November 17, 2013 26 Comments
November 14, 2013 4 Comments
Today I am posting a featured post from Matthew, from WeightLoss Triumph, on the Nutrisystem meal plans. Unfortunately, the system cannot be bought in the UK so I added it under possible gifts for loved ones living in America.
If you have searched for weight loss programs online, you would surely have come across Nutrisystem. Over the past four decades, Nutrisystem has risen to become a kingpin in the weight loss industry in the US, not only offering counseling and weight loss programs but a range of products designed to help people lose weight. Enrollment is free while you can find a coupon or promotion that enables you to save money on this weight loss program. Stay-at-home wife Ashley of Closet Samples and blogger Matthew of WeightLossTriumph.com offer Nutrisystem discount codes.
November 12, 2013 9 Comments
Tonight’s recipe is inspired by the cheddar scone recipe in The Colman’s Mustard Cookbook but as usual, I decided to change a few things here and there, just to make things a bit more interesting
225g self-raising flour
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard (the Colman recipe said mustard powder but I had none in the house)
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder (my scones came out a bit flat so I would add a full teaspoon next time)
60g grated cheese (I used sage Derby, the Colman’s recipe asked for Cheddar)
2 medium eggs
Milk for the glaze
150 ml cream (I used clotted cream for texture)
Mix the flour, mustard, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Using your hand, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, one egg and the cream, to form a light dough (mine wasn’t coming together so I added a drop of warm water).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut out as many scones as you can, reforming the dough and rolling out again until you’re finished. Place the scones onto a greased baking sheet. Beat the other egg with a bit of milk and brush your scones. Add in the oven for 15 minutes at 200C. Let them cool on a rack. Optionally, you can cut them in half and fill them with your choice of filling (pate, smoked salmon, cream cheese). We eat them as they are, as they are filling and delicious in themselves!
November 11, 2013 4 Comments
With 43 days left until Christmas (how can this be, it seems like it was only yesterday Emma was splashing in the sea in Halkidiki??), all retailers, small businesses and private sellers have gone into a tizzy.
And so have all the caring family members, especially the ones who have a lot of people and tastes to please and a budget to stick to. I must confess, with a baby on the way, I started extra early this year as I know that come December I will be too heavy and tired to go shopping or spend hours online trying to find bargains. Santa has already bought Emma (and even wrapped it all up) a lovely Barbie with complimentary car and a Tiana doll.
She He has also thought of suggesting to daddy his helper to add to the stash a couple of girlie outfits from Vertbaudet, since they have an online Christmas pre-sale on already and voila, little girl sorted for this Christmas!
I have also decided to put together a list of ideas for Christmas presents for your loved ones, since I know how limited our time is and how helpful lists can be. I will be adding up to the list hopefully every week, depending on energy levels and finds worth writing about!
This week I proudly present you with three products we have tried as a family and approved of unanimously.
The first, coming from the an appropriately-named company, Sent With a Loving Kiss, would make a lovely Christmas present for any chocolate lover. The tins would impress even hard to please mothers-in-laws as it gives the buyer the unique opportunity to personalise the chocolate box with a heartfelt message. I loved ours and I will keep it as a biscuit tin because of the personal message imprinted on it. The chocolates were yummy and came in a variety of black, white and milk, with lovely Christmassy designs on them. The boxes sell with a slight discount at the moment, starting at £18.99. As a satisfied customer, I would assure you, they would make a very impressive and highly palatable Christmas gift!
The second gift idea I chose for this week is the newly improved PAIRSinPEARS letter game. Why did we like it as a family?
- We found it easily transportable: the game comes in a very cute, pear-shaped zip bag that can easily fit even in hand luggage (if you plan to travel this Christmas or if your family prefers camping trips in the summer) and can be carried around even by very small hands.
- It is a game that grows with your family: you can use it with children as young as 4, for pattern grouping and learn your ABC games but it makes a fun game even for grown-ups who can use it to play competitive word grids. Who says Christmas is for slouching on the sofa, stuffed as a turkey?!?
- Mummy was pleased as, unlike other family games, this one is easy to store away as it doesn’t take a lot of room.
The game retails on eBay and at Staples between £15.50 and £19.19. We would recommend it as a sturdy and entertaining family game, guaranteed to offer hours of fun at Christmas( and not only!)
