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Monday, 4 May 2015

Healthy Living Lasagne

It's been such a gorgeous day today. So sunny with a clear blue sky most of the day. We've been busy in the garden all day (I did find some time to sit and read my book in the sunshine too) until it became a bit chilly, then into the kitchen to do some cooking.

I'm really pleased with how I'm doing at Slimming World, so far I've lost 22lbs. Long way to go, but I'm really enjoying all the cooking (I've always enjoyed cooking much more than baking).

Lasagne didn't need much of a tweak from how I usually make it. We always use as lean mince as possible, and if there is any fat, it's always drained off.

So... browning the mince, added chopped tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, lots of herbs, garlic and a big spoonful of Marmite. For those of you frowning in horror at the Marmite... I really don't like Marmite... yuck, yuck, yuck, though hubby loves it. I often use it in cooking though, with mince, in stews, with gravy as I find I can't taste the Marmite as such, but it does enhance the flavour of the meat!

It's a nice easy meal, but so tasty. Into the dish

a layer of pasta sheets (I use dry rather than fresh as it's less fat and calories)

At this point I used to add either a cheese sauce or maybe ricotta (depending what we have in). I've swapped it for a low fat cottage cheese. I wasn't sure about doing this as even though I don't mind a little bit of cottage cheese, I wouldn't like too much (or the smell).

It keeps in the fridge and though I wasn't sure... yes, it freezes well too. Tastes very gorgeous with chips done in the actifry (a teaspoon of oil mixed with paprika) and peas.

Very yummy, very filling and all 'free' on the slimming world plan.

Take care

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Exciting Things

It was my baby girl's birthday yesterday, she became a teenager! She had a great weekend, celebrating on Saturday by going to Laser Quest with her big brother and best friend, then a slumber party in the living room with a group of friends from school. Then yesterday, her birthday, a trip out to Frankie and Benny's for a slap up meal.

She ordered a sundae nearly as big as her head! The waiter brought it out singing Happy Birthday to her and it came with 4 spoons, which was good as Imogen was soon beaten, She had a wonderful evening, we all did.

My excitement has continued into today with my order of wool arriving this morning. I ordered a few balls of the lovely Stylecraft yarn the other day, including the 3 new colours. I think they're gorgeous! The new colours are Petrol, Parma Violet and Sage.

I ordered a few more to go with them. Isn't it nicely packaged and presented.

All the wool came in pretty Organza bags, which are lovely for storing them in. Here are all my other lovelies with them.

I've also finished a cushion to go with the ripple throw I made.

I do love the bright colours, so cheerful. I found some pretty wooden buttons in my button stash (I do love buttons).

There are so many things I have in my head that I want to make. I think I'll make myself a shawl next so I can wrap it round me when I go into the garden and it's a bit chilly... it's very chilly now! We seem to have lost the sunniness from last week, but what is it they say... ne'er cast a clout till May is out, so I think it's OK to make myself another clout!

Take care

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

My Little Mrs Russian Doll

I'm trying to finish some of the WIPs that I have around the house before I run out of bags and baskets to store them all in!

I started off with a to do list, but it wasn't very inspiring

The best way to approach it was to just do it! I found these little knitted pieces in a basket waiting to be sewn together. I enjoy the knitting and crochet, but not so hot on the sewing bits and bobs together part.

I think I've had it since last Summer or before even. The pattern came with a magazine 'Lets Get Crafting' and the yarn and needles were supplied with it.

To be fair, once I started sewing and stuffing, it didn't really take that long to finish off. Now doesn't she look better like this rather than a pile of knitted pieces.

I think she's quite sweet with her headscarf and pinny on.

Finishing one thing off has given me the motivation to finish some more (I have a poor bunny with no face).

It's my son's 27th birthday tomorrow and we're having a little celebration tonight to spoil him with a good meal and some presents, so I don't expect to get any more crafting done today.

Take care

Monday, 23 March 2015

Fancy Eggs and New Taps!

I bought some polystyrene eggs a couple of weeks ago so I could hang them on my little tree. So over the weekend, lovely daughter and I pulled our tables out and I glued and snipped papers while Imogen spent time painting.

It was more time consuming than I realised and I think I lost an easy couple of hours just cutting little squares and gluing them while a chicken was roasting in the oven. I used a couple of lumps of Plasticine with dressmaker pins to mount my eggs while I glued them. Obviously I still managed to be covered with a second skin of glue by the time I finished!

I just need to put little cotton or ribbon loops on top of them so they can hang from the branches, but I still have quite a few eggs to play with yet and I really fancy felting a few of the tiny ones. I persuaded my beautiful model to sit with the eggs while I photographed them, though she had a slight problem balancing them, but we managed between us.

I like that the eggs are white, the decoupage papers look so much nicer stuck on a white background, it shows the colours in the papers off much nicer than when darker colours are underneath them.

It feels like it's been an expensive week and not because we spent money on anything frivolous! I noticed a puddle in the kitchen in front of the sink (by noticed, I mean stood in) when I was preparing some potatoes. I suppose it was lucky that I was there and noticed so it wasn't left over night. Apparently a pipe had rusted through with wear and tear from some badly done plumbing when we had our new kitchen fiasco a few years ago. We called a plumber with no call out fee who proceeded to charge rather a lot of money to turn a screw to isolate the water supply so we could still have water in other parts of the house. He suggested we buy some new taps and he'd fit them the following afternoon. Luckily hubby is rather handy and fitted them himself saving us from laying out more money... he just watched a You Tube video... what can't you learn from You Tube!

I did a bit of charity shopping during the week too. We were actually looking for a dressing table, but no luck this week. I know in my head what I'd like, space in the middle to put my legs and drawers on either side. I need to be able to tuck my legs in so I can lean forward towards my mirror because when I take my glasses off I need to be very close to apply my make up to my myopic eyes! It's one of those things, we may stumble across one next week, or it may take us months, but I'd rather wait until I know it's 'the one'.

I didn't leave the charity shop empty handed (that would just be rude wouldn't it?), hubby bought a couple of LPs and I found a variety of books to work my way through.

It seems like a good selection, and at 25p or 50p a book, I really don't mind if I don't like them and they'll all end up back on the charity shop's shelves again when I've read them.

The one I'm most looking forward to reading is 'The Last Concubine', it sounds really interesting. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take care

Friday, 20 March 2015

Healthy Living

We're trying to eat better and lose some weight, especially me as it will help with my health problems. The idea is to still try and eat the foods we like, but with a healthier slant on them, so I've chosen to join a slimming club - Slimming World for inspiration and support.

They've recently started selling their own range of food. One of the things I like is that they don't advertise and it's very much about making sure you feel 'full' not about counting calories.

We've just tried their range of meatballs. I was a little wary as I've tried a couple of things from another slimming range and not enjoyed it at all. I have to say though, I think the Slimming World meatballs are probably among the nicest meatballs I've ever tasted!

I browned them in a pan first of all, then added lots of chopped onions.

Then I added a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes. We always make our own sauces, I think they taste far better and work out much cheaper and better for you all round.

I also chopped up some mushrooms and added garlic, basil and pepper (I add pepper to most things now, since I found out how good it is for you) to taste.

Bit of steam on the camera lens here

Let it simmer so the sauce can thicken and all the yummy flavours can diffuse through it. Then just to be a bit decadent (and to get my day's calcium allowance) I added some slices of a low fat mozzarella cheese to the pan.

I served it on top of pasta and with a nice big salad. There wasn't anything on my plate (except for the mozzarella) that I couldn't have had more of...

Not that any of us wanted to as it was a very satisfying meal. It certainly didn't feel as though it was from a slimming plan, it felt more like comfort food.

I promise not to be a bore with my healthier eating and slimming club, but will share some of the good recipes I come across.

Take care

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Crochet Ripple Blanket

I started my crochet ripple blanket over a year ago when hubby bought me some gorgeous, soft, beautiful Stylecraft yarn as a birthday present.

Lots of beautiful colours and so easy to work with. I'd seen a few ripple blankets on my travels across the blogosphere and really fancied having a go myself. I taught myself to crochet by making Granny Squares, went on to make a Granny Stripe blanket, so it seemed a natural progression to try the ripple pattern.

I found it lovely and easy, a therapeutic rythym of 4 trebles, 2 together twice, 4 trebles, 2 in the same stitch twice. I found my fingers could continue with the rythym while I watched TV or chatted. The hardest part was trying to keep my colour choice random! I found it went too much against the grain and I had to follow an order and choose each colour, making sure they all were used.

As the Summer and then the build up to Christmas came, my poor ripple blanket became consigned to it's bag under a pile of other quicker projects, many of which were gifts.

Then, like a new found pleasure, I opened the bag and fell back in love with it again. I've spent the last few evenings adding more rows and finishing off with a border just to give it a tidier look. I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.

It's lovely and big and beautifully bright and cheerful as well as soft and cosy. Large enough to lay over our bed, but also just right for snuggling under on a chilly evening on the sofa.

Now that it's finished, I want to make another one! I still have plenty of yarn left from it, so I think I'm going to make some ripply cushion covers for the sofa. We use a lot of throws and blankets, but I love how neatly the crocheted ones fold up.

Anything that doesn't take up too much space has to be a good thing.

So... if you crochet and haven't yet tried a ripple pattern yet, let me heartily recommend it. If you don't crochet, let me still recommend it, it's a simple, repetitive pattern so quite good to start with.

Take care

Monday, 16 March 2015

One Spoilt Mummy

I'm not complaining, nothing makes me happier than when the 4 of us are together, my wonderful husband, very grown up son and sweet little daughter, I feel like the luckiest person in the world, it gives me such a flood of warm contentment that I once didn't know was possible.

I was a single parent with my beautiful boy for a long time before I met Andrew. Adam was, and still is a joy and my anchor to the world. I'm so proud of the man he has grown into and look at him with wonder, I can't believe he is my very own son, that tiny baby who made my life mean something.

Then, not only did I find my soulmate, but we had our beautiful girl, our Imogen. I love to squeeze her and tell her how she's my dream come true. I would have loved to have had more children, but for various reasons it wasn't to be and I think it's more that fair to say my cup overruns...

Adam works long hours and isn't usually home before 7 in an evening and then has his girlfriend and his own commitments. He does come and see us every week though and spends as much time with his little sister as he can, and she in turn absolutely adores him.

Days like yesterday are so precious, we all went out together to Sigglesthorne (great name) to the garden centre and had a lovely lunch together to celebrate Mother's Day. I was spoilt with bunches of flowers

And how cute and thoughtful are these ear rings...

They also each bought me a very cute fairy house. I'm very excited about these and will do a post when they're set up ready for the fairies to move in.

I hope all you mums out there had a lovely day too.

Take care