Monday, 31 July 2017

An unexpected treat

So, the sun was shining, and I awoke refreshed - game on!  The kitchen was the first to be tackled, along with some more conservatory window washing, followed by some hoovering (Dad's dog drops more hair than the hoover can cope with!)

Then, with some well earned "me time", it was time to turn the sewing machine on and start a Christmas present.  Can't say what but the recipient may spot a useful fabric or two!  Of course I was interrupted by the Tesco delivery - but, in this positive frame of mind, who cares!

By now the morning had sped by and it was time to head off for Slimming World.  After the holiday I was not expecting a loss - and was correct - I gained 5 1/2 pounds.  However I had a good time and am now right back on track (in truth the gain was much worse on Saturday morning but the swift cation has helped to minimise the damage!)  I have always been philosophical about last week and the forthcoming weekend (I am away again for my birthday).  I new they were coming but refuse to become a food bore for a few days when I know that swift action will remedy the situation - and the long goal to lose 5 stone by November 9th is still in sight!  On a more positive note, however I have come away with a free marrow (fortunately I was cooking some mince in the slow cooker so will have stuffed marrow for tea) and a bag of "Chulmleys" - apparently they are a cross between cherries and plums!

Tonight I hope to do some more with the Christmas present, whilst adding to the low step count whilst tea is cooking - trying to multi task!!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A day of unfinished projects

Well, I ought to start by saying thank you to Daisy for writing yesterday's post.  Truthfully I was so shattered yesterday that I wasn't really functioning at all!  What is it about going away on holiday and coming back sooooo tired?  Perhaps it just means that I am totally relaxed.  One highlight - I am now dropping off to sleep really quickly so I hope that I have broken that cycle!

Today, with a tad more energy I decided to tackle some much needed tasks around the house.  First up was cleaning the windows in the conservatory - I can't tell you when they were last done!  Being a large conservatory, and being a warm, if a tad overcast, day I only managed half of the windows before it became too hot.  Still that's progress and I can do the rest tomorrow.

Next up was mowing the lawn.  It should have been done before I went away and was rather long.  I have cut it once on the highest setting but am hoping to go over it tomorrow with a closer cut.

The suitcase has, at last, been unpacked, washing completed and dried - ready for ironing (and packing again for the weekend - what a jet setter I am becoming!)

I have even managed to make and attach a pin cushion to my Lynette Anderson inspired sew organised bag - ready for her workshop next Saturday (the bag was made at the sewing retreat in March and has been waiting for the pin cushion to finish it off!)

On a more positive note, I entered my mileage for last week on to my spreadsheet and have now realised that I am over halfway to my 1000 miles in a year (they call it a Proclaimers milestone!).  By my calculation I now need to aim to complete 3.1 + miles each day to reach the target!  Given that I have some "sit down "days ahead of me that might be more difficult than it sounds - but I am plodding on!

But, I hear you cry, surely you know that this is World Embroidery Day - what embroidery have you've been doing to mark the occasion?  Well, I will admit to preparing (cutting out, backing and tracing) two blocks to take on holiday next weekend with me -and then settled down to an old film with some stitchery that I set The Textile Group for their summer holiday!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Hi everyone - It's Daisy here again!

Last Sunday I went, with Millie, to Grandmas
We played in the garden and ran rings around Granddad
But then I turned around to find Mum
And she was gone.

I looked upstairs and downstairs,
I even tried the downstairs toilet.
I howled and whined for nearly three hours
But she was gone.

I tried to be good, I really did.
Grandma said that I was really quiet in the mornings.
I hoped that it would be Mum who came and gave me breakfast
But she was gone.

Then something magical happened
Just as I was giving up all hope
That sound I remembered - her car was in the drive
Mum was back!

Oh how I leapt and danced around
I prostrated myself against the glass door
I licked her to death
Mum was back!

So, now I am home again,
Whining in the morning - with happiness this time.
She's even let me fall asleep on her for my power nap
My mummy's back - and I am quite quite happy now!!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Back from holiday - with a ton of blagging along the way!

