Catching up with everything…

Snickerdoodles for the coffee morning

Crikey, it’s been a good fortnight since I last posted anything – I’ve just been so busy!

I’ve bagged myself a bunch of new pen pals. so there has been letter writing and crafting going on there. I’ve also been in rehearsals for Sister Act, which is challenging, but highly enjoyable. It turns out Nun #11 (or Sister Sara of the Two Mules, as I have dubbed her) has a few tricky things to do, such as performing Latin tongue twisters, repeatedly, at speed, to a tune; or where other nuns have one note to sing, Sister Sara has eight of them, and has to sustain them. I am enjoying it immensely!

Little white chocolate mice with strawberry lace tails for the coffee morning

Then there was a fundraising coffee morning for the Beaconsfield Operatic Society, so I baked snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies, and cheese scones, as well as making white chocolate mice with strawberry lace tails. Of course, I had to taste-test the goodies too, so several went into my own gob (naughty, I know, but so worth it!). We also had Grom round for Sunday dinner – she comes round every few weeks for that, and we always look forward to it. It means a flurry of activity in the kitchen, though, as when she comes, we eat our main meal at midday, instead of in the evening.

On top of all that, Choochie isn’t very well at the moment, so he requires extra hugs and kisses and general Mummy time.

And throughout all this, I have completed and added another row on my Sky Blanket. That’s thirteen rows now finished – one more and we’ll be at the half way mark!

Thirteen rows of Sky Blanket completed!

20.06.16 - Brunette KellAnd then I dyed my hair brown in preparation for shaving it all off in August for Macmillan Cancer Support and sending to Little Princess Trust to be made into wigs for kids who have lost their hair to cancer treatment. My cousin’s fiance will be doing the honours, and to be honest, I can hardly wait to have it all taken off! For the record, I will be having my head SHAVED, not just having my hair cut short!

Incidentally, if you’d like to sponsor me in my Brave the Shave efforts, you can do so at my Brave the Shave page HERE. Every little helps! Thanks in advance. 🙂

Sausage and Bean Hotpot

I am suffering with a horrid cold on top of it being my time of the month, so all I want to eat is good, old-fashioned comfort food. Is there anything more comforting than a nice sausage? This hearty meal will fill your belly right to your boots, and it is great for using up all the odds and ends of veg knocking about in your fridge and cupboards, looking a bit languid and forlorn, a day or two before you do your grocery shopping.

If you’re vegetarian, you can use vegetarian sausages or leave them out altogether, as it also makes a very nice bean and vegetable hot pot.

944098_10156311643150386_8876319933887294806_nSAUSAGE AND BEAN HOT POT
Serves 4-6


  • Sausages – allow 2 per person
  • 1 ltr passata
  • 2 tins of beans in water (not in sauce!)
  • a good-sized handful of lentils
  • a good glug each of balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sweetener (to take away the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • whatever herbs and spices take your fancy
  • as much veg as you can cram in there


  • Cook your sausages however you prefer – I grill mine, but you could oven cook or fry them if you like.
  • Cut your sausages into small chunks and chuck them in a pot with all the other ingredients, and let them all simmer away together till the veg is tender and the lentils are soft.

This time I used black eyed beans and butter beans, but other times I’ve used chickpeas and kidney beans, barlotti and cannelini beans – I just use whatever is in my cupboard at the time.

On this occasion, the veg I used was:

  • butternut squash (diced – I just cooked it in the sauce)
  • onions and garlic (which I sauteed lightly before putting in the rest of the ingredients)
  • baby corn
  • peppers
  • chillies
  • muchrooms
  • courgette
  • spinach

I tend to go with my old favourite combination of chilli powder, paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and dried mixed herbs for flavour, but feel free to use whatever combination you like best.

It really is one of those dishes where I just see what’s looking a little limp or what’s rolling around in the bottom of the fridge that doesn’t look too suspect or like it’s about to grow legs and walk to the bin by itself. No matter what I’ve put in, it’s always turned out tasty.

