Sunday, 20 April 2014

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. I wasn't sure if I'd like Noah but it was the twist on the basic story everyone knows which made it into a really enjoyable film.

2. I finally saw Allan's band playing on Friday! The Ruptured Ducklings were part of a Battle Of The Bands and although they didn't win I thought they were ace, especially that drummer, he's my fave! *swoon*

3. Check out the cool wristbands we got! It's just a white pipecleaner, but I mashed it up by making it into a bunny then a bow. Gotta put your twist on it, gurl!

4. On Saturday I helped out at a charity table at work. It was during an Easter Fun Day so I popped my bunny ears on and got to work!

5. At the fun day there were tiny fluffy chicks and this gorgeous little lamb for the kids to see and touch. Well, I say kids but we were all doing it! I love cute Spring baby animals!

6. Allan's decorated an egg as a dragon for an Easter competition. I'm like a proud mum, it's so cute!

7. How blue was the sky this Sunday?! Not a cloud to be seen! This amazing weather at the weekends is making me so happy. We headed to the beach for a walk, seems we weren't the only ones with that great idea!

8. After our lovely day out I made my first roast dinner in my new kitchen. Allan was very impressed, especially at how good the quorn and veggie gravy tasted.

9. And Easter wouldn't be Easter without some Easter eggs! I was very restrained this year and got us both a £1 egg (Creme Egg for me, Caramel egg  for Allan) and one for the piggies! They were a bit confused at first, but when it was unwrapped and they could smell the dandelion leaves they both dug their teeth in!

I hope you're all having a brilliant Easter weekend too! If you want to see more pics take a look at my Instagram!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Skinny Bird Challenge: Weeks 1 & 2

A couple of weeks ago I told wrote about my Skinny Bird Challenge; a plan to lose a bit of weight and become healthier over the following couple of months, so here's an update!

I meant to post my progress weekly but last Monday my scales broke! Grrr! But I've now got my hands on a different set and I'm ready to go!

Hurrah! Not a bad start at all! That's exactly 2lbs which is a pound a week as planned.  When I got these scales midweek I weighed almost 10st 3lbs, which would have been great, but with my Granny's 80th birthday and being away at the weekend I went a bit off track!

What I've Been Eating:

Salad, a lot of salad! But I love it, so it's not bad! I've been chucking all sorts in there and making some awesome combos. My favourites include feta, couscous, baby plums tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, houmous, falafels and polenta.

I've been making a few recipes from Rosemary Conley's magazines, the best one being Vegetable Pie With Couscous Topping which is really tasty, low in calories and filling.

I also made a dish of pasta with steamed vegetables and stirred in some Philadelphia Light With Chives which was quick and easy.

I've replaced my usual cereal bars with Alpen Light ones, and snacks are now about 100 calories or less, so fruit, nuts, maize crisps like Skips or Quavers, little biscuits or a few squares of plain chocolate, that sort of thing.

What I've Been Doing:

I've been tracking what I eat through My Fitness Pal. I set myself a calorie goal of 1500 a day but found I was eating far too little to start with so I upped my intake, which was quite nice!

Exercise-wise I've been walking quite a bit but I haven't been to any classes or anything yet. The walks vary but I took a stroll in a local wood for about an hour...

...and along the beach for about 3 hours.

Luckily we've had good weather this past wee while!

If you have any good tips or tasty recipes, let me know!

Monday, 14 April 2014

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. Whilst I was at work, Allan sent me some pictures showing that he'd organised our kitchen cupboards which were getting a bit out of hand. He's much better at being tidy than me, and after a busy week at work it was all piling up, so I'm glad he took charge.

2. After the busy week at work everyone involved was thanked in an email. It's so nice to receive recognition of hard work!

3. I'm really enjoying salads right now. Being healthy is so much easier when you like what you're eating! I'll have an update on my Skinny Bird Challenge for you tomorrow!

4. I went to a laser cutting class and made this keyring for Allan. I designed it (drumsticks and a star in the shape of an A) and the lasers burnt it into the wood. He was really chuffed at his pressie!

5. I went to see The Double, which wasn't quite what I expected. It was really funny in a Garth Marenghi way and a pretty dark comedy. I love Richard Ayoade's humour and style so this was right up my street!

6. The sun was out again! We're being spoilt with good weather at the weekends just now, long may it continue! *touch wood*

7. Our trip to Inverness was cancelled but we weren't going to waste the good weather so we went for a walk on the beach and surrounding area. It was a bit windy but the views and warm sand were excellent!

8. We also took a trip to the Macduff Marine Aquarium and saw lots of different fishies and sealife, a few of which you can touch!

9. The weekend ended on a high with my Granny's 80th birthday. Our family went out for a meal (and I ate far too much :( I was so close to bursting!) and we had a great time! Granny's cake was made by Mum's friend and was a cat playing in a massive ball of wool but I had to save it for later I was so stuffed!

How was your week? Share your highlights or posts below!

Monday, 7 April 2014

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. I think I've had a good week healthy living wise (only the scales will tell!), it started off with a walk in my local forest which is made easier by these pieces of interest which have been placed around the tracks.

2. I got a nice big delivery of healthy food after making an eating plan and it's probably the best food I've eaten in a long time! Home delivery is great for me because I can easily lose a couple of hours in a supermarket and come out with loads of stuff I hadn't meant to buy!

3. We're starting to make real headway with the association that I'm part of and this week I set up a facebook page for the local community. I'm so pleased at the amount of likers that we're getting!

