Meal Planning Monday w/c 16th June

Meal planning is my forte, sticking to it......meh! However I did say I would post each of my evening meals to FaceBook......and I stuck to it

Helped having to post an image, because I knew I couldn't cheat! if I could just sort out the crafty chocolate, crisps, ice-cream etc I will have it cracked.......

Onto this week

  • Cauliflower cheese with sausages (6 Syns)
  • Vegetable rice with prawns (Syn free)
  • Creamy pasta with chicken and vegetables (4 Syns)
  • Sweet potato and bacon stew (from the freezer, Syn free)
  • Saag Alloo (Syn free)
  • Sticky gammon stir fry (1 Syn)
  • Chicken and SW chips (Syn free)

This week the challenge is to continue to post my dinner images, but also make sure I'm having a good healthy lunch. Next week the challenge will be to cut out the unhealthy snacks! Small steps, to make big changes.

I'm not pleased with my eating habits at the moment, but only I can do something about that. 

Hope you all have a great week, speak to you soon

Fay xxx

Meal Planning Monday W/C 9th June

Oh my! Haven't done this for a while, but time to get back on the band wagon of planning. And the best way to commit to something, as we all know, is to write it down! 

My slimming world menu for the week looks like this;-

  • Wholemeal pasta with tomato and garlic sauce with roasted Mediterranean vegetables (syn free)
  • Butter chicken with rice and veggies (syn free)
  • Leftover butter chicken with baked potato and salad (syn free)
  • Homemade burger, Slimming World Chips and beans (syn free)
  • Butternut squash risotto and veggies (syn free)
  • Butternut squash soup with wholemeal roll (8 syns for the roll)
  • Butternut squash and sweet potato curry (I think, it's in the freezer but no label!)

I love starting my day with a bowl of porridge, with banana and blueberries (plus MrC enjoys it too, added bonus!) Lunches will be a little on the fly. Maybe leftovers, or a bachelors rice. I've got the makings of a Slimming World quiche in the fridge, so may have that one lunch time too.

I've also linked back to the butter chicken recipe, which I've fallen back in love with.

All of the meals are simple, tasty, easy to prepare and should ensure I have nothing left going mouldy in the fridge.

I'm also going to try and photograph each evening meal in the hope it keeps me on plan and shame's me into doing what I say

Wish me luck! 

Dandelions, Buttercups and Daisies

Not been the best of week's in our family.  The news came through that Joy's cancer has progressed to stage 4. Sometimes a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and I've been struggling with the news.

I know I'm guilty of overthinking, so I've been trying to keep busy and engineer things so I'm not alone. But my poor dog has felt the brunt, as I was reluctant to take him out for a walk, my best (or worse) time for thinking through problems.

Finally bit the bullet and took the poor canine out, determined to not cry, determined to just enjoy the moment. The sun was out, the dog was making me smile with his enthusiasm for being out and sniffing everything in sight.

I stayed close to home and giving him chance to sniff meant a slow walk, giving me time to enjoy my neighbours gardens. Flowers are blooming, trees have new young leaves and lush green lawns.

I passed several lawns, some beautifully tended and others a little more ragged. When I looked closely, the grass was a little too long, full of dandelions, daisies and buttercups. I remember telling the time blowing the seeds as a child, running after the fairies with my sister. Making daisy chains and arguing over whose was the best and seeing who liked butter by putting the buttercup under her chin to see the reflected sunlight, glowing yellow.

The ragged lawns, edging some gardens, technically were full of weeds. Which to some are an eyesore and nuisance. But taking a step back, I stopped focusing on the individual weed to look at the whole picture; the green grass, peppered with yellow and white flowers and fairies slowly moving in the breeze, was beautiful.

And it hit me. I need to stop focusing on the bad news and look at the bigger picture and just enjoy the landscape as a whole, live in the now and make lots of memories to look back on.

