Category Archives: General wittering

Fresh Vegan Magazine Issue 3 & My Blog’s 3rd Year Anniversary

Wow, is it really June already? I can’t believe how quickly this year’s going! This month is a particularly special one for me… it’s the 3rd anniversary of my blog, it’s my birthday month AND I’ve had my first feature in a magazine!

When I started blogging three years ago, never did I imagine that I would be where I am today. It’s been such a joyful, rewarding process. Without a doubt, the most precious part of blogging has been the opportunities it’s given me to connect with beautiful, compassionate souls across the world (and yes, that most definitely includes you! )

As you may already know, this week saw the launch of Issue 3 of Fresh Vegan magazine. Sporting a fresh summer vibe, this issue is jam-packed with interviews, seasonal recipes, restaurant and product reviews, stunning photography, competitions and much more.

Fresh Vegan June 2014 Issue

Yesterday, I read the magazine from cover to cover and it left me feeling both inspired and humbled…

…inspired by the passion and sheer hard work that the contributors, interviewees and Fresh Vegan team are dedicating to the promotion of compassionate, healthy, planet-friendly lifestyles…

…and humbled by the fact that I’d been invited to contribute to this issue. I still feel such a novice when it comes to recipe development, cooking, blogging, social networking, life in general. I’m still way down there on the learning curve, but I’ll keep plodding away at it. I just feel fortunate to have access to so many amazing role models

In Issue 3 of Fresh Vegan, I share two of my all-time favourite summer recipes: Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup with Smoked Tofu (my family-friendly plant-based version of the traditional Malay soup Laksa Lemak)

Malaysian Coconut Noodle Soup with Smoked Tofu

and for dessert, Pina Colada Dairy-free ‘Cheese’ Cake. This is one of my favourite desserts ever! It’s a no-bake dessert and so simple to make!

Pina Colada Dairy-free 'Cheese' Cake

For both recipes I’ve given the quantities in grams, ounces and cups so I should have everyone covered, whatever their measuring preferences 😉

Fresh Vegan is available as a PDF download for £3.95. If you fancy taking a sneaky peek before you buy, for a limited period the magazine can be sampled for FREE on ISSUU.

To celebrate me and my blog’s birthdays, I’ve got some fantastic giveaways coming up. The first one will launch next week so keep a look out!

Here’s wishing you all a fabulous June xx

 

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Filed under Desserts, General wittering, Lunches & Light Dinners

School’s Out! Planning Summer Activities on a Shoe-String Budget

The school summer holidays officially start for us today. I can’t believe that another school year has finished already. These years are flying by!

I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time with Lil’ L over the next six weeks. However, as I’m not working at the moment, I need to make sure that we keep spending to a minimum. 

We did lots of great free/ low cost activities last summer that we’re hoping to repeat or improve on this year. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far…

– Bike Rides
Inspired by the Tour de France, we’re going to devise our own ‘Tour de Bath’ where we explore different areas of the city by bike and record our ‘stages’ on a map, noting the distance and time.

– Hiking
There’s so much local countryside that we’ve yet to explore.  We’re going to pack some sandwiches, binoculars, a map, and waterproofs, and hike along footpaths and bridleways in the hills around Bath. Luckily my ‘smartphone’ has got GPS, just in case we get lost 😉

– Photography
Lil’ L loved the challenge I set him over the Jubilee weekend of photographing red, white and blue images. This summer I’m going to set him some more photographic challenges and show him how to edit photos and make online albums.

– Creating in the kitchen
Lil’ L has already devised a list of 15 new smoothies and milkshakes that he’d like to try making. During the holidays, we’ll work our way through his list, photograph the successes and blog about them.
I’m also really looking forward to teaching him how to make other treats, such as granola bars, chocolates, ice cream sundaes and so forth.

 

– Summer Reading Challenge
Last weekend, the children’s summer reading challenge was launched in Bath by Olympic Gold Medallist Amy Williams. It was such a pleasure to meet her! I didn’t get to hold the Olympic torch (like my mum did!) but I have now held an Olympic Gold Medal. It was beautiful… and way bigger and heavier than I imagined it would be!

The library reading challenge has really fired up Lil’ L. The first thing he wanted to do when he broke up from school today was to go to the library and borrow some more books!

– Maths Challenge
To keep our ‘maths brains’ ticking over, we’re going to take part in Carol Vorderman’s Online Maths Factor Summer School (I need this as much as Lil’ L 😉 ). The school costs £15 but is so worth it. Carol Vorderman has got to be the ultimate Maths teacher. Not only is she fantastic at explaining maths, but she actually makes maths fun. Her online schools are perfect for kids like Lil’ L who are yet to develop a passion for numbers.

– Summer Diary Writing
Lil’ L has recently started to get interested in writing and his stories are way more creative than anything I’ve ever written! I’d love to encourage him to keep writing over the holidays, maybe in the form of a summer diary or scrap book. As well as writing, he could add photos, ticket stubs, drawings and so forth.

