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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Looking Forward To 2014

A part of me is glad to see the back of 2013, I've always being a little supersticious and had that feeling it wouldn't be a great year. But on reflection it wasn't that bad really, I'm not going to dwell on the negative parts of the year but I have looked back at the positives and realised that I am thankful for so much. 

In 2013 we celebrated our second wedding anniversary, which may not seem to be a huge deal but we celebrated our first with me in hospital very poorly with HG at 38 weeks pregnant, so the second one was really to cover both! 2013 is also the year that I joined Pregnancy Sickness Support (PSS) as a volunteer, I am privileged to be supporting amazing women as they fight their battles with HG and NVP. I also met a lot of fellow volunteers through the year and was fortunate to spend a week away with a dear friend, Emma who suffered through HG at the same time as me, and of course her gorgeous HG survivor Adam who became great friends with Griffin. 

2013 also saw me graduating "Boob School", this was a course to train to be a breastfeeding peer support volunteer, but this course and Nikki, our Boob Coach, gave me so much more. It gave me the confidence to continue breastfeeding Griffin, to be confident in feeding him whilst out and about and of course the opportunity to meet so many wonderful women who are such lovely friends.

There were a lot of downs throughout the year too, including Hubster being laid off, it's being difficult for him to adjust as he's worked all his working life and finding another job is taking it's time. It's not just the financial strain that has taken it's toll it's the emotional effects too, his confidence has taken a big hit and he's not used to been at home full time with Griffin. But on the positive it has given us more quality time as a family, Hubster has bonded so much more with Griffin and of course he's had time to reflect on life and careers. 

So 2014, I have a feeling it will be a great year. We're starting the year off with celebrations for Hubster's 30th birthday, he doesn't like the fact he's moving out of his youthful twenties, but I'm going to make sure he embraces it of course! I am also planning to reach my goal weight at Slimming world, hopefully by the summer. I'm excited that we are almost at the end of the Nine Months Of campaign for PSS and I'm really looking forward to seeing how much awareness will have increased as a result of the campaign. Then of course there's the Baby Bistro's, I'm hoping we will see lots more breastfeeding mums there and continue our efforts to normalise breastfeeding. Finally I'm looking forward to continuing with my blogging journey, it's most likely a lot of ramblings to a lot of people but it's very therapeutic and fun.

I'm going to stop rambling on now and simply thank you all for reading, following and supporting Mummy Whiskers. I really appreciate you all and wish you all a very happy new year and the very best of wishes for an amazing 2014 

With love from 

Katrina, Scott, Griffin, Sooty & Sweep


Monday, 16 December 2013

Meat Free Monday Singapore Noodles

So last Monday I made Singapore Noodles, a recipe in my Quorn Kitchen recipe book, you can find it here on the Quorn website too. It's a really simple recipe with basic ingredients that are so easy to obtain and cheap too, so perfect for a family meal on a budget. 

I found the recipe really easy to follow and it's quick to make too so ideal for midweek or when you're busy. I prepared all the vegetables first before I started cooking as the cooking part doesn't take long at all. The only changes I made were to replace the cooking wine with more soy sauce so that Small Boy could try some and to cook the Quorn mince from frozen and add the sauces to the wok as cooking rather than to defrost and marinade. I cooked the mince from frozen in my large wok, I use a low calorie spray rather than oil. Once the mince had browned I added ingredients in the order from the cooking instructions. I boiled the noodles as per the instructions on the packet, although I did add a few cheeky splashes of soy sauce to perk them up a little, then once they we're cooked and drained I mixed them into the wok with everything else to give them a little crisp. 

Served immediately, this is what it looked like...

The Singapore Noodles were a hit around the table, we had my mum over for dinner and she absolutely loved this, as did Hubster and myself. Small boy enjoyed the mince, but he's not keen on noodles, or pasta for that matter. It surprised me just how tasty this dish was, I've made a lot of stir fry's with a bag of mixed veg and a packet of ready made sauce and I'll never go back to that now, this recipe was so quick and easy to make yet tasted wonderful.

My family have always being big meat eaters, my Grandad was a master butcher. My family and Hubster have this idea that Quorn is tasteless so they don't eat it, but they have agreed to try Meat Free Mondays and I am pleased to say they have found the recipes that I have tried so far using Quorn to be very tasty and said they would definitely have them again, this is a huge achievement!

