Monday, January 27, 2014

Let the birthday celebrations begin!

It is only a few days to go before my "big" birthday!  I am strangely excited about this new chapter in my life.  I don't know why!  But it will be interesting to watch how this new decade evolves.  I know Alan and I are hoping to travel and just have a bit more time together.  Whatever happens, it will be fun!

This weekend was the beginning of my celebrations, and I met my friend, Sue, for coffee and something yummy at one of my favourite restaurants in Ayr  - Filippo's!

We succumbed to the look of this lemon-lime cheesecake and both of us ordered one (each).  We learned this was a mistake, the portion sizes are so big and the cheesecake is so delicious and rich........but there was no way either of us could possibly finish a whole one.  (this might have something to do with both of us going to either Weightwatchers or other slimming clubs!  Our bodies are not used to the size of these portions!)  We did our best though, and made a promise - if we ever do this again, we will split one.  They are too delicious to swear off them forever!  ;-)

Filippo's is also famous for its ice cream - winning many awards through the years. And when we were paying, we noticed they had Haggis ice cream on offer!  Well, it was Roberts Burns' birthday, a big day in Ayrshire especially, although his birthday is celebrated all over the world.  I do like Haggis, in small doses and with "tatties and neeps"  (turnips and potatoes!), but I could not imagine eating Haggis flavoured ice cream....however, my daughter enjoys Haggis a lot, for some I bought her 2 scoops.  On the way home, I dropped by her place and presented her with this unique snack.  Unfortunately, for her anyway, haggis and ice cream did not mix. But she appreciated the gesture!

My grandson's birthday party was also this weekend and I had to collect the cake on the way there. I couldn't wait to see it!  We have an amazing baker in the area - Fizzy's Icing On The Cake.  She is very creative and will try to design anything you throw at her, including dinosaurs fighting at the base of a volcano!

I took this picture with my phone in the car, after picking it up for the party.  This is the heaviest cake I have ever tried to lift!  There are at least 8 layers and when the 12 pieces were cut for Corbyn's guests, it was as if the cake had not been touched.  This is not a good thing in our family - this week anyway.  This is the week of birthday cakes in the Graham household - with mine only a day away......let us hope mine is just a bit smaller.  I am not really expecting an erupting volcano either! 

He had a very sweet party at Kidz Play, with a few class mates, some family friends and other friends he knows.  I think that is impressive for a little guy. 

But now I have to get ready for work, this last day of my 5th decade!

"Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." - Jack Benny


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Irish Beef Stew

With the beginning of 2014, I decided to get back on the Weightwatchers bandwagon!  Even though I am only 7 pounds heavier than I should be, best to catch this before it gets out of control......And there is a new program called Simple Start - just in time for me to try a different approach. 

At the end of the first week, my weight loss was not comparable to the others in my group, but this might be because I am so close to my goal weight.  The disappointment made me lose focus a bit this week.  So I went to the grocery store and stocked up on filling and healthy food, especially looking at cooking my own meals again instead of depending on Alan to do the cooking. (although with the simple start - whatever he cooks is acceptable, he is basically a meat and potatoes kind of guy!)

My first cooking venture in a long time was a WeightWatchers' recipe I found on their eSource, and it was amazing!  In theory, it made 4 servings, but with the filling and healthy or simple start approach, you just eat a decent sized portion - so it might go further or not.  In our case, it did not!  But wait til you see what happened -

After having a wonderful morning and afternoon with my grandson, and with Alan having gone to work - I was home alone until about 9:30pm.  I did commit myself to having something yummy for Alan to eat when he got home, so I hit the kitchen and made Irish Beef Stew! 

If you go on the link, there is the offer of watching a video about this recipe, but the link did not work for me.  But it is not rocket science to make beef stew so that was ok! 

The only problem and difficulty with this recipe is cutting up that stewing steak.  I always forget how hard it is to work with and, at the beginning, I swore never to use it again.  I do that whole scenario about once every 5 - 6 years. It takes me about that long to forget how much I hate cutting up stewing steak! But, after it was all done, that effort was so worth it and I would do it again anytime.

I intended to wait for Alan to come home and have a very late dinner with him, but I couldn't. It looked so delicious, I had a small taster bowl!  (I don't have a sense of smell, but Alan said it also smelled really good!)  Then, when he arrived, we each had a bowl, so in theory, that was about 2.5 servings. So I was looking forward to a fantastic lunch the next day.......

However, it was not meant to be - Alan went back for seconds, asked me if I wanted any and I said no. He came back with a huge bowl, saying after he took what he wanted, it didn't look like enough to keep.  So no Irish Beef Stew lunch for me the next day.  Oh well, it was nice that he enjoyed it that much. He even asked for the recipe!  So here it is straight from the WW website (the only thing I did differently was to use Beef Stock cubes and not Vegetable):

Irish Beef Stew



  • Heat cooking spray in a large saucepan then add the stewing steak a little at a time, so that it sears and browns.
  • Add the onion, carrots, leeks and stock. Season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered for 2 hours. Check the level of liquid occasionally adding more stock if needed.
  • When the meat is tender add the potatoes and cook them until tender – about 20 minutes. Stir the peas into the stew and cook gently for another 3-4 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

Simmering - before the potatoes and peas were added.
"The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live."  ~Confucius