Category Archives: Diet

Soup season

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Winter is the best opportunity to eat soup, lots and lots of soup. And this is what we have been doing every evening in the past couple of weeks

I’m a fussy eater, so it’s not all kinds of soups I like, especially the ones with weird texture and chunky vegetables. 

A colleague from work passed on a brand new soup maker to me because he has “a pot, a blender and a sieve at home” and he didn’t want to add more clutter to his home. 

I wasn’t holding my breath to the soup made by a pot-blender-sieve machine until I made the first one. Actually, the second, as I thought that I was lucky with the first one.

The soup was quite tasty, but the best part was that the hard work was to select and finely chop the ingredients. Once you press start, you can do something else for 30 minutes and your soup will be ready, blended and sieved, all left to do is serve and eat. (And clean afterwards)

We have soup practically every evening during weekdays. My least favourite ones being the tomato soup (too acidic, maybe I should have added cream), a mix of mushroom, celery and spinach (needed to use the spinach, otherwise would go to the bin) and a slightly too sweet carrot-swede-onion-potato soup. 

The beauty of soups is that you can try all sort of combinations, really. Sometimes it might not work very well (like the spinach one, but it was still edible), most times it will. The only thing the manual doesn’t recommend is to put raw meat in it, but it doesn’t say anything about addind pre-cooked meat in the blender. I haven’t tried and prefer to add it at the end and keep the chunky pieces.

We have reduced the food wastage big time!

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The actual thing is basically a fancy blender. It boils the water first, then blends a bit, boils/cooks some more, blends, sieves while blending, until it stops.

The sieve is a small net cylinder in the middle of the cup, which holds the solids, while the water is everywhere. I find the capacity of the cylinder a bit small and our soups serve well 2-3 people. It’s ok, I guess, better finish it all and have that feeling that we want some more than to have left overs and risk throwing food in the bin.

 

the blender with just water. Can you see the sieve in the middle?

 
 

the ingredients go in the middle. Not too much space though.

 
 

In the middle of boiling and blending, half way through

 
 

You can open the lid (health&safety; it beeps and stops the process), but you can open the cup. Very hot and steamy!

 

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Some of the soups I cooked so far:

Potato + leeks + garlic + olive oil + seasoning. I used chicken broth as part of the water and added the chicken I cooked after it.

First day is always a mess. The food didn’t fit the compartment, it wasn’t enough soup, I made extra straight after the first batch and almost kissed my soup maker goodbye.
Lesson learned: the instructions say finely chopped for a reason; everything needs to be very small to fit in. And never ever repeat the procedure without cleaning it first.

  

Potato + spinach + carrot + garlic + onion + olive oil + seasoning + a tiny bit of courgette/zucchini (left over) and a few lardons on top

Learnings: potato based soups are very creamy but also seem to be the ones that accummulate more (burned) residues at the bottom, making the cleaning of the cup a bit of a mission. But they taste so nice.

  
 

Mushroom + garlic + onion + dried herbs + cream
That was probably my favourite as it was so unexpected.

Learnings: try without cream before. It might be good enough to save on the extra calories (I doubt it though). Also very easy to clean the blender, compared to previous days.

* I forgot to take photo *

Tomato + basil + celery + onion + carrot + garlic + stock cube + olive oil

Learnings: although it looks nice, I thought it was too acidic. Next time I’ll try with cream. 

  
  

Christmas came and has gone in pictures

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It was warm
The views are always stunning
I had a week off work; more work then usual at home
We went to the dentist
We went to Romania
It was warm
But then it got cold
Not enough to build up snow
But enough to ice skate. Twice
Frozen is still a home favourite. Let it go!
Santa showed up in Romania
We ate like pigs and brought lots of food in the luggage
Santa stopped at home too, but mummy forgot to take pictures
Santa stopped at mummy’s work and decided that mummy is not overweight enough and can have lots of chocolate

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Bruges, sleepless nights and banana cake

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We spent last bank holiday in Bruges (weekend of 24/25 + Monday 26) and I was hoping to write a post about it the day after we got back. As you can see, it didn’t happen.

The trip was great, the place is so so beautiful (even Laura was sad to come back home), but our accommodation wasn’t great and I ended up having a sleepless night, which ruined the following day, which ruined the rest of the week.

