Monday, 27 June 2016

Meal Plan Monday | 27th June 2016

Happy Monday! Hope you all had a lovely weekend? I was working yesterday but at least the weather has been lovely, well until around 5pm when it started to rain :(.  Another week gone by, I don't want to wish my life away but I'm glad that my overtime stint is over for a few more weeks and I am back to my normal hours.

Last week's meal plan didn't quite go to plan towards the end of the week as by Thursday I couldn't be arsed cooking so ordered a takeaway, had gluten free Arrabiata with a side salad. Omg it was spicy! Friday I had Tesco Free From Sweet & Sour Chicken, battered chicken balls which were quite nice along with some microwave fried rice and prawn crackers, Saturday and Sunday I had tapas dishes that I bought from M&S. Yum, they were good.

Hopefully I stick to the plan more this week :).  If you would like to join in this week (would love to have you), read all about it here and then add your blog post to the Linky below.

Monday - Red Thai Chicken Curry - working all day so it's a Charlie Higham meal that was on offer, never had red Thai curry before so hopefully it's nice :)

Tuesday - Spanish Chicken & Potatoes with Salad - working until 7pm again tonight, so another Charlie Higham meal.  I will be making the salad so I'm not totally lazy!

Wednesday - Taco Beans & Baked Sweet Potato - meant to have this last week and didn't so will be looking forward to having it.

Thursday - Mushroom, Puy Lentil & Butter Bean Burgers with Polenta Chips - I picked these burgers up in Tesco the other day, they are gluten free as well as being vegan so will let you know how they are next week.

Friday - Mushroom Puffs with Salad - depending on how this turns out I might do a blog post on it :), I've got a few packs of pastry in my freezer that need using up. You just fry some mushrooms in a sauce and cover them in pastry like sausage rolls. Not the healthiest of meals but sounds really tasty.

Saturday & Sunday - not decided yet as unsure what our plans are this weekend since I'm not working.

What are you having this week?

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Summer Homeware Haul

If you have followed me for a while then you know that I like to change my decor every season, I don't buy new things every season (sadly I am not rich) but I may come across something that catches my eye either while out shopping or in a charity shop that makes me think that will look good for Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter (delete as necessary).

Plum has been the colour of Summer and having had a few of the accessories for over 5 years I was getting a bit fed up of them, also I got a few things at Christmas that I hadn't yet used so thought that now would be the ideal time to use them and so my plum accessories have been packed up into a storage box in the garage until further notice.

To go with the glass vase, matching flower tealight holder and dish I got at Christmas (these are still in stock) I bought a fake orchid in a lovely mirrored cube vase (£16) from Next.  I really like orchids, I find them very pretty but unfortunately for some reason or another their survival rates with me are very poor as they all seem to die off.  Now I shall finally have an orchid that even I can't kill off!  I still have the plum cushions that I normally use in the Summer but I may replace these next year to a lighter colour such as cream or grey as I find it quite a dark colour.

Summer Homeware Haul

Now that the weather is supposed to be getting nicer I am hoping that we can eat outdoors more, I bought some new nautical themed melamine dinner and side plates, bowls and platters from Marks and Spencer which I bought when they had a 20% off day and I found some cute fish and crab napkin rings on eBay to match.  In Sainsburys I came across a set of 12 nautical striped cutlery for only £8, when I got home I discovered it was not the bargain I thought it was as the 12 pieces were for 3 settings.  Why only 3?! I could understand having 2 settings or 4 settings but not 3, I then had to buy another set so I now have enough for 6 people  (but only have 4 place settings with my plates and bowls, see my dilemma here?!).  Along with my blue wine glasses I bought in the Next sale last year I am all ready for some nautical themed Al Fresco dining, just need the weather to be nice now.

Summer Homeware Haul
Summer Homeware Haul
Summer Homeware Haul

Sticking with the outdoor theme I bought new solar lights as on a particularly windy day a few months ago, a gust of wind blew the outside table into the shrubs and broke the solar panel of the last set so they no longer worked.  I bought a set of 100 lights from Very for £24.99, I only buy things from there when they have a £30 off a £60 spend offer so technically they were free ;). The solar lights don't come on until 11pm as it doesn't start to get dark until then so this is how light it still is at 11.30pm up here.

Do you change your decor depending on the season?

