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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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. ✨

Uncategorized

Life through my lens… Easter!

I’m a big event planner for special days… I like Birthdays to be special for the person who’s day it is, I plan what we will be doing, the food, the cake, the decorations, sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan, but I like to try to get it right, and Easter is no different! This Easter started on Thursday for us, unfortunately not for Paul though as he doesn’t get Good Friday or Easter Monday off, so with that in mind we headed to meet Paul for what turned out to be a late lunch at his office…

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The afternoon was slightly rushed due to car restraints that come with sharing your car… the weather was beautiful, if not a little windy, and the scenery was fabulous, so a few photos had to be snapped!

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As the weather was going to be reasonable for the weekend, we decided to head to my happy place… The beach on Saturday! It was a bright sunny day with lots of sunshine and blue skies, but oh, that wind was brutal… Paul was a trooper and spent along time playing in the sand with Florrie, even with the mother of all hangovers (no sympathy there though)!

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Easter Sunday was not a restful and relaxing day for me as I’d imagined, there was the basket making, the gift opening the egg hunt organization, cake making and dinner prep, but thankfully my mum did most of the last one, by late afternoon I sat with my glass of wine and breathed a sigh of relief…

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Easter Monday was girls shopping day out, of course Tate was the only boy allowed until at the last minute Jordan decided to gate crash our fun Urban Outfitters day shopping…

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There is just something about Easter weekend that I love, perhaps the promise of spring just around the corner, or the thoughts of an alarm free week ahead as my children had Spring break… Or just some quality time with my family… One thing is for sure though, getting home after a fun packed weekend, kicking my shoes off and sitting on my new rug, hand dancing with my children to Jordan’s new vinyl was the perfect way to finish our Easter off!

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Photographic diary

Life through my lens… Out with the old, and in with the new!

Paul’s final two weeks at his old company were over in a flash, last week seemed surreal for both of us I think, after 29 years at one company, now it was time to move on a try something new, and this means for both of us! We had a comfy life before, easy commute, lots of working from home days meant that Paul was around more for my children, he was always there in the mornings and then if I needed an errand to be run I could usually leave Florrie there with him… Not now, his much longer commute means he is out of the house as my early alarm goes off, he gets home later in the evening and I’m not sure how working from home will be going forward… Hopefully we will get used to this new routine and our lives will be richer for it, in more ways than one!

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We finished up the last of Paul’s 50th Birthday celebrations with Sunday brunch in the diner and then a Happy Hour date on Monday afternoon, cocktails, wine and cheese… All of my favorite things!

Last Friday was Paul’s last day officially working at his old job, after handing in his work possessions we decided to once again enjoy Happy Hour at our local bar, this time with our older boys. Craft beers have become like wines to our family of beer lovers, our local bar has a good variety served at all times and it is fast becoming a family pastime of trying them all slowly but surely!

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Last weekend consisted of car shopping , as our second eldest son looked for a new car, we then incorporated a nice Indian lunch, Starbucks coffee and a quick Urban Outfitters shopping trip into the day… An unplanned day but very enjoyable! Sunday was indoor soccer for Mabel and Paul, a Costco beer and wine run, then home for a catchup on laundry ready for the week ahead!

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Photographic diary

Life through my lens…

A few years ago now we turned our formal dining room into an office, we never sat around the table in that room, as we preferred the table in the family room! We never redecorated, we just had a change around, well it’s hard to believe but we’ve been in our house 6 years… Crazy right? We are in our 9th year of living here in the States… It was time for a fresh coat of paint, it’s Paul’s 50th Birthday so it was the perfect time for a makeover into an office for a music loving Dad, who is on the verge of starting his new adventure after 29 years in a new company!

Now, I am huge fan of a show called Fixer Upper, for anyone that hasn’t seen it, it is a house makeover show, a husband and wife team sell houses, flip them and then totally refurnish the whole house, Joanna’s style is so my style, I love everything she does… I love light airy spaces filled with eclectic furniture and things, I love shabby chic, so with this in mind I wanted Paul’s office to have a musical theme , but incorporated with a very pale shabby chic undertone… So far I’m loving this room, it’s not fully finished yet, I need a few trips to second hand stores for a chair, lamp and accessories, I still need white wood slat blinds too… A trip to ikea revealed they have discontinued my beloved blind!  The whole room is getting there, thanks to a dedicated husband and his attention to decorating detail in every way!



Paul’s milestone Birthday this year meant that I had a great excuse to buy him a record player, I contacted his Mum to see if I could get any of his old records sent over, unfortunately there were not many left after all of these years, but we did manage to get a few, so I’m thankful to my mother in law for helping me out! 

In anticipation of having a lack of records to play, Dom and I visited a local record store, where I managed to also purchase two very cool album covers to frame for the walls… A fun day that also included a trip to the Cheesecake Factory and and entertainment in Macy’s as we witnessed someone getting arrested in the men’s clothing department!



The giant X was a Valentine’s Day kiss from a secret admirer… Wink, wink!

A family desicion was made to buy Paul a new Apple computer, but which one should we buy and which one could we afford, after weeks of talking about it and planning it… It was decided that we would take him into the Apple Store on his actual Birthday and he could choose… Each of our older boys and my parents contributed, but of course my portion ended up costing a little more than I had budgeted for… As it was decided that this super Dad needed the nick named 5k… But hey ho, your only 50 once!  What we didn’t figure on was that this super duper computer would very quickly become Florrie’s new tv and games machine… Poor Daddy hasn’t had a look in!

Photographic diary

Life through my lens…

I’m really hoping March improves as far as temperatures go, it’s been a cold snowy week overall… But looking at the forecast things are warming up a bit over the coming week… Yay!

It’s been a crazy week, I met up with some friends I had not seen in a while, Paul officially got a new job, big changes happening for us there and we have been in full swing Birthday prep for next week… Tate is going to be one and then Paul turns 50!

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Indoor playtime for my babies… It’s cold and snowy outside!

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Photographic diary

Life through my lens…

Sunday was March 1st, Spring is on the way, or so you would think… Not here in New Jersey, March 1st seems to have been a signal for more snow! We travelled down to Wayne on Sunday morning for some indoor soccer and then had plans to hit their Costco for some grocery shopping. Plans went wrong when we decided to pop into the Mall for lunch and a Starbucks, it was crazy busy and took much longer than planned. When we finally left the mall it was a blizzard, so we headed very slowly on snow filled highways to our local Costco then home and into the warm…

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