone else, pizza fridays, chocolate Saturdays… but in general 95% of the time I believe we eat very cleanly, my grocery shopping is 45% fresh organic produce, I buy as much organic, natural meat as I can find and I look at ingredients in every product I buy, pasta is gluten free, rice is organic, I make a weekly batch of my own broth either bone or vegetarian and starting the first week of January I will be making a hidden ingredients pasta sauce in bulk ready for homemade pizzas and pasta dishes.

As for my home, I have looked at a new kitchen as a new start in decluttering my life, we boxed our kitchen up months ago, before Memorial Day, I tossed a lot of old broken things, and then I evaluated whether I would want them in my new kitchen… doing this felt so good I decided to carry on through everything, the funny thing is I tossed a lot of my old things and recently I have been buying someone else’s old things… #gotanaddictiontoantiques.  I found a life changing post on Pinterest for a cleaning routine in my home, I adapted it to suit my needs and implemented it, it works for me and has changed how I view my home, I get my babies to help and they love it.

For my family… I have always been a person to want to get out there and see things, I am homeschooling my babies right now and I love to visit new places, show them new things, so I plan to continue this incorporating field trips into their learning… hopefully we will be doing a snowy winters beach trip very soon, getting back to the zoo and visiting a local museum.  I love to take photos and I have started to learn far more about what my camera can do, that is something I plan to continue with too.

Yoga and Meditation have entered my life and I love them, I want to find more time to develop them in the coming year, to have a healthy mind, body and spirit, but none of these things are my Resolutions for the coming year, I just want to do them and enjoy them… I have one simple New Years Resolution this year, once a week when I buy my groceries I am going to buy a bunch of flowers for my home, I love flowers 🌺 they brighten everything around you, so I want to fill my family home with the beauty of nature.


Happy New Year to each and everyone of you 🌟

Uncategorized

Change…

I struggle with change, I know change is inevitable but it’s hard to put in the work change brings with it.  I look back at my older children, life was so much easier when they were little, their problems were easier to deal with, when they were hungry, when they  were arguing with their siblings over a toy, when they were tired, now as adults themselves I sometimes find myself wishing they were younger again.

I always struggle with change of seasons, it’s hard to know what to wear, I’m always struggling at the beginning of every season to know what I wore the last time the weather changed to hot or cold.  I LOVE my boots in fact my closet is full of boots, short ones, tall ones, brown ones, not so brown ones, but I always try to hang on to the last of summer at this time of the year, clinging desperately to my Birkenstock sandals one last day before it really gets too cold for my toes to take the chilly weather.  This year is no different, when is it too cold to wear my beloved BIRKS?


Sometimes we become complacent in our lives, it’s so easy for me to get back into bed after B and M leave the house at 6.30am, I lay in with my babies, but this usually leads to me not getting things done, I’m always chasing the minutes of the day to get things done… and because of this I have not managed to do any yoga for months, there is never enough time in each day, so this is where my new changes will come into play… it’s time to get my life in order and organized!

I have saved an article on Pinterest, that got me thinking, How to clean a home, I needed a plan of action, so lists are my new organized self best friend, I have devised lists for everything that needs doing in my life.  I have a schedule for each day including homeschooling, yoga and meditation, all very important things in my life.  I have used this article to devise a plan for the house, now the kitchen is almost finished it’s time to clean this place up and shake up these children who have an easy life living here.  I will keep you updated on my progress with keeping to a schedule weekly, monthly and seasonally… I am really hoping this will give me more free time, my crochet hooks are missing me.


I am already a big menu planner, it’s the only way to survive with a large family, I plan, make lists and shop weekly,  this works for me and my family really well, I use an organic produce delivery company every week, adjusting my order to my menu plan  and then shop one day a week for everything else, with my new organized pantry space, putting everything away is a breeze these days, I also have a list in my iPad for things I run out of, so I can look at these if I am shopping easily on my phone.  I also do my laundry daily, I alternate with darks and lights daily, I add in a whites wash and towels and bedding when needed, it keeps the laundry pile down and makes folding much easier when it’s done daily.


I am hoping organization will give me some time back into my life… fingers crossed ✨

Uncategorized

Late Summer fun…

I love to get out and about, see new places, experience new things, it’s difficult trying to juggle house renovations and getting out whilst this weather is so beautiful.  I don’t know about you but I think life’s too short not to be out there experiencing the world around us, even if it’s just local there are always new things to do and see.

Now that the busy summer season is over and Labor Day is behind us, it’s time to get out there and visit some local places with relative quietness around us, I am not one for crowds so I love this time of year.  We decided to start homeschooling this week leaving last week and the fantastic weather for a little bit of late summer fun at the lake.  We are lucky to have several beautiful lakes in our town, the beaches at the lakes are safe, clean and very picturesque… A magical way to spend a sunny, warm September afternoon.

The forecast for this last weekend was good, we had plans to go to the shore, sometimes having teenage children with their commitments can change those plans though… As was the case this past weekend, oh well those changed plans meant we got to experience the beauty that is High Point State Park.  We have never been to High Point but this past Summer saw a couple of friends visiting it, it looked stunning so we thought we would see for ourselves.  The beach was closed, but you could still use it, there just was no lifeguard on duty, but that was fine we just walked on the sand, played in the park and then drove up to the monument, 1803 feet above sea level, this elevation has fantastic views all the way round as far as you can see, just amazing on a clear day.  It was extremely windy, but this was the best part of the afternoon for my little ones, they ran around the monument, hair, dresses and t-shirts lifting up in the gusty wind, they loved it so much they didn’t want to leave.

Back to homeschooling began yesterday with a field trip, original planned for later in the week, but again having older children changed my plans, I needed to collect something for my son and it was in the direction of the farm and some apple picking fun.  Our Theme at the moment is Frozen the movie, our letter of the week is Aa and our numbers are 1 to 5. Apple picking was a perfect way to kick off our week looking at the letter Aa in more detail.  We rode the hay wagon, picked some juicy apples, of course you have to try them first before you pick them, we picked some huge furry soft peaches and visited with the animals, it was hot dusty but oh so much fun.


This coming weekend looks beautiful again… Plans are already in the making for one day in the house catching up on chores and the other day, who knows where we will be?