Last minute Christmas cake


I’m finally posting a Christmas cake recipe and it’s not for a traditional Christmas fruitcake, but I thought it would be also great for Christmas day celebrations.  Although there are many fantastic elaborate Christmas cake recipes, I decided on something that could be whipped up fairly easily and didn’t require too many ingredients.

The recipe is Nadia Lim’s tropical fruit and almond cake.  There is dried mango in the recipe (yum!) but I used an extra half cup of dates instead, as I still had plenty of dates left over from the packet we bought.  We also didn’t have any flaked almonds to put on the top, but it still looks pretty good (if you ask me).

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful time over the holidays and all my very best wishes for the new year 


Back to Basics Series: Final Update

Hello!  I hope you are doing really well.

This is the last update in my Back to Basics Series.  The intention of the series was to introduce one new habit each week that would help set a solid foundation from which to start working towards my goals and to track how it all went.  The habits I covered were sleep, meditation, meal prepping, exercising, and a deep-cleaning housework routine.

Last week meals were organised and prepped on Sunday and Monday morning for the week ahead.  I meditated almost every day, went for one short run.  However I really fell down with going to bed early last week, and we have completed one housework zone during the last two weeks (as the previous week I was sick with a cold).

We were on school holidays last week so we generally had a different schedule to term time, but in the future I will rethink how to reschedule some activities to fit into our holiday routines.

Overall I feel happy with the habits I’ve been developing during this Back to Basics series and I’ll continue to keep going with them.  I’m still loving The Last 90 Days Challenge and really recommend it, and I also watched this recent How to Achieve Your Goals video by How Jen Does It which was great too.


Update on Back to Basics Series


I hope you have been having a fantastic week!  The last five days I have been sick with a cold so I missed some of my goals last week and earlier this week.  But I’m feeling a lot better now and I’m looking forward to getting stuck back into them this week.

The Last 90 Days Challenge started on 1st October and I have been thoroughly enjoying participating in it.  I would really recommend this challenge if this is something that you think you would like to join the challenge.

There is also a new free 21-Day Meditation Experience Energize Your Life: Secrets for a Youthful Spirit starting on 29 October that looks great, I’m registered for that too.

I would love to know about any courses or other resources that you’ve found to be helpful in meeting or working towards your goals.

Next week I’ll post another update on how my new habits have been progressing.  Hope you have a wonderful week.





Week Five: Back to Basics – Housework


Housework, there’s so much of it!

Although we do our daily housework, we do need to have some sort of schedule to consistently complete deep-cleaning tasks.

A while ago I searched online for housework schedules and stumbled across the How Jen Does It YouTube channel, and it’s my favourite channel for house related videos (and she has other great videos too).  Jen divides her house into different zones and completes a 15-minute deep-clean of one zone each day for a week.  Another more recent video is this weekly cleaning routine for general weekly tasks.

This seems pretty do-able for us, and my husband and I are going to each deep-clean a zone on alternate days.  This is my (or rather our!) goal for this week.  Because I’m writing this post on Monday (instead of Sunday) our deep-cleaning will start on Tuesday, and on one day we’ll complete two 15-minute deep-cleaning sessions.  Wish us luck!

Hope you’re having a great week.

Update on Week Four

Last week I completed my two short runs and meditated every day.  We shopped on Sunday for this week’s meals, and I did some meal prep on Sunday evening and finished off our meal prep today.  I tried to choose quick and easy to put-together meals to save us time in the evenings, but it also has saved us time meal prepping!  I went to bed early three nights last week.





Week Four: Back to Basics – Exercise

Hello again!

My focus for this week is to increase my current level of exercise.  My exercise routine doesn’t involve any sort of formal exercise program, I generally just dance (a lot!) at home, do a bit of yoga and go to an outdoor gym once a week near my parents’ house.  Looking after my little ones keeps me pretty active too.

Sometimes I think about employing a fitness instructor to help work out a more effective exercise program, and I think I might do this one day in the future.  At the moment though I’m happy to just start slightly increasing my exercise activities.

I’ve decided to include two short runs (which will increase in length over time) each week to my existing exercise routine. Eventually, I would also like to include an online workout session and start using more active modes of transport when out and about.

Please note I am not a health or fitness professional and the above is for informational purposes only.


Update on Week Three

Because our young ones are waking up earlier, I did wake up early (6 am or earlier) almost every morning last week.  I also meditated most evenings last week, however, I only made it to bed by 9 pm approximately half of the week.  Two nights I did get to bed around 9.30 pm though which is a vast improvement on my previous bedtime (10 pm – 10.30 pm each evening)!



I love participating in online challenges created to help others (like me!) improve their lives.  I signed up for one recently, The Chic Site by Rachel Hollis’ Last90Days Challenge.  It’s a free challenge, and if you are also interested you can sign up too – it starts on 1st October.

