Crochet, babies and broodiness...

I have been thoroughly enjoying my summer off uni so far and I don't want it to end. We've been camping three times and have lots planned for the summer holidays, like friends visiting and a holiday to sunny Dawlish in Devon.

Being free from essays and reading has unlocked time in my evenings and weekends to crochet and I have been loving it!I didn't realise how much I had missed sitting down and making something - of course I did do this when I was studying but I always felt really guilty about not doing my work! It's given me the opportunity to try my hand at baby clothes for the first time and they're so quick to make and of course so cute I can't seem to stop. I have decided to set up a little Etsy shop to list the stuff I'm not going to give away as gifts. It's called MOOSE of Margate, come and give me a wave :-)

I think my crochet frenzy was sparked by the news that Nick's sister was expecting a baby. He was born last week and is very cute! We are meeting him this weekend and I have made this little baby grow for him...


It's so soft and cuddly, I hope they like it! I can't wait to see him and give him a cuddle. Everyone seems to be having babies at the moment, I think it's that time of year. The whole thing has made us both quite broody!

My best friend has asked me to crochet a hooded cardigan for her friend's baby so I ordered some Stylecraft Aran this evening. I am looking forward to trying out Stylecraft yarn as it's so popular and a bit cheaper than the WI yarn I've been buying from hobbycraft. Fingers crossed I can get it done by the end of the month as she is leaving to see her on the 3rd August!

I also bought a little yarn winder this week and have had lots of fun winding my untidy skeins into beautifully neat little yarn cakes of joy...


Aaaanyway I just thought I would keep you updated as my hands are hardly free to type with all this crocheting! I hope you're all enjoying the warmer weather and have lots of fun stuff coming up through the summer.

Until next time,
Amy xx


Sutton Vale Country Park

We stayed at Sutton Vale Country Park for one night this weekend, to test out our camping gear before our week in Dawlish in the summer holidays. 


It did feel a bit strange packing the whole car up to camp 17 miles away from home, but living in the Garden of England means the scenery of the countryside and the fun of the seaside is always on our doorstep. 

It was also our first camping trip as almost-vegans. This wasn't a big deal of course, but the smell of bacon sandwiches made on a tiny stove on the grass the morning after a slightly damp night in a tent is how I remember so many of my childhood holidays. So to make it special for us, I bottled up some vegan pancake mix and enjoyed those for breakfast. I'm hoping we've started our own family camping tradition!


The camping field was surrounded by countryside with lovely views. There was a road behind the field so you could occasionally hear passing traffic but it wasn't very busy and we hardly heard it.


The pitches were well spaced and there was plenty of room for the children to run around and play. We were allocated pitch no. 31 which was in the middle of the field. At first I was a bit disappointed as I liked the sheltered feel of field-edge pitches that back on to hedges, but actually being in the middle meant we had lots of space all around the tent and we were able to park next to our pitch which was very handy. 

Archie had loads of space to fly his kite!




There were lots of other families staying in the same field as us and most pitches were occupied, but it didn't feel crowded at all. Archie made friends with some other boys and played football with them. He asked me to go over with him to ask to play which was really sweet, it's not often it feels like he needs me anymore! 

The ladies' loo block was a bit dated but very clean (I was impressed!) and perfectly usable. Nice hot water, hand soap and paper towels. Nick said the men's could have been a bit cleaner, and there was some water puddling on the floor. 

Whilst Wales v. Northern Ireland was on I took Archie for a swim in the Park's indoor heated pool. It was a little shabbier than I was expecting from the pictures on the website - think a big farm shed with corrugated plastic roofing - and the inside of the pool probably could have done with a lick of paint as the chipped blue it was painted gave the water a slightly green tinge. It definitely wasn't as 'polished' as it looks on the website, but it was still a massive bonus to have a warm swim on a rainy day at a UK campsite! And there were changing cubicles, lockers and hot showers at the poolside. Fine for a splash around!

In the evening (and during the huge downpours throughout Saturday!) we played Charades for Kids which was hilarious (particularly Archie trying to make himself look like a chair!!) and Archie and I read six chapters of Mr Stink by David Walliams. 

The sun did come out sometimes! 
To top things off, the staff were very friendly and the permanent residents of the site were also friendly and welcoming - they chatted to Archie whilst we waited to be checked in. The drinks were reasonably priced, too and Archie was very happy to spend 50p of his pocket money on a bag of sweets at the bar!

All together we loved Sutton Vale and think it's great value. We'd recommend it for families and despite it being really close to home (so not much reason to go back) we probably will head there again if we fancy a camping trip without having to travel for hours!



