Friday, 25 December 2009

Best Christmas Ever

I know I must say this every year but this year's Christmas really was the best ever.
For a start , when you haven't eaten real food for 4 months, a roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings is sheer heaven and as for the taste of a warm mince pie oozing with brandy butter ... don't start me.
My real downfall though was the Quality Street tin in which I've left a large dent. Thought I'd be gagging for chocolate but no it was the toffees that caught me out. You can't beat a toffee penny with a cuppa in the afternoon of Christmas Day.
The boys have been angelic , in no small way down to the fact that I decided to not care if they ate the entire contents of their selection boxes by 8am and ate no veggies with their Christmas lunch whatsoever.
They were delighted with all of their presents and I re-discovered the joys of shopping early for their gifts - I'd forgotten half the contents.
DH surprised me with some glorious Jo Malone cologne and bath oil and the boys bought me some Mac make up to go with my new glam look. One happy bunny.
Best fun of all though was taking a photo of us by the tree on Christmas Eve with the self timer and printing it out onto a card for the boys to open on Christmas morning. Youngest son was so bowled over by our story that Santa had taken the photo - bless him. And even more alarming yet delightful was the fact that I looked so skinny in the photo - one BIG change from last year when I would have filled the frame.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Is that really me ?

I went to have my photo taken the other day at a posh studio in Richmond - not a posh price though - this was something I'd treated myself to at the very start of my Lighter Life journey - a voucher from Argos in their Bank Holiday sale for the bargain price of a fiver.

It was one of those makeover deals - you go in looking ghastly and come out looking like a supermodel, or so you're led to believe. I seem to remember these being all the rage back in the unforgiving 80's where ugly ducklings could go for the 'Cover Girl' experience and have their photos taken through a heavily vaselined lens with a feather boa draped seductively over a naked shoulder.

So the prints came back  today and even if I do say so myself , the girl scrubbed up OK ! So that's husband's Christmas prezzie sorted.




Tuesday, 8 December 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas ...

... not in the festive / baking mince pies / hanging holly from the rafters / writing fond sentiments in Christmas cards by the fireside kind of way .... more like the .....' for goodness sake do I have to do everything round here ' kind of way.

I'd forgotten that when men get home from work they clock off . Whereas when women get home from work , their night shift is just beginning - cooking dinner, helping with homework, fitting rugby studs to football boots , washing sports kit ... you get the picture. Add Christmas into the picture and it all turns ugly.

My husband is downstairs fiddling around with some  classic sports car website whilst I'm upstairs emailing my son's teacher about some crisis, writing up today's teaching assignment notes, arranging cover for eldest son who'll get home to an empty house tomorrow evening because I'll be on the M3 ( again) in the rain schlepping down to youngest son's carol concert, ordering groceries online as the fridge is empty and the fridge fairy hasn't visited in a long while, sorting out his Dad's Christmas present and making a list of what to hunt for in the lost property box at school , having just climbed down from the loft with armfuls of lights and decorations because it doesn't look like anyone else is going to bother.  Usual stuff .

And don't even start me on the rest of Christmas . Husband's annual contribution to Christmas day amounts to ... well turning up basically , oh and accepting thanks for the myriad presents he hasn't had to choose / buy / wrap.

Something always happens between my early December mantra of  ' Keep it Simple ' and my mid December panic of  ' OMG - only x days until the children break up from school ' that catches me out every year. Just when I think I've got the minefield of what to get teachers sorted and offloaded the guilt of not sending any cards, someone bowls a curved ball that usually involves an impossible schedule , some kind of pre-Christmas virus and a parking ticket . Combine that with losing my credit card ( hasn't happened yet but it's only a matter of time ) , husband's endless list of Christmas drinks parties ( that invariably involve him having to get up to town by 6pm thereby rendering him permanently unavailable for school concert attendance ) and transforming the house from a tip into Santa's grotto overnight and is it any wonder that most of us are reduced to the odd Bah Humbug ?

No wonder my own Mother's favourite day of the year was Boxing Day . I never understood this as a child but as a parent it now makes perfect sense.


Saturday, 28 November 2009

Before and After

Well here they are - my before and afters. 13 weeks later and 54 lbs lighter.