Signing up for this challenge got me thinking about past challenges I’ve enjoyed.  Some challenges I have previously participated in and would recommend are:

Do you participate in any online (or offline) challenges?  What challenges would you recommend?



Week Three: Back to Basics – Meal Prepping



My next priority to help achieve my goals is to consistently meal prep every weekend to save time during our weeknights.  Having a system set up and sticking with it every week without fail is my goal.  We are lucky that my husband is paid on a weekly basis (on a weekday) but this doesn’t marry up with when we find it easiest to meal prep (on the weekend).  We talked a bit about it, and he suggested making our next shopping trip cover a week and a half worth of meals until the following Sunday, a great idea.  So we’ll start weekly meal prepping the following week on Sundays.  Seems pretty simple, but unfortunately, we weren’t doing it!  We usually do some meal prep during the weekends but not enough to avoid at least a couple of nights scrambling around for meals or getting take-out.

I know that some people may struggle financially and not be able to meal prep for additional days so if you’re keen to meal prep but can’t do more than a week, or a full week, just do the best you’re able to – every little bit of meal prep helps.

Also, part and parcel of meal prepping are first writing a meal plan and grocery list, and if possible try not to shop on an empty stomach.

Some of my favourite meal prepping videos/sites are:

I also get a lot of slow cooker and other cookbooks out of the library.  Some of my go-to slow cooker and grocery shopping books (I own a couple of these too) are:


Update on Week Two

I went to sleep early (3 nights) and meditated (4 nights), approximately half of last week.  We had a couple of events and there were a couple of nights where we just didn’t get to bed early (I think a lack in meal prepping influenced how these nights went). Hopefully next week I’ll do a bit better!



The Magic of Christmas


Christmas is coming, and if where you are is anything like where I’m from, Christmas products have already started making their way to shop shelves!

If you celebrate Christmas or are even going on holiday around this time, it can be an expensive time of year.  I’ve found it’s best to plan for Christmas early, and I’ll often save a lot more by doing so.  Also, apart from a brief time during my teenage years when the sight of red and green everywhere made me feel nauseous, I’m really keen on Christmas (and probably every other type of celebration through the year!).

I’m usually fairly organised for Christmas and it’s largely because I’ve found it helps me shop less overall.  I discovered that if I went shopping and just shopped for things for Christmas or upcoming birthdays then I’m getting a job done and also getting that little spark of joy when buying something for someone that I happen to think is incredibly lovely.  I also try to make homemade gifts for others and this can require a bit of pre-planning too.  However, in the beginning, I spent more than I saved using this approach because I kept buying little things here and there for Christmas and then when I added it all up, I probably had spent more than if I had just shopped once close to Christmas!  So perhaps watch out for over buying too.  I’m much less consumer-orientated now though so I’m shopping less generally which helps with not overdoing it.

While I think bought gifts are great, I have to say that my favourite gifts are often homemade.  I love it when my family makes presents rather than buying them, and I get ridiculously sentimental over the time, effort and thought that went into making them.  My husband will even make my cards every year instead of buying them because he knows how much I love them.

Some of the things I do to help prepare for Christmas are and would recommend:

  • Keep a list of present ideas that you can add to during the year.  You can refer to it before you start Christmas shopping.
  • If at shops, think ahead about your Christmas shopping and only buy products on sale.
  • Think ahead about homemade gifts that might take a while to prepare (e.g. growing plants, creating a scrapbook or photo album, making a Christmas cake*).
  • Look at buying items second-hand when you feel it’s appropriate or when something would be better not purchased new (e.g. second-hand bikes, out-of-print books.  This is an entirely personal decision regarding what feels right for you to buy second-hand).  If you love buying second-hand items for environmental, financial or sentimental reasons I think that’s wonderful and I’m sure a lot of other people will too.
  • Try not to buy ‘nice to have’ Christmas items if you can’t afford them and try to focus on the essential things you need to purchase/can afford.  Try not to beat yourself up over what you can’t afford!
  • Think about buying money-saving or time-saving gifts for others (e.g. my parents usually go out for a coffee date once a week so, for a recent birthday gift, I bought a discount coffee card that they can use each time they go out for coffee).  You could create a voucher for something like gardening or babysitting that the recipient can redeem at a later time.
  • If sending presents check Christmas postage dates and put these in your diary so you don’t miss them.
  • If you’re traveling try to think ahead and secure the best deal you can on travel costs.