If anyone would like to help Joy a little through this, please take a look at this post

Signing On and Tidy Desks

Today I am job hunting. And tidying my desk. I thought I would just put that out there. It's not to say I haven't been looking for the last 2 months, it's just today I'm having to be more formal about it.

I signed on last week for (I think) contribution based job seekers allowance which now means all of my job hunting efforts will be scrutinised. I say, I think because I was totally lost about what I actually applied for because it seemed to have changed between me making the initial claim online and the interview.

I'm just going with the flow.

To be honest the whole thing is a bit scary. Walking into the job centre was scary. Figuring out all the forms, was scary. I've never needed to do this before, so it was all totally new. And scary. And the thought of proving to someone what I have done, how I have done, what I'm planning on doing and so on, does seem intrusive.

However, when I thought about it, this is no different to actually working. I try and schedule time every day to dedicate time to looking for and applying, so I'm treating it like a part-time job. Reporting in at the job centre, is just like having a meeting with my manager to look at my progress and see what I can do to improve. Well, that's how I'm handling it. Their job is to get me back into work, I'll accept all the help I can! 

So today, I'm dedicating some time to sort the untidy desk out, just like I would do if I was at work. Hopefully when I have my next 'performance review' I'll have all the paperwork to hand.

I'm aiming for three applications today, with fully bespoke CV's and covering letters. May not seem like a lot, but if you're going to get it right first time, it takes time to perfect.

And you've got to have targets, this is my new part-time job after all

Slimming World Friendly Sweet Sticky Onion Relish

This is sooo good, it doesn't last long in my house because I keep eating it! Easier than you think and should keep for three or four days in the fridge, plus its Syn free on Slimming World

500g of thinly sliced red onions
100ml balsamic vinegar
150ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of sweetner
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 tablespoons of chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed pan. Bring it up to the boil and then simmer, covered for an hour. Give it an occasional stir to make sure it doesn't burn. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes or so, to thicken up the lovely sticky sweet syrup. Once cooled, season to taste.

I've had this with burgers, lovely and tangy in a salad, goes well with chicken and beef on the side of your plate, or stirred through plain rice or couscous to liven it up.

Go on give it a go! 

Slow Cooker Beef Tomato and Red Pepper Casserole

This is a delicious, melt in the mouth and incredibly easy to make recipe to boot. Was inspired by the Coleman's Slow Cooker sachet, but objected to the Syns. So created my own version.

You literally chuck all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for eight hours. Creates its own sauce or gravy from the juices, serves 4 and is Syn free on extra easy

400g of casserole beef with all visible fat removed and cut into cubes
2 large red onions, cut into wedges
3 red peppers, cut into slices
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic
2 beef Oxo cubes (or equivalent)
2 tablespoons of mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to season

As I said, chuck it all in, stir and leave for as long as you. I had this with steamed greens and new potatoes, but it's very versatile. Try it with spicy couscous. Or baked or mashed potato with plenty of superfree veggies. 

A Letter From Heaven

Hello Ann

I found this while tidying up last week, a photocopy of a poem written by a man called Fred Nolan for his family for when he died. I can't remember how I came across it originally, but thought immediately of you.

To my dearest family
Some things I'd like to say
But first of all to let you know that I arrived okay
I'm writing this from heaven: Here I dwell with God above
Here there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love
Please don't be unhappy just because I'm out of sight
Remember that I am with your every morning, noon and night.
That day when I had to leave you: when my life on earth was through
God picked me up and hugged me and He said: 'I welcome you
It's good to have you back again. You were missed while you were gone
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on' 
God gave me a list of things that He wished for me to do
And foremost on that list was to watch and care for you
And when you lie in bed at night the day's chores put to flight
God and I are closest to you in the middle of the night
When you think of my life on earth and those loving years
Because you are only human they are bound to bring your tears
But do not be afraid to cry. It does relieve the pain
Remember: there would be no flowers unless there was some rain
I with that I could tell you all that God has planned
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand
But one thing is for certain though my life on earth is o'er
I'm closer to you now than I ever was before
There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb
But together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like for you to do to:
That as you give unto the world, the world will give to you
If you can help somebody who is in sorrow and pain
Then you can say to God at night: 'my day was not in vain'.
And now I am contended that my life was worthwhile
And as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile
So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low
Just lend a hand and pick them up as on your way you go.