4. I also set up a monthly bake sale at work for our charity of the year CLAN Cancer Support and our first one went really well. Although it took all my willpower to bake cakes without eating them! There were so many tasty treats made by staff it was hard to resist those too, but I figured a little bit wouldn't do too much damage!

5. Roughly a year ago I blogged about these amazing prints by Chad Sell that I'd fallen in love with. At the time I had no idea what RuPaul's Drag Race was and I'd never been able to watch it...until now! Some lovely person on Twitter mentioned that it's on Netflix so now I can watch them all! I have, of course, become totally obsessed!

6. Thanks to Mother's Day passing and Allan working for a supermarket my house is now full of beautiful cut price flowers!

7. I caught up on my cinema viewing this week starting with the awesome, hilarious, beautiful Grand Budapest Hotel...

8. ...and the Hunger Games-esque Divergent, which is by no means a criticism! It has a number of similarities but it's great in its own right and the male lead is more my kind of guy!

9. But my biggest love of all this week is that Allan has moved in with me! Luckily he's a man of few belongings and we shifted all his stuff in an afternoon. It feels good to have him here full-time!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bird Food: Vegetable Pie With Couscous Topping

Trying to lose weight is made so much easier with recipes like this! This pie is so delicious and tastes so fresh and is only 113 calories per quarter!

You'll need:
450g mixed vegetables (any kind you like, I used mushrooms, courgettes and a red pepper)
1 garlic clove, crushed (Got to use my IKEA garlic crusher for the first time!)
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp basil pesto
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I left this out as I didn't have any)
100g couscous
150ml hot vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives (I left this out too!)

The recipe:
Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6. Preheat a large, non-stick frying pan. (I used my wok)

Prepare the vegetables and chop into bite-sized pieces, then dry-fry in the preheated non-stick pan until lightly browned. (I'm not a fan of dry-frying, so I added a little oil)

Add the garlic and chopped tomatoes. Stir in the pesto and basil and simmer gently until the tomatoes are reduced.

Place the couscous in a bowl and pour the hot stock over it. Cover with a tea towel for 1 minute then fluff up the grains with a fork. Add the chives and mix well.

Spoon the vegetables into an ovenproof dish and top with the couscous. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold with a side salad.

The pesto and the stock make all the difference to this dish, adding subtle flavours which make it taste healthy and light. Allan was very impressed and we'll definitely have this again.

As always, let me know if you give it a go, and if you blog about it leave a link below!

Bird Food: White Christmas Slice

Yeah, I know, it's nowhere near Christmas, but it's always cake o'clock somewhere, right?!

I really need to work on my food photos!

This is a recipe I picked up in Sainsbury's ages ago but I'd never tried it. We had a charity bake sale at work so I decided to give it a go! It doesn't take long to make but there are plenty of opportunities to lick the spoon!

You'll need:
200g Belgian dark chocolate (I used Tesco Value plain chocolate)
400g coconut cookies (I used Fox's Coconut Crinkles)
150g unsalted butter (Tesco Value)
2 tablespoons runny honey (Tesco Value)
200g Belgian white chocolate (Tesco Value!)
50g desiccated coconut

(Despite being on a budget and using the cheapest ingredients, I got plenty of compliments on the taste!)

The recipe:

Line a 30cm x 20cm baking tray with clingfilm, so that it overhangs the sides.

Heat the dark chocolate, unsalted butter and runny honey in a pan. (I used a medium non-stick pan)
Mix with a spoon while the chocolate and butter melt, then add the crushed coconut cookies, and stir to coat.
Continue to stir for about 5 minutes so it begins to cook, then press the mixture into the lined tray. 
Place a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, so that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Add the white chocolate and gently melt. (I didn't bother with this, I just cleaned the original non-stick pan and melted the white chocolate on a very low heat)

Pour the melted white chocolate over the biscuit base, spreading it evenly. Cover with the desiccated coconut and chill for 4 hours.

Once set, lift out of the tin using the cling film and cut into small squares.
I just used a knife to cut it but it's pretty hard stuff. If there's an easier way, let me know!

And if you try out the recipe let me know too! Put a link below if you blog about it.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

♥ This Week's Loves ♥

1. I’ve organised a donation drive at work for CLAN Cancer Support so I’m currently having a massive clearout. I’ve been meaning to do it since I moved, so it’s great motivation!

2. We watched So I Married An Axe Murderer. Classic Mike Myers. And not a totally inaccurate representation of some Scottish families!

3. It was my parent's wedding anniversary this week, a whole 38 years married! Well done Mum & Dad!

4. I got this guinea pig jigsaw for my birthday from my parents and it was so difficult but I finally completed it! Can you spot the two real ones?!

5. Banana and chocolate harumaki from Yo! Sushi is a new addition to the menu and is really delicious! I figured I'd treat myself before my healthy eating starts!

6. I didn't really know what Dallas Buyers Club was about before I saw it, but it was a great story and really moving.

7. Lazy weekend mornings snuggling with my boys is just one of the best things ever.

8. Allan and I went out for tea and saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Telling you that Chris Evans is pretty much perfection isn't a spoiler though is it?!

9. My Mum seemed so happy this Mother's Day with all the family round and she deserves it! I bought her this frame from Next where the clips spell out family and put the sweetest picture of her and Charlotte in there too.

How was your week? What did you treat your Mum to on Sunday?

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Maira Gall