The last product I decided to include in this post is the funky looking and gorgeously girlie shower cap from Save The Blow. I am one of those girls who loves styling her hair and having it just right as I associate clean, styled hair with self-confidence and self-respect. BUT as a busy mum I am also always looking for ways to save time and energy bills so when I saw this particular shower cap, I knew I wanted it as an ally and asset :-). The fact that it comes in lovely, girlie, soft fabric pink and that it guarantees no frizzy, wet hair was a definite bonus! But the selling element for me would always be the fact that the company works in association with Khandel Light and that the sales finance a very noble campaign of improving living conditions in Khandel, one of the most impoverished regions in the world and support a cause I hold very dear, access to education for girls! So girls, saving your blow dryers while helping girls in India get an education, what could be more fitting and uplifting than that for a Christmas present?
November 7, 2013 Leave a comment
Almost two weeks ago I was sent Go Faster Food for Kids, a lovely recipe book for busy children (and parents) to review.
As we have moved meanwhile and the time has passed I decided to include it on my possible Christmas presents list, which I will update regularly from now until Christmas.
The author, Kate Perry, has had a lot of experience in sports nutrition, going back to 2000, when she started researching foods that provide the best of fuel for athletes. As a result, Go Faster Food, her first recipe book was written and geared to help athletes achieve the best results in marathons and sporting competitions by eating the right foods, in the right balance.
Her present book was written to provide ideas and inspiration for parents of athlete children and their coaches. It offers an array of tasty, healthy and nutritionally balanced recipes aimed to power and support training and competition preparation.
The book is neatly structured into two sections: the first offers a lot of researched information on children’ nutrition and eating appropriately for a sporting event.The nice touch that the author brings, and what makes this book different from a simple nutrition for children book is the inclusion of interviews with children and teenage athletes and the way they approach nutrition in the context of sporting competitions. I would wholeheartedly recommend the book for any aspiring little athletes you have in your family, the role model interviews provided in the book are deemed to impress and inspire them!
The second section provides breakfast&brunch, mains and light meal recipes supported by mouth-watering pictures.
As a busy mother and wife who strives to provide balanced meals to a picky eater, a pregnant mommy and a training athlete, I was particularly impressed by the mains’ section and the fact that they have been structured into meals that can be ready in under 20 minutes(!!), under 45 minutes and slow cooked, when time isn’t an issue. This means I have no excuses now to cook a nutritious meal, even when I am short of time and with 101 recipes to choose from the book will definitely provide me with inspiration when I run out of ideas!
I have included this as my first entry for what I hope will be a useful list of Christmas present ideas I will be posting until mid-December. I would definitely recommend it for the budding athletes in the family and for their cooking mothers!
October 30, 2013 2 Comments
We all have mental images and maybe memories to associate with Halloween:
“Tricks or treats” and buckets of sweets.
Rows and rows of scary masks, overpriced sweets and fluorescent nylon tights.
Pumpkin carving, pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup.
Scary movies, popcorn and warm fireplaces.
Witches and broomsticks, pirates and eye patches: little children playing at being someone fierce or scary. A controlled game of fear played in the first world under the protective gaze of loving and caring parents/carers. A choice of facing fear and retreating into loving arms when the scary bits get too frightening.
Unfortunately, for many other children in this world, there is no such choice to be had in the day to day life. No choice in NOT getting married to a man three times your age. No choice of NOT losing a parent in a meaningless war. No choice of food as maybe there is no food in the house. No choice of avoiding fear as fear permeates life the same way sound permeates the air, continuously and unavoidably…
World Vision has launched the appeal A Night Of Hope and on the 31st of October is inviting us all to carve a heart into our pumpkins and give a different meaning to Halloween. The appeal is as simple as this: “Let’s make 31 October 2013 the day we stand alongside children living in fear in the world’s hardest places and show we care!”
Please use your pumpkin to raise awareness for their campaign. And more importantly, use these special family moments to chat to your own children about the subject and make them aware of a very different reality for millions of children just like them. Compassion can never start too early and it ALWAYS starts at home.
Please do have a look at the Night of Hope World Vision webpage and feel free to download their “Guide to a Halloween free of fear.” It includes instructions on how to heart carve your pumpkin, tips on how to use your pumpkin seeds, and delicious recipes by Lesley Waters for sweet sticky pumpkin tart and pumpkin soup. But more importantly, it includes an awareness printout that can be stuck in the window and a touching story about girls, like Sylvia, facing the unbearable thought of a forced marriage from an early age.
Happy Halloween everybody!
October 29, 2013 4 Comments
I am a doer, so I am. I have always been one, come to think of it, but my lists shaped up and started to feature consistently in my life after a few summers of working in Switzerland in children’s camps. I learned so many things during those summers but most of all, I understood the importance of sanitation, organisation and discipline :-).
You see, I am a firm believer in “plan for success.” In my opinion, a mentality of “good things happen to those who believe in good things” characterises people who are too lazy to plan and work. As a family, we live our lives according to the slogan “good things happen to those who plan ahead!”