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Monday, 20 June 2016

Meal Plan Monday | 20th June 2016

Meal Planning Monday Link Up

Well today is the longest day and from now on the nights are going to slowly creep in but what I want to know is, where is our Summer?! Apart from the odd nice day here and there (usually while I'm working), so far it's been pretty dire with being cold and wet so let's hope that nicer days are just around the corner. We have made a nice seated area in our garden where I had hoped we could sit out in an evening and eat our dinner but that's yet to happen.

Anyway less of my waffling about the weather, hope you all have had a lovely weekend? I was off this weekend but as I have been working extra hours it was sadly spent catching up with laundry and other houseworky tasks. When did my life get so boring?! As I'm working more hours this week, next weekend will be just as rock n roll, bet you are jealous?!

This week's meal plan isn't that exciting, I'm hoping to go to my Mum's on Wed and hoping that she will feed me while I'm there ;)

Monday - Chicken & King Prawn Paella - as well as being the longest day, it is also the longest day at work for me so a ready meal that can be shoved into the micro after an 11 hour shift is about all the energy I can muster.

Tuesday - Beef Steak with Chips & Salad - I picked these up from M&S the other week and froze them, they come with a chimichanga dressing so I'm hoping that they taste good.

Wednesday - not sure as hoping my Mummy will feed me ;)

Thursday - Taco Beans, Baked Sweet Potato & Salad - had these for the first time last week, topped them off with some coconut yoghurt instead of soured cream and they tasted sooo good.  Future blog post recipe I think.

Friday - Prawn Fajita Baked Sweet Potato with Salad - I'm working late so looking for something quick and easy to make.  I'm going to attempt to bake my sweet potatoes in the slow cooker so they will be ready for when I come home plus frying some prawns and veg takes no time at all.

Saturday - Takeaway - I'm working Saturday then going to acupuncture afterwards in Aberdeen, this means I don't get home until well after 4pm so a trip to our local Italian for some gluten free veggie pasta will be required as I just want to relax when I get home.

Sunday - Will pick up something while I'm out food shopping today.

Remember and join me for my link up below, just add your blog post of what you are having this week on the linky tool :)

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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Aberdeen | Jamie's Italian Review

Jamie's Italian Aberdeen

Last week I met up with two of my blogger chums Iga and Steff and headed to Jamie's Italian for some lunch.  Jamie's is situated near the Castlegate end of Union Street in what used to be the old E&M's building, a department store of years gone by.  Although I had never been to Jamie's before I know many who have and had heard mixed reviews about the food so I went with an open mind.

On entering the restaurant I noticed it had a relaxing and rustic feel to it with the wooden tables and floors, there was also a large terracotta screen that went around the staircase that looked like a huge wine rack.  After being shown to our seats and given menus to look at we were asked if we would like water, a huge carafe of water was then placed on our table while we caught up on the gossip and decided on what delicious foods we were going to have.  Jamie's has a Super Lunch menu that is only £10.95 for two courses and if you are still hungry for dessert then you can have three courses for £12.95, which is a pretty impressive price! Jamie Oliver is my favourite celebrity chef and the fact he promotes free range chicken, pork and grass fed beef is a plus in my book as not enough restaurants offer dishes containing these preferring to use cheaper products where there is less emphasis on animal welfare.

As I am gluten free I went for the full menu for my eats, there was certainly a lot of choice in the mains but they were sadly lacking in the starter department.  For our starters Iga went for the Pâté Bruschetta which is a chicken liver pâté with pancetta served on bruschetta toasts, Steff went for the Fritto Misto, a selection of fried sustainable fish and squid with a garlic and lemon aioli, and I went for the Olives on Ice (£3.95) which was olives served on ice with a black olive tapenade and what looked like a poppadom.  The crispy music bread as its called does contain gluten so don't eat it if you are gluten intolerant.  Iga and Steff both really enjoyed their starters and I must admit they did look appetising, my starter was fine but eating olives isn't a particular exciting starter to pick.

