December 31, 2012


I can not believe it's NYE! Tomorrow will be 2013, and i'm not ready!! I'm still in my Christmas state of mind and the thought that in two days, normal paced life begins again is really freaking me out! I haven't made a single resolution, so i need to get my thinking cap on with that, and then there's the food to prep for tonight, and the fizz to be popped open - it's going to be a busy but excitable afternoon rounded off with a family game of Monopoly as Dexter got the Bath edition from Santa this year!
So I leave you with some snaps from our quiet little Christmas. I hope you all have a lovely time this evening & i'll see you on the other side...


 We sprinkled our Reindeer dust...
and we left some treats for Santa...
India had no idea what this was for!
 Wow! Look! He came!
The last of the presents...
 Lego, puzzles and Moshi Monsters were the order of this Christmas
I laid the table in silvers & pinks
The joke master
Boxing day supper...
 Elvis, Charlie & Dame Edna!
We visited my in-laws on the south coast
Dexy & Flo got to try out their new metal detectors.
And Indi collected pebbles.
And although it was cold & windy, the sun shone bright. Bliss!

December 21, 2012


See you in between Christmas & NY - have a good one :)

Love & Kisses, Lia x

OH! NO! WAIT - i just found this via Shutterbean & I haven't laughed so hard for AGES, so this this Hipster Thanksgiving is for you. Merry Christmas (and you're welcome ;)

December 15, 2012


So, this is what I'm doing for the new year, I'm going vegan. At least for a month, at first to see how I go. I've been toying with the idea for ages - just over a year in fact (errr, a YEAR? Who takes a year to make a decision?! ha!) It's a bit of a boring story if you're not me, but something I wanted to write down anyway, and maybe help other people in my situation. That situation is nothing major or particularly serious, but it can sometimes be a pretty big pain in the ass side.
14 months ago, i was diagnosed with Gallbladder disease (more commonly known as gallstones) & after my third hellish attack (worst than labour, waaaay worst than labour - I'm really not exaggerating) which ended up with another midnight dash to A&E where I was zonked out on morphine for 6 hours & totally away with the fairies for another 18, I decided that enough was enough & i simply could not go through that pain again. Ever. I got myself on the waiting list for surgery, and decided that in the meantime I would have to go mega strict on my diet. Fat is the thing that aggravates the gallbladder, so i needed to have hardly any in my diet. I cut out meat (except poultry) and all dairy. I also steered clear of anything fried, or pretty much anything with more than 5g of fat per portion in. This was a big deal for me and it was also a real eye opener, and if I'm being brutally honest, at first it was horrific. I hadn't researched anything properly & was surviving on chicken salads, diet coke and coffee (oh no wait, and wine!!). I was getting miserable, ratty, tearful & above all else i was pretty pissed off that I was in this situation in the first place. i don't know who i was pissed off with, i just was! I didn't want to be eating the same dull chicken based meals day in day out - i was BORED and i was slowly going out of my mind. Christmas that year was pretty rubbish in terms of food. After being pregnant the previous year I was so looking forward to stuffing myself full of stinky cheeses, smoked salmon, roast pots, christmas puddings, mince pies, chocolate, pringles! But instead i found myself tucking into some dry turkey with some sprouts and some onion gravy. Merry f-ing Christmas...
When I found out in January that the surgery waiting list was 18+ weeks, I cried on the phone to the woman. Yep, I was that girl. It was then that I knew I had to change the way i was eating. I could not go on having chicken salad constantly with the old jacket potato & beans thrown in for good measure. So, i started experimenting with loads of different veggie food whilst still keeping the amount of non-animal fats very low, and obviously leaving any cheese off of my portions. I found it liberating and actually, something inside me 'clicked'. I had found a heightened passion for food, and all of a sudden I didn't feel like I was being punished. My cooking had become more creative and imaginative, and I started to look forward to the evenings when I could let go in my kitchen. Getting excited about recipes was something that hadn't really happened to me before. I mean i liked cooking, but not in the same way i do these days. I instantly felt happier, i had more energy and as an added bonus I lost 35lb of baby weight that had been sitting around for 6 years ;) Whoop!
It was around March of this year ('12) that i started taking pics of the recipes for the blog - mainly as a way for me to have them all to hand. I wanted to know that i had a place where I could go to, where the recipes had been tried & tested by me, and they wouldn't bring on an attack. I had searched everywhere for websites or books that had recipes for people living with gallbladder disease and although i found a lot of good low-fat sites, there was still quite a lot of dairy going on in most of the recipes. So, i thought I'd just get on with it myself and as i already had this blog which rarely got any attention from me, it seemed the perfect place.
Over this past year it has become more apparent that the diet that seemed to most suit me and my needs was similar to that of a vegan one. After following Drea's blog for quite some time, I came to realise that veganism looks like a pretty appealing way of life. As well as huge health & environmental benefits, I'm also really looking forward to the challenge of finding and trying new recipes. I've lived 'attack' free now for  over 10 months because of the food choices I've made and with that in mind and some other quite important factors i needed to consider (plus a well informed chat with my GP) I've decided to come off of the waiting list. I'm keeping my gallbladder where it is, stones and all. I want to carry on the way I'm going, just with a few minor adjustments, hence ending up here - going vegan.
Of course we shall see what January brings but for now i know I'm really, really looking forward to it :)

December 14, 2012

FRIDAY I'M IN LOVE: 14.12.12

1. Christmas: the only time you are encouraged to drink butter.
2. This cushion would fit so well in my lounge, aaah I love it! 
3. If someone suggests Mojitos for breakfast, I worry. But not this time...
4. Feel free to buy this for me for Christmas. You don't even need to wrap it, i'll just take it like that.
5. I like our Christmas trees to be simple so I absolutely adore these versions.
6. I am smitten with this house! The rug in the pink room is amazing...
7. When I own my own cafe, I'm hanging these near every table.
8. Check out these cool little stocking fillers!
9. Have you started wrapping yet? Look at lovely free printables from Cake!
10. Well, yes...

