A little late but last Friday whilst it was half term we all took a train and headed to Manchester on a lovely family day out. Picture heavy post? You betcha’.
Since I got ‘Home of the Month‘ from Made Unboxed in December I have been following them on Instagram and a few days days ago got a little over excited when I saw they were launching a new series just for children… eeek there goes my bank balance again!
They launched on 25th February and I’ve got to say I’m totally blown away. I’m so gutted I didn’t know this was happening sooner as I would have loved one of the beds pictured below for Lucas.
The details are beautiful and I would have loved Lucas to have a bunk bed. However, he decided he no longer wanted a cabin bed so I’m pretty sure a bunk bed was out of the question. (darn, darny, darn, darn, darn)
I love made.com and that’s because I have purchased from them in the past and the products have always passed muster and I think they are good value for money too. It takes a little bit of faith on my part as I can’t test out the goods beforehand but they do now have a bricks and mortar showroom that you can head over on to and test out some of the products they sell before committing to a purchase.
I have already placed my order, the Iso bedspread for Lucas’s room, but may be placing another as they have since added a few more items to the collection. This really could be dangerous!!!!
Also a big thankyou to made for the lovely surprise package. Lucas really loved strutting around in it this morning. x
Have you purchased anything from the made children’s collection?
So over on Instagram I’ve been posting a few photos of the sugar free, grain free, gluten free, yeast free recipes we’ve been cooking up over the last few weeks. I’m changing the foods I eat not because I need to lose weight, although it’s definitely an added bonus, but because of lifelong health issues. I don’t want to go too deep into that just yet, only to say I have something called candida which I’m trying to deal with. You can read more on that here and there are some of the recipes I found here too.
I’ve promised for a couple of weeks to put together a list of the foods and links to recipes for some of my followers I’ve been chatting with.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in health and wellbeing matters but I’m learning as I go along and I have the help of a fantastic nutritionist that I skype with from the USA. She has been mentored by Chris Kresser who is the guy to know when it comes to a Paleo lifestyle. That isn’t what I’m trying to do but I certainly use the tips and recipes as the basic clean eating principles are the same.
All content of this post is just what works for me and won’t work for everyone. I don’t eat lots of meats so I struggle to find things I want to eat and we find recipes and adjust them for what I am allowed. Please just use this as a guide and I will write more posts relating to food/recipes and my experiences later on.
I’ve learnt so much in the last few months about sugars, protein, carbs and fats. I’ve been advised to avoid grains, dairy and gluten as well as follow a candida diet. Protein rich food 3 meals a day will help stabilise your blood sugar levels and stop the sugar slumps that I faced on a daily basis. Protein for breakfast was the biggest change for me. I used to eat porridge, weetabix and shredded wheat for breakfast as it was quick and easy. Not anymore. Below is a guide to what I choose to eat and some of the recipes I have found on candida or paleo sites and others where I’ve just substituted the flours and sugars for alternatives that are better for me. I like to use Xylitol in sweet recipes but I only use half the recommended sugar amount of any recipe as I think foods can actually be too sweet when they really don’t need to be. Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible. These are usually hidden in ‘low fat’ items. If you can’t understand an ingredient on the back of a packet or jar don’t buy it!
So what do I eat for breakfast now? Eggs… pretty much every day. Boiled, scrambled, poached, with coconut/almond bread, spinach, gluten free sausages, bacon. There are so many ways of doing eggs and they only take a few minutes. I used to cook porridge on the hob for 4 minutes and that’s just the same amount of time it takes to boil an egg. Bacon is quick to grill whist the eggs are on and sausages we cook the night before or a few days before and warm up when needed. Remember you only need a palm sized amount of protein. I may have one sausage and poached egg, couple of eggs scrambled with a slice or two of bacon, but not smoked bacon. Some people prefer to stay away from pork as they are usually not as good quality meat as some but that’s personal choice. I use a tiny spot of ketchup if I feel the need as ok’d by my nutritionist.
DINNER & TEA:
We make these recipes at the weekend and double the amount of any recipe so we make more than enough for 2 or even 3 or 4 meals for the week.
I’ve been making a pretty easy chicken korma for a few years that I got off bbcgoodfood.com. I remove the onion as my son doesn’t like it. I change the stock to bouillon, which you can get in most supermarkets, and the creme fraiche to full fat natural yoghurt. I also use quite a large nob of ginger and add medium curry powder for the extra kick and use about a tablespoon of garam masala. I can make this easy within 30 mins and I always make double or more so I can have the rest either for a dinner later in the week or for a quick warm up tea. I have less than 1/2 cup of rice with this each time and I always have white rice as there is less arsnic in white than brown. It’s up to you what you choose.
