Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
Another week, another round up of my reasons to be cheerful from Michelle at Mummy From The Heart She is having a fabulous end to the week! Go over and take a look plus all the other people linking up.

Only another week before I go on holiday with Mr C! Just me and him for 3 nights in a cottage. Was thinking about inviting some friends to stay over one of the nights, but changed my mind. We don't get to spend enough time, just us. When we met, I already had Amy, so we've never never been together, just the two of us. So time for ourselves needs to be protected and treasured.

I've committed to myself to a new weekly themed blog called Life Circle from Kate of Five F's Blog My first week was very thought provoking. The way Kate described it was: 
You decide what needs changing, make those changes, and then review, decide what needs changing, and so on. Repeating the process helps you to review your progress. But also, I want this to be a process where people support each other, challenging, encouraging and commenting on each other's posts. One big circle of friends, helping each other along their respective roads.

Why don't you pop over and take a look?

And lastly..because for once I am really struggling....I have had to do some real glass half full thinking today. I've been going to the gym regularly and actually upped the frequency this week, including a reasonable week folllowing Slimming World (I won't mention the KFC I had on Friday night! It was just chicken and chips and I went straight back to plan for the rest of the week!) I was expected a loss when I weighed.

Slightly annoyed when I didn't! Nothing. I maintained! All that work and nothing to show for it.

But I have turned it around in my head. I am exercising more, so maybe I have lost inches and converted some of the weight from fat to muscle. Also, I have the last two weeks, added a patch to my HRT regime. I've been told most HRT's can result in some weight gain.

So where is this glass half full thinking I hear you ask? Well, if I hadn't worked out so hard this week, I would probably have put on! And just think if I wasn't on a diet? I would be the size of a small house by now with the effect of the HRT!

I am therefore counting myself lucky to have maintained and am sure my hart work will pay off next week.

Just got to keep away from the takeaways tonight!

Recipe Shed - Five ingredients or less

Recipe Shed

I think I can manage this one! A recipe with five ingredients or less? Got to be an easy one to link up with @relunctanthousedad Recipe Shed. I really wanted to do a savoury dish, but all that kept running through my mind were the delicious Slimming World puddings! So have gone with that!

Orange Mousse - 1 Syn per serving

2 Oranges
Sugar free orange jelly sachet
3 egg whites
300g of fat free fromage frais or greek yogurt

Serves 4 (or just me, so then it's 4 syns per serving! lol) ....I'm greedy!

Grate the zest from the oranges, then peel and chop them up. Make up the jelly but only use about 200ml of hot water. Once dissolved add in half the orange zest and leave it to cool for a bit, but not set.

When cooled put the jelly in a food processor with 200g fromage frais or greek yogurt and the orange pieces and blend until the orange is in small pieces.  Transfer to a bowl and chill for about 15 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken up.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold into the mix and chill for about an hour (longer if you have it)  Serve decorated with the remaining fromage frais and orange zest.

I have made this in the past with lemon's and limes, just as delicious. (just change the jelly flavour to suit) So easy and really does help with any sweet cravings. I did however add a little bit of sweetner to the lime one, as it was bit too tart for my taste

Don't forget to get over and check out some more super easy recipes at the Recipe Shed

As I was publishing this, I suddenly thought I could have done the Slimming World Scotch eggs!  Darn!!!! I am sure I can shoehorn that in another week!

Life Circle - Week 1

Life Circle

So here I am, week 1, giving Kate's Life Circle a go. Have a look here to see the background.  Am sure over the coming weeks I'll get more confident in what I am doing, writing and sharing, so apologise now if this first post feels a bit stilted. I know I need to do more things like this, more things to examine me, my life and everything around it. Knowing and doing though are two very different things!

And what is worse, I work in Talent & Development and have done for the past eight years. But I think its a bit like a builders house which always needs loads doing to it, my house needs some work too!

So onto the first task which was to look at the Wheel of Life, score myself in each major area and then blog the results.

This is how my Wheel of Life looks

A bit....I think the technical term is .......wonky!

