Atkins Diet

I’ve started doing ‘The Atkins’ version of a low carb diet initially as it’s something I’ve done before and I know works. Have a look at ‘The Atkins’ website for a great summary and recipes. I’ve an older paperback version of the original guide which I bring out every couple of years. The premise which never made sense to me until I saw the weight come off the first time is that you can only eat meat; fish, cheese and fats. You can also have vegetables but only the non-starchy (woody) ones so no potatoes. They however need to make up your net carb daily allowance which is 20 net carbs. Net carbs are the carbohydrate value you see on the side of the packet minus the carbohydrate fibre.  Now there are also minor exceptions to the meat; fish and cheese lists but there are very specific such as cottage cheese . A core tip would be to not ignore the fats. Actually eating fat on this diet really helps. Sounds weird but true! Also, make sure you eat more fresh foods rather than pre-packaged especially in the first weeks which is known as induction as trying to work out carbohydrate value hidden in things like sausages or breading even lightly on meats is difficult and can really ruin your diet.


Other key tips I tell anyone starting the diet is to buy some ‘Ketostix’ from eBay or health food store as they measure the amount of ketosis you are going through which is a true indicator of whether the fat burning is working. It also helps if you’ve eaten something and then you test yourself you can really know whether that tiny bit of ketchup knocked you off your diet or not and trust me it does. Do not so much as lick a boiled sweet, especially in induction. I’m not kidding! I’d also recommend you take a multi-vitamin; buy full fat cream as you end up using it for everything and a lot of eggs.


So I’m about two stone heavier than I’d like to be. I mean I’m not big at all at a size 14 but as I’m getting married I’d like to be in best shape I can be.  I actually don’t  eat that badly normally but I’ve been on some big holidays recently and eaten a lot of pizza in New York for examples. It was worth though.. lol.


I’ve lots more meal plans; tips and recipes to share so I’ll add these as the weeks go on. Good luck if you are trying low carb and please contact me if you want to share or discuss anything.


Engagement Announcement

Firstly I’d like to say I’m so sorry for the absence in the past few months but I’ve been very busy and had some major life altering events. I got engaged! That means I’ve lots of lovely crafts to blog about over the next year. Also, linked to that I am doing the inevitable diet before getting married so that means I’m in a crazy state of trying and amending low carb recipes at the moment. Some of these recipes at moment are not going incredibly well so I’ll share my mistakes but more importantly how I improve them to make them more edible.


If you want to know about the proposal I’ll share the key moment which was a very romantic picnic in Central Park, New York on a warm afternoon. We’d picked up some sandwiches and these gorgeous canned cocktails which I know sounds awful but they ice cold flavoured Margarita mixes so for lazy about people watching on the grass they were just perfect. A little tip for people planning on engaged in Central Park is not to do it on top of a hill unless however you love the spectacle of everyone clapping and cheering around you! I still can’t decide whether I loved or hated it but I think in the end it was a combination of both.

E3 Corndogs

This week is the famous E3 Video game series of company events advertising the year to come in consoles; technology and games. It is based in the US and live streamed via Twitch and Youtube and for the first time at slightly less unsociable times of the day.

Last night started with Xbox showcasing their Xbox One X product at a super ridiculous price of $499 which will likely be matched in the UK at £499. Anyway, myself and my other half get into the US spirit by making themed food to go with it. Therefore, the first mandatory item was Corndogs. I’m using cups as my form of measurement which is not very English and the definition is literally that.. grab a normal sized coffee cup. It more important that your relative proportions are correct and you check the thickness of the batter rather than get the grams right for your mix.


2 cups pancake mix (ready made stuff. I had some Buttermilk mix in. You can buy this in England)

1 cup Cornmeal (or semolina if you struggle)

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 tablespoon honey

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

Packet or tin or hot dogs

Packet of BBQ skewers or lollipop skewers (soak the in water for a few hours so they don’t burn)

Ketchup and Mustard

US food baskets (optional)

