Saturday, 31 January 2015

Me & Mine January

So here we are, entering into our second round of Me & Mine for 2015. I really didn't realise how much this monthly project would grow to mean to me when I began this time a year ago but I really look forward to capturing that family portrait during the month every month.

January this year has been quite busy and not as dreary as this month usually is. Work has been busy for us both and Luke has been keeping us on our toes, he's learning so many new things everyday, it's hard to keep up! This month I also celebrated my 29th birthday, eek the last year of my twenties. I celebrated with a nice meal out with my friends and got spoilt by my family. I was given a voucher for a pamper day at a local retreat so am looking forward to using that soon. I spent this month getting around to a doing a few odd jobs that I had been meaning to do for most of last year so I feel like we've had a good start to the new year and we are really looking forward to the Spring.

Here we are in this month's family portrait, and yes that little chappy with his cheeky smile is most definitely my toddler, no longer my baby, I can really see how much he's grown in these pictures:

This month Luke loves:
  • Learning his 123's and ABC's 
  • Rice Cakes
  • Helping everyone and anyone with the hoovering
This month Dad loves:
  • Playing football
  • Watching Bones on Netflix
  • Finding a 3ltr bottle of Dr Pepper in Iceland
This month Mum loves:
  • Catch up dinner with the girls
  • Making the most of my Fridays off work with Luke
  • Sprucing up our bedroom and making it nice and cosy


Thursday, 29 January 2015

Pizza Topped Chicken

I am so happy I discovered this healthy dish, it's become my new favourite dinner and so quick and easy to make. For Slimming World people, this is half a syn for the tomato puree (open to correction though!) and if you are using the cheese as Healthy Extra A.


1x Chicken Breast
1x Tblsp Tomato Puree
1x Tsp Minced Garlic 
2x Slices of Lean Ham
3x Mushrooms
Handful of Reduced Fat Cheese, grated


  • Slit your chicken breast in half, ensuring not to cut right the way through, make like a butterfly shape
  • Add some Fry Light spray to a frying pan and brown the chicken on either side on a medium heat for about 5minutes
  • Put in the oven to bake for about 15 - 20mins on 170 degrees, fan oven
  • Meanwhile chopp your ham and mushrooms and fry in the pan
  • Mix the tomato puree and minced garlic in a small dish
  • Once chicken breast is cooked through, spread the tomato puree mixture on to it and then top with the ham and mushrooms and then the cheese.
  • Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted to your liking. I let mine go a bit crispy on top.
I served this with sweet potato fries and mixed veg. I seasoned my sweet potato with garlic, chilli and paprika and added a little bit of cornflour to give them a crunch, baked them in the oven for about half an hour.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

In The Bedroom

I love nothing more than coming into my bedroom to relax for the night with either a book or a series on Netflix or a sneaky game of Tetris on the tablet. I love my bedroom, no matter where I've been in the world, my bedroom at the time has always been my own personal retreat.
To me a bedroom is much more than just a room to sleep in. Its a place where I go to unwind from the day, it's a place where I can let go and just relax, where I can put on my favourite pj's and flop down on to my oh so familiar-sometimes-not-the-comfiest pillows. It's a place where the other half and I chat about our day after he comes in from work of an evening, it's a place where many important decisions have been made. I'm also one for not leaving the house until the bed is made, unless I'm in a major rush, it just makes my head that bit clearer knowing my bed is made, strange I know! ( It may also have something to do with my mother always making us do our beds before school and also working in hotel accommodation in my earlier years).
After Luke's arrival 19months ago our bedroom became a bit of a free for all, it was a laundry room, a new baby room, a changing area, an eating area, a storage area and sometimes a sleeping area when Luke decided to let us sleep. As he got older it also became a playroom of sorts. He'd pretty much taken over every other room in the house with all of his stuff why not our bedroom too eh?!
However our room was given a bit of a lift a couple of months ago with a fresh lick of paint and it seemed to give it a new lease of life. I love the colours in our bedroom, cream and a deep red, so I decided I was going to make it a proper cosy bedroom with some accessories to match the colour scheme but most importantly to bring it back to it's original purpose which was to be a bedroom for us and that only.
So out went the toys and other bits and pieces that had been hanging around the room, unused baby items, never to be worn again clothes, household papers that were crying out to be filed away. In came some lovely new shiny things to brighten the place up a bit:

I was eyeing up the bed covers in Heatons for ages deciding whether or not to get them because really we have more than enough duvet sets but they were on sale in December so I had to. I think they were part of the Christmas stock but they can used all year round. We also got a very cosy duck feather mattress topper from Aldi the other week too. The red canvas picture was actually in a pile of stuff at work that we were giving to the charity shop so I nabbed it for myself. The second picture was Luke's first Father's Day gift to the other half and every time I read the poem it makes me smile.

I got some very cute photo pegs with hearts on them from EBay so I ordered some prints of my favourite Instagram pictures from Photobox and decided to make a garland type thing of pictures for above our bed. To hang them I used red string of an old Christmas card holder that I was actually going to throw out. The rose battery operated lights are from Penneys.

The red lamp was to replace a really ugly manky cream lamp that was there before, this one is much smaller and neater on the bedside locker and the perfect shade of red to match the walls. I got this in Argos. Next to it is my perpetual Angel calendar, I love flipping it over everyday for a positive message. The photo frame is from Heatons, again the perfect colours to match the paint in the room, the picture was taken a year ago at a friends wedding and it was also the first time we'd left Luke to go away for the night that was further then a couple of miles away (it was Galway in fact!). I couldn't believe my luck when I went into Penneys a few weeks ago and saw these adorable red lanterns, I was missing something for the shelf above the bed but these seemed to the perfect thing. I have some lovely vanilla scented candles burning in them at the moment. 

The other half seems to think I'm slowly turning it into my own rather than our room but flower lights and red lanterns with hearts on them are totally a guy's type of thing too right?! :-) 


Monday, 19 January 2015

Chickpea, Mixed Bean and Lentil Soup

One of my favourite soups as I love chickpeas, they are a great source of protein and fibre, for vegan and gluten free diets too don't ya know?! It's so filling and tasty and ideal to make in advance for my work lunches for the week. The lentils increase slow burning energy due to their fibre content which makes it great for keeping me full until I get home from work and make my dinner which usually isn't until I've put Luke to bed.
It's quick and easy and healthy, what more could you want?!


1x Red Pepper
1x Small Onion
1x Can of Chopped Tomatoes
1x Can of Chickpeas
1x Can of Mixed Beans
140g Red Lentils
850ml Vegetable Stock
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin (This is the amount I like as I find it quite strong, add more or less to taste)
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
1/2 tsp Minced Garlic


  • Diced onion and pepper and cook in some FryLight along with the ground cumin and chilli flakes until onions and pepper shave softened
  • Add in stock, tomatoes and lentils. Bring to the boil and add the minced garlic. Allow to simmer for approx 15 minutes or until lentils have softened
  • Blend the soup until smooth
  • Drain chickpeas and mixed beans and add to the soup, warm over a medium heat and serve


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Dozy Chocolate

Having trouble sleeping? I think I may have a solution for you. A couple of years back I was having difficulty sleeping, getting up at 7am 5 days a week for work with just 3 or 4 hours of sleep wasn't cutting it for me (although once L came along that seemed like a luxury!) so I was given the recipe below to try to see if it would be of any help and of course the fact that it is a natural remedy recipe makes it even better. 


100grams 70% cocoa dark chocolate
50 drops of Valerium Tincture
6 drops of Lavendar
1 tbsp of ground flax seed


  • Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. 
  • When the chocolate has melted add the rest of the ingredients and stir. 
  • Place the mixture in a mould or line a container with greaseproof paper and allow for the mixture to set.
As you can see in the picture below we just broke it up into pieces after it was set.

I can say that these little bites most definitely worked! Although at first they can be a bit hard to swallow, I just washed it down with a swig of hot chocolate. I did find they were of a less intense taste if eaten straight out of the fridge. I no longer had my head on the pillow and I was drifting off into a nice calm sleep. 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Luke @ 19 Months

Yes you read that right 19 months, 4 months since I last wrote an update on Luke. I'll say it now as I have many times before, where oh where has the time gone?!!
Since our last update we have celebrated Luke's 2nd Halloween and Christmas and we are now discussing sending him to playgroup 2 afternoons a week after Easter, this is crazy talk to me! Where has my cute chubby little 7 month old baby gone that was here this time last year? Who had just got his first few teeth and was trying a new food almost every day?!
These days Luke knows exactly what foods he likes and what he doesn't like, I am pleased to share though that he seems to be a marmite fan, I'm not sure anyone understands how happy that makes me except for my Mum. He loves cheese and would often ask for some "cheesy" or "ice akes" aka rice cakes. Marmalade on toast is his favourite breakfast at the moment closely followed by some peanut butter on toast, he just loves bread, white, brown, wholemeal, multigrain, he'll eat it all! He's really gone off the baby pre made dinners, we were keeping them as back up for busy days or when we had to send him to my sisters to be looked after but he has no interest in them. He much prefers foods he can feed himself with now, obviously because hes so grown these days he just doesn't need his Mum or Dad spoon feeding him anymore (God guys you are so embarrassing, I can feed myself - I've no doubt that's whats going through his head!) For a while I would have said he wasn't really bothered by chocolate but oh he has well and truly discovered his love for the stuff these days!
He loves his breakfast bottle on the couch watching some CBeebies and his bedtime bottle is still going strong - bath bottle cuddle with Mum in his room, bedtime routine hasn't changed since he was weeks old. However now he likes to have a little chat after the bottle some nights, he'll ask where everyone is by naming everyone and I'll tell him where they are, very cute I must say.
Him and Grandad are now fully fledged partners in crime, every weekend they get up to mischief and he knows that if he goes to Grandad he will always get his own way. Grandad has now insisted that him and Nanny are going to buy him a ride on tractor so he can go around the garden on it at the weekends when hes there. Murphy the dog is still getting abused by Luke who likes to use him as a horse or a cushion or a punch bag, the dog has the patience of a saint!
He went through a bit of a head banging when being told off and slapping stage but I hope we nipped that in the bud fairly quickly.
The words are coming thick and fast and just the other day he was looking through his little number book and called me and said "Ishes" a few times, when I looked closer he was pointing at the fish on the page, I was amazed!
Sleep was brutal recently, really we were back to the newborn days, see here for more on that. He's settled down again now though, bed at 7.30am, he was sleeping right through until 8am but now hes waking at 5am or thereabouts and he's coming in with us until 7.30am/8am again, we don't mind though, it's quite cold these nights so we all snuggle together in the bed.
We are now buying 2-3 year clothes, this is when it really hits home that he's no longer a baby! As always he has far too many clothes but we donated a lot of his too small clothes to SVP last month.

Everyday he's learning more, everyday he's growing older, everyday we fall in love with him a little bit more than the day before  and everyday he's learning how to wrap Mum and Dad around that little finger of his even more than he already has. He's the best boy really and I'm so excited for this stage in his life where he's learning so much more so fast, he's such great fun at this age and makes us laugh every day.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Sleeping Saviour

December, while it was great for so many reasons, also gave us a few low points and the major one was Luke and he disrupted sleep. It honestly felt like we were back in the early baby days. The nights of him going to bed at 7.30pm and not stirring until 8am the next day where even then he would happily lie in his cot chatting to himself for half an hour were suddenly gone. He became really unsettled at night, waking numerous time with a piercing scream, he wouldn't settle back down for age no matter what we tried unless we sat there with him for ages. We were bringing him into our bed but he wouldn't settle there either, he would last an hour before getting annoyed because he couldn't get comfortable and end up kicking us both in the head and back so off we'd go back to his own room. It was only after all of our efforts of trying to soothe him would he finally give in and go back to sleep. He began waking at 5.30am again, something which he did for the first 10months of his life, without fail. It was of course having a knock on effect throughout the whole day then as he was overtired come nap time and then refuse to nap, which made him cranky for the rest of the day and this in turn affected his eating, he was too cranky and clingy to eat and was barely drinking his breakfast and bedtime bottles. I was beginning to despair after Christmas Day evening when he spent the best part of 2 hours making a constant whinging sound, he wouldn't sit down with anyone, didn't want any food or drink, etc. I pretty much made Christmas dinner with him clung to my leg! It really was as if we were in the same place but just 12months previous because he was the exact same in December last year just before his first 4 teeth broke through. He had been getting his eye teeth this time around so I put it down to that. I now know that there is a sleep regression around this age too, 18 months and that along with teething were playing havoc with him.
Of course what he needed more than anything was a proper good nights sleep to get him back on track and his body clock back in sync but he was too far gone at this stage. So as always I went back to my trusty homeopathic remedy that worked for him before, Pulsatilla. This worked wonders for him before but typical, I went to get some and realised I was all out!
It was now the Saturday after Christmas and after staying with my parents the night before and having them up pretty much most of the night I decided to chance my arm and head to Midleton to see if any of the health food shops were open, luckily one was. Unluckily they had no Pulsatilla but I did spot some of the New Vistas products on the shelf which I've posted about before here. The Sleep Ease drops seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.
My verdict - they were the answer to my prayers! You give these drops twice a day, 4-6 drops at a time. I gave them to Luke that day just before bath time and about half an hour before his bed time bottle and for the first time in weeks he had a 13 hour undisturbed sleep. The difference in him the next day was huge, he was so much more relaxed and happy. I often find that during a time like a growth spurt, sleep regression, teething or after being sick and his sleeping pattern has been disrupted he sometimes needs a bit of a helping hand to get back on track and the homeopathic remedies I've tried so far have been amazing.
Now I'm not saying he was back to normal immediately but it gave him push in the right direction, once we got that first proper night sleep out of the way he's been slowly falling back into sync since. His naps seem to have returned to normal in the last couple of days and he's been back to his 2 hour naps mid morning (I was terrified for a while that he may be giving up his naps altogether but fingers crossed not yet!), his appetite has greatly improved and he's back to his happy, chatty self. We've given the drops a few more times since. The only thing he is still doing is the 5.30am wake up call, we can generally get another hour or so out of him by bringing him in with us where he will just chill or even doze off or chat to himself or slap us in the head or come back right up to our faces and say"Mam", "Dad", y'know all the things that you really need at that unearthly hour....but things are a LOT better than they were a few weeks ago!

*Since drafting this post 2 days ago, morning wake ups have been pushed again by another hour so hopefully another week or so and he will be back to a much more desired wake up time of 7.30am/8am!*

My sleeping angel...when he feels like it!


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Slimming World Journey - Week 9

I am now 9 weeks into my Slimming World journey and yesterday was the dreaded weigh in after Christmas. I will admit I did the dog on it over the holidays, Christmas, New Years and my birthday on January 5th, there was temptation at every corner! However I was still mindful of making sure I had my staple items stocked up throughout the festive season, fat free milk, wholemeal bread, low cal spray, reduced fat cheese, rasher medallions and the like. I won't lie though I had take aways, lunches and dinners out, pringles, roses, biscuits especially those delicious short bread fingers and there's still loads left in the house! So this week I will be putting it all to the back of the cupboard to share amongst any guests that might call ;)
I took a week off of weigh in during the holidays mostly because my group is near my place of work rather than home so I decided to leave off the weigh in on December 30th. Since my last post I received my 1 stone award which I was delighted to have reached by Christmas, it took me 6 weeks!
However it's now back to normal for me now and I am back into my normal weekly routine along with an updated Slimming World book and a new speedy plan that you can do for a week to boost a bit of extra weightloss. It seems to focus on the speedy free foods and foods high in protein. I haven't looked at the new plan in detail yet but once I am back into my Slimming World plan in full swing I will be giving it a try. I will be starting as new again this week, filling in my food diary to get me back on track because once I had been doing things the Slimming World way for a couple of weeks it was second nature so need to get back into the zone fully.
I was actually excited to get back to group yesterday because I need that weekly motivation of weighing in and I've been absolutely loving the feeling of seeing the scales go down each week.
I was able to stay for the group talk last night, something as I've mentioned before I don't have the opportunity to do always but will hopefully make it to another couple of group talks over the next few weeks. I find them quite inspirational and you can always pick up a few helpful hints and tips from other members too.

So let's get down to the nitty gritty and share some numbers:

Total amount of weight lost in 7 weeks (last weigh in before Christmas on Decemeber 23rd): 14.5lbs

Total amount of weight lost in 9 weeks: 11.5lbs which means I gained 3lbs over the 2 week Christmas holidays.

The gain I had expected and expected more to be honest but I think it just goes to show that even the small changes that you make in Slimming World like the ones I'd mentioned above in my staple items can have such a positive long lasting effect on you.

As always I'd love to hear about any weight loss journey you may be on so feel free to share.


Thursday, 1 January 2015

Me & Mine December

Yes I am a day late posting my family portrait for December but New Years Eve was busy this year, busy spending time with the family, quality time shopping with Mum, Luke going for lunch with his Aunty Heather, the parents calling for dinner and nibbles and lots of tea to ring in the new year, the OH having some bonding time with Dad watching and laughing along to Impractical Jokers, Luke staying up way past his bedtime showing Grandad all his new toys that Santa brought and the dog getting all the attention! I can honestly say its my best New Years Eve yet, it was the perfect way to end 2014.
I am so happy to have 12 lovely family portraits to look back on from taking part in this monthly photography project and a big thanks to Lucy of Dear Beautiful for having this monthly link up. I think it's safe to say we will be continuing this in 2015 as well.
Looking back over these 12 pictures, I can't believe how grown up my little baby boy has become, he is now a fully fledged toddler. He is so charming and loveable and smart and everyday he makes me smile and so proud to be his Mum. Looking back over these pictures also makes me super proud of my little family, of how we've all grown this year, learned more about each other and how we've taken the good times alongside the bad and handled them together, as a family.
I hope 2015 is as good as 2014 was and a whole lot more for us and everyone else.

Here's a look back at our Me & Mine pictures from 2014:

And here we are in December:

Happy New Year To All xx

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