Our first harvest!

Oh botheration! It’s raining! This is, of course, well needed and good for the garden, but why does it have to come at the weekend and not while I’m stuck inside an office?  I managed approximately ten minutes in the garden this morning before it started coming down too heavily to contemplate staying out there. Let’s hope tomorrow is better.

I did manage to get my first haul (haul may be a slight exaggeration but I’m sticking with it) of produce from the garden in those ten minutes.

Whoop! Homegrown goodness! The strawberries are from my three plants that I’ve had in a pot for a couple of years now. I’m still having no luck with the new plants in the raised bed. I’m going to put straw underneath them to see if that’ll deter the slugs, or whatever it is that’s eating them.

The potatoes are Maris Peers. I have three different types of potatoes in three bags up by the greenhouse, and while all three have (or had, in the case of the Maris Peers) humongous stems and leaves sprouting out of the top, the Maris Peers are the only ones which have flowered. They all got really battered in the heavy rain we had a couple of weeks ago so now I don’t really know what to expect from the other two bags.

I’d been waiting for some of our own potatoes before trying a recipe from my Pinch of Nom cookbook that I’ve been drawling over for a while. Pinch of Nom is amazing and is helping me immeasurably with Slimming World. It’s not strictly aimed at followers of any particular diet plan but is full of lower fat/calorie dishes and alternatives for people who are watching their weight.

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Bacon, onion and potato bake. Doesn’t it look yummy? It’s completely Syn free on Slimming World as long as you use bacon medallions (or cut any excess fat off) and count the cheese on top as part of your healthy extra A.

My version looked a bit different!

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Not a million miles off though, and it tasted delicious!

I had some potatoes left over, and certainly didn’t want to waste any after growing them myself, so I made my own version of the bacon and onion frittata from the cookbook.

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We can have this cold for lunch tomorrow. I’m supposed to fill one third of my plate with speed food (most fruit and veg) so I could do with serving this with some salad but unfortunately we don’t have any in! Maybe I’ll have some carrot sticks.

I whipped up some dessert so we could have our massive crop of five strawberries! I’d seen people talk about this in the Pinch of Nom Facebook group and decided to give it a go.

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Game changer! It’s so simple, yet tastes like a proper indulgent pudding. It’s just a couple of spoonfuls of quark mixed with an Options mint hot chocolate sachet (one Syn for half) and put in the fridge for a while. Obviously the strawberries made it!

Speaking of food, we had our first barbecue of the season last night. Slimming World friendly for me, obviously!

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We have the smallest barbecue in the world! It does for us though. I am quite tempted to invest in a gas one but can’t decide if it’s worth it.

My burgers were the anaemic looking ones at the back. I went to Tesco to get their meat free burgers because they have no Syns. Quorn burgers are two and a half Syns for some reason. I’m not vegetarian (obviously, given the bacon in my lunch) but I’m not a meat lover, especially red meat, so I’m more than happy to have veggie burgers, and it’s a bonus that they’re less Syns.

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Look at that! Double decker burger! On a diet! Look at Minnie sneakily eying it up!

I added cheese from my healthy extra A and I made a Syn free sauce with fat free natural yoghurt, mint and garlic. The barbecue was an impromptu decision so I’d already had my healthy extra B for breakfast, which meant I had to count the Syns in the bread roll but if I’d been more organised I could’ve had a wholemeal roll and counted it as my B option which would mean the whole thing was free!

I made some pasta salad to have with my sausages so I didn’t have to use more Syns on bread.

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The sausages are Linda McCartney veggie ones which are yummy. Much nicer than Quorn ones. I would’ve loved to have a couple of hubby’s real sausages but it’s a small sacrifice to make if I continue to lose weight. I tried to keep the Syns down by mixing the pasta with quark and fat free natural yoghurt instead of mayo, but I think next time I’ll use lighter than light mayo and Syn it.

I’m not losing weight super fast, but, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s hope so. Having switched from WW to Slimming World this time around, I feel like Slimming World is more sustainable. The diet gurus all say that you need to change your habits forever to keep the weight off and with WW that seems really restrictive and life altering to maintain forever because of the nature of the plan, whereas Slimming World is more flexible. We’ve had some really delicious meals which I would be happy to eat over and over again so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to stay on plan and that maintaining will be possible once I get to goal.

Support is crucial to anyone trying to lose weight. My hubby has no issue with weight, and he doesn’t put any pressure on me to change the way I look, but he knows it’s important to me so he tries to help as much as he can.

