Unplugged

On Monday I had the very crazy idea of deactivating my Facebook account. This may not sound like much but if you know me you know how much of a Fb addict I am, and the first afternoon it was all I could think about – what are people talking about? What important things am I missing out on? And above all, will anybody notice I’m missing?!

A few days on and things are better; switching off has definitely had a good influence, I’ve been a lot more present in my daily life (and, as someone who’s starting to meditate regularly, this is quite a big thing) and more focused, not having the constant distraction of wanting to check what’s new. I’ve connected with people in other ways – texts, emails, whatsapp, real life! – and have more meaningful conversations. I’ve been reminded that the people that I interact with the most on Fb aren’t necessarily the most important ones in my life, in fact some of the people who noticed my absence almost immediately are ones that I don’t interact with every day, others seem to have just disappeared from my radar.

The most obvious side is that I’ve had more time for other things, namely reading (at last I’m tackling my never ending reading list!), housework (alas, that never ends either), meditation and yoga. I know, the last two make me sound like a right crazy person but believe me, I’ve also had a fair amount of screen time, mostly watching Dexter episodes back to back.

I don’t know when, or if, I will join the “third largest country” in the world again. When I switched off I didn’t give myself any time limit so we’ll see where the wind takes me, I may be back on tomorrow or never again. In the mean time, if you really wonder how I am and how my life is going, send me a message via the old ways ūüėČ

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week in pictures:

At the museum

At the museum

Headline of the week from The Argus

Headline of the week from The Argus

Sometimes, all you need is a nap

Sometimes, all you need is a nap

Puddles!

Puddles!

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Vegan millet cakes

Recipe time! I’ve been slacking in the cooking department over the past week or so. Don’t get me wrong, I still cook, but nothing exciting or worth blogging about, I’ve just been quite lazy and uninspired. Hopefully I’m back on track now!

MilletI’ve been wanting to make millet cakes for as long as I can remember. My mum used to make them when I was little and I really loved them, I keep on asking her for the recipe but always forget to write it down. The other issue is that I’m trying to only add vegan recipes to my repertoire as I’m trying to cut down on the animal produce I consume (for ethical as well as health issues). My mum’s recipe called for an egg as a binding ingredient but after reading it seemed that adding more water when cooking the millet would make it creamier and stickier, so I gave it a go. It worked!

 

Ingredients (makes around 12 cakes):

– 1 cup uncooked millet
– 2 carrots
– 1 onion
– 1 courgette
– olive or coconut oil
– spices (I used mild chili powder, cumin and turmeric)

First of all, cook the millet. Let it toast for a few minutes in a dry pan (toast, not burn, keep an eye on it!) then add 2 1/2 cups of water to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and let it simmer on a medium heat, occasionally stirring to avoid it sticking to the pan.

Meanwhile, finely chop the vegetables, I went for a shortcut and whizzed them in the blender. Cook in a pan with a little oil until they’ve softened up, the time will depend a lot on how big your pieces are.

When both the millet and veggies are cooked let them cool a little then combine together well, add salt and spices if you wish then shape into cakes – it helps if you wet your hands to stop the mixture from sticking to them.

Place under the grill and cook until crispy, or until they look appealing to you! They taste great both hot and cold, and go amazingly well with some¬†Worcestershire sauce. I loved these, I think they’d be great to make when I have time during the day and just pop in the oven when it’s time to eat. I wonder if they freeze well, I will try that and report back! Enjoy ūüôā

Vegan millet cakes, served with broccoli and leftover risotto

On a separate note, you can tell when daddy comes to the playground. Happy Sunday!

Shark attack!

 

Sunday night project: top and skirt toddler set

I had a productive weekend for once (amazing what you can accomplish when you stop wasting all your time on facebook, pinterest & co!), I’ve started sewing again at last and I’m so engrossed in it I have to make a huge effort not to buy tons of fabric! So many pretty things out there… but I’m being good and only buying a little bit at a time, and try to stick to only one or two projects at a time.

A friend mentioned Craftsy,¬†I had heard of it before but didn’t think much of it. How wrong was I! It’s awesome, I’ve been on it for a week and I’m already addicted. Classes, patterns, other people’s projects to look at… I only wish there was a forum too (or maybe there is one and I’ve missed it?). This is my page/profile, though there’s nothing yet as I haven’t had the time to add anything. Will do soon.

I got an email shortly after joining with a hefty discount on my next purchase so I took the plunge and enrolled in a Beginner Serging¬†class, or overlocker for us living across the pond. I will report later on how it’s going, I really look forward to learning to use my overlocker a bit better!

Back to yesterday’s project. I made a top with the Fishsticks Designs Charlie Tee & Hoodie pattern, it’s a great easy pattern which I’ve used a lot both for hoodies and tops.
Lillestoff Vikings blue fabricI haven’t used a pattern for the skirt, it was simply two rectangles around 20″x9″, sewn up the sides and gathered the top (it needed quite a bit of gathering!), while the waistband was a 19″x5″ strip of ribbing – I measured this to fit my 2.5 year old, her waist is about 20″ – folded over and stitched on.

The main fabric is an oldish Lillestoff print, the stripey one is some jersey I picked up in the sale from a local fabric shop over the weekend. I looove Lillestoff, if only it was a bit less expensive! But it’s soft, good quality and the prettiest designs, I will probably get more soon, I especially like the Vikings print…

Without further ado, here’s the set!

