Festive Mince Beef Cobbler with Gingerbread Men Cobbles!

The small details of Christmas are entering our house everyday, i just love the run up to Christmas and having small children gives me any excuse to get festive in our household. So when i decided to make a minced beef cobbler this week, i knew i was going to get creative with the cobbles. Instead of scone shape cobbles i went for gingerbread men shaped cobbles instead. There… it now becomes a festive mince beef cobbler!!

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Festive Mince Beef Cobbler with Gingerbread Men Cobbles

For the beef filling;

  • 500g Minced Steak Beef
  • 1 large White Onion, chopped
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of Frozen or Fresh Peas
  • 1 Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1 tin of Chopped Plum Tomatoes
  • 300ml Beef Stock
  • 1 tbsp of Wholegrain Mustard (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of Flour
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
  1. sauté the onion in a little vegetable oil until they become translucent.
  2. add the mince beef and sauté until browned.
  3. Add the carrot, sweet red pepper and crumble on the stock cube.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, wholegrain mustard and flour to thicken.
  5. Add as much of the 300ml water for the stock as required. I prefer my sauce quite rich and thick so didn’t add the whole amount.
  6. Season to taste and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

For the cobbles;

  • 225g / 8oz Self-Raising Flour
  • 50g / 2oz Unsalted Butter or Margarine
  • 100g / 4oz Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • A handful of dried parsley (optional)
  • 7-8 tablespoons of Milk
  1. Sieve your flour into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Add dried parsley if using, a pinch of salt and a couple of twists of ground pepper.
  3. Cut up your butter into small pieces, place it in the bowl with your flour and then to incorporate them both together rub the butter and flour between your fingertips, continue doing this until all the large pieces of butter have disappeared.
  4. Add the grated Cheddar Cheese and give it a quick stir.
  5. Finally add half of your milk and using a normal household knife mix it in to the breadcrumbs and cheese.
  6. Slowly add a little bit more milk and using your hand squish the dough until it comes together. You may or may not need more milk, it all depends on the flour that you’re using. The dough needs to come together without being too sticky. It shouldn’t be overworked either.

Once dough is ready, rolled out onto a floured surface until about 2.5cm thick. Use a shape cutter to make the cobbles (obviously i used a gingerbread men shape for this recipe).

  1. pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6
  2. Poor the beef filling into an ovenproof dish and then start laying on the cobbles. They should slightly overlap.
  3. Brush the cobbles with some milk and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until browned.

You can vary this recipe up by adding different vegetables into the filling and of course the shape of the cobbles can be changed making the meal more fun for the smaller people in the house. Both my boys loved the gingerbread shape men on top of their dinner. I just served the meal with some vegetables.

Such a lovely warming meal for all the family :)

My Christmas Planner 2014 Free Printables

Christmas Planner pic

I bloomin love Christmas, i love the magic, the fun, the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you walk round the shops and hear a bit of Noddy bellowing how he wishes it could be Christmas everyday, i love the first glimpse of a Christmas advert and know i can legitimately watch a Christmas movie once i have seen the Coca Cola ‘Holiday’s are coming’ advert on the TV! Then there’s the mince pies, mulled wine, cheese boards… i love Christmas!

The one thing i am not so great about over Christmas is being as organised as i would like. Last year i was heavily pregnant with Fred. I had to be a lot more organised in October/November time as there was a chance Fred could arrive around Christmas time as my due date was 2nd January. This meant i was more or less done and dusted with everything by the start of December, meaning that i could just relax with Rowan and watch cheesy Christmas films on channel 5 for the rest of the month!!

I’ve decided that i want to be that organised this year and have put together a Christmas Planner. I have to admit it is nothing special but it’s functional and that is the whole point. It took me a bit of time to put it together and i thought maybe some of you may want to get organised too. So I have included the free printables to the planner below, just click on the link above the preview of each sheet and it will take you to the pdf to print out.

