Social life struggles

I won’t be weighing-in this week.  Just as I was getting into the swing of this weight loss malarky, along comes a social life – something we had quite forgotten about.

In the space of a week we will have been out for an Indian meal to celebrate 24 years of wedded bliss, had two days of picnicking while cheering on the kids at their Special Olympics events (1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze between them), Father’s Day lunch, Open Farm weekend where the only veggie option was chips, end of summer term lunch with RDA – fish suppers all round and a fundraising night out. Before this week?  Nothing for months!

At the restaurant on Saturday night, we skipped starters, I had a glass of prosecco and a jug of water, shared a portion of rice, and enjoyed a dish that consisted mainly of spinach (but probably drenched in ghee) and no dessert.  HOWEVER, we got a bit carried away at the pub after.  Finally realising we didn’t have to wrestle the kids into bed, we relaxed.  Oh oh.

So, tomorrow starts a new week.  Not today.  Today is the actual date of our anniversary.  We’re heading out to lunch shortly.  And I’ve gone to all this trouble to wash my hair and put on makeup, so no gym today either!




Happy St Patrick’s Day!


The aftermath of celebrating was not so happy for me – I think it was my first gain on the scales since the diet began!!  Two pounds, can you believe it?  Actually, I can. I had a very naughty couple of days when I ate and drank until I was merry. I don’t regret a single morsel or tipple. It’s good to kick up your heels once in a while. I’ll just have to work doubly hard this week to shift it and then some. My goal for this time next week is 2lb+ of a loss. Maybe a tad ambitious but I do intend having a busy active week!

We had a child-free afternoon, night and morning on Saturday/Sunday (thank you so much, Paul and Eleanor). So we celebrated, as one does, by heading out to our favourite Indian restaurant and uncorking a bottle or two as well. We hadn’t been there in ages, with this dieting lark and delicious curry recipes in both Hairy Bikers diet books stopping us. But as we were seated at our little table for two (luxury!) our waiter greeted us with “long time since you were last here, where are the boys?”  We usually go everywhere as a package. Corrado always pours over the menu then orders chicken tikka masala and Sam gets chicken korma and they both share the side dishes of tarka dhal and chana rice. We’re a bit predictable like that! Without the kids to help us with our lentils and chickpeas, we decided to share a main course but order the sides too. With a naan bread. Rude not to. We managed to finish whole sentences, didn’t have to worry about glasses toppling over and there was no kicking under the table. But we did miss the little darlings. Kinda.


So that was one of the pounds from the gain accounted for.

Yesterday (Sunday) was St Patrick’s Day Eve. A traditional day to celebrate (or it should be!). We usually meet, as a family, at a hotel bar on 17th March and the kids run mad, pester us to have their faces painted and the adults drown their shamrock in Guinness. But this year we were invited to a party at my sister’s house (the older sibling – there are 5 of us) as she was celebrating getting a new job, which started today. So that saved the green face paint argument (the kids are allergic but don’t care!).

Pound number two. Marion had gone to so much trouble to cater for everybody that I had to put my Mrs Manners head on and eat all round me.

But you’d think with all the exercise I was getting, those pounds wouldn’t have dared to hang around. Cheeky beggars.

I spent my quiet afternoon in Sam’s bedroom with drill and screwdriver making him a new bed. Not a flat-pack. Oh no, that would be too simple! He had cupboards but needed a new bed that wasn’t bent almost in two from his jumping on it. So, as it’s a small room, I decided to build over the cupboards. I measured about 400 times and finally plucked up the courage to go to B&Q and get all the materials – they cut the board to size so that was the job half done. A few false starts (thank goodness for reverse gear on the electric screwdriver!) but I enjoyed myself and, if I say so myself, it wasn’t a bad first attempt! So I think I earned my curry 🙂  Image

I hope you have been over on the Hairy Bikers Diet Club Facebook page this week? I’ve been posting my favourite (Northern) Irish recipes. Actually, they’re not all my favourite (no lamb stew for me!) but our local cuisine is so easy to make, it should be more widely broadcast! I made myself a big plate of Champ for tonight’s dinner and the boys had a mini Ulster Fry with homemade potato farls, cut into shamrock shapes.