Jamie's Italian Super Lunch Review
Jamie's Italian Review
Jamie's Itaan Review

For the main course Iga and Steff were both feeling ultra healthy and went for the Super Food Salad which arrived in a huge bowl packed with quinoa, black rice, curly kale, toasted seeds, cottage cheese, avocado and a lot more, I went for the less healthy option of Jamie's Favourite Porchetta (£13.95) which is a dish of slow cooked pork belly served with charred fennel, spring onion, baby beets and apple sauce. The Super Food Salad looked really good and was given the thumbs up by Iga and Steff, it seemed to be very filling and Iga took what she couldn't finish home with her in a doggy bag.  The pork belly that I chose was really tender and tasty, the charred veg that came along with it was also delicious.  It doesn't come with potatoes or chips so if you wanted some then you would need to order them as a side dish.  We ordered a side of Polenta Chips (£3.65) to share, these were more cubes than chips and were really good, yum!

Jamie's Italian Super Lunch Review
Jamie's Italian Review
Jamie's Italian Review
After both courses I was feeling full but Steff decided to try out the dessert and went for the Frozen  Natural Yoghurt with Butterscotch Sauce (£4.95) this wasn't included in the special lunch menu price and it seems that it's only ice cream which is, if you are after any of the other desserts then you will need to pay extra for them. Steff did say that it tasted really good though. Iga went for a Latte and I chose a pot of green tea, for all of the above plus four Homemade Lemonades (a really nice and refreshing drink) the bill came to just over £68 which is pretty reasonable for three large lunches and drinks.  If your meal has inspired you to cook Italian dishes then there are various cook books, pastas and oils you can buy there if you wish to recreate them at home to impress your friends and family.

Jamie's Italian Review

Overall the service and food was really good, the only thing I would suggest is to offer more starters that are gluten free as the olives were not really what I would class as a starter more of a "nibble"  while you choose what you want from the menu.  The rest of the menu though does get top marks and you can have the pasta dishes with gluten free pasta; there are also vegan and dairy free dishes available too so all dietery requirements are catered for.

Have you been to Jamie's Italian before? What did you have?

Disclaimer - I was invited by Jamie's Italian to try their menu but all opinions are 100% my own.

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Monday, 13 June 2016

Meal Plan Monday - 13 June 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Week 2 of Meal Plan Monday and I was a loser last week with no-one joining in :( Hopefully this week I can double it and have another person participating in the link up :). Last week's meal plan went as it was supposed to and I experimented with the Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta, it tasted ok but I think with a few tweaks it will work out fine next time.  I bought the salsa and guacamole rather than make them and on Saturday I had gluten free pasta from our local Italian takeaway with a side salad.

No day off for me this week so will be looking for easy(ier) meals for us, the last thing I want to do is  to do a lot of cooking when time is limited.  Next week is even worse hour wise but at least I will be earning some extra cash with the overtime I'm working.  I bought a Nutri Ninja Slim yesterday (on offer in Tesco £45 instead of £69) in an attempt to get more nutrients, food wise I don't eat a lot due to the hours I work and the food that I do eat is at times not the healthiest (ie crisps, chocolate) so I'm hoping that this will fill me up as a snack rather than having an apple (or crisps).

So meal plan for this week is:

Monday - Jambalya (Ready Meal) - I bought this the other week from M&S and has been in my freezer on standby for my marathon Monday shifts.  Never tasted this before so hopefully I like it.

Tuesday - Pulled Pork with Polenta Cubes & Salad - I tried polenta cubes for the first time the other week when I was in Jamie's Italian and really enjoyed them so I am going to try and recreate them at home.  Will let you know next week how that goes :)

Wednesday - Pork Belly & Roasted Veg- Yep another pork dish but it's in the freezer and needs using up.  Also I'm working today when it's normally my day off so just want something quick and easy.

Thursday - Baked Sweet Potato with Taco Beans & Salad - I love sweet potatoes but don't often have them baked so thought it was time they reappeared on the menu plus the taco beans are actually out of a tin so quite a lazy dinner tonight.

Friday - Quorn Steak Strips Sir Fry - love this dish; stir fry the Quorn, add some cashews, mange tout  and add the stir fry sauce.  Serve with rice noodles, beansprouts and prawn crackers.

Saturday - A trip to M&S I think to pick up something for dinner as today will no doubt be spent catching up on housework and washing that I won't have had time to do this week.

Sunday - Father's Day so will likely pick up something quick to heat up as may be spending most of the day driving.

Hope you all have a lovely week and are able to join in on the Linky below:

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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

What I Bought | Lush Mini Haul

Lush Products 2016

I was out for lunch with Iga and Stef the other day to Jamie's Italian  (review to follow) and since I was in town I decided to go into Lush and treat myself to a couple of things from there. I may have got a bit carried away as I left the store with a bag of eight items, not the couple I intended on.  Oh well, never mind!