Speaking of sleepless nights, sleep in our house seems to be a roller coaster. Some days good, other days bad. Beatrice is not too bad, I am ignoring some of the cries in the middle of the night (because it is not a proper cry, it is more a “dream” and she falls asleep within seconds. I do tend her when she is really crying, which was the case yesterday, 1st June, when she didn’t sleep at all) and we have great nights when I only go to her once. I can live with that. On the other hand, miss Laura has been a pain, sleeping in our bed since too long now. Again, I can live with co-sleeping, BUT I cannot live with someone kicking me through the night. The night after we got home (after a sleepless night, remember?), she kicked me three times: on the face, on the breast and on my ribs. Not a gentle kick, a Bruce Lee kick, that left me in pain the whole of the following day. If you want to see me deadly angry, just mess up with my sleep.

And because I cannot return the kids to wherever they came from, what do I do? Call Supernanny? Sleep in the living room? Run away? No, I stuff my face with things that are not good for me and will make me overweight again eat. Within 6 days, we had two banana cakes (very yummy) and a creme caramel. Oh, well, I think I’ll have to resume the diet once my mum goes back, next Saturday.

So, what’s with the banana cake? We had a few bananas that were nearly going bad and I was sick of throwing bananas in the bin so I googled a banana cake recipe and found this one here. But I had to adapt because I didn’t have certain ingredients, so here is (are) my version(s) of it:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil – I quickly melted it on the microwave
  • 150g caster sugar – I also tried with muscovado sugar and the result was good
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 190g flour (2nd time I used 150g of flour and 50g of ground linseed, as I had loads at home and don’t know what to do with it)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 30g of preferred chopped nuts (I used pecan the first time and mixed nuts the second)
  • 60ml coconut milk

Method:

  1. Grease and line a loaf tin. Mix oil, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Add the mashed bananas, mix well.
  3. Add the egg, mix well.
  4. Stir in the flour and the milk. And finally add the baking powder.
  5. Pour into the prepared tin. Optional: sprinkle with a tablespoon of demerara sugar to give a crunch topping (I did that the 2nd time but didn’t like the result that much).
  6. Bake at 180 C until a skewer comes out clean. (it took me about 45 minutes)
It was the first time I  baked a banana cake and it was so yummy that I didn’t wait it cool. As a result, I had to bake another one two days later (because more bananas were going to waste and because I was stressed with something else).
Our window view in Bruges

Our window view in Bruges

The banana cake saga: the first attempt

The banana cake saga: the first attempt

The banana cake saga: the second attempt

The banana cake saga: the second attempt

Creme Caramel, beautiful and tasty after nearly 4 hours baking (it doesn't take that long though)

Creme Caramel, beautiful and tasty after nearly 4 hours baking (it doesn’t take that long though)

Who would have thought that this little angel is a Bruce Lee in the making?

Who would have thought that this little angel is a Bruce Lee in the making?

It’s been a long time

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To avoid this blog being just to update Beatrice’s monthly “birthdays”, let me write a random post. (Especially because she is turning 11 months in two days).

I forgot my book in the car and I am dreading the train journey. It’s sunny and hot (hurray) and I’m wearing a warm coat (boo) and there are loads of children in the carriage I am (Half term/school holidays). I’m so addicted to this book that I can’t put it aside and go to sleep, even though I am exhausted. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been reading much in the last years.

Three more weeks and my keep in touch days are over. Three more weeks and my maternity leave is over. Time flies when you are having fun, they say. It’s been interesting to be back at work, once a week, but I’m a bit anxious about returning full time and having to deal with school runs, meetings, lots of work, etc. I’ll survive, we all do.

I’m struggling with diet. I put on nearly 5 kg while in Brazil and I still have 1kg and a bit to get rid of. But geez, I’ve been so hungry lately. I can put photos of my macaroons and other stuff I’ve been baking/cooking because I changed my phone and all photos are gone. I have a back up but guess what? All my files don’t fit in this new phone. I hope I can retrieve them from the cloud or whatever they are.