High heat oil such as Canola or Sunflower



  1. Mix together in a bowl or jug so it’s super thick. Try to go slowly with the milk to do this rather than the other way around making the mix too floury
  2. Push the dogs onto the sticksIMG_9695
  3. Pour the batter into a tall container if its not already. Dip the dogs into the batter so they give a thick coating (mine was so thick they stood upIMG_9705
  4. Heat about an inch oil is a pan so it’s bubbling hot
  5. Lay the dogs down slowly and away from you so you don’t splash yourself
  6. Cook for 3 mins roughly so they are golden brown. I left mine a little too long so they were a bit dark but lovely none the less
  7. Lay onto kitchen paper to drain and serve warmIMG_9706
  8. Mix together (swirl) ketchup and mustard in a small pot for an authentic dipping sauce

​Pretty Garden Bunting (Fast method)

I love bunting and have bought and made lots over the past over the past few years. I’ve got it down to an art form of making it quickly and cheaply.  You can spend a fortune now for such a simple item.
– Scraps of pretty material
– Wonderweb (magic iron on tape)
– Long piece of ribbon or elastic
– Iron or even hair straighteners
– Scissors
1. Folder your material in half and iron/flat iron so there is a crease
2. Cut into triangle shapes leaving the crease at the top of the triangle (so the ribbon/elastic can be thread through it)
3. Cut a square and a triangle of iron on tape and iron onto the inside of one of the triangles
4. Peel off the other side and place the triangle at the point of the ribbon/elastic you want it and folder the other half over. Iron over to stick together
5. Repeat until you have the length of bunting you need
6. If you fabric frays a lot you can hem in the edges either with iron on tape; sew or even use pinking shears (the serrated edge scissors) to make neat
You can use pretty much any fabric you like. A nice touch for outdoor bunting is to use oil cloth as it’s waterproof but to be honest I’ve had lots of normal fabric out in all weathers and it looks great for an entire year.

Classic Cherry Cake

I’ve had this recipe from my mum since I was kid. I’m not entirely sure where she got it from but it isn’t rocket science, however the real trick is getting the cherries not to sink! The best way to do this is to make sure the cake mixture isn’t too thin and even cut some of the cherries up to make them lighter. 

Cherry Cake


225g Butter

225g Icing sugar

4 eggs beaten

225g Plain flour

½ tbsp baking powder

250g cherries quartered

110g ground almonds

Splash almond essence

2 tbs brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Cream butter; eggs and sugar together until fluffy
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together and fold in
  4. Add the cherries; almond essence and almonds and mix lightly
  5. Add to a greased baking tin
  6. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and then cover the tin with foil as the cake burns quickly
  7. Bake for 30 mins at 180 degrees

Update: 12th June 2017

I did a variation of this at the weekend and used a jar of gin soaked berries and made them into cupcake forms. You can still taste the gin when cooked!! Also remember to sprinkle brown sugar on the top to get a nice crunch and sweet finish.

Growing Cat Grass for Molly Moo Cat


Every since I’ve had my cat Molly Moo (who you have met before in Blog I’ve regularly grown her Cat Grass. Cat Grass is really good for digestion in cats and often I’ve seen Molly when she’s had a big meal or seeming a bit lazy go straight for her grass and then she’s running around like a crazy lady in no time. Apparently if you have a long haired cat it can also really help with furballs but Molly is short haired so I have no experience of this.
You can buy seeds pretty much anywhere but I’ve included an Amazon link below.
Simply grab a plant pot with potting compost; add a layer of seeds and water Then grow like wild fire and are super resilient.
A few tips are to sow them densely as Molly likes a good chomp across a few blades at once; remember to water and give them sunlight. Don’t make the mistake of leaving them out in your garden unless you enjoy other cats visiting (but you may well like this!). I also like the plant pot method rather than just sewing into your flower beds as Molly can then have it inside on a rainy day and you can keep them controlled.


I woke up this morning with a real craving for hot chocolate. I’ve been walking a lot recently getting to around 20k steps a day so I think I’m just lacking sugar. I had a vague memory of some incredible looking hot chocolate I’d seen Jamie Oliver make on a TV show once so I decided to look it up. It stuck in my memory because as a kid hot chocolate to me was the cheap powdered stuff that you add hot water to and when I saw this I worked out I’d not been having hot chocolate at all. I’d not even been having real Cocoa!

I was therefore interested to see what Mrs Beeton had gathered about hot chocolate in her day and was very amused to find it was an almost identical recipe to Jamie. It seems real hot chocolate cannot be replicated or messed with.