Health - 9
May seem an odd score, after the last few months, but that's exactly why I gave it that number! Anyone who reads my blog can see I am working hard on improving my diet and fitness levels. I've lost 4 stones, successfully undertaken a 13 mile sponsored walk and joined a gym. Things are good in this area of my life!

Finance - 8
Don't get me wrong, we could always do with more of the green stuff, who can't? But we manage to do pretty much what we want to do. Okay, there are no luxury foreign holidays (actually very few holidays) and the car is over eight years old and won't be replaced for a couple more. But no-one goes hungry, no-one is cold or dirty and we get a few treats every so often. I'm happy!

Environment - 8
Now I took this to mean my home. Again, I'm happy. It's definitely not a show home and I have lost count of the number of DIY projects Mr C has on the go. A couple of the bigger ones are:
  • living room with half completed vivarium (18 months)
  • hall way with no wall under the stairs as its waiting to be put back up (over a year)
  • fitted mirrored wardrobe doors being replaced (3 months)

But its these things which make it a home! It's no point complaining about them, they'll be fixed when they can and when money allows. There are no leaks, things are reasonably clean and tidy and the house is warm. But most of all its home and I feel safe.

Friends & Family - 8
I am blessed with my family, we all get on! My brother has emigrated to New Zealand and although I don't speak to him very often, facebook is good for catching up and he is never far from my thoughts. 

My sister, my best friend, lives in Kent with her family, a good five hour drive from each other. But that's what telephone's were invented for! And I get to see my parents at least once a week, they live 10 minutes away! What more could a girl wish for?

Friends? I don't get to see them as often as I would like, but they are always there for me and visa versa.

Romance - 8
I've been married for nearly 19 years. I'm not saying all those years have been happy, but we are in a good phase at the moment! (come on ladies, you know what I mean!) Marriage needs to be worked at, it needs to be nurtured and cherished. There will always be rough patches, its how you ride through them which makes the difference.

Fun - 6 
I've gotten into a bit of a rut. I enjoy my life, I do the things I would like to do but I'm not necessarily trying new things. I don't go out to party's or evenings out like I used to, but do I really need to? I don't know, maybe something to work on.

Career - 6
I've got a job I love, with a company I love. I'm good at it, but sometimes don't feel appreciated.

I live by the adage, if you don't like it, its up to you to do something about it. Whenever a job hasn't given me what I need, I've either changed it or done everything in my power to get what I needed whether that was volunteering for extra responsibility or going for promotions! You spend too much time at work to be doing stuff you don't enjoy. I think I 'm getting nearer to the point I need to something about it.

Personal Development - 4
Now this is an area I need to work at! Last year I said I was going to join a evening class and learn to do something new. Did I? I want to learn how to use photoshop. Have I? I want to take up my CIPD again. Have I?

What's stopping me? I could say it was time, I could say it was money, but they wouldn't be the real reason. The real reason is me. I need a kick start (literally!) a something....... I've just not worked out what that something will be yet! 

And like all good things, we've come full circle and back to why I'm eager to be part of Kate's Life Circle. I want to join things up, smooth out the bumps! Only I can do that, sometimes though you need a little help from your friends, especially if they are virtual ones.

Meal Planning Monday w/c 26th of September
Here I am writing this on Sunday while I complete the online shop at the same time! Works beautifully for me although I do sort of object to the delivery fee, but £3.50 has got to be worth the time it saves! 

I've checked my freezer which is full to bursting, so don't think we'll be trying anything new this week. Just old favourites to use up what's in there!

I managed to lose a pound this week on Slimming World, despite a very off plan lunch for Amy's graduation, which I  thoroughly enjoyed. Plus I won't mention the KFC I had on Friday, because that was after weigh in so won't count until next week! 

