30 day shred

I have finally decided to try out this 30 day shred I've heard so much about.

I was browsing through our holiday photo's and so many of them made me cringe,
all the ones I am in to be more precise!
You see I'm fat. Oh and I'm short. And I've got big breasts.
None of which work in my favour for looking slim.
but basically, I'm fat.
I could go on...and you could tell me I look fine...and we might just leave it at that.
But the truth is I don't feel fine.
I don't feel fine about the fact my jeans feel tight, or about the fact that lately I have to unbutton them when I sit down.
I also don't feel fine about being out of breath when I have to walk up the stairs quite fast...or speed walk after my kids when they cycle to school.
My wobbly arms and jelly belly...don't feel fine about them either.
And I definitely don't feel fine about that number on the weighing scale.

So yes. I'm doing the 30 day shred.

So far I've (only) done 3 days and it's HARD!!!

It's only 20 minutes a day. Not long at all.
But oh boy does Jillian make you work, sweat and feel pain!
There are three different levels to this workout and the idea is that you do ten days of each level.
Each level is circuit based with a mixture of cardio, strength and abs.
I'm finding it hard at the moment, the cardio especially is getting to me, even though it's only (ONLY) two minutes at a time. I'm hoping it will get better as the days go by and I'm hoping I will be able to do it without having to stop to catch my breath.

I woke up on day 2 feeling quite sore everywhere! Lifting my coffee cup in the morning was hard, today wasn't much better.
  A sign of a good workout I guess.
Soon I'll feel stronger, healthier and hopefully slimmer for it!

Here's what I looked like after day 1 of the shred.
A hot sweaty mess.
Have you done the 30 day shred, thinking of doing it or have got any tips? I'd love to hear from you. 
Support is more than welcome.


A few delicious Lotus Biscoff Spread ideas

We have a new family favourite in our house!
The Lotus Biscoff spread.
Having grown up in Belgium I have always been very familiar with the little red biscuits.
For as long as I can remember we've always had them in the house, they usually came out at breakfast time (my dad loved to have them in between his sandwiches), at snack time (what child doesn't love these biscuits) and when we had family over they always made an appearance on the table.
Coffee and a Lotus biscuit are a must!
You can only imagine how excited I was when I found out Lotus had created a spread!
The spread is available in both smooth and crunchy varieties and we tried out the crunchy variety.
Holey Moley it is amazing!
It's like a biscuit in a jar.
I have caught myself a couple of times just eating it with a spoon from the jar, and the kids and husband were more than happy to do this as well.
This spread is so versatile and can be used in so many different ways. The smooth version can even be incorporated into dips, frostings and cakes!
Here are some ideas on how we used our crunchy spread.

On toast

I have been loving my breakfast these days. Cup of coffee, warm toast with Biscoff spread...yummy!


These are SO good! We blended together some vanilla ice cream, milk, a banana and two spoons of Biscoff spread. The result was a delicious milkshake that the kids loved and have been asking for again and again. 

 Lunchbox sandwiches

With school starting again and having one fussy eater my lunchbox dilemma's are now sorted.
Emily will happily munch her crunchy spread sandwiches and I no longer have to pull out my hair trying to figure out what to put on her sandwiches.

Spread on a cracker for a delicious mid morning snack

The kids love this snack and we found out it goes really well with chocolate spread, so most of the time they ended up sandwiching both crackers together. I loved adding some apple to my Biscoff  cracker for even more crunch, yummy.

Lotus Biscoff caramelised spread is the perfect alternative to peanut butter and chocolate spread. It has NO added flavours, colours or hydrogenated fats and it is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

We were kindly send our Biscoff spread for reviewing purposes and all  thoughts and opinions are our own.



