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Pumpkins, boots and a touch of homeschooling…

I have to say I love everything about Fall, pumpkin flavored everything, cooler but not cold weather, wearing cardigans and sweaters old and new, and soups, hot and creamy… But, you knew there had to be a but, BUT I hate the thought of cold, cold winter on its way… The solution… Move to a warmer climate all year round! Easier said than done, but I’m working on it…

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I would love to live near the beach, hot summers and cooler winters are perfect by the beach… I see myself in an old house with my family living happily with the ocean not too far away, but for now we have to live and dream on… I would just like life to slow down a little bit, the last few back to school weeks seem to have been crazy, all ideas of routine and organization have flown out of the window… But I need to get back on track!

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Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a lovely lady at Mabel’s soccer game… It was so weird usually when you tell people how many children you have they are aghast, but this lady lives on Long Island and has many friends with large families, 9, 10, 11 and even 12 children… Obviously I need to live there! We started our long conversation about people’s attitudes to breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding, how everyone feels they have the right to have an opinion on whether you should or should not breastfeed and especially on the subject of extended breastfeeding, most people make it very clear that extended breastfeeding is not the norm and as such should not be done… But I like to be my own person and do things my own way! She then started to tell me that she home schools her four children, well actually her eldest daughter is now married, she got her masters degree by the age of 18, and she was home schooled… Very interesting to me, because I have been researching homeschooling my two babies, but again this is a subject where because it is not the norm of society most people frown and do not agree… Like my older children, it has been a subject for discussion in my house for many weeks now… Now I’m not sure if the negative attitudes are jealousy because they would have liked this option or just because they think I would be an awful teacher, as it has been said several times recently!

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Now before all the haters of home schooling start shouting, I am only thinking of this option, looking into the logistics and weighing up my beliefs and reasons for wanting to do this… Believe me I could change my mind, but events in the past have started me thinking maybe this would be a good option going forward… We will see, but for now I have started a little home schooling with Florrie… Reading, writing, the letter A for Apple is this weeks letter of the week… and just lots of fun!

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Fall to me means time to crochet, knit and sew… Cooking warm comfort foods and baking scrumptious goodies… In the coming weeks I am hoping to slow life down a notch or two, get back to basics and enjoy some time reconnecting with my sewing machine, hooks and needles… I have some gorgeous soft cotton yarn that is crying out to be made into hats for my babies!

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Menu plan for this week…

Lots of fruit smoothies, brownies, muffins, oatcakes and cookies!

Saturday
pork goulash

Sunday
Beef pot roast

Monday
Sausage and pasta pumpkin soup

Tuesday
potato and bacon soup served with garlic breadsticks

Wednesday
Home made pork flatbreads with roasted veggies

Thursday
Chicken dumpling stew

Friday
Home made pizzas

Everything I make these days, and I mean everything has added nutrition in the form of flax seed, chia seed and wheat germ… I use gluten free oats to add thickness to my casserole sauces, it cooks and thickens without anyone knowing I’ve added all this goodness! My other shout out is coconut water, I use it in as many dishes as I can, stews, casseroles, soups and smoothies, this is a wonderful ingredient, almost tasteless when it’s added, but oh so full of good nutrition and fantastic for your digestive system!

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Slow cooker delight!

My new, all singing, all dancing slow cooker… Is something I’ve thought about buying for many many months since I saw it in Target $150, and now with a special offer last week in Costco $99 with $20 instant rebate, now it’s still cheaper than Target at $120, I finally bit the bullet and updated my much loved crock pot! This new slow cooker is by Ninja, it not only slow cooks, it can sear, stovetop cook, bake and roast, it is slightly smaller than my crock pot,but in my opinion looks more state of the art… Last night I broke open the box and gave it a try, I am a huge lover of risotto, so this was the perfect starter meal to try, I managed to heat the oil, sauté the rice and then cook the risotto without slowly stirring and constantly adding the stock, I placed cooked chicken in the pot to warm through and roasted vegetables in the oven to add later… Voila roasted vegetable and chicken risotto, warming and delicious! The recipe book is huge and has a section for one pot cooking, one of the recipes is a quick and easy lasagne, one of my family’s favorite dinners… This one is on the menu for tonight’s dinner, everything is placed into the pot, switch it on and let it cook… My kind of cooking!

It’s cold and snowing again here, so I plan on a day indoors again, I have knitting to complete, cushions to sew covers for and laundry to do, but first a coconut bundt cake to bake, I recently bought a huge bag of coconut from Costco, a bargain at $3.97, so I am frequently on the look out for recipes using coconut and this one looks delicious!

On the subject of delicious another food recipe I think I will add to my Christmas list this year, baked cranberry and pistachio Brie, now if I wasn’t 26 weeks pregnant I would dive into this delicious looking cheese, but unfortunately this year I will have to bake this for my family and watch as they tuck in and know that next year I will be enjoying this myself!

Finally on the subject of food, I made a delicious cream cheese apple bread on Saturday, well worth a try, delicious and puddingy, it was so yummy served with custard and topped with whipped cream!

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Follow me on Pinterest for more yummy recipe ideas and much more!

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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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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 New Year…

Happy New Year… I was not going to make any resolutions this year, but what is January without things to work towards and build upon, so mine are as follows, by the way they are in no particular order…
1) family – my aim is to have more quality family time together, days out, projects in the house, and movie afternoon… I just love these!
2) fitness – I really do need to get fit, so I think my first aim is to walk more, then maybe get the wii fit out again before I start anything too ambitious like joining a gym!
3) organization – I really want to be a much more organized tidy person in 2013, so I really need to continue what I started last year and stick to my schedules for housework and tidying.
4) crafts – I have already started my resolution to be more crafty and learn new skills, a resolution from last year I want to continue… I am knitting myself a new scarf, with the snow on the ground and the winds chilling around us I thought it was a perfect project to start off this new year… Wish me luck 30cm done already, just another 120cm to go!

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Finally number 5 is to have more fun, not to take life so seriously and laugh a lot more, so that means I need to be more positive as a person!

Dinner tonight was a white chili with white kidney beans and fluffy brown rice, I also managed to make a desert of croissant and chocolate bread pudding … Delicious all served with a glass of red wine… Happy 2013 to everyone!

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