1 year of daily smoothies, sounds like a lot. It was never my intention to do it. In June 2015 I’ve started a Colourful Smoothie Challenge with an American blogger. During that month she wasn’t as keen to keep us on track. I did the first 10 days, then the next 10 days. After that I had another couple of smoothies and I stopped.
The next year, in June, I thought I should make my own Smoothie Challenge: 30 days of smoothies, hubby joined in. I’ve mentioned about it on a forum I’m active on and went from there. Someone else said she wanted to do a similar challenge, but not with smoothies every day, but smoothie or soup. As it offered more flexibility, after I successfully finished the first 30 days of the challenge, I continued with the smoothie/soup option. I didn’t set up a target from the begining of going for 1 year, but only after 5-6 months or so. There were days when I had soup and smoothie, there were days when I had 2 soups and a smoothie.
I’m so happy I took the challenge again. This year I had more than 500 soups and smoothies. If I consider, in average, 2 portions of fruits/vegs per smoothie/soup, that means I had more than 1000 fruits and veggies. That is impressive. A small bowl of soup has 1 portion of vegetables. I would add another portion by tossing in some roasted mushrooms in a mushroom soup, for example.
When it comes to smoothies, I usually make them like this: 1 banana + 150ml juice (no added sugar) + 1 fruit or 80g of frozen fruit/veg. That means a total of 3 portions in a glass like the ones in the picture. To that I add Chia seeds or oats. As an extra healthy kick, I would add spirulina, cinnamon, turmeric, cocoa powder, pollen, hemp seeds. It’s so easy and the taste is amazing.
To celebrate the year of smoothies, I made these 7 smoothies in the colours of the rainbow. You can see all the ingredients on my food blog: Rainbow of smoothies.
I spotted the mixes made by Paul Hollywood in shops the other day. I’ve wondered if I should get them. I don’t use mixes because I don’t see the point for them. When we are away with the caravan, I would make my own mix, basically I weight in the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and put it in a zip bag or in a jar. I love baking, my husband loves baking and between us, we manage to make some desserts each day.
That being said, I’m a blogger and these are mixes from Paul Hollywood and my husband agreed with me that surely my readers want to know what are my thoughts about these mixes. With that in mind, I bought the Luxurious Belgian White Chocolate Cookie Mix and the Luxurious Belgian Chocolate Muffin Mix. I’ve decided to respect the recipe as much as possible on both, without any other additions.
I like to decorate my home with vases. My living room is quite minimalist: white walls, grey carpet, white and black fireplace, white and black speakers, white furniture, grey dinning table and an ivory & dark grey sofa. I would have bought a white sofa, but the only light colour faux leather sofa that was available in their range was ivory.
I prefer adding colour with accessories and flowers. My favourite type of vases are handmade, as you might know from the post about Rose Dickenson’s vases (I bought a 3rd one from her this year). I like that they aren’t exactly the same, they have character and there was a lot of passion behind their creation.
I fell in love with this Agnes Vase at Normann Copenhagen* from the moment I saw it. I though it will be great with my decor. There are 7 sizes available and I picked the one that is 20 cm high as the other vases I have are slim and it can be tricky when I have a big bunch of flowers. I think the vase with the red Amaryllis flowers looks amazing.
This month’s review is less a review and more of an idea, just because the make up organizer I have sold out in shops. I got it from B&M. Similar one can be found online though, at Home Bargains for £5. I wasn’t sure if it will be of good quality as it has a low price. In the end, I was so happy with it and I end up buying two.
I got the first one a few months ago. It was a little bigger than I wanted but it fit in a cabinet and I had to rearrange a few things to make space for it. I have enough space for everything I need to store in it and there is still a little bit of space left for anything else I might decide to get and use.
I used to keep my nail polish in my bedside table. Some of the makeup was in the bathroom and the rest in a drawer. Now that I have everything in one location is great. I keep in the bathroom only the makeup remover and, of course, the cleansing products, like face wash, lotion, masks. Because I moved all the makeup in the bedroom, now I can see and use easily the things I have in the bathroom. The samples and new items are kept in my bedside table until I decide to use them.
After having it for a couple of months, I bought another one for the caravan.
In the caravan, the makeup organizer, was a life saver. I have a traveling makeup bag that I’m using, but it’s so much easier to have all the makeup and cosmetics within easy reach when I’m looking for them. Before having the makeup organizer I used some glasses for the toothbrushes. I found that in the caravan, the makeup organizer was even more important as I keep there all the cosmetics and stuff for my hair too. As you can see, the organizer has more things in it, as I have there the shower gels and so on.
I wanted to make a weekly meal plan for ages, but I get ideas and this makes me want to cook something else and I can’t stick to a plan, until now. For our last week away (well, a little bit more than 1 week), I made a meal plan and this is how I discovered How to make a realistic meal plan.
I started by thinking how much time I will have to cook. Basically not a lot, as we were away with work. I also didn’t have a lot of space to cook, as we were caravanning. I have an oven and a hob with 2 burners, a small fridge, but the worktop space is limited. Considering all these, I chose the best options available. We eat shop-bought soup, so I got enough cans for each day, making sure we have 1 of 5 a day and we also have loads of different options. I’m going to talk about the meal plan I did when we were busy, most days include only the breakfast and dinner, as at lunch time we had different things, vegan healthy bars and sandwiches most days.