Firstly an apology.  The wifi was so temperamental that I haven't blogged this week.  Today's post, therefore, will be longer than usual - but I will try to precis the week!

On Monday I met up with Julia and Trisha at an appropriately named "The Fat Birds Cafe" (me rather than the other two!)  Next year we celebrate 40 years of friendship and try to go away together every year - next year its THE cruise!!!  A few years ago we all had the same style, but different colours, bag so I made them a tote bag each to fill with shopping!  Trisha had always wanted to go to Leamington Spa so we then spent some time wondering around, shopping and having lunch before travelling to the hotel near Hereford.

The hotel was part of the Warner Leisure Group and, having had rooms miles apart last year, we made a point of booking two rooms close to each other this year.  Did it work?  Did it eck - we were miles apart again!  This time Trisha and I were on the warpath!  Nope - nothing they could do apparently,  Fully booked apparently.  Might be more flexible when some people check out on Wednesday - apparently.  Leave it with us was the eventual answer when we didn't back down.  My parting shot was perhaps,as a gesture of goodwill for their mistake, they could find a spare room so that we could have a room each at least.  When we went back - they managed to do just that.  True it was so hot that Trish had to have the air con on all night and sleep without covers - but she had been originally quoted £59 a night to have this additional room - the exact same one!  So that was our first freebie of the week!  By the evening, we were shattered and so opted to watch The Intern in the cinema room (we were the only 3 there!)

On Tuesday we travelled back to Warwick Castle (I have wanted to go there for YEARS!!) and had a ball.  the sun was up, the weather was glorious and we watched the jousting, cheered for the Yorkists, enjoyed a cuppa in the peacock garden, toured the castle and watched the crossbow shooting.  Trisha and Julia climbed the ramparts, walked the walls and tried to let their hair down at the top of the tower (but there were no dashing knights available) whilst I visited the gift shop and bought, cough, a bag!.  Did we blag anything?  You betcha!  We paid for an all you can eat salad / pasta and pizza - only to find that the salad was so pathetic that you wouldn't want it and everything in the pasta range was tomato (I cant eat tomatoes) so I asked if they made their own pizza's - intending to then ask for a piece of meat to go with the poor salad. Ten minutes late the table was presented with a large freshly cooked ham and cheese pizza with no tomatoes - bless!

After dinner, we decided to watch the musical entertainment provided - songs from the musicals (right up our street) only to find that the table I had booked was right on the front row - what a result!

Wednesday was forecast to be rainy so we planned to stay closer to home and visited Hereford - but not before topping off at Doughty's.  By now Julia had commissioned me to make something for her parents as a gift so she was in charge of buying the fabric and choosing the colours (there was a fault in her fabric but we can work around it so they charged her less and cut more!).  In the meantime I had planned a wall hanging and so picked up the fabric for that - and Trisha sat in the cafe area just as a coachload of ladies arrived.  I can honestly say that I have never seen so much fabric in one place - we were there for nearly two hours!!

Then it was on to Hereford for some coffee, shopping and museum visiting (well, you have to be a little cultured you know!)  Julia and I visited the Black and White museum and were invited to dress up - so we did!  It was a giggle -plus there was no one around to witness our madness!

Back at the hotel Julia went to book a holiday for her parents to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary.  When I arrived she had already got a large discount on her holiday so was probably a little embarrassed when I asked what the hotel could give them to celebrate this marriage milestone.  Cue an upgrade to a fridge, bottle of wine, toiletries from Harrods and fluffy gowns.  Well - you just had to ask now didn't you? We also sat and watched La LA Land in the now, rather full, Cinema room.  I still enjoyed it the second time around!

The evening entertainment was a Neil Diamond sound experience - he did sound like the singer and it was fun to sing along - but looked nothing like him!

