Calorie Deficit

Who knows all about this subject?  It’s not a “thing” I was even aware of!  Just shows you how much I wing it in my every day life!

I was watching Extreme Weight Loss (the American show with Chris Powell) – it’s a great motivator, as I sit on my bum for a solid 40 minutes drinking coffee.  Seriously, though, it is.  They were talking about the number of calories a body needs daily before any exercise.  So, I found a handy calculator, put in my height, weight, etc and I was delighted with the number – my body needs A LOT.  Take away the calories you need to reduce by per day (500 for 1lb, 1,000 for 2lbs, etc) and bingo – there’s your new calorie goal for each day.  Easy peasy.

Previous to this, over all these years, I was going on hearsay, probably worked out on averages.  But I’m not average.  I’m a stonking great six foot middle aged woman – there’s not many of those around!

I can do this, the maths tell me I can.  I don’t need to starve, I just need to be clever and organised.  And stay off the wine.  It creates “munchies” right into the next day.

I’m expecting to record another kilo loss by this time next week and every week thereafter, so watch this space …





My weight loss app is making me fat!

The weight hasn’t shifted in a while.  I have been good, very good, or so I think, rarely indulging and I have been going to the gym, so I did more reading.  The app I am using on my phone keeps awarding me extra calories for the steps I take.  When I input my exercises completed at the gym, it gives me as many as 400 extra calories – an additional complete meal!  That can’t be right! So I’ve reduced my calorie target for the next week to see how I get on.

I want to lose weight quickly, who doesn’t, but  know that’s not the best plan if I want to keep it off.  It’s all about making healthy eating a habit, isn’t it?  I haven’t been counting but I don’t think I’ve been doing this for 66 days yet.

Went clothes shopping with a friend who has lost almost 3 stone recently and is delighted with her new figure.  I’m jealous.

I really want new clothes!!  But not yet.  Not until at least I’ve passed my new first goal of 2 stone (28lbs/12.7kg).

But I will make that skirt or dress or top with my gold crinkle pleat fabric, I need something to keep me going.  I just need to find a few more hours in the day.

Make your own curry and take away the pounds!

I’m in the minority, I know, but I’m so glad it’s Monday tomorrow! A new week after a long weekend of tummy bugs and fractious children can only be a good thing.

It was curry night on Friday night – normally something Corrado looks forward to but not this week. The poor wee man was feeling ill and sorry for himself and he was in extreme pain. When he woke me up in the middle of the night, he was stooped over and flinching with every step. Off we trotted to the out of hours GP service, first time for him as he’s rarely sick enough for a doctor to be needed. Gastroenteritis. And apparently there is a lot of it “going around”. This has never happened to us before – my kids are usually immune from bugs other kids suffer in phases like this. They get the cold but that’s about it. I suppose I have been smug long enough! As a result, he missed his precious swimming lesson yesterday (Sam went to his and that caused more upset in the sick bay) and today’s Special Olympics training event. This didn’t go down well, he’s sports-mad (playing, never watching). But, judging by his mood tonight and his muscle flexing with the little dumb bells he uses, he’s recovered. Thank goodness, his sad face was tripping us all up!

So the curry. I posted on the Hairy Bikers’ Diet Club Facebook page to ask about others’ weekend treats – takeaway or microwave meals. I was delighted with the responses that the easy recipes from the Hairy Dieters’ two books were the popular option. I cooked the Chicken Bhuna for David and made my own recipe Chickpea Masala. Except it was Mixed Bean Masala (I’ll add the recipe when I get a minute), seeing as I didn’t check the tins in the cupboard properly before starting! It was an acceptable substitute though! Both recipes went down well and both were a fraction of the calories and a heck of a lot more nutritious than a typical takeaway. And they didn’t take as long as pouring over the menu, making a decision, phoning through an order, driving down to collect, waiting in the queue, open wallet surgery and driving back home again. Cost-wise we got four times the meals (three of each safely frozen for another day) for about half the money! Result – pounds off the weight and pounds added to the housekeeping tin 😀

Hairy Dieters' Chicken Bhuna from Eat for Life book
Hairy Dieters’ Chicken Bhuna from Eat for Life book
Mixed Bean Masala made just the way I like it - lots of ginger, garlic, chilli and cinnamon sticks.
Mixed Bean Masala made just the way I like it – lots of ginger, garlic, chilli and cinnamon sticks.

And exercise – I got a lot of that free this week too! Who needs gym membership when you can keep an adult propped up on a fast walking horse for half an hour and then go to Jump Jiggle and Jive for 60 minutes of dancing, running and generally making a show of yourself to amuse your 8 year old son! It was billed by school as a family learning event suitable for all levels of fitness. Ha! Last time I believe that nonsense! Started off dancing with a cane, so I got lulled into a false sense of security. Then we were sprinting around the school gym, touching our toes, more running, stretching, running again, pretend-driving, cheer leading with pompoms and, at last, lying on a soft blanket in the dark for 3 minutes. Thank goodness it wasn’t longer, I would have needed the tin man’s oil can to get moving again! Help! It’s on again for another 3 weeks – can I come up with a good enough excuse not to?? No, of course not, the grin on Sam’s face was the best bit about it. ♥

When I brought the boys to their rugby training later that afternoon, Mum needed to run an urgent message. It was really urgent – I lay down in the car and nursed my sore bits for an hour. Well, I’m an old lady (according to the little darlings) and old ladies weren’t designed for such levels of activity!

So, if this decrepit body can lever itself out of bed in the morning, I’ll be weighing myself as usual, seeing as it’s Monday and this time I expect good results. I didn’t go through all that for nothing!

It’s all in the jeans

… so I bought myself a pair today – size (UK) 14 tall from New Look. Only £12.99. Not exactly designer label but they are my new measuring stick. As soon as I can get into them and they feel comfortable, I will have reached my ideal weight. At age 47 and almost 6ft tall, I don’t think I want to be any skinnier than that. The fat might be holding a few wrinkles at bay!! It’s just within the upper range of the NHS’s healthy weight on their BMI scale, so that’s a bonus.

I’m getting excited now – I think I’m only about 30lbs away from my target, that’s almost half way! If I reach the finish line in the same time I took to get this far, I will have those jeans on by early June! Wow, must start looking at nice little vest tops too. And I wonder what the 47 year old size 14 woman around town will be wearing on her feet in the summer season 2014?

I suppose this is when exercising becomes really important. I don’t want flappy bingo wings and a saggy belly to fall over the waistband. I have that Groupon voucher for the private Pilates session and I was given a 3-day pass for a local gym. I suppose I have no excuse now!

The diet has been going well this week, half term ensures I don’t have much time to relax with a cuppa and be tempted with a few biscuits. I’ve been on the go most of the time, ferrying the kids around town to keep them busy.

OK, I’ve a confession to make – we went to the local garden centre for a treat after a morning of excellent behaviour and they had a range of new to-die-for cakes. I tried to resist but I really couldn’t insult the very lovely staff who are always so friendly and helpful. I couldn’t! I had a (skinny) latte and a slice of layered Black Forest cake. The kids had muffins but were happy to help their old mother out with the cake. Thank goodness! It was heaven on a plate.

This is what I left for the kids - honest!
This is what I left for the kids – honest!

A few recipes didn’t go according to plan. Last night’s Mince and Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds went down a treat with the family but my vegetarian version was just OK. In place of the mince I used black beans and a tin of tomatoes to give it some moisture (the original recipe has tomato puree, which is why I thought of the tomatoes). I will have to think about how to make it again.

Hairy Dieters' Mince and Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds (front) and Black Bean and Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds (small white dish)
Hairy Dieters’ Mince and Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds (front) and Black Bean and Vegetable Pie with Tumbled Spuds (small white dish)

Tonight, we invented our own recipe, loosely based on the Hairy Dieters’ Spanish-style Chicken Bake. Corrado is a big fan of chorizo and he loves the all-in-the-oven dish meals. So it was time to raid the fridge and we came up with a lovely tasty meal that kept everybody happy. Fresh haddock fillets were used with the chorizo to flavour the vegetables. For Sam’s plate, I fished out potatoes, carrots and haddock only, otherwise there would have been a screaming match! For my meat-free version, I roasted everything in the oven, then just before end of cooking, topped it with wilted spinach and crumbled over feta, sprinkled on smoked paprika and stuck it back in the oven to brown.