So we are all booked for Croatia. Two weeks in the sun. I can’t wait, but there’s still a long way to go. A girl at work said it’s her favourite place ever, a mix of Italy and Greece. Can you imagine it?

In the meantime, I’m rushing to finish a couple of projects around the house before going back to work but nothing major. I don’t need much to get stressed anyways and I’ve already promised I won’t do anything else this year. I’m desperately trying to find a carpet fitter by next Thursday. It is NOT easy. 😦

I’m getting to my stop now. All these babies crying are making me think of my own little baby at home. But first I need to collect my big trouble maker at the nursery. Fingers crossed she will be in a good mood. (I’ll write about our latest experiment in our home soon)

The last day of MY year

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So I decided that 2013 will end today. Just because.

Things about the last day of my year:

I woke up with a strong headache and eye pain. Because Laura wasn’t sleeping well, came to our bed and (by accident) kicked me on the eye. I cried in pain.

It was a freezing morning but a beautiful sunny day. The conservatory, after a boost of heating, is at 36C.

I’m having sweet potato and coconut soup for lunch and home made lemonade full of demerara sugar (I needed it).

I’m washing the last load of dirty clothes. Not because I finished it all (I keep finding dirty clothes everywhere), but because I had enough.

I’m almost all packed. Just one more luggage and two hand luggages to go.

Despite the rush and stress, Laura will have a final play date this afternoon, here in our home. Because life is never stressful enough.

Beatrice turns 8 months today. Cuter than ever but not enjoying her sleep that much.

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Exciting times

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I woke up today very… not positive. Another very bad night with little to no sleep, Laura being so difficult in the morning (poor her, she was also tired), Bea being adorably difficult to put down to sleep (different noises in the house). But as the day progresses, I’m recovering slowly my mood.

Yesterday, Mr. C took the day off to help me with the logistics of taking Laura for her BCG jab (oh dear, thank goodness it’s the last – hopefully – jab for many years, she screamed so so so much, several minutes BEFORE having the injection. times like this, only an ice cream can make things better; not even chocolate helped!). He dropped me off at my photography workshop and when to a soft play area to spend some father-and-daughter time with Laura. She absolutely loved it! As for me, I’m really enjoying spending some time with other mums, and despite the subject evolving around kids, it doesn’t feel like that. It rained like hell yesterday, with 10 minutes of hail during the class, and it was freezing. I went home on the tram and train and by foot and it was alright, I think. I might try this again next time. Car is very convenient, especially when you need a wee, but I’m more relaxed if I am NOT driving.

We are in the process of tiny changes and news here. Nothing exciting for you lot, I guess, but tiny things help my mood to improve. The baby massage course finished last week. It was quite hard to massage Bea with her being so mobile and nosy, but it was fun nonetheless. And she absolutely adores having a back massage. So much that for the past week, she fell asleep a few times just being massaged. Before, I had to rock her for a long time (once, for two hours). I can’t believe how much and how sudden it changed – it’s not always easy, but even when she is agitated, a back massage calms her down. She might not go to sleep straight away, but she stays still and stops moaning (she is a moaner when she is tired, but I think it’s a general thing with all babies and children).

I was going to replace the massage course with a baby yoga class, which would be today, but I had some fitters in to work on the conservatory. Yes, it seems like we will have it done for Christmas. This puts a smile on my face. 🙂 Yes, it’s a pain to get stuck in the house while they are working, but hey, I wanted it, so I have to put up with it.

Beatrice started crawling yesterday, after what seemed the longest training period ever!! She was 6 months and 10 days old, which seems a little bit too soon, but not soon for a 2nd child I was told. Her sleeping hasn’t improved at all with weaning and the crawling training – I would say it got worse. But I have hopes for the near future.

We ordered Laura’s bed from Ikea (the one I mention on this post) and it will be delivered next Friday (oh, boy, Ikea’s online shopping is a pain!). So hopefully December will be some for of goodbye 2013, hello 2014 for us. Then, of course, we are travelling and who cares about routine?

We are also trying to reduce Bea’s dummy usage. Not that she uses a lot, on the contrary, but exactly because she doesn’t like it too much, we are slowly cutting it completely. It’s not easy (for me) though, as a dummy can be a life (for me) saviour. At the moment, I would say that she sucks her dummy about 2 hours a day? Yesterday she fell asleep without it, which is a victory. I’m hoping that it will be easier in Brazil, where I will have extra pair of hands to help soothing her.