Stir Up Sunday

I know it's supposed to be for making puddings but I reckon Christmas cakes count too. My youngest son and I are making a Christmas cake together. My aged copy of 'Delia's Christmas' was hauled off the bookshelf and fell open at the page I last used when making last year's cake - all sticky fingered and black treacled.

Cooking is a great way to spend time with your children. Of course everything  takes twice as long but what's the rush ? Most of the currents ended up on the floor but then that's what dustpans and brushes are for. We even shelled the almonds from their husks , popping them bullet style into the glass Pyrex bowl just like I would have done with my own Mum forty years ago. Some things never change thankfully and as for the smells , well nothing beats that brandy, nutmeg, raisin combination.

Friday, 27 November 2009

End of Part One

Hard to believe that the first stage of my Lighter Life journey has just reached an end after 13 grueling weeks. Of course now that it's finished I realise that I was just beginning to get the hang of it . So much so in fact that I've decided to continue. Now if I'd heard myself say that a month ago, I never would have believed it.  All I could think of then was the end of the 13 week Foundation stage ... or rather when I could eat real food again. But now I'm there I don't want to eat real food , well not yet anyway.

As a celebration of having lost a grand total of 54 lbs,  just 2 lbs short of a staggering 4 stone,  I treated myself to one glass of champagne. Rather than the fizzing glass of golden loveliness I anticipated , it tasted like a sort of metallic grape juice. And let me tell you , the headache from hell that I felt the following morning was certainly not worth it. What an anti climax. But all good ... I'm certainly not gagging for my next glass.

So I here I go on part 2 of the journey - what they call Developers at Lighter Life. I'm going to take it one week at a time until I lose another stone which would take me up to 5 in total and feel truly comfortable in a size 12. Although I'm wearing a size 12 now I want it to feel loose around the waistband. I reckon I can get there early into the New Year .

I have learnt a great many things about myself in the past 3 months, the most surprising of which was that I have a cast iron determination and can withstand the toughest of temptations. I can be honest now and say that I really didn't think I would last for the whole 13 weeks. Can't tell you how good it feels to know that not only have I succeeded but I have actually surpassed my own targets.

No food can beat how good that feels.


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Well, I'm tantalisingly just 1lb away from having lost 50lbs since starting Lighter Life.

And here's me in a pair of size 12 jeans just to prove it. The slightly crazed look on my face is probably due to blood circulation problems as I can't actually breathe or move in them ... but hey , that's a minor inconvenience.


Monday, 16 November 2009

How NOT to have a Perfect Christmas

Easy ... just indulge yourself in every article for the next 6 weeks which include the following 2 words ..... Perfect .....and ..... Christmas. In fact I've just sen the funniest ever Christmas article online entitled ... 'How to Organise Yourself for NEXT Christmas' No kidding.

Magazine editors have reached fever pitch in churning out these travesties. In the weekend's papers I counted no less than 16 articles in one newspaper alone about how to have that elusive Perfect Christmas . The article I want to write is how to have a Good Enough Christmas because good enough is , well, good enough. 

I don't usually do things by halves and I'm not really one for compromise but If there's one thing I have learnt over the years , it is to focus on what counts - people and time. Since having children, our Christmases have changed, for the better by miles.

Christmas lunch is a relaxed affair and one year I even forgot to buy the sprouts but you know what ? .... no-one complained. Presents are fun ( no sets of encyclopedias), walks are compulsory as are Christmas Morning service at church, and large quantities of Quality Street and Baileys.

If I run out of wrapping paper , the present goes unwrapped. I dispensed with Christmas cards years ago - the people that really count know I make time for them during the year. All the fresh food comes from New Lodge Farm and the wine from the local supermarket . Everything chugs along nicely and we still say  "That was the best Christmas EVER " at the end of it all.

So the 'How to Have the Perfect Christmas ' brigade can go take a hike. Ours will be slightly lopsided and I may even dispense with the sprouts agin, if they're very lucky.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

If you're hungry ... look away now

Just got back from a day trip to Greenwich ... you wouldn't want to go there if you're hungry and on a diet and here are the pictures to prove it.
