I have loved Lush for many years as they sell fantastic products as well as being ethical, I picked up a couple of bubble bars that I've tried before and loved as well as some new bath bombs and bath oils.  So which ones ended up in my basket?

Creamy Candy - Bubble Bar (£2.95)
I love this one as it smells like Snow Fairy (my all time favourite Lush scent, please never discontinue this one).  The sweet candy smell is maybe not for everyone but the smell lingers in your bathroom even well into the next day.

Lush Haul 2016

Big Bang - Bubble Bar (£3.75)
This has a lovely citrus smell, it also has avocado butter in it to soften your skin.  I'm looking forward to using this one.

Lush Products 2016

Intergalactic - Bath Bomb (£3.95)
I have seen pics of how this bath bomb turns bath water into an amazing array of colours and after using it I wasn't disappointed as it looked really pretty.  Intergalactic has an uplifting peppermint scent and lots of gold glitter through it, so hopefully you don't mind spending an extra 5 minutes cleaning your bath to remove the glitter that has stayed after your bath water has gone down the drain.

Lush Haul 2016

Sakura - Bath Bomb (£3.50)
This has quite a delicate smell of jasmine and orange flower to it but I've heard not to expect a colour change to the water with this one as it just leaves the bath water clear.

Lush Haul 2016

Mmmelting Marshmallow Moment - Bath Oil (£2.00)
I bought two of these as they smell so good! The pink and yellow colours as well as the sweet smell just reminds you of buying a bag of sweets when you were younger.  It has extra virgin coconut oil in it to soften your skin so I have high hopes that it will leave my skin silky smooth.

Lush Haul 2016

Milky Bath - Bubble Bar (£3.75)
I have bought this one before and loved the orange oil scent of it as well as the fact it gives you lots of bubbles in your bath.  Your skin also feels really soft after using it and the scent lingers for a good few hours too.

Lush Haul 2016

Lava Lamp - Bath Bomb (£3.95)
This has a lovely orangey smell to it and when it's put in your bath water it produces purple oil to give off a lava lamp effect.  Since buying it I've heard people say that although it's a nice product, the  purple oil leaves a lot of mess in your bath and you will need to clean it once you are out.  Kind of defeats the purpose of having a relaxing bath before scrubbing your bath clean, will see what I think of it myself when I use it.

Lush Haul 2016

Do you buy things from Lush? What's your favourite Lush products?

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Monday, 6 June 2016

Meal Planning Monday 6th June 2016

Welcome to my first Meal Plan Monday link up, I'm hoping that you can share what your meal plan for the week with us.  All you need to do is write a blog post and add the link to it in the Linky at the bottom of this post. I'm hoping that it will be a good way to meet new bloggers as well as inspire you to try some new dishes.  Once you have added your link, visit a few of the other blogs and leave a comment.  You can link to recipes on your post so hopefully it will increase traffic to your blog too.

Hope you all have had a lovely weekend, can't believe we are into June already the weeks are just flying by and it will be Christmas before we know it :).  Today is my first day back to work after being off on holiday last week, I can imagine that today is going to be a struggle as I already know it's going to be very busy.  Booooo! One advantage of being off on holiday is that I am already organised for the week ahead and have a fridge freezer full of things to eat so at least I wasn't stuck for meal ideas this week.

Monday - Cherry Coke Ham, Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans - After an 11 hour shift I want something quick and easy, ham was cooked at the weekend, mashed potatoes made on Sunday so just the green beans to cook while I reheat the rest.  If you haven't tried Cherry Coke ham before you are missing out as it tastes amazing! It has the right combination of sweet and salty.

Tuesday - Turkey Chilli & Rice   - I made two batches of these a couple of weeks ago and froze them to eat when I'm working late and can't be bothered making anything. Will need to remember and take them out of the freezer on Tuesday otherwise I may have to rethink what I'm having :)

Wednesday - Creamy Mushroom Pasta & Salad- Mr M will be at his Mum's for dinner and it's my day off so I think I will experiment with a new recipe as I have some coconut cream in my fridge to use.  Will let you know how it goes.