When you're walking down the street and you've got me on your mind
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind
And when it's time for you to go; from that body to be free
Remember you're not going; you're coming home to me

The Owl of Inspiration ...... help wanted

I need some help readers to fill this with inspiration, love and determination.

It's an Owl card holder, which sits over my little sister's mantlepiece. She's got one card in it at the moment. It reads

'New Beginnings Are Often Disguised As Painful Endings'

All through my cancer journey, my inspiration has always been my sister, Joy. She was just 19 years old when first diagnosed with cervical cancer. It took nearly ten long years of trying this treatment and then something else and so on, before the cancer was finally eradicated with two cycles of chemo. Traditional laser treatments didn't work. But she did beat it.

And through it all, she was a rock. She had poise, purpose and a wicked sense of humour. She was rarely downbeat, even through the throwing up and baldiness and just got on with things. I wanted to be like her, my little sister who had the strength to get through it and win. And win she did. She was clear for over ten years, where she carried on living life and having two beautiful children.

But now it's back, and in my eyes, not playing fair. She has already had a five week course of radiotherapy, however it's gotten worse, and is now stage 3b. Sounds so innocent doesn't it. For many of us stage 3b won't mean very much. But for Joy it's an intensive and gruelling treatment regime of chemo every two weeks and radiotherapy three times a week for at least four months. And then see what happens.

And this is where you guys come in. I know Joy gets a lots of pleasure and inner strength from quotes like the one already sitting in her owl. I'm on the look out for more. Whenever I pass a card or nicknack shop, I'm in there, having a rummage. But you can help.

Have you got a picture which inspires and takes you to a calm place? A postcard with a quote which resonates and gets you through a difficult time? Or an ironic comic strip to make you laugh? If you have and can part with it, please help me give it a new home and fill Joy's

Wasn't sure how to do this, and I don't want to give her lots to do, but thought if you contacted me, I can give you my postal address and I will get them sent on to her. I've put some contact details below. And please feel free to pass this on to others. The more the merrier! 

She's a strong and independent woman, who will get through this, and an owl full of inspiration, an instant visual reminder has gotta help.......

Contact Details
Twitter: @FayC
Facebook: Fay

Sunshine Roasted Root Vegetables

Oh my goodness, this was divine. I've been wanting to try it for a while after I saw this recipe for roasted beetroot and sweet potato. It looked so delicious.

Finally managed to track down some beetroot from Tesco and, me being me, decided to not follow the recipe but go my own way. So here it is!

The beetroot stains the other veggies, which is where I got the name from. It's so tasty, filling and Syn free.


3 sweet potatoes
5 beetroots
3 parsnips
3 small potatoes
4 carrots
1 onion
2 tbsp garlic granules
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
Fry light


All the vegetables were peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces before putting into a large roasting dish. I know beetroot is very red, but was surprised by how much it actually stained my chopping board and hands, so be careful! I don't know why, but didn't think they were THAT red when raw. I had lobster in mind, which changes colour once cooked. But I was wrong, beetroot is very very red. 

I sprinkled the herbs and garlic over the vegetables, with a good amount of salt and pepper. Added some hot water, enough to just cover the bottom of the pan, before spritzing with fry light and covering tightly with tin foil. I put it in a hot oven for about 50 minutes. You're aiming to almost steam the vegetables. If you chop them smaller, they'll cook quicker and visa versa. Check your veggies are cooked through though with a knife; Your oven may take longer than mine.

Take the tin foil off about ten minutes before the end to help them crisp up.

The natural sugars in the beetroot, make the dish lovely and gooey, as well as a beautiful pink colour. It's comfort food of the highest order and delicious.