Hope it helps other overwhelmed parents out there at this time of year, because if you are like me, you dream of a perfect Christmas but forget how demanding these little people are and how much time they take up!!

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone (did i just say that in mid November?) this is my little present to you!

Fun Being Mum’s Christmas Planner for 2014 includes;

Christmas Planner Front Cover-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner December Calender-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Budget Sheet-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Card List-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Gift List-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Checklist (full)-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Checklist (blank)-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Activities-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Recipe Sheet-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Family Traditions-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Planner Christmas Day Menu-page-001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know what you think and if there is anything major i have missed as i can make more pages to the planner x

The Best Version of Me! What i have learnt being in Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club #2

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Just as i start to get my workout mojo momentum up, Fred decided to start not only crawling but teething at the same time! oi!

If it’s not one thing it’s another but since joining Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club i feel that i can still try and get some exercise in. Before i would push any kind of workout to the back of my mind, safely filed away in my ‘any excuse not to workout’ draw.

When you have a clingy baby all day and terrible night sleeps, it’s so easy to want to say ‘i can not be arsed!’ But can not be arsed is not going to get me to my goal, which i have decided is not a certain number on a scale or a specific clothes size (although fitting comfortably into a size 10 pair of jeans would be awesome), it’s about me being the best version of me. It’s about trying… waking up each day and making every effort to have the life i want to have instead of just wishing for it.

Since starting the project, i have been given the opportunity to focus on myself, i haven’t done that in so long… 3 years to be exact! As soon as i had Rowan, my life changed and i was no longer centre of my own universe, when Fred came along, I started to say to myself ‘Amy, who is this Amy? Do i know her?’

I wonder if a lot of Mum’s feel the same as i do, once upon a time we were women with careers, free time, gym membership and a collection of wonderful shoes and make up. And now, although feeling absolutely blessed to have children, feel like they have forgotten who they really are? I bumped into an old co-worker today and he said he hardly recognised me as i now looked so ‘Mumsy’! I was a bit taken back, but he was right. I used to take pride in my outfits that i wore for work, my hair and make up was immaculate, if i looked good i felt good. Being cabin crew obviously made me very aware of how i looked but i didn’t find it shallow, i loved the whole getting ready for work, it was like putting my ‘Amy suit’ on… today i had my hair scraped back (and i admit i should have probably washed it rather than rely on dry shampoo again), my clothes were baggy and thrown on and there were many smudges of food/snot, who knows what on my top! The boys however were dressed lovely and has clean faces and shiny hair!

So basically, what i have learnt is it is ok to focus on myself. It is ok to take time to make myself look pretty in the morning and no matter how tired i am, it’s ok to workout and be the best version of myself, even if there is washing up in the sink or a pile of ironing to do. It’s ok to put myself first now and again, i’m not only on a mission to be the best version of me, i’m on a mission to find Amy again… now time to tidy the house, get dinner on the table, soothe a teething baby, bath and put the boys to bed and then work my ass off to a half hour workout in the back room!!

Go Me!!!!

Tips for busy Mum’s who want to lose weight – What i have learnt being in Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club so far…

I am 3 weeks into Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club and things are going in the right direction from simply moving more and watching my calorie intake. I have had a couple of Mum’s on Twitter asking me for some tips so i though i would share we you, what i have shared with them. I would love it if you have other tips that work, let me know in the comments!!

Tips for busy Mum’s who want to lose weight – What i have learnt being in Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club so far…

1. Sit down and realistically work out how much time you can commit to working out, i used to think i had no time, yet i had time to sit for half an hour and watch Eastenders, 4 times a week, for example. So now, i work out during Eastenders and then watch it later on catch up as a treat!! Sounds silly but it works if you are sad enough to like Eastenders but this is just an example of course!!