It was so lovely to be back on familiar territory . I bought my very first house in Greenwich over 20 years ago . A little brick terraced docker's cottage in Colomb Street, with an outside loo  all original features intact and a jellied eel stall at the end of the street. My very first home and I adored it.

We took the boat from the South Bank to the Naval College and wandered around Greenwich market taking in all the delicious smells, sights and sounds .. a treat for all the senses. The boys found possibly the best sweet shop in the world and spent their entire week's pocket money there. We played the £2 challenge game and I came off rather well with a bar of rose scented heart shaped soap from my husband. Several shops and coffee stops later, after a rustle through the last of the Autumn leaves in Greenwich park we clambered back onto the boat and savoured the views of London at dusk on the ride home - quite magical.



 




 

Friday, 13 November 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Which can only mean one thing - a trip to Fortnum and Mason's to gorge on all the gourmet eye candy . Hampers galore, mile high piles of chocolate bars, exquisite sweet confections, every conceivable flavour in the world all squeezed into one delicious red carpeted department. Lush.
Of course I can't eat any of it but I can still smell it all which is heaven and torture all rolled into one. Roll on Christmas.

At last ...

.... a proper cappuccino. After 11 weeks of eating no real food whatsoever I'm finally allowed to introduce milk back into my diet ... for one week only. The nutritional gurus have decreed that you can't live on starvation rations for longer than 11 weeks so we have to drink milk this week or else we'll die or something like that.
Anyway , I'm making hay whilst the sun shines and drinking my way through South East England's Cappuccino supplies starting with this one. Boy, did it taste good.


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bonfire Night




It's very quiet out there . I suppose fireworks must be the latest casualty of the recession although I thought we were supposed to be out of that now or was that last week ?

Here's my eldest in the garden this evening ... and no that's not me setting light to tenners , although I might as well be , the rate at which they seem to fly out of my wallet .

I'm off to the Dental Hospital ( again) with my youngest tomorrow and dreading it. There's something rather ironic about those sets of ghoulish false teeth that appear around Halloween time . When my youngest son wears them as part of his trick or treat outfit , they're usually an improvement on his own set.

Poor lamb . We've spent the last 2 years trekking up and down to the wretched hospital being told that his jaw will have to broken at some stage and re-set , that's usually the good news , the bad news is what it's going to cost . Anyway I'm hoping that this won't be the case tomorrow , otherwise we'll be spending the night there. I'm not very good in hospitals . I would usually rather be undergoing the treatment myself than watching my children go through it.

So a little light relief from a few Roman candles, a gigantic set of rockets and a packet of sparklers seemed like a small price to pay in return for the huge grin on their faces when they clapped eyes on the Box of Delights I brought home this evening.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Counting the days

It's 54 days until Christmas, 26 days until my eldest son's birthday, 23 days until I start eating real food again and only 1 day until I have to hand in my assignment .

If I were a sensible grown-up I would stop procrastinating and finding a million other things to do other than my homework and get on with it . But I'm not, so I suppose I'll fiddle away on the computer and fritter away the day then leave myself an impossible deadline to get the darned thing done. And I wonder where the boys get it from .

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Weight Loss to date



Just got back from tonight's weigh in. Chuffed to bits as I've lost 5lbs this week which brings the grand total to just 1 lb away from 3 stone. And in case you'd ever wondered .... this is what that looks like in equivalent books !


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Remember these ?






I bought them a couple of weeks ago,  the idea being that I'd be able to get into them within the month , hopefully . Well guess what ? I'm WEARING them , yes actually wearing them and boy does it feel good.
Only trouble is I feel compelled to approach complete strangers in the street to tell them. I've just got back from the supermarket where the cashier asked me how I was . "I'm fine and I'm wearing a pair of size 14 jeans " came my reply. Poor woman, she was probably only being polite and had no desire to know my hip measurements. Still , it feels SO good.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Coming Home

Buy this or download it .... 100% of the proceeds go to the Army Benevolent Fund - that has to be the best thing you can do today and if we all buy it , it should get to No. 1 and then Tony Bleugh can stick that in his pipe and smoke it.

