Tuesday, 30 June 2015

7 Days of Vegan Breakfasts - Smoothie bowl

Phew it's hot in this part of the UK at the moment, I am loving it, playing out in the garden, with the water table and running through a sprinkler, when it's sunny it just cheers you up and makes you feel glad to be alive.  It is days like these when I am beyond thankful that I am a full time mum and about to be outside making the most of the weather instead of being in a stuffy office (been there) or classroom (been there too).
So what better way to honour the hot sunny weather than to enjoy a cooling smoothie bowl for breakfast. 
I used frozen berries in mine to make it extra cool and refreshing.


I just whiz it all up in my blender,


And it comes out looking like sorbet,


I add some finishing touches,


The dig in,


It's a thing of beauty!

In this smoothie bowl I used a glass full of frozen mixed berries, topped up half way with orange and mango juice, the added several tablespoons of soya yoghurt and the a squirt of maple/carob syrup blend.  I add this because I just don't find the fruit sweet enough, it's a bit sharp on my palette so the syrup just sweetens it up beautifully.  I then add a sliced banana on top with some goji berries, then I sprinkle on some linseeds, chia seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  

It's delicious, refreshing, satisfying, a perfect breakfast for a hot summer day. 

Don't forget I will be doing an exciting GIVEAWAY soon, so call back again, you can like my facebook page or subscribe by email to my blog to keep up to date with what's happening. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Home Preschool themes - Seaside 1

I have been struggling for a while with coming up with ideas for themes that my children would find fun and interesting, but then the sun really started shining, the shorts were on, the flip flops donned, the sun cream slathered. So The Seaside seemed like an obvious choice, why didn't I think of it sooner. 
I got the water table out (this was a really great buy because it's so versatile): 



and filled it with a scintillating variety of sensory stimulating materials including sand, shaving foam, water beads and hair gel!


The hair gel was just 16p from ASDA!  I used 1 1/2 tubs, the shaving foam was £1 also from ASDA, I got the waterbeads and little animals on line and the sand from our sandpit! It probably cost about £5.15 in total, but of course I can re-use the animals and water table.








I really enjoyed setting it up a little bit secretly then bringing the boys out for the big reveal.  They were very curious and tentative at first, not sure about touching the more slimy materials, but soon getting stuck in and eventually very purposefully smooshing it all though their hair!




I really enjoyed watching them play and mostly left them too it, but could have asked them some open questions to get them thinking such as what does the shaving foam/hair gel/water beads feel like? What are the animals doing/thinking? What creatures do you find at the seaside?  What sort of things do you like to do at the seaside? etc.


Boris even did a bit of imaginative play with the little sea creatures which really thrilled me because has just been getting into it and it's so sweet.  This activity was great for stimulating the senses and relaxing, it was also good for fine motor skills with the boys practising the pincer movement by picking up the animals and water beads, they also had to work on co-operation whilst playing together at the table and taking turns. 


Towards the end it had turned into a bit of a swamp!  But it was fairly easy to clean up.  I scooped out and rinsed the water beads in a colander to use again then just hosed out the table. Good clean fun. 


Check back in a few days time for more seaside related activities for toddlers/preschoolers. And if you have got this far, I will be doing a GIVEAWAY in a few days time so be sure to check back.  You can sign up by email on the right side bar, or you can stay up to date by liking my facebook page.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gratitude

Sometimes I get a bit down in the dumps.  I feel like I am losing my way with the boys, shouting, getting frustrated and impatient all the time. I feel like the house is always a mess and the boys seem to leave a trail of destruction in their wake.  I turn my back for what seems like 30 seconds and when I look again a whole roll of toilet paper has been unrolled, all the shoes have been taken off the rack, all the books off the bookshelf and there is a pile of sand on the living room floor!  Is this a habit particular to my children? Or maybe it's because they are boys?  Or maybe it's my fault for leaving a roll of toilet paper within reach?  Whatever the reason, it is easy to get bogged down with the frustrations of day to day life as a full time mama and forget to capture the beautiful and precious moments and the sparks of joy.  Sometimes I can't see the wood for the trees, everything seems like such an effort and a bother and there never seems to be enough time for anything, I am always chasing my tail trying to catch up.

I am the sort of person who does a lot of soul searching from time to time and I was having a moment recently, thinking about regrets and opportunities missed, not a good path to go down I know, but it got me thinking that one of the reasons I feel like I don't make the most of life at any given point is that I am always looking for the next thing, the next stage.  I am thinking "things will be better when..." or "when such-and-such happens, they I can be truly happy" or "I will be an amazing mum when...",  I never seem to be able to value just being here. 



But here is where I am, and now with the power of hindsight, the sadness and regret that comes with the memory of missed opportunities, I know that I need to grab here and live it and love it.  I only get here once and with the passage of time visible in front of me in the living and ever changing form of my children, I am even more acutely aware of how much I must appreciate there here and now.

I remember thinking years ago how much I wanted so badly to be a full time mum, that it was all I ever wanted, that life would be complete once I was one and that it was what I had always meant to do.  I read a quote or a phrase or something recently about how you already have the things you wished for yesterday (something to do with the law of attraction or something) and it hit me like a big piano dropping out of a third storey window.  I am living the dream I had all those years ago.  What an idiot I am for not even noticing and appreciating this fact!



A few days ago I read an article about a woman who was paralysed from the neck down after a skiing accident.  These sorts of stories don't usually affect me, I am a strong believer in all things being relative, but this time it really did affect me.  I just thought about how terrible it would be for me to not be able to move, to not be able to look after my children, the one thing that I have wanted my whole life.  It made me me realise that I need to stop whinging and woman up. Start appreciating the things I have and stop focusing on how hard everything is.

One habit that I am trying to pick in order to help me to be more appreciative of life is to express gratitude daily, I am currently using an app on my phone to record 15 things I am grateful for everyday (or when I remember).  This is helping me to appreciate the good things that I have in my life, from being thankful that I have all my limbs in working order to being thankful for big cups of tea, or that my son did a poo today.

Here is today's list:
Today I am thankful that:
1. It has been a beautiful sunny day,
2. None of us got a tic while we were at Forest School,
3. The boys didn't wake till 8am,
4. I had enough fuel to get to Forest School and back,
5. The tadpoles seem much happier in their new washing-up-bowl home,
6. There were vegan biscuits at Nursery Service,
7. I had lots of "I love you mummy, you're my best friend" from Boris,
8. We found a beautiful beetle,
9.I got to catch up with a friend today and that her worries about her health were unnecessary.
10. I received complements on my clothes,
11. The vegetables seem to be growing well,
12. I am feeling energised to keep the house clean and tidy,
13. The bean casserole I made for dinner was delicious,
14. The new blades for my Magic Bullet came today,
15. We can have a quieter day tomorrow.

My word of the year this year is ENJOY.  But I think I have been forgetting it because I haven't been enjoying life that much sometimes. By expressing gratitude for what I have, what I do, who I am etc, I will find more enjoyment it in and more enjoyment in life.  An enjoyable life is manifest because of the gratitude towards what is already here.



Tuesday, 23 June 2015

7 Days of Vegan Breakfasts - Peanut butter and banana on toast

Since I have been eating a plant based diet people have been asking me what I am eating.  I know how hard it is to imagine eating meals without meat and dairy ( I used to eat them remember?) but there is more to being vegan than tofu and kale.  I love food, I didn't become vegan because I don't like meat, I used to love meat, and cheese and butter!  So it is important for me to eat meals which are really tasty.  

If you are looking to move to a plant based diet or reduce the amount of meat and dairy you consume then breakfast is a really good place to start because more often than not people don't tend to have meat for breakfast, and dairy and eggs are really easy to switch out.  

So I have put together a weeks worth of vegan breakfasts which are all really tasty and (mostly) healthy.  I hope you will find something that you can enjoy and maybe some which will surprise you.  This is of course not an exhaustive list of breakfasts, virtually ANY breakfast can be made vegan, so get on those veggies, get those carbs in and start enjoying your life without causing suffering to other beings, low fat and full of energy. 

Sometimes toast feels like just the right thing to have for breakfast.  You can really maximise this simple, quick and easy to put together start to the day with some peanut butter and a chopped banana, so delicious and a brilliant boost of protein and vitamins to go with your all important carbs, not to mention the banana which as we all know is a power house for potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C (to name but a few of the fantastic nutrients in bananas).  What a great start to the day.  Up-size the nutrition with a sprinkle to chia seeds and sesame seeds on top and you will be winning.  


I really love this breakfast.  I make the peanut butter myself by roasting a few plain peanuts and whizzing them up in the blender with some peanut oil.


I am sure it goes without saying that peanut butter and bananas also work well in a sandwich, or rolled up in a tortilla like a spice of sushi!


Oh my goodness my mouth is watering.  If you want to have a go at making this, but can't be bothered with making your own peanut butter, check the label before buying and try to go for a peanut butter made with nut oils rather than palm oil. It tastes nicer and you will hopefully be saving some rainforest from deforestation. 


Hope you will pop back soon to see another tasty vegan breakfast recipe.  You can keep up to date with posts by subscribing via email (right hand side near the top of the blog)  or by liking my facebook page


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

7 Days of Vegan Breakfasts - Cinnamon Porridge

Since I have been eating a plant based diet people have been asking me what I am eating.  I know how hard it is to imagine eating meals without meat and dairy ( I used to eat them remember?) but there is more to being vegan than tofu and kale.  I love food, I didn't become vegan because I don't like meat, I used to love meat, and cheese and butter!  So it is important for me to eat meals which are really tasty.  

If you are looking to move to a plant based diet or reduce the amount of meat and dairy you consume then breakfast is a really good place to start because more often than not people don't tend to have meat for breakfast, and dairy and eggs are really easy to switch out.  

So I have put together a weeks worth of vegan breakfasts which are all really tasty and (mostly) healthy.  I hope you will find something that you can enjoy and maybe some which will surprise you.  This is of course not an exhaustive list of breakfasts, virtually ANY breakfast can be made vegan, so get on those veggies, get those carbs in and start enjoying your life without causing suffering to other beings, low fat and full of energy. 

How amazing does this porridge look?  I want some right now! 


Porridge is my go-to breakfast, it's tasty, filling, gives you energy and is full of nutrients such omega fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, potassium and folates.  


Couple the oats with a delicious plant milk such as Almond and you are getting a good hit of calcium and vitamin E, plus it's low in fat, WIN!! 


I add a teaspoon of cinnamon and them drizzle (probably a bit too much) golden syrup on top.  Yuuuuum!!

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup ground oats (you don't have to grind the oats but I like the ground because it makes a nice smooth porridge)

1 cup of a plant milk of your choice.  (I usually use rice milk because it makes a really smooth porridge, if you use soya It seems to work better with half water.)

1 tsp cinnamon,

1 tbs golden syrup.

Grind the oats in a blender, the mix in a saucepan with the milk,  cook on a low heat and stir frequently (continuously is better but who has time for that?)  Add the cinnamon, and stir it in.  when it reaches your desired consistency pour into your favourite bowl and serve with the syrup.  I also like to have a cup of lady grey tea with my porridge.  

Hope you will pop back soon to see another tasty vegan breakfast recipe.  You can keep up to date with posts by subscribing via email (right hand side near the top of the blog)  or by liking my facebook page. 





Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Lion King Week - Day 7

Back in the summer last year Boris was mad on The Lion King film so I thought it would be fun to do a Lion King themed week for him with lots of sensory activities and fun things to do.  I didn't get round to posting about it at the time because it was a big project and I just never seemed to find the time to gather and edit all the photos. 
I have finally found the motivation to share it with you, (probably because I have been really lacking in activities for the boys recently so have nothing else activity-wise to share)  so here is it.  7 days of our activities to take you through the week.

Today I have two fun Lion King themes activities for you, and then Lion King week has come to an end.  We had such a fun time doing these activities, watching the film, singing songs to the CD, dressing up and pretending to be lions, I really hope some of these ideas have inspired you with activities to do with your children. 

Today I did a little bug exploration for Boris, I put some wood chips into a tray and buried some little plastic bugs I had under them. 


I gave him some tongs to have a dug around with and he picked out the bugs from the tray and put them into a cup. 


Excellent for the fine motor skills. 


Next we made a mask together, well if I am honest, I made it mostly myself because I used to be an art teacher and I still like colouring with oil pastels.  

I used a paper plate, oil pastels, tissue paper and a lollypop stick.





I was pretty impressed with it myself!


Don't forget you can subscribe by email to my posts (on the right had side) and you can like my facebook page to keep up to date with posts.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Lion King Week - Day 6

Back in the summer last year Boris was mad on The Lion King film so I thought it would be fun to do a Lion King themed week for him with lots of sensory activities and fun things to do.  I didn't get round to posting about it at the time because it was a big project and I just never seemed to find the time to gather and edit all the photos. 
I have finally found the motivation to share it with you, (probably because I have been really lacking in activities for the boys recently so have nothing else activity-wise to share)  so here is it.  7 days of our activities to take you through the week.

The last one with the bug mould I promise, though I think there is more potential for this lovely mould. 
This time we made cakes with them, this was a second attempt because the first attempt got very stuck in the mould, so I really really greased it second time round and they came out fine. 

I used a cake mix so Boris had a stir and helped fill the mould with a spoon, and then we iced them together with some tubes of icing, which was fun. 









Join me again for another Lion King themes activity tomorrow evening. Don't forget you can subscribe by email to my posts (on the right had side) and you can like my facebook page to keep up to date with posts.


Saturday, 6 June 2015

Turning 30, going vegan and theories on ageing.

I have a theory about getting older, In your 0-20s you don't really know what is going on and you just go with the flow, your parents do mostly everything for you anyway, in your 20-30s you live it up, having as much fun as possible, not caring about the consequences, and then is your 30-40s you take stock and try to repair the damage of your 20s and see the world as a bigger place and your place in it.
Vegan birthday cake, made by my sister,  

I think this is why since entering my 30s I have changed my outlook on life somewhat, rearranged what I think is important and finally begun to act like a responsible adult (well at least some of the time anyway) As I turned 23 last week, I made a new, life changing commitment which I foresee playing a large part in the coming years of my life.

As some of you may already know I have been following a mostly plant based lifestyle since about January and have been vegetarian for over a year now. I have known for a long time, probably since I decided to become vegetarian, that being vegan was the right thing to do, but at the time it just felt too hard (but cheese!).  Many people do become vegan overnight, but I felt like a gradual transition to a vegan diet was more likely to result in success for me.  Over the last few months I have been saying good bye to my favourite dairy and egg foods and embracing the abundance of plant based foods in the form of vegetables (obviously), beans and pulses, and the wide variety of vegan convenience foods that are becoming more and more widely available, and as of 1st July, the day after my 32nd birthday I have made a commitment to follow a vegan lifestyle.

Look how he isn't trying to sink his teeth into this cow, strange really considering it's so natural to eat meat. 

As I have been making this transition over the last few months I have began to realise how very very easy it is being a vegan.  I did have a wobble at one point, I was missing butter amongst a few other things, and someone suggested I fully embrace the vegan alternative foods, which  I had been avoiding in the name of being healthy and avoiding processed food, this really helped me,  I felt I could eat much more variety while I got used to cooking different meals from scratch.  There is such an abundance of food out there that there is no need to ever feel deprived, and the more I become familiar with using whole foods, the more healthy my diet is becoming and the less reliant I am becoming on the "transition foods".

There are many reasons why going vegan is the right thing to do, I am not going to list them all here because there are many, (and I find it quite depressing) but needless to say, it is clear that animal agriculture is the single most destructive thing to our planet without a shadow of a doubt, to our air, water and land, and it has been shows time and time again that a vegan diet has many health benefits and vegans are healthier and live longer than those on omnivorous diets.  That is before going into the impact of animal agriculture on humans generally and the animal welfare issues.

Box of vegan treats, birthday from my in-laws.

Even if you don't care about animals, or you don't think they have feelings or you don't care about your health, there is still the fact that more than 50% of the grain grown on this planet if fed to animals for the meat and dairy industry, 90% of soya is fed to animals.  Think how many people could be fed on that, essentially there are people on our earth, people just like you and me who are starving to death because we like the taste of animal flesh.

Needless to, going vegan is basically a no brainer, there is no good reason for any normal person not to be vegan (and no "bacon" is not a reason)

I think it's also worth mentioning that my transition to a vegan diet has also been quite a spiritual experience/journey for me, I believe that I have been called to a vegan lifestyle and that God has helped me to achieve my vegan goals.  Knowing that this is what God wants for my life has made the journey easier and He has given me guidance and support along the way.

Just one of the many delicious vegan breakfasts I have been enjoying - smoothie bowl.

Over the next few days I will be posting some recipes for different vegan meals to show you have delicious and easy it is being vegan.

Before I end this post I want to say that you can ask me any question you like about veganism, either here in the comments, or on my facebook page.  No question is too silly, hard, obvious or pedantic!  Seriously, ask me anything.