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 Prep

It’s  nearly here. It’s Christmas Eve Eve. Sir Cliff has been on telly this morning so now it’s really Christmas!

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I am letting myself have a relaxed morning before I leap into action later with last minute prep. Olive and Tinkerbell are also suitably relaxed.

I feel I deserve this chilled out morning given the torture that I put myself through yesterday, and by that I do, of course, mean that I went to Tesco! Now I don’t want to swear, so I will just say OMFG and let you fill in the F with either the rude or the polite version (probably according to whether you’ve also experienced the Tesco experience this Christmas!)

I had done a click and collect order (only one substitution – twenty four pigs in blankets instead of twenty. Excellent!) so that part was easy.  The rest of the car park was crazy – I’ve never seen it so busy – and I needed to brave the store for a few bits and pieces that I’d forgotten to order. The chap who gave me my click and collect order very helpfully told me that there had already been an accident that morning in the car park caused by two people vying for the same parking space. Bit of a left twix right twix moment I think (if anyone remembers that advert)

Anyway I actually managed to find a space reasonably easily. Everyone else was driving round and round the aisles closest to the door so I headed as far away as I could and happened to turn up an aisle just as someone was leaving. Score! Inside, however, things weren’t so easy! There were people dawdling around with trolleys laden to the hilt (one day, that’s how long they’re closed, one day!) and people dithering in front of the whisky selection (seriously, it’s all vile, save your money and get a nice bottle of Sauvignon instead). I got in and out as quickly as possible and headed home hoping to goodness that I hadn’t forgotten anything!

The last couple of years when we’ve cooked our own Christmas dinner for the first time ever, I’ve found that by the time it’s all been cooked I haven’t actually wanted to bother eating it, even though it did look delicious. This is last year’s.

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Whilst I was stuck in traffic I pondered on why I don’t feel this way when we’ve cooked a Gousto recipe. I came to the conclusion that it’s because you follow a recipe card with Gousto and don’t have to spend all day remembering what you’re supposed to do and when. So, this morning I have written myself a Christmas Lunch Cheat Sheet! Hopefully this will help.

For Christmas 2016 and 2017 we ordered Tesco’s Christmas box which contains pretty much everything you need for your Christmas lunch, including crackers and a half bottle of champagne. It’s a pretty good deal at £40, but we didn’t feel the quality was that good last year, so this year, for the first time, we’re doing it all from scratch. When I say from scratch, I’m not faffing around making my own Yorkshire Puddings or chopping a red cabbage, but it’s pretty much from scratch.

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These are all our goodies. In fact I suppose a lot of it’s preprepared, but honestly, Christmas is for spending time with your loved ones, not slaving away in the kitchen. 

We’re having a chicken rather than a turkey because there’s only the two of us and the cats for lunch (yes we do give our furry girls a little Christmas dinner). We have encountered an issue though!

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See the sell by date? Bother! I have a Facebook poll currently running with the options being ‘freeze and defrost on Christmas Eve’ or ‘risk it’ – I now know who the risk takers amongst my friends are! I have since checked and it says not suitable for home freezing and I’ve googled sell by dates on chickens and scared myself silly with talk of the Campylobacter bacteria so we’ve decided to cook this one today and buy another for Christmas Day. We’ll have it with chips or wedges tonight so it doesn’t seem like Christmas dinner. 

You know what that means right? Oh gosh, deep breaths. Dear Tesco, I’m so sorry I maligned you yesterday, I really didn’t mean what I said when I was stressed. Please forgive me and let me back through your doors (and more importantly, back out in one piece).

Dear readers, I may be some time. 

Merry Christmas from our household to yours. Hope you all have a cracking time. 

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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!