Avocados seem to be similar to Marmite. People tend to love or hate them. Well, I absolutely love them! They come across as a rather exotic and luxurious fruit to me. Surprisingly, they are a fruit and what looks like a giant stone in the middle is its seed.
These are a staple product in my fruit bowl. I like to keep them amongst other fruits where they ripen just perfectly. I eat around four normalish sized ones every week. They are super versatile as they can be eaten as they are (scooped out of the skin with a spoon), spread, blended (into a green smoothie for example), chopped into a salad or added as a side dish.
My favourite thing to do is spread them onto a wrap once they are super soft. They make a healthy nutritious spread all by themselves and save me reaching for the mayo or something equally as naughty. I often make wraps using overripe avocado as the spread, with a heap of fresh grated carrot on top and salad for a quick tasty lunch.
Amazingly they can also be used to create desserts. I've only tried once and it was far from successful. I found a recipe for chocolate avocado mousse. Mine turned out just awful. It tasted so bad, the whole lot went straight in the bin! The idea of using it for a pudding still intrigues me so I'll have to try another sweet recipe soon.
Avocados are full of fat, but this is good fat! They contain heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which can reduce inflammation, help to reduce risk of heart attack and stroke, reduce the risk of some cancers & reduce belly fat.
Avocados also contain more potassium than bananas. Potassium is needed for muscle strength, heart health, brain function and so much more. It's a crucial part of our everyday diets and a deficiency can result in painful muscle cramps, tiredness and depression.
When pregnant I suffered from the most excruciating muscle cramps in my legs. They'd always happen in the middle of the night and I'd wake up yelping in agony. Ben even thought I was going into labour one night when he heard me cry out in pain from downstairs! I made sure I ate bananas everyday and lots of avocados weekly to help this. It may have all been a coincidence, but I'm certain the cramps only came the days I forgot to eat any.
Avocados are one of my most favourite foods, which is lucky as they are packed full of nutrients.
For Bella, in our old house, we fully decorated a nursery whilst I was pregnant. It had the full size cot made up along with a toy box, toy and book filled shelves and a clothes rail filled with sweet outfits on display. It was ready for Bella to move straight into from her Moses basket.
Ben ended up sleeping on the sofa quite a lot last time. As I exclusively breast fed, and Ben is up at 6am every morning for work, it seemed silly for us both to be woken up every couple of hours and so both be super tired. This also gives me much more persuasion power in the evenings if I'd like him to cook dinner or help out a bit more. After all, he should have way more energy than me with a full night's sleep!
This time we've done things a little differently. Reuben's bedroom is currently furnished more practically for sleeping arrangements rather than as a nursery. This is so I can sleep in there for the sleepless night stage and Ben can stay in our bed rather than being banished to the sofa.
I figured we'd need a single bed eventually for Reuben, so I could use it for now and then we'll store it in the attic once the full size baby cot is needed in a few months. To be extra prepared and not have to buy twice, we purchased a couple of sets of boy friendly duvet covers. This striped blue set and a robot themed set.
The bed is also home to some fab cushions. The bear one was a steal in a Tesco sale for only £3 and was the first thing I bought for Reuben when I found out we were having a boy. The larger cushions are a newborn gift from Reuben's Oma (german for gran). She has handmade them from some amazing material we picked out together. There are yellow and blue dinosaur materials along with some funky yellow ducks!
As I totally love Bella's bedroom wardrobe, I just had to get Reuben one! They are child sized so will be perfect once they are older to reach and hang their own clothes. To keep their rooms individual I decided to go for the wood finish one in Reuben's room (Bella has white furniture). The wardrobes are handmade and delivered ready built by the company who makes them. They were the best value, nicest looking children's wardrobes I could find and I highly recommend the company Direct Pine, who can be found here.
Reuben's room is pretty simple just now. In a few months once he's into his larger cot and has a few more pictures, etc, the room will start to really become his. So far we just have a blue Ikea star night light and crocodile height chart on the walls. I've ordered a fine marker pen so I can mark Bella and Reuben's heights on the crocodile as they grow. It will be a great item to keep and one day we can add our Grandchildren's heights to it too!
In the window bay I have a very handy set of drawers. These are filled with nappies, wipes, muslins, sheets, blankets and similar often used baby items. It's so useful to have it all right there in the middle of the night ready for nappy changes and sick spills! Once we move out of the baby stage I'll change these for a toy storage unit. There's a four cube shaped one that will fit perfectly and I've been eyeing up some funky animal themed storage cubes.