KM Colour Run 2016



I ran my first 5k a couple of weeks ago in the KM Colour Run at Betteshanger Country Park. It was so much fun and I am very proud to have raised money for such a worthy cause. I also managed to complete the whole 5k without walking, which was the first time I'd ever done that!

I was a bit nervous about running it on my own as I have only done two parkruns before and both times I ran with Nick by my side. I must admit this was easier though, I think perhaps I went entirely at my own pace rather than trying to run a little bit faster so as not to hold Nick up. And no shin splints or stitch whatsoever!

Everyone was so excited to be there, the atmosphere was great and at 1k intervals around the route there were colour stations manned by kids who were more than happy to chuck yet more powdered paint in your face! I had several mouthfuls!!

I paid £15 to enter and I received a KM Colour Run t-shirt, a pair of sunglasses and a packet of powder paint to throw. I really wanted to wear my EKM t-shirt though and I am glad I did because I felt like I stood out from the crowd a little bit.

It has both spurred me on and made me that little bit more scared of the 10k I have booked in September at the QE Olympic Park.

If you're thinking of signing up I'd say absolutely go for it. It was fun and very do-able. I didn't even complete my Couch to 5k programme and I managed it just fine! If I can, you can!

Here are a few pics from the day...




Archie getting his moneys worth of throwing paint over me! 


My first medal!

SW Best Bits #1

Being new to Slimming World - especially as an almost-vegan - has been a bit daunting for me. I've found most dairy free options are synned and I learned that the hard way this week when I used 12.5 syns on 3.5 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise! (But if it's any consolation, Tesco vegan salad cream is only 1.5 syns per tablespoon...)

So in this series I'd like to share the low-syn or free vegan foods that I've discovered and loved. I hope they're helpful, and I'd love to hear about your finds too!


Alpro Go On Passion fruit yoghurt - 1.5 syns of pure heaven. A thick fromage frais style yoghurt on top of a delicious passion fruit compote. Can't quite believe they're only 1.5 syns!



Spicy Lentil Soup from the Slimming World website. It's syn-free, filling and delicious. We had it for lunch and Nick loved it too. Apparently you can buy it ready made at Iceland? But it was so quick to make, and I assume cheaper too! I skipped the sweetner as I didn't think it needed it.

Alpro almond dark chocolate milk - 250 ml can be used as your Healthy Extra A. Bargain. I prefer yoghurt for breakfast so most of this week I've gone without my hex a. But now I've stocked up on this I will be able to meet my duties!!




My veggie 'chicken' and pea risotto - hearty and filling and one of my fave dinners ever. Recipe here.


Just Wholefoods jelly crystals are made up with boiling water to 1 pint of jelly which is 14 syns for the lot. I served up a quarter of a pint (3.5 syns) with 2 tablespoons of Alpro soya single cream (2 syns) and some fresh strawberries or raspberries. 5.5 syns for a satisfyingly sweet and cruelty free pudding! They're available in Holland and Barrett.

I hope you've enjoyed my best bits for the week, I certainly did! Until next time...

Amy xx

Vegan Slimming World 'Chicken' and Pea Risotto



Before I was vegan, this was my favourite Slimming World dinner, so of course I've veganised it! There are two ways to make this delicious, vegan, Slimming World-friendly risotto - the on-the-hob-stirry method, or the in-the-oven-watching-TV-whilst-it-cooks method.

SYN FREE

Ingredients

Fry Light cooking oil spray
1 large red onion, diced
2 crushed garlic cloves, or 2 tsp Lazy Garlic
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup of vegan Quorn pieces (optional)
8 oz arborio risotto rice
1 ltr vegan stock (I use this bouillon powder)

Method

1. If you are going for the oven method, preheat the oven to 200c/180 Fan/ Gas mark 6.
2. Heat a large saucepan (for the hob method) or a large lidded casserole (for the oven method) and spray with Fry Light. Add the onion and cook until softened, approx. 5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes.
3. Add the peas, Quorn pieces and risotto rice and mix well with the onions and garlic. Allow to saute for a minute or two.

For the HOB
4. Gradually add the stock, stirring until each addition is absorbed by the risotto rice. Reduce the heat and allow to gently simmer whilst stirring until the rice is tender and the risotto is lovely and creamy. This should take about 15 minutes or so. Serve immediately.

For the OVEN
4. Pour in all the stock and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stir again and cover the casserole with its lid. Place on a baking tray in the middle of the oven and allow to cook for approx. 20 minutes until the rice is tender and the risotto is lovely and creamy. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

Amy xx