Oh, for the record one tablespoon of hoisin sauce works out to be one syn for Slimming World, the rest of the ingredients were free, but please bare in mind that I follow the green plan with being a vegetarian. So it's healthy and low fat too! 

I'd love to hear from you if you try out this recipe yourself so please do let me know.

Tonight we'll be trying Lemon Linguine using a recipe from my new cook book, Lorraine Pascale, Fast, Fresh and Easy Food. Obviously I'll be switching the chicken in the recipe for a meat free alternative. I'll update you all on how it goes next Monday.

Disclaimer: Quorn have provided the voucher for use on their products for our participation in this week's Meat Free Monday, however the choice in Quorn products purchased is my own, the recipes that I make will also be my own choice. Any opinions expressed in my blog will be my own and unbiased.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Just Another Birthday

Well it was my birthday on Sunday, another year older. I really hate how birthdays seem to come around much faster since I hit the 30's, I don't feel like a thirty-something and it doesn't seem like five minutes ago that the thirties seemed to be in the distant future. Well it's not in the future anymore, it's here giving me a good bitch slap and saying "time to buy the anti-ageing cream!"
Now that I'm a mum I have started to think about my birthdays past, when I was a child I had a big party at home for my friends, my Mum would provide enough party food to feed an army and Big Brother would be the DJ. Birthdays as a child were so exciting, gifts were a surprise, there was the party to look forward to, all the fuss at school too. As a teenager things changed a little, instead of parties it became concert tickets for Boyzone every year and a meal out somewhere with family and besties. The excitement for birthdays was still there though, even once drinking age finally arrived... Yes from 18 to late twenties birthdays had become a week of nights out drinking and staggering in and out of night clubs, I have many fond memories and even more cringe some photos to look back on from these days. No I won't be sharing any of these drunken photos! I don't really know what it is that changes inside, but there is a turning point there where we go from all the fuss and dragging out of birthday celebrations to realising that actually the best birthdays are celebrated just one day with the people that mean the most to us and doing something that really makes us happy. Oh, and of course eating cake, cake is the best solution to every problem.
So on Sunday I spent the day with Hubster and Small boy. The day started with our little tradition where Hubster serves breakfast, pain au chocolates warmed and coffee. At lunch time we visited a Victorian market that was in our village that day, it's the first time we've been to this Victorian Market, there is one every Christmas in our village. I don't know why we haven't been before to be honest but it was great, lots of people were there, a good variety of stalls and some great food. Then my Mum made dinner for us, Big Brother & Nephew, which was lovely and then we had birthday cake... Yes you're never too old for birthday cake, everyone in my family gets a birthday cake regardless of their age! This year Hubster wanted to make a birthday cake for me, he's never baked a cake before but was very excited to do this. I wasn't nervous about the cake, just the mess that I imagined in my kitchen! Hubster looked through my baking books and eventually selected a recipe from the Nigella Lawson Domestic Goddess book, he chose the Autumnal Birthday Cake. Hubster chose this cake because he knows how much I love maple syrup and pecan nuts.
The cake was a huge success, despite how Hubster was in the kitchen making this cake until 2am, not only did it look fabulous, it tasted good too. Hubster also cleaned up the kitchen too after baking which I was really thrilled about. Although the down side was that this cake wasn't very good for my diet, but you only have a birthday once a year!
Amongst the birthday gifts were three new books that I had asked for, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook; Lorraine Pascale's Fast, Fresh and Easy Food; and National Trust Simply Baking. I had asked for the two baking books mainly for some fresh inspiration, I have flicked through them both to see what I'm going to try out first and quite honestly I can't decide, every single recipe looks delicious! I asked for Lorraine's cook book as I needed one with easy to follow recipes and quick recipes too as most days, like most of us, I'm pressed for time at dinner and find myself in a rut of making the same meals each week. I have over the weekend read this book from cover to cover and can't wait to get started. In fact I've already picked out a recipe to try for Meat Free Mondays!
Once we managed to get Small Boy to sleep the Hubster and I managed to relax and watch a film, Hangover 3. There's nothing like a good comedy on a Sunday to laugh at. To be honest I didn't think it was as good as the previous two films, but it was still very funny and I'm sure we will watch it again. Well that was my birthday, a perfect day for me, which made becoming another year older just a little more bearable...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Stars