Onto this week's menu, which I'm hoping will keep me on track

Frozen breaded fish, slimming world chips and mushy peas (About 7 syns)
Beef Stew and dumplings (free if I don't have the dumplings! Will try and be good!)
Chili con carne and rice which MrC is going to cook (Syn free and super good as he will be using quorn and loads of veg)
Baked potato, beans and cheese (Syn free as the cheese will be my HE)
Chicken pieces with roasted Mediterranean veg and garlic (Syn free as the chicken will be skinless)
Hot Dog sausages and spicy wedges (3 syns per sausage)

I think its a rounded menu, with a bit of everything, plus its easy to cook and no excuse for cheating! Don't forget to get yourself over to At Home With Mrs M to check out and get some inspiration from other menu planners.

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Hooray! I'm back and loving it! I've felt like there's been a big hole in my week as I just physically haven't had the time to blog very much. Work has been stupid busy, home life has needed some attention and blogging just needed to take a back seat. There are only so many hours in the day.

But I'm here and am going to enjoy #R2BC while I can! It's a chance to look back and your week and celebrate the great things, no matter how inconsequential they may be. If you try hard you can always fine something to be cheerful about! 

This week, Michelle's Reason to be Cheerful is being hosted this week by Mum of All Trades, so don't forget to get yourself over there and take a look! She is doing Michelle proud!

Onto my week..or so (I'm planning to cheat & extend it a bit)

1. It was my wonderful daughter's graduation ceremony on Monday, which was held on Plymouth Hoe, which is a pretty amazing place at the best of times. 

Plymouth University had a marquee erected right up on the promenade, the views were spectacular even if the weather wasn't. Nothing could dampen the emotion I felt as Amy stepped forward to accept her certificate, three years,more if you include A levels, of work rewarded with a 2:1

At just five foot, she looked like she should have been attending Hogwarts not Uni! But she stood tall and proud for the rest of day! 

The ceremony was moving, beautiful and it ran so smoothly, was a credit to the organisers. Mr C managed to stay for the whole of it, however couldn't make the lunch as he felt too ill. But the rest of us managed to ...umm.... soldier on and enjoy the celebration!

Well Done Amy!

2. I've finally got it, watch out though, it may be catching. What am I talking about? I think I've got the gym/exercising bug! I joined just before my birthday at the beginning of the month. Since I had a programme put together by one of the fitness instructors, I can't wait to go back each time.

Annie was lovely and put me at ease. She's given me a 45 to 55 minute cardio workout which will be revisited in a month. I've managed to go every other day since then and can see an improvement in my fitness and/or ability to complete it each time. When I first went to the gym I lasted a miserable 30 seconds on the cross trainer. In less than 3 weeks I'm up to 8 minutes and feel like I could do more. 

And don't get me started on the treadmill. Annie gave me the confidence to try .....wait for it actually run! And although its not my favourite exercise I am now up to 14 minutes, alternating between running and walking. 

For someone who had a hysterectomy in April, was four stone heavier at the beginning of the year and had never been in a gym before, its miraculous. Even more so that I am loving it! 

Holly Cottage at 

3. I went on a girlie holiday! Managed to get away for 3 whole nights, away from everything and stayed in a little cottage with my Mum and Amy in Cornwall. 

Petting zoo goat at the holiday cottage, handsome, yes?
We had a wonderful time, met some strange characters

And someone just had to sit on the train at The Eden Project (did I mention she is 22???)

4. And lastly, I was introduced to Jamie Edward's Daily 8. I've had the privilege of meeting Jamie through work and keep in touch via twitter (he is @JamieEdwards) 

This exercise is an amazing way to end your day. It's going to be easier if you go and take a look yourself and learn about it from the master! 

Life is good, especially if you decide it will be!

See you all next week! (I promise!)

Meal Planning Monday - w/c 19th September

My goodness, doesn't that week fly! Well, I made it! Very busy, very stressful, but I got through it, plus managed to not deviate from last week's meal planner. I think this is a first.

Not only that, but I also managed to lose the 3lb's I'd put on while away on holiday. Very pleased with myself. And now because I have joined a gym, I am planning on a steady 1 to 2 pound loss each week (notice the positive language!?) 

We all plan and join this meme for different reasons, mine is to lose weight with Slimming World and use my blog like I would if I went to classes (I use the online subscription which means I have no excuse to miss anything!) It also means I keep organised all thanks to At Home With Mrs M. Go over and take a look for other reasons to plan, and why not add a comments with your favourite meals? 