I used a combination of four Asda Reduced Fat sausages and four Linda McCartney Rosemary and Red Onion sausages, and it made five very generous portions.

I served mine with chips, but it’s also delicious if you top it with mashed potato (or a mixture of potato and root veg all mashed together) and whack it under the grill to brown. If you fancy it, top that with cheese, and serve with even more veg, steamed to perfection.

You can cook this in your slow cooker if you like – just brown the sausages, cut them up, and chuck everything in the pot. Whack it on low in the morning, and it’ll be ready for dinner when you get home from work. Equally, you can do it in a casserole dish – I reckon it’d take anything between 30-45 minutes, but I don’t tend to cook that way, so I couldn’t say for sure.

This recipe freezes well, so if you have an extra portion or two, pop them in freezable containers, label them, and whack them in the freezer to enjoy another time.

If you try this recipe, I’d love to know what you think of it, so please do leave a comment below!

Pulled Pork with Spicy Onion Gravy

Be prepared to fall in love with your food, people, because this is the most delicious syn-free pulled pork you will ever taste, and when it’s coupled with the thick, rich onion gravy, it is out of this world! This is the dish slow cookers were created for, so if you don’t already have one, go out and buy a basic model slow cooker immediately – they cost as little as a tenner, so you have no excuse not to have one, and I guarantee you’ll thank me for it once you have tried this pulled pork It’s one of my favourite recipes!

12509569_10156299358645386_5555115970830740673_nPULLED PORK WITH SPICY ONION GRAVY


  • One pork loin joint (large enough to feed however many people you’re feeding) (P)
  • 2 small/medium onions per person (S)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (S)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed (F)
  • 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs (F)
  • 1/2 tbsp garam masala (F)
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika (F)
  • 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (F)
  • 1 tsp jerk seasoning (F)
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning (F)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (F)
  • Stock cube(s) (F)
  • Boiling water (F)


  • Mix together the garlic, herbs and spices for the rub.
  • Coat the pork in the spice rub, pressing it into the meat, then wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour (preferably overnight, to really get those flavours into the meat).
  • Roughly quarter the onions and place in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • Place the meat on top of the onions, and pop any remaining spice rub on top of it.
  • Switch on the slow cooker – I usually leave a 4-person joint in there for a good 4-5 hours on high, or 6-7 hours on low.
  • When you’re ready to serve, remove the pork loin from the slow cooker and put it in t a large bowl. Attack it with a couple of forks – it will pull apart very easily.
  • Remove half the onions from the slow cooker and add them to the pork (I cut mine up with scissors for ease and speed), mixing them all in nicely.
  • Pop the stock cube and a little boiling water in a large jug and whisk together, then add the remaining onions and any juices or scraped up “gubbins” from the bottom of the slow cooker, and blend till smooth to make a thick gravy.
  • Serve the pulled pork and onions with the gravy and bask in the golden glow of compliments from your family as they dig in.

For my gravy, I use a Knorr ham stock cube and an Oxo beef stock cube – the beef one is simply to give the gravy a deeper colour and a little extra “oomph” to the flavour. The onions have been soaking up flavour from the meat and the spice rub, and they add a lovely juiciness to the meat.

You can serve this with veg, or it is equally delicious served on a wholemeal bread bun (your HEB choice). If you have any leftovers, it’s very nice chilled with a salad too.

Pork loin can be a bit expensive, so do what I do and look for a nice piece that’s been reduced because it’s on it’s short dated – you’ll save yourself money and it’s just as good!

If you try this recipe, I’d love to know what you think of it, so please do leave a comment below!

Carrot and Lentil Soup with Fennel Seeds

It’s cold and wintery outside, and I like nothing better than a hearty, warming bowl of soup for lunch, to heat me up from the inside. This is one of my favourite recipes to enjoy on such blustery days as I want to stay cozy and warm in the house!

