Ice cream addict!

As I’ve said before, school holidays and exercise/diet plans aren’t a marriage made in heaven.  Unpredictable weather, unpredictable behaviour and unpredictable moods (my own, if I’m honest!) plus lack of energy, irregular bedtimes and an absolute NEED for ice cream (again, me) means I just don’t get to lose weight or get fit.

But just over one month left before I get back into my routine.  I am the kind of person who gets so very tired of routine but as soon as everything like school and clubs finish, I go crazy with lack of direction!

I got to go to the gym last week.  Just the once, but it was ok.  I’ve been suffering from very painful ankles and have a GP appointment in the pipeline to try to find out what is going on.

Diet-wise, things haven’t been too bad.  I haven’t gained anything.  That’s a positive!  I suppose I do more walking now because there is a lot of exploring to be done on the beaches and in the parks we visit.

I would love to have the confidence to go into the sea with the boys.  Not so sure about jumping off the pier with them though (that’s Sam doing just that below)!  Maybe next year when I’ve dropped a couple of stone in weight.  Might even have a go at making a wetsuit before then!  (As I’m 6ft tall, it’s very difficult to get a woman’s wetsuit that doesn’t have me doubled over and those designed for men are not only in boring colours, but just don’t have the space for curves!).

sam jumping off pier 24 July 2017


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!



Recalculating …

Da da da ………

I have lost a STAGGERING


Or 19 pounds

Or 1 stone 5 pounds

Go me, go me, go me, go me!!!

I suffered those dodgy home scales long enough, they were too moody.  So I used the ones at the gym you put money into – the ones that originally told me how shamefully big I’d got.  Well worth 50p,

I knew my size 18 jeans hadn’t stretched in the wash 🙂

Now I’m heading out for a greedy guts breakfast with a friend.  I am planning to exercise after but surely I deserve a treat?


Calorie Deficit

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

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

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

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

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




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.



My weight loss app is making me fat!

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

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

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

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

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

More weight loss – go me!!

3 kilos, to be exact. Or 6.61387lbs in real money.

Obviously, I’m delighted. I celebrated with a Sunday morning workout. Not words I expected ever to come from me!

I’ve cut out an enormous quantity of carbs in the last few days – I’m not a fad diet kind of person but even I realised I eat far too many spuds and slices of toast and too few proteins.

I have some lovely creamy gold crinkle pleat fabric that I plan to make something fab with for a night on the town with my husband of almost 24 years. God love him!! If my sewing creation looks better than a sack of potatoes, I’ll  share a photo.



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.

Comfort food at its best

Butternut Squash Tortellini with Spinach and Basil

I haven’t tracked down mint scented candles yet but the earlier nights (by my standards) are working out ok.  Windows are open but there’s barely a breeze.

I’ve also been forced to give up wine!  My body is rejecting it – seriously.  Recently, even a small glass of wine in the evening has had me up an hour after bedtime with terrible heartburn followed by the grape juice hitting the porcelain.  Apologies if that’s too much information.  So it’s green tea and NIW‘s finest product for me only.

I took a craving for an old favourite low-cal meal and tried to fight that urge because making pasta is such a faff.  But I had actually forgotten that this recipe wasn’t for “real” pasta that most tv chefs are so precious about, it’s simply seasoned flour and boiling water and you don’t even use a pasta machine!  I just love oven roasted butternut squash and with the red onions (also carmelised in the oven), spinach, basil and half fat creme fraiche, it’s a simple but very delicious and satisfying meal.  I had the leftovers for dinner the next day.  It’s a big hit with the rest of the family too (minus the spinach for No 2 son). Happy – and hopefully slimmer – tummies.

We have also recently enjoyed Chilli Salad Bowls, which is the only way we ever eat chilli now.  Of course I omit the meat in my own portion but, I promise you, it’s gorgeous that way!

Recipes are from the first in the Hairy Dieter series of books.


Next time … weigh-in and my latest auction bargain.

Sleep, Exercise and Weight Loss

Sleep.  Yes please.  I’d love more but at the moment that’s not so easy.  If left to my own devices, I’d win gold at the Sleeping Olympics, but the brighter nights are playing havoc with the kids’ bedtimes.

