A little break

Good evening!

This week Theo and I are visiting my parents for some much needed respite. The last few weeks at home have felt really long and tiring so a change is as good as a break. I get to share Theo with my family, catch up with friends I haven’t seen for ages, enjoy the beach and have lots of home cooked food without lifting a finger to prepare it.

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This is Jamie’s Veggie Chilli.  Ah, how I wish we lived closer.

Meanwhile, Tom gets to do this after work:

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Having a bit of space and time has helped me reestablish some healthy eating habits.  Lunch time salads are back in the game, and I feel so much better for it.

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This one had mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, pimento stuffed olives, avocado, balsamic vinegar and hummus.  Since we’re away, our food budget doesn’t really apply so I’ve bought myself some healthy add-ins for my salads.

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I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis since finishing work to look after my family. I’d only been qualified as a registered nurse for a year before having Theo and now I’m taking another career break. No matter how many times people tell me that being a SAHM is a worthy job, I still feel a failure for not balancing the numerous balls in the air that today’s woman is meant to. I miss the mental stimulation that a working life can bring, and adult conversation that doesn’t revolve around babies and toddlers. I’m not close with the few SAHMs i know which adds to the breeze of isolation that drifts past me every now and again.  However,  I do not miss the stress that my returning to work placed on our family life.  I want to be the main caregiver for Theo.  He’s growing up so fast and I’m blessed that I get to witness it all.  Also, something exciting has happened recently yet I still seem to have more questions go around my mind than answers. Lucky I love researching and reflecting to find solutions.

Onwards and upwards :)  Hope you guys are having a good week. xxx

March, April, Sleep and Diets

I started writing this post weeks ago but Theo kept on waking up before I could finish and hit publish.  Let’s see how successful I am this time…

March was a much better month than February.  Theo has finally remembered how to sleep through the night again. I’m starting to remember what it feels like to be a human being.  

I have consumed numerous variations of this,

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Quinoa and kale with mix-ins.  I’ve had my weekly fix of some sort of kale and quinoa combo for a couple of months now and I still can’t  get enough of it.  Tom always complains when I steam the kale because he believes it makes the house smell “cruciferousy” (to put it kindly).  But I just cannot get my head around eating raw kale.  I’ve tried but it’s not happening.

Theo’s gone down to one nap a day.  I’ve been fighting it for ages as I really need his morning nap to shower etc.  And there are more hours to fill with entertainment for toddlers; lots of trips to the park!  I have finally accepted that I just need to be more organised and suck it up.  The big advantage of the one nap per day is that it’s easier to make plans for the day, and the nap tends to be a long one.  At worst it’s 40 mins, at best it’s 2hrs.  2 hrs!  I can eat lunch at a leisurely pace, sort stuff out, have a cup of tea, watch The Real Housewives (obsessed)…  Amazing.

leftovers lunch

As for this month, I’ve been thinking a lot about diet (WARNING; ramble ahead).  Despite what my kale and quinoa love would suggest, my diet has never really recovered since I was pregnant with Theo.  Before I conceived Theo I had starting eating meat and dairy again for a variety of reasons; most of which centred around health.  Then when I became pregnant I had massive food aversions to all things healthy so my lunchtime salads went out the window.  Then Theo arrived.  I love him, and he’s the best thing that’s happened to Tom and I, but gosh that first year was tough.  Since I finished work, and Theo and I have got back into our groove, mentally I feel more like my pre-pregancy self.  I’ve had the head-space and energy to think about my hobbies and what’s important to me.  Naturally food is a massive part of both of these things.  Diet.  My current diet is an eat-everything-tarian one.  But I’m not convinced that this is the best for health.  Meat has actively been part of our diet since weaning Theo due to his nut allergy and dairy intolerance.   And generally in our house dairy is consumed in minimal amounts on a day-to-day basis.  Yet something doesn’t sit right.  From all the research I’ve done over the years, and the numerous diets I’ve tried in order to control my IBS, eating as I do now seems to fly in the face of all I’ve learnt.  There’s a whisper from my partially raw, vegan days questioning where I am now.  And I miss the vibrancy of a good vegan diet.