The last day was spent mooching around the hotel, packing and getting ready for the long drive home.  Surely there would be no chance for blagging something else?  Don't you believe it! Trisha went to buy some gift paper to wrap some presents fro Julia's granddaughter - but the shop didn't sell any.  So they gave her some tissue paper and ribbon instead -for free.  We then decided to have an afternoon tea for lunch (it has sort of become traditional to have an afternoon tea on holiday) but couldn't manage one each so asked for the tea for two but with three drinks -and that's what we paid for.  But we got what looked like tea for three - certainly there was a third scone and far too many small cakes for two people to share!

Home today was via the Fabric Guild (well, it would have been rude not to) and Mum and Dad's to pick up the dogs who, I am told, have been no trouble at all (if you forget the three hours of whining that Daisy made when I left her!)  I've had a great time, full of friendship, fun and food but I guess that its back to normal now then!!  Bring on the SW meals!

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Hi Ho, Hi Ho - it's nearly time to go!

Let's start with last night and our meal out - cooking our steaks on the rock.  I love this experience!  I had a lovely tuna steak - something of a luxury - and it cooked really well - and tasted divine!!

This morning was spent doggy sitting whilst the rest of the family went to church.  Since the church is on the way home, I didn't want Phil to leave his dogs in the car for over an hour so brought them with me and we transferred them in the luxurious surroundings of a Morrison's car park!  Mind you - Phil's cockerpoo, Penny, and Daisy were getting on like a house on fire by that time - bombing around the garden having fun!

After lunch, I left my two dogs in their holiday day care centre (Mum and Dad's) and came home to start the packing process - washing, ironing, sorting medication etc etc etc!  Really - you would think that I am going away for a month - but you can't be too careful now can you?  Mind you I did find time to complete a dozen charity bags which I had promised a friend that I would leave with the housesitter.  The friend fills them with toiletries for the homeless so it seems like a small task to run some bags up from old pillowcases!

So, the bags are packed, crafts are sorted, pill box filled (oh not to be so old), petrol tank filled and house sorted for the house sitter.  I guess now I just have to wait until tomorrow when my holiday begins!!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Brotherly love!

So, today saw Mum and Dad's first house guests - my brother, Phil and his wife, Chris.  They have a cockerpoo, called Penny, and another dog called Bonnie.  With 5 dogs in the house - chaos reigned and Daisy took charge!!

Fortunately the weather had cleared up and so we were able to have coffee in the garden.  It had been Phil's birthday a few weeks ago and I gave him a set of Dr Who biscuits - he was really pleased.

After a tour of the house and a walk up to the shop for a paper, it was then time for an alfresco lunch - complete with my home made lean corned beef quiche - mmmmmm! Now I am not saying that Daisy is spoiled - but she always seemed to be on a lap when I took a photo!

After lunch, and as the oldies started to flag, Phil and Chris came back to mine to walk the dogs up at the beach -and this is where my trouble started.  As I opened the conservatory doors to let some air in , so a pigeon flew in and wouldn't go out - finally ensconcing himself on top of the radio and refusing to shift!  As Phil returned, we followed the advice given last time and each held the end of a sheet to guide the bird out - but it didn't play ball - so I employed a cushion as extra "persuasion"!! We were so pleased to see the bird fly out!!

Tonight, we are all meeting up again for a meal at a local restaurant - the one we went to before that cooks the steak on the hot stone.  Tonight I am trying out the tuna steak - mmmm

Friday, 21 July 2017

Getting ready ........

We all  need a day to get those pesky tasks done if we are to go away on holiday (or is that just me?).  Today was my day for such tasks -starting with a quick dust and hoover around (who doesn't want to come back to a neat house?)  Of course I am lucky enough to have a house sitter who will do this for me - but you don't want them to come into a dump now do you?

Then it was onto the hairdressers (a vital part of any preparation I feel) via the charity shop where another boot full was dumped donated.  This time I treated myself to a manicure whilst the colour "baked" - very self indulgent and relaxing!

A quick turnaround at home and it was off out again - this time to take Daisy to the groomers for her trim.  As you can see from these two pictures, it really does make a difference and she must feel better in this warm weather without her fur coat.  Tomorrow she is gong to see her cousin, Penny, and she must look her best!!

Whilst I was waiting, I popped into Jean's to help her buy some train tickets online. I was amazed at the price - it really does pay to book ahead and have a railcard!

