Monday, February 19, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 8

My second full week of maternity leave and again I have a few appointments - I'd imagined it as weeks on end of sitting at home doing nothing, or rather going through the massive to do list of all the things I never get time to do (and almost certainly never will have time again) - but it's not been like that at all. I'm tired all the time so often have afternoon naps and either manage to get one thing done in the morning or have an appointment, then when my husband gets home from work I make dinner (he's still recovering from a leg injury which means he can't help much around the house) and then we are both too tired to do anything more than watch TV. I really do hope we get through everything we need to do specifically relating to preparing for the baby, if nothing else! Don't get me wrong, it's quite nice being at home all day and if my body needs the sleep then it's good that I've got the time to have naps - I'm just constantly surprised when I wake up and a few hours have gone by!

Monday
Breakfast something quick eg yogurt or toast as I have a growth scan at 9am
Lunch cheese sandwich as I was home late after hanging around at the hospital for ages waiting for a blood test
Dinner beef and macaroni cheese inspired by a Waitrose ready meal (will freeze any leftovers) - might follow this recipe

Tuesday
Breakfast yogurt or toast
Lunch cheese and ham sandwich or beef and horseradish on either Burgen brown bread or part bake rolls
Dinner cauliflower cheese and leek bake from this recipe with sausages for me, sausage and mash for him

Wednesday
Breakfast smoked salmon and poached eggs
Lunch mackerel pasta as I have some mackerel in the freezer to use up
Dinner My husband wants to try Sloppy Joes so I will make some based on this recipe

Thursday
Breakfast  smoked salmon and poached eggs
Lunch fish paste on ryvita or leftover mackerel pasta
Dinner homemade chicken nuggets

Friday
Breakfast yogurt or toast - got someone coming to fix the radiators
Lunch fish paste on ryvita
Dinner possibly out with a friend for a belated birthday meal postponed from last week - not sure yet

Saturday
Lunch soup and rolls
Dinner lamb chop with sweet potato wedges for me, beef grillsteak and potato wedges for him I was going to do last week but didn't

Sunday
Lunch cheese on toast unless I can think of anything better
Dinner toad in the hole I was going to do recently but didn't

Shared your own meal plan? Link it up here!



Sunday, February 18, 2018

Gardener's Spring Flowers Waterfall Card

Monday, February 12, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 7

Last week didn't go entirely to plan; my husband is still on crutches so he couldn't come on the hospital tour with me on Thursday - though it was a complete waste of time anyway, they stood us in a corridor and pointed out the entrances to the antenatal and post natal wards and showed us a room with a birthing pool (which I won't be using) and that was about it. I had hoped we'd go out for a celebratory lunch as it was my first day of maternity leave as well but my poor husband didn't feel up to it. So the whole day was a bit of a wash-out really!

This week I don't have any plans on Monday or Tuesday though I might go out to get fitted for a nursing bra (there's an awful lot of stuff like that to do!) then on Wednesday I have an NCT class in the morning, since I had to miss one due to an antenatal appointment at the hospital, I'm joining a session with the next group. The following day I have an infant feeding session which I think is mainly about colostrum harvesting (helpful if you have gestational diabetes) then on Friday it's a friend's birthday and we haven't finalised plans but I think I'm meeting her for dinner. So that will keep me busy for most of the week - I think my pre-baby maternity leave will fly past and be over before I know it! I just hope I get everything ticked off my 'to do' list that I need to do before then.

Here's this week's meal plan;

Monday
Breakfast smoked salmon and poached eggs
Lunch tuna melt on toast
Dinner butternut squash noodles for me, spaghetti for him, with bacon and mascarpone

Tuesday - shrove Tuesday
Breakfast probably just yogurt
Lunch smoked salmon and soft cheese on ryvita
Dinner Cajun chicken steaks from Waitrose
Pancakes for dessert as it's Shrove Tuesday. My husband would like one covered in chocolate and ice cream like these, and to be honest so would I but I don't think my gestational diabetes would allow that. Instead I'm going to try the ground almond pancakes from the Gestational Diabetes UK website and can top them with lemon and sweetener, or diabetic ice cream and Choc Shot.