What to do.  I don’t know.  I’m genuinely stuck.  I don’t think I’m convinced by the health claims of veganism, but I do believe the evidence that suggests dairy could be bad for us.  I can stand by the notion that eating processed food, too many carbs, and not enough vegetables is damaging to health.  And sugar is definitely evil.  But what about meat (and fish, I guess).  This is where I stumble.  Is meat part of a diet that is best for our health?  I don’t have an answer to this that pleases me yet.  I’m still looking, reading, listening, thinking.  Tell me what you think.

February Recap

Well, posting regularly for the GBB kind of fell through…  I learnt alot through it though (separate post to come).

Honestly, Feb was a rubbish month.  It was Theo’s first birthday so I was expecting it to be better than January but it was not to be.  Theo was ill for the majority of the month.  And the day after his birthday we were in A&E at 6:00am for the day as Theo was particularly unwell.  He had picked up a vomiting bug from nursery, and although he was able to keep some food and fluids down, when he woke up on Saturday morning he was drowsy and floppy.  Off we went to A&E for what felt like the millionth time.  When they took his routine observations his blood sugar had dropped to 2.1mmol (it should be 4-8mmol) and his temp was 35C (it should be 36-37C).  They gave him IV glucose, after the oral glucose failed to do anything, and kept Theo in all day for monitoring.

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Wow, that was the longest day.  Have you ever tried starving a toddler, rationing diarlyte fluids and keeping them in the one room all day?  It was dreadful.  They sent off a hypoglycaemic screen to see it he has a metabolic disorder which caused the hypo.  I’m hoping it was just because he’s been ill so much recently and his body had had enough.  We’re still waiting for the results to come back.

Actually, Feb wasn’t all bad.  I finished work on the 22nd so am now unemployed/a SAHM; woo woo!  Everyone in our household is so much happier as a result.  Such a relief.  Now I get to spend all day, every day with my favourite little man.  Cue a million trips to the park as soon as the weather’s dry enough…

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Theo also got his first proper shoes!  He wasn’t impressed.

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I’ve been putting it off because they’re so expensive and I’ve read that it’s best for toddlers to be as close to bare foot as possible until they are confidently walking inside and outside.  Whilst theo is most definitely walking/running, he’s still safer in the pram when we’re out and about.  I eventually relented because I cannot find any “normal” baby shoes to fit his large, fat feet.  So cute.

In hindsight, the end of February was pretty great.

The GBB Week 1 Recap

Good morning!

Now we’re in to week 2 I figured (pun intended) I should give a recap on how the first week of food budgeting went.

Join the Great British Budget Challenge

We succeeded in sticking within our set budget!

However,

- we didn’t eat particularly well.  This was partly due to my night shifts, and partly due to us going away for the weekend so I didn’t want to buy loads of fresh produce that would go to waste.

- Tom’s mum brought a beef stew over which covered two days worth of dinners.

- Tom bought lunch out once in the week (as well as his weekly bacon buttie) and I treated myself to a coffee and cake post-hideous night shift.

- I did buy a few extras that were definitely not a necessity.

- we were away this weekend gone so some recreation money was spent on food.

Taking these factors into account, I think we’re going to aim to stick to out already planned budget; whilst making a few minor adjustments in order to eat relatively well/better than last week.  Such as,

- we’re no longer buying fruit and veg from Abel & Cole.  Sad times.  But when I directly compared what we buy with them with getting the same (albeit not locally sourced/organic) from a local supermarket, I spent half the amount at the supermarket.

- we need to be stricter with the odd coffee and unnecessary purchases.

I think one of my biggest problems is sticking to a meal plan.  I’m not very good at eating what we planned rather than eating what I feel like on the day.  We’ll see how this week goes, and whether I can build some flexibility into the meal planning…

Food Budgeting Tip #1 Bread

Ok, so I’m writing this post with a HUGE caveat. You either need a bit of spare time on your hands, or you need to make an initial outlay of money.