Our Disneyland Paris experience

We just had the most amazing, magical weekend ever.
We went to Disneyland Paris.
We had spend the week before in Belgium visiting family and friends and wanted to take advantage of already being on the mainland. So after a week of being really excited we finally left destination Paris. The drive itself was quite straight forward and including two stops took us just under 4 hours. 
We arrived before 10 and immediately booked into our hotel which was Hotel Cheyenne.
I loved this western style hotel and the staff were all so friendly.
We couldn't actually check into our room until 3 pm so after booking our lunch and dinner at the hotel reception we headed straight for the parks.
The kids were so excited on the short bus ride over to the park.
Their faces were literally alight with excitement.
Once through the gates we walked toward the pretty castle where we visited the dragon cave. 
Emily couldn't get enough of the dragon! He actually became a daily must to visit!
I'd forgotten to grab a map at the park entrance but did remember a great ride from a previous visit many years ago, Thunder Mountain.
The queue was about 40 minutes but actually went quite fast, there were just so many interesting things to see. We were lucky and got to sit at the very front of the runaway train, which was probably a good thing as the front moves a bit slower than the back, but oh boy did we move! As we climbed out of the ride Emily said she must have had a heart attack and dramatically announced she did not like fast rides.
As we continued walking we found ourselves near the Haunted Mansion.
Both kids did not like the look of the house or the "creepy music" but decided to go on anyway. The ride itself was great and the effects amazing but the kids weren't too convinced. Maybe a bit too scary for them.
Since we'd done two scary rides we thought it would be nice to do a few quieter things so we visited the Swiss Family Robinson's tree which was so cool and we also went on the Dumbo ride and It's a small world. 
Afterwards Dylan and Simon went on Space Mountain, Emily was still too small so we explored Discovery land and then met them at the exit. Dylan's reaction to the ride was hilarious and he couldn't stop talking about it!
Time goes fast in Disneyland and before we knew it we had to head back to our hotel where we had booked our dinner. While we were there we also picked up our hotel key cards. 
We had a bit of a problem with our first room (REALLY bad musky smell) but after informing the staff we got moved to a lovely new room. The kids were really excited about the bunk beds and all the Far West style decorations, yay!
As soon as dinner was finished, which was a lovely buffet with plenty of choice, we headed back to the parks. We decided to spend our evening at the Walt Disney Studios. The kids really wanted to go on the Ratatouille ride but the queue was 130 minutes!!! Fast passes weren't available anymore so we decided to leave that one for the next day.
We loved walking around the Disney Studios and so did the kids. Most of their favourite characters were there and the rides were pretty amazing too. Dylan loved the parachute drop and Emily the Slinky ride.

By the time we headed back to the hotel it was dark and the Studios Park was closing. We wanted to stay for the fireworks but we were all just way too tired.
After a nice rest we got up early to have breakfast which was at Mickey's cafe in The Village.
We surprised the kids with having breakfast with the characters, something we had kept a secret from them!
Dylan's face when we walked in and he noticed Mickey Mouse and the other characters was priceless.
Emily on the other hand was a bit starstruck and shy. She didn't dare go up to Mickey to have her photo taken. We also met Pluto and Tac the chipmunk. It was such a great experience and seeing the kids excited faces was the best!
After breakfast we headed back to the park where Simon walked around Fantasy land with the kids while I went to queue up to get a ticket to meet a princess.   It was a bit of a wait but well worth it as we got to meet Snow White. Emily had already changed into her princess Anna's dress (her early birthday present) and Snow White was really pleased to meet a fellow princess. 
It was quite funny actually because a lot of the staff members all over the park greeted Emily with "oh hello princess". We told Emily to curtsy every time someone greeted her and it was so cute.
After meeting Snow White we went back to the Disney Studios to pick up our Ratatouille fast passes and we ended up meeting Buzz Lightyear!
 We were also just in time to see the Stars n Cars parade where the kids got to meet a few more characters. Pinocchio was the funniest and full of energy, he even gave Dylan a head rub!
We did a few more rides and the most amazing one was Crush's Coaster. What a ride!
Definitely a family favourite.
Something we definitely didn't want to miss was the Disney parade so we headed back to Main Street to get a good space and it was just so magical. Emily (or little Anna) even got a wave and wink from the real Anna, it made her day even more magical! 
We had dinner at the Plaza Gardens in Main Street and I couldn't recommend it enough! It was buffet style and we were spoilt for choice. The staff were friendly and the kids loved it because it was a bit of a "fancy" restaurant, it made them feel very important.
 After dinner it was finally time to go on our long awaited Ratatouille ride.
It is the parks newest ride and definitely worth the wait. It's all in 3D so you get to wear some funky glasses. The kids loved this ride, and so did we!
We left again as the park was closing and day 2 had been a very successful day.
We started day 3 by meeting Donald just outside our hotel! The kids said he gave the best cuddles as he was so soft.
 We entered the park really early and we headed straight for Discovery land. I love those 2 extra hours hotel guests get as it's far less crowded and there are hardly any queues. In those 2 hours we went on Buzz's laser blast which was so much fun, the Orbitron, Autopia and Star Tours.
We then went back to Fantasy land to go on the Peter Pan ride, Pinocchio ride and Snow White's Forest ride.
In the afternoon we were lucky enough to meet some more characters, Captain Hook, Mr Smee, Peter Pan and Wendy. They were all so much fun to meet.
We then queue for the pirates of the Caribbean but just before we were about to get on the ride broke down, oh no! Not sure what had happened but everyone queueing up had to leave and the ride closed. Hmm, I wouldn't have liked to be the ones stuck at the top of the hill!
Later in the afternoon we also met Minnie and Rapunzel. Both meet and greets were happening at the same time in different locations so Simon and I split up . The queue for Minnie was shortest so I told the kids to stay with me to meet her first and we would then walk back to daddy to join him queueing for Rapunzel but Emily wasn't convinced and even after assuring her she wouldn't miss Rapunzel she still didn't want to chance it.
Dylan meeting Minnie was the cutest though and he even got a kiss from her!
We then rejoined Simon and Emily and met pretty Rapunzel who told us her hair took forever to brush.
I love how all the characters we met were so amazing! They all interacted with the kids so well, they all had their special little poses and mannerisms and they were all just perfect and really sweet.
It was nearing Parade time again so we decided to watch it one last time before heading back home.
I think we were all a bit sad to leave.
Our weekend was truly magical and we made some amazing memories.
We can't wait to go back again!