– Family Activities at Local Museums and Galleries
There are lots of drop-in activities on offer at the museums and galleries in Bath which are free for residents, and I’m planning to make the most of them!  Does anyone fancy investigating Roman gods and goddesses and making Minerva’s wise owl? Or how about learning some Roman language and make a Roman book mark? I know I do! 🙂 
If you’re planning to be in the Bath area over the school holidays, you must check out the family activity programme. Here’s the link.     

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– Play Dates
It’s really important that I arrange some play dates for Lil’ L so he gets to spend time with his friends during the summer. I need to do this ASAP as I know diaries get filled really quick.

– Quality time with grandparents
Lil’ L rarely gets to have one-to-one time with his grandparents and this is something that he mentioned he would really like this summer. Next week, he’s going to spend a couple of nights with his nan and her two dogs in Dorset and he’s really excited about it! Hopefully, at some point during the summer, he’ll be able to have some one-to-one time with his other grandparents too.

– Family quality time
The three of us (me, M and Lil’ L) are really looking forward to spending a couple of weeks’ of quality time together during the school hols, which means switching all the gadgets off (phones, computers, etc) and giving each other our full attention. We really value our quality family time. For me, it’s priceless 🙂

– Buddhist Festivals and Daily Meditation
There’s lots of Buddhist festivals in the UK this summer, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to attend at least a couple. As well as inspiring teachings and meditation sessions, there’s always lots of fun activities arranged for the kids. Lil’ L made some great friends at the festivals last year and hopefully they’ll meet up again this summer.


I’m also hoping that we’ll get into the habit of daily meditation, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. With Lil’ L’s help, I’ll set up a dedicated ‘meditation space’ upstairs. We’ll make it cosy with cushions and blankets, and light incense and candles. It’ll be great 🙂

 So that’s just a few ideas of what we’ll be able to do this summer on my shoe-string budget.  I can’t wait to get started!

I wish you all a wonderful summer. 🙂 xx

p.s. If anyone’s got a bit of sunshine to spare, we would really appreciate it if you could send it over here. Thank you 🙂

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Filed under Biking, Buddhism & Meditation, General wittering, Living Rich on Less, Vacations, Walking & Hiking

The Amazing Spiderman, A Birthday Party, the Tour de France & Key Lime Bars

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week 🙂

Still no signs of Summer here in Bath! (Will it ever arrive I wonder?) Last Saturday it rained non stop all day so we decided to go to the cinema and watch the new Spiderman film. It seemed like the perfect way to spend a wet, rainy afternoon and we hadn’t been to the cinema in ages.

 

We all thoroughly enjoyed the film. It’s very different to the previous Spiderman trilogy. The new film seems to be more targeted at teenagers than the previous films but, despite it being a 12A, Lil’ L absolutely loved it and didn’t find it too scary at all.

 On Sunday afternoon the sun made a rare appearance! It was perfect timing as it was our lovely friend Joni’s birthday and she had a little gathering at her house to celebrate.

Me & Joni (pic taken by Lil’ L)

It was so lovely to see Joni and all her family. Lil’ L had a great time playing with Joni’s 3 grandchildren.

Joni & Derek put on an amazing spread of buffet food, including a roasted vegetable dairy-free quiche which I must have a try at re-creating. It was delicious!

During the afternoon we kept popping into the living room to check how Andy Murray was doing in the Wimbledon final. Needless to say he lost, but it was a great match all the same.

In our house, the most popular sporting event of the year is the Tour de France. As well as enjoying the race itself, I love all the spectacular scenery you get to see as they make their way across France. 

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Bradley Wiggins is currently in the yellow jersey and he’s a strong candidate to win overall. If he does win, he’ll be the first Englishman to win the Tour ever! Go Brad!

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So what have I been up to since the weekend? Well, I’m still busy working on the family cook book.  I’m hoping to get all the writing drafted before Lil’ L breaks up from school so I really need to get a move on!

I’ve also been enjoying reading Ani’s Raw Food Desserts which my sister bought me for my birthday and trying out some of Ani’s recipes, as well as my own raw dessert creations.

The first recipe I tried from Ani’s book is one of her signature sweets – the Raw Lime Kream Bars. The ingredients are very similar to those I using for making raw cheesecakes. I quartered the original recipe and made 28 Lime Kream Mini Bars. They are really refreshing, especially if you eat them straight from the freezer. Perfect as an after dinner treat.

After taking this pic, I coated some of the mini bars in raw chocolate. They’re yummy but, for me, the chocolate detracts from the zingy lime flavour. In future, I’ll stick to the original version.

Here’s how I made them:

If you find cashew nuts are a little pricey, check out Indian supermarkets or the Indian aisle in larger supermarkets. Asani’s 750g bag of cashew nuts is currently selling  for £4.99 (66.5p per 100g)  which is half the price of any other brand. I’m definitely going to stock up on my next shop!

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! I hope the sun is shining wherever you are! 🙂 xx

This time last year…. I’m Running a 10K to Raise Money for Macmillan

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, General wittering

Me and My Blog are 1 Year Older

Today, my blog is officially one year old! 🙂 I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed blogging this past year.  I know my posts are a bit random at times, but I’ve really valued the opportunities I’ve had to document all those special little moments in life that I’d normally forget.  

