Sunday, 4 November 2012

Marco the Album

This is Marco when we brought him home, isn't he cute!
22 September 2012
He liked our old towels.
22 September 2012
Is this my new home Mummy?
22 September 2012
Between a sofa and a soft place.
22 September 2012
Flat out in front of his crate, look at those little paws.
22 September 2012
Curled up fast asleep.
22 September 2012
His first toy.
22 September 2012
Play time.
22 September 2012
I love this picture of him. He wasn't interested in the ball or the rope but the plastic in between. Unfortunately this toy had to go, we didn't want him eating the black plastic.
22 September 2012
Still chewing the black plastic!
22 September 2012
And....... sleep.
23 September 2012
Curled up on his blanket.
30 September 2012
Is this my chicken?
30 September 2012
Vogue! Strike a pose!
6 October 2012
Having a cuddle with Dad.
6 October 2012
14 October 2012
Awaiting the throw and fetch command.
14 October 2012
I'm ready to play.
14 October 2012
Can I have it, can I?
14 October 2012
Watching TV with Mum.
19 October 2012
We've worn him out today.
20 October 2012
Zzzzzzzz dreaming of wonderful times.
20 October 2012
Marco's first walk and he was sniffing everything!
3 November 2012
Sniff, sniff. sniff . . . .  
3 November 2012
And yet still sniffing.
3 November 2012
Sitting down before crossing the road. He was fascinated by the cars driving by.
3 November 2012
Still watching cars.
3 November 2012
Back to sniffing.
3 November 2012
Back home and worn out, well, at least for an hour!
3 November 2012

Curry night success!

What can I say, after a week of disasters the curry was delicious! The recipe contained lentils another Hubby dislike, but he wasn't complaining this time. He said the curry was absolutely delicious- result! Mine was gorgeous too it wasn't too spicy but had heaps of flavour. The photographs don't give it justice at all. I need to find my camera as the camera on my mobile isn't very good!

Butternut Squash, Leek and Vegan Blue Cheese Filo Pie

As promised here is the recipe for the filo pie I made in the first week of my menu planning. This makes 3 portions but you could easily double the amounts if you need to feed more people. Before you start put your oven on to 200°C so its ready for when you need to use it.


2 Glugs of olive oil
500g butternut squash
1 medium to large onion
5 medium sized leeks (about 250g)
50g chopped walnuts
125g vegan blue cheese
2 sheets filo pastry
5 sprigs of thyme (fresh)
5 sage leaves (fresh)


Chop up the butternut squash into cubes  and place into an oven proof dish. Quarter your onion and then halve each quarter and mix with the butternut squash and 1 glug of olive oil until everything is coated. Pop into your heated oven and bake until soft, remembering to stir occasionally  This should take about 30 minutes.

Thinly slice the leeks and saute with another glug of oilve oil for 5 minutes or until the leeks are starting to colour and becoming soft. 

Finely chop the sage leaves and pick off the thyme leaves and add to the leeks with the chopped walnuts. Mix together well and cook for another 5 minutes being careful nothing sticks to the pan. Add a tbsp of water if it starts to stick.

Remove the butternut squash and onions from the oven and add to the leek mixture, squashing the butternut squash a little to help all the ingredients combine. Keep the oven dish close you'll use it again.

Chop up the vegan blue cheese into small cubes or grate if you prefer and mix with the other ingredients.

Pour everything into the oven proof dish you used earlier, no need to oil it. Spread out evenly and add the two sheets of filo pastry to the top in a creative scrunch and pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Serve with a garden salad.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Dinner Menu - Week 2

Week 1 worked successfully so I planned the next weeks menu and here it is:

Menu plan 2 - Vegan
Monday - Black Bean Veggie Burgers & Noodles adapted from various recipes!
Tuesday - Vegetable Rogan Josh, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Wednesday - Black Bean Veggie Burgers & Noodles adapted from various recipes!
Thursday - Vegetable Chilli
Friday - Vegetable Rogan Josh, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Saturday - Vegetable Chilli
Sunday - Nut Roast and all the trimmings

Menu plan 2 - Meat Eater
Monday - Black Bean Beef Burgers & Noodles, taken from 15 minute meals, Jamie Oliver
Tuesday - Lamb Rogan Josh, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Wednesday - Black Bean Beef Burgers & Noodles, taken from 15 minute meals, Jamie Oliver
Thursday - Cottage Pie, taken from  the Hairy Dieters
Friday - Lamb Rogan Josh, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Saturday - Cottage Pie, taken from  the Hairy Dieters
Sunday - Cottage Pie, taken from  the Hairy Dieters