It used to be that you had to go to a diet group once a week to get external support, but these days social media plays a huge role. Writing about my weight loss journey (gosh that’s cliched!) on my blog and posting on Instagram is helpful to me, but there are millions of people on Instagram who post every meal they eat and give the recipes which helps to inspire me and give me new ideas. As I mentioned above, there’s a Pinch of Nom group on Facebook and most members seem to be following Slimming World so it’s a great community of like minded people sharing tips and tricks which are really helpful.

Let’s hope in a few months I’ll be able to report that I’m at target and planning to stay there forever! Right now, it’s nearly time for a takeaway – all counted and within plan, obviously!

Christmas 2018

So, that’s that then for another year! Three hundred and sixty three days shopping days until Christmas! I hope everyone had (or is still having if you’re having extended celebrations) a fantastic festive time.

Looking through the camera roll of my phone I now realise that I was too busy having a great time to take many pictures over the last two days. For those of you reading in different countries I’ll explain the two day thing. Until I started work with my current employee and had contact with lots of colleagues all over Europe, I assumed that Boxing Day was a universal holiday, but it seems it’s not. It’s mainly observed in the UK and former members of the British Empire. It dates back as far as the sixteen hundreds (it was documented by a certain Samuel Pepys) and its origins lie in the tradition of giving tradesmen and service staff a Christmas box on the first working day after Christmas Day. Whatever its derivation, I’m very grateful for it because it gives us two days over which to see mine and hubby’s families and gives me more time to catch up on sleep at a time of year when although happy, I’m always exhausted.

We’ve fallen into a happy routine over Christmas. We spend Christmas morning and early afternoon at home, just the two of us and the cats, then we spend the evening at my sister-in-law’s house exchanging gifts, playing games, eating too much and catching up. On Boxing Day we go to my Dad’s house in Worcester for more over-eating, more exchanging of gifts and more catching up. I love it!

I talked to you last time about making a recipe card similar to Gousto for our Christmas dinner to take all the hassle out of cooking it. It worked a treat!

I followed this pretty much to the letter and (even if I say so myself) Christmas lunch turned out absolutely delish!


It wasn’t all strictly from scratch, but it was less pre-prepared than we’ve done in previous years. We always have prawn cocktail for our starter – we shredded the iceberg lettuce ourselves but the prawn cocktail was out of a tub. I do actually make a mean thousand island dressing (it’s dead easy) but really, life’s too short to faff around when Tesco will do it for you for very little expense.

The chicken number two was lovely. I cooked it in its bag and just had to cut it open twenty minutes before the end and baste it – fabulous, no mess in the oven! We had roast potatoes with thyme, mashed potato, Yorkshire pudding (controversial!) cauliflower cheese (hubby’s fave), Chantenay carrots and parsnips roasted in a honey glaze, peas, red cabbage with port and cranberries, gravy and, the pièce de résistance, pigs in blankets! Hubby had seven. SEVEN! He certainly ate well – three roasties, seven pigs in blankets, two yorkies and all the rest too! Oh well, if you can’t indulge at Christmas, when can you?

We didn’t forget our little girls – they had their own Christmas lunches on special Christmas plates.

Speaking of fur babies, we got my sister-in-law’s pooch, Charly, a little festive treat.

You can’t quite see it, but it says Santa’s Little Helper on it. She was very clever and opened it herself. She needed a little bit of help to put it on, but she seemed quite pleased with it.

On to Boxing Day, and we headed off to Worcester around eleven thirty. I don’t know how I manage to forget out the speed restrictions on the M5 every time I go on it! It’s down to 30 mph at one point which feels slower than walking! Oh well, for once the traffic was light and we didn’t need to be rushing so road rage was absent.

Driving home for Christmas, oh I can’t wait to see those faces. Those words are very apt. I love seeing everyone altogether in one place. People just find a perch on a chair or the floor and we just all chat away to whomever we happen to perch next to.

Some of our numbers were beavering away on a Christmas jigsaw for much of the day, with cries of ‘who’s pinched that bit?!’ and ‘the pieces had better all be here!’ emanating from that end of the room periodically!

People dipped in and out as they pleased throughout the day. Look at all those lovely heads bent over as they vied to be the one to put the last piece in! Surely this is what Christmas is all about? Relaxing and enjoying the company of family.