Oh and hats off to the father of the solder killed in action in Afghanistan who spurned Mr Blair at last weeks memorial service at St Paul's in memory of those killed in action in Afghanistan. When proffered his hand to shake , doubtless with that accompanying inane grin he perfected whilst in office, the father roared at him "How dare you offer your hand - it's covered in my son's blood" . What a hero.

I've just lost 4 days of my life....

... in bed with ( at the risk of sounding like a bloke ) flu.

If flu were an animal .... Swine flu would be about a 5 , a hamster would be about 1 , guinea pig 2 etc then this would be a whopping woolly mammoth , weighing in at number 10. Now I am sounding like a bloke. I'm not sure what it was but I never want it again. I'm not going to bore you with the details .

You can tell how delirious with fever I was .... I awoke from a nightmarish sweat on the Sunday night to see the Tin Tin Twins go through to the next round on X Factor - see how deluded I must have been ?

For any men reading this , what women want when they are ill is the following :

1. Occasional room service.... ie. an unsolicited cup of tea on  a tray maybe once or twice during the day.
2. Fresh bedlinen, volunteered with good grace, at some stage following 3 nights of sweating.
3. To have the children taken care of without having to worry about whether they being fed, loved and generally taken care of.

What we DON'T want is :

1. "I didn't bring you up a cup of tea because you didn't drink the last one"
2. " I suppose I'm going to have to change the sheets now you've been sweating in them "
3. To finally emerge after 3 days of fever to find the children still in their PJs in the afternoon having eaten their way through their own body weight in chocolate chip cookies having spent the last 
18 hours glued to the XBox.

Monday, 19 October 2009

X Factor

So who's watching then or rather who isn't ?

I reckon it's a one horse race. By rights Joe should win but knowing what a perverse bunch we Brits are, it'll probably end up being the Tin Tin Twins. Heaven help us.

I watched Cheryl Cole strut her stuff on the Sunday night and felt it somewhat ironic that she should have berated the ex pole dancers last week for coming on stage wanting to be taken seriously as professional singers but wearing scanty, boob revealing, peep show clothing. She appeared to be wanting us to take her new solo career as a Pop Princess seriously and yet ... she appeared to be wearing scanty, boob revealing, peep show clothing. Hmmm ..... people who love in glass houses etc. Still she's way too gorgeous for anyone to be cross with for very long and her closing words about the outrage of the Tin Tin Twins surviving made up for any clothing misdemeanors.

Was I the only one wondering who the balding, orange faced, geriatric 'Frank from Eastenders' lookalike sat next to Whitney was ? And yes I quite like some of Whitney's classic stuff but what's with all the Diva worship thing ? More evidence of our addiction to celebrity I suppose. The pop wannabes just wanna be famous. I wonder if they're born spouting all that drivel about only ever wanting to sing and not wanting to go back , wherever back is and living the dream and wanting it all so badly ? I don't think they really know what they want , they just want it now whatever ' it ' is.

Having said all of that I'm still hopelessly addicted and will be for the next goodness knows how many weeks. And isn't Dermot tiny or is everyone just wearing 8" platforms ?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Spanx

Sounds sort of naughty doesn't it ? It's actually a product that you can wear - the idea being that you gather up all your spare rolls of fat and squeeze them into a kind of body stocking made from industrial strength lycra , possibly re-inforced with iron girders judging by the way it felt when I tried one on today.

I also learnt 3 things today ....

1. Hipster jeans and Bridget Jones style BIG pants are not a good combo.

2. Trying on clothes that are a size too small is a good thing , isn't that why they invented lycra?

3. I am very shallow . I should be celebrating my new found vitality and health now that I've lost 35 lbs but all I can think of is buying new clothes. I'll be reading Hello magazine before you know it .

Friday, 16 October 2009

NIce to be a Student again

I'm really enjoying the feeling of being a student again. Spent the day at the Special Needs show in London collecting resources and literature for my studies. It was rather strange collecting my badge at reception with my new status emblazoned across it.

My original student days were bliss. I don't remember doing any work whatsoever. Lord only knows how I got away with it. The status of mature student however brings with it a need for a slightly more grown up attitude to my studies and course assignments. Now I know why my boys procrastinate over their homework.