Beef Burger and sweet potato wedges (no bun) We use Jamie Olivers Ultimate burger and chips recipe. We just leave out the mustard & parmesan and use flaxseed instead of breadcrumbs. Add a little paprika instead of the mustard if you like a little kick. If you can’t find the recipe as i don’t think it’s online you could try this one. I’d use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil but that’s just me.
Meatballs (use the same recipe for burgers but form them into meatballs), courgette linguine & ratatouille.
Chicken and courgette burgers with yam chips (no bun). You can peel and chop the yam well in advance and just keep them in a bowl of water until you are ready to use them.
Beef stew (substitute the flour for almond flour), veggies and sweet potato wedges (peel, chop and chuck in oven with melted lard)
Baked butternut squash (we miss out the feta, pine nuts and olives (I don’t like Olives!)
Tuna mix (tin tuna or fresh, chopped cherry toms, cucumber, sweet bell peppers, few twist of the pepper mill and mix it all together with cottage cheese) squished ripe avocado on paleo bread, salad leaves optional.
Stuffed sweet bell peppers with tuna mix
Coconut and apple chicken liver pate (personally I struggle to eat chicken livers but if you like it it’s worth a go.)
Cauliflower base pizza, for the sauce mix with passata a good amount of tom puree, crush garlic, fresh chopped basil S&P. We cut strips of yellow pepper, courgette, halve the baby plum toms and instead of mozarella we use cottage cheese… yum!
Lemon and blueberry cake, have a small slice with full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice. Try not to do it every day or every meal
Fluffy pancakes there are loads of recipes but I like to use these. Again add full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice
Full fat natural yoghurt and a couple of berries or a sprinkle of mixed spice
Ripe plantain fried in mixed spice and cinnamon
Cookies I use xylitol instead of sugar and I half the amount in the recipe. These are actually made for my son but I may have one occasionally and by occasionally I mean 2 in the week if I’m desperate
Water (plenty of it!)
Decaf tea and coffee
Fruit teas, just make sure they are good quality
Cold fruit tea, if you have a sodastream then cold fizzy fruit tea
Almond and coconut milk check they are unsweetened (I also use almond or coconut in my decaf tea and coffee)
Oh yeah I’m still allowed to drink my alcohol drink of choice which is a whiskey but instead of the coke I have it with soda water. I do occasionally drink it with the soda water and a splash of coke but I can happily drink it without. I had to slowly reduce the amount of coke which took a few weeks but now I don’t mind it.
Depending on how you feel and your reasons for changing your diet then you can still have little treats but it’s a case of thinking differently about treats. I don’t see that big bag of sweets any more as being a treat! I just know it will put me right back where I don’t want to be. Instead we keep a bar of 85% dark chocolate in the fridge and just have couple of blocks when I’m in desperate need or have had a hard day.
The hardest thing is the going out to restaurants. The easiest thing is to completely avoid it but that isn’t us. Instead we only eat out no more than once every two weeks, unless absolutely necessary. We don’t have a starter and we don’t have a desert. We make the better choices when it comes to the meal. We like Pizza Express and we used to all have three courses and I would drink freshly squeezes orange juice by the bucket load. Now I have a pizza or salad and look for a protein rich one and just ask them to remove stuff I shouldn’t eat with some exceptions, one tiny bit isn’t going to hurt right? I have now started carrying with me a tub of almonds, fruit tea bags and a small flask of almond milk. People are very accepting of this behaviour, or maybe its just my cheek?! Either way it’s your health and well being. If restaurants want my family’s business then they will have to accept my terms providing they are reasonable requests of course. This was always a stumbling block for me in the past but now it seems second nature to me. If you go somewhere regularly you get to the know the staff and they you so you can switch things up a bit and ask them to alter the meal slightly, most restaurants are very accommodating these days.
I realise I haven’t explained much about my reasons for this lifestyle, diet change but it was more about helping give others the ideas of what they can eat without changing too much. The biggest change is not using ANY pre packaged food with the exception of ketchup but we are also going to make our own soon. There are recipes for everything but I also realise it’s a big lifestyle change to cook all your food from scratch but once you start it’s difficult to stop.
If I buy anything for our family that isn’t home-made I always check the sugar content. 4g sugar = 1 teaspoon. This for me is the most evil of all substances and it is the one I loved the most but starting eating this way has reduced my sugar intake by approx 98% and I feel better for it.
