Friday, 29 March 2013

I'm 40 and I'm Proud

Baby Me

Wow where did the last 40 years go...... some of it I can remember some of it I can't but all in all I'm very pleased with it all. In the last 40 years I've found some amazing friends & I have an amazing family, I've been able to travel, I've lived in the UK, Australia and America, I've backpacked around Australia, climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, got married in the beautiful Hunter Valley, had my babies, my two beautiful girls and then there is everything in between- I got to do a lot of amazing things really.

How Birthday's were celebrated - homemade cake & friends - that's me on the right

My Bestfriends

My gorgeous mum & I before the biggest event of my life

Yesterday was my 40th, I've had many a birthday where I've partied hard, but this one, yes my 40th, was one I was looking forward too, no hard core partying for me, just celebrating with the family and it was great.

Mr C & the girls surprised me with Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in bed, yummy, I then got told to say in bed so I opened my lovely cards and then I got treated to breakfast in bed - wow.

Then it was time to open my presents except I had to go on a treasure hunt to find them, with Ruby reading the clues and Tilly leading the way and my dad and Mr C holding up the rear, I managed to find all my presents and I was so pleased with them all.

- a new pair of posh running shoes from my dad who was over for my 40th
- a winter coat from my mum (although technically this was a very early present as I've been wearing it for the last 2 months)
- a clothes shop gift voucher and a book from my girlies
- a Namaste Zuma bag (for my knitting) and ravioli set from my parents (in law)
- a gorgeous handbag in my favorite colour and fab tea towel from my lovely friend Lesley
- flowers and a balloon from the lovely Freeman's in Sydney - thank you so much my gorgeous Mel
- some lovely kitchenware from my friend Anna and the family
- a spa gift voucher to a top spa here in Chicago from my Sister & brother in law - I can honestly not wait to use this
- and finally a brand new overlooker/serger from Mr C it was just what I wanted

With presents done, I left the clan to go and have some me time at the nail salon, then it was time for my afternoon birthday treat. I have always wanted to go and have afternoon tea at a lovely establishment, it must be the English in me, I wanted to do it in Sydney but never got round to it

So I was very pleased to find out we were going to the Historic Drake Hotel in Chicago for Afternoon Tea - and it was wonderful, everything I expected it to be and more, we enjoyed delightful sandwiches, fruit bread & scones, French pastries and more, along with pots of tea - I choose an Orange Dulce - a brew teeming with notes of bergamot, orange, vanilla and jasmine blossoms - could a tea sound any nicer.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, with my dad and Mr C - Tilly and Ruby loved their "tea" chocolate milk straight out of a tea pot

Tilly practicing her Afternoon Tea skills

We couldn't wait for the food to come out, as in the menu it all sounded delicious.

Enjoying a tea - in a very British way
Where do I start first........

The sandwiches were yummy, as too were the banana bread and scones -with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam what more could a girl ask for - except a top plate of little french pastries - it was an afternoon delight.

We all tucked in and enjoyed the afternoon immensely - except for poor Ruby who at this point had started to feel unwell.

The night before, as technically it was my birthday in Australia, we did the cake - Mr C had made me a red velvet birthday cake with a little help from the girls

And it was truly delicious - look at all that red loveliness.

This girl knows how to party -well use too

The other best thing about the day was all the lovely birthday wishes I received on facebook - I truly felt the love. 

Happy 40th to me.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Mint Choc Chip Cookie Ice Cream

Mr C bought me for Christmas, the freezer bowl attachment for my KitchenAid to make homemade ice cream, I was extremely pleased with it, but because, I then started weight watchers, I have not made any ice cream in it yet - not even a test run.

So last Friday I thought I would rectify that and make the girls their favorite ice cream - Mint Choc Chip so a quick scout around on the net I found these great ice cream recipes from the Brown Eyed Baker and immediately got to work on the Mint Choc Chip recipe.

