There’s life, gym …

But actually, yes it is as we know it.

Hadn’t been to the gym in a week or two (ok it was two) due to a whole range of excuses, the main one being the school summer holidays started on 30th June.  8 weeks and 6 days (not that I’m counting) of full-time kids – yikes!

I’m not supermum, I hung up my cloak a long time ago.  I’m 50 years old.  I get tired easily and am having more frequent flare ups of pains in my hips, lower back and right hand from osteoarthritis.  Now it might be affecting my ankles.

But sod it, it’s not going to be my every waking thought or the reason I put on weight. Let’s change the subject.

The gym.  I mentioned when I joined that I chose to use the one closest to home which was the smallest and the less busy of the group within my council area.  And not the one the beautiful people went to, so no designer gear, full face of make-up and perfect hair required.  But as it doesn’t open until 9am, it wasn’t possible for me to use before my husband went to work.  So the beautiful people gym it had to be.  With me as the token dishevelled, bad hair and mismatched outfit wearing person to let the side down.

Alarm was set for 7am, I was out of the house for 7.15am and back home for 8.30am to grab the baton of childcare.  David was out the door like Usain Bolt off the starting blocks because number one son was beginning to stir.  No long leisurely shower then.

Was it as bad as I was led to believe?  No!  Or not this morning, anyway.  It’s a much bigger facility, more equipment and a couple of machines I haven’t seen before which I like – especially the one that works on the tummy muscles while supporting back and legs.  There were about a dozen people (and they looked very normal!) already working out when I arrived but nobody got in my way.  I was able to meander my way around all the equipment I wanted to use.  My ankles were very painful this morning so I avoided the treadmill and cross trainer and concentrated on the cycling machine for my cardio warm up.

I liked it.  It’s further to travel but at that time of the morning during this particular fortnight (when half of Northern Ireland are on holiday) there’s only very light traffic.

I’m so glad I did it.  It broke me out of a really bad fug. I’d kind of given up on the diet and exercise, I hadn’t been feeling that good recently.  But a lovely relaxing night at a friend’s house for a vegetarian home-cooked meal and non-stop talking and lot of laughing, gave me a bit of a boost and I’m back into a better frame of mind where I want to own lovely dresses, etc.

There will be no weigh-ins and meals will be irregular for a while because of visits to the beach, cinema, days out and summer schemes but a more conscience effort will be made.

Enjoyed a lovely spinach, banana, pineapple and orange smoothie for breakfast, which was shared with the kids – number two has started to give fruit and vegetables a go – wow!

me exercising


Lympathic Massage

I indulged myself in the above via a Wowcher offer.  I’d never heard of such a thing but my online research suggested that my recent illnesses/surgeries may have filled my body with toxins that reduced my metabolism.  For £16 it was worth a punt.

It wasn’t the most satisfying of massages – I was lathered with cream, my legs inserted into plastic bags and my body from the waist down was zipped into a pair of inflatable trousers.  It certainly looked like I was in for a serious treatment.  But the massage itself was, for want of a better word, insipid.  Apparently the lymphs are just below the surface of the skin so it would be gentle.  To be honest, it reminded me of the intermittent compression device I was plugged into following surgery.

The metabolism gerbils might well be turning that wheel faster since, but they’ve been very quiet about it.  I did, however, catch up with one of March’s issues of Now, so all was not lost.



At last … weight loss!

I’m weighing in kilos.  Not trying to be fancy and European, the scales have stopped displaying stones and pounds!

It’s not an impressive first weigh-in, only 1.5 kilos lost (a smidgeon under 3.5lbs) after all these weeks, but it’s a start in the right direction.  My backside has been severely kicked and I’m knuckling down to more serious weight loss and exercise this week.  No more excuses!

I’m buying no new summer clothes this year, absolutely zero.  There are the other pounds I want to save too.  I’ve tons of fabric in the loft awaiting the elusive spare time to create my own clothing as and when I need it.  I might even do a feature on it (does anybody want to borrow two unruly children for a month so I can bond with my sewing machine?).