A very successful low-fat own invention recipe!
A very successful low-fat own invention recipe!

It was delicious. Clean plates all round. Happy faces to go with happy tummies – every home cook’s dream.

And for the rest of the week it might be an Asian food odyssey as, with great excitement, the postman delivered a copy of the Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure, a beautiful gift from the HB Diet Club management team. (Thank you so much guys, it’s really appreciated). It’s a lovely book – great photography and brilliant writing. The first thing we (Corrado and myself – Sam’s interest in cooking only goes as far as opening a packet of biscuits!) looked for was the Hong Kong recipes from last week’s show and only then did I get permission to flick through the rest of the book. I was delighted to see a Thai Vegetable Curry – that will be on my first menu. There are colourful and exciting salads too, which will be perfect as part of my diet.

My sous chef who wants us to holiday in Asia next year!
My sous chef who wants us to holiday in Asia next year!

David is currently pouring over the book, so he will no doubt chip in with his own ideas for the first recipe we try. Or recipes, to be exact – in his mind it’s not worth doing unless it’s done in the style of a feast!

Can’t wait to get started. But first I’ll have to calculate the calories 😦

No weight loss this week but I have a plan!

I’ve been avoiding posting here. I am so frustrated/confused/cross or maybe I’m just missing something, but after a week when I reduced my calorie intake because I was unable to exercise (try exercising when your nose resembles a burst water main or your head feels like it’s found that safe place you hid the cotton balls from the kittens), I lost no weight at all. Nothing. In fact, worse than nothing – I gained. A whole half a pound.

Doesn’t sound like the end of the world and it isn’t, but what is going on? I must be consuming at least half the calories I was before the diet began. And most of the food I ate last week was high fibre – I craved fruit and ate oranges, apples and pears daily.  Not bananas, I read somewhere that they don’t help a runny nose. 

Ah well, it happened. Nothing I can do about it now but learn from it. Or that’s the idea – but what have I learned? Eating low-fat, high fibre and vitamin-packed food doesn’t help you lose weight? That couldn’t be it. Drinking copious amounts of green tea and water makes you heavier? Not likely. So is it the lack of formal exercise? Maybe.

I didn’t exactly lie in bed all day. I still shopped, cooked, cleaned the kitchen, changed the beds, was mum-taxi and did 63 lengths of the bungalow every night chasing Sam back into bed.

The good news is, as of 7pm today, I am starting to feel better. I was surprised myself – 7pm is a very exact time but I was in the kitchen finishing the dishes when I suddenly noticed I hadn’t used a tissue in a whole 10 minutes! I haven’t, 2 hours later, needed one since! 

I’ve got it – the cure for the common cold – eureka! It’s my homemade wheaten bread! Instead of baking the HB skinny lemon cupcakes with drizzly icing I baked a wheaten loaf. A recipe I learned 20 years ago and which hasn’t let me down yet. 

I must get it patented as a medical breakthrough!

If you want my recipe, I will let you have it – it’s simple, quick and very tasty. No yeast required, so it doesn’t need to prove or rest.  I sprinkled black onion seeds on this loaf but I have been known to use poppy seeds, sesame seeds and left it plain. All of them lovely. But be warned, the entire loaf has about 2300 calories! But it’s up to you to decide how thick to cut it – 191 calories in a nice chunky piece (if you divide the loaf into 12 slices).Image

I have a very colourful curry to show you – my Saturday evening meal. As you have probably read already, I don’t “do” quorn so I skipped that particular recipe on my plan and made the Hairy Bikers Fiery Madras. In the book, it’s made with beef. On Saturday night it was made with a variety of fresh veg – sweet potato, red pepper and spinach. And, if I do say so myself, it looked lovely. It was hot though! Unfortunately, just before I started cooking I lost my sense of taste and smell. Very sad when I had such a lovely meal to look forward to. I have saved a portion to enjoy another day when I am fully functional again.Image

After the disastrous weigh-in this morning, I dusted myself down, collected my groceries and started preparing the meals for this week.

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.

I studied Picasso for A level and didn’t “get” his work but I do get his wise words above.
The eating plan for the week, now that I have studied it in great detail, is actually very simple. The fridge and cupboard are packed with everything I need to achieve my goal. My body is agreeing with me, finally, that it’s time to start exercising properly and my clothes are telling me that all this is worth it.
Frustrated/confused/cross?  Me? Don’t be daft – I’m looking forward to 7am next Monday, the scales will get a shock!

I have a confession to make … (turn away now if chocolate offends you)

I stuck to the plan today – the whole plan (except the snacks, more on those later)! Even down to grilling the tomatoes to eat with the boiled egg and toast this morning. I think this is the first time ever since starting the plan on 4th January. I kept meaning to, but always came up with a good reason why not. And I quite enjoyed it – I felt very wholesome!

Breakfast was as mentioned, lunch was legume salad (should have taken a photo, it looked so pretty) and dinner was pasta.

But, after me going on yesterday about not going near the biscuit tin, I have a confession to make. After a very frustrating hour trying to open a jammed shut cutlery drawer, I finally opened it and was immediately craving a reward. I tried to satisfy that craving with a pear or an apple but walked straight past the fruit bowl and found two lonely, neglected mini toffee crisps feeling sorry for themselves. So they went to mamma. Washed down with a cup of green tea – does that not help?? I hang my head in shame 😦 .

Another BUT, I still didn’t go over my calorie count for the day. The sensible me agrees that it was still rubbish but the happy me enjoys the memory of it. It doesn’t happen that often these days. Tomorrow, willpower will prevail.

Dinner sounded very strange to me – a takeaway pasta! I’m sure you can get those in London but here in the far reaches of Newtownabbey, takeaway pasta is not something easily found. Anyway, pasta is the quickest meal on the planet to make, so it’s much easier to do it at home. I bought a packet of Giovanni Rana Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini (it was on offer for only £1!) and made a quick sauce using a can of chopped tomatoes, garlic, herbs, lots of black pepper and a sprinkling of chilli flakes. David shared the pasta with me, so it worked out at exactly the right weight for one. Except, I saved over 100 calories by making my own sauce.Image

Perhaps the Hairy Bikers were offering a night off from cooking to those living in the big smoke, but this worked better for me.

I spent my evening at a local auction as I’d seen a nice black leather executive chair that would perfect at the computer desk. I had to sit through the jewellery and art lots before they got to the cheaper items that were in my league! I got the one I wanted for only £4! I had to check it again for rips and tears but no, it was a perfectly lovely looks-like-new, so it was a fantastic bargain! I got bored waiting for lot 343 so I also bought a digital camera – for £6 and it was brand new! I apparently had the option to buy a second one and I apparently must have nodded. So I bought two. Just like that! (But when it came to collecting my booty, the second one had disappeared from its box so I went home with just one). That’s not all – I also bought a swimming pool! That’s what it said on the box – “family sized pool”. The photo on the box is quite impressive, but knowing my luck the people modelling it are a family of smurfs in disguise. Doesn’t matter – the kids are going to love it and, just to be sure, they aren’t going to find out about it before that hot May weekday when they stumble off the school bus demanding to be cooled down.

And, hopefully by then, the new slimmer me will join them in a splash about!

I have neglected you!

I am so sorry blogland, I have been very remiss. Mostly due to feeling sorry for myself. And embarrassed at neglecting the diet a bit. Just a bit. Nothing irreversible. I hope!

Have to start with Thursday morning and the excuses. I did my stint at Riding for the Disabled and was really enjoying it (no trotting!) until Peggy (horse) decided to get jittery and swing her not-very-delicate rear end round and knock me into Bob, the horse I was leading. I embarrassed myself by yelping very loudly, it was a new experience for me and very scary, and I might have (ok I did) scared the bejaysus out of a few of the kids on the horses.  I scared more than that out of myself!