Reuben's room is very nearly complete for now. We have a wooden door to hang and a new blackout blind on its way with a baby blue polka dot pattern on the inside. Then that's it for now until I move back out!
This room was my worst enemy when we moved in last year. There was a big patch of paint missing on one of the walls so I had to literally scrape the rest of the paint off as it could easily be seen. I spent about 6 hours one afternoon painstakingly scraping paint off with a metal scraper, which refused to come off in sizes larger than around 2 inches long.
I'd planned on painting and re flooring the whole room that day (with Ben of course), but ended up just stripping one wall! Eventually I got there and we painted the walls white, replaced the carpet with oak style laminate and fitted new wooden skirting.
The most frustrating during ever:
The finished result:
I love the natural wood feel in this room and it's a nice cosy room for me to spend the next few months in with Reuben. I'm also looking forward to putting his cot together when he's bigger and adding more decor as we find/make it. I'll share Reuben's 'second' bedroom with you in the future!
Quick and Easy Vegetarian Food: Feta Mushroom Salad
I love being able to make quick and easy vegetarian meals, especially for lunch. Working full time from home and taking care of little ones means I like convenient lunch meals that are healthy and tasty, but don’t require me to spend any longer in the kitchen than necessary. I seem to spend a lot of time cleaning up and cooking in the kitchen throughout the day, so lunch time is a chance to make a quicker meal with minimal mess. For this meal, tomato puree is your friend. I always have a few tubes in the fridge and it’s surprising what you can add it too with a slab of cheese to make a really tasty meal. In this meal it was a Portobello mushroom!
This has been one of my favourite lunches to make since having my son Reuben just 20 days ago. My first food shop after my pregnancy just had to include a slab of feta cheese! I absolutely love cheese! After not being able to eat certain cheeses for 9 months, feta was one I missed the taste of most. I love its crumbly texture and unusual tangy taste. Though I'm trying my best to cut back on cheese, I do still have to regularly get my fix, albeit a much lesser quantity than I used to eat (which really was quite a lot)!
This meal is super tasty if you are a fan of mushrooms, and very quick to make. Pour a little olive oil over a ginormous mushroom, add a swirl of tomato purée, top with green pepper, feta, a sprinkle of cheddar and black pepper. I popped this one in a preheated 200 degree fan oven for around ten minutes, with a few carrot slices thrown in the tray too.
Ben called this one my mushroom pizza! You can add anything else you fancy to it too, such as onion and garlic. I served this one on a bed of green lettuce, vine cherry tomatoes, slightly heated carrots and green pepper.
A sneak peek at my daughter's white and pink girly bedroom decor
When we moved into this house last year, Bella's new bedroom had dark blue walls and carpet with dark blackout curtains. The door was a plain white heavy board with a football handle. The light fitting was a chrome spiral with plastic blue cones, that I really can't describe. It was the first room we decorated taking a good 3-4 coats of white paint to cover the blue.
We have actually painted the whole house white. I think it is fresh, modern and easy to maintain. We just keep a giant tub of white paint for touch ups whenever they are needed. The white walls create a sense of cleanliness and space. Colours and textiles look absolutely amazing against a white background, literally popping out at you seeming much more vibrant.
At first this room was our spare room and Bella had the smallest of the three bedrooms. Once we found out I was pregnant, we decided to move Bella into this middle sized bedroom along with most of her toys that had amassed in our living room! This is quite possibly my favourite room in the house so far. A young me would have absolutely loved a bedroom like this. It is fresh and bright with white walls and furniture, whilst also girly with splashes of pink all around!
Here's a peek a Bella's new bedroom:
Bella's walls have a few goodies pinned up. On one there's some personalised handmade bunting and her very first masterpiece! It's a canvas with her very first crayon squiggles on. Once Bella started making marks with crayons I bought a plain canvas. I stuck it in front of her several times with a tub of crayons so she could create her very first work of art!
A collage of photo canvases and namesake frames she received as gifts are displayed on the next wall. They're very central so we can add to them if we wish as her collection grows. My ornate display frame I created and blogged about recently here is on the third wall.