So, my auction bargain.  I picked up this almost-new Davina exercise bike for a tenner! It’s perfect because it folds down nicely and, even better, the kids love it!  My two boys can’t get enough exercise.  They’re never at home – Mum’s Taxi has them out playing tag rugby, swimming, horse riding or doing athletics or they’re playing outdoors with their friends.  Now they can cycle all evening to release any tiny grains of energy they may have left.  To my shame, I haven’t perched on the saddle myself yet.

exercise bike

Next time … back to delicious recipes.

Come Diet With Me

Where on earth did the last 10 days go? I can’t believe I went that long without blogging! I can’t understand why I haven’t, it just happened but I’m here now and have a lot to tell you, so I’ll get on with it and try and keep it brief!

So, St Patrick’s Day didn’t do the diet any good. Well, I made up for it! On Monday this week I nearly fell off the scales when they displayed such a tiny total weight which equalled 4.4lbs off!! Crikey. Definitely didn’t reckon on that.  Not sure what caused that. I did suffer a few days of mouth ulcers which may have put me off my food a bit, but I hadn’t noticed. I was super active (well, more active than usual) getting long-put-off jobs done around the house and getting bits and bobs ready for Sam’s birthday.

4.4lbs might sound like such a brilliant success for one week, but when I keyed it in to the Hairy Bikers Diet Club diary I was reminded that, at this stage, I should not be losing that amount in one week, it’s not healthy. I knew that, but tried to enjoy the moment anyway! I hadn’t realised that regular weight loss at that level can lead to liver damage but I did know that rapid reductions usually resulted in quicker gains.  I’m not going to be making a habit of it – certainly not this week anyway. I have been distracted and not that interested in dieting and I’m going round in circles with that one – fed up = bad eating habits = fed up. Now that I’ve written it down, I’m mentally giving myself a good old hard kick up the bum. I hang my head in shame.

Tomorrow is another day and a good one at that. Not only is it closer to the weekend but I have an early appointment to get my hair cut and coloured. That’s bound to give me a boost – it always does. Two hours of sitting still, reading magazines, drinking coffee and walking out with a shiny mane – it always put a spring in my step.  And that’s not all – I have a great night out to look forward to. Miranda Hart at the Odyssey in Belfast. That is “what I call” a good day. Back to me, back to me … (if you haven’t seen her tv show, that’s wasted on you!).

Thank goodness for my smart phone, otherwise I wouldn’t remember anything of the recent past – here’s a summary of my week/10 days.

My first Come Diet With Me - a bit of fun on Twitter organised by Hannah Hadwin #comedietwithme
My first Come Diet With Me – a bit of fun on Twitter organised by Hannah Hadwin #comedietwithme. Chosen for me by another Come Diet club member, this is Spicy Vegetable and Bean Stew and it was delicious, if I say so myself 🙂
The leftovers were used to make Chilli Salad Bowls the next day. Delicious.
The leftovers were used to make Chilli Salad Bowls the next day. Delicious.
This week's Come Diet - Moussaka from Hairy Dieters Eat for Life - made with red lentils instead of minced lamb
This week’s Come Diet – Moussaka from Hairy Dieters Eat for Life – made with red lentils instead of minced lamb
Tonight's dinner Mushroom Risotto with asparagus and a teeny weeny smidgeon of Parmesan
Tonight’s dinner Mushroom Risotto with asparagus and a teeny weeny smidgeon of Parmesan
Confession time - I ate the lot. And I enjoyed every one of them!
Confession time – I ate the lot. And I enjoyed every one of them!