I was grand. Until I finally sat down at the sports hall where the boys were playing rugby. More embarrassment from the noise of my joints as I levered myself into the chair. Sam didn’t help, he ran out to give me a hug during half time and instructed me to be “a good girl” as he left – my attempt at laughing was feeble, it was painful but worth it! I’ve struck gold with Ulster Elks, both boys love rugby and they enjoy being on the same team during the practice matches. Big sighs all round.

As a result of my championship feeling sorry for myself, I handed over the kitchen to hubby for a couple of nights. He could not resist going to M&S on his way home from work yesterday and buying lentil ding. It was lovely, to be honest. I enjoyed it,  it didn’t have the freshness of homemade, but it did have the bonus of less washing up (for himself, not me of course!). I did surprise myself though – I updated my Hairy Bikers Diet Club diet diary today and discovered that, because I didn’t start my day until 2pm yesterday, I saved myself a load of calories. I was quits by the end of Friday :). I’m trying to upload a photo but having trouble logging on to my mail on his laptop.

I hadn’t done my fresh food shopping yesterday but we managed ok from the stores I’d built up. Breakfast this morning was 2 crumpets with banana and honey. Not the smoothie I was supposed to have. Phew! I have to be in the mood for a smoothie and it isn’t usually at breakfast time.

Whilst I have been within my calorie allocation, I haven’t been exercising since Wednesday afternoon. Except for the few brisk walks around the riding school with the faithful Bob, I haven’t been doing too much moving at all.

I am feeling a bit better this evening. I made the evening meal – Pesto Gnocchi. I’ve never been a big fan of gnocchi, even though I’ve apparently tasted the best in Rome. It’s always been dry and floury. Obviously an acquired taste. But I was keen to get back on track and follow the HB Diet Plan. I didn’t tell David how it was made until he was finished. I was a bit unsure myself. The sauce was spinach (my definite favourite vegetable) and … wait for it … a white sauce made from condensed milk! Seriously! Who would have thought of putting that on a savoury menu? David wasn’t shocked, he’d already scraped his plate by the time I told him. I felt a bit of a guilty pleasure eating it, but now I feel it’s acceptable because it got the Mullan seal of approval. Praise indeed! And yes, I did enjoy it. I think the Italians serve it too dry for my tastes.  La prego di accettare le mie scuse. Non ho gusto.

I know I’ve been within calorie count but exercise has let me down. I expect a zero gain/loss this week. If no loss, I’ll be devastated.

I am a Yoga Master and Yogurt Addict!

I’m having a bit of an argument with the scales. I have the mechanical type in the bathroom and the only problem I have with them is that I’m too far away from the dial to read my weight accurately to the pound! The writing is way too small. So I bought some digital scales. But they weight me about half a stone heavier than the mechanical! Not too much of a big deal – regardless of the actual weight, I have still lost a stone and a pound (if I get hubby to read them for me). But what do I put in my Hairy Bikers Diet Club diary? Then the Wii comes along and contradicts both of them. It doesn’t favour either the mechanical or the digital, it just randomly selects a number from the air. In the last couple of days I have apparently lost 4lb (2 each day) but this is news to the other scales. I think I’ll bite the bullet and use the digital reading, at least I can see what it says! It means that I have no chance to be in the top 100 of the biggest losers chart. But I am a loser, in the best way possible!

Yesterday, I stuck to the plan for the most part.

  • breakfast: toast and peanut butter
  • lunch: cheese and onion toastie
  • dinner: pumpkin couscous

Breakfast was a lovely treat – peanut butter!! Love it but would never have eaten unless instructed!

I felt like I was eating too much bread so I substituted the lunchtime toastie with a small baked potato along with the rest of the recipe (which included a garden salad and fruit for after).

Cheese and onion jacket potato
Cheese and onion jacket potato

I didn’t have pumpkin to make dinner, so I substituted sweet potato (half the quantity because it’s twice as calorific). I could have used butternut squash and had more to eat but I had to buy a bag of sweet potatoes to get one for the recipe at the weekend. It was either that or spend another few quid in petrol going to the bigger supermarkets to buy just one!

The couscous was delicious – I would never have thought of blending yoghurt, cumin and honey together to use as a sauce. That’s another keeper! I was nicely full up after “Pumpkin” Couscous.

Sweet potato couscous
Sweet potato couscous

I spent nearly an hour on the Wii doing yoga and some aerobic exercises. Apparently I’m a yoga master! Who knew?? I am steadier on my big feet than I realised.

Of course I just had to take the easy option this morning and do the yoga again! Uh oh. Big mistake. Yesterday my Wii Fit Age was 24. Today I was 50. That put me off my balance. I gave up and did some hula hooping and stepping instead. (I don’t like the smug way that beardy guy to my Mii’s right looks at me when I’m getting the steps “perfect” – I miss a few and settle for “OK” just to get rid of him!).

Half the woman I really am!
Half the woman I really am!

The menu today didn’t start off well. I just wasn’t in a “breakfast smoothie” mood – I wanted a hot cooked breakfast, it was frosty outside! I made an egg white omelette instead (forgot the shallots, which add a lot to the taste, but it was good and filling anyway).

Lunch sounded good – I had (almost) everything to hand and I love falafels. I left out the tabbouleh and had a dollop of low fat yogurt in the pitta with the falafels instead.

Dinner was perfect too – the whole family was in the mood for a curry. Of course, I do like to make a few adjustments, due to a need to use up what I already have in the cupboard/fridge. Vegetable and chickpea korma became vegetable and mixed bean korma. The recipe included French beans but I finished off a bag of spinach instead. No difference to the nutritional or calorie content.  Or to the taste (for me) – I love spinach in a curry. Oh, and I replaced the spoonful of condensed milk with a spoonful of yogurt. Have I mentioned I like yogurt??

And the best bit? Tonight’s dinner included one glass of white wine! On a school night! It would be rude to substitute that one with anything else. I’m not completely without manners.

Vegetable and Mixed Bean Curry
Vegetable and Mixed Bean Curry with a glass of wine!

So, a busy couple of days and strict following of the calorie plan. Should make good reading on the scales. Whichever ones I use.


Lazy weekend – I shouldn’t have, but I did!

The plans for the weekend were discussed with the kids at great length and they both votes for “lazy days” and Corrado was determined he was not changing out of his pyjamas at all over the two days! Well, we did have a lie in of sorts on Saturday morning, I didn’t climb out of my bed until well after the postie had delivered but the kids were up too early as usual.  Corrado at silly o’clock (around 6.30 am) and Sam at 8-ish. The kittens amused them until David calmed them down with breakfast and I eventually got up.

Surprise surprise, Corrado was not in his nightwear – he was layered up and ready to play with his friend down the street. It was a sunny day, so why not? David’s lazy day plan included cleaning and polishing both our cars (yay, exercise!) and Sam cycled up and down, up and down, up and down our 8-bungalow cul de sac. So it was quite a noise-free house 😀

I waited just to make sure I was not going to be interrupted and then when it was quiet for long enough, I started baking a birthday cake for my sister. The baking bit went well, but that’s the easy bit. I love decorating cakes but only if the conditions are right – ie no interruptions or dealing with squabbles, doors letting in gusts of arctic cold and kids wanting to lick the bowl or “have a go” (ie throw the decorations at the cake and say they made it all). I should have done what I normally do and waited until they were in bed. However, I was lulled into a false sense of security. As soon as I started rolling the sugarpaste, in they came “mum, he looked at me”, “mum, can I have a snack?”, “mum, can Rebecca play in my room?”, “mum, can I lick the bowl?”, etc etc. I gave up immediately my plan to make the perfect cake with intricate beading and designs. Instead I cut out random heart shapes (Rebecca’s idea) and slapped them onto the poorly-iced cake. Ah, well, it’s only for family and it’ll taste the same!Image

David had made me a breakfast feast of two toasted pancakes (the crumpet supplies had evaporated) with chopped banana and honey. Lovely. Not too calorific compared to breakfasts I used to enjoy on a Saturday morning.