So, now we are back home - the washer is on, the pile of ironing growing (although I won't pack just yet) and I am spending far too much time sorting out craft projects to take with me (craft projects which, I hasten to add, I will put money on coming back incomplete!!!!!) Ah well - priorities I guess!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

What a strange day!

Let's start with the dreaded spool holder that I was complaining about last night.  Well, as it turned out, it's not too shabby.  Sure - the fact that I didn't line the base fabric (I wasn't told to in the instructions) led to slightly less than horizontal lines of pockets.  But - they all hold the requisite spools of embroidery threads and I am pleased with the outer embroideries.

Today was scheduled to be a Mum and Dad day. It started with a "how to make Weetabix muffins" tutorial (I think that Mum thought they were far more difficult than they are).  This time I used Banana weetabix - mmmm -very acceptable!  Just the apple and raisin flavour to try now!

Then we set too looking at the mountain of pictures that all need rehoming around the house and unpacking some straggling packing boxes whilst Dad worked in the loft boarding a section to increase the storage capacity.  Let's just say that the house is now looking great - I am so proud of what they have managed to achieve in just a relatively short time. Their first house guests arrive on Saturday - beds are made, drawers emptied and wardrobe space to hang clothes - not bad eh?  Mind you - I do have a boot full for another charity shop visit tomorrow he he!

Once home, and a power nap!, it was time to try and make sense of my own house.  All of this frenzied sewing, combined with the hot weather has resulted in a fly graveyard (oops the conservatory) and so that was given a bottoming out!  I have also started to collect together some "goodies" for my holiday - treats to try and help resist the cakes with (not sure if they will work but at least I will have them as an option!)

Tonight the WI supper club are off to a Tapas bar.  Considering how much food I don't like - this should be interesting!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Sorry to shout but HELP!!!!

Today started well - a good night's sleep, an out and get them attitude and first stop at Mum and Dad's to pick up some boxes for the charity shop.  We have found a hospice shop with a car park which makes donations all the easier so my boot was filled and emptied with ease. I had set aside today to get things ready for the holiday so my first stop was to treat the dogs to some new beds to go and stay with Mum and Dad with.  Of course I get them home and the dogs ignore them completely!

Next up was a car valet, with the obligatory air freshener of course, before stopping off at Pets at Home to buy the pooches a disc each with Mum's phone number on.  Whilst I was waiting I noticed this display for a doggie cheese and wine event - REALLY?

Lastly it was a quick trip around Tesco's - I still have to eat this week and am still trying new recipes - Banana weetabix for Banana muffins etc!  Today's experiment is defrosting as we speak - a "Black Forest " pudding using Scan bran soaked in an options chocolate drink, greek yoghurt and frozen forest fruits.  The chocolate soaked bran tasted chocolatey so  am hopeful - but we will see!

The other task that I set for today is to finish the Lynette Anderson spool case - I have had the pattern for well over a year and bought the kit this time last year.  Now I need to use it, I am getting frustrated that its not finished.  Slowly but surely I went through the pattern, having regular breaks - walking the dogs etc - and have just come to the vinyl - did I mention how much I hate vinyl!!!!!!  Let's just say that the spools may cover any errors -with any luck!  Picture tomorrow - I hope!  Mind you - it's time for another break - he he he!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

It's hard to get going in this heat!

.... especially if the heat meant another sleepless night!

Why do I do it to myself?  As I went to bed last night, I had a "bright" idea of making a Slimming World survival pouch - small enough to slip into a hangbag and take out for the day on holiday - filled with goodies to help avoid the cake urges!  So - did I launch into the planned Lynette Anderson craft project?  Nope - I made this pouch!! Mind you - it came out really well!