However, I'm sad to report that there were disasters after disasters this week and the menu didn't look anything like that above! We never went shopping on Monday and as the food cupboards were bare and we were both extremely tired we ordered Chinese take away! I had vegetable Yuk Sung (always delicious) followed by Tofu in Black Bean Sauce with Boiled Rice and Hubby had Spring Rolls followed by Sweet and Sour Chicken, Cantonese Style and Egg fried Rice. Hubby said his was disgusting and it didn't compare at all to the sweet and sour pork I made him the previous week. Brownie points for me! Jamie's 15 minute meal recipe for Black Bean Burger and Noodles was a total disaster, the burgers didn't hold together at all (probably due to an unstable Black Bean Sauce?) and became a mushy mess. I was devastated but Hubby suggested just making it into a stir fry with all the other ingredients. My burgers held together but were stuck fast to the grease proof paper and on using brute force to remove them were splattered all over the kitchen floor! The noodles were disgusting (far too much lime juice) and everything ended up in the bin! Tuesday night we had friends round with their three kids so it was easy enough to put on a spread of meat and vegan pizzas, pasta and garlic bread and salad. The whole lot was demolished in seconds. The cottage pie never got made but became fajitas and the curries are going to be made tonight. Although as I'm writing this its getting late and as they are being prepared from scratch we probably won't eat until 9pm! But I will force myself back into the kitchen and try again. I will report on how the curries fared later, wish me luck!

Dinner Menu - Week 1

With a new puppy, aromatherapy classes, physiotherapy appointments and trying to lose weight I need to be super organised! So every weekend I have been working out the dinner menu for the following week. Now this is harder for me than most as my Hubby isn't a Vegan neither a Vegetarian! Although some days he is without him knowing he is! Aren't I naughty? Now I don't know how many couples out there are the complete opposite in diets but cooking two meals every night can be exhausting. My Hubby isn't a great lover of vegetables and I am the complete opposite! He is getting better though and the list of acceptable vegetables is growing (hidden or otherwise). Now I hear a lot of you saying why do you cook meat for him? If he wants to eat meat let him cook it! Well he does, some days but with my help. Basically I'm too soft! But things are getting better and I will start to introduce a meat free meal once a week so watch this space for ideas for someone who hates vegetables..........

With being Veggie I tend to use tried and tested recipe's from cook books for hubby and if I can adapt them to being Vegan all the better.  

Menu plan 1 - Vegan
Monday - Spicy bean and vegetable stew, taken from the Hairy Dieters
Tuesday - Spicy bean and vegetable stew, taken from the Hairy Dieters 
Wednesday - Butternut Squash, Leek and Vegan Blue Cheese Filo Pie 
Thursday - Butternut Squash, Leek and Vegan Blue Cheese Filo Pie  
Friday - Stuffed Peppers, Veganised from the Hairy Dieters
Saturday - Butternut Squash, Leek and Vegan Blue Cheese Filo Pie  
Sunday - Stuffed Peppers, Veganised from the Hairy Dieters  

Menu plan 1 - Meat Eater
Monday - Paprika Chicken, taken from the Hairy Dieters
Tuesday - Chicken and Ham Tingle Pie, taken from the Hairy Dieters
Wednesday - Paprika Chicken, taken from the Hairy Dieters 
Thursday - Chicken and Ham Tingle Pie, taken from the Hairy Dieters 
Friday - Sweet & Sour Pork, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Saturday - Pork & Cider Stew, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver
Sunday - Pork & Cider Stew, taken from Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver

As you can see from above we eat the same thing more than once a week. This is for two reasons, 1) because we haven't got a freezer and 2) we don't get home till late and its easier to heat up something than make something from scratch every night.

The recipe for the Butternut Squash, Leek and Vegan Blue Cheese Filo Pie will be available soon. 


My first post on this blog detailed my top 5 things to do if money was no object. As a refresh and in no particular order:

1)     Small holding and being self sufficient
2)     Losing weight and helping others too
3)     Owning and running a healthy eating cafe/bistro "Self Sufficient Cafe"
4)     Children and a dog!
5)     Travelling

As money does exist I wrote another list of things I can do to make me happy right here right now! Once again in no particular order.

1)     Lose weight
2)     Be healthy
3)     Have a baby
4)     To have more fun time with hubby
5)     Enjoy my hobbies, camping, gardening, crafting, blogging and find an enjoyable exercise!

So far I'm on track with number 1, losing weight although it does seem a slow process, I'm hoping that now I can take Marco out for walks this will speed up! I am also starting to fulfil my number 2 being healthy. As well as eating better and exercising more I knew I also had to alleviate the stress which I suffer from due to my job. I came to realise that my earlier mantra "You can't change what you don't control" was key in trying to achieve this. So I enrolled on an aromatherapy course and its changed my life! I've always dabbled with it at home but I didn't know what a powerful tool aromatherapy could be. Since starting the course I've managed to keep colds at bay, reduce the pain in my arm and shoulder, banish muscle aches, calm down Marco when he's on a mad one, calm down hubby, clean my kitchen and bathroom and reduce my stress levels at work. It truly is amazing what you can achieve with essential oils.