Lunch, if I was following the plan properly, was supposed to be “left over vegetable soup” from Friday but I forgot that bit and had blended it up for Sam’s and Corrado’s lunch (it looked like tomato soup and Sam was none the wiser!). So I made a hasty carrot, leek and ginger soup (with onion, garlic and fresh coriander in it too). I’ve stumbled on a winner there – it was gorgeous! David loved it too, and he’s not a soup fan. We had a slice of homemade multi-grain bread too.

I have a great food mixer with a dough hook and baking bread is now a pleasure, kneading is contracted out to the kitchen gadget and it’s done and ready for resting* in 5 minutes. I don’t have to get my hands sticky now! I did use to have a breadmaker but got bored with the tall loaf with the gaping hole in the bottom!

*I always take my queue from the dough – I rest too 😀

I had to read last night’s dinner recipe a few times – it sounded rather odd! Sweet Potato Flat Pizza. Hmmm. It looked rather big too, when it was finally cooked. I doubted myself but, yes, it was right! Who was I to argue? I ate it all and I was full up, really full up. I had a small garden salad on the side for variety. I think the next time I make it, I’ll reduce the portion size and increase the salad, it was that filling! I’m still doubting myself that I read the recipe correctly! One medium sweet potato, diced, a whole red pepper, sliced and FOUR tablespoons of cheese! It was a great combination of flavours and textures though (and colours – colourful food is important to me). I’d forgotten how much I love toasted pinenuts too – hope there’s more of those in the recipes soon!Image

Today, Sunday, it was miserable and dark outside, so none of us felt like doing much. I made breakfast (grilled mushrooms, tomato and a poached egg with one slice of my lovely bread) then David lit the fire in the living room, I made coffee and we all sat in front of the fire companionably doing our separate things together. I finished a good book on my Kindle, Corrado played with the kittens, Sam raced cars on the PS3 and David surfed t’internet for cars he isn’t allowed to buy.

We gathered at my parents’ this afternoon for my sister’s birthday and we had far too many party nibbles and cake. She didn’t seem to mind that her cake was a bit slapdash. It did taste the same. David said so – he had two slices. I had a tiny sample slice in my role as chief poison taster.

By the time we got home, nobody was hungry for dinner. The kids just wanted a hot cross bun and glass of milk. David and I just had hummus and tzatziki left over from last night, with crunchy vegetables and a chunk of low-fat feta.Image

I don’t think that will save me. Tomorrow’s weigh-in is definitely going to be tear-jerking. I have had a few sneaky goes at the scales this week and they have shown two gains and two same-as-last-week weights. I don’t understand it, maybe I’m not reading the recipes correctly but I thought I was following the plan (mostly!) Doesn’t matter, it won’t dampen my motivation. Onwards and downwards!

Wii are going mad!

My face was glued to the pillow this morning. Even the annoying alarm couldn’t motivate me to move enough to turn it off. I blame this exercise lark. My body is not happy with me. It’s used to having its own way and moving at a slower pace. But no more, Mrs Body! I’m over-ruling you on this one – I’m carrying on and you will thank me one day. (Fingers crossed!).

Once I got the kitchen to myself at breakfast time, I made my first egg white omelette. I’ve always scoffed at those Hollywood types who lived on them, it was an insult to the hen! So I wasn’t convinced, but went ahead because I’ve committed myself to giving this eating plan a go.

I usually shy away from omelettes anyway, simply because I’m rubbish at making them.  I would be good on Saturday Kitchen though – my efforts usually look like those sorry examples at the end of the weekly omelette challenge! As usual, it fell apart when I tipped it out of the pan but it was starting to brown on the bottom and I was afraid of burning it, which I normally do. But, it tasted lovely. In fact, more than lovely.

By the power of Twitter, I now know how to make an omelette properly. Thank you Daisy! I will try again on Friday, the next time it appears on my menu plan.

But what to do with the separated egg yolks? Such a waste! I’ve decided to use them in a recipe for the boys – maybe to glaze sausage rolls or to make custard. I’ve seen Nigella freeze leftover egg but have never done it. I’ve found a number of ways, via Google, to do it so if I don’t get round to using the yolks by the morning, I’ll copy one of those ideas.

And what did my new BFF the Wii Fit bendy board say this morning? He’s gone mad, seriously. In the space of a day I’ve lost another 3lb. If he is to be believed, I’ve lost 5lb since Monday. Such nonsense! The bathroom scales are a bit more serious about it all and have only removed 0.6lb from my weekly starting weight. I think I’ll skip the daily body test and just go straight to work on firming up my wobbly bits! No point in getting my hopes up 😀

Nothing to do with the blog - just a cute interlude. Biscuit with the dolly Santa brought him.
Nothing to do with the blog – just a cute interlude. Biscuit with the dolly Santa brought him.

I decided to skip the suggested lunch recipe of “topless cheese and pickle sandwich” – I was trying to squeeze a lot into my day and I didn’t want to create more washing up! I had a tin of vegetable soup – obviously not a patch on homemade – which, along with a handful of trail mix (after, not in the soup), set me up for the afternoon.

I had completely forgotten it was Wednesday and was delighted when my organic fruit and veg box arrived.  Within 10 seconds of the front door closing, I was halfway through a delicious juicy pear. I do hope they never go out of season – supermarket pears just aren’t the same! I have only recently been converted to eating pears, perhaps because I’d only bought those hard nobbly ones from the fruit aisle in Tesco or Asda. I think they’re now my favourite fruit.

The evening meal on the plan was for a vegetarian sausage pasta. I’d never thought of putting a Linda McCartney vegetarian sausage in with pasta before. I used to think I was an adventurous cook but I’ve learnt so many new combinations of ingredients since starting this diet. The kids weren’t on for the fake sausages, so I chopped up a chorizo and fried it before adding it to the tomato sauce and pasta. Went down like snow off a ditch!

veg sausage pasta

I wonder will my BFF tell me I’ve dropped a stone in the morning?? 😀

(Update: I discovered the Wii balance board was sitting slightly on the trim of the rug – so obviously not balanced!)

Why can’t you tease egg whites? Because they can’t take a yolk! 

Wii Fit is not a game!

It’s a torture device! For an unfit overweight mamma like me, it is.

After I waved the kids off to school this morning, I toasted a bagel and put the coffee on. I hadn’t realised how many calories were in a bagel until I entered it into my daily food diary on the Hairy Bikers’ Diet Club – 232 calories! And that was before I spread a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese and threw in a few sun blushed tomatoes. I still have a lot to learn.

But I had planned to plug in the Wii Fit today and, although I hoped I couldn’t find the controller, there it was, fully charged and ready. I am ashamed to say that it’s been 642 days since I last used it – according to the bouncy Wii Fit Board on the screen. As I haven’t done anything more strenuous than regular housework in a long time, I chose my “favourite” activities (I had no idea!), which happened to be aerobic. I hoola hooped, jogged (very short run) and stepped for 20 very long minutes. Phew! It took it out of me. But there was still the regular housework. including fighting with duvet covers, to be done. I had an empty house and no excuses.

By the time it came round to lunch I was ready for it. Today’s menu included an egg salad – I love egg salad. While the eggs boiled, I sat down and realised too late that I shouldn’t have. My legs seized up! At least, they felt wobbly.

School today was a great success – the boys bounced into the house full of news.But I wasn’t expecting there to be homework on their first day back! For goodness sake, I had exercised, didn’t the teaching staff realise I was suffering?

Yummy mummy I am not, so I grumbled a bit and perhaps tried to rush the spellings and comprehension a bit too quickly. I had a risotto to make before taking No 1 son to Ju Jitsu at 6pm!

It was an easy recipe to follow but, as with all good risottos, it took time. The official dish is “Chicken and Mushroom Risotto” by the Hairy Dieters, but I was concentrating on the mushrooms for myself and adding a sliced up pork fillet to David’s version at the end of cooking. I was using up the pork I didn’t need for last night’s schnitzel recipe.

Mushroom risotto – seemed like too small a portion, but perhaps I’ll add a garden salad next time?

It was delicious, and I don’t normally like risotto. The only downsize was the recipe served 4, so I stuck to that and my portion looked so small and I did feel hungry shortly after. But I kept busy with mum-taxi duty and then came home and did an hour’s worth of ironing.