Wednesday Valentine's Day
Breakfast pancakes as I expect there will be leftover mixture (unless I didn't like it!) - though I need to go out just before 9.30 for the NCT class
Lunch As I'll be in the local town centre (not exactly far, but I will have gone to the high street) I will get something from the bakery for lunch - they do various sandwich fillings which I should be able to tolerate GD-wise on brown bread.
Dinner My husband and I don't tend to eat out on Valentine's day anyway (too crowded, set menus with limited choice) and now I'm a few weeks from giving birth plus have GD and he's on crutches and a fussy eater it seems like a really bad idea! Instead I will make sure the house is nice and tidy and cook his favourite dinner of steak and chips (sweet potato fries for me) and chocolate mousse for dessert which is also from the Gestational Diabetes UK website.

Thursday
Breakfast yogurt or toast with peanut butter
Lunch sandwich as I will need an early lunch or something I can take with me - annoyingly, the infant feeding session is at 12.45, about a half hour drive away, and will take a couple of hours, then I have a physio appointment right after.
Dinner butternut squash open ravioli for me from Waitrose (part of their Valentine's range), something like chicken kiev and chips for him


Friday
Breakfast yogurt or toast with peanut butter
Lunch rest of butternut squash open ravioli (serves 2 and my husband won't eat it)
Dinner out with a friend for her birthday

Saturday
Breakfast yogurt or toast with peanut butter
Lunch breakfast burritos
Dinner lamb chop with sweet potato wedges for me, beef grillsteak and potato wedges for him

Sunday
Breakfast yogurt or toast with peanut butter
Lunch bacon sandwich
Dinner tacos with minced beef and potato wedges

Link up your meal plan here:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Jolly Nation Bathtime Decoupage Mothers' Day Card

 
Mothers' Day will be really special for me this year, as I'm actually going to be a mother. Just writing that seems strange even though it's going to become a reality in just a few weeks! I expect the day itself will pass in a sleep-deprived blur so if my husband has any sense he will buy me a Mothers' Day card now!
 
I made some cards at one point early last year with various things I'd come across in my craft stash including this sheet of decoupage paper from Jolly Nation. It has a hand drawn style showing a woman relaxing in a bath with a glass of wine which is the sort of treat I think mums deserve on Mothers' Day!
 

I used a pink and pale green printed paper for the backing as it reminded me a bit of the sort of wallpaper my mum used to have in her bedroom years ago, then layered the pieces of the decoupage picture on top. I added a small 'mothers' day' sticker I had on a sticker sheet from a long time ago in the top corner.


I'm sharing this with Daring Cardmakers where the theme is cosy home, Cardz 4 Galz where the theme is think pink and Watercooler Wednesday where the theme is feminine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 6

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - Week 5

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pop-Up 3D Box Birthday Card for My Husband's 40th Birthday

Have you come across box cards before? They fold flat to go into an envelope, but when they are opened, pop out into a three-dimensional box that stands up, and often has other elements 'exploding' out. They take a little while to make but are really worth it as they are impressive and really unusual. I made this one for my husband's 40th birthday last year and he was really pleased with itI'd heard of these cards but didn't know how to make them so looked for a video on You Tube.
It's a bit too difficult to describe each step and easier to direct you towards a video like this one or this one - I can't actually remember which tutorial I used now!
 
You need a fairly large piece of card to start with, roughly A4, and score lines at certain widths apart so you can later fold along them.

 

Make cuts part way up where you have scored


You'll find the card then folds into a box shape.


To decorate, I cut squares of patterned paper the same size as the sides of the box and used a different paper on each side (but in the same colour scheme).


Stick two strips of acetate inside, folding them at the ends so you can glue to the sides of the box; these create cross strips that you will then stick things to.


To make an element stand up out of the card, stick it onto another strip of acetate as shown, then stick this acetate strip vertically to the horizontal ones running across the box. Glue dots are good to use for this.
 


This is the effect you are going for! You can add as many of these as you like.

 
 You can see that here I've got three elements sticking up inside the box; two are glued onto acetate strips running horizontally through the box and one is stuck to the front and the back of the box itself. Make sure the elements aren't aligned with each other either in position or height, otherwise you won't be able to see them all when you look at the card from the front.
 