INGREDIENTS.– Allow ½ oz. of chocolate to each person; to every oz. allow ½ pint of water, ½ pint of milk. Mode.– Make the milk-and-water hot; scrape the chocolate into it, and stir the mixture constantly and quickly until the chocolate is dissolved; bring it to the boiling point, stir it well, and serve directly with white sugar. Chocolate prepared with in a mill, as shown in the engraving, is made by putting in the scraped chocolate, pouring over it the boiling milk-and-water, and milling it over the fire until hot and frothy. Sufficient.– Allow ½ oz. of cake chocolate to each person.

CHOCOLATE AND COCOA.– Both these preparations are made from the seeds or beans of Chocolatethe cacao-tree, which grows in the West Indies and South America. The Spanish, and the proper name, is cacao, not cocoa, as it is generally spelt. From this mistake, the tree from which the beverage is procured has been often confounded with the palm that produces the edible cocoa-nuts, which are the produce of the cocoa-tree (Cocos nucifera), whereas the tree from which chocolate is procured is very different (the Theobroma cacao). The cocoa-tree was cultivated by the aboriginal inhabitants of South America, particularly in Mexico, where, according to Humboldt, it was reared by Montezuma. It was transplanted thence into other dependencies of the Spanish monarchy in 1520; and it was so highly esteemed by Linnaeus receive from him the name now conferred upon it, of Theobroma, a term derived from the Greek, and signifying “food for gods.” Chocolate has always been a favourite beverage among the Spaniards and Creoles, and was considered here as a great luxury when first introduced, after the discovery of America; but the high duties laid upon it, confined it long almost entirely to the wealthier classes. Before it was subjected to duty, Mr. Bryan Edwards stated that cocoa plantations were numerous in Jamaica, but that the duty caused their almost entire ruin. The removal of this duty has increased their cultivation. (For engraving of cocoa-bean, see No. 1816.)”



INGREDIENTS.– Allow 2 teaspoonfuls of the prepared cocoa to 1 breakfast-cup; boiling milk and boiling water. Mode.– Put the cocoa into a breakfast-cup, pour over it sufficient cold milk to make it into a smooth paste; then add equal quantities of boiling milk and boiling water, and stir all well together. Care must  be taken not to allow the milk to get burnt, as it will entirely spoil the flavour of the preparation. The above directions are usually given for making the prepared cocoa. The rock cocoa, or that bought in a solid piece, should be scraped, and made in the same manner, taking care to rub down all the lumps before the boiling liquid is added. Sufficient — 2 teaspoonfuls of prepared cocoa for 1 breakfast-cup, or ¼ oz. of the rock cocoa for the same quantity.”


Everdine Review

So in my usual style of trying to eat better (than takeaways!) when i come home from work really tired I found an advert in Woman’s Health magazine for a company called Everdine.

Their concept is clean eating; delivered efficiently that you can prepare quickly. As a new member you can grab a code from an existing member (my is MELANIE2) if you want to try it cheaply. I paid under £25 for 8 meals. Compared to other companies there’s a really big range to choose from so myself and my other half chose different ones so we could get a really good sample.

I picked the duck; mushroom pasta and the other half got the beef and some lovely looking burritos.


Note the little stars we put on to remember who had chosen what. I’d recommend an enhancement Everdine could do is let you mark you choices online so they do that for you but it’s a nice to have addition.

When they arrive the box was well designed and items such as your menu are beautifully designed using high quality ingredients. Small point which may just be to do with the courier but our box was damaged so they had taped it up which is normally fine but with food parcels it always makes me feel uneasy.

The box and packaging are like other companies recyclable in every way so that’s not only great from an environmental standpoint but also for people like me who have a tint standard bin now!

The boxes the food comes in is well done and professional looking. I neatly stacked our boxes in the fridge ready for the busy week ahead at work.


Monday night came and I pulled out our first two favorite dishes. They are predominantly microwaveable although the odd one required/had elements of preferring oven cooking. When I started to read the cooking instructions i realised there were sometimes options to cook from chilled and sometimes frozen. Arghh I didn’t realise (and should have from the excellent expiry dates on the packing which were way in the future) I should have stored them all in the freezer. I figured I’d be ok if I cooked them all this week but sometimes there were only from frozen instructions.

My favourite dish is the mushroom pasta . Overall the portions were generous and all meals were full of vegetables and clearly lots of vitamins and healthy ingredients.