After some housework - Cinderella style (mopping floors etc!) - and dog walking, it was then time for a rather bizarre lunch.  At slimming World yesterday we were being told a tale of a member who loved her salads but loved dressing on them.  One day she got to work - and realised that she had forgotten her dressing.  She absolutely refused to eat it "naked" but then remembered that she had brought a mango yoghurt for her pud.  Why not she thought?  Why not I thought?  So I did a salad with turkey, sweetcorn, loads of lettuce and a small amount of stilton to add some balance - and then drizzled a couple of teaspoons of cherry yoghurt on.  It was absolutely lovely - certainly a "do it again"!!

After making two sets of coasters for a charity raffle (the sewing class has been cancelled tonight so I needn't have bothered but that sort of thing always comes in handy), making another charity bag and popping round to Jean's with two tote bags for her grandchildren (taking Miss Daisy who gets spoilt every time we go around!), it was then time for tea - and, yes, no Lynette Anderson!!  I plan to cut the pieces out later though so that I am ready for it tomorrow!

Foodwise - I am also planning on having stewed rhubarb for pudding and topping it with the weetabix muffin mixture - fingers crossed!

Monday, 17 July 2017

Experimental week - Day 7. Did it actually work?

Today, being Monday, started, of course, with the Textile Group.  This time it was the last one before we broke up for the summer so it was a "free week".  I started on some charity bags that a friend wants to fill with toiletries - I am using her template but some old pillowcases that Mum was throwing out.  I finished 3, have part prepared another 5 and have set myself a target of 10 by the end of the week!

Once home, and trying not to worry too much about the weigh in, I rustled up some more Weetabix muffins to take with me (we always take a SW treat with us to share) and completed some sewing ready to applique tonight to my Lynette Anderson Spool Holder.  Yest another self imposed target but the embroidery etc should, I am now keeping all fingers crossed here) be finished tonight with the aim of starting to make the holder up tomorrow!!

Then, it just couldn't be put off any longer - the dreaded weigh in!  Having gained through water retention last week, could all of these food experiments actually result in wiping off that gain (or even a few more pounds?).  Well, err, yes it could!!  I stepped on the scales and the two ladies looked at each other, looked at the screen, then at each other, then at me and whispered - what have you been doing to yourself?  I had lost, drum roll please, 10 1/2 lbs - woop woop woop!  That means that I was awarded my 2 1/2 stone SW certificate, my 10% certificate, am now in the next stone bracket (which was my personal target  for my holiday) and am now 1lb away from my SW 3 stone certificate.  Guess that's what you call a result then!!!

Of course next week starts soon enough and I certainly won't repeat that loss but I will be happy with the 1lb and delighted with anything more!  That would give me a fighting chance of going away on holiday for five days and still being in the current stone bracket.  Meanwhile I will "celebrate" with Mum's tea - lamb surprise I think she called it.  I hope it's nothing like Mo's Sausage surprise from Eastenders! (No sausages for those who don't watch the programme!)

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Experimental week - Day 6

..... and this week of weird , and not so weird, recipes is about to come to an end!

Today's trial was weetabix muffins - crush two weetabix and mix in 2 eggs and half a pot of low fat yoghurt.  Mix together, put in muffin cases and cook for 24 mins at 180 degrees.  MMMM - let's just say that I forgot to take a photo!

I have spent most of today over at Sewingbuddy's tackling the Ultimate Art Organiser.  The first step was to start attaching the elastic to keep the pens safey stored away - a laborious task!

Then, under the watchful, and helpful, eye of Sewingbuddy it was time to insert the first zip - it was not the most pleasant process and I have to repeat this 5 more times - but it went in smoothly (Sewingbuddy's advance venture helped to avoid the pitfalls).

Meanwhile Sewingbuddy was tackling my Scamblesby block - when I left she was nearly finished and it was looking good.

Once home (yes that small amount of sewing really did take nearly 6 hours in all!) it was time to walk the pooches before settling on a tea of stuffed chicken thigh wrapped in bacon.

Looking back on this experimental week there have been some highs and some lows - but what matters the most is that I have re-engaged with my love of food.  Now let's hope that the love of healthy food is reflected in the scales tomorrow!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Experiment week -Day 5

or rather the blog tile should be 

"That's another fine mess you've got me into Sewingbuddy!"