2. When you have worked out how much time you can commit (even if this works out to be only 10-15 mins every other day), get on youtube and look for some exercises that have been designed for that length of time… there are 1000’s of routines on there and the bonus is they are free so if you aren’t enjoying the workout you haven’t wasted your money like you would if you buy a workout DVD – search for ’10 minute exercise routines’/’15 minute exercises’ or whatever time you can realistically commit to a workout. I have found a good workout channel on youtube called ‘BeFit‘ that i have used a few times.

3. The next thing is to invest in a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps, i actually thought i would do this easy as feel like i am on the go all day with my 2 boys but i was hardly getting 5000 under my belt!! I now run up and down the stairs when the kiddies are in bed or put on some music and march/dance around my living room until i am closer to the 10k mark before i go to bed, by doing this i have already doubled my movement!!

4. In terms of food, my problem was the way i ate. I wouldn’t eat much in the day but the flood gates opened in the evening and i would eat everything in sight, so i try to even my meals out more so i am not so ravenous in the evening. I also have halved the portion size of my meals and just tell myself i can have the other half if i want (I rarely do) and i have a low calorie hot chocolate to curb my sweet cravings, this saves me a lot of calories! I do not deprive myself of anything but i limit the amount of unhealthy food i eat and fill up on the healthier bits. If the family want a pie, i have pie too… i just have a small slice and tons of veggies, taking the deprivation away has helped me not crave everything i ‘can’t’ have. I don’t want to be having to make several meals an evening – i have no time for that!! I also want to enjoy the family time if we go out for a meal, on little man’s birthday recently we had promised to take him to McDonald’s for a treat – i opted for a grilled chicken salad with balsamic vinegar (165 calories) instead of my usual quarter pounder with cheese meal (about 900 calories), i still had a lovely time and felt involved.

5. Create a weekly meal plan, this will mean you will only have the foods in you planned to eat and is more cost effective if you are trying to lose weight on a budget like myself – i spend between £35-50 a week on groceries to feed a family of 4 for a week. All meals are healthy and cooked from scratch, so it’s not expensive to eat healthy really.

6. Track your calories on MyFitness Pal and this means EVERY mouthful! If you are conscious of what you eat, you’ll be more careful of what you eat!

7. Set goals! Don’t think ‘i need to lose X amount of weight’ as this is one massive goal, start with smaller goals like, ‘i will dedicate x amount of days to working out this week’, or ‘i will stick to my calorie limit today’, by having smaller achievable goals, you will stay motivated and positive because you have achieved your goal.

8. Ultimately, think of losing weight as your own little project just for you, us mum’s give so much time to others and pull ourselves in all directions but forget to consider giving time to ourselves. I almost felt guilty for taking part in Katie’s project as it was just about me, but it’s making me happy and a happy mum equals a happy home!!

I know the above points are pretty simple and common sense but this is the only true way to lose weight, no fad diets or restrictions are needed!!

If you have started to lose weight/get healthy, let me know how you are getting on, we can all motivate each other.

Anyway, i have one week until i return to London to see Katie and my Fat Club buddies to get weighed!! I have my meals and exercise planned for the week and I’m going to push myself hard… who’s with me?!

Cow and Gate 5 Step Weaning Plan

Although i am a 2nd time mum, I still need to refresh myself on the stages that babies go through and most recently it was weaning Fred. I soon remembered how messy weaning can be and also how it is a bit of a mind field when first introducing solids!!

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Just after I introduced first tastes to Fred i was approached to work alongside Cow and Gate to help launch their new interactive 5 Step Weaning Plan.

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The plan is very easy to follow and is interactive, you can create a personalised weaning plan for your baby, track baby’s likes/dislikes with the fun eaticons and they also provide money off coupons tailored for each step.

eaticons

The plan is broken down into 5 simple steps;

  1. First Spoonfuls
  2. Introducing breakfast
  3. Offering Variety
  4. Meat, Fish & Alternatives
  5. Establishing 3 meals a day.
  • Each step gives you a simple goal to reach.
  • Top tips on how to reach that goal.
  • Recipes for that step – each one can easily be added to ‘My Plan’ by clicking the # button, each recipe can be rated with a cute eaticon #so a record can be kept of what baby likes/dislikes.
  • A very handy shopping list.