I had it by itself, but it would also be beautiful with grilled chicken or your weekly roast, or even some shredded cabbage.


Photo A Day - February on the cards?

Finally done it, a whole month of a picture a day. A little hiccup at the end, am sure I can be forgiven. Staying with my sister and lost the adapter to take images off the card and onto my PC. So photo's taken, just not uploaded.

Here are all 31 days

and day 31 (which I couldn't add in above!)

If you'd like to see the full images with prompts and description you can either take a look at my other blog FayC Depiction or my Facebook Album

Now the question is, do I continue into February???

Slimming World Friendly Mixed Bean Stew

This mixed bean stew is versatile and free on the extra easy plan. It's another meal where I use whatever I have to hand. So don't worry if you have to improvise, that's my type of cooking! Just to warn you, it makes a lot so use a large pan with a lid.

1 large chopped onion
2 leeks shredded
3 chopped peppers
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped courgette
Tin of chopped tomatoes
500g passatta
3 tbsp of tomato puree
3 tins of beans - I used chick peas, black eyed peas and adzuki, but you can have any combination
3 tbsp of mixed herbs
3 crushed garlic cloves
3 tbsp of Worcester sauce
2 beef stock cubes (or you can use vegetable stock)
Couple good glugs of balsamic vinegar


  • Put the onions in the pan with enough water to cover the bottom and cook until softened, takes about 5 minutes
  • Add all the chopped up vegetables, balsamic vinegar and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Chuck in all the other ingredients, plus about 200ml of water (I usually half fill the empty tin from the tomatoes and use that) Stir and simmer with the lid on the pan for about 30 minutes. 
  • The stew should be thick and glossy, if it isn't thick enough for you, continue simmering for another 10 minutes with the lid off.
  • Season to taste and serve! 

I like it in a huge bowl with a big spoon! MrC enjoys it with a chunk of bread to wipe up the gravy. You can try it stuffed in a wholemeal pitta, or on a baked potato, or with rice or over pasta (with a little cheese ??! ) or maybe all of them if you're good with leftovers! It makes a lot! I've got my eye on some which I'm planning to use to stuff red peppers and then bake.

Oh, and if you like it spicy, try adding some chilli, beautiful! 

Beef Casserole Recipe - Slimming World Syn Free!

This is a delicious, warming and easy recipe for beef casserole. I'm not very good at following recipes myself, I tend to not weigh anything unless I have to or forget to buy an ingredient here or there. Whoops! So this one, although my own, is to be used as a guide. Go with what you fancy (or have in the fridge!)

It's Syn Free on Slimming World's Extra Easy plan. Pack it full of vegetables if you want to and/or serve with extra vegetables and get food optimising.

500g of stewing beef
1 large chopped onion
4 carrots, sliced
4 or 5 large handfuls of fresh washed spinach
Beef stock made with 2 stock cubes (about a litre I think)
1 minced clove of garlic (or 1 large tbsp of garlic granules/powder) If you haven't got a mincer, bash it around a bit with the back of the knife and chuck it in.


  1. Dry fry the beef in a hot pan until all browned. 
  2. Set the meat aside, drain out any fat from the pan, but leave the brown bits.  Add the chopped onions to the pan and add a little water (just enough to cover them) Soften the onions, making sure all the lovely brown bits from the beef are dislodged from the bottom of the pan. These will give your casserole a lovely flavour.
  3. Once softened, add the beef you'd set aside earlier, sliced carrots and minced garlic (or granules/powder) and add enough stock to cover the ingredients in the pan.
  4. Bring everything up to boil, turn the pan down, add the lid and simmer for about 60 minutes. Stir occasionally and if needed add more water.
  5. Five minutes before serving, check and see if it needs any salt or pepper. I tend to season at the end, especially when using stock cubes as they can be very salty.
  6. Once seasoned, add the spinach leaves and stir through.
  7. Voila! 

The casserole can also be cooked in the slow cooker or oven. 

