Summertime fun so far!

We wait with baited breathe for the sun to come out and the weather to warm up so we can officially call it summertime!! I know, sad really… But one thing could not be more true… Britain (particularly London) is one of the most wonderful places on earth during the summertime and I am happy to be here.

It is a crazy busy time of year as everyone tries to make the most of the good weather by spending as much time outdoors. I saw an advert for a supermarket that read: “Sunshine… Quick!! BBQ” Made me chuckle cause this is really what it is like and we have been no different. It has been a lovely summer so far and these are some of the things we have gotten up to.

DIY Projects
We have been busy in the garden and doing up various bits of the house. Matthew does most of the heavy lifting, sawing, and sanding etc and I am always on the sideline shouting instructions! We have completed our new headboard with left over pallet wood and our pallet furniture for outside is almost complete. We have painted the table in our kitchen and the next project will be the chairs. We have also built a new outdoor table with left over decking boards. It is so rewarding to see the transformation although, I cannot take the credit… Matthew is a DIY machine!

A day on the beach
The weather has been great the last few weeks and we decided to make the most of it! We both took the day off and spent the day on Camber beach in Rye. It only takes about 2.5 hours to get there. We started by having breakfast at The Ship Inn in Rye. They have the BEST French toast. The most delicious door stop piece of eggy bread with cinnamon, blueberries, bacon and syrup. Even though gluten does not agree with me, I made an exception on this occasion.

We then spent the rest of the day basking in the sunshine! Emily, of course, was in her element! Running around on the sandy beach, building sand castles with daddy (her favourite thing to do) and collecting shells. It fills your heart with joy to see your child run around with wild abandon. We ended the day with an ice cream before heading home at which point Emily passed out.

Cycling the Wandle Trail
If you live in South West London, I can highly recommend this trail for walking and cycling. We love cycling and to be able to do it as a family makes it even more special. We don’t head out on the bikes as often as we used to but whenever we feel the need, we haul them out and head off for a few hours of exercise. We love the Wandle Trail and it has been recently redone with new paths and bridges which make your cycling experience that much better. Morden Hall Park is our stop off point where we have a cup of coffee, go for a walk and pick flowers. This park has a number of activities throughout the summer such as outdoor cinema, beer on the river, summer food fares and camping nights with night trails for kids. Check out their website for more details. Put both the trail and the park on your “to do” list for the summer holidays.

Picking Carshalton Lavender
Carshalton is known for its lavendar and every year they open up the fields to the public to go picking. We didn’t do it last year but this year we decided to give it a go. As you walk into the field, you get these little wafts of lavender and with the beautiful surroundings, you really feel like you are away from it all. Emily enjoyed picking the flowers and smelling them. “Mmmm, beautiful!” She says. I love doing things like this with her. We have a strawberry plant in the garden that Matthew bought for her and they would go out every day to see how the plant grew little flowers which then turned into fruit. I feel like it teaches her patience and appreciation for the things around her. What a lovely morning! Of course, we took our pickings home and dotted small bunches all around the house.

So much love for the summertime and while we have a couple months of summer left, we certainly have a few other activities up our sleeve. Some great Summer ideas are:
Udderbelly festival on the south bank
-Visit a “pick your own” farm
-The beach near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
-Camping in the garden/or camping at a camp site
-Local summer festivals (check your council website)
-Do a wine tasting tour
Outdoor Cinema
-Picnic in your local park

There are loads of activities for adults and kids alike. Have a look at your local council and parks for ideas. Make hay while the sun shines and enjoy the rest of the beautiful British summer. Happy long, lazy summer days to you all.

Have you got any great summertime activity ideas?

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My 30 day paleo challenge – A new way of life

As some of you may know, I have followed a paleo diet on and off (more off really…) for the past 2 years. It all started with the trouble I had weaning Emily. When speaking to a nutritionist in South Africa, I realised that giving Emily baby cereal as her first foods was causing a whole heap of trouble. While cereals certainly play their part, I personally feel that there are more nutrient dense foods you can give your baby as a first food. Needless to say, Emily’s tummy cramps, sleepless nights and unsettled bed time all stopped the moment I let the baby rice go and started to feed her food that she could actually digest easily. I guess it was on this journey that I discovered paleo.

I posted an issue I was having regarding my skin on the Paleo Britain facebook page and realised that it could be related to a hormone imbalance or intolerance to foods I may be eating. I was then approached by Chloe from Paleo Britain to do their 30 day challenge for free to see if there was any change. I quickly agreed and embarked on my 30 day journey!

What is Paleo?
This page on the Paleo Britain website sums up the paleo diet really nicely. It is a nutrient dense way of eating which eliminates processed foods known to be bad for our health. Paleo has a keen focus on gut health making sure you are getting a good intake of your gut friendly bacteria by eating fermented foods such a sauerkraut. I believe the paleo way of eating to be very personal. While you can introduce other foods back into your diet after the 30 days (such as white rice and legumes), I have found that lentils do not agree with me but white rice I am actually ok with. It is all about what makes you feel good. If anything does not agree with you, eliminate it! It is not good for you!