As I wrote in a previous post last week, when it comes to juggling modern parenting tasks, good organisational skills are essential for the smooth running of a household. I try at the moment to balance many “plates” and as any juggler worth his/her salt, I need to know my tricks really well in order to maintain harmony in our lives. I am, at the moment, studying, building a home business, expecting a baby and being a mummy, all at once. My tips?
- Prioritise daily and hourly. Be flexible about when things get done, as long as everything gets done in the end!
This week I will need to tick several very important things on my to-do list. I need to hand in my first assignment. Write five blog posts. Chauffeur Emma around to some of her after-school activities. Pack our belongings as we’ll be moving house on Saturday!!
How do I plan to do it? By breaking the days into hours and by filling every hour with a task, in order of priority and circumstances.
For example, Emma woke up this morning at 6.30. I was intending to read for my assignment but since reading is impossible with a small child around, I recruited hubby who started work late today and we managed to do some much needed packing in that hour and a half before he headed out!
- Plan ahead! Especially for big things like holidays, life insurance cover, Christmas expenditure…etc.
Hubby has started budgeting carefully our income a year ago, when we realised with horror that our outgoings were larger than our incomes! We also sat down and spoke about serious situations, like illness or sudden death of one or both of us, and we decided that life insurance was an expense worth making in order to provide a safety net for each other in the very unfortunate case.
He also budgets every month for our summer holidays and we think ahead when it comes to birthday parties (I paid for Emma’s in April, since the soft play area she likes was running a promotion!) and Christmas expenses (as I said in a previous post, I asked Emma to choose only two items, which I already got in the half price sales Sainsbury’s is running at the moment!)
- Don’t put things off, it will only make you stress out and ultimately cram your days!
Planning and to-do lists are not meant to “cramp your style”, as some people think, but they are there to help you uncram your days! If you have a written down or mental plan for the day you will be more efficient in achieving your short and long-term goals.You will also feel satisfied and happy once things get ticked off your list as you will know the end is in sight!
Avoid planning and you may end up running around like a headless chicken, trying to achieve unreasonable tasks for the amount of time and energy you have at your disposal.
This entry is my blog post contribution to the challenge the Mumsnet team and Aviva launched recently regarding life insurance. The opinions and views expressed are entirely my own. If you want to learn more about what life insurance is and what Aviva can offer you in this sense, please watch the video below:
October 28, 2013 16 Comments
Halloween week, can you believe it? This autumn has flown in for me, I can’t believe I have less than 3 months left of this pregnancy!
Well, it’s also half-term officially. Emma will be going to playgroup until Wednesday, when she will have a Halloween party with her friends there, so she has been asking from today for some “scary” buns for the boys and girls.
I am not very inventive when it comes to baking so I had a wee look around the Internet and found this Hearty Spiced Carrot Muffin recipe which sounded quite straight forward and mentioned a “toddler who devoured her muffin all Tasmanian-devil style”. I thought this would be spot on if we were to take them to the party on Wednesday and if we adapted them a little bit to look more…spooky.
So here is a list of my ingredients. I forgot to include the olive oil (of which I added half a cup) in the picture:
- 2 cups of self-raising flour(approximately 250 grams)
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder (I learned my lesson this summer and always add baking soda for fluffiness, even when my flour is self-raising)
- one cup of porridge oats
- one medium carrot, grated
- half a cup of brown sugar (I don’t like my buns to be too sweet, especially when designed with children in mind!)
- a cup of milk (the initial recipe stated applesauce but since I had none I double the amount of milk)
- one egg
- two teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger
- spooky Halloween Hariboes
- edible shimmer spray (optional)
The recipe recommended mixing dry ingredients first, then wet ingredients separately and adding them to the latter. I am a simple sort of baker and added everything together as they were listed, I’m afraid. No harm occurred.
My eager little baker stepped in to help me with the stirring: “That’s why I’m here, mummy!”
We placed the mix in Halloween muffin cases (bought especially from the occasion from Home Bargains, at £0.59 per 48 cases) and placed them in the oven for 20 minutes.
Emma insisted on adding a Halloween sweetie on each while they were still warm and asked me to spray them with the edible shimmer spray to make them more presentable and eery-looking.
Then she proceeded in sampling them (although she was a bit worried about the grated carrot she had seen going into the mix and had to be lied to: “Yes, love, I got it all out!”…) and declared them the best muffins mummy has ever made.
For me, this is the ultimate proof of success in a recipe and I will definitely make these little babies again, since it’s a sure way to get Emma to eat disguised carrot, if nothing else :-)!