Once the 5 step weaning plan is complete, baby is fully weaned!

Cow and Gate also offer a variety of products for every stage of weaning and beyond – very useful when out and about or unable to cook. We, as a family travel a lot so i always have a stock of foods to take away for Fred, it makes life so much easier!

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I used the 5 step weaning plan to make the whole weaning process a lot easier. By following the simple steps, and introducing a variety of foods gradually, Fred is a very happy and confident eater… which in return makes me a very happy Mummy!!

For more information on the 5 Step Weaning Plan, you can register here and start making a meal plan especially catered for your little one. Cow and Gate also offer a very useful weaning care line 0800 977 4000 – what more could us Mum’s ask for?!! Thank you Cow and Gate!

Warming Butternut Squash and Chilli Soup…

The nights are drawing in and all i want to do is get snuggled and eat comfort food… but as i have committed myself and joined Katie Hopkin’s Fat Club i need to be conscious of what i am eating, so i am replacing fattening, comfort foods with healthier meals.

One of my favourite meals that i start to make every year around this time is Butternut Squash and Chilli soup, it’s warming and comforting and so easy to make!

First i chop my squash in half and de-seed and scour, I also chop some small onions and drizzle both with olive oil. This is popped in the oven on 230 for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables begin to brown.

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Once browned, i scoop out the flesh of the squash and put it in a big saucepan with the onions.

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To this i add;

Coconut milk

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Very low salt vegetable stock cube (plus 1/2 pint hot water)

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And finally a couple of teaspoons of chopped chilli to give it some heat!!

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Once mixed all together i use a hand held food blender to make it into a thick soup consistency, i like to leave some chunky bits too.

There you have a warming, autumnal meal that i like to eat sat by our wood burner… absolute bliss.

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Katie Hopkins Fat Club!!!

I am an official member of Katie Hopkins Fat Club!!!

Fat face selfie!!

Fat face selfie!!

I had seen Katie on This Morning, looking all big and bloated – i was shocked! I listened and discovered that she had put on 4 stone on in 3 months and was just about to start the 3 month journey to start losing the weight again. Katie is doing this to prove that with a bit of effort, eating less and moving more, it’s truly easy to lose weight, there are no excuses for being fat.

I tweeted Katie my support and that i was going to try and lose weight too over the time period that she was also going to lose weight, she tweeted back good luck and that was the end of that.

A couple of days later, i received a tweet from Crackit Productions asking if i would be interested in being in Katie’s documentary about losing weight, i thought why not?! One Skype call with Katie later (who is lovely and supportive if you’re wondering) and i was picked to join ‘Katie’s Fat Club!’

On Monday 29th September, I caught the train to London and met my fellow fat buddies, there are 5 of us including Katie. I won’t tell you too much about them as you will see their stories when the documentary is screened in January 2015 (but they’re a great bunch who are very supportive and motivating).

We sat with Katie in a little pub in Soho and established the rules of fat club;

  1. Be realistic – no fad diets!
  2. Be honest – make #noexcuses
  3. Keep it simple, eat less of the bad stuff and move more. We are all logging everything we eat and how many steps we take every day for the next 10 weeks.

The people picked all have reasons for being overweight. My story is based on being a stay at home mum, I’m going to prove that the children taking up all the time and that it’s too expensive to eat healthy/workout is no excuse.

I will be meal planning and budgeting but still eating healthy and i will be using either fitness DVD’s i already own or use workouts found on Youtube to lose weight.

I have already had people say ‘but you’re not fat!’ but i am classed as overweight, i do not feel comfortable in my clothes and the pounds are creeping on. I am going to stop this now before one day i wake up and i’m 20+ stone!! All those leftovers i eat off my boys plates, that biscuit/chocolate bar i eat to give me a burst of energy during the mid-afternoon slump and all the sugar in my tea/coffee all add up!