So onto this week and my planned 1lb loss, in no particular order:

Breaded fish, slimming world chips and mushy peas (about 7 Syns)
Chickpea and roasted red pepper pilaf  (2.5 Syns)
Slow cooker beef & tomato with vegetable couscous (2 Syns)
Meatballs, spaghetti and green salad (Syn free)
Stuffed red pepper and salad (2 Syns)
Steak and baked potato (Syn free)
Beans on toast (Syn free if the bread is your HE) (Its my daughter's University Graduation ceremony, so I won't be cooking much!)

The stuffed peppers were inspired by a post from Reluctant Housedad meme, Recipe Shed, which I have adapted to be Slimming World friendly. Am really looking forward to it! 

Well that is my week, check back and see if I get my pound loss!

Recipe Shed - Vegetarian

I missed @reluctanthousedad Recipe Shed theme last week because I was actually *gasp* away on holiday! (Doesn't happen very often in our house, staycations are our bag!) Am pleased to be able to join in with the theme of Vegetarian.

I've got a brilliant Slimming World recipe, which although meat free (I live with two males who feel they have not been fed unless their protein comes in a big juicy slab!) goes down well in our house. You can view the original post here but I'm pleased to share.......

Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Pilaf

This is a one pot dish, which takes about 20 minutes to complete plus 15 minutes standing time. It's filling, cheap and flavoursome! 

Serves 4
Each serving is
2.5 Syns on Extra Easy or Green
16 Syns on Original

Low calorie cooking spray
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic glove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
175g dried fine bulgar wheat
350ml vegetable stock
200g bottled roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped (I actually cooked my own up instead)
400g can chickpeas, drained
25g pack of dill, finely chopped
28g pack of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped mint (this for me is what made the meal)
110g reduced fat feta cheese, roughly chopped or crumbled
salt and black pepper

Spray a heavy-based saucepan with low calorie cooking spray and add the onion, garlic, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and bulgar wheat. Place over a medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast the grains.

Pour the stock into the saucepan, stir well, then bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat and cook on a gentle simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and add the red peppers and chickpeas, without stirring them in (don't know why, I just do as I'm told!) cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes

Just before serving remove the lid and fluff up the grains with a fork, mixing in the red peppers and chickpeas. Carefully fold in the herbs (fresh ones are best for this recipe) and scatter over the feta cheese.

Season to taste and serve hot, warm or cold (I found it was surprisingly hot at this stage, enough for me to not have to zap it)

You can swap the bulgar wheat for couscous or replace the chickpeas with canned mixed beans.

Its brilliant! Very easy and cheap! Now get your bum over to Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad for other recipe's (but also check out his blog! Its brilliant!)

Meal Planning Monday 12th September

Whoops, bit late today, but better late than never! I do enjoy linking up with At Home With Mrs M because it keeps my Slimming World eating plan on track

I was on holiday last week and although I didn't stay totally on plan, I did keep to the principles and managed to put on just 3lb. This is amazing considering I was drinking brandy and babycham and eating chocolate most evenings!!!

But onto this week's meals. I have gone back to basics and nothing fancy, just good plain, easy to cook food. It would be very easy to stay off plan after being away, so I want to keep things as simple as possible to give myself the best chance to lose the weight I've put on.

Breaded fish, slimming world chips and mushy peas (7 syns for the frozen fish)
Beef cannelloni (2 syns if use cheese as HE)
Pasta Bolognese (syn free)
Cheesy, bacon pasta and green salad (Syn free if you use cheese as HE)
Hot dogs and spicy wedges (3 syns)
Homemade fish cakes and slimming world chips
Chilli con carne and rice (syn free)

Looking at the syn values of this plan, the pre packaged meal has the most! I object to using my syns when there are so many free foods on the extra easy plan you can cook with and using the syns for nicer stuff like chocolate or a creamy dessert!

Wish me luck with getting back on track! Check back next week and see how I got on!