Eventually it was time to eat again – at last! I’ve just demolished a toasted crumpet with a smidgen of honey. I have no idea (yet) how calorific that is, but I’m going to have to come clean and enter it in my diary.


Are Fit Kids the Exception to the Rule Now?

I had a great discussion via Twitter this morning with a group of other dieting adults. It was on the subject of the fitness of children. Alistair tweeted “Is it a myth about unfit kids”?  Of course it is! In my house anyway. My children are extremely fit and healthy, they put me to shame. They have a neurotic mother who worries about their “5 a day” and an indulgent father who allows them to talk him into trips to the sweet shop. On the other hand, they have a lazy mum who allows them to sit in front of the telly when she needs a break and an active dad who happily takes them cycling or to the park for a kick around when he comes home from work. This is what works for us.

I am privileged to be a stay-at-home mum (most of the time!) so I get time to plan activities and meals and I spend a lot of time with the boys, whether they like it or not 😀  I spend my evenings and weekends taxiing them to their sporting events but this has its advantages for me – I get to sit and chat for an hour to other parents and the boys get tired!

So our little Twittering session this morning got me reading up on the subject and I was shocked. The latest figures, for 2011/12, show that 19.2% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11 – Corrado’s age group) were obese and a further 14.7% were overweight. I’m gobsmacked! I know that health conditions and poverty contribute to inability or lack of exercise but I wasn’t prepared for such a high number!  I’m not going to debate the subject, not like the ever-insensitive Katie Hopkins who said “Every fat child lives in the shadow of a fat parent”. I count my blessings that I have two such healthy kids. And I take some of the credit, despite being a fatty Ms Hopkins 😀

School’s back tomorrow! Yay!!

I’m not really a bad mummy, I will miss the little rascals but it will be great to be back in a routine. I’m always ready for the end of each term but even more ready for the start of the next one! I can go to the supermarket without protests, I can make a phone call without being grilled on who I was talking to, I can sit down and have a cup of coffee without someone bouncing on the sofa and many many other such luxuries. The kids miss their little mates too.

And the new exercise regime will begin in earnest. I’m going to dust down the Wii Fit. Well, the weather’s to be awful tomorrow, so I’m not going for a walk or anything daft like that! I’m going to stay in and face the wrath of my Wii trainer who will no doubt say it’s been a while and I’ll feel like a 5 year old caught eating sweets before dinner.

Despite being served and eating a vat of porridge and two rounds of toast for breakfast this morning (notice I didn’t refuse any of it!) it was a good day for eating healthy. I had a garden salad for lunch and restricted myself to 2 teeny weeny jaffa cakes with coffee at my in-laws. They really were tiny! I could have eaten them all (I was given 4 on my own plate) but left 2 for Mr Manners. He would have starved a month or two ago!

For dinner I made the Hairy Dieters’ pork schnitzel (and a Portobello mushroom version for myself) and served it with oven roasted potato chunks, carrots and creamy cabbage (I added a red onion to cabbage and then mixed through a dollop of low fat cream cheese just before serving – delicious). I have to confess to going back to the cooker and helping myself to seconds of the veg, including the creamy cabbage – I hate waste!

Portobello Mushroom Schnitzel with carrots, potatoes roasted with rosemary and creamy cabbage and red onion – about 350 calories

I’ve just sat down after getting schoolbags and uniforms ready for the morning and am currently drinking a cup of green tea and eating an Alpen Strawberry & Yoghurt bar. I think I’ll have a Milky Way tomorrow night.

Baking cakes to avoid eating – it works!

With all the warnings of the storms due today, I woke early and headed to the Tesco Metro to stock up with essentials – batteries, tomato soup and caster sugar.

The batteries were for the torches, the tomato soup could be heated up on the single gas burner we keep for such emergencies and  caster sugar to bake a birthday cake. None of it was “essential”, what was important was I got a breath of air before battening down the hatches.

The cake was in the oven before Corrado had finished getting his morning fix of cartoons and long before Sam woke up (he likes his sleep, does our Sam). Ahead of the game – the storms could do their worst, electricity was not needed to decorate it.

Breakfast was a very satisfying scrambled egg with a slice of wholemeal toast, washed down with a green tea. At least it was satisfying until I started reading the Twitter feed and getting involved with reading and posting about favourite Hairy Biker recipes! I tried drinking water, that’s supposed to curb an appetite. It didn’t work.

The boys left bits of croissant on their plates, but I bravely scraped them into the food waste caddy before temptation got the better of me.

The best way to avoid eating? Decorate a cake. Great distraction, especially since I had Corrado alongside me decorating his own smaller version.

Corrado with his Pokemon cake

We sat side by side for a while, quietly spreading buttercream until we were happy that it was smooth enough for the sugarpaste layer. It took a while, we weren’t in any hurry – it was Sam’s turn to get his cartoon fix!

We all took a break – Corrado, me and the cakes. The kittens and Sam needed playtime and were creating a racket in the hall, while they were banned from the kitchen.

Lunch was lentil soup (me) and tomato soup (the boys) – thankfully heated up on the cooker. The storms hadn’t caused any interruption to power.

The afternoon’s entertainment was magic! Both boys had been given magician sets for Christmas and so far we hadn’t learnt any tricks, so today was the day. Scouring through the instructions for an easy one to start with, I amazed Sam with a sleight of hand involving a small ball. He practiced and practiced until he had it perfect. For my next trick, Corrado worked on pulling a rabbit out of a top hat. We were supposed to surprise daddy with a magic show but as soon as he talked through the door he was ambushed and both tricks thrown out at the speed of light! Poor David. I hadn’t warned him!

My Pokemon cake attempt!


It was dinner time and I hadn’t noticed! The afternoon had disappeared – perhaps we cast a spell too many! Cakes finished, rubble cleared away and dinner was a hasty spaghetti arrabbiata made from a tin of cherry tomatoes, an onion, lots of garlic and chilli and only half the previously-normal portion of pasta we would have scoffed pre-diet. Not a Hairy Bikers recipe but based on their advice of more sauce and less pasta. We licked our plates.

Maybe not appetising so close up but it was delicious!

An exciting day tomorrow – we are making sledges in B&Q (Kids Can Do It workshop) in the morning (that’ll keep me away from the bread bin!) and the Hairy Bikers’ Diet Club is launched (that’ll have me throwing the bread bin away!)


Is ironing considered a good workout?

I hope so because that’s all the exercise I’ve had today 🙂

I got up early this morning to make sure Himself (aka hubby David) got up for work. I was full of energy, made his breakfast and fed the kittens, even had a cup of green tea myself! But as soon as I waved him off and Corrado stumbled into our bedroom with Biscuit over his shoulder, I was ready for another sleep.

Off the two of them went to do a bit of male bonding while Rosie stayed with me to keep my toes warm. After a lovely hour’s fitful snoring (I’m sure) I was wakened by the sound of space invaders in my left ear. It was Sam playing a “matching” game on his iPod. He was in his new Christmas fleecy onesie from Eleanor and Paul (I’m starting to rely on you guys – I didn’t bother buying any this year!!) and still smelt of mint choc chip bubble bath from last night. What a welcome to the morning! He grinned down at me while Corrado literally tumbled into the room juggling two kittens.

I’d taken a risk and asked the kids again what they wanted to do today. Bless their little polyester socks, they just wanted to stay home and play with the fur balls that are Rosie and Biscuit. But mummy needed a bit of natural daylight so they voted for a window seat at Pizza Hut! Genius, the kids’ buffet is only £3.99 and will fill them for the day. I tried to be good.  This is what I ordered for myself …


but I didn’t starve. I knew I wouldn’t.  Corrado and Sam love the idea of the salad buffet and enough pizza to fill your boots, but they usually end up just eating the pasta. So I ate lots of rejected grated carrot, raisins, pickles, jalapenos and pizza crust (which was enhanced with the jalapenos). Was upset that I didn’t get a go at the spinach pasta, but it wasn’t my day. (It’s not that nice, tastes of flour but it looks good!). I’m not being stingey by not ordering my own meal, but I don’t care for the PH salads and their pastas are humongous calories each. I did drink all my water though 🙂

We were supposed to go to the cinema to see Frozen after but Corrado had overindulged and was feeling pukey and Sam had brain freeze from an overdose of icecream, those plans were urgently reviewed.