12359957_10156221728995386_7391187767704627159_nCarrot and Lentil Soup with Fennel Seeds
Serves 3-4


  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • A little oil
  • 5 large carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g red lentils
  • 1 ham stock cube
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1.5 ltr water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Lightly saute the onion and garlic till just starting to go golden, then add all the other ingredients to the pan, and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils and carrot are tender.
  • Serve and add salt and pepper to suit your preferences.

It’s so easy to make, and the crushed fennel seeds add a delicious flavour to the soup that works really well.

I hope you’ll enjoy this lovely, warming soup. If you try it, let me know what you thought of it by leaving a comment below!

Recipe: Off-the-chart tasty good-for-you burger with side salad and peanut dressing

Most people love a good burger, but the fast-food versions are full of cr@p and not particularly good for you. What if I told you, you could have your burger, have it be off-the-chart tasty, and totally good-for-you? And to top it all off, it’s so simple to make you’ll wonder why you ever bought ready-made burgers? Look no further – your entirely healthy, delicious dinner recipe is right here!

This really IS a tasty burger!


For the burger (per burger):

  • 4oz low fat beef mince (20% or lower) or turkey mince
  • 1 tsp of your favourite sauce (I use Levi Roots’ Reggae Regaae Sauce)
  • 1/2 eschalion shallot or 1/4 small onion
  • pinch each of black pepper and cayenne pepper
  • Wholewheat or 50/50 English muffin

For the salad:

  • Green salad leaves
  • Small chunk of cucumber, sliced
  • One apple, cut into chunks

For the peanut dressing:

  • 1 tsp peanut butter (or any other nut butter)
  • Small dash of sesame oil (or peanut oil)
  • Small dash of lemon juice
  • Pinch each of salt and smoked paprika


  • Put all your burger ingredients (apart from the muffin) into a small bowl and mush them all together with your hands, then form into a patty. Whack it on the BBQ or under the grill to cook through.
  • Arrange your salad ingredients on a plate.
  • Put all the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and mix to form a runny sauce (play with the quantities till you find a combination that suits you best).
  • Cut our English muffin in half and lightly toast.
  • Serve your burger on the muffin, and drizzle your peanut dressing over the salad, reserving a little to put on your burger.
  • Enjoy!

It’s quick and so simple as to require virtually no effort at all, and it really is off-the-chart tasty and good-for-you stuff! I’ve not tried this particular burger on the kids yet, but I’m willing to bet that even my fusspot, Tadpole, would eat this with minimal tweaking of the recipe.

Reasons to be Cheerful – Thursday

ThursdayDay four of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Thursday:

  1. New Foods
    Chochie was sitting in his highchair, picking at his ham sandwich (which he usually loves), while I ate my hot-smoked salmon with a green salad. I then started following up with half a pink grapefruit, and Choochie put down his now limp sarnie and motioned that he wanted some of my grapefruit. Expecting a reaction like the one he had with lemon back at Easter (because although it’s sweet, my pink grapefruit is still quite zingy!), I scooped a little onto my spoon, checked it had no pip fragments, and popped it in his mouth. His little face lit up! He asked for more, so I gave him more, and he ended up eating about a third of my half grapefruit! When it comes to fruit, my youngest is a bit of a greedy guts. I love watching him experience new flavours for the first time.
  2. School Fayre
    This afternoon was Tadpole’s school fayre. There was plenty to see and do, and Tadpole and I won several prizes – loads of lovely toiletries and, best of all (in his eyes), a single-use camera, which he will use to document some of our summer holiday adventures. It made him incredibly happy to win it. 🙂
  3. Scorchio!
    Today is so sunny and hot and summery, it was absolutely glorious. It really feels like summer today, and I hope we get some more weather like this once school is finished!