Speaking of Brazil, we had some great news. Our friend Italiano, who is leaving in San Francisco for too long now, will join us in Brazil – a week in Bahia and another week in Rio. We are so excited!! Truth is, going to California is not in our plans just now (have other places in the queue) and coming to London is not in his plans either. So makes all the sense to meet up in the middle. And Bahia is a place that none of us know and we can explore together. Now, it is also be a test of our friendship – if he disappears completely after that, means that the girls scared him for good. hahaha If he enjoys the experience, I think we could look at an annual holiday with uncle R, eh?

Now, the last update is in regards my diet. It is going slowly but surely. I can’t get into the habit of exercising enough, so I must try harder. I’ve lost just over 1 stone so far and I would like to lose another 1/2 stone before the trip. I don’t think it’s impossible, but at the pace I am now, it will be hard. Oh well, it took me 8 years to put on weight, I should be grateful that it is coming out.

Learning to sleep

Learning to sleep

Learning to crawl

Learning to crawl

Getting rid of the dummy

Getting rid of the dummy

Press ups

Press ups

Life, oh life, oh life, tu-tu-tu

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I wrote this post on the train, this evening, but it disappeared from WordPress. I managed to recover it only on the website, it still missing from the iPhone app.  

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I’m on the train on my way home from a work event. One hour and a bit between three trains. A packed train. Trains were cancelled because a train derailed somewhere. I’m exhausted.

Tomorrow I’m there again. I can’t complain because I wanted to do these KIT days and I’m glad – maybe for the wrong reasons – I did it.

I can’t wait to go back to the gym on Friday though. Don’t tell anybody, but this is actually the best part of my week (yes, there’s all the baby smiles, cute sounds, etc, but you know what I mean, right?). Yesterday – Monday – I went to this brilliant class called Baby Boogie and Tone, which is basically 30 min dance class, 30 min strength exercises carrying the baby on a sling. Luckily I have a small baby, but it was pretty tough. We had a bit of everything: Arabic music (belly dancing with a baby was weird, to say the least), Michael Jackson disco, hip hop… Bea had a “what the f%#k” face and got a bit pissed off 5 minutes to end the class. But I loved it and will be back every Monday. It saved me £3.5 of creche. Hahahaha

Hopefully, from the last week of October I will be able to go three times a week to the gym. Lucky me to have a friend (and comadre) who is up to hanging out at the gym instead of going to the pub. So last Saturday we were chatting and exercising and burned almost 400 calories. Sweet hubby was being the perfect daddy, looking after the girls.

I’m loving these “me time” moments and regret not starting it before. It’s not even about losing weight, but having fun. Yes, I’m having fun going to the gym, that’s how sad I’ve become. Haha

Ha-ha my ass. It’s ok to have fun at the gym, right? Especially because I’m not overdoing it and because I’m not going to start a blog about fitness and how I’m getting fit. Can you imagine me posting photos of the “before” and “after”? You don’t want to see that, believe me.

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Life is still about the girls though. I’m taking Beatrice to baby massage classes (I think I’m enjoying it more that her though) and Laura goes to the ballet classes (and she loves it). We are always looking at ways to entertain them although all we want to do is to watch TV (hubby) and to sleep (me).

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Photos anyone? Yeah, why not. Apologies for the blurry photos, but my subject is always on the run.

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The old bouncer is now her sister’s, but of course she wants to play with it.

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My ballerina

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Where’s Wally?

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“I love racing cars”

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Burying auntie Lelei (she is under the pile of cushions)

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Getting ready for “Baby Boogie and Tone” class

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Scene from the “new” Star Wars film. I loved the bright yellow-red-white combination and am thinking about using it at home. Yes, there is a doll under the TV stand.

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Bookshops are fun!

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Because ice cream is sweet as life should be!

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“I can’t wait to be able to walk around and drive mummy crazy too”

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“Shall we go to space now?” – at Waterstone’s bookshop

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I was told that this is the “real” macaroon. (from the street market in Bromley. I love street markets!)