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I hope to get a better action shot when we’re out this afternoon! So so pleased with it – which is unlike me as I’m usually very picky and unhappy about things I make just after I’ve finished them.

A different Sunday dinner

Today I was feeling a little adventurous, I really wanted something nice but different from the usual things (pasta mostly!) I end up cooking.

The solution, as always, came from Pinterest (if you’re not on it yet, you really ought to, though it can be quite addictive and time consuming!). I have a few recipes pinned on my food board that I really like but rarely make, or have never tried, so it’s always a nice source of inspiration.

Tonight I ended up making a very odd combination of jacket potatoes with cheese and a lentil bolognese sauce¬†(low fat, healthy and cheap, what else could a girl want?), with a side of baked courgette chips (purely so that I didn’t have to put the oven on just for the potatoes, it feels like a bit of a waste) and a superhealthy raw carrot cake, from the same lovely lady who introduced me to the wonderful world of raw chocolate brownies.

Unfortunately, as it was quite a hands-on dinner to make and the children were keeping me on my toes (you try to stop a fight while your fingers are coated in a messy eggy breadcrumb mixture!) I didn’t get round to taking any pictures of the work in progress, but just the finished result. The cake looks much better than in the photo and I’m secretly quite pleased that my daughter wasn’t too keen on it – more for me tomorrow! And I’m also very happy that for once everything went according to plan, often when I try out new recipes or ones I’m not familiar with I end up doing something wrong and mess it up.

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Have you made any adventurous meal lately? How did it turn out? Or do you prefer to stick to a good old roast on a Sunday, be it homemade or eaten out?

Ode to vinegar

Apple cider vinegarI love cider vinegar. If you’d told me a few years ago that I would have bottles of vinegar scattered throughout my house (4 different types nonetheless) I would have told you you were barking mad. But here I am, hardcore vinegar lover, I guess I’m getting quite ‘crunchy’.

Now, not all vinegar is the same. I like to use apple cider vinegar for health and beauty and¬†cheap white distilled vinegar for cleaning, it’s by far my favourite household cleaning product. What’s the main advantage of using vinegar? For a start, it’s a natural product made by fermenting apple juice into cider which is then fermented again into vinegar, so using it cuts down on the amount of other chemicals that you’d reach for otherwise. It’s also cheaper than many commercial cleaning products yet works just as well and it’s so versatile it feels there’s nothing it can’t be used for! ¬†Here are some of my favourite uses.

Hair rinse
Say what? Putting vinegar on my hair? But I don’t want to smell like a fish and chips shop! – fret not, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and I promise your hair won’t smell funny. Put about one or two tablespoons of vinegar in an old bottle and fill half of it with water, then pour over your hair either after shampooing or after using your conditioner. It gives hair a lovely shine, more volume and really helps detangle it.

Multi purpose cleaner 
I have a couple of spray bottles that I use for this, one is straight vinegar and one is about a third vinegar and two thirds water, I tend to use the diluted one more and save the straight one for really tougher jobs. Vinegar kills bacteria, mould and germs, and it’s great in the kitchen – no need to worry about nasty chemicals coming in contact with food. Again, I know the smell can be off putting for some people so here’s a quick tip: soak lemon and orange peels with vinegar in a jar for a week or two, then strain into a spray bottle and add sweet orange essential oil to it (I just always have a jar soaking ready for when I finish the vinegar I’m using). The smell gets quite pleasant that way. Also, this is THE best thing to use glass, great for windows too, wipe off with newspaper and you’ll never go back! There is really no end to the uses for this.

Drink it!
Ok, I haven’t actually tried this yet, but apparently drinking small amount (a tablespoon or so) every day has numerous health benefits. It can help lower the risk of thrush, as it contains small amounts of probiotics, aid weight loss (for example, look at this study!), improve skin blemishes and tone and some studies show that it may help reduce the rate of growth of cancer cells. It’s worth a try, right? You can either take it straight, if you’re brave, or mix it it in water with some honey or fruit juice. I shall try it from tomorrow and see what happens!

Apparently it can also help with digestion, heartburn (yes, really), wind and constipation, I don’t suffer badly from any of these but it will be interesting to see if there’s a change. One word of caution though: it could interact with certain medications so do check first if you are taking anything.

Do you use vinegar? What are your favourite uses? Do you or would you any of these? Or do you, like my husband, absolutely hate anything that remotely smells like vinegar?

 

 

Day out and a quick salmon pasta

Today we made up for yesterday’s lazy day and went for a long day out. It was a pretty last minute plan to go and visit a friend in Peacehaven, about an hour’s bus journey away from us; the weather looked a bit uncertain but it was just meant to be very cloudy at worst (glorious British summer!) so we went for it and it turned out to be quite lovely and sunny most of the day!

The day was spent mostly playing in the garden, how I wish I had one! And I also was lucky enough to end up with some gorgeous pictures ‚̧
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We were all quite exhausted by the time we were going on home and we needed a quick and easy dinner so I stopped to buy some smoked salmon and made creamy salmon pasta. It is such an easy dish that it doesn’t really need a recipe!

IMG_20130627_183405All it takes is to cook some pasta (please, only put the pasta in when the water is already boiling!) and in a separate pan briefly cook the chopped up smoked salmon with a bit of butter.

Add some double cream, I normally use the little 150ml cartons, and let it cook on a low heat just to thicken the cream up. Combine with the pasta and done! That’s a lovely quick dinner sorted.

Admittedly no veg in it so we try to make up for it by having a salad or cooked veggies on the side.