Something that isn’t forgettable though is the fact that yesterday was the end of an era for me.  Yep, I said goodbye to the 30s, and (slightly begrudgingly) turned 40.  I’m still in shock that I’m actually that number now.  I still feel so young at heart! 

I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all my beautiful friends and family for making my birthday so special.  I had the most amazing (long) birthday weekend, which started off on Thursday night with a trip to Dorset to see my mum, sisters & niece.  On Friday, M and I went to stay at the Carey’s Manor Spa Hotel in Brockenhurst.  I absolutely loved spending some quality 1-2-1 time with him, chilling out in the spa and drinking jasmine tea in the Zen Garden 🙂

On my actual birthday, we decided to take a quick trip to London to visit the Kensington Roof Gardens open day. The Roof Gardens, which cover an area of 1.5 acres, are hidden on top of the old Biba department store.  There are over 100 trees, three distinct gardens, a stream and, unbelievably, a pond with flamingos and Mandarin ducks!

Here are a few shots we took at the Roof Gardens, including my obligatory birthday shots 😉

 

 

When I was at the Roof Gardens, I realised that they were right next door to Whole Foods and the Saf Restaurant, which are housed in the old Barkers building.  Obviously, we had to visit both before heading home 😉 

Lil’ L was totally in awe of the chocolate aisle in Whole Foods.  It’s so neat and colourful isn’t it? 

We ended up buying a bar of the ‘Seed and Bean Organic Coffee Espresso’, which was on special offer.  It was totally lush!  One of the best shop bought chocolate bars I’ve ever tasted 🙂

After gawping at all the beautifully displayed food aisles in Whole Foods, we headed up to the Saf restaurant.

We ordered a few savoury dishes to try and, while we waited for them to arrive, Lil’ L looked for Wally 😉

The menu had changed since I last visited Saf and, to be honest, I preferred the savoury dishes on the old menu, but the desserts were as amazing as ever!  I had the white chocolate jasmine tart with cacao nib crust, caramelised apricot sauce and espresso syrup.  Oh my gosh this was good!  The waitresses delivered it to me with a lighted candle and rendition of ‘happy birthday’!

Next time I visit Saf, I think I’ll skip on the savoury courses and just work my way through the dessert menu instead 😉

Well, the first couple of days of being 40 have been wonderful.  Long may it continue!

Have a wonderful week everyone 🙂 xx

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Dinners, General wittering

Jubilee Weekend Highlights

Hi everyone! 

Wow, that has got to be the longest weekend I’ve ever had… it lasted from Friday (when Lil’ L had a TD/INSET day off school) through to Tuesday (our bonus Bank Holiday for the Jubilee).  We had such a good time, and managed to fit in lots of fun activitites.  Here are some of the highlights…

On Friday, we planned a surprise trip to Legoland.  It was only when we turned up at the car park that Lil’ L realised where he was going.  He was overwhelmed by the whole experience and it was a joy to see him getting so much pleasure from it 🙂 

Fortunately, I’d managed to use Tesco vouchers to pay for the entry, so it only cost us £23 in tokens rather than £120 in real money!

After Legoland, we popped to Surrey to visit Nicky, Sophie and Amelie.  It was so good to see them!

Unfortunately, Jubilee Sunday was a very rainy day for our local street party.  Nevertheless, we joined in the celebrations, before heading to the Bathampton Mill.  Here we took up residence on a comfy sofa and watched the Jubilee River Pageant streaming live on their TV, whilst drinking coffee and eating chilli nuts 🙂 

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On Monday, we visited Southmoor, near Oxford, where Lil’ L took part in a Falconry Experience (a Christmas present from his aunt & uncle).  He’s really interested in birds of prey at the moment, so this was a great present for him.  He really enjoyed the day!

In the afternoon, we visited Oxford city. I loved walking round the old university buildings.  M & I could actually smell old books as we walked past one of the libraries!

I wish I had a lawn like that! 😉 

On Monday night, we watched the Solsbury Hill Jubilee Balloon Glow.  We had the perfect viewpoint from The George car park in Bathampton.  It was a truly magical experience!

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On Monday night and Tuesday morning, from the comfort of our sofa, we watched the Diamond Jubilee Concert, which took place just outside Buckingham Palace.  Gary Barlow & team sure did an amazing job at putting this spectacle together.  

I asked Lil’ L to name his top three favourite performances and he picked a great selection..

– Tom Jones singing Delilah (that guy just seems to get better with age!)

 

 – The Commonwealth Band, brought together by Gary Barlow.

 

– and Madness… performing ‘Our House’ on the roof of Buckingham Palace.  Amazing!

 

 And finally, on Tuesday, we went to see the Jubilee Bath Illuminations. 

They should illuminate the Weir all year round.  It’s looks magical!

It was a fantastic weekend.  One we’ll remember for a very long time to come!

Lil’ L has got the rest of the week off, so the fun will continue for us 🙂  I hope you all have a great week too xx

 

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Filed under General wittering