Reasons to be Cheerful – Tuesday

TUESDAYDay two of my positivity project – here are my three reasons to be cheerful for Tuesday:

  1. Achievement
    Tadpole came home from school today with two awards – a medal for sporting achievement and a plaque for academic achievement. He is one of only eight children in his class to get the plaque for exceeding expectations. As you can see from the photograph, he’s very proud of himself – and we’re incredibly proud of him too!
  2. Sweet, Blessed Sleep
    It seems like Choochie may be turning the corner on the subject of sleep. Till now, he’s barely slept, day or night, which has resulted me being a total Mombie for nine months. The last week or so, however, he has improved greatly, meaning that I am looking and feeling a little less like an extra in a George A Romero film. Long may it continue to improve, because I’ve actually forgotten what it feels like to sleep for more than a couple of hours straight.
  3. A Good, Home-Cooked Meal
    Meatballs in my own, home-made awesome sauce with some pasta and a little cheese sprinkled on top. It’s delicious, if I say so myself, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The truth is, I love cooking, and I love sitting down to enjoy a home-cooked meal with my family – it is one of my joys in life.

Clean eating…

Eat-CleanThe time has come to get down to it and start shifting the baby weight and then some. In order to kick start my efforts, I signed up for a free three-day cleanse programme, having been assured that it was safe to do so whilst breast feeding. The premise was simple – I was sent a meal plan for the three days and was asked to check in with the group each day – so I stepped on the scales, blanched at the number, and got started.

Here’s what the plan entailed:

  • Hot green tea (unsweetened) and a tall glass of water with a squeeze of lemon 30 minutes before breakfast


  • Half a grapefruit and a tall glass of water
  • One pack of Shakeology
  • One toasted slice of Ezekiel bread, topped with half an avocado (smashed and spread) and two poached eggs


  • One apple
  • One serving sunflower/pumpkin seeds or almonds
  • Tall glass of water


  • Half a grapefruit
  • One cup green tea
  • Tall glass of water
  • One pack of Shakeology
  • Berry chicken salad with honey vinaigrette


  • Raw veggies
  • One serving of seeds or almonds
  • Tall glass of water


  • Half a grapefruit
  • Tall glass of water
  • 4-6oz grilled chicken or white fish (seasoned with herbs and spices) with your choice of steamed veggies


  • Unsweetened chamomile tea

There are no potatoes allowed, but we can have whatever red, green and yellow veg (apart from corn) as we like.

Here’s what I had over the course of the three days:


I missed breakfast as I hadn’t yet done my shopping for the programme, so I started with just a cup of tea (which is all I ever have before the school run – I eat when I get home afterwards, as I don’t have time!), which wasn’t technically on-programme, but couldn’t really be helped. I’d already decided the “Shakeology” option wasn’t for me, as I don’t like the idea of meal replacement shakes, and I couldn’t find the “Ezekiel bread” anywhere in the supermarket or health food shops, so I had I do without that. I cannot stand green tea, so there was no way I was going to drink that stuff, but I decided to bite the bullet and have the chamomile tea, despite not being very fond of it.

After I’d dashed into town to get some extra greens and chicken, I headed home in time to make brunch:

Tuesday brunch

Two poached eggs with a green salad, a handful of blueberries and strawberries, a couple of mango fingers, a small sprinkle of sunflower seeds and a few chopped almonds, with a homemade dressing of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sesame oil.

I had a cup of hot water with lemon juice squeezed into it.

I was getting my hair done in the afternoon, so I took an apple along with me to munch when I got hungry, knowing I would be there for several hours, and had a tall glass of water while sitting under the drier.

Tuesday dinner

For dinner I coated a chicken breast in a mixture of dried mixed herbs, ginger, smoked paprika and cayenne, then cut it up and stir fried it in a teensy bit of sesame oil with red onion, yellow pepper, carrot, mushrooms and spinach. It’s a meal I make semi-regularly anyway, but I hadn’t made it in a while. When I do make it, I never bother with rice or noodles, as it’s filling enough on its own and isn’t so stodgy that way. It’s a genuinely delicious meal.