I wasn’t going to suffer that on my own, so shared the burden with my parents and, bonus, my older sister who called in after shopping. Sam finds it hard to break a habit but today’s chocolate chip cookie at granny’s wasn’t finished, despite his gallant efforts.

By the time we got home and David returned from work (he was early – the fool that he is!) it was time to make the evening meal. There was a small stuffed duck that needed to be used up (a bargain post-Christmas find at Tesco) so I put Corrado to work preparing baby potatoes and parsnips to serve with it. There were peas and samphire too, but they didn’t need his help. I have no clue how many calories I fed David tonight, but I was happy that I wasn’t very hungry and made myself a plate of champ. The favoured comfort food for the population of Northern Ireland.

The Hairy Dieters have a recipe for it, but whilst I celebrate that because every nationality should enjoy champ, I followed my own method (I was brought up on potatoes and scallions!) and resisted the tradition to make a well and add a heart-stopping dollop of butter.

I didn’t deny myself the lovely samphire though, I piled the champ high on top of a generous helping! Tip: no need to season the spuds (except with a grating of black pepper), the samphire is salty enough.


What am I thinking – I almost forgot to share the good news! Despite my misgivings about our apparent overindulgence this past week, neither David nor I put on any weight! Weigh-in was a successful “maintenance” – ie the same as last week! Who’d have thunk it?

Happy happy us! And a happy new year’s celebration tomorrow night – we will be indulging in a little charging of our glasses (we dare not break with tradition) but it will be our last for a while. My challenge is to wait for my 2 stone celebration, however David wants to take it further and give it up forever (or until he discovers that bottle of Captain Morgan’s he got as a Christmas gift – neither of us has tried it but how long can we keep saying that? I want to open it now!!).

Where was I – oh yes, ironing. As I did nothing more than press pedals on the car and bending to empty the dishwasher today, I felt obliged to have clean clothes for the family tomorrow by doing a bit of an ironing workout. I stuck with it for the whole of “Doggy Styling” (what the heck??) as light entertainment but as soon as Dobby the Giesha was announced the winner, I felt the need to sit down and take a reality check.

Speaking of light entertainment, I clicked a link to a casting call for two new models for Height Goddess (I qualify for the height bit, being 5’11.5″ inches tall) and laughed when the maximum dress size was 10. The US size 10, mind you, but even then is that realistic for a healthy woman of 5’9″ –  6’1″? Maybe. In a year’s time! They kindly don’t mention an upper age limit. @kenco_al is a great one for boosting confidence and @daisys82 is another tall mama (but closer to the Height Goddess criteria than I am!) so we had a bit of fun with going for the job.

As my 10 year old son would say “dream on kiddo”.

Happy new year’s eve tomorrow!


    1999: I will get my weight down below 180.
    2000: I will watch my calories until I get below 190.
    2001: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200.
    2002: I will try to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
    2003: I will work out 5 days a week.
    2004: I will work out 3 days a week.
    2005: I will try to drive past a gym at least once a week.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

You will never believe what I did or didn’t do today – I completely forgot to weigh myself first thing this morning! Mondays are my weigh-in day and first thing in the morning before breakfast. But, because it wasn’t a school day and it felt like a Saturday, I didn’t realise I should have been on those scales holding my breath!

Ah well. I did step onto the scales of doom around midday and they showed the same weight as last week – hooray! That’s the best I was hoping for but it wasn’t the exact science of being measured at the same time every 7 days. Could I have been 3 ounces lighter 5 hours previous?? I’ll put it down as zero gain/zero loss. Not bad after all I consumed on Saturday night.

Only 2 more sleeps until we see how good or bad we’ve been this year. I’ve been good – honest! I am so looking forward to Wednesday, for the first time ever we aren’t planning on stepping over the threshold, unless it’s to give Sam a go on his new bike (if Santa has one for him, of course!).

We’re having my mother- and father-in law down for Christmas day. It’ll be our first year celebrating without our darling Linda, who enjoyed Christmas as much as any child. It was all about the wall-to-wall movies and exploring those mysterious packages under the tree. It will be a day of mixed emotions but we were all delighted with the tribute she was given in the Camphill News.


The in-laws aren’t big fans of turkey, but they love honey-glazed gammon. I’m quite excited about cooking – I haven’t had that privilege in many many years. My menu is planned down to the very minute – I suppose it brings out the control freak in me, timings are what I thrive on! In control of my own kitchen, I can produce a schedule that involves lots of timers going off to jolt my failing memory/time judgment that it’s time to do the next step.

To balance all that out, the table setting will be relaxed and designed by Corrado (but will include matching cutlery and stemware!), the meat can relax as long as it likes and a blind eye will be turned to those who do not want to eat their 5-a-day. I know I didn’t want to fill up on the veg when I was 8 or 10, the only food group I was loyal to then was the selection box.

After lunch today, it was action stations – we zoomed up the road to Ballymoney to make our pre-Christmas visits.

We came out of the Elliotts with wrapped surprises for the new kittens and then went on to the Kinnairds where our kids were indulged in hide-and-seek.

On the way home we called into Sainsbury’s for a bottle of Sloe Gin, because I needed some for my puddings. It wasn’t the bun-fight I was expecting, there was no need to sharpen my elbows and I shopped and paid for that vital ingredient in record breaking time.

The excitement of the build-up is impacting on the appetites of the kids – they didn’t want dinner tonight but were quite keen on knowing what sweet treats were available for afterwards.  They were forced to eat some pasta carbonara 🙂 (quick, no thinking and a sure-thing with the boys)  while I cooked up a chickpea spice-fest for the adults after the kids were packed off to bed.

I’m guessing, but the chickpea curry could not contain more than 450 calories per portion. I can’t see where the fat was, apart from the slightest drizzle of oil to fry off the onions and spices. The rice was the biggest culprit in the calorie count, but it was boiled with green lentils so has the mythical protein celebrated by vegan nutritionists. Apart from all that, it was delicious, a tad fiery, the individual spices gave their own hit and overall it was very comforting. It was my own recipe of spices but I think it was excellent!

Cathy's Chickpea Curry
Cathy’s Chickpea Curry

chickpea joke

Can you diet and enjoy Christmas?

That's me, the one in the red dress beside the photo-bombing guy in the mankini!
That’s me, the one in the red dress beside the photo-bombing guy in the mankini!

Of course you can!

Unless you are in a race to win “The Biggest Loser”, there’s no reason why you have to give up the diet, or even not start, in December. Just lower your sights and, at worst, go for “no gain” at this tempting time.

Find the right eating plan and you can do it.  For me it’s all about portion size and a kick up the backside. This is what attracted me to the Hairy Diet in the first place – reading the recipes, you wouldn’t know you were dieting. (To me) the secret is heeding the portion size. If the recipe says “serves 4” and you’re only cooking for yourself, you need to have 3 storage boxes lined up beside your plate ready for dividing up the end result. It becomes second nature after doing this a few times and then you realise the benefits – after a couple of weeks of industrious cooking and variety, you can take the next few weeks off and reap the benefits of those freezer portions. Sometimes the flavours develop in the cooling process or the texture changes for the better – last week’s moussaka is a perfect example.

Anyway, getting back to Christmas. Last night, I went to a Christmas Party Night, much loved of office workers and other large groups. It was a typical hotel function – book food in advance, have it served as soon as you sit down, everything cleared away and the loud music begins. We were the “Cathy Mullan Party”, as the laminated A4 table display told us! I do wish I’d thought of a better booking name. We could have been the “Putting the World to Rights” or the “GIPSies” after the school our children have in common. The world was our lobster.

The vegetarian choice wasn’t much of a choice and, to my constant exasperation, it bore no relation to the season or traditional menu.  It was spinach and ricotta cannelloni, which is the perfect pub grub for me – garlic bread and salad on the side. But I do love Christmas veg – carrots, roasties, mash, Brussels sprouts. Luckily for me, the server offered a side plate and a bit of everything from her silver tray. I ate that first – it was very well cooked, slightly al dente (except the mash and roasties) and still brightly coloured. The pasta was OK, but it was just fuel to me.  The side salad had no business on the table, it wouldn’t be served on Christmas Day in our house!