Will I order more.. the answer I’m afraid is no for two main reasons. The first is that I think my palette is too used to poor food so I prefer more fatty; salty dishes so eating this clean every day of the week would drive me crazy but some people will absolutely love this. Also, the price after the promotion goes up significantly to around £40-50 a week. my issue is that the nights I want a takeaway or just a piece of toast I’ll feel really guilty, however saying that if you freeze these they definitely seem to last a long time so maybe that’s the best way forward. Also, I really do enjoy cooking and the complete lack of preparation which some people would love really didn’t work for me every day.


Making a Picnic Basket

Making a Picnic Basket
For Christmas we received a lovely hamper of sweets and chocolates. It came in a picnic basket which is really sturdy and I’ve always wanted one of those traditional picnic hampers.
By way of priority in making sure this was a good and usable idea I grabbed a bottle of nice wine from the wine rack to make sure it would fit and therefore I wouldn’t end up with a picnic basket I wouldn’t use. It fitted! So the next thing on the list was to ‘Google’ baskets I liked the look of and I really like ‘Cath Kidston’ or inspired by floral prints. I didn’t think it was a practical idea to use some of the pretty fabric scraps I had in the house because just one spill of food or wine would run the basket so I found an old oil cloth tablecloth that had torn so was perfect for cutting up. I think I got the table cloth from ‘eBay’ where you can buy them by the meter for a few pounds.
Next I ran around the house collecting up plastic plates; cutlery; salt n pepper shakers, bottle stoppers and glasses I would like in the basket. I made sure they would fit and looked on ‘Pinterest’ at house those baskets normally look. I then grabbed a piece of A4 card and stuck the oil cloth around it (use Superglue or really strong glue) so I’d have a sturdy lid insert cover. I then glued the oil cloth to inside of the basket and made some little cup holders to keep my cups in place.
On the insert cover lid I placed my plates and cutlery where I’d like to sit and used a craft knife to make slits down each side. I inserted elastic (the basic stuff you buy to put in clothes) and tied and glued it around the back. Finally I used my trusty staple gun to attach the insert cover lid to the lid of the basket.
I’m really pleased with result and it cost me nothing than recycling old materials. Happy Summer Picnics for me!

Decoupage or the more trendy Decopatch absolutely anything

I think I’ve been decoupaging since I can remember. Originally a Victorian past time it is beautifully described in Wikipedia as the following,
“Decoupage or Découpage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, gold leaf and other decorative elements. Commonly, an object like a small box or an item of furniture is covered by cutouts from magazines or from purpose-manufactured papers.​”
My definition is to cover anything and everything the white glue you had at school that used to stick your fingers together with (and was stored in little cinema film black containers with a grey lid if you are as old as me). When you are little that means grabbing a box of cornflakes and after scoffing the residual packet because you were too impatient to wait for it to be emptied then grabbing whatever you had in your craft box including tissue paper; glitter and sequins to make a jewelry box.
As an adult I’ve only refined my technique a little. I now buy the very pretty; if a little expensive Decopatch papers which is a really lovely brand that sells these papers and nicer jars of the glue. I still use traditional white PVA glue as it’s the best and cheapest but I do use paintbrushes as the little plastic glue sticks you had as a kid really cut it anymore.
So grab any object you want to cover. Every Christmas one of my work suppliers sends us boxes of chocolates and cups in these really cute wooden boxes so they are perfect for covering. Fill a separate put with PVA glue. Add a tiny bit of water if it’s particularly thick. I use disposable plastic bowls that meant for bulk birthday parties. I think they cost me a few pounds for 100. This means you only pour out what you need and you don’t have to wash the pot when you are done. I do wash my paintbrushes but make sure you do it straight away and will super hot soapy water and they come out fine.
Next grab your paper. You can use the posh printed ones or standard tissue paper but be careful with the really cheap stuff meant for kids as the dyes can leak it once mixed with the glue. Do a trial if in doubt. Your initial temptation is to rip the paper into tiny pieces but actually I’ve found you can keep the integrity of the pretty pattern by doing in my larger sheets. Brush a thin layer of glue on your item then press the paper on top. If the glue hasn’t seeped through yet use your brush or hands to really smooth it down. They get some more glue and brush over the top. Repeat until you item is covered.
I’d also recommend doing a final glue layer to give it protection.
I stuck down some felt on the inside of the box to make a nice lining but you can decoupage that too if you like.