My 30 day experience
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! This has definitely been my experience. Because all of your food is unprocessed and eliminates refined sugar you need to prepare for each day so you are not tempted to go out at lunch time and buy that pesky sandwich. The transition can be hard and the prep time can be time consuming so being organised makes a big difference. Chloe emails you every day to tell you what you can expect to be feeling. From energy loss in the beginning to when you may have cravings and how to overcome them. She provides an exercise plan with suggested workouts you can follow as well as useful information on the paleo diet and the reason for eliminating various foods from your diet for 30 days. She also provides some scientific based information for aspects of the paleo diet for those that are interested. The Paleo Mom is my “go to” resource for everything scientific in the paleo diet. She explains most aspects of the diet right down to cellular level. I find it fascinating and gobble up all the scientific facts but then again, biology was my favourite subject!!

Chloe is literally there, every step of the way. Hints, tips, and advice are all part of the service. Meal plans are provided and a full shopping list to compliment your meal plan is also given. She also tells you where you can source your paleo friendly products (Mainly for UK based customers). The Paleo community is all about animal welfare and the meat you consume should ideally be grass fed/outdoor reared/free range/organic. I honestly can’t fault the support you receive and the wealth of information given to you to help you understand why you are on this journey.

As suspected, I began the first week feeling very tired and I had very intense cravings. Once I hit week 2, I was in much better spirits. I was finding it easier to make good choices as I started to get the hang of preparing meals and figuring out what foods I could enjoy. Week 3, I was almost 3kgs down and felt amazing. My energy levels were up and all symptoms of reflux and painful cramping in my abdomen were totally gone. I normally live on antacids for my hiatus hernia but I took a total of 3 zantac the entire month!! I slept well (due to the lack of heart burn) which meant I felt so much better during the day. I did not suffer from afternoon slump because the protein and fats maintained my energy and sugar levels. I only got one flare up of my skin where it is normally a daily issue… All in all, it was a great month! I detailed my months worth of meals on my Instagram account with the hashtag #essenceoflifepaleo. Do pop in and have a look at some of the meals I enjoyed throughout the month.

I will certainly be staying away from gluten and wheat from now on as this is a big stressor to my gut health. I have also become so much more aware of my body and how it reacts… it’s as if I have finally fallen into step with myself so I can now easily pick up on foods and environments that are not good for me. I really can’t go back now to how I was living. The constant stomach ache and reflux is no way to live your life! For me, this is now really just the beginning. Making myself and my health a priority. Not just for me but for my family too.

Some of my meals:

Here are some of my tips to prepare for the week ahead:
-Boiling a whole bunch of eggs on the Sunday for the week (they last a week in the fridge)
– I found having a BBQ/braai over the weekend and cook a whole heap of meat made meals so much easier later in the week
-Cook extra for left overs, they make a great lunch!
-Pack your lunch box the night before so you are not running around in the morning
-I would blend a head of cauliflower for Cauli rice, cook it and keep it in the fridge.
-Roast a large dish of veggies and store in the fridge. Great in salads, with egg or in a fritatta.

Thanks Chloe and Paleo Britain! My new beginning starts now.

If you feel that the 30 day challenge is for you, you can contact Chloe here. The plan only costs £30 so for £1 per day, I would say it is very reasonable… you won’t be sorry… I promise!

*My 30 day challenge was complimentary

A Salt Dough Garland

We woke up on Sunday morning and felt really disappointed to see the overcast weather and I thought to myself, what am I going to do with a toddler indoors all day today??

I then remembered that I wanted to make salt dough ornaments for the Christmas tree last Christmas, but I just didn’t get round to it. As it requires ingredients in every kitchen, I figured… today is as good a day as any!

Recipe:
1 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

Mix everything together to form a fairly wet and sticky dough.

I then scooped the dough from the bowl onto a floured table and let Emily really get stuck in. She absolutely loved it!

Once the dough becomes more workable from kneading and playing with it, you can then roll it out with a rolling pin.

We then used Emily’s choice of cookie cutter, which on this occasion was a whale, and cut out our shapes (Tip: the dough needs to be quite thick)

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We then poked holes into the shapes with a skewer and placed them onto baking paper and baked in an oven (100°c for 2 hours).

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Once they were cool, I strung them up to make a garland and Emily and I walked around the house and garden to figure out where she wanted to hang her new creation.

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With a little persuasion from dad, she agreed that the chalkboard wall was a good place. We were both very chuffed with our creation and luckily, by the time we were done, the sun had come out and we decided to go out for a family walk with Emily on her scooter.

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Of course there are many things you can do with these. You can add food colouring during the dough phase or paint them once they are are dry and cool. I have seen some of them with a dried flower embedded into the ornament. You can also use a twig from the garden to make pretty impressions. Be as creative as you like.

We thoroughly enjoyed our arts and crafts day and hopefully, this will provide hours of entertainment for you too!