Let me explain.  As you will know from the variety of comments in these blogs, Sewingbuddy is rather fond of finding increasingly difficult projects (usually bags) for us to try.  She claims that she only sends them through expecting me to talk her out of the idea - if so, then its not working!  Tomorrow she has invited me over to attempt the latest project - the Ultimate Art Organiser.  Sewingbuddy has already started the various sections so I had set aside today to make a start and at least turn up with something!  The trouble is, today was one of those days when I just couldn't seem to settle to anything so resorted to"rewarding"  boring job with some sewing.

You know the sort of thing - hoover around and sort out the kitchen, Quilt the back and front cover.

Go round to the church and pay the gardener, walk the dogs and then sew this mesh pocket (after taking it out twice!)

Mow the lawn, tidy the hall and then try and add two zippered pockets ( I won't point out which pocket came first and is the worst for being so!)

I think you get the picture!  By now it was nearing the end of the afternoon and so everything was then packed away ready to carry on tomorrow. Meanwhile there was some preparation need for some hand sewing tonight and then tea to make.

Which brings me to the experimental act of the day.  Well, several acts but not necessarily experimental!  The first one was chocolate covered hazelnuts (having tasted a couple may I say - where have these been all my life?).  Not very experimental but I am allowed 23 hazelnuts as a Healthy extra B choice and can use a single bar of my Green and Black chocolate (4 syns) so am controlling the intake.  Tonight I am having a goody tray to snack on of the hazelnuts and the rest of the jelly sweets (plus a good film to watch of course!)

My other experiment is gooseberry fool. I have stewed some gooseberries with sweetener and am planning to mix with some low fat greek yoghurt and a whisked egg white.  Hopefully it will be okay!  Again - I will let you know tomorrow.  However the scales are continuing to drop slightly - just two more mornings to keep my fingers crossed!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Experiment week - Day 4

.......and today REALLY did not go as planned!

Being a Friday, I have fallen into the routine of popping up to Mum and Dad's with a specific task in mind.  Today's was to go through the mountain of pictures / wall hangings and allocate them to rooms after deciding which ones to keep.  I also took the worlds largest collection of teddy bears back to find a storage hole (Teddies are REALLY not my thing!) - so quite a simple task to complete compared to other days.  Of course the coffee was on when I arrived so we got talking about some visitors that they were expecting in the next few weeks and where they could take them.  Several suggestions later, we downed tools to go out in the car on a recky so that Mum and Dad would know where everything was.  This was also an opportunity to leave Millie and Daisy in the house on a "test run" - more of that one later!

Stops included The Fishing Heritage Centre (with the added advantage of being next to Sainsbury's which they had been looking for - Dad bought 4 of his loaves of bread for the freezer - and near to a very nice Matalan which Mum will be frequenting again me thinks) and Cleethorpes Sea Front (where I showed them the best place to buy Fish and Chips, where to park up - it was far too chilly to sit outside - and where the crazy golf was should they need it.)  At this point I should add that, whilst the car smelt wonderfully of fresh bread followed by double fish and chips, I had my salmon and asparagus quiche!  I am so on it this week and, shhh, the scales are behaving themselves at the moment - so its all worth it!

On our way out of Cleethorpes, Mum remarked that she had never had a Macdonalds.  Clearly she wasn't hungry enough for a big mac - but I did take them through the drive through and ordered a coffee each - she has now overcome that large obstacle in her life!  (I secretly think that she was proud of that fact!)

Once home - and yes Daisy and Millie left their utility room in an impeccable state, need you ask - one look at Mum and Dad yawning and I suggested that I went home and we do the pictures another day.  Our time for being intrepid explorers was at an end!

As for today's food experiment?  Well, it concerns tea tonight.  There is a recipe doing the SW rounds to make a corned beef pasty using a weight watchers wrap for the pastry.  Since I have some cooked mince to use up, I am gong to cook some small pieces of carrots and potatoes, drain the mince thoroughly and save the gravy to serve with, mix the mince, potatoes and carrots and fill the wrap - pinching and sealing with egg and then baking in the oven.