I also want to say I think the most important part of Christmas has nothing to do with gift-giving.  Spending time with loved ones, contributing towards community Christmas spirit, and thinking about what Christmas is really about is something that I’m trying to focus on more now rather than getting lost in the consumerist aspects of Christmas.  Whether you’re Christian and follow the meaning and values associated with the holiday, are celebrating another festival around this time, or are just enjoying spending time with others and having a relaxing break, your celebrations/activities do not need to center around spending a huge amount of money.

*I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas cake, and we also try not to consume much sugar, so I’ve never made a Christmas cake before.  This year I’m planning to do some research to find a healthy and delicious (according to me!) version of Christmas cake and I’ll share the recipe in an upcoming post.




Week Two: Back to Basics – Meditation


Hey!  Welcome back.  I’m fresh into week two, and this week I’ve decided to tackle meditation.

I’ve been meditating on and off for a while, but it’s something I’d like to do consistently every day so that it becomes part of my daily routine, as essential as the other things I do on a day to day basis.

Finding time in the morning can be extremely tricky in our household, as we’re basically trying our best to just get out the door on time.  As I keep working towards getting up earlier in the morning, (my goal is 6 am and I’m currently getting up at 6.30 am), my plan is to meditate in the evenings and then eventually add in meditating in the morning as well.  At the moment I think my best bet for having a consistent meditation practice would be to meditate just before bedtime.

For a while now I’ve been meditating to one of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra’s meditation experiences/challenges similar to this one (affiliate link) and I’ve found it to be really great.  There is a variety to choose from so you can choose the one that best fits you if you are keen to go that route.  They also offer free 21-day meditation experiences/challenges from time to time so if you’re interested, but would like to try one first, then here’s a link to the Chopra Centre Meditation website to sign up and have a free 21-day meditation experience.  They also have a store available on their website.


Update on Week One

Week one actually worked out to be pretty successful, I went to bed by 9 pm five nights out of seven, but our sleep was often disturbed by our little ones in the middle of the night.  So it worked out well that we went to bed earlier just to get a somewhat decent sleep!

I haven’t set my alarm as yet, although I’m now waking up at the earlier time of 6.30 am most mornings which is great.  I’ll start setting it for 6.30am this week as my set ‘wake up’ time as I continue going to bed at 9 pm each night, except for one night each week when I have an evening club meeting to attend.

I did review my daily schedule and re-jig it a bit, re-arranging things to fit in with our kids’ new routines.  It does seem though my general daily schedule has the ability to fail pretty easily though if things get hectic during the day.  Perhaps I’ll have to look at doing some tasks early in the morning before everyone wakes up if my new schedule doesn’t fare so well.  We’ll see!

I hope you are going really well with your goals.

Do you meditate or do any other mindfulness exercises?  

Do you have any meditation/mindfulness websites or apps that you would recommend?

Week One: Back to Basics – Sleep

Ahh…a good night’s sleep.

Decent sleep can seem hard to achieve sometimes, and the issue for me is the length of sleep rather than getting to sleep, although if I consume caffeine too late in the day I can kiss a good night’s sleep goodbye too!  Pursuing goals takes a good amount of energy and sleep is central to having decent energy throughout the day, so this is something I decided to focus on first in my efforts to work towards my goals.

I live in a busy household and we don’t always get to bed as early as we would like to, and subsequently, we often don’t get up as early as we would like to in order to get out the door at our desired leaving time(s).  It sometimes seems like a mammoth multitasking juggling effort to get us all out the door each morning, and I’m actually I’m less involved in this effort because I wake up slightly later in the morning.  We also get stuck when trying to finish all our household jobs done before heading to bed.

Liz from Frugalwoods wrote a blog post about her strict bedtime routine which sounds fantastic for someone like me that needs a lot of sleep.

We are definitely going to bed earlier than we used to but still not early enough for me to wake up at an early hour (I probably need to wake up about 6 am).  I’m still trying to get out of bed at 7.15am!   I seem to need a lot of sleep.

A while ago I drafted a daily schedule where I developed a general timetable for a typical day and identified where I could fit desired tasks (e.g. personal projects) amongst the other things I needed to do so I had a set times for all tasks.  I’ll revisit it this week because my children’s sleep times and length have changed slightly and it probably needs to be updated.

I also downloaded the Rock Clock app a while ago which I’m going to use to set a new wake up time of 6 am, which means I’ll set my evening bedtime for around 9 pm and I need to set up my scheduled activities to fit within these new times.  I’ll write back later on with my progress and let you know how it is going!

I follow the ChooseFI website and podcast and one of the many things I like about it is that they talk about taking action towards your goals each week.  I loved this and plan to tackle something new each week to help work towards my goals.


What is your sleep like?  Do you have a sleep and/or daily schedule? 

What do you think are the most important factors for you to reach your goals?

Please note I’m not a health or medical practitioner so please consult a medical professional if you are having sleep issues.