Thursday - Prawn Fajitas - Not had fajitas in ages and it's something that I really fancy having this week, might even make my own salsa and guacamole if I have time (or I may just pick some up on the way home)

Friday - Mushroom & Ale Pie (Ready Meal) with Veg I picked up a couple of ready meals at the weekend that were reduced and as I will be working til 7pm I just want something quick and easy. If I cook something after I get in from work it's often around 8pm that we are sitting down to eat and I'm finding that I'm going to bed on a full stomach which means I am then starving when I wake up.

Saturday - Takeaway or Something from M&S - Sometimes on a Saturday we will either get something from M&S or a takeaway as a treat. I'm working this Saturday so it's nice not having to worry about cooking and just have something that

Sunday - Home Made Chicken Kebabs & Chips - I made this for the first time a few weeks ago and Mr M loved it, it's made with a coconut yoghurt marinade so is dairy free. Might do a blog post on it later on.

What are you having this week?

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Meal Plan Monday Link Up

When I first started blogging I tried meal planning to stop me staring in front of the fridge freezer when I got home from work, willing something to jump out at me for dinner and then end up driving to get a takeaway.  It was also a way for me to minimise food waste as I used to buy a lot of food at the start of the month and I'm ashamed to say that quite a bit of it ended up in the bin uneaten.  I gave up with meal planning but I did reduce food waste by changing the way I shopped and only buying enough food for a few days but there are still times that I drive to Tesco after work to pick up something for dinner that night and ready meals aren't exactly known for being a nutritious meal.

I have decided to meal plan again to try and eat more healthily, especially with my next IVF cycle less than 2 months away I need to make sure my body is more a temple and less a trash can!  I am sure that there are many others out there who ask themselves "what's for dinner?" and then are either reaching for a takeaway menu or going to the local shop to pick something up from there; or maybe you need a bit of motivation and inspiration occasionally when it comes to meal times and seeing something on somebody's list might take your fancy and you will give it a try.  If any of these situations sound like you then maybe you would like to join me in my weekly link up?

All you need to do is write your weekly meal plan for that week, on a Monday my post will go live along with a linky tool that you can share what's on your menu for that week by linking your blog post. Visit a few of the blog links to say hello (hopefully there will be more than me participating in this otherwise its going to be an extremely quick link up!) and check out what they are having, you might even be inspired to try something new :).  You can include recipe links in your meal plans and hopefully it will increase traffic to your blog too.  Oh and I managed to get a bit techy and even made myself a button for my sidebar (get me, HTML buff) if you want to grab that for your blog post.

Hope that you can join me!

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Healthy Breakfasts | Overnight Oats

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Are you rushing around in the morning and have no time to make a healthy breakfast? Those breakfast biscuits that you can buy in the shop on your way to work may be quick but they contain more calories, fat and sugar than some cereals do, so why not prepare your breakfast the night before ready for you to eat in the morning.

If you have never heard of overnight oats before then here is the lowdown; it's rolled oats and a liquid (you can use milk, yoghurt or almond milk) left to soak overnight in your fridge ready for you to eat without any prep or fuss.  You can even chuck whatever you like in to it such as nuts, dried fruit, etc to give it added taste and texture.  It can be eaten cold or throw it into a pan and heat up to take the chill out of it.  It's really that easy!

I have found when I eat this it keeps me full all morning and I'm not looking to snack on crisps, chocolate fruit at 9am. This is the one I've been eating lately - Apple and Cinnamon. Yum!

Healthy Breakfast Ideas
What you will need:

1/2 Cup Oats (I used Gluten Free ones from Tesco)
Almond Milk (yoghurt and normal milk work fine too)
2 Shots Chia Seeds
6 Dried Apple Rings (cut into pieces)
1/4 Cup Raisins
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
Kilner Jar

How to make:

Add your oats, chia seeds, Apple, raisins and cinnamon into your Kilner jar.  Top up the jar with your milk or yoghurt and give it a good stir to make sure the liquid has got to the bottom of the jar.  Place the lid on the jar and give it a good shake for extra measure before putting it in the fridge overnight ready for you to eat when you get up in the morning.

I heat mine in a pan for a few minutes to take the chill off of it but you can eat it cold too, it tastes just as good!  If you are looking for other healthy breakfast ideas then why not try my Sweet Potato Hash recipe ;)

Have you tried overnight oats before?  What's your favourite flavour?

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