Mint Choc Chip Cookie Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1½ cups whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons mint extract
3 drops green food coloring (optional)
½ cup chocolate chips
Special Ingredient - Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies broken up.

1. Warm 1 cup of the heavy cream, whole milk, granulated sugar and pinch of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.
2. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
4. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (if using a thermometer, it should be right around 170 degrees F).
6. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream.
7. Add the vanilla and mint extracts and the food coloring (if using), and stir until cool over an ice bath.
8. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (preferably overnight).
9. Churn according to your ice cream maker's directions, adding the chocolate chips and thin mint cookies during the last 5 minutes of churning.

Custard Mixture Made up and Chilled

When making ice cream you are technically making a custard base that needs to be chilled thoroughly (I chilled mine overnight) then churned into ice cream.

Custard Mixture starting to churn
Mixture increases in volume as it churns

It's always important to read your ice cream makers instructions, with the KitchenAid freezer bowl, once assembled onto your stand, you must start the paddle churning before you add your custard mixture

Thin Mint Cookies and Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

During the last 5 mins of churning time, I added the chocolate chips and thin mint cookies to the ice cream.

Yummy Ice cream

Once churned the ice cream is ready to eat - it'll be a soft serve consistency, so if you want it firmer, transfer to a shallow airtight bowl and freeze for a further 4-6 hours. Will keep for one month in your freezer although I do not expect homemade ice cream to last nearly that long in our house.

And the proof is in the pudding, as that evening the girls got to enjoy the ice cream which was announced as the "best ever ice cream". I love Tilly's grin.

Next time I'm going to make a raspberry and white chocolate ice cream - one of my favorite flavors and I'll be make a slightly healthier version too.

Recipe Source - very slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Saturday, 16 March 2013

WW Week 10

Week 10 weight GAIN + 0.4kgs/0.88lbs

Arghhhhh so I have recorded my first weight gain in the WW journey, I am only surprised it wasn't more, you see my dear dear Grandad died this week, I got the news on Sunday he had passed - a very sad time for us all and I can't even be with my family in the UK - well not yet anyway.

Luckily my Dad arrived on Tuesday, and after chatting to him, it was decided I was going to fly home with him and attend the funeral, luckily my mum was able to delay the funeral, so I can attend. I am very close to my Grandad, so close he gave me away at my wedding.

So because of this news, my WW plan went slightly astray this week, it didn't help that my dad brought me over some Cadbury's Mini Eggs that were quickly devoured by moi and on top of that we've enjoyed several more glasses of red, than I normally would.

I've not been at all motivated this week, forgetting to use my points tracker, not exercising. I didn't even get on the treadmill until yesterday, my first time on it in a week and boy did I notice it.

I'm not going to be tough on myself or feel guilty for the gain, it happened and that's it, next week is another week.

As the week has gone on, and knowing my Grandad is in the best place, he was poorly and more or less housebound so his passing is a blessing, I've started to feel better and ready to get back on the WW wagon and aim for a good 1kg/2.2lbs weight loss this next week.

Favorite Meal - Chorizo & Butter Bean Stew - 10 Points

Favorite Snack - Has to be the Mini Eggs - 6 points per 1/4 bag - I did manage to eat the whole bag over 3 days though oopsie.

Monday, 11 March 2013

WW Week 9

Week 9 - Weight Loss - 0.2kg/0.44lbs

Ok so here it comes my rant and the only thing I hate about WW - the plateau stage and yep I've hit it big time with only a 0.2kg lost this week and what I hate about it the most is that - I've exercised, I've eaten right, I've been eating my daily allowance every day with limited treats, and all I get is a 0.2kg loss - I could cry but a loss is a loss, it could be worse it could have been a gain. Argghhh the frustration.

But on a better note - I've tried several new recipes this week - we've had Skinny Chicken Cordon Bleu & Garlic Shrimp from Skinnytaste both were delicious, I am so glad I found her site, her meals are fresh, healthy and she points them up too bonus.