With the gorgeous weather we’re having, there are more efforts made to wear them out. We are hopeful of getting more sleep soon.

I’m eagerly researching the topic of sleep for weight loss and I like the simplicity of the explanation from Men’s Fitness (which I assume works for both men and women!!). Genes probably do play a role in my current weight.  I was very slim in my early twenties and, thinking back, I went to the gym and was usually in bed by 11pm on a work night and at weekends I more often had brunch than breakfast!

After reading about the subject on Eat This,  I’m on the look out for mint scented candles; will have a serious word with myself about late night snacks, no matter how healthy; and will keep the bedroom windows open every night, no matter the weather.

I’m getting plenty of exercise with the gym most days, walking the dog and DIY, I have been eating less so sleep is the next step in the new healthier me.

Night night!



Next time … Back to Hairy Dieter (Hairy Bikers) recipes

Hello strangers!

No long explanations, no excuses, no platitudes, no nonsense. I’m back on the blog and I’m going to lose some weight – again!

I really believe winter is my season because that’s when I get my motivation to shift the pounds. I know it’s not winter yet – in fact it seems that summer is back – but I’m going to get a head start.  Before next summer arrives, I will be at my perfect weight so the habits will be ingrained. I will be fit and active and able for the NINE WEEKS (yes people outside Northern Ireland you read it right!!) school summer break and the odd ice cream or egg mayo sandwich on the beach will burn itself off after a quick jog after the kids on their scooters.

Today I am standing at 210.6lbs. Not good. I have yoyo’d up and down but by announcing my weight to the world (well, my little world inside Mullan Towers) I will yoyo no more. I will only bounce one way – down to 180lbs.  My healthy weight on the BMI calculator is actually 170lbs but I’m not sure I should be that skinny at my age.

In the meantime I need a mini-goal.

I celebrate my 48th birthday on 27th October. My goal is to be 200lbs on that day – just 6 weeks away. Not difficult, as it is only 1 . 5lbs a week, or thereabouts.

If I achieve that mini-goal I will deserve a mega treat. I think I’d like a new dress (or outfit) for my birthday celebrations – nothing from the sales rails either!! Must start my window shopping (excited)!

Weight goals

I’m not good at me-time. I have a guilt complex about taking time off from allowing the house to fall down around me (it does that anyway, despite the number of hours I put into trying to keep it tidy!). But by writing it down I feel I have to carry it through. Or David will kick my backside.

I have some exercise planned for this week too – no more trying to pass off ironing as lifting heavy weights or pushing the trolley round Tesco as a 3 mile jog.

Not sure what’s involved, but I am going to school today to do Playball with the boys. This is going to be on every Monday for about 5 weeks. Surely that sounds like exercise? If it isn’t the workout I think it might be, I will definitely be tackling the weeds in the back garden when I get home. That will certainly be an upper body workout – the garden was very neglected this summer so the roots of those weeds will be trying to pull me into the ground!

I made a rod for my own back last Tuesday by allowing the kids to travel to school on their scooters, it was so much fun (according to them) we have to do it every week. That’s the day we do Art Club in school and, as it’s at 9am, there’s no point in them going on the school bus if I’m going to get there before them. So they scooter and I walk fast(ish) after them – 2.6 miles and then I walk/stagger (uphill) home again. 5.2 miles isn’t bad for a fast walk, in my book.

But what about eating? I haven’t organised that yet. As soon as I’m done here, the books are coming out and the planning will begin. Some old favourites from the Hairy Bikers first two diet books, no doubt, but I’m going to mix in some we haven’t yet tried (not that many though!). This will tide us over until the new book is published next month – can’t wait!  If you haven’t heard, where have you been??

I love the title because it’s what David and I always say to the boys when they finish a meal with clean plates!

good eating

Really looking forward to the new book to get new recipes and to hopefully see my name inside it!!  I contributed a short paragraph about the Hairy Dieters and can’t wait to see if they actually use it.