I think I may have seriously under-estimated the workload that comes with this course. Still, at least I don't have the distraction of Freshers Week to contend with but I must admit it did make me feel rather young again seeing my name in print alongside the word 'Student' .


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

That pink little cube

On my wardrobe door , I have hanging a new acquisition . I've just returned from my favourite and exclusive designer boutique ( Sainsbury's) where I purchased a new pair of jeans for a tenner. And the nicest thing about them ? On the hanger they have a little pink plastic cube with the number 14 proudly displayed. Who's have thought it ? In 7 short weeks I've gone down through the sizes from 22 all the way to 14.

Granted I can hardly do the zip up but with a little persuasion and so long as I adopt the 'lying flat on my back on the bed' position,  I reckon they'll be on by the end of next week. of course I won't actually be able to breathe whilst wearing them but I reckon you have to suffer a little in the name of fashion and anyway , breathing is terribly over-rated.



Way to Go ...

I've just had coffee with a friend ( who shall remain nameless as she doesn't want to tempt fate) who told me that when she dies she'd like to be buried in a Fortnum and Mason's hamper.
If the Egyptian Pharaohs could go to the other side with all their worldly treasures buried alongside them why shouldn't we take along a tin of fois gras and a bottle of port to see us on our way. Way to go.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

Mobile Phones : Curse or Blessing - Discuss

Today they definitely fell into the curse category . I cycled with my youngest to his tennis club this morning and as I sat and watched him and his tennis buddies cavorting about on court my eye was drawn to a small boy trying to engage his Dad in a game of football on a nearby pitch . The little lad kicked the ball towards his Dad who caught it under his foot and kept it there rather than return it to his son. Why ? Because he was on his mobile phone and that was clearly more important. The little boy kept calling to his Dad to return the ball to no avail. In fact the Dad turned his back on him to continue his phonecall in peace. Eventually the little boy sat down on the grass and sobbed although his father didn't notice. How sad :(

So far ...




... I've lost 2 Delias, 3 Nigellas, 1 Rachel and 5 Jamies in terms of weight loss to date. Sorry guys , I love your cooking, just can't eat so much of it at the moment .

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Perfect Weekend

I hate articles like this when I see them in the Weekend papers. There's no such thing as the perfect weekend. All the actress types that describe them in the Saturday telegraph sound very smug . Their typical weekends usually begin with brunch in some Notting Hill Moroccan eatery and end with an implausible dinner party accompanied by several bottle of fine claret, musican friends dropping by and a rustic Tuscan menu . Bah Humbug. My weekends usually begin and end with a squabble over homework or lost PE kit as I'm trying to assemble the boy's kit bags before school on the Monday morning . Throw in a defrost of the fridge, cleaning the toilets and a tottering pile of laundry to iron and you get the picture.

So , at the risk of sounding like one of the 'Smugs' , I think I've just had the perfect weekend, in fact I'm still having it.




Birthday celebrations on Friday found me and the boys up in town en route to Fortnum and Mason's. Ice cream sundaes for them , a mission to find the prefect fine tea for me ( have to drink it black now).

On to Forbidden Planet - boy heaven ( sadly also a mecca for the biggest bunch of geeks and weirdos I've ever encountered in one place ... grown men searcing for rare comic imports ? What's that all about ?). Anyway , they loved every minute and I have to say that by the end of our visit, I found myself feeling awestruck by the sheer volume of extraordinary merchandise.




Next stop, a new found favourite restaurant called Inamo in Wardour Street ( thanks for the recommendation Mary-Anne) . Hi tech tabletop touch screen ordering wizardry combined with possibly the best dish ever invented - cinnamon chicken accompanied by Korean chilli sauce and lime. It was rather lovely stepping out on to the street at 6pm to find it buzzing with the film business bright young things all having a drink in street cafes and bars to celebrate the start of the weekend. Reminded me of my own days in Television when I might find myself there having just been to see the rushes from a new documentary.




Wandering down into Chinatown we found the streets thronging with pretty red lanterns to celebrate their Harvest Festival. A quick trip round the Chinatown market for the £3 challenge. A firm favourite with the boys - we all draw names from a hat and set off to purchase a surprise gift for our chosen recