Friday, 30 November 2012

Gingerbread Men {Weekend Cookbook}

I love to cook and I especially love to bake. I've tried to cut back on it recently as it wasn't doing anyone's waistlines a favour but every so often I can't help myself. Gingerbread men are a favourite of my son. I figure that it's better that I make them rather than buying them because at least I know exactly what has gone into them. And if you use a good, air tight container (which is where my tupperware obsession comes into its own!) then they last really well. 

I've been using this recipe for so long I can't remember where it originally came from - it's handwritten in my recipe book. My guess is that it came from the Taste website though - they have lots of gingerbread men recipes.

Gingerbread Men (or Gingerbread People ;))

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 egg white
2 cups icing sugar

Optional: smarties or m&ms to decorate

Place butter, sugar and golden syrup in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.

Add the egg yolk and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl combine flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and mix.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mix and stir until almost combined. Use your hands to knead the dough until smooth.

Divide the dough into two portions (this is to make it more workable - it's not the easiest dough to work with & is usually quite crumbly).

Roll out one portion to approximately 0.5cm thick.

Cut out shapes and place on a tray lined with baking paper. 

Repeat with second portion of dough

Bake for 10-12 minutes 


Place egg white in a small bowl and whisk. Gradually add icing sugar, stirring between each addition until a smooth paste forms. Add food colouring if desired. Use a piping bag to decorate cooled gingerbread men.

Enjoy! (there's no photos of the finished product because...well, we ate them before I remembered!)

Linking up with Mummy's Undeserved Blessings - Weekend Cookbook

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A new healthy habit

A week or so ago I posted that I was planning to introduce a healthy habit each week. Ambitiously, I started week one with 3 different healthy habits. I am prepared to give myself a C+ for my first week - okay but could do far better. My water consumption is now right where it should be. I am hit and miss with the hot water and lemon (somehow I just forget some days!) and my 2 & 5 needs more consistency. 

This week I need to continue to focus on those 2 habits but I am also on a mission of sorts to rid my life of diet coke. I have been trying to write this post for days now. It seems harder and harder to find the time - something to do with an almost 3.5 year old (who is soooo ready for kinder, but that's another story!) and an  8 month old who is going through a catnap phase. But this afternoon I have hit the jackpot (sort of). Tuesday afternoon is when my son has his swimming lesson. Normally we go as a family and whilst it is a bit of a rush to get us all there and then back home (right at dinner time), it is fun. But today I have been given a leave pass and it's just myself and my (currently) napping baby. There are lots of other things I should be doing, you understand but right now, finally getting to do this post seemed far more important than the 'shoulds'.

I had read various things about the pure evil that is diet coke (and most diet soft drinks) but it was when I decided that I needed a break that I started to read more about it in terms of it being an 'addiction' of sorts (check out this article if you're interested. Now I haven't been a huge drinker of the stuff - a glass or can (sometimes 2 cans) a day. But the fact that it was daily seemed a bit excessive to me. I found numerous blogs of people who had or were trying to kick the addiction. Article after article threw around words like addictive, brain cancer, aspartame. I decided when my last can ran out, I would have a break. I knew (from diet drink breaks in the past) that there would be headaches - I thought I'd got lucky this time when I got to the 24 hour mark and there was no headache. Unfortunately it kicked in at around 25 hours! What I wasn't prepared for was my grumpiness and lack of tolerance for pretty much anyone or anything. And if I was shocked by my snappiness, I certainly wasn't prepared for the persistent cravings. All of a sudden I would think of diet coke and I kid you not, it was like I could almost taste it and the overwhelming urge to drink some would have been almost impossible to resist if there had been any in the house.

It's been 12 days now and I'm pleased to say I haven't caved in yet. In the last 12 days I've lost 1kg but have done less exercise than usual and haven't changed my eating. There is evidence that suggests diet softdrinks can actually hamper weight loss and while I don't know if this is 100% true, the chance that it may be true is enough for me at this stage! 

While I'm on the topic of weight loss and getting healthy, I'd like to give a big shout out to my pal Tamar from triumphovertastebuds. She's on the road to health, fitness and some serious weight loss. 

Till next time xx

Friday, 16 November 2012

healthy habits...

I need more of them. My aim is to replace some of my existing bad habits and rather than focus on the negative I'm working on the basis that if I introduce some healthier habits they may just boot out the bad one!  I have decided that each Friday I will choose a healthy habit to implement for the next week, starting on Saturdays. 

To give me a kick up the bum  get started I am going to start with 3 for the first week. I have no idea how long this will last but it can't hurt to give it a shot! 

Week 1:

1. I will drink a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon when I get up each morning. 
While I know not everyone subscribes to this, I don't think it can hurt and it seems to get enough positive feedback from people who are well-versed in these matters so I'm going to jump on the bandwagon.