The point of doing this project personally for me isn’t to lose a mass of weight but to see what i can actually achieve if i eat less and move more over the next 10 weeks. I’m fed up of restarting fitness regimes and diets and with Katie checking in on me, i really can not have any excuses!!

So far i have been monitoring my steps and have been disappointed to see i have been averaging about 5000 a day instead of the recommended 10000, so i really need to up my game. I have been eating 3 good, healthy meals a day and snacked on fruit instead of biscuits and i have put the kids leftovers straight in the bin to stop me eating it!

I have an university reunion this weekend, but i managed to book the place where we are going to have a meal and they offer lower calorie/healthy meals and also i plan to only have one glass of wine with my meal (fortunately for me one friend no longer drinks, and two of them are pregnant so it’s not going to be an alcohol fuelled reunion!!) And as i will have no hangover, there will be no fry up the next day!

I’m feeling very determined and positive. I am going to get my average steps up to 7500 a day next week and then increase to 10000 the following week. With 2 little boys in tow, it’s actually quite hard to get 10000 under my belt, we went to the park today and walked for ages however my step count didn’t increase significantly as i probably only went a short distance as that is all my toddler can cope with. I will find a way of increasing my steps, even if it means running up and down the steps in my 3 story house a couple of times a day!

Wish me luck and if anyone wants to join in, please do!! Lets all support each other and throw the excuses away #noexcuses!!!!

A Mum’s guide for packing for a weekend away…

As we have family all over the country, we tend to travel a fair bit with our boys. This means a car full of things to cover every situation. We currently have a VW Passat estate car and although it is roomie, it’s amazing how small a car gets when you have so much child paraphernalia in it!

I try to pack as if my life depended on it! It saves lots of room and also i find that it’s easier to sort out everything when we return if we have only taken what we needed.

The most important part is to write a list, i do this every time we plan a night/weekend away. It makes packing a lot quicker and more organised. I split my list into the following categories;

  • Clothing – i check the weather and pack clothes accordingly.
  • Changing – nappies, wipes, pull ups.
  • Bedding – travel cot, toddler bed, blankets sleeping bags, angel care monitor.
  • Feeding – bottles, bowls, cutlery, water beakers
  • Toiletries – baby bath/wash, talc.
  • Other (toys, medicines, books etc)

I know that with these categories, the boys basic needs are covered and everything else is a bonus.

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I make a similar list for myself but mine is usually;

  • Clothing
  • Toiletries & make up
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Other (presents, books etc)

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Husband tends to pack his own bag (thank goodness). The boys dominate when it comes to items for the car, but that’s the way it should be.

Once i have made my general list, i then go into the boys bedroom and lay out all the clothes i plan to take, i try to stick to the list as it gets so tempting to keep putting extra bits in. I lay everything out so i can colour co-ordinate the outfits, the more combinations i can put together the better. There’s no point in taking a green t-shirt if it doesn’t match any of the trousers.

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Once everything is laid out, i put them in the weekender bag and iron everything, i tend to iron as i go rather than iron everything i launder.

I do the same with mine and husbands clothes. This is normally done the day before we leave.

Once clothes are sorted, i gather the changing, bedding, feeding and toiletry items on the morning/day that we leave as most things are in use all the time.

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On the day that we leave i gather all items and put them all together, i go through my list one last time and tick everything off, I always take the list with me on visits so i can check we have everything for the journey back. Since having the boys it is so easy to leave things at people’s houses!

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Before the items go in the car we separate them into bags for the boot and bags for the car. I have a snack bag and changing bag in the car. I also make sure i have a few toys for baby and a range of DVD’s for toddler to watch – both very useful if journey is longer than expected. I also make sure we have extra water if it is the summer and blankets if it is the winter. I know that if there is a bad traffic jam en route we have everything in the car that we would need to cover us for quite a few hours.