Our little Sam turned 9 last Saturday. He is so grown up now – far too fast for me! He’s really into sea lions at the moment and the theme followed through his birthday – a cake, present, card – all sea lions! It was quite disturbing decorating a cake with dark grey sugar paste – cakes are supposed to be cheery! That was the cake he brought into school to celebrate with his friends. His teacher told me later that she made the mistake of naming the cake Steve the Sea Lion. She was a bit squeamish later when it was time to divide it up!!


We went go-karting for the birthday treat and it was a white knuckle ride (for me). I am not confident sitting so close to the ground being chased by a 9 and 10 year old in control of a petrol engine!, never mind being overtaken 400 times by the biggest child of all – my 48 year old husband! Actually, it was brilliant fun but unnerving to see how competitive those boys can get!

Sam being chased by me!
Sam being chased by me!
And the winners are ...
And the winners are …

Then on to Cosmo for birthday eats. The kids love it there. I find it uncomfortable – too many choices, everybody disappears to explore the too-many food choices and nobody sits down to eat at the same time as anyone else! But Sam enjoyed it, that’s all that matters. And to keep everyone company (honest, that’s why I did it!) I had a range of mini desserts, pictured above.

I’ll tell you more about Come Diet With Me next time – it’s great craic and it’s getting so competitive with food presentation!


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!

I’m only 90% the woman I used to be!

The diet is going brilliantly this week – even the exercise part! At last, I’m moving!!  Not “proper” exercise though, today’s was wallpapering Sam’s bedroom. The day before was scraping off the old paper. I was on a roll (no pun intended) and didn’t want to stop for lunch, so I had a Tesco’s Light Choices lentil soup in a cup – a great standby for such occasions. I was up and down that step ladder so often, it was better than a step aerobics class! Occasionally (as I’m tall) I stretched rather than go up the steps – now that’s what I call a workout.

I was happy enough on Monday morning when I did my weigh-in and recorded 1.6lbs off in my Hairy Bikers Diet Club diary. But on Tuesday I had another peek at my weight on the scales and I had shifted another 1.4lbs – giving me the exact amount I needed to reach my 10% target – I was tickled pink 😀 and gave myself a huge pat on the back! It’s taken nearly 4 months but it’s been worth it. I think I have finally broken bad habits and my healthy eating is becoming “normal” for me. In one day I chalked up 19 portions of vegetables and 6 of fruit! That is an unusual day though, my average is about 7 veg and 3 fruit.

I had an event on Monday evening to look forward to – #blogtools, a fundraiser for the Belfast Community Gospel Choir. It was really great! Avril (School Gate Style) and Gemma-Louise (That Belfast Girl) bravely stood up in front of a group of new bloggers, like myself, and told us all the tricks of the trade on how to run a successful blog. I learned so much that it’s going to take a while to start using some of the tools I made a note of. I managed to resist the delicious looking cupcakes and the glasses of fizz and settled for sparkling water.

The venue was a great little shop, Maven, on the Lisburn Road in Belfast. I’d never heard of it but I will be back – it was full of all those lovely home items we all want to own but don’t know it yet! In the meantime, I’m “rocking” (as fashion bloggers say) a Maven shopping bag which is definitely a bit more up market from the plastic Asda one I previously carried in my handbag to avoid those pesky carrier bag levies.bag

Cooking has been a bit erratic this week. It’s the decorating, I am determined to get it done and unfortunately some things have to give. However, I haven’t abandoned my good work completely, I am still keeping everything delicious and nutritious! I cobbled together an old favourite – Aubergine Imam. It’s easy to do, just requires time to bake it so the aubergine is soft and the flavours mingle. I’ll post the recipe in a day or two when I work out the calories, but I know it’s quite low. It may not look like much but it is delicious. That and Aubergine Parmigiana are two of my favourite veggie dishes. For the men in my life I made Meatloaf with spicy tomato sauce. David and Corrado loved it but Sam just wasn’t in the mood. He’s the child who eats chillies without flinching, but it was the meatloaf with it’s telltale vegetable bits that he didn’t want. (Memo to self – put his version in the food processor next time!).  Both dishes were served with Greek salad (baked beans for Sam), including Feta “light”. My craving was satisfied. My diet was happy too.

Aubergine Imam and Greek Salad
Aubergine Imam and Greek Salad
Hairy Dieters "Eat for Life" Meatloaf
Hairy Dieters “Eat for Life” Meatloaf

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! 




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 😦

There’s a big yellow ball in the sky – should we be afraid?

After an icy start this morning, the sun is shining. How odd after the week we’ve had! The world is a beautiful place once more. ☼

Early start today, day two of the boys’ new swimming lessons – a great Groupon offer for the half term. Pity it was so early in the morning each day (for the adults, not so much for the kids who are up from 6am anyway). Our local leisure centre has had to shut the pool (and postpone all lessons) for essential maintenance, so this was a great opportunity to break up the long absence from structured learning and they loved it. Corrado was moved from the advanced class to the life-saving class and Sam was moved from the beginner’s class to the intermediate! I am well chuffed as they didn’t seem to be getting that sort of encouragement in their ASA lessons.

Anyway, had a quick bowl of porridge before the first shift with Sam. I added a handful of blueberries for a change and I liked it. I left in a hurry without my thermos cup of coffee  (I knew from yesterday that there were no facilities there) and it was a long half hour. The noise was deafening (there was a baby lesson too) and seating was a premium. Straight back home, as there was an hour gap between lessons, to deposit Sam and collect Corrado for his turn. I was starving and gave into a craving for an egg sandwich before I left again, which I wolfed down in record breaking time and managed to make a yellow pattern on my scarf. But I used Danish sliced white – only 55 calories a slice!

Valentine’s Day on Friday was an ugly weather day – the sleet and rain was relentless and put us off going into Belfast for our quiet undisturbed lunch. We drove to Hillsborough, a few miles out of town, to a lovely pub with an open fire and a nice atmosphere. It has a limited menu at lunchtime so I had to opt for the veggie lasagne, which is delicious. I don’t even want to think about the calorie content! But I saved calories by not drinking wine and having sparkling water instead. I am so virtuous!

I received a beautiful bouquet of mixed roses and a gorgeous card from Corrado, who wrote a heart-touching poem in which was compared with his love of burgers. Magical. 😀

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Burgers are cool

but so are you

My beautiful Valentine's flowers
My beautiful Valentine’s flowers

As David and I enjoyed a humongous lunch, we had a light snack later but the children were treated to a special Valentine’s steak and chips. I might have made a rod for my own back with the heart shaped potatoes – they have come up with all sorts of suggestions for the next batch. I’m sure I can convince them that stick shape is the new dinosaur/racing car/horse/polar bear cut!

Steak and Chips for my mini Valentines
Steak and Chips for my mini Valentines

Apart from the lasagne, I have had very few lapses this week. Even at Subway (yesterday lunchtime) I opted for the garden salad. As that’s virtually calorie neutral (it uses as many calories to eat it as it has in it) I had a dollop of caesar dressing and a sprinkling of cheese, a few olives, gherkins and jalapenos in the mix.

"Calorie neutral" Subway salad
“Calorie neutral” Subway salad

Weigh-in Monday is still a dread and always will be. No matter how hard I try it seems to be just a lottery for me that I actually lose weight. This coming week should be OK regarding exercise – it’s half term and I have two very active children to run after. No plans yet but I’m guessing that we won’t be indoors much if that big yellow ball stays overhead. But one thing’s for certain, we will be enjoying good food as we’ll all sitting down together later to do the all-important menu for the week and I will be expecting lots of help in the kitchen from my future master chefs.

Because I’m happeeeee (clap along if you know what happiness is to you…)

I’ve had a brilliant couple of days! No more whinging from me, for a while anyway.