Here's a better view of the box so you can see the elements sticking out - a 'happy birthday' die cut, a 40 I cut from silver card, and a 'with love' heart. I also used a 40th birthday message topper on the front of the card.


And here the card is from the front; it's better in real life as you can take in all the elements at once. I think my husband liked it and seemed pleased with the amount of effort I'd put in to make him something special!

 
I'm sharing this with Cardz 4 Guyz as the theme is 'January blues'  and the Make My Monday challenge where the theme is 'fancy folds'.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 Week 4

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - week 3

I'm working from home twice this week as I have an appointment with the diabetes midwife on Tuesday and a growth scan on Friday, so a bit more time hopefully to cook some nice meals!


Monday
Breakfast porridge
Lunch tuna sandwich
Dinner fish pie for me (frozen a while back pre-GD but only has a little mashed potato on top) and chicken kiev for him

Tuesday - working from home
Breakfast smoked salmon and poached egg
Lunch ham and cheese toasted sandwich
Dinner spicy chicken escalopes I was going to do last week but didn't, with potato wedges/ sweet potato wedges

Wednesday
Breakfast yogurt and oats
Lunch chicken soup
Dinner  tuna steak with vegetables and quinoa for me, my husband is out at a work event

Thursday
Breakfast yogurt and oats
Lunch tuna or ham sandwich
Dinner out

Friday working from home
Breakfast - porridge
Lunch ryvita with cream cheese and smoked salmon
Dinner salmon en croute for me, chicken in breadcrumbs for him

Saturday
Breakfast toast with peanut butter
Lunch tortilla wrap 'pizza'
Dinner steak and chips/ sweet potato fries

Sunday
Breakfast  toast with peanut butter
Lunch baked sweet potato
Dinner pork chop and roast potatoes for me

Join in the blog hop!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Review: Pure freeze-dried cat food

While this blog usually focuses on food and drink for humans, I have written a few posts before about meals I've made for Tilly - my gorgeous tabby cat.

 
I was asked if I wanted to review some cat food and since there is a link (albeit small) with what I've covered before, I said yes. The product itself is interesting I think to foodies anyway as it's freeze-dried - you just add water - making me wonder if there is any food for humans (other than what astronauts eat in space!) that is prepared in this way. I have a feeling that herbs are sometimes freeze-dried as a way of keeping them tasting fresh - if you know of any other freeze-dried food let me know in the comments!

So on to the cat food. Made by a brand called Pure Pet Food, a company founded by two friends who wanted their dogs to eat food as good as they did, rather than highly processed food made with low quality ingredients. After developing the business and seeing it start to take off, they appeared on TV's Dragon's Den (the equivalent show in the US is called Shark Tank if you're an American reader!) and were offered investment but decided to turn it down to go it alone.

They started off with dehydrated food in 2012 and only last year moved into freeze-dried. The company says its freeze-drying technique keeps the texture of the meat which did look to be the case from appearance (I drew the line at tasting it myself) and it doesn't need preservatives added. There's plenty of nutritional information on their website which I won't repeat here but I am impressed at the list of ingredients and their benefits, and that it contains nothing 'bad'.

I was sent finger-lickin' chicken and surf and turf flavours; here's what you get inside the box:


Mix with the recommended amount of water and leave for a few minutes to rehydrate, mixing well.


Tilly (my cat) really enjoyed this - she does like to switch up her brands and flavours every so often - and seemed to prefer it when I added a little more water to the mixture.


Here she is posing for a photo!


It does take slightly longer to mix this up in the mornings, and I'm always in a hurry before work,  though you can do it the night before and keep it in the fridge. You can buy online from their site and the products are also stocked in Pets At Home.

A 200g bag costs £11.99 but this is equivalent to 800g of fresh food, Pure says.