I’ve suffered from depression, albeit a mild depression, for a long time and that heaviness and darkness has lifted. I’ve noticed that I’m smiling more, jumping about like a kid again, wanting to go out on adventures and I’m stressing the small stuff a lot less. On top of that I’ve lost 10lbs without doing too much exercise. Next on my list is a proper exercise regime but that’s another post.
Just one thing to remember – any change however small, is the start. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day or have a naughty snack or just completely indulge. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s taken me 10 years from learning about candida and 3 previous attempts to get to the place I’m in now. I needed help! I’ve learnt more about food and sugars in the last 6 months than I ever understood before and the small, slow changes I made over the years like reducing sugar in my tea and coffee and choosing some healthier options, like 1 digestive over a packet of jaffa cakes and the like are what have helped change my way of thinking. Changing the bread from soft and fluffy white to more dense, yeast free breads, not eating take away so often or eating out less. It’s these changes that have put me in a good place and now that I’m able to prepare my own food, believe me I know how difficult it is when you are tired and have zero energy, well I now have that energy and willingness. We’ve built up a stock pile in our freezer and fridge and sometimes when we are feeling lazy or we arrive home late we sometimes get the frozen chips out for ease but it’s fairly quick to put some sweet potato wedges in the oven too. The better I feel, the better I eat and the better I feel! (no that’s not a typo). It just keeps on going. I allow myself one of my son’s smarties or one of the biscuits I made now as I’m more able to not need (ok want!) the whole tube or box! I’m no longer hungry every 5 minutes. I eat my 3 meals a day and rarely want anything in-between.
The biggest difference in me? I have energy and life back.
I’d love to know if you have tried this kind of lifestyle before or currently making the change and how its making you feel.
If anyone has any specific questions either email me or leave a comment below. I will reply to them all. If I can affect one person’s life then I’ve done my job.
Health and happiness to you all x
Note: You can follow my food board BITE:me over on pinterest for more ideas.
I’ve been meaning to write a post or two over Christmas but you know what, I happily had a break from everything instead! Naughty I know but that leads me nicely on to the fact that I have a few goals for 2015. I don’t like the term resolutions because it usually implies ridiculous things that I can never stick to
Family & Travel // One of my aims is to take more outdoor and travel adventures, both on my own and together with my family. We try and get out of the house on weekends and look for interesting places to go but usually end up in the same places! I want to research and make a list of all the local places to visit and some much further afield. I’d really like to visit Stockholm or New York this year but not sure New York is the right place to go with a 7/8 year old. Might be better waiting until he’s 9 or 10.
Home // Clutter drives me mad… I know I’m not the only one! I’ve already started working on this but I want to get my home sorted, decluttered and organised by the end of this year. I have an attic that was full of stuff that is slowly depleting. I’m giving stuff away to friends and family or putting bits on eBay, hell I’m even just putting stuff in the bin, you know the sorts of things… those things that could come in useful someday that have been sat up there since the day we moved in just gathering dust! Well it’s all got to go! There are a few exceptions like my sons cot and some bits from when he was tiny. I’m keeping special toys so we can get them out when he’s older or if he has children of his own.
I have a couple of homey projects I want to work on like our bathroom and the garden room and now my boy has decided he wants a grown up bed?! I WILL get this done as a tidy uncluttered house means a tidy uncluttered mind… supposedly?!
Work // I love and feel very privileged that I get to work for myself and with my husband. I’m my own boss but in some ways that just makes things harder. Self discipline to get things done can be quite tricky. I wear many hats at work and I know I need to plan my time and days better. I get side tracked by phone calls and clients requests and I just need to get stuff done! My least favourite part of my job is the bookkeeping so I want to relinquish this to a trusty person who can just concentrate on this. The hard part is finding and training somebody… who am I kidding, the hardest part is letting it go! That is something I’m going to work on this year.
Blogging // I absolutely LOVE blogging and the community and although I mainly do it for me it’s nice to have connections with other people. I would love to be able to have more time (read commitment) to blogging and again it’s something I really want to grow and the only I can do that is to blog more frequently, which in turn means needing to plan and be more organised. I have myself a little notebook and I need to figure a couple of days where I can dedicate some time to planning and doing. I also need to limit the amount of time I spend on others blogs and stop comparing myself to them. Sometimes that can be a real downer and it just makes it harder to post a blog as I’m never sure I’m saying or writing about the right things. I need my confidence to grow!