Slow Cooker
Brown the meat and cook the onions as directed, add all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Add a little less stock and only check it once about half way through. Did you know every time you lift the lid on your slow cooker, you should add 20 minutes to the cooking time? Stir the spinach in 25 minutes before serving.

For the oven, follow points 1 to 3, then transfer into a casserole dish. Put in the oven with a lid for 60 to 90 minutes at 190 degrees. Stir the spinach leaves in 5 minutes before serving.

Can be frozen, just leave the spinach leaves out and add when its reheated.

Served with rice or potatoes and a portion or three of vegetables, whatever takes your fancy. Would also be great over a baked potato.


Try adding some extra herbs or chilli to spice it up
At the end, you an always add a dollop (technical term) of fromage frais to make a lovely creamy gravy. (this will add a couple of Syns though)
Worcester sauce or mustard powder can also be added to give the casserole added depth of flavour and taste. 

Experiment, find what you like. That's what makes cooking fun! 

Photo A Day Challenge - Week 3 Round Up

Phew,  21 whole days and I'm still here, posting an image which fits the prompt set by Chantelle over at Fat Mum Slim. Never thought I would stick to it..... or enjoy it quite so much.

I'm finding it's helping me focus on the photography, whether that's taking it or finding an image in my archive, and to think outside the box about the normal pictures I would take.

The images on the Facebook page. which people post to, are just inspiring and I can lose hours looking through them.I t's a closed group, but you can request to join, just search for 'FMS Photo A Day'

Here's my round up for the week.

There's a mix of staged images and quick candid shots taken with my iPhone.

I post regularly on my other blog, FayC Glass Half Full Depiction, if you'd like to see more images and descriptions to go with these prompts.

And if this inspires you to give the challenge a go, take a look at Chantelle's Blog for details. You don't have to do a full month or even a week. You can post up when you want to, there's no pressure.  quality and type of image is wide and varied, from the quick snap on the phone to something beautifully edited with Photoshop.

So if you're looking for a distraction, due to say illness or wanting to take you mind off snacking (yup, thats me!) to improve your photography skills, or just try something different, then what's stopping you from giving it a go?

Meal Planning Monday 20th January #MealPlanningMonday

Meal Planning Monday

This week's menu looks like this
  • Baked potato, beans and cheese (Cheese as HE)
  • Liver and onions, with carrot and suede mash with vegetables (Syn free)
  • Pork, rice and beans (Syn free)
  • Pork casserole with potato and vegetable (Syn free)
  • Bean bolognaise with carrot & courgette tagliatelle (Syn free)
  • Stuffed peppers with bacon and rice

Am pleased to say I didn't throw any food away last week. Every last scrap was used up, nothing was wasted. I'm pretty good at using up food but there's usually something which ends up in the bin. Let's see how I get on with this menu and food shop.

Fingers crossed I've lost a pound or two when I weigh in later too. 

Don't forget to check in for more meal planning inspiration over at Mrs M's. Click the image at the top of the post.

Take care and have a great week! 

Photo A Day Challenge - Week 2 Round Up


Week two completed and I think I've made a few Facebook friends as well. Thoroughly enjoyed this week's prompts. I even set up four of the images to fit rather than resorting to archived pictures, so feeling very pleased with myself.

The prompts were

8: Lucky Number
9: Natural
10: Manmade
11: Looking Down
12: Colourful
13: Makes Me smile
14: Three Things

What do you think?

Meal Planning Monday - 13th January #MealPlanningMonday

Meal Planning Monday

Really enjoyed last week's menu and hopefully when I weigh in later, I'll be able to report a loss because of it. The paprika pork was amazing and I'm having it again, but with chicken, if that makes sense. I'm cheating a little though. Last week I used the Sunday roast to make a couple of meals, which was very cost effective, so thought I'd do that again. So at the time of posting, I'll have already had the roast chicken! Hope you don't do me under the trades description act.