That’ll have to do for now. Phew! I’ve been putting this off for ages, didn’t think I could actually start writing about myself again but now I’ve started, I’m beginning to feel my mojo coming back 😀

I’ve pinned a copy of this to my dressing table mirror …


I’m a grumpy old moo :)

No apologies, no regrets, no recriminations. I haven’t blogged in ages and I’ve gained weight. Not good. But no point in beating myself up about it!

Yeah, I’m a grumpy old moo but I am slowly getting out of the grumps, so bear with me!!

A few weeks ago I took to my bed (in a Premier Inn during our Easter break) with flu like symptoms and felt very very miserable. Night sweats, aches from head to toe and so tired I even slept through the kids fighting! Poor David, he was left to referee, entertain the kids and be nurse to me. What really p***ed me off was I got the flu jab at the start of the winter! Trust me.

It was a lovely break, we enjoyed Diggerland, the London Eye,10 pin bowling, lots of zipping about in our hired Fiat 500 (such excitement!) and too much eating out. The kittens (I can’t keep calling them that – they’re gigantic now!) had a luxury break of their own with Catherine in Ballymoney – how those furry rascals were spoiled rotten!

On our return, our GP diagnosed me with not the flu but an upper kidney infection and I was given antibiotics to sort it out. But unfortunately the following day David found me with a very red face and talking gibberish (more so than usual) – my temperature was through the roof, so off I went to A&E. Blood pressure was very low and I was put on a drip for fluids and a change of antibiotics. I was waiting for a hospital bed to be allocated when the kids arrived and suddenly my temperature dropped and my blood pressure returned to a sort-of normal reading so I was allowed home – hooray! Poor Dr Padraig was subjected to a machine gun fire rate of questions from the curious twosome so perhaps that also helped to hasten my discharge from hospital!

To cut a long story/illness short, another day at hospital and then slowly I started to feel better. I am now back to almost full health (but the continuing tiredness is a curse) and am determined to lose the 7lbs I gained in last 3 weeks. I am also determined to get rid of the Everest height ironing mountain that has accumulated and hope to do that tomorrow. Some of it anyway.

I reclaimed my kitchen last Monday and since then the weight has started to slowly drop off again. But I have to confess, I did enjoy not having to do the shopping and cooking for so long – David is a great cook but portion control isn’t his thing!

Last night I cooked up a curry feast that was delicious and low-cal. I’m testing my recipes to enter the latest Hairy Bikers competition to have a recipe published in their next book! That is my perfect prize (apart from getting the 6 numbers up in the Lotto). I’ve settled for an aubergine, tomato and black onion seed curry that is only 209 calories per serving. I’ve been making this for years and it’s evolved in that time – hopefully it’s not too personal to my own tastes and it’s a runner in the competition! Aubergine is such an under-rated and underused meat alternative, especially in curries. Restaurants don’t use it enough and when was the last time it was top of your shopping list? It’s a beautiful looking vegetable, it’s the perfect colour for my dream car (I’ve only got as far as the colour so far). LOL! I’m such an aubergine bore!

The ingredients for my aubergine curry - look at those colours!
The ingredients for my aubergine curry – look at those colours!

On the subject of colour, Northern Ireland went pink-mad this weekend for the Giro d’Italia. A world-famous cycle race. Apparently. Before it came here, I’d never heard of it! Nor could I get up any enthusiasm for the thrills and spills of such an event. So, apart from having my photograph taken with a pink horse, I ignored it all. I’m just being honest – I did the whole Olympic torch relay watching thing, regularly go to see the runners of the Belfast Marathon (not this year, was busy being ill), have enjoyed watching cars whiz by on the Circuit of Ireland but this cycling thing didn’t float my boat. Sorry!! But do you know what would have got my interest? Italian food!!  There wasn’t a mention of it – the councils painted everything on the route bright pink but nobody (that I heard of) did anything about promoting what most people know most about Italy – its food! Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise, I still have all that gained blubber to lose!

I also have a pink bicycle!
A pink horse – of course!


Weigh-in tomorrow. Yikes! I did do a mid-week check and I had lost some but it was a weekend of indulgence – fermented grape juice featured a lot!