Later on I had a small snack of a few almonds and my cup of chamomile tea, which wasn’t to my taste, but I drank it anyway.


Wednesday breakfast

I had my tall glass of water and a cup of hot water with lemon juice before the school run, and when I got back, in place of the Shakeology option, I whipped up a delicious green smoothie for breakfast, with a coconut milk and water base, a large handful of spinach, a frozen banana and a spoonful of almond butter.

It’s a gorgeously silky-smooth, filling smoothie that keeps me going till lunch time. And if anyone is wondering about trying green smoothies but is worried about tasting the greens, I promise, you don’t taste them at all. Check out my recipes section for some delicious green smoothie recipes to get you started.

In my enthusiasm, I forgot about the half grapefruit, but by then it was lunchtime.

For lunch, I poached one egg and coated a small salmon steak in mixed herbs, paprika and ginger (I know it’s not a white fish, so it’s slightly off-programme, but I’m not a fan of white fish, so this was my compromise). I pan-fried it in a teensy bit of organic coconut oil and served it with a green salad, which had radishes and half a grapefruit mixed in. I made a dressing of a little of the grapefruit juice and some balsamic vinegar and a little sesame oil.

I had my apple as a mid-afternoon snack.

For dinner I made garlic and herb encrusted baked chicken breast, with roasted red peppers and peaches, steamed carrot and asparagus, and herb-sauteed courgette and mushrooms.  The roasted peaches were absolutely gorgeous – I’ll definitely do those again!

I had the half a pink grapefruit as dessert – it was deliciously sweet and tangy, and really refreshed my palette after the lovely, garlicky-herby chicken.

I honestly don’t think I could have eaten another bite!

My late snack was a small handful of almonds and my chamomile tea (still not liking the stuff very much, but I’ll stick with it – maybe I’ll acquire a taste for it).


Thursday breakfast

When I nipped into the shops on Wednesday, I had yet another look for the Ezekiel bread, but couldn’t find it, so I grabbed some multigrain Rivita. I again started the day with my water and lemon-water before the school run, then when I came back, had a breakfast of one of those Rivita spread with avocado (not a fan of avocado – I’ll be ditching it after this!), and two poached eggs. With the half a pink grapefruit on the side, it certainly looked quite pretty.

The Rivita was, as expected, like cardboard – I really wish I could have found some Ezekiel bread. Perhaps I’ll be able to find a good recipe for it and make my own.

Thursday lunch

Lunch was baked salmon – I coated the salmon steak in cayenne, ginger and black pepper, then topped it with semi-dried tomatoes and a teensy drizzle of honey before popping it in the oven to bake.

Served with a side salad of mixed greens, apple and beetroot, and a few strawberries and blueberries, in my own salad dressing (lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and sesame oil) and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds.

Of course, I had the half grapefruit too. Still forgoing the horrid green tea, I instead had two tall glasses of water.

thursday dinner
Thursday dinner

For dinner, I decided to make some kebab skewers, so I cut the chicken breast into small chunks, tossed them in cayenne, paprika and ginger, then threaded them onto the wooden skewers, alternating with button mushrooms, and chunks of orange pepper, courgette, and peach, before whacking them under the grill. Served with lightly steamed asparagus and broccoli. I used my small remaining piece of avocado to make guacamole, by mashing it with a little lemon juice, chilli and black pepper, in an attempt to give that stuff a bit of flavour (avocado is just so bland!).

I’m afraid I ended up leaving the guacamole. It just wasn’t nice at all. Avocado isn’t nice at all. I shall never eat another avocado as long as I live, if I can help it.

And the results? Well, despite not sticking strictly to the plan (no green tea and eating salmon instead of white fish), I stepped on the scales on the morning of day four, and weighed in 3.5lbs lighter than I did on the morning of day one. I’d say that’s a positive effect – 3.5lbs in three days, and all by eating healthily.