Meal Planning Monday w/c 5th September

I'm doing something very alien to me......I'm not planning this week! Eeeek!

There is a very good reason for it, two days working away in Manchester (eating room service) back in my office for a day, then away for a long girlie weekend with my Mum and daughter! Yay!

It's self catering and I will shop for it on the way down to the cottage, but I'm taking my trusty slow cooker so worries for evening meals or reasons to cheat! Plan to have a large Slimming World friendly cooked breakfast and then eat lunch out.

But the thing is what do I do for MrC and James who are home alone? They eat what is put in front of them but cooking for themselves? Its a bit hit and miss

I suggested a couple of meals they could cook (mainly to use a 400g pack of mince in the fridge)

Cottage Pie
Sausage casserole

But what about the rest of the week? I'm a good mum and wife so I have bought lots of stuff for them which is male cooking friendly or grab and go

Bread (lots)
Cereal (also lots)
Milk (shed loads)
Oven chips
Fish in breadcrumbs
Fish fingers (thinking sandwiches?)
Peanut butter
Chocolate spread

Plenty to keep them going I think!

Note: At the time of going to press, I've had a text to say James (who is 18 by the way!) attempted the sausage casserole and nearly set fire to the kitchen! What have I done!

But get yourself over to At Home with Mrs M for some better inspirational meal planners by checking out the linky!

School Reunion, the day after the night before

It's the morning after the school reunion and I'm feeling very smug for not drinking! Not sure everyone else will feel like that! There were more than a few drinks consumed, a lot I'm sure were to settle nerves.

I can only speak for myself, however I had a brilliant night! It was 'interesting' trying to work out who everyone was again, 25 years is a long time! Some people hadn't changed a bit and were instantly recognisable. For some it was when they started to speak and their names fell into place. Sounds, like smells are a strong memory trigger. For others I had to ask and then the memories came flooding back!

Apparently I haven't changed at all! (I think they were being kind because I am certainly a lot fatter!)

The chaps were harder to recognise! The boys had either grown taller, ummmm....larger, or lost hair! The girls have an easier time of holding back the ravages of time for a little bit longer; we have the benefit of hair dye, make up and pull in pants! 

It was a happy night, full of laughs and catching up. Plenty of gossip! 'Do you remember so and so? Well, they only went and .........!!!' And 'do you remember.....?' and 'what about the time when .......?' For some reason shagging and smoking came up a lot !!!???
The memorable conversation for me was:-

Friend  - 'Do you remember when we went fishing with so and so? Why did we go?'
Me       -  'Because we wanted to get off with them! Trouble was we didn't realise fishing actually meant fishing!!!'

That's what you get when you merge an all girls school with an all boys school, hormones were raging! 

I discovered a couple of things last night. I was a person most expected to excel and go to university! Failed on that account then!

Secondly (and this is a weird one!) my sixteenth birthday party was amazing! I remember everyone thanking me on the Monday morning, but it came out last night there was a lot of booze and aforementioned shagging going on! This was why it was so amazing! Didn't realise that until last night! How naive was I?

Everyone's lives are different and varied. Some had children, some didn't. Some had left Plymouth and even the county to live. People had survived there own personal tragedies and experiences and had mostly become stronger because of it. What I saw was a group of people who were survivors. Some people had had harder lives than most and I felt there were maybe some regrets and sadness. But that is what happens in the real world.

I can honestly say I didn't hear any bragging or grand standing, it was a great evening catching up with old (very old!) friends. In fact it felt like only yesterday when we hanging out together, not 25 years.

Am hoping it isn't another 25 years before we get to do it again! In fact I am sure some of us will be meeting up again very soon! I think a visit to the gig of a certain someone may be in order....and you know who you are!

Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday

School Reunion

Tonight is my high school reunion, 25 years since we all left school after the 5th year (none of this year 11 for us!) and 'O' levels or GCSE's

A lot of people I won't have seen since then either. I'm just not good at keeping in touch. It's not that I don't want to, I like to think I'm a sociable person, but life takes over and there are never enough hours in the day!

But Facebook is brilliant for keeping in touch even though its just at that 'top' layer. In fact its been through Facebook this whole party has been organised. I'm looking forward to it, it feels as though the last year (which is how long its taken to arrange) has flown by! I'm scared, but am sure everyone else will be feeling a little bit nervous too! 

Some people have registered surprise when I've told them I'm going 

'Oh no! They are full of people comparing who's got the biggest car, biggest house, earns the most money or which kids are at the best university's' 

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there will be a bit of that.

But I'm hoping it will be a celebration, a get together of people who spent at least five years growing up together and see where we all ended up. For me it isn't about who earns the most money, or has the biggest car. It's about getting to know these new and wonderful people, it's about understand where their journey has taken them. It's learning about events which have made them who they are today.

It's a celebration of no matter what life has thrown at us, we are still here. And we are who we are because of, or in some cases in spite of, those experiences.

So bring it on! Let the stories and new found friendships begin! 

Reasons to be cheerful - Birthday week!

I missed last weeks, which I was gutted about, but sometimes life gets in the way and other things take priority. Promise I will make up for it on this post, because I've had a great week!

It's my birthday! What can I say? I love being looked after and now the kids are grown up they really do. It's great to have day where it's all about me! Don't know what my pressie is, but am looking forward to a lot of birthday cake...because I'm worth it!

I've joined a gym! It is a huge occasion for me. I said I would start at a gym when I reached a particular weight, but this week, it felt right and so I joined. No thinking about, no excuses. I wrote 'What have I done' and I meant it when I said the mind is powerful;it can stop you from doing things, but it can also encourage you.

Another post I wrote last week was 'Happy' It does what it says on the tin, I was happy when I wrote, happy with the results and still feel that way now!

Saturday I have a special event to go to, my school reunion! Some of these people I haven't seen for 25 years! I am so excited. It will be great to catch up and delve into other people's lives, see where their journey has taken them. I just hope I can put faces to names (and I am rubbish at it at the best of times let alone after a 25 year absence!)  We've got people from all over the country coming and even as far afield as Australia!

So that's my week, and roll on the next one! 

Michelle has been handing the reins over to other people to host each week, its Kate's turn from 'How to Laugh in the Face of it All' Go over and take a look!

Recipe Shed - Hand Me Down

Recipe Shed time again from Keith at the Chronicles of the Reluctant Housedad! Love the theme this week which is 'Hand-Me-Down'

My hand-me-down comes with a story and a recipe book, The Dairy Book of Home Cookery. Does anyone recognise it?
This copy was printed in 1977 and I stole borrowed it from parents and never took it back. It's full of postcards my Dad sent home when he was in the Navy and hand written notes from my Mum on how to cook dinner when she was working late. It's full of memories, I used it for my 'O' level cookery exam (which I failed!) and is my go to book for basic recipes for cakes, biscuits or pastry.

It's also a great example of 70's cuisine, recipes for hor d'oeurves, fondue and a section called 'Food from Europe' where lasagne is an exotic dish! 

One piece at the front made me smile.

Care of Milk
Ask the milkman to leave it in a shady place away from the direct sunlight and avoid leaving it on the doorstep for too long. If you find birds are helping themselves invest in some discs which fit over the bottle tops
When was the last time you saw milk on the doorstep? No, me neither!

So onto the recipe (not a slimming world one, I'm afraid) which I know as Toledo Pancakes, however when I ummm...... inherited this recipe book, I discovered it was actually called Toreador Pancakes! Will always be Toledo to me!

A batch of pancakes or a pack of shop bought
Tin of corned beef, chopped into pieces
Large onion, chopped
Tin of condensed tomato soup
Packet of ready salted crisps, crushed up

Fry the onion until golden
Add the corned beef and fry for two minutes
Layer in a casserole dish the corned beef mix and pancakes (like you would for lasagne)
Pour the soup over the top and sprinkle the crisp over the soup
Re-heat in the centre of the oven, around 200 c until warmed through

I serve it with broccoli or peas and it is delicious. It may sound terrible, but it does work.

So I will leave you with the image of where my Dad got the original recipe from!