Thanks to Pure for the pet food for review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - week 2

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Restaurant review: Ewe Tree Cafe, Cholderton Charlie's, Wiltshire

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Low Sugar Low Carb Diabetic Lemon Cheesecake

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Meal Planning Monday 2018 - Week 1

Welcome to 2018! I hope it's a great year for all my readers. It's going to be a life-changing year for me as our baby is due in just over 10 weeks... and potentially sooner which is quite a scary thought! I haven't been blogging as much as things like choosing a car seat and buggy are more important at the moment but I will continue to bring you recipes ranging from the birthday cake I made for my niece to diabetic-friendly baking so please stay tuned!

Here is the first meal plan of the year - as I explained in a recent post I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and have to cut carbs as well as sugar, which is actually pretty difficult - in the summer I'm happy to have salad for lunch but in winter am more likely to have something carb-based, and while I don't always have potatoes, rice or pasta with dinner, I do sometimes- and once or twice a week when I get home late like most people I might bung some chips or a frozen pizza in the oven. Can't do that any more! So meal planning will become even more important, and probably more time consuming until I get the hang of what I can and can't tolerate to get blood sugar readings within my target range.

I'm slightly late posting this week so the first two days have already happened!

Monday
Breakfast plain soya yogurt (Alpro) with sweetener
Lunch tuna sandwich using Burgen soya & linseed bread
Dinner As it's a bank holiday and we were not looking forward to going back to work I decided to give takeaway a go after all (having read online some options are not that bad from a diabetes perspective), and had a few slices of thin crust takeaway pizza - and my blood sugar reading was well within range! Won't be doing this sort of thing often (if at all) for the next few months though.

Tuesday
Breakfast having been told by my midwife and read elsewhere that porridge made from scratch should be OK (complex carb, low GI, slow release) so I made some using Tree of Life organic porridge oats from Ocado, using a mixture of water and milk and added a little sweetener - and got a blood sugar reading well over my target level! Sigh.
Lunch At the hospital after a lengthy set of antenatal appointments and a long wait at the hospital pharmacy - I expected to be home hours ago so didn't take any food (or a book to read!) with me. My only option was lunch in the hospital restaurant where nothing looked particularly diabetes-friendly (though I could have had sausage and mash without the mash I suppose). I had a small portion of lamb pasta bake which wasn't particularly nice but I got a surprisingly good blood sugar reading.
Dinner tuna steak with wholewheat noodles and vegetables.

Wednesday
Breakfast Going into work early and need to take something with me so going to try overnight oats using a little porridge oats and the soya yogurt.
snacks al desko: mini babybel, sour cream and chive dip and carrot sticks, sugar-free jelly
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner spaghetti and meatballs, but using spiralized carrot for me

Thursday
Breakfast depending on my blood sugar reading and which train I get to work - toast with peanut butter, overnight oats or just yogurt
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner sausage and mash for him, and sausage and cauliflower, sweet potato and kale bake (from Ocado) for me

Friday
Breakfast as above depending on the same factors
Lunch ham and lettuce sandwich with Burgen bread
Dinner out with a friend

Saturday
Breakfast depending on when I get up - toast and peanut butter most likely
Brunch/ Lunch buckwheat pancakes with apple or lemon and sweetener
Dinner for me: pork with cauliflower cheese. For him: chicken breast wrapped in bacon with potato croquettes

Sunday
Breakfast toast and peanut butter
Lunch need to take a packed lunch as we are on our antenatal course
Dinner homemade lasagne

Join in the blog hop!

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Year in Review and 2018 Resolutions

Each year I look back on the year in blogging (and a few aspects of my personal life) and my top 10 most popular posts, and think about what I want to tackle for the blog in the coming year.

The first half of last year was pretty normal; I made cakes for birthdays, reviewed restaurants, did some crafts, all the usual things. Then at the beginning of July I found out my husband and I are expecting a baby - and everything changed. We are really excited and looking forward to the new addition to our family; I've been lucky and not suffered from morning sickness or much else during this pregnancy apart from a few aches and pains (trying to get out of bed in the morning is quite difficult these days) but I have been extremely tired for several months, often needing a nap (or simply falling asleep wherever I am) which means I am not getting much done! I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes right before Christmas, which should disappear as soon as the baby is born, but means I now have to watch what I eat a lot more and cut out most carbs as well as sugar.