Because I wasn’t at home, I prepared the rice, cornmeal and pasta by weighting in how much I would need to cook once. I also made the mix for pancakes/cupcakes, dry ingredients, to which I got to add 2 eggs and some milk. It took only 10 minutes to prepare everything. I prepared a few cans of veggies too and I took some coconut milk from home for the risotto. I didn’t want to have to go shopping often.
B – Sandwich and soup
We had sandwich, soup and cake.
L – Vegan coconut milk risotto with veggies
I made coconut milk risotto with bamboo shoots.
D – Mash potatoes and halloumi
Mash potatoes, pan-fried halloumi and red cabbage salad.
B – Pasta with veggies
We had pasta with 1 can of peas and 1 can of tomatoes, herbs and sesame seeds.
D – Stir-fry
Stir-fry with leeks, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and halloumi.
Soup. Stir-fry of peppers, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes and onions.
B – Soup and pancakes
Soup. Savoury pancakes with mushrooms and cheese.
D – Nachos
Nachos with homemade tomato sauce.
As you can see, I did pretty good. We had at least 3 servings of veggies every day. We also had some fruits, so I don’t think there was a day with less than 4 from the 5-a-day.
So, these are my tips on How to make a realistic meal plan.
Make it flexible.
I think my meal plan was a success because I didn’t think of an exact recipe. I said, for example, “stir-fry” and this meant I could do it with each ever veggies I fancied. As you can see in my plan, we had quite a lot of mushrooms because we both wanted to have more mushrooms that week.
Make it simple.
Another thing that was very important is that I kept everything easy and simple. Not too fancy, so I didn’t have to spend too much time cooking because I didn’t have a lot of it. I made plans before, but it was too complicated for the time and resources I had.
Last time I made a plan, we were away, like this month, but we were staying in a self-catering cottage, I had the pans they provided us with and again, not a lot of worktop to do what I wanted.
Make it convenient.
Use the things you know it will make your life easier and it will also make it more likely you will stick to your meal plan. I used canned soup, canned veggies along fresh veggies and some frozen mushrooms too. At home I have more time and I would cut down on the number of canned foods I would have. So, instead of asking myself to cook from scratch with fresh veggies that I bought that day from the supermarket, I chose convenience for myself. Leaving the caravan at 8.45 and getting back at 6 meant I was able to cook in the mornings and in the evening too. A few years ago I would have left the cottage at 8 and got back at 8 after going to the supermarket to get fresh food. Do I have to point out that we had pizza and pasta almost every evening? I was too tired and had other things to do too.
These are my tips. I will make another meal plan for next week, to see how well I will stick to it while at home.
Do you make meal plans?
After trying unsuccessfully last time it was in shops, now I managed to get my first ASDA Wonky Veg Box. They sold out in a few hours, so it’s not an easy thing to get your hands on. I wanted to get this box because I want to support the local farmers, I believe that local, in season, fresh produce is better and, of course, it’s great value for money at only £3.50 for more than 5kg of veggies. It is at least 30% cheaper than buying the same vegetables from the standard range.
If you don’t know, thousands and thousands of vegetables, perfectly good to eat, are thrown away each day because they are wonky. It’s nothing wrong with them, beside their look. The rejected veggies, that the farmers worked hard to produce, might end up on the field as fertilizer. I think that is absurd. Wonky veg, among straight and “pretty” veg, look natural and are just as tasty.
ASDA started this program as a pilot, last year and it proved very popular. As I said earlier, it was sold out when I tried to buy it last year. As my husband and I arrived early in the shop, the boxes were still in the warehouse and someone got this for us. I imagine the rest sold out in a few hours. The cashier commented on the box, that it’s a funny idea and the price is so good.
On the box it says what vegetables are inside and there is a great selection, as you can see.
I love Christmas. I have so many happy memories from my childhood regarding Christmas, the bakes, the tree, the gifts, us enjoying a wonderful time together. When I moved away from my childhood home I wanted to recreate this with my family and Christmas is important for us. Because we don’t have snow here and the temperatures are quite high for winter (today we’ll have around 10 degrees), I need something else to put me in the Christmas mood. I’ve joined 2 Secret Santa for bloggers and that was delightful. I got gifts I think my bloggers will love and I received gifts that now are sitting underneath the tree, gifts I can’t wait to open on Christmas day. I bought gifts and I sent a lot of cards and we’ve decorated the home together while listening to carols. Now I can say it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
We have the same tree from the last few years. I talked about my thoughts on the Christmas tree last month. We also have the same baubles and white lights. I like them too much to change them. We both want to keep the tree as minimalist decorated as possible, so we don’t get new baubles every year.
This year I got this Merry Christmas sign from a discount shop. I can’t remember which one, as I looked at the Christmas range from a few shops. It’s easy to get it onto the wall. I placed it too high and, after moving it, there wasn’t any marks on the wall. I’m really happy with it. I think I can use it next year too, depends on how well the glue on its back will be.