Sweet potato bake recipe

I love a good oven bake. Partly because they are so easy to make, I mean you just throw everything into ONE dish (less dishes to wash people!), and partly because they always end up tasting scrummy.
Yesterday I walked into the kitchen, recipe in mind, and when I went to get the potatoes there were only two teenie tiny ones left. Just like that I had to reinvent what I was going to make for dinner.
Sweet potato to the rescue!.
I don't know what it's like in your house but we love sweet potatoes, so this dish came together very effortlessly and was eaten very gratefully.

My ingredients were:

1 large sweet potato
3 carrots
1 green pepper and 1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
Olive oil (enough to coat all the veggies)
1 tbsp garlic salt
1tsp Herbs de Provence  

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius
Cut all the vegetables in large chunks and add to oven dish
Coat with olive oil
sprinkle on garlic salt and herbs
stir together
bake in oven for about 30 minutes

I served our sweet potato bake with sweet chili chicken skewers and it was delicious!
Definitely making this again.



I want to be the best dragon trainer!

About two weeks ago we went to see How to train your dragon 2 at the cinema and ever since
Emily has been obsessed with anything dragon.
She has been begging us to go to McDonald's so she can collect the dragons in the Happy Meals, she's been watching videos on You tube where people show their dragon toys, the official how to train your dragon toys are on her wishlist and we've been watching the first movie and the TV series quite A LOT.
It's been quite cute hearing her play because she always appoints herself to be Stormfly or Toothless, the two most important dragons. Even when she's watching the cartoons she always announces this, just so we know...and probably also so her brother can't claim to be that particular character! It's funny actually, she does this with all her favourite TV shows, at one point or another she will shout out "I am Raven" (Teen titans Go) or "I am Pikachu" (Pokemon).
So the other day she was doing some drawing and she told me she made a drawing of what she wants to be when she grows up.
I think It's an absolutely AMAZING drawing! Those dragons are beyond cute...and they've even got tiny little saddles :)
 I'm so proud of my little artist.
Not sure if she'll ever accomplish this dream but if there would suddenly be dragons in the future I just know she'd rock being a dragon trainer! Best one for sure.