Lack of time and the tiredness meant I blogged a lot less in the last few months of 2017 and my readership stats reflect that. It's been interesting to see what my top 10 most read posts were over the year:

1. Slow cooker butterscotch pudding - from a book called the Slow Cooker, you cook the puddings in a water bath and they set like custard - they tasted great. I have lots of other slow cooker recipes on my blog!

2. Vegan French apple tart - often people who are not vegan need to make a vegan recipe and this is where the internet rather than recipe books comes in! I found this on the Good to Know website and made it for last new year's eve where I was with friends including a vegan, and also entered it in the Food n Flix challenge. You can find lots more vegan recipes on my blog.

3. Chicken and chorizo filo parcels - I always have a few sheets of filo pastry left after opening a packet and this recipe from the Jus-Rol website is a great way to use them up.

4. Slimming World coronation chicken jacket potato - I haven't followed the Slimming World plan for a while but still have a lot of the recipe books and cook from them sometimes. This coronation chicken filling is low fat and really nice in a baked potato.

5. I'm glad to see that my meal plans, which I post every Monday, are popular, and hopefully useful. One of them - my very first meal plan of 2017 - made it into my top 10 most read posts.

6. Chocolate crumble - something I made for my husband while I enjoyed an apple crumble as he doesn't like apple. The recipe comes from the Tesco website and I recommend you check it out!

7. Weightwatchers Turkish pizza - another good recipe for people who are watching their weight. This Turkish take on a pizza has no cheese but is topped with minced lamb and spices and is really good.

8. A roundup of soup recipes I'd previously featured on my blog - soup is really easy to make and pretty much a fail safe lunch in the winter for me!

9. Super-moist vegan strawberry cake - a birthday cake for my vegan friend which she really enjoyed. If you like strawberry flavour check out these other strawberry recipes.

10. I'm pleased to see one of my card making projects made it into the top 10, even though this snow scene foil Christmas card is based entirely on a design from a card making magazine - if you want to see the other cards I've made click here.

In terms of goals for 2018, I'm not going to write a whole long list like I sometimes do - as I can't even begin to imagine how much my life will change when I have a baby. My resolution instead is to continue my blog, even if I'm not able to post often; I would also like to revise the layout and make some design changes which I've wanted to do for a while now but never seem to find the time to do. So I think given there is a baby on the way, blogging at all this year will be an achievement!


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mini Lebkuchen Doughnuts for Christmas

Lebkuchen is a German biscuit-cum-cake, a bit like gingerbread, that is traditionally eaten at Christmas; they are easy to find in UK supermarkets but having also lived in Germany for two separate periods between the ages of 18 and 22 (both including Christmas) I became quite keen on them.

I thought about making some Lebkuchen at Christmas but didn't get around to it; instead I decided to make some baked mini doughnuts using my Wilton doughnut pan which I was going to flavour with gingerbread spices, but then remembered I had a small packet of actual mixed spices for Lebkuchen that a German colleague had given me a little while ago that I'd never used. So the doughnuts tasted of Lebkuchen and I glazed them with chocolate as Lebkuchen often are.

I used this pan and the Wilton recipe to make Halloween doughnuts last year though I found the batter really thick - possibly because my buttermilk had set quite thick in the fridge - so also added some milk, and switched the plain flour and baking power for self-raising flour as follows:

300g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
175ml buttermilk
50ml milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 x 15g sachet of Ostmann Lebkuchen gewurtz
to decorate: 100g plain chocolate

As an alternative to the ready made Lebkuchen spice mix, you could use:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp ground cardamon
1/4 tsp allspice


Preheat oven to 200C. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until you have a batter that is a dropping consistency.

Grease a doughnut pan - you could also try making these as cupcakes in a cupcake tin - and drop in the batter so each doughnut ring is 2/3 full. This quantity will make two batches of 10-12 doughnuts. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes.


Allow to cool in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack. Melt some plain chocolate in a microwave or bain-marie and spread over one side of the doughnuts and allow to set.

I allowed myself to try a bit even though I'm supposed to be cutting out sugar - it is Christmas after all and I hoped that a few bites wouldn't hurt - and they were delicious, tasting a lot like lebkuchen!