Festive pasta!
Festive pasta!
Five pepper-Corn Rib Eye rib eye of beef cooked in a five pepper-corn crust - really?
Karen M: Five pepper-Corn Rib Eye
rib eye of beef cooked in a five pepper-corn crust – really?
Roast turkey with a bread stuffing served with all the trimmings and a roast gravy
Karen H: Roast turkey with a bread stuffing served with all
the trimmings and a roast gravy

Memo to Christmas party venues: the vegetarian likes to celebrate the season too – allow him/her to enjoy the vegetables that are traditional for December! An old fashioned nut roast or similar with a tasty sauce would be perfect. Makes us feel less “look at me, I’m making a point here”.

I haven’t eaten that much pasta in a long while so by the time the dessert was served (my choice was raspberry ruffle cheesecake) I was full up. I couldn’t do it justice, sadly.corrs cheesecake

The rest of the night was good craic – the people watching from our vantage point of a table on the side of the dance floor was great fun. As Karen M posted on Facebook “I have never seen so many bald men in one place”!! And they weren’t just groups of bald men, they were bald men in Christmas jumpers! Their counterparts, the Christmas Party Women, were in a uniform of short black dresses, bare legs and platform shiny shoes. Whether they fitted into their outfits or not! Meow!

I’m no oil painting myself, so I am qualified to judge – ladies, you let the side down. Haven’t you seen the foundation underwear displays in M&S? The good news, from what was on display last night, is that cellulite is a fashion accessory these days!  Brilliant! I have enough if anybody needs some!  Karen H and I were the only women in longer dresses – did we miss a memo?

We danced along with DJ Robbie Magee but didn’t reckon on the cabaret singer first – it was cheesy but in a fun way!

We might have eaten about 3 million calories each but we worked off at least 50% of that during one dance – Baggy Trousers (Madness). We deadpanned the traditional dad-dancing style to that tune but didn’t reckon on the full-body workout it gave us! I couldn’t speak for 10 minutes after!! Karen H, I do hope you have deleted that video!

The good news is that I went home semi-sober at 1.30 am and when awakened by the two kids and two kittens this morning, I was able to lift my head without wincing and actually smile, despite the cone shaped hair on top of my  head.

Corrado suggested we all drink some extra vitamins to make sure we weren’t sick on Christmas morning, so I got the juicer out and we clinked our glasses full of carrot, apple and ginger juice. A force to be reckoned with – I was like the Duracell bunny for hours!juiceI’m under no false illusions about weigh-in tomorrow. I have overdone the quantities in the last day or so. But I’m hoping for a zero gain at best.

Wish me luck!Funny-Christmas-Jokes-Saying

Airbags, curry and panto – all in a day’s work :)

It’s been a busy couple of days.  Didn’t update the diary last night because this time yesterday I was just about to lie in a heap in the living room in front of a roaring open fire. Oh yes I was!

Had to try and get the car sorted yesterday – the SRS light came on to tell me something was going on with the airbag or seat belt. Took it to our usual guy in Broughshane but he didn’t have the right “key” to do a diagnostic.  Yaddy yaddy yah. To cut a long story short, I drove all the way home again, via Ballymena, with that light still glaring at me. I HAD to stop in Ballymena, it was such a waste of petrol to go all that way and not stop to shop for “essentials”.

There was a lovely lady in the Fairhill mall that embroiders stuff while you wait. I wanted to buy a personalised blanket for all the pet-children we know but, rather than sacrifice the holiday wine tokens, I bought just one to get it out of my system. I won’t say which woof woof it was bought for, incase her mummy is reading this 🙂  I didn’t get one for the kittens, they can’t read yet, so a generic paw print blanket will do them this year. Please don’t call me scrooge!!!

It was lunchtime while I was there and I decided to go to M&S cafe for one my their yummy mushroom and emmental toasties (485 calories!!).  I had my trusty Kindle in my bag and was 91% of the way through my book, so pictured a leisurely break with all thoughts of the breakfast dishes (I left the house straight after the school bus arrived) and unmade beds banished to someone else’s conscience.  But I was saved! There was a mighty queue of freshly permed ladies and their bag carrying husbands waiting patiently in line for the pots of tea and scones. I’m not known for my patience, so I went to the food hall instead and bought a superfood salad and brought it home. I didn’t get to read my book and still haven’t finished it! It’s not the same taking a break in your own house, is it?

But, look at all those calories I saved! There might have been about 300 cals in my salad but there was no fat (I didn’t use the dressing – not my cup of char).

Dinner last night was a Hairy Dieter curry – the fiery beef madras (sans beef) from the freezer. It was one of my aubergine creations and it was as fresh as the day it was made! I made the beef version (times 6) for David to eat last night and bring into work today. Along with the extra portions of chicken tikka masala from last night, he was was treating his colleagues to a traditional Christmas curry. It’s our tradition, anyway.

We went to the Ballyearl panto – Cinderella – last night, Granny and Grandad Mullan’s Christmas present to the boys. Wasn’t a great night to be out gallivanting, there was quite a storm blowing. But it was local to us, so didn’t have the city traffic to negotiate.

It was brilliant! A great show, far better than the over-processed big-money has-been “star” shows in the city. For us, anyway. My boys don’t like the big productions, we spend most of it out in the hallway taking deep breaths! But this was great – there were only 6 actors and we were about 12 (there are 14 rows in the theatre) from the front. Buttons was the favourite character, he was funny and energetic and the jokes were (mostly) for the kids.  Mind you, there were more parties of adults than children! One lady was there to celebrate her 101st birthday!

After seeing Santa on the way out of the theatre and meeting the characters from the show, it was off home to calm the wee’uns down and get ready for bed. Eventually, I flopped onto the sofa and it was far too late to blog!

So, another day dawned and another trip to a garage to get the car sorted. The Honda franchise in Ballymena was cheaper by more than half to get the problem diagnosed, so off I went despite the radio reports that snow was falling fast along the route I was taking. I didn’t see a single flurry but was bemused by the DJ reading out texts from listeners in Glengormley, Mallusk, Antrim – all along the M2 I was travelling on – saying there was white stuff falling from the skies! Just 50 minutes after starting on a free coffee and watching BBC news and checking messages on the mobile, I was sent on my way with no annoying light on the dashboard. Yay!

I celebrated with a cheese and tomato toastie and green tea for lunch and set about wrapping Christmas presents before the kittens got bored.

Dinner tonight was a simple affair. After David filling his boots at work with curry (his colleagues loved the spice-fest and some have committed to Hairy Dieter-style eating from January) we decided to have a salad.  With mine, I had a jacket potato and a smattering of Parmesan and for David, I cooked the Argentinian steak he enjoyed the other night.

I have to apologise, I have kitten brain and forgot to take photos of our meals! I am getting slack.

But on the other hand, I think I’ve done exceptionally well this week with the eating. I have been disciplined, as far as food is concerned. HOWEVER, I am typing under the influence – David and I opened one of our bottles of wine bought for the festive season. A Chilean something in red. Can’t be bothered going to the recycling bin to remind me what it was – yes, it’s finished! I never claimed I was a saint!

Only one more diet dinner before my Christmas big night out! Pasta is the vegetarian option at Corrs Corner – not ideal (won’t go with the usual seasonal veg, my favourite part of Christmas dinner) but it’s not the food we’re going for – it’s the F.U.N. !! I’m wearing a new long red dress and glittery heels – so exciting for someone whose normal idea of dressing up is matching her scarf with her hat! I’ll take photos 🙂

If I remember!Christmas

I did it! One stone off before Christmas!


I hadn’t actually set that as a real target, I’ve just thought of it, but I am quite delighted with myself!

As I said yesterday, I didn’t think I’d have good news from the scales this morning. I really really thought there would be an increase but was hoping, at best, for the same weight as last week, ie “maintaining” as they say in slimming circles.

