Sustainable Christmas Trees FTW

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Last weekend, like heaps of other families across the world, we decorated our Christmas tree. We’re not really a family of neat tree decorators. Although I make a point of buying a new ornament each year, they never match, and our tree is a mishmash of lights and baubles. Little Delft china Dutch houses and stripy candy canes. Miniature disco balls, glitter-splattered cardboard decorations my kids made at preschool, and something that looks a bit like a whisk. 

The only thing that’s the same each year is that we always, without fail, have a real tree. It’s the piney smell. It just sums up Christmas for me (along with mulled wine and warm mince pies). This year, we were invited to Queen Elizabeth Country Park, close to Portsmouth, for a Christmassy afternoon. The kids made charming little tree decs out of slices of tree trunk and glitter, after which we were driven into the woods in a tractor trailer and given a map to guide us to Christmassy clues to help us get back to the visitor’s centre. By this time the sun was setting and dusk had fallen and it was raining. The weather outside was pretty frightful, but visiting Santa’s grotto was delightful – as was the coffee and cake we polished off our visit with in the cafe before picking our tree. 

 

We were very kindly provided with a voucher for a sustainable tree by the Forestry Commission, and went home, not only with aforementioned home made decorations, but with a cheerful, stout little fir tree, now sitting in the living room, looking, frankly marvellous. As well as the piney scent, buying a real tree has lovely benefits. A new tree is planted for every one cut down, keeping people in jobs, as well as trees in the ground. Real trees use 10 times fewer materials and five times less energy than artificial trees. And they are entirely biodegradable. Why not compost them down and put them back into the earth? Each tree bought at an approved Forestry Commission sale centre comes with a free tiny sapling tree for you to plant and nurture for years to come.

So if you haven’t quite got round to decking your halls yet, and you can get to a Forestry Commission Sale Centre, why not show your support for sustainable forestry and buy a Santa approved tree!?

 

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Disclosure: We were invited by the Forestry Commission to take part in a Christmassy afternoon, and compensated with a voucher for a Santa Approved real tree. All opinions and bad Christmas puns are my own. 

 

5:2 Friday

5:2 and Paleo Friday

5:2 Friday

This week has been a fairly good week, diet wise.  I have lost 2lbs, through paleo eating and doing 5:2.  So that means I am 1lb away from my first goal.  It also means I am just about at the point where my body stops losing weight easily, and the dreaded weight loss plateau kicks in.  I am interested to see if that happens whilst I am combining the 5:2 with paleo.  

I regularly use the FastDay forums to keep myself on track.  They are a friendly bunch and if you’re considering 5:2, or are already doing it, I really recommend clicking on over.  Some of the folk over there are incredibly knowledgeable about all things fasting related. It really is a great resource. 

Since it’s been getting a little warmer lately, I have been eating a lot more in the way of salads.  I always feel like eating salads in the summer, which means weight loss, and healthy eating in general always feels a lot easier.  

So here are a couple of lighter, summery meals I’ve eaten on my fasting days.

One Egg Omelette with Mushrooms and Chorizo

5:2 and Paleo Friday

This is a super quick, low carb dinner which takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and is really rather delicious.  I’ve only just got my head around eating eggs without a carb.  I am not a huge fan of the texture of egg, and you’ll still never catch me eating a fried egg without a slice of toast, but omelettes I can do.  This one was made with one egg, so it was thin, almost crepe-like.  

To make this omelette, you’ll need:

1 large egg, beaten well
1 handful of chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
1 spring onion, sliced
Optional: chrorizo sausage.  I buy it as a sausage rather than pre sliced or chopped, and I used slightly less than an inch of sausage, chopped up. 
Optional: a little cheddar cheese, grated.  I used about a tablespoon of grated cheese, and the spoon was not packed. 

First,  sauté the mushrooms, spring onion, and chorizo for five minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.  You need next to no oil for this, especially if you put the chorizo in the pan first.   Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. 

If your pan needs it, melt a little knob of butter (omelettes always taste nicer if cooked in butter, there is no denying that) and pour the beaten egg in.  Swirl around the pan and allow to set slightly.

If you’re adding the cheese, grate it over the pan whilst the egg is setting, then spoon the mushrooms and chorizo over half of the omelette.

Use a spatula to flip the omelette over on itself, and cook until golden brown.  Be careful at this point that it doesn’t tear.  Mine did.  If it wasn’t a fasting day, I’d probably use two eggs. 

Serve with a salad, and tuck in. 

And the next meal I am sharing was yesterday’s lunch:

Greek Salad with Peach

I realise adding peach to Greek salad sounds weird.  But hear me out.  The sweetness of the peach against the salty feta is really lovely.  And if, like me, you have a sweet tooth, adding a little fruit to salads is a great way of getting your sweet fix.  It stopped me from reaching for the birthday chocs, anyway. 

Feta is quite calorific, so instead of cutting off lovely big chunks, I used a speed peeler to get shavings.  It kind of worked, but the cheese was a little too crumbly for it.  But what I will say is that using the peeler was a good method of portion control, I used 15g of cheese in total (but it still added 40 cals to my meal)

greek salad with peach

This Is Thirty

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Today I enter my fourth decade on this planet.  What a thought.  I bet my parents feel old. 