Thursday mornings is my time with Riding for the Disabled and, despite the cold, sleet and wind, it was a great morning. The place was buzzing because it was grading day for the first group, who all passed with flying colours. I was excited to be involved, the kids were so happy when they received their certificates. Then we started a new group of adults – what a lovely bunch of young people and they all enjoyed themselves immensely. The morning flew by and I’d probably worked off all my breakfast calories by the time it finished. So I treated myself to a custard cream with my coffee in the staff room. Half term next week, so no more custard creams for a fortnight!

I had my favourite toasted crumpet and banana/honey combo for breakfast and posted a photo on the Hairy Bikers’ Diet Club FB page – I was blown away when I saw, just 5 hours later that 11,640 people had read my post! I am honoured and delighted to be invited to join the Bikers’ Facebook team and can’t wait to share my love of this weight loss plan with their massive fan base.

Speaking of which, another reason why I’m feeling happy at the moment – I stepped on the scales this morning and my bad week is long behind me – I am almost 2lbs lighter than I was on Monday! I know I shouldn’t be celebrating so early, I still have tonight’s pizza to digest and tomorrow Valentine’s Day to get through. But, I’m not going to burst my own bubble, I’m enjoying this minor success while it lasts.

But the main headline for today – both children received the weekly Dinner Ladies Award! A first for Sam and a well deserved visit to the bakery on the way to their rugby training this afternoon.  We had the opticians afterwards and after such sterling good behaviour there too, I agreed they could go to Burger King for their tea. I knew what would happen later, though – I had planned on pizza for dinner and they wanted that too! As they’re super-active kids, they can get away with eating all that. I’m jealous!

My food plan for today included a “take away pizza”. I’m a bit of a tight-wad when it comes to paying at least a tenner for a piece of flat bread with tomato paste and cheese on top. So I put my dough hook to work for 10 minutes and left the dough to rise in the airing cupboard while we were out. For the topping, I chopped half a dozen tomatoes and put them in the slow cooker with a squirt of tomato puree, garlic and herbs and came home to a lovely rich pizza sauce – the heavenly scent of it greeted us at the front door! Easy peasy. I had planned on reserving a few slices for lunch another day but was starving and so I ate it all.  Oops.

Homemade pizza – about a 10th of the cost of a takeaway

That wasn’t the only baking I’ve done this week. Corrado begged me to make shortbread hearts for his school because he wanted to give them out after his Valentine’s assembly, planned for this morning. I made about 100 of the blighters by the time he came home from school yesterday and announced assembly was cancelled! He was no longer keen on bringing in biscuits for everyone, just enough for his class (10). David saved my sanity (and our waistlines) and brought the rest of them into work this morning.

Thank goodness I hadn’t started to ice them all red (as per brief), I might have sulked a bit!

Valentine’s Day tomorrow! Will the postman embarrass me by walking past the house and not even bring me a Visa bill or Lidl’s weekly offers?

One’s thing’s for certain, David will not thank me for breakfast in bed if I bring him an egg white omelette! We tried the recipe on the HB diet plan the other morning and, lets just say, he left the house quickly after incase he was offered seconds! Not to his taste – a bit too strong-tasting for 7.30 am. I liked it, but admit I would prefer it as a lunch than a breakfast. Feta, spinach and shallot isn’t a taste the Mullan house is used to when the sun hasn’t risen yet.

A breakfast to awaken the senses!

Hope you all have a lovely day tomorrow ♥♥♥

Exercise – makes me sick!

I’ve finally wrestled the laptop off the rest of the family! I could use the PC but it’s not in the room with the cosy fire and comfy sofa.

10 year old just back from an American Wrestling show in a local theatre – it was his Christmas present from Auntie “Tweenie”. They’re both hoarse. And Corrado’s very hungry. He was too excited to have dinner earlier so he’s having an almost-midnight feast. I will probably have an empty fridge by morning.

I’ve been quite good at sticking with the calorie plan but my downfall has to be exercise. I’m definitely not doing enough of that.