I also smartly converted a favorite recipe of ours Chicken Tortilla into a more healthier version too, by using less chicken and lower point tortillas (1 point per tortilla as compared to 3-4 for the usual ones), I could have got it lower too if I'd used reduced fat cheese too, but I didn't and although it was a hugely delicious meal it still came in at 14 points per serve a definite treat saving up for.

The training on the Couch To 5K, took a little back burner this week, so I'm going to start the week again today, I'm still deciding whether to enter this Bunny Rock 5k run as my first 5K run as a 40 year it is just after my birthday.

Favorite Meal - Chicken Cordon Bleu - points 4 per roll, scrumptiously delicious

Favorite Snack - light mini baby bel - 1 point each and satisfies my cheese tooth - most days

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I Can't Believe It But I Won.....

...... a $600 Visa Card by entering a competition on Facebook and I am so excited, shocked and in disbelief I actually won.

On Sunday night, a page I like called The Idea Room posted this competition, so I entered why not I thought, you've got to be in it to win it, but the weird thing is as I entered it, I had a feeling, a feeling I would win it, but then I think that every time I enter a competition.

So last night, whilst supervising bath time, I was checking emails for the first time that day, as it was a no school day here and we'd been out all day at the Aquarium and Field Museum, it was the first time I'd had a chance to look and to my utter surprise, shock and disbelief I had received an email saying I had won it, NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My victory lap around the bathroom, whilst screaming I had won made the girls jump, but I was so excited, and it took me awhile to compose myself enough to reply to the email that had been sent at 10am that day, I'd gone 9 hours not realizing I was $600 richer.

And the best thing is it couldn't come at a better time, with my big 40th Birthday coming up this month, I've started running, and with my weight loss - I can well and truly treat myself.

So what am I going to spend it on hmmmmmm let me think about that - well I'd like some running shoes, new clothes, an overlooker/serger, make up, facial & massage, haircut, more yarn, more fabric - the list is endless and unfortunately $600 might not quite get me everything I wish for - good job there is my 40th coming up for that, but it will certainly buy me a few nice things and a treat for Mr C & the girls with it too.

Permission from The Idea Room for use of the Image.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

WW Week 8

Week 8 - Weight Loss - 0.3kg/0.66lbs

Oh what a week this has been, it started last Saturday when I weighed in with a 0.8 loss, great I thought, as we were having friends over, I could relax off WW for the night and enjoy the food and company and boy did I - a little too much......

I dare not get on the scales on Sunday to see what the damage had been but by Monday I knew I had to check, just to see and I'm glad I did, I was back up by 0.8kg oooops

So I have spent all this week being super good and exercising to stand any chance of getting back to 66.6kg or below - I knew it was going to be a disappointment for me to work so hard all week only to break even but then again, I was the one who indulged slightly too much, and it just goes to show how one day off the points can effect the weight loss.

So with that being said I am pleased with my loss, it is better than I thought it would be and I'm so pleased I wasn't reporting a gain - I would have been devastated.

I'm going to aim big this week and try for a 1.3kg/2.86lbs loss, but as long as I'm under 65kg I'll be happy.

The couch to 5k was a toughy this week, first session was brisk 5 min walk warm up followed by run for 5 mins, walk for 3, run for 5, walk for 3, run for 5 then the next session was, after warm up, run for 8 mins, walk for 5 and run for 8, last session run for 20 mins argghhhh, but I am pleased to say I did it - I ran for 20 minutes and it was so good, the last 3 minutes where the hardest though, I could feel a stitch coming on, but I felt so good and proud of myself that I had managed it.

Favorite Meal - Lamb Biryani (10 points) with a mint yoghurt dollop (1 point) - my absolute favorite meal ever and a nice glass of red to go with it (5 points) delicious

Favorite Snack - 2 small homemade oatmeal and raisin cookies (3 points each) - no chocolate this week