I think this “cleanse” is something I could easily do once a month, or even once a fortnight, to help keep things rolling the right way. I didn’t feel hungry (in fact, on several occasions I felt quite stuffed!), and I think that if I didn’t have a 9 month old baby who never sleeps at night I might well be feeling more energetic (as it is, I’m actually still functioning after less than two broken hours of sleep last night, and I’d usually be seriously flagging by this point in the day after a night like last night!). It’s definitely a do-able programme for the short period of three days, and I have experimented a little more with dishes as a result, which has made for some lovely meals and has meant I didn’t feel deprived at all.

Overall, a very positive experience! As a result, I’ve now signed up for a five-day cleanse (which incorporates a set menu and exercise plan) at the end of the month with the same person. If you’d like to give it a go, click the link HERE to be taken to the Facebook event, and leave a post saying, “I’m in!”

BOOK BLAST: The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet by Laura Fuentes



I wish I had the words that would best describe what it feels to hold your very own printed book in your hands.

I now understand the expression “writing a book is like birthing a child.” Minus the  delivery and having an actual baby (this coming from a mom of 3).

I’ve had my author copy on my desk for a few weeks now, and I’m falling more and more in love with it every time I look at it.

Today, because you are one of my community members, you can download a free sample!

I’d love for you to read my introduction, my philosophy on shopping, and get a few free recipes.

I poured my heart out into this book. I’ve made my husband taste things that he would rather not have to give his “honest opinion” (luckily those never made it into the book).  I’ve worked a ridiculous amount of hours trying to get every single recipe typed up in a way that even a novice home cook or a young person could follow.

I was a stress case for 12 weeks, relied on every family member and friend for child care, and drank way too much coffee while staying up way past my bedtime to meet a deadline (or two).

This cookbook is a manual for parents who want to make homemade food simple. A guide filled with prep-ahead tips to help you make lunches the night before so you can keep it together in the morning when you are busy trying to get the kids out the door –ahem! my life.

I wanted to write something that was worth gifting to a friend. A book filled with breakfast, lunch, and family sized dinners that would never go out of style. Recipes you could use for the entire family, regardless of the age of your child.

Unlike other recipe books, the meals are pictured exactly as you would need to pack them inside a lunch box, a thermos, or a snack box. Because really, nobody wants to eat a soggy lunch.

This book is a resource for anyone who wants to take control of their kitchens, get organized with real meal ideas that don’t require a lot of kitchen skills or time. It’s not a gourmet book, it’s a real family, short on time, I’m out of ideas kind of book.

The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet is designed to teach you how to make real food convenient and appealing to your kids. The book is divided into chapters like:

  • Pack Like a Pro: Nourishing Foods on the Go. Everything you need to know to get started with packing the best lunches and making meals for your family. From budget-friendly shopping, how to stock your pantry, and tips on making prep-ahead meals.
  • Get Out the Door: Breakfasts to Go. A whole section on portable breakfast items, my family’s favorites, and the tips a parent needs to getting out the door in the morning with well fed kids on time.
  • Fill the Box: Sandwiches and More. Long gone are the days of one peanut butter and jelly sandwich after another. It’s time to bring variety back into your family’s lunches! The sandwiches, wraps, and pinwheels in this section incorporate leftovers and easy to find ingredients into new favorites.
  • Add Some Fun: Interactive Lunches for Picky Eaters. This section is for every parent who has had to fight or say no to one of those colored pre-packaged lunches at the grocery store. The lunches in this section teaches how how to make your homemade version delicious, nutritious, and a lot more fun!
  • Fill the Thermos: Portable Hot Lunches. Inspired by my good friend who lets her kids eat school lunch because a “hot lunch” is better than a sandwich. I beg to differ. These hot lunches will rock your thermos world.
  • Extra Credit: Staples, Drinks, Treats, and More. The recipes here are the tipping point of going fully homemade. This chapter will be your most visited, guaranteed.
  • Putting it All Together: Meal Planning and More. A 2 week sample plan with recipes from the book, a guide on how to use the recipes in the book to create classroom sized snacks, and making meals on-the-go.