So I've attempted our first home made Christmas decorations, they're pretty easy to do to be honest, but I would say they are best made with children above toddler age, unless it's just my small boy that would equal a disaster when put in a room with glue and lollipop sticks!
Anyway this how to make them yourself....
Items needed:
1) Lollipop sticks (if you don't have them saved from the summer you can buy packs cheap enough from most craft shops and some supermarkets) You will need 10 sticks per star
2) PVA glue
3) Tinsel approx, 2.5 metres per star
4) Christmas ribbon, as much as you like!
5) Needle and thread
So the instructions are basically as simple as the shopping list!
1) Place the lollipop sticks on a flat surface, such as a table or large tray, and position them to make a five point star shape.
2) Once they are positioned where you want them start to apply glue to the ends of the lollipop sticks where they join to each other, one at a time, and apply a little pressure for a minute or two until the glue starts to set.
3) Leave about 20 minutes for all the glue to set, at this point you should be looking at something along these lines....
4) Once the glue is set you're ready to decorate the star. I used tinsel, you just can't beat tinsel at Christmas! I picked some that was made with wire inside so that it could be bent into shapes easily. I also made sure it was a fairly thin tinsel as you can lose the star shape if your tinsel is too thick. So quite simply you just need to start wrapping the tinsel around the star frame. Once you've finished the tinsel shouldn't need securing in place if you've used a tinsel with wire in, if not though you could use florist wire to secure it.

5) Finally you need a hook to hang the star with, just cut a piece of Christmas ribbon about three inches long, but it's best to thread it through the star and decide yourself how much ribbon you want. Thread the piece of ribbon through the star and then stitch the ends together with the thread and needle to make a loop.
There you have it, your star is ready to hang. If you like you could use some more Christmas ribbon to add a second loop so the star will hang longer or flat on a wall.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Meat Free Monday Quorn Bolognese Pizza

Last Monday I made Quorn bolognese pizzas for dinner for Hubster, Small Boy, my Mum and myself. I used the recipe in the Quorn Kitchen recipe book, a book that has been on my shelf for over a year. I'm just starting to cook properly again since the HG pregnancy which left me terrified of foods and in a state of panic whenever I needed to prepare a meal, so this is a learning curve for me.
As I'm currently on the Slimming World diet I had to adapt the recipe slightly, so instead of using pizza bases I used square wraps, the white ones are eight syns each. I also replaced the olive oil with a low calorie oil spray so that was syn free and I weighed the cheese so that I could use one of my healthy extra A choices to cover the cheese going on my pizza. The Quorn mince and other ingredients for the Bolognese we're all syn free, but I was a little naughty, I added a cheeky tablespoon of red pesto to the bolognese sauce while cooking, which once divided over four pizzas only worked out at half a syn per portion. So all in one pizza worked out at eight and a half syns, which I personally think is pretty good for a pizza. Served along with a bowl of syn free salad this makes a delicious filling meal.
As for the Hubster, to make his pizza more of a "man portion" I used two square wraps and added a layer of mozzarella, crushed garlic and a sprinkle of oregano in between the two wraps to give him a stuffed base, then added the bolognese, mozzarella and seasoning for the topping and put in the oven.
I set my oven to 180 and put the pizzas in for approximately ten minutes, until the cheese had browned how we like it. This isn't a fan assisted oven though, so if you are using fan assisted you may need to reduce the time or temperature.
Everyone loved the pizzas, they we're delicious, even my Mum loved it and she's not a very big fan of pizzas. The bolognese was very tasty and we all found the meal to be very filling. Needless to say this is a big thumbs up for the Quorn Kitchen book and I'll certainly be trying out another recipe from the book tonight...




Disclaimer: Quorn have provided the voucher for use on their products for our participation in this week's Meat Free Monday, however the choice in Quorn products purchased is my own, the recipes that I make will also be my own choice. Any opinions expressed in my blog will be my own and unbiased.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hiding The Presents