Our summer schedule

I can't believe we are 3 weeks into the summer holidays already!
They seem to be flying by this year. Before we know it the kids will be back in school, which reminds me that I really need to start getting organised and start ordering uniform bits and bobs, buy new school shoes, book bags and lunchboxes!
Phew, a lot to do still.
We have really enjoyed our holidays so far, even if the weather has been a bit unpredictable.
At the start of summer I came up with a summer schedule as I didn't want the kids to be stuck behind the computer, X-box or TV all day. I tell you they would happily do so if I'd let them!
I've noticed that my kiddies seem to thrive better when there is a bit of routine and structure to their day and they are quite happy to follow the schedule. One of their first worries was of course if they would still have time to play their beloved electronics games and there was a big sigh of relief when they found out they could!
They also know that the schedule is not something we absolutely have to stick to each day, or even each hour. As we all know life happens and we can't predict what each day will bring. We also don't use it over the weekend as we are usually quite busy and meet up with family.
So far this schedule has definitely helped our days go by smoothly!
We've had lots of fun playing games, I've had  some help around the house and work for school is being done (yes, the kids were given homework over the summer).
Biggest hit on this schedule is the Friday movie night and it's definitely something we'll keep going long after the kids have gone back to school. 

How has your summer been going so far, do you do something similar at your house?



When dad's in charge

I was just browsing through our summer photos and this one made me laugh.
I'd left the kids with their dad while in town so I could do some quick shopping and this is what I walked back to...two children with blinged out caps, one of them eating blue ice cream!
It's not unusual for Dylan to have his ice cream all over his face, I actually think he thinks it's a necessity. Thank God he wasn't eating chocolate ice cream!
As for Emily, I remember her being particularly ratty later that day, I wonder if that blue ice cream had anything to do with it.
I'm am thankful though because I did get a chance to get some shopping done without two kids trailing behind me touching everything and moaning loudly,
the caps are still worn regularly.
Blue ice cream however will NEVER be bought again.


We made scones

We made scones...I say we, I really mean me.
The kids were too busy playing Minecraft and after asking them about 10.000 times I decided to go ahead and make them by myself. I'd never made scones before so was a bit apprehensive, maybe it was a good thing the kids weren't around to "help".
I must say, they turned out far better than I imagined, quite delicious actually and they disappeared just as quickly as it took for me to make them!

Here's my scrummy recipe:
350g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g butter
3 tbsp sugar
180ml milk
1tbsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 220 Celsius.
Add the flour to a bowl, add the salt and baking powder and stir.
Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs, then add the sugar and stir.
Heat the milk until just lukewarm (30 secs in microwave) and then add the lemon juice.
Make a hole in your flour mixture and pour the milk into this, then quickly stir together with a fork, be careful to not over mix.
Dust some flour on a work surface and gently fold together the mixture.
Fold into a shape about 4cm thick and cut out round shapes (I used a cookie cutter).
Place on a baking tray and glaze the scones with some beaten egg.
Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.
Serve with jam and cream.



The enchanted forest

A few weeks back we visited Groombridge Place, also know as the Enchanted Forest.
What a magical day we had!
It is such an amazing place to visit, especially with kids, both mine loved running around and discovering what new surprises were lurking around every corner.
We started off by visiting the beautifull gardens where we admired all the pretty flowers and plants. The kids had loads of fun hiding behind big hedges and then jumping out to scare us, we did pretend they managed to do so of course, even with all the "warning" giggles coming from behind every hedge.

We also found the secret garden where we looked for fairies, but sadly we found none.
Nevertheless it was a very pretty place.
As we continued walking the gardens we came across a giant chess board where we stopped to have a little game. The was definitely a lot of fun. Dylan even asked if we can have one of these in our garden! Hmm, maybe a miniature version...
After we explored the remaining gardens we got on a canal boat which took us to the other part of the forest.
It was so much fun and really relaxing, even if Emily had a bit of a freak out because of a spider being too near to her seat! 
Once we got off the boat the kids ran straight to the play park where we let them play for a bit, but not too long because we had much more exploring to do. Everything was really mystical on our walk around the forest and there were so many interesting things to see.

At one point we stumbled into a teepee village where both my kids quickly got a makeover. Dylan turned into an Indian warrior and Emily into an Indian princess.

My absolutely favourite part of the whole day were the giant tree swings and we spend so much time there, trying out all of them, each swing taking us higher into the treetops. The feeling was magical!
Simon, Dylan and I couldn't get enough, Emily on the other hand wasn't too sure, she was much more at ease at the kiddy swings further down the path. In her defence, these swings did go up quite high as the trees were on a slope, so when you were up, you really were UP!
It really was an amazing day and I can't wait to go back. I'm thinking autumn might be the perfect time for another visit.