In week one I was asked :

  • to define essential oil
  • what do I believe aromatherapy to be
  • what do I believe are the benefits of aromatherapy
  • what are my three favourite oils

My answers were: 

  • Essential oils are natural substances which have healing qualities
  • Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils
  • The benefits of aromatherapy are to help promote a more balanced lifestyle, to reduce stress and reduce the chance of everyday illnesses. I feel that a more balanced lifestyle means a more balanced mind which promotes vitality and helps to cope with potentially difficult or stressful events. It helps lift a mood, reduces the chances of becoming run down and treats ailments.
  • My four favourite oils that night were Chamomile, Melissa, Marjoram and Lemongrass. I couldn't choose three!

I was told that the essential oils you favour suggest that you 'need'/or are missing the qualities of such oils. This was quite spooky as my four favourite oils that night were anti-inflammatory, nurturing the 'female aspect', alleviating mental strain & overwork and to help with muscle aches and pains. Considering that I had a shoulder injury which had inflamed other parts of my arm, trying for a baby (unsuccessfully), stressed out at work and suffering from muscle aches and pains due to physiotherapy my favourite oils had depicted my state exactly. I was hooked! More aromatherapy stories to come................

Every girl needs to be pampered

I've been off work all week and I have been enjoying the rest. Work had been rather manic to say the least leading up to my leave and time off was definitely what the doctor ordered! For the first few days all I seemed to do was sleep! But over the course of the week I have caught up with friends which is always lovely to do, including helping to build a Viking house with my friends daughter and going for walks in our nearby forest. Marco has loved having both of us at home too and it will be a shock to the system on Monday when we go back to work. 
During this week I caught up with a friend who has recently had a brand spanking new hot tub and we decided to have a pamper afternoon. Now to most girls this would involve a manicure, pedicure, massage or some sort of treatment. Not us! It involved food, fizz and lots of chatter whilst enveloped in warm water with jets pummelling our back muscles. Pure bliss!
Our feast included:

  • Roasted red pepper houmous
  • French bread
  • Vegetable samosas
  • Vegetable pakoras
  • Onion bhajis
  • Garlic mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Prosecco

No doubt we piled on the pounds but once in a while can't do you any harm can it? Now if only I could afford to buy and run a hot tub............................

Grazing revisited

Back in September I told you about trying out "Graze", a company who provided you with healthy snacks to graze on. I tried it out for three weeks and ordered a total of 6 boxes. Overall the snacks were OK, some I wouldn't order again and some I loved! The list below contains the snacks I received and I've categorised them with my preferences. 

The snacks I received and loved were as follows:
  • green olives with basil and garlic
  • green olives with chilli and garlic
  • sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds with chilli
  • savoury roasted seeds
  • black pepper pistachios
  • lightly toasted pistachios

The snacks I received and liked were as follows:
  • oriental cracker mix with peanut crackers
  • smoked paprika, garlic and thyme rustic marble bread
  • crunchini basilico
  • tom yum yum
  • tomato dipinetti

The snacks I received and 
weren't too keen on were as follows:
  • oriental cracker mix with peanut crackers
  • sweet goan curry crackers
  • slightly sweet popping corn
  • bollywood blend
  • boston baguettes
  • herby bread basket

snacks I received and didn't like were as follows:
  • tutti frutti (blueberry infused cranberries, pineapple, cherry infused sultanas and green raisins)
  • my thai
  • cracking black peppercorn
  • fruity mango chutney

The problem was that I put on weight! Each snack is around 100 calories and I ate two snacks a day for four days each week, instead of my normal snacks I prepare at home. So I decided to give it a rest and cancelled. I think I will stick to my normal fruit snacks during the day, but I will be trying out other ideas so watch this space for snack ideas of 50-100 calories.

Long time no see!

Well I've been so busy since I last blogged!! Hubby and I have now got a puppy! He's a Blue Marl Border Collie and he's gorgeous! He's kept me so busy I think I've only turned on the computer four times in the 6 weeks we've had him. Let me introduce Marco.........

He's grown so much since we had him, and he's now 13 weeks and two days old. Isn't he adorable?

The toilet training through the night worked, it was exhausting but well worth it. I started with waking up every three hours to take him outside to go to the toilet and gradually built up the time over the last few weeks. I'm pleased to say that he can go all night now, bless him.

Well Marco, Hubby and I have just been out for our first walk and I forgot my camera!!! He was very good and loved all the leaves to play in. We met two other dog owners, the first was Betsy the Daschund and his owner. Marco was very excited and wee'd all over his shoes. The second was a Scotty dog but I didn't catch her name, Marco was really excited and wanted to play with her, but she wasn't that interested. Overall Marco behaved very well and sat at every road crossing before we checked for cars and crossed. OK I think the treats may have helped! We shall go out again later today and I'll remember to take some photos!