Of course, I had a little help with my most difficult to nail recipes. The Classroom Cupcake Recipe was tested by 67 families from this community!

A huge thank YOU to those of you who tested it and gave your feedback. With your help, the recipe made it into the book! Easy, fluffy, golden cupcakes every time.

Today, you have the opportunity to purchase this book at a pre-sale price on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Pre-ordered books are being shipped out as early as this coming week! Even if you live overseas, your e-book preorder helps!

In addition, I will be signing and shipping personalized cards to the first 250 lucky people. All you have to do is email your purchase receipt to now through 7/1/14 (I have under 100 left!).

If you’ve already bought your copy, dig in your email inbox and forward your receipt! I’d love to send you a personalized note.

And now, you get an exclusive inside look at the cookbook by clicking here.


52 things in 52 weeks – February update

52 things in 52 weeksAnother month over – we’re two months into our year-long challenge, or, more precisely, nine weeks through our 52. I’m rather pleased with my progress too. I completed six challenges last month and have crossed off several more in February.

How is your challenge going? Are you ticking off items quick as wildfire? Or are you making slower progress? Either way, whether you’re happy with how things or going, or getting disheartened, DON’T GIVE UP! We can do this together and feel that wonderful sense of achievement at the end of December!

Here’s how I’ve done this month:

Food challenges (one week each):
5. Try two new whole foods
Try a minimum of two new whole foods that you’ve never had before.
6. No low-fat, lite or nonfat food products
Do not eat any food products that are labeled as “low-fat,” “lite,” “light,” “reduced fat,” or “nonfat.”
7. 100% Whole grain
All grains consumed must be 100% whole-grain.
8. Stop eating when you feel full
Listen to your internal cues and stop eating when you feel full.

Food challenges (one week each):
9. No refined sweeteners
No refined or artificial sweeteners including (but not limited to): white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, splenda, stevia, agave, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane juice. Foods and beverages can only be sweetened with a moderate amount of honey or maple syrup.

Other food challenges:
22. Do not eat chocolate at all for 4 weeks straight (0/4)
I actually slipped up one morning when, in a semi-somnambulant haze, I ate a chocolate biscuit with my coffee. I was just finishing the last morsel when I realised what I was eating and kicked myself. Then it happened again when I licked the spoon after putting chocolate spread on a waffle for Tadpole, so I’ve decided that instead of the 4 weeks, I shall give up chocolate for Lent instead and then this part of the challenge will be completed good and proper!

Financial challenges:
23. Put £20 into Tadpole’s savings every month (£40 / £240)
24. Put £20 into Button’s savings every month (£40 / £240)
25. Split all my coppers between Tadpole’s and Button’s piggy banks each week (9/52)
26. Put £1 for each day of every month into savings (£59 / £365)
27. Put £1 for each challenge completed into the Xmas fund (£10 / £52)
28. Save all £2 coins into the Xmas fund each week (9/52)
29. Save all silver up to the value of 20p into the Xmas fund each week (9/52)

Entertainment challenges:
30. Read 52 books in 52 weeks (3/52)
Check them out HERE.
31. Watch 52 films in 52 weeks (39/52)
Check them out HERE.
32. Take part in three author book blog tours (2 / 3)
Cloaked in Danger by Jeannie RueschBook review / Author interview
33. Visit six local attractions (1 / 6)
We visited the Hancock Museum. Check it out HERE.

Family-related challenges:
34. Continue breastfeeding Button to the age of 6 months (10 April)
38. Share a photo of my kids and me each month (2 / 12)
Check out our trip to the Hancock Museum HERE and our family wedding HERE for photos.
41. Take the kids to the library once a month (2 / 12)

Personal challenges:
46. Write twelve letters to my penpal (2 / 12)
49. Make twelve Xmas gifts /decorations (1 / 12)
50. Release twelve new cross stitch charts (3 / 12)
51. Post a monthly update (2 / 12)