We both got some amazing gifts from our nearest and dearest which we will enjoy wearing, making, reading, watching, planting, bathing in, eating and drinking for some time to come. I’ll tell you about all our lovely new things over the next few posts rather than bombard you with them all now, but I will leave you with this picture of the amazing quilt that my Mum made for us, which Olive and Tinkerbell have already commandeered as their own!

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My day in photos

I’ve had quite a productive day today, unlike this gorgeous twosome who have spent most of the day snoozing!

I know I’m biased, but I’m convinced we have the two cutest puddy tats in the world. They’re so beautiful, they make my heart flutter a little bit.

I decided to use my extra hour today to make a start on this lovely craft project that one of my favourite people bought me for my birthday.

It’s make your own sequin Christmas baubles. This was all in a kit, but I’m quite sure you could get the equipment separately from somewhere like Hobbycraft.

You need a polystyrene ball, a bauble hanging cap (this is the metal ring that you get in the top of old fashioned style baubles – you could recycle from an old/broken one), sequins, pins and ribbon. That’s it!

After you’ve pushed your hanging cap into the ball you get going with the sequins. You literally just work round in circles, slightly overlapping the sequins as you go. It was actually really therapeutic and I really enjoyed the slow circular rhythm. I found after a while that it helped to balance the ball on a little candle that I have, and, happy bonus, every time I moved it round I got the gentle scent of fresh linen from my candle.

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Heres the finished bauble. I LOVE it. So pretty and sparkly. Can’t wait for December to get the tree out and let it fulfil its festive destiny.

After my dressing room clearout yesterday we decided to go to the tip. I know it’s a bit sad, but I love going to the tip. Although I don’t like clear surfaces and have to have bits and bobs around, much to the chagrin of my lovely hubby who tends to be in charge of the family duster, I find it so cathartic getting rid of junk and clutter. We had three Gousto boxes which are too bulky to go in the regular recycling bin, and various other bits of cardboard as well as a load of rubbish that wasn’t good enough for the charity shop and a mahoosive bag of garden rubbish. All gone now!

I needed to pick up our click and collect shopping, and while I was there I spotted M&S and, inspired by the lovely Butterflies and Boundaries blog post that I read this morning I decided to nip in to get some lunch. Can’t beat M&S ready meals, and this is one of their best.

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Spaghetti Carbonara. Yum!

Whilst I was out I decided to go and get a birthday present for my special friend whose birthday was actually last week, but I’m not seeing her until Tuesday. Obviously I can’t show you what I bought her in case she reads this before Tuesday, but as with any great shopping trip, I also came home with a couple of little treats for myself.

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I’ve been trying to work out all afternoon if this is irony. It’s a Crassula which is toxic to cats, in a cat pot. Is that ironic or just misleading? Isn’t it just typically British to create a concept, that no one is ever actually quite sure how to define. We all know that Alanis Morrisette got it all wrong with her ten thousands spoons when all you need is a knife and all that. The only way that would’ve been ironic is if it turned out at a later date that actually a spoon would’ve done! Is my Crassula/cat pot ironic? Really not sure! Anyway, it had to stay in the car to avoid cat ingestion and is coming to work with me tomorrow.

I also got some new socks. Somehow mine all seem to have holes in the heel. Socks are so expensive! £20 for these nine pairs. Nice though, eh?

Back at Chez Green Girl I decided to construct the second raised bed, despite the absence of my lovely hubby. Not as easy with one, but stubborn to a fault I am, and determined, so I succeeded. I did have to admit defeat when it comes to moving them to their final resting point – that is definitely going to take two (if not three) pairs of arms.

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Ta daaaaa! We will have our own fruit and veg next year!

I had a quick look round the garden, just to reassure myself that everything is ok. It pretty much is, although it’s very sad to see everything starting to shut down for the winter.

My Acer is still tiny, and it is supposed to go red in the Autumn, which is hasn’t really, but you can just about see that it’s trying.

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And my Eupatorium has got some beautiful white flowers. It’s so so pretty waving around in the breeze.

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By now I was getting peckish, so I came in and cooked the first of this week’s Gousto meals – Goat’s Cheese and Red Pepper Pizza with Rocket Salad.

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Delicious! I love goat’s cheese.

Right, time to ease my aching back after the weekend’s exertions in a nice hot bubble bath with the last episode of the Cry on my iPad. I’ve watched the first three today and I’m hooked – I’ve got to find out what the conclusion is!

Toodles!