Happy Weekend! Have yourselves a merry little good one...


December 11, 2012


It was Dexter's turn to add the fairy this year...
Flo takes dressing the kiddos pink tree very seriously!
I felt like I worked for Rymans.
I made a good start on the wrapping one night. Then I opened the mulled wine...
The annual trek around some wooden sheds (which mainly sell wooden things).
It was FREEZING, but nothing some warm drinks & food couldn't cure...

December 08, 2012


I'd be stoked if I found some of these under the tree this year. This is my current top five of books i'm pretty desperate to own!

December 07, 2012

FRIDAY I'M IN LOVE: 07.12.12

1. Looking for a Christmas cocktail? These Cranberry Rosemary Spritzers are perfect!
2. Oh y'know, just another amazing house tour!
3. I've bookmarked this party bag post by Alexis for Flo's 6th birthday next year. Brilliant!
4. I did a little etsy shopping this week - first stop this tea towel from Fritha's shop Moonbeatle. LOVE!
5. I'm getting India this book for Chrimblio. OK, ok, it's for me really...
6. Do you have a newborn? You need this! Hell, I need that! Can i borrow your baby?
7. I want this from Story North but in hot pink or neon yellow for my dining room. *sigh*
8. If i wear this perfect-for-me-jumper when we're talking, don't take it personally as i'm probably not.
9. This week I discovered Coffeeklatch. So many interesting stories, and beautiful photography...
10. Real talk.

Happy Weekend! Go Get Festive! xx

December 06, 2012


I ask you this: is there anything more comforting than a pie? No is the answer you're looking for, especially when it's -2 outside and you're so cold that your fingers are about to fall off.
However comforting pies may be, I'll admit it took me a little while to actually come around to the idea. I've never been a meat & two veg type of girl & I'm not overly crazy about roast dinners or anything really that involves gravy. Team that with the fact that I ditched all meat (except poultry) over a year ago and the fact that I'm not really very keen on pastry and you'll see why pies were never on my go-to list.
But then Bill Granger's chickpea, tomato & spinach cottage pie caught my eye & my mind was changed forever. This dish blew my socks off & even if i did think the idea of chickpeas in a pie was a bit odd, I listened to the voice of reason (that would be Bill) & I just got on with it - thank god for that!
So from now on I'm shouting HURRAH for chickpeas in a pie, HURRAH for the richest tomato sauce ever & HURRAH for the most amazing cheese & herb crust.

Well, what are you waiting for?

December 02, 2012


So, meal panning. 
Boring right? Um, maybe... just a little...
Essential for saving time, money, your sanity & your belly? You betcha!
I always meal plan, it's how I keep a check on not dishing up the same old meals week in, week out. It's also how I make sure I have every ingredient for when I'm trying out a new recipe, or new version of an old one. This past week I made a veggie cottage pie & needed some ras el hanout (eh? what's that?) & there was no way on earth that i would have remembered that funky little name if hadn't noted it down. It still took for forever to find it mind...
Anyway, I'm digressing (me? never...). The bottom line is I meal plan, and this is how i do it...

(Before I begin, I'd like to dedicate this post to my friend Kelly. This is the girl who scoffed at my meal planning ventures with my fancy-pant print outs & my special colour co-ordinated pens. I found this a little strange as she knows I'm a stationary geek (i heart pens & paper so much that aged 15 I did her entire Home Economics project for her) and she also knows how I like a certain air of organisation (I would regularly tidy HER room as a teenager. Well, she was too busy applying clean & clear to her chin to notice the 5ft piles of random crap building up around her...). 
So Kelly, this post is, like, SO for you and it is totes amaze. Dang!)

Here we go!
First up: get your template. You can scribble your own if you can be bothered, but i always use this one because I'm lazy. There are literally loads out there if you google them. I also keep a notebook handy to scribble ideas down too. 
Look, I've labelled up a picture there of stage one for you. I'm nice like that. I mean, did you know what a pen was before I labelled it up?
Next: get inspired! One of the benefits of meal planning is that you rarely find yourself in a food rut which means everyone gets to try new things regularly. If you're more organised than me, you'd keep previous meal planners so you get even more variation.
I grab the recipe books I'm loving that week & i find the Internet recipes I've bookmarked. Then i mix it up with a few staples too, like our (pretty much) weekly Taco night! Mmmmm, tacos.....
Then I sort my categories. Because the older kiddos are at school for 5 out of 7 lunch times, and India  & I generally have a sandwich or left overs at lunch, I plan our evening meals & weekend meals only. For example my categories are:

Kids dinners: mon, tue, wed, thur, fri
Adults dinners: mon, tue, wed, thur, fri 
Saturday lunch & dinner
Sunday lunch & dinner

Three nights out of the week the kiddos eat separate to us so I plan theirs first, then ours. Then I plan the nights and weekends where we all eat together. I make notes on top of the planner such as which books the recipes are in (with page numbers) or what website i found it on.
Remember to schedule things like parties / play dates / meals out etc too and don't forget to include all the other essentials such as fruit bowl items/kids snacks/any cleaning products you're running low on etc etc...

Once you're all planned up, write out the list you want to take shopping with you. You don't have to do this obviously, but I do because I know the layout of the supermarkets I use most often & I can plan the list that way too so I don't spend forever in there! I need to not spend my whole afternoon in a supermarket...

So, that's it! My quick-fire meal planning is in the bag.

Enjoy! x