I finally removed the cellophane from the pilates dvd I bought a few weeks ago and even played it. I was on the floor about 10 minutes into the warm up exercises when I felt really nauseous. No idea why that happened – allergy to pilates?? I actually felt like that for the rest of the day, and very tired too.  I’m going run the gauntlet of schools swimming sessions at the local pool to start swimming again myself next week. I try to go with the boys but I end up with one or both on the ends of my arms and can’t get any real swimming done! Floating on the lazy river probably doesn’t count.

Some great meals this week.

Thursday night we had the Tangle Pie I made quite a few times in the early days of my weight-loss. Mine had a selection of veg that needed to be used up –  sweet potato, cauliflower, leeks, onion, garlic all in a lovely creamy sauce. Sounds lethal but it’s all skinny stuff!

blog 1Feb14

Last night, being Chinese New Year, Si and Dave had thoughtfully included Asian Steamed Tofu on the menu. I have never been very good with tofu, especially the silken one, it makes a mess of the pan and looks awful on the plate. But this was a great idea – pack the veg in a piece of foil lined with parchment paper with the tofu on top, a spoonful of oyster sauce and some soy, wrap tightly and stick in the oven for 20 minutes. The tofu still managed to look messy but it was 1feb142

Tonight was lentil pasta, but I skipped the lentil.  Too much of it makes my tummy a bit noisy!


Tomorrow we are entertaining the Inlaws to make up for their missing out on Christmas dinner. They have agreed (or was it forced? Corrado can be very persuasive) to celebrate the Chinese New Year with us at home. I haven’t done my prep yet, so it’s going to be a busy morning!

Will let you know how it goes 🙂

Kung hei fat choi!

Chilli beans, moussaka, crumpets and pasta – pain-free dieting!

Bad start to yesterday – I had just got out of bed when I caught sight of Hayley Cropper (RIP) in the mirror! I kid you not, she was alive and well and staring back at me.  Thankfully the mirror quickly steamed up during my shower so I could pretend it was a trick of the light.  In the bedroom I got a better look – it wasn’t Hayley, just her wig transposed onto my noggin.

When I get my hair done at the hairdressers, it never lasts the night. But it’s never been like this before! So cruel. I had to wear the hood up on my red anorak all day!

This is not me!!!

I kept to my word and followed the plan for the Hairy Biker Diet yesterday.

Breakfast was crumpets, honey and banana (I didn’t use Ricotta, there was enough on the plate).

Lunch was … oops … not the egg salad! I split the leftover pasta from the previous night with David and that was lunch. Not a massive portion but it didn’t need to be.

Dinner was chilli beans (with avocado). I put the brackets round the avocado because I swapped it for a dollop of low fat Greek yoghurt mixed with chopped scallions.

The beans recipe was delicious and there was a great texture from the grated carrot. There were a lot of beans though, so there were consquences 😀 😀

blog 29Jan14

My exercise yesterday consisted of stripping a couple of walls of old paper, vacuuming and changing beds. It may not have been a Davina dvd or 100 lengths in the pool but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

I was kind of looking forward to this morning – I had a GP appointment. Weird? I was keen to get the prescription for the pain patch recommended by the hospital earlier this month. I raced home, stuck it on and had a cup of tea. Well, it needed time to work? And indeed it did – it gave me a good 4 hours of pain-free quality time. Not the 12 hours that was promised, but maybe that’s something that is built up with use? Fingers crossed that’s the case.

I repeated yesterday’s breakfast of crumpets (love them) as I didn’t fancy the smoothie listed. Lunch was the left over beans from last night (dangerous!) and dinner wasn’t the Quorn burger suggested. I will have to drop Si and Dave a line and tell them I don’t do meat, even fake meat. So I had a lovely yummy veggie moussaka from the freezer – a Hairy Dieter recipe from the books.

Off to bed for me now. Horse-day tomorrow. Night night xx

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! 

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