I celebrated with an extra large bowl of porridge – no more “slippages” for me! The porridge is a great start to the day, but I keep forgetting. I intended to have a banana for my elevenses but Corrado snuffled the last one into his schoolbag for his morning break at school (I’d already packed him an apple). That’s my excuse. Instead I tripped the electricity with the toaster as I attempted to heat up a piece of wheaten bread. I never have any luck with toasters – what on earth am I doing wrong? After a year (or less) my toasters do that – turn off all the sockets in the same circuit!

At lunchtime I was in Tesco, with only half an hour to get to school for Sam’s cookery club. I’d no time to drive home and make myself some lunch so I went upstairs to the Tesco cafe and queued behind the festive diners ordering scampi and chips! (No Christmas dinners on the menu board, Tesco??)

I  was weakening, I smelt the vinegary chips and wanted them. In my head I was saying “chips please” but I was actually saying “have you any soup left?”! Honestly, it was like I had no control over my gift of speech! There was no soup in the kettle but apparently there was some “in the back”.  I wasn’t sure if I was feeling proud or hard done by!

It was nice soup, but it wasn’t chips 😦

Today’s lesson was Christmas cake pops.  I’ve never been tempted to make cake pops before, it seemed like a lot of faffing about. But it was quite easy! Still a lot of faffing about though – Sam kept walking away to inspect his friends’ efforts and sneak another few jelly tots that were supposed to be used as decorations. We also made a meringue snowman – not the pure white model as per demonstration but still edible!

Christmas Cake Pops and Snowman Meringue
Christmas Cake Pops and Snowman Meringue

I had received my instructions at the weekend to prepare a party for this afternoon. The occasion? The first episode in the new series of The Dumping Ground! Corrado has always loved the Tracy Beaker series and has continued this through to this spin-off. So, party food for the kids’ dinner it was!!

Not a morsel left for me to nibble on!
Not a morsel left for me to nibble on!

For the adults, it was the The Hairy Dieters’ Moussaka.  A very satisfying and warming dish for only 323 calories! What’s not to like?

For my vegetarian version, I used a tin of green lentils, which is half the calories of the lean minced lamb. So I suppose my moussaka had only about 250 calories!

It was a lovely meal, we had it with a crunchy side salad (no dressing except a squeeze of lemon – we don’t like salad dressings).

Hairy Dieters' Moussaka
Hairy Dieters’ Moussaka

I think I’m back – I’m committed again to this diet. With meals like this it’s easy to cut down on portion sizes. And the bonus is the other 4 portions (2 meat, 2 veg) that have been frozen for future use!

Looking forward to another culinary successful day tomorrow.

If only my hair was that tidy in the mornings!!

Kittens, kittens and more kittens :-)

Sorry blog world, I have been neglecting you, but I took a bit of a sabbatical. I have had literally not put my backside on the sofa for longer than 5 minutes at a time since the kittens came along!

The little darlings arrived on Friday afternoon and made themselves at home immediately. My favourite ginger colour suede boots are now theirs, whether I’m wearing them or not! As I couldn’t wait for the school bus to arrive in its own time, I collected the boys myself as a surprise and told them about the cats (they thought the arrival date was Monday!) just as we were pulling into the driveway.

Food hasn’t been much of a consideration this weekend! I have neglected the diet a bit, I have to be honest. Tomorrow’s weigh-in is not going to be a happy occasion 😦

Question: do I allow myself to relax it a bit over the Christmas season or do I keep going, keep strong?  

I think I’ll keep going, as much as I can, anyway. I might have to forgo every meal being cooked fresh because there so many pressures on time. I don’t like the idea of that – ready meals aren’t that tasty and filling. OK, scrub that, no ready meals – but there might be plain uncomplicated meals on the menu like sausages and mash, fishcakes and jacket potatoes, stir fry with rice. Just smaller portions! The easier Hairy Dieter recipes that I’ve made before are also good – the tortilla pizza, easy chicken bake. Just nothing new, where I have to concentrate!

That’s that sorted, I think!

I had an impromptu night out with the girls on Friday to do our Secret Santa gifts – I got a “ring for a drink” bell, which will be well used and, most likely, ignored. And a cracking little mobile phone cover that I have to cross stitch myself! I’ve never done cross-stitching but love a new challenge – especially one where I can sit quietly on the sofa at night with my bell beside me and the fire roaring. Looking forward to that. Thanks Secret Santa!

Back to the new babies – awwwww.  They are adorable.  Rosie is the little tortoiseshell and Biscuit (or Ginger Biscuit to give him his full title) is the ginger one. Rosie is a delicate little lady, tiny compared to her big bruiser of a brother. They are around 16 weeks old and are experts at using the litter tray and keeping the food in their bowls 🙂

At this time of year, we don’t need to buy toys – the lower baubles on the Christmas tree are the perfect playthings! May as well give up trying to keep them away from the tree.  It’s fun to watch!

The human loves putting these back on the tree, so I’ll just keep knocking them off!
What will I buy my mummy for Christmas?
See Mum, I told you it was him! I’m just sitting here keeping out of it.

The boys adore the kittens, although Sam is a bit wary and only handles them with gloves on. Corrado would sneak them up his jumper and bring them to school tomorrow if he had his way!

Auntie Marion has taken Corrado and Sam to Belfast Zoo today for their annual visit to see Santa there, bring clothes for the monkeys to dress up and wrap gifts for the animals. So I’m chilling with hubby and the kittens, catching up with emails, blogs, drinking copious amounts of coffee and watching Sunday Brunch.


Another rollercoaster of a day …

Woke up in a great mood this morning – we had a lot planned and there was no point in facing it without a smile :D.  Corrado and Sam were doing their swimming level tests and then we were going to the Continental Market in Belfast City Centre. As an added extra surprise, I decided to wear one of my favourite tunic t-shirts (actually a dress for “normal” height people but on me it’s a t-shirt!) and for the first time this year, I wasn’t tugging it down over my hips – it hung down all by itself! I was delighted with myself and couldn’t wait to get going.

Corrado was awarded his level 8 swimming certificate but unfortunately Sam didn’t make level 2 grade – but he was given a Dipper the Dolphin certificate of achievement to soften the blow. I was so proud – they have achieved such a lot in a short time.

Corrado level 8 certSam with swimming cert

Sadly, I got word that my Uncle John had died this morning. This was the second of my dad’s brothers to have passed away in just over a week. I will dedicate tomorrow’s blog to him because I need time to reflect on all the happy times we shared, I am still trying to take in another loss so soon.

I didn’t feel like going ahead with the rest of today’s plans but I couldn’t let my two little monkeys down – they were really looking forward to it and it was postponed from last week due to the awful wind and rain. So off we went. I don’t know why, but the market wasn’t it’s usual overcrowded self today – perhaps everyone has upped the ante on their serious Christmas shopping and have no time for fun! Or maybe the majority of Christmas parties were held last night and half of Belfast was feeling a little delicate!

We didn’t have to queue for the gi-normous sausages that are so popular. David and the boys shared one between the three of them (David is indeed being very good on this new eating regime!). Disappointingly, the only veggie option today was noodles – plain, boring noodles. They claimed to have vegetables in them and I did see one sliver of dark green cabbage in the box, but that was it. Belfast – you’ve let me down again! In previous years I have managed to enjoy a falafel or three or a pot of garlic mushrooms, but it was noodles or cake today.

Sam at marketCorrado at market

After a little turn on the carousel (the boys, not me), I did some recreational shopping and bought some unusual cheeses as a hostess gift to bring to Marion Murphy’s. There’s a jalapeno pepper, a firey cheddar and a lemon and cumin cheese – I’ve wrapped them now and can’t remember if they’re all cheddars.

Decided not to bother with the Donkey Sanctuary Christmas Fair as we were all tired so we came home and slobbed about for a while.

As I’m trying to resist the party food tonight, I had a bowlful of last night’s Big Soup to keep me going. For the rest of the family I made the Hairy Dieters’ Low Calorie Doner Kebabs – now established as a firm favourite.

Help yourselves lads
Help yourselves lads

I’m about to spend my evening being tempted by copious amounts of cocktails and nibbles. It’s not going to be easy 😦


PS Sorry! I thought I published this post last night before I went out – duh!