Well I had figured that with Small Boy being the tiny age of twenty months that we would be safe this year with Christmas gifts in the house... How wrong I was! Obviously he doesn't understand Christmas yet, but he is a smart kid and he has "toddler radar" installed as standard so he can sniff out anything that he isn't meant to see.
Last week Nephew and Hubster went on their annual Christmas shopping trip and when they arrived back Nephew was very excited to show me what he had bought for everyone. Within minutes we hear a familiar "ooooooh" sound from Small Boy and turned to see him hugging one of the Christmas presents that was for him. The second incident was yesterday when it took all of twenty seconds from him getting out of the bath to him pulling out one of his Christmas presents to play with!
As for the element of surprise I'm pretty sure he won't remember these incidents by Christmas day, so hopefully he will be surprised when he unwraps his gifts in a few weeks. Obviously I'm not worried about blowing Santa's cover either, we're safe there for one more year.
This has however got me thinking about the next nine or ten years ahead, I can't imagine how we're going to hide gifts and wrapping paper from him. I am one of these people that likes to buy Christmas gifts all year around and there is no way around the fact that I have nowhere to hide these things from him in the house. I've given this some thought though and I've decided the best option for us is to hide them at Big Brother's house, or Uncle Donut as Small Boy now likes to call him.
I have also being worried lately that Small Boy could be over faced with wrapped gifts on the day, however he surprised me at the weekend when we visited Santa. When we arrived home he sat down on the floor to unwrap his gift from Santa and to our horror he knew exactly how to unwrap this parcel. Hubster and I looked stunned at eachother and tried to figure out where he may have picked up how to do this, still we are clueless so that's 1-0 to Small Boy.
I think it's safe to say toddler's are much smarter than we give them credit for, so take my advice, hide those presents well!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Meat Free Monday

From today, every Monday I will be cooking a meat free meal for the whole family. I myself have being a vegetarian now for around 19 years, but Hubster and Small Boy love their meat. They are however going to participate in Meat Free Monday, so I will be cooking up a meat free meal every Monday for dinner for the three of us and anyone else who might be here for dinner, I will share the details with you the following Monday and let you know what everyone thought of it too.
For the first three weeks I will be making these meals with Quorn as they have very kindly sent us some vouchers to use on their products for the purpose of Meat Free Monday. I'll be using my Quorn Kitchen recipe book for inspiration over the next three weeks too, but I may need to adapt them slightly so that they work well with my diet.

Disclaimer: Quorn have provided the vouchers for use on their products for our participation in Meat Free Mondays, however the choice in Quorn products purchased will be my own, the recipes that I make will also be my own choice. Any opinions expressed in my blog will be my own and unbiased.

Back To Basics

So I started the Slimming world (SW) diet in the summer, this is the first time I've ever done a SW diet and it's safe to say I love it! I was doing pretty well until the winter weather kicked in, tins of chocolates have started stacking up in the pantry with various other naughty treats. The problem with this cold weather is that I crave my comfort foods even more, I'm sure I'm not alone there though....Anyone??
After two weeks of feeling horrendous with the flu, days of not eating and days of eating what Hubster was able to prepare or cook, I was very nervous to be weighed at my SW meeting this morning. Much to my surprise I had actually lost 1/2 lb! I was really expecting to have gained weight. I'm glad I lost, even though it's only 1/2 lb it has given me a much needed boost. After the meeting I felt much more motivated, our coordinator is lovely, as are all the members there and I always feel very motivated after the meetings. It's towards the end of the week that I struggle, the temptation kicks in as Hubster and Small Boy are eating chocolate in front of me.
Yes chocolate, this is my weakness. I also love crisps, but have actually found it quite easy to give them up. I used to eat one or two packets of crisps a day, but now I only have two or three packets a week. But chocolate, now this is one thing I cannot sacrifice, I've tried but I can't do it, I think it's safe to say I have a chocolate addiction, but I personally feel that cutting something you love out of your diet will simply make you miserable, and life is too short to be miserable so the chocolate stays. Yay!
I've decided this week to go back to basics, just like the first week of my diet, simple meals, writing everything down, counting syns meticulously. I will not slip up this week, despite the fact it is my birthday on Sunday because when I sit down and think about it, losing weight this week will make me feel much better about myself than stuffing my face and feeling fat would, and who really wants to feel bad about themselves on their birthday? My plan is to follow the green plan as I normally do, but two days this week I will be trying the Success Express plan, wish me luck..!
Right, so now it's winter I'm getting back into soups, but I find the tins and cartons are full of syns, even the low fat ones. I've never ever in my life made a soup before, but I'm going to try this week, the syns on these soups are wasted for me personally and could be put to much better use in chocolate. The soup has to go! I have the laptop at the ready and I'm going to search the SW website for amazing syn free soup recipes this afternoon, I will let you know how it goes later in the week....