Health // I’ve been addicted to sugar since I can remember ( although I didn’t know it back then). I’m changing my lifestyle to represent a more healthy one that isn’t filled with sugary food and drink. This is quite a big topic for me right now and I don’t want to go into too much detail in this post but my sanity, connection with the two men in my life and my friends and general well being are all connected to my unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle. This is something I started to change 10 years ago but my most recent changes are the ones that I’m praying will be successful. I’ll write more about this in further posts. I want to bake more healthy goodies and find more interesting and different foods to experiment with.
Fitness // Exercise is the key to this one. I started running 18 months ago and had to stop due to a bloody nasty chest infection which rendered me breathless just walking, let alone running! The healthy eating has helped my breathing and I feel able to run again but I have lost the stamina I built up and know it will take me some time before I’m running 5k again but I’m determined to be a great role model for my son who currently prefers to stay at home tinkering with computers. Once we manage to get him out of the house he really enjoys it but it’s just such a struggle to get him there. As my energy levels have dwindled I have become complacent and so instead of going for long family walks we end up just popping to the park. That is all going to change… right here, right now! Going on my first run of 2015 tonight!
Happy New Year to you all and I’d love to hear your goals for 2015.
I’ve just started uploading to Made Unboxed, which is a spin off idea from made.com. Basically if you buy any of their pieces you can upload a photo, or few, showing the item/s in your home. I love made.com and only wish I had a mansion so I could buy more stuff!
If you want to see future homes that win home of the month be sure to sign up to their newsletter. If you want to see more photos of my home you can see those here. Why not upload some of your photos and join the wonderfully talented folk already there sharing their real homes.
All I need to figure out now is what to buy with my winning voucher? Any suggestions?
What are your favourite pieces at made.com?
Merry Christmas everyone x
Only 10 days to go! Yay Christmas will be here before we know it.
I don’t know about anyone else but this year has flown so fast and I’ll be pretty glad to wave bye bye to the studio for a good couple of weeks and put my tired old feet up!
Today has been a day for wrapping presents and cooking New Years eve fodder for our friends. We are going away between Christmas and New Year for a little break to Edinburgh. Christmas is a time for good cheer but also usually involves being asked to lots of get togethers. That’s really nice and all but we only get 8 days off and we want to spend a lot of it just the three of us. We are all different and we make sure we send time with family and friends but time to do ‘our’ thing is so important to us right now. We’ll spend Christmas day with family and News Year Eve with friends.
We’re all dec’d up and ready to go.I always have big ideas about crafting projects and what not for this time of year but the truth is that the studio in December is just about the busiest we can be. Out come the same decs with a couple of new additions. No theme for me… that generally means having to think too much ha! Plenty of twinkly lights and colourful decs on the tree are enough for us for now.
How do you spend the holidays and do you have a Christmas decoration theme or is it just random like mine?
Happy Holidays x
I’ve been very honoured last week to have a photo of my home featured on Made.com‘s Facebook page and Instagram. I’ve also had Mahabis, who make the best slippers, repost on Instagram and then I’ve just had a notification that vsco grid have chosen one of my images for their own feed of favourites. You can see it if you click the link below.
Totally blown away by all the social media love of late.
Thank you all you wonderful folk for wanting to share my images, you don’t know what it means.
It’s the 1st December already?! How did that happen?! 24 days to go and I don’t know who’s more excited… me or the boy.
For quite some time I’ve had big ideas to make my own advent calendar for the boy. His grandparents have always bought him chocolate ones, both sets of them… thats a lot of chocolate to eat for one fairly dinky 7 year old. We’ve bought him lego star wars advent’s the past 2 years and great as they are it just didn’t feel personal or made with the love I knew it could be.
I had a quick look through good old pinterest and found a few fab ideas. Problem was I only had about a week and an already busy one at that. In the end I opted for a simple design that was straightforward to make and didn’t involve sewing.
These are just a couple of the ideas I found on pinterest. You can have a look at the rest of my festive pins here.
Last minute looking for a template I found this post on etsy. This prompted me to add some washi tape to some of the boxes and the template was fairly straightforward.
I made 4 different sized boxes and just enlarged the template to make a 20cm tall one that fit over two pages of A4. I had a particular spot in mind to put them so didn’t want to make them too big. I also didn’t want to have spend a fortune on filling them so a small toy or sweetie is just enough, and believe me it’s really easy to get carried away.
Tools you’ll need:
Ideas for fillers:
1. Print out the templates and cut them out. I drew around the first one on the card stock and then cut it out and used that as a thicker template. My printer would’t print direct on to the card but if yours does then I’d suggest printing straight onto it.
2. Cut out all 24 shapes and use the ruler and knitting needle (or something else with blunt point) to score the fold lines. Once scored it’s much easier to fold.