For new readers, each year on my birthday I take a photo of my face, sans any makeup and post it, right here.  Just cleansed, toned and moisturised.  Ever so slightly conceited?  Maybe, but meh, who cares?  It’s not often I post photos of myself on the blog at all – usually I am the one behind the camera, or it’s photos of food.  So here you go, me, at thirty, standing in my bathroom.  Please excuse the resting bitch face. 

And incase you are interested, here are the previous year’s photos.

Twenty Nine, Twenty Eight, Twenty SevenTwenty Six 

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Dear Ruby (Now You Are Six)

Six

Happy Birthday Ruby.  Today you are six years old.  How crazy is that?

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This year you decided you didn’t fancy a birthday party, and instead chose to go out for a fancy meal with your best friend.  Check you out, Miss Sophisticated. 

Roo is 6

Quietly, you told me you didn’t want a party because you find having lots of children around hard to deal with and overwhelming. That is ok, and we are so happy you feel comfortable enough to be able to tell us how you are feeling.  We have had lots of good chats about people and how difficult you find them to relate to over this past year, and as long as you are happy, well then we are happy, too. 

Roo is 6

You are doing so so well in school.  Every time I have seen your teacher, she has shown me your excellent work, your funny, eloquent, sometimes sassy, writing, and your fabulous grasp of numbers.  Your love of learning and knowledge is amazing, and I enjoy talking to you about your day on our walks home from school.  I love hearing about what you ate for lunch, what you did in PE, who got in trouble – you clearly love a bit of drama, like your mum – and how far up your class reward chart you got. 

Roo is 6

You’ve done a lot of travelling this past year, you lucky girl.  We went to France last summer, on a cruise around the Med in October, and to Bruges in February.  You loved stopping off at Barcelona on the cruise, and were enthralled by the Gaudí buildings.  And in Bruges you climbed up 365 steps to the top of the Belfry, which your Dad and I were amazed by. 

Roo is 6 3

Back at home, you’ve moved up to grade 1 in Ballet.  We started talking about you moving up a class back in December, and you finally moved after Easter.  I know it was a big deal for you and I know you were very nervous, but I’ll never forget the day we went to get your character shoes from the dance shop and you saw a teenage ballerina getting fitted for her pointe shoes.  You couldn’t stop staring and said she looked beautiful.  When the lady fitted your shoes, you demonstrated perfect spring points, and she was delighted.  I know it seems like sometimes I push you to keep on doing ballet, but if I thought you didn’t love it, I’d never make you go.  And I know you love it, so you’re going. 

Today we are having a chilled day, at your request.  We are going to walk up the road to the local ice cream parlour and you can order whatever you like from the menu. 

We can’t wait to see what this year brings for you.  There are some big things in the pipeline.

Love you bunches,

Mummy x

Thai Green Curry FTW

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Last weekend I made Thai green curry paste from scratch.  I used it to marinade chicken for a barbecue we went to, which was lovely – fresh and tasty.  I know you can get really good jarred Thai green curry paste in the supermarket, but try making it, it’s not at all difficult, and it tastes so much better than anything out of a jar. 

Whenever I want to make a curry paste, I tend to turn to Jamie Oliver.  I like his style of cooking a lot, and have always had loads of success with his curry pastes in the past.  Happily, this one was no different.  

So with the rest of it, I made us a Thai green curry for dinner.  The children took a little persuading at first, but once they had got over the bamboo shoot slices, everyone was happy. 

Here is how I made it for the four of us:

You’ll need:

Half of the Thai green curry paste (see link above)
400g chicken.  We used breast meat for this dish, chopped into bite-sized pieces. 
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced. 
1 small tin of sliced bamboo shoots
mange tout (or sugar snap peas) and baby corn
200mls coconut milk
500mls chicken stock, either made from a cube, or from a chicken carcass of a bygone roast. 
optional – 1tsp fish sauce 

thai green curry

Fry off the chicken in a little olive oil, just until it has browned slightly, then add the peppers and baby corn.  Allow the peppers to soften a little, and then add the coconut milk, mange tout, and bamboo shoots.  Pour in the chicken stock in to slacken the sauce.  Thai green curry has a thin sauce, but because the coconut milk is nice and rich, it’s not watery.  You might not need as much as 500mls of stock, but better to have too much rather than not enough.  Let the curry bubble and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  The vegetables ought to have a little crunch. 

Serve with rice, or, if you’re low carbing like I am, cauliflower rice.  Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and get stuck in. 

“Have you seen my OTHER Timepiece?”

Do you wear a watch?

Its one of those things I always mean to put on, but then never remember to.  Unlike my sunglasses, which are an accessory I pretty  much always have to hand.  About a year ago I found a watch my parents gave me for Christmas years ago, I love it.  It has a pink perspex strap, and the face is blank, and I love it.  Anyway, it had been in a drawer for god knows how many years and the battery had died, so I took it to be repaired, as I’d got it into my head that I simply MUST start wearing my watch again.  

I had no idea that a lot of places can only change watch batteries for brands they stock.  It didn’t occur to me that a watch battery might not be completely generic.  

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