2. 1.5-2 litres of water daily
I used to be a huge drinker of water - it was especially easy when I was working full time and I was able to refill a water bottle periodically throughout the day without any interruption. Most days I had drunk 1.8 litres by the time I got home from work. I've found it much harder to stay on top of my water consumption since I've been at home - you'd think it would be easier but it's not. I get distracted, pour myself a glass of water at 8am, go off to change a nappy or get someone breakfast and sure enough the glass is still sitting there, practically full, at midday. 

3. Eat my 2 & 5
I'm not bad at getting my serves of vegetables each day. I actually love vegetables. But I am shocking at eating fruit. It's not that I don't like it, I will usually choose something else to eat first. I feel terrible that my 3 year old makes better food choices than I do. Tsk tsk. This must change! I should be providing the healthy role model, not a child! 

So that's my first 3. Now, I'm off to get myself a glass of water.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

the meaning of....

Something I've noticed since having children is how certain events and holidays throughout the year either take on new meaning or you discover a renewed enthusiasm for them.

Take Christmas for example - the obvious one I guess. I moved through the excitement of childhood with santa and presents, then to the joys of partying on Christmas eve, to more sedate but still enjoyable Christmas lunches/dinners with the family. Nowadays I love Christmas for the joy it brings my children. Well, it brings it to one child and I am sure will bring joys and excitement to the other once she understands what it's all about! Suddenly, spending the day with family and sharing a meal seems even more important.

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Halloween at my son's playgroup. The kids came in fancy dress and we had some spooky party food. The costumes didn't last too long on our group of energetic and excited 3 year old's and the food was probably more fun for the adults than the children but it was good fun nonetheless.

I love to bake so I made some 'Halloween' cupcakes (any excuse!). I've been wanting to make some rainbow cupcakes for ages so I decided to make these ones with some fun, Halloween colours.

(I know, I know - I only just thought to take a photo before the last mouthful!).

I love that children have brought the pleasure and enjoyment back into things that had perhaps lost meaning and you see them through new eyes.

blogging etiquette

It occurred to me that in my rush to get started that I know absolutely nothing about blogging etiquette. I understand that some things are learnt on the job, so to speak, but now I am realising there is lots for me to learn.

For example, when people comment on my posts (oh my goodness - the excitement when it happens, it is just like Christmas as far as I am concerned!), should I comment back? Thank them for their comment, hope to continue the interaction? Do I then go to their blog and make sure I comment on theirs? Is it okay to start following a blog and make comments without any previous interaction with the writer of said blog? Do you comment first and then progress to following? Or vice versa?

I don't want to be in anyone's face pushing my blog - especially as it is just about me. Not anything that may help them as such. But is it okay to gently steer people in the direction of the blog or the facebook page?

What is the potential fall out for not observing correct blog etiquette?!

I think perhaps some research is in order. And taking any advice thrown my way too!

Friday, 9 November 2012

curbing the impatience

I suffer from a rather common affliction of being my own harshest critic. I'm also very impatient. Neither of these are my friend now that I'm trying to get healthier and lose weight. I've lost weight before - which makes me a rather typical female. Once I even lost about 17kg and was well on my way to a far healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately a Christmas binge-fest that lasted for about 2 weeks did irreparable damage and the kilos piled back on. Two children and 6 years on and my body really needs some serious TLC. But all I see are faults. And let's be honest - fat. I see lots of fat. That serves to drain the motivation and coupled with the impatience to see results NOW, it does hinder me in really getting on track. Despite this, I think I may be getting somewhere.

I'm slowly trying to change my mindset. For possibly the first time since school I am attempting to exercise for at least the recommended 30 minutes per day - although have been having one rest day per week. I am trying to fake some positivity until I make it and am telling myself that I'm doing well. 

It's an emotional process and I'm definitely an emotional eater. I allowed myself to fall off the exercise wagon a couple of weeks ago and I found myself sinking into despair and self-criticism. It's a tough practice to unlearn. 

I've read many people talk of wanting to be able to run around and play with their children as being a motivator for losing weight. Yet I've never found myself really struggling to do that. Since having my daughter I do feel more conscious of providing a healthy role model for her. Not to be constantly worrying about my weight but to be leading a healthy and active life - to show her that it is normal to exercise most days and to eat well but also okay to have some foods in moderation. But to be honest one of the biggest motivators for this superficial blogger is the desire to walk into any shop and know that I will be able to try something on. For more years than I care to admit I have been returning time after time to the same shops for clothes just because I know I will be able to find something that fits. I want my own style but when you shop at only a handful of shops it's very limiting. There was a time when I was a goth. Purple hair, white face, black eyes and lips. Long velvet skirts with rips held together with safety pins. Then there was the skate-punk phase - cut off army pants over fishnet stockings, band t-shirts and lots of eyeliner. Then it slowly became a corporate look (what a sell out!!) but at least for a while it was my style. Now I wear simply whatever will fit and I'm not happy. The time has come for me to reclaim some style. I have no idea what it will be but I'm excited to find out.