The more we go away the more savvy i get at packing, when we first had Rowan and then when Fred came along, it was a shock how much we filled the car, we soon have learnt what is essential and what is just nice to have.

The other factor i consider is who we are going to visit, for example we went to Cornwall a couple of weeks ago to husband’s gran’s house so i had to take everything that we needed. This past weekend we have been at my sisters who has 4 children, 2 of which are toddlers so i didn’t need to worry too much about toys for our toddler and she had all the bath bits etc.

I hope this posts helps anyone who doesn’t normally travel with kids. It can feel quite overwhelming sometimes but as long as you have your list and stick to it, you can’t go too wrong.

 

Review: Ozeri Green Earth Pan

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I was kindly sent an Ozeri Green Earth Pan to review. First thing i noticed was the pan was free from PTFE, PFOA and other harmful chemicals. Now i was aware plastics had bad things in them so i always get BPA free plastic items but never thought about the items i cook with.

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I did a little bit more reading and discovered that PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene) and PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoicAcid) are both present in conventional non-stick cookware. The former can break down at very high temperatures, the fumes of which have been documented to be lethal to birds and small pets and harmful to humans. The latter is a persistent pollutant to the environment.

Yikes!!

This little pan however is coated in an 100% natural ceramic coating called GREBLON. The actual pan is made from the highest quality anodized aluminium – this allows even cooking and fantastic browning. It has a magnetised bottom for induction stoves and a heat-resistant silicone coated handle (this pan can go in the oven up to 180c). The pan surface is textured, it looks a little like honeycomb, this texture creates little air pockets which distribute heat to enhance cooking.

So that’s the blurb on the item but how does it actually cook?

Well i can tell you because when i received the Green Earth Pan, the thought that immediately entered my head was… pancakes!!

Initially you need to give the pan a little clean and then add ¼ tsp (no more) of oil to coat the pan, any excess oil needs to be wiped away. Then you can get cooking.

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In no time i had wonderfully cooked pancakes, i did not add any extra oil (i hate oily pancakes), each one browned nicely and were cooked evenly throughout.

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I love how heavy this pan is, i have a small tefal pan that falls off our hob so is too dangerous to use. This little pan sat firmly on the hob but was light enough to flip the pancakes. The vibrant green is so modern and bright and it feels like a high quality product.

I just love the way it looks on my hob that i want to keep it out for all to see!

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This little pan is currently on sale on Amazon (as of 21/09/2014) for £23.99 (rrp £39.99), which i think is a fantastic pan for such a quality, safe item.

 

I was sent a 20cm Green Earth Pan to review. This is my personal honest opinion of the product.

 

T25 Update & Autumn!

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So i am into week 2 of T25 and it hasn’t quite gone to plan, but this is all part of being a full time mum, things come up that are out of my control, so rather than stress, I’m just going to pick up the workout where i can and drop any workouts that i can’t do. Lets just say a busy family weekend in Cornwall, a slightly uncooked sausage and a baby’s first cold have all set me back a little!!!

But as of this evening i am back on it! I am going to take weekly measurements and weigh in each Saturday but plan to share my progress after 30 days as I think this will keep me more motivated.

I have a few things to keep me motivated this month, my university reunion is in just over 4 weeks, my parents are going on an Alaskan cruise so i won’t be seeing them until the weekend of my reunion and my in-laws are leaving for Texas today for 5 weeks. I thought i would really try and get my diet as clean as possible and do all my workouts and hopefully they will all see a difference in my appearance when i see them next… here’s hoping anyway!

Although i am beating myself up a little for missing workouts so early on in the program, i am feeling quite positive overall. We have just entered my favourite season, i bloomin’ love Autumn!! I love the weather (cold, crisp, sunny mornings make me so happy), I love the colours as the leaves start to change and i love the flavours too… pumpkin, apple cinnamon… bliss! All these things make me sooooo HAPPY!

So onwards and upwards, lets get my workout gear on and do this!!

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