Left: Champ (mashed potatoes with scallions/spring onions and – yes – that is real butter!). Right: Shamrock shaped potato farls cooking on a floured griddle pan.

So, for the last time this year – Happy St Patrick’s Day! raises her cup of tea Slainte!

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!

Happy Chocolate Cake Day Karen!

I. Actually. Did. It. I am currently wearing a pair of size (UK) 14 jeans! All my diet dreams came true yesterday when I received my Next order. I’d ordered a pair of 16T and 14T jeans, being the optimist that I am. Following the New Look disappointment, I wasn’t holding out much hope. OK, I was, I was pinning all my hopes on it! I tried on the smaller size first and, guess what? They fitted. Perfectly. Without any struggling or jumping up and down. Can you see the smile on my face? No, there’s no photo, but surely you can feel my smile through your electronic screen? I can’t believe that I will be returning the bigger size to the local Next store on Monday! 😀 😀

I don’t want to hear any smart alec remarks that Next sizes are generous. Right?

I have been extra careful with my calorie in-take for the last few days, since we decided to go out to a local restaurant to celebrate Karen H’s birthday. I didn’t help matters by also deciding to make a chocolate cake to bring to the party! I used a Mary Berry recipe (sorry Daisy!) and it looked the part – the white chocolate granache with the dark chocolate collar looked the business. There was good licking to be done on the spoons too but luckily I got help with that from the kids.

The three of us (the two Karens and myself) went to The Side Door in Glengormley, as we wanted to keep it local. It’s a restaurant that has reinvented itself a lot over recent years and it is currently a “bistro” type place with no licence yet. So the girls got to bring their own. I had to settle for sparkling water, as I’m still trying to stay off the calorie-laden beverages until I at least reach my 10% goal.

I had vegetarian fajitas and expected the usual overloaded plate of wraps, sizzling over-cooked veg and lots of condiments on the side. But what I got was a pleasant surprise – one fat wrap with loads of crunchy vegetables, subtly spiced and not weighed down with cheese. There was no salad garnish though, which was a bit disappointing. I did succumb to a portion of garlic fries on the side – a potato accompaniment was mandatory, according to the menu! 


Our waiter brought the chocolate cake out on cue and we had a nice healthy slice to finish off our meal. Mary, it was a nice enough recipe, but if you were in the The Great British Bake-Off and I were the judge, I would have to say it was a bit dry. 🙂


Sitting through two swimming lessons this morning, I decided that I wanted something nice and spicy for dinner tonight. As I had my new Hairy Bikers Asian Adventures recipe book to test, that wasn’t going to be a problem. It fell open at the recipe for Thai Vegetable Curry, which was obviously a sign. I had most of the ingredients – another sign! It may have been a vegetable curry but it wasn’t a vegetarian curry – there was shrimp in the red curry paste. So I decided to use a vegetarian shop-bought paste while I ponder over a solution to the shrimp problem – what could I use as an alternative rather than just leave it out?

To the paste I added the rind and juice of a lime and grated ginger (forgot to buy galangal). And instead of full-fat coconut milk, I used coconut milk “light”, which is around half the calories. Image

It was delicious. A feast of flavour. I highly recommend it. This version, I calculate, only amounted to 280 calories (before I added sticky rice). I struggled to put the lid on the plastic container I used to store the leftovers, but I stayed strong and it’s now safely in the fridge waiting to spice up my Monday lunchtime! 




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!

The best laid plans …

So much for my very organised “to do” list this morning, more of a “dream on Mrs Not So Organised” list!  