3. If you want to draw a stencil design or stamp numbers on to the cones then you could do this before folding and sticking. (I didn’t)
4. Use PVA glue to stick one side to the bottom and use double sided tape on the two other flaps. (Don’t peel it off until you’ve filled it with a treat.)
We don’t like Lucas to eat too much sugary stuff so we have tried to work out which ones he would be opening at the weekends and mostly only filled those with the sugary treats. Lucas especially loves chocolate orange so I bought a share bag of mini segments and wrapped those in tin foil before placing in the boxes.
5. Once you’ve filled and sealed they can then be decorated. I used a white chalkboard pen to create the lines and snow topped mountains and used washi tape to add a little more interest to a few of them.
When they are all finished make sure you mix up the numbers because part of the challenge and excitement is to find the number!
It took me around 5 hours to complete this and it was so worth it. He came bounding into our bedroom this morning to thank me for his advent calendar. His face was a picture and he was so excited to open his first one. It’s moments like these that make the hard work worthwhile.
I’d love to know if you’ve made an advent calendar this year. Add a link in the comments below so I can check them out as I need to start getting ideas together for next year!
All photos taken by me. Idea is a mix of great tutorials found on pinterest.
‘Scuse the low res photos as I had to take them with my phone. Not really the sort of place I thought to take a camera.
There’s been lots of ups and downs lately. Some downs with my health issues and winter setting in. Ups with Lucas doing well at school and Christmas coming. I’m not normally big on Christmas but since my wee man has come along I find myself really looking forward to Christmas day. Yes, I think I’m reliving my childhood through him… This year I’m going to attempt to make him an advent calendar. Yeah, I know, I’ve only got 4 days so better get my backside into gear!
However I’m digressing somewhat…
We can spend far too much time worrying about the small things and not sleeping or waking in the middle of the night through sheer panic thinking about the what if’s. Life can be a struggle no matter who you are or what kind of life you lead. Small things can seem like the hugest of things and others may not see your struggles but no matter how big or small it can make you feel like everything is lost.
A week ago I received a phone call from my mum to tell me that my son’s Pops had been in hospital since the early hours of the morning. They were home but both were worried and tired. My mum remarried a few years ago to a lovely man who absolutely adores my son as though he was his own flesh and blood. He’s not normally the type of chap who goes to hospital, he’s quite old fashioned in that sense. He was suffering from debilitating headaches for about a week which started at around 4 in the morning. I can only imagine how scary and distressing this must have been for both of them. After some tests they think it may be cholesterol headaches. It can build up overnight and can cause severe pains that will happen around the same time every morning. This, thankfully, can be controlled my medication and diet.
Yesterday at work we heard our colleagues’ dad was sent to hospital from his doctor. We have two brothers work with us at our studio. That could be a tricky situation. Their dad was kept in overnight. When I got home from work on Monday I received a call from my father-in-law. My mother-in-law has been struggling for breath for the last couple of days and thinking she had a chest infection she waited over the weekend to go and see her doctor on Monday morning. She was checked and told her chest was clear so they did an ECG and found her heart was racing and it’s this that was causing her breathlessness. She was struggling to talk and walk more than a couple of yards, she was constantly having to stop to try and catch herself. Being asthmatic I know how this can feel and I’ve been through this with similar scenario with Lucas when he was less than 6 months old. She was supposed to be home yesterday but she’s still there. This has truly made us realise that we all really are getting older. It has been a proper kick in the face realisation but a realisation all the same. None of us are immortal but I like to think we have a good 40 years left in us yet!
I’m scared of getting old but at the same time I feel that life has never been more positive and full of amazing opportunities and that I really need to grab them by the balls!
Thankfully, this time, everything will be alright. My husbands mum will be home tomorrow and with new medication she’ll be able to get her heart back under control. Life will still carry on and we’ll fall into our old ways but this time we will make that little extra effort it takes to tell our parents that we love them a little more often and to do a little more with them and for them. After all no one is around forever.
Next time you see someone you truly care about be sure to let them know how you feel. x
Great little parenting gadgets from a company who started their kickstarter back in Feb 2014. They smashed all their goals within a day!
I wish I was in need of these fantastic gadgets because they just suit us down to the ground. I love everything about them from their colours to their little faces and to the genius of how they all work.
The kickstarter was to launch the little triangle guy pictured above, Sammy Screamer. I believe it’s due to be ready for shipping in the next few weeks.
1 – Lilly Loco | 2 – Olivia P Sticks | 3 – David Camera | 4 – Master Bates | 5 – Sammy Screamer | 6 – Ultra Stan | 7 – Cecil G | 8 – Tony Tempa