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Tip #1 Make your own bread

This one’s easy for me to say because a while back we bought a bread-making machine. We love bread in our house.  It’s, without a doubt, a daily staple. Tom loves is, Theo loves it, I love it.  But it can be expensive.

By making your own bread you can spend less than 30p a loaf! I think that’s pretty amazing. And it tastes so much better.

Here’s one of my most-used recipes.

Malted Mix Bread (for a bread machine)

1/2 tsp yeast
150g strong white flour
250g malted grain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
280ml water

Put the yeast into the bread machine, followed by the flours.  Then add all the other ingredients and hit start.  This makes a medium loaf using the wholewheat setting.  Foolproof.

The GBB, Day One

 Join the Great British Budget Challenge

Budgeting sucks.

It’s been on my mind a lot since signing up to The Great British Budget.  Case in point…

Last night Tom and I lamented about how we’ll have to go tea-total (probably better for our livers).

I lay awake this morning, after Theo had woken us up at 04:30, worrying about whether our weekly food budget is realistic. I had thought it was; when focusing my attention on our dinners.  But what about lunches, Tom’s weekly cafe-bought bacon sandwich (non-negotiable apparently), the odd costa coffee etc. I made a new plan.  Week One is going to be about seeing how little we can spend on groceries whilst hopefully remaining within the initially planned budget.  Week Two onwards will be about evaluating Week One’s spending and then sticking to or setting a new budget.

A simple Sainsbury’s shopping trip (we don’t buy our main groceries here, I hasten to add) this morning was quite the eyeopener.  Not only did it make me realise how much easier and quicker it is to shop on a limited budget, and to go in and buy ONLY what you’re looking for.  It made me realise, embarrassingly, that I can be a bit of a food snob.  How ridiculous is that?!  We were shopping in Sainsbury’s, for goodness sake.

GBB day 1

Purchasing these items made me nervous(!).  Is it possible for cheap coffee to taste any good?  Won’t non-organic bread flour irritate the stomach?  As soon as there was even a hint of my concerns, Tom quickly reminded me how we are now a one-income household.  And my worries faded quicker than when appeared.  My taking a career break from nursing, hence no second income, was one of our parenting choices.  So budgeting for food suddenly became as simple as that; a necessary byproduct of how we choose to parent.

Day one’s dilemma solved.  We’ll see what follows.

The Great British Budget; food-style

To kick off my return to blogging I thought I’d embark on a challenge (as if motherhood isn’t enough of one).

Join the Great British Budget Challenge

Since having Theo our household income has dropped dramatically so it’s time for me to be a proper grown up and start budgeting.    And what better way to gain motivation and budgeting tips than by joining a collective.  Thus, for the grand month of February I will be participating in…

Great British Budget Feb Photo Challenge

To be honest, Tom and I aren’t big on spending money.  I find shopping, for anything other than food, stressful and I’m not particularly fashion conscious.  I may update my wardrobe once or twice a year just by buying a new pair of shoes or jeans.  Ever wondered why there are never many photos of me on here; that’s your answer.  Anyway, I digress.  Despite liking to hang onto our pounds, we can be a little frivolous when it comes to food.  I guess because Tom and I love food then it’s the one area where we agree to relax the money on (does that make sense?).  But now I have three mouths to feed and less money with which to do so, I need to start being more careful.  So my plan is:

- to keep to a weekly food budget,
- make Tom packed lunches,
- have (and stick to) a weekly meal plan.

Anyone fancy joining me?  Let’s face it, January is the worst month.  We’re skint from christmas, the weather’s miserable, we’ve lost faith due to our failed resolutions.  February’s a chance to start again.  So why not feel empowered by setting a budget and sticking to it?  Ok, so that’s my hard sell.  If I was in doubt about participating before, I’m not now!