PS In April I was privileged to be asked to review the Hairy Dieters range of sauces. I published 3 reviews – read about them on Facebook.

PPS I also took a massive step and revealed my pre-diet and current weights It wasn’t easy and I admit I was very emotional typing that piece.

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

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!

Another 1lb off on the scales and maybe 2lb after the hair cut!

Can’t believe it’s 4 days since I posted on the blog! That’s a lot of calories consumed without sharing them 🙂

I feel a lot lighter today – I’ve lost 1lb and also because I got my hair cut. I did tell the stylist that I wanted a trim and I trusted her – been with her for years –  but with the pile of magazines on my knee and a nice steaming cup of coffee, I completely forgot to keep an eye on proceedings and she must have been bored with my silence, so chopped a lot off! It doesn’t matter, it’ll grow back but I was picturing myself in that little red bikini on the beach this summer, tossing my long mane of healthy shiny hair over my shoulder to stop the tan lines.  Rrrriippppp – reality check! It’s maybe as well I got the hair cut shorter, that daydream should never exist. I haven’t worn a bikini in decades and long hair actually gets on my wick with it’s hanging around needing lots of attention. But it’s what all the glamorous people do – looks so easy in Cosmo and OK magazines.

Closer‘s more my cup of tea though – that’s what had me engrossed today. Celebrities with wobbly bits and no make-up caught on camera. Normal bodies and faces, just like the rest of us. It fascinates me, I love to see what they really look like, they look friendlier and more like the kind of people I want to see in a movie or feel safe asking to shift their trolley blocking the toilet rolls in the supermarket!

So, anyway, back to that headline – another 1lb off! Yipee! I am delighted, mainly because I wasn’t expecting it. I had a “bad” weekend – lots of stuff I won’t bore you with – but I was back to old habits of eating without thinking. I think I’m back on track again, I am definitely going to be good this week. I don’t have too much disruption to the routine on the schedule, that always helps.

Karen M and Karen H being force fed Diet Kebabs!

I had the two Karens over for an episode of Come Diet With Me and we had Hairy Bikers Diet Kebabs (mine with chickpea burgers instead of lamb). It was a lovely relaxed evening and (eventually) the kids went to bed and left us to our chatting. There was no drink taken (!!) but we did indulge in dessert – both from the Hairy Dieters’ first book. The lime jelly had less than 30 calories per portion (but was bursting with freshness and beautiful ripe raspberries and blueberries) and the skinny lemon cupcakes also had blueberries in them – ensuring the 160 weren’t empty calories! I think the whole meal contained between 700 and 800 calories (we had potato wedges – including sweet potatoes and coleslaw. The coleslaw was mostly cabbage, carrot and scallions with only a smidgen of low fat sour cream mixed in. I hope the girls had enough to eat, I do worry about forcing my weight loss plan on others.

Early-ish start on Saturday because we were going to B&Q again – this time to make bird feeders. The boys were feeling much more confident this time, after the complicated sledges at the end of December this project was a doddle. Two very happy and excited children left holding their trophies high. I shouldn’t be telling you lot about Kids Can Do It – I haven’t booked anything for February yet and I’m risking them being booked up.  Especially when I also tell you that the courses are free if you join the B&Q membership scheme! (Don’t tell anyone else!!).


My meals this weekend were a bit unplanned and therefore I’m ignoring them. This evening’s dinner was lovely. The family joined me for “Meatless Monday” and we had Creamy Basil Pasta. Not so much of the basil in our version though – the only basil I could see in the supermarket were sorry looking examples so I opted for a sprinkling of dried Italian herbs. Broccoli was the listed vegetable to be cooked in the pasta sauce but I added asparagus and spinach as well because I wasn’t in a garden salad on the side kind of mood. I kept the broccoli very chunky so it wouldn’t overcook and turn to mush if I was distracted. The piece de resistance was the pine nuts, which I dry fried until they were “toasted” and added them at the last minute to keep their crunch. Yum yum.  Two little portions of this  have been squirreled away for a lunch time treat later this week. And maybe I will be in the mood for the side salad then too!


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.