Onto the plan

Roast Chicken, potato and vegetables - Syn free
Paprika Chicken - Syn free
Leek and Potato Soup - Syn free
Butternut Squash Risotto with green vegetables - Syn free
Tomato Beef Burgers with rice and vegetables - Syn free
Liver & Onions with Mash and Cabbage - Syn free
Slimming World Chips, Eggs and Mixed Beans - Syn free

Just realised it's all Syn free! Fabulous. Plenty left for snacks! 

Lunches will be left overs or savoury rice and porridge with fruit for breakfast (which I must admit am loving more than I thought I would)

And if you're wondering what tomato beef burgers are its a meal I've picked up somewhere. I'll post the recipe later this week, please check back.

There you go, sorted. 

Don't forget to check out other meal plans with At Home with Mrs M. Click the badge at the top of the page to get yourself there.

Update at 1500 YAY!!!!! 4lbs off. Last weeks plan really worked!

Photo A Day Challenge - Week 1 Round Up

Set myself a challenge for January of joining in with #FMSPhotoADay. 'What's that?' I hear you say. Well, it's just what it says on the tin. You're given a prompt for each day and take a photograph which fills the brief.

If you want more details go and take a look at Fat Mum Slim's page here.

I tried to do this last year and failed, so I can't quite believe I've managed a whole week already. I want to learn how to use my camera and this is really helping: it keeps me looking out for great pictures to take and generally just have some fun while I'm doing it!

The Facebook page is brilliant, some wonderfully talented and generous people post from all over the world. The images are just mind blowing.

And I've also been posting them over on my other blog Glass Half Full Depiction, which was set up just for photography. But thought I'd give a weekly round up here.

Hope you like them! 

What do you think?

If you'd like to join in, give it a go, it's lots of fun

Meal Planning Monday 6th January 2014 #MealPlanningMonday

Meal Planning Monday

Well, here I am joining up with Mrs M's meal planning Monday, just like the old days. I may not have posted the meal plans, but I've still been doing them. 

They're still Slimming World friendly and I've a good feeling about 2014!

This week's plan, with some help from my Slimming World group friends, as I'm still suffering from a really bad cold and needed some inspiration, looks like this:-

  • Slimming World Tomato Soup (the one with pickled onions) Syn free
  • Beef Stew with Dumplings 10 syns (syn free if you leave out the dumplings)
  • Sweet and Sour Pork and rice 1 syn
  • Paprika Pork Syn free
  • Homemade Burger and Slimming World Chips and salad Syn free
  • Lamb chops, mash and vegetables Syn free

We'll be having the stew over two nights, once from the pot and again in the oven, with the dumplings like a cobbler. And yes, there's a lot of pork, but we had a large joint of it on Sunday and with there just the two of us, it'll keep us going.

Breakfast will be porridge made with water (which I actually love) and fruit. Lunches will be something from the leftovers of the evening before, so they could be interesting. I'm determined to waste as little food as possible and make things go further.

Don't forget to check out other meal plans over at Mrs M's and I'll check in next week and see if I've managed to actually lose some weight

It's the little things .......

......which make a big difference

You know, the small things someone special in your life does for you, which maybe inconsequential to anyone else, but mean the world to you. Here are my top 10 courtesy of MrC

  1. When the TV remote or my kindle needs charging, I can pass it over and know it'll be sorted
  2. Any IT queries? He's onto it, he's my very own helpline number
  3. Always available for wonderful foot rubs when the pin wielding fairies start.
  4. Organises the media centre, so all our music and films are available at the touch of button
  5. Knows what I need, before I even realise it and sorts it out
  6. Had the brilliant idea of having remote controlled sockets. So easy turning on cabinet lights now, rather than scrabbling behind, trying to find the switch.
  7. Something needs backing up/setting up? It's done, no need to worry about it
  8. Does all the research when buying new stuff, from the best washing machine to the right paint for the job
  9. Says the right things at the right time
  10. Just knows and gets me

I'm so lucky to live with my best friend, what more could a girl ask for? 

What little things do your loved ones do for you which make a big difference?