So busy admiring my new weight on the spreadsheet (there’s one of those for everything in a house with David) that I just about managed to splash water in the porridge pot before fleeing to the leisure centre just in time to see the Grin-meister, Corrado, lead his 5-a-side team into the reception area. Caught on!  Didn’t have to hold my breath too long – he was more than delighted to see me :).  I was “shown off” to his team mates and teachers and instructed to stay for the whole tournament.  Tournament??  I thought it was one match!  The cafe didn’t open until 11am (why??) so I had no caffeine to keep me upright.

Four matches later and just one goal for our team, I was finally able to order an Americano (as opposed to my usual latte – I’m being very good, don’t you know!).  Disaster – the coffee machine was still heating up and it would be another 10-15 minutes before it was ready!  I settled for an instant.  Better than nothing, I suppose, but still cost me £1.80.  Memo to self, dig the flask out.

“We” didn’t win, nor did “we” get man of the match, but “we” (Corrado) should have received a medal for the biggest smile throughout.  How proud was he – his dream come true, playing for his school!  The boy did good.

I digress, but I’m sure you forgive me, or you would if you knew my 10 year old.

There was no leisurely stroll round Tesco – it was more of a trolley-dash – before it was time to head to school for Arts and Crafts club with Year 4/5.  I had to commit a cardinal sin (from my new commandments – no 4 “thou shalt not eat sandwiches for lunch”) and grab an egg on granary from the shelf at the supermarket and stuff it into me on the way to the school.  After 2 hours of standing at the leisure centre and 45 minutes sprinting round Tesco, I worked it off before I ate it (didn’t I?).

Was sooooo excited when I saw the ideas for Christmas crafts.  Poor Sam, he was going to learn nothing, I was there to enjoy myself today.  I went through the motions of being a nurturing mother, though, to pass myself – Sam fetched the sticky tape, glue, scissors, etc and looked like he was involved in creating masterpieces.  Loved the sparkly stars from pipe cleaners and our tree-angel’s long curly locks started a craze.  From nowhere came other competing mummies dressing their tree-angels in bigger and better dresses, curlier hair and bigger wings.  I’ll sort them out in 2 weeks when we do cupcake decorating – ha!  But anyway, I resisted the jelly beans given out as rewards and the chocolate chip cookies for the parents – another 100 calories saved, at least.



The promised visit to the bakery for after school treats was difficult.  They still had “nutty fingers” left *sighs*.  

Home and more treats handed out – the boys could play PS3/ipad until I unpacked the groceries and started on the Hairy Dieters’ Fiery Beef Madras.  For myself, I decided to use aubergine instead of beef.  Enjoyed making it – not as complicated or labour intense as many of the curries I cook from recipe books.  But, being me, there were a few hiccups. 😦  I bought a packet of “long red chillies” but they weren’t in the bag or the boot of the car or even in the bin with the other twenty litres of packaging from today’s small shopping.  I so wanted the end result to look like the picture in the book 😦  HOWEVER, I remembered the mini peppers I bought on Saturday and there were red ones in there so I pretended they were chillies and threw them in the pot!  For the heat of the chillies I had to resort to dried chilli flakes.  And then I read the bit about using an oven proof pan/casserole that could be used on the hob – I don’t have one!!  (Dear Santa …)  But I’m sure using a pot and transferring to an oven dish with tin foil over it had the same effect, except more washing up.

As it was Ju Jitsu day (6pm) the Madras wouldn’t be ready in time for the kids’ tea so I had to give them chicken ding – they’re weren’t upset!

After toasted fruit loaf made on the coal fire using a long fork, the boys finally went to bed happy to allow me to dish up the main event – Fiery Beef (Aubergine) Madras.  Well worth the wait – it was delicious.  And at 1/10th the calories of the beef, I could have saved the other 3 portions of aubergine from the freezer, but had extra rice instead.  I feel like I’ve been conned though – it definitely didn’t taste low-calorie and it was very filling.  Should I still be feeling full on “diet food” 3 hours later?  Hope so!