The fourth wall is dominated by a pretty huge window, but we did pin up a cool Ikea pink flower nightlight alongside this. It looks fab when lit at bedtime, creating a warm and cosy orangey pink glow. We have ordered a blackout pink polka dot blind this week. This will replace the current blinf=d which was intended for the spare room only and lets light flood through. The blackout version is very much needed with the lighter nights and mornings fast approaching!
We whipped the previous owners carpet straight up and laid oak style laminate boards with a real wood feel. I prefer real wood or wooden style laminate floor as I find it much easier to clean. Ben took a little convincing as he prefers a soft carpet underfoot! To soften the look and give Bella somewhere comfortable to play we added a super soft fluffy white rug. I think it's the softest rug I've ever felt!
As all the walls are white we decided to replace the original white doors with wooden doors. Not only do I prefer the look of these, but they break up the whiteness! The white doors that were here weren't so attractive either - more like big white blank boards with no detail and very badly hung! We also replaced the white skirting with wooden and sanded the windowsill back to wood. I think the naturalness of the wood creates a calming environment and is pleasing to the eye. All our door frames still need sanding or painting. It just seems to be one of those jobs that have stayed on our to do list and is never as a high priority as anything else. One day!
The main furniture in Bella's bedroom has a white finish and includes a single bed, handmade children's wardrobe (which I really love) and a cube storage unit filled with toys! I thought white a good colour choice, as we can then just change the colour of the textiles/decor as Bella grows and her preferences change. We won't need to replace the actual furniture.
For now pink the favourite colour! A pink bedspread of either Hello Kitty or a patchwork design currently covers the bed. There are also a few great cushions, my favourite being the pink camper van cushion from B&Q. It's just fab! We filled the storage unit with colourful canvas cube boxes to create fun bright pops of colour for toy storage. These are also very light and easy for Bella to pull out and put away herself.
The very cool personalised hot air balloon which hangs from the ceiling is a wonderful crafty gift made by Bella's Oma (Gran in German). All the grandchildren have one and we just received Reuben's last week. They are such a cool idea!
Ooh, another great idea is the children's book sling. You can forward face the books so children can easily find their favourites. Bella is quite the bookworm so ours is rather overflowing, but she still manages to root through and choose books with ease! I found ours on eBay where there was a good selection of different colours and themes.
Bella's bedroom is so far the most completed room in the house. Once the door frame is complete and new blind is installed, there really won't be much else to do. Not for a long while anyway (I hope)!
One of the things I detested most in our new home was the 1960s stone fireplace. It was not to my taste and I hated having to look at it everyday. It was pretty unavoidable as it was in the centre of the living room. The eye was drawn first to it as you entered. To make it worse, the hearth was created using two giant slabs of standard ugly concrete. There was no actual fire, just a grubby concrete hole. It didn't quite create the cosy homely environment I had hoped for when I bought my first home!
It had to go.
With other costly home improvements and a not so easy pregnancy taking priority, we finally got around to having our dream log burner installed this February. It couldn't have come a moment sooner, having moved at the end of May last year!
In keeping with a light and airy theme, we chose to have the hearth created from large stone coloured ceramic tiles. The inside of the void we left untiled and painted white to flow with the rest of the walls.
The fabulous oak beam was from a company who specialises in them, discovered on eBay. We felt we took a bit of a gamble with the oak beam. Every beam is different so you can only view photos of examples. Until it arrived it was a case of 'fingers crossed we'll like the beam we're sent'! Luckily we absolutely love it. It's totally perfect and just what we were expecting. Phew! I think it finishes off the log burner look just perfectly.
I like minimal, neutral and natural living environments which create a feeling of space with splashes of colour. We have gone for teals, blues and greens in the living area which I find very calming and pleasing to the eye. Ben was also very happy with the colour choice so no persuading or compromise needed!
I already had the two picture frames which matched our colour theme just perfectly. The one to the left was a birthday gift from my Mum and is really beautiful with the diamanté detail. The frame to the right was from Homesense (quite possibly my favourite home store ever!). The cream lantern was a Christmas present from my Mum, another excellent present choice!
The absolutely amazing teal stag wall art canvas is by Paper Panda.
As for the log burner itself, oh my! It is so wonderfully cosy! They really do heat a room up quite remarkably. I also find it mesmerising and relaxing to become lost in a daydream just staring at the roaring fire itself.
The new fire place definitely makes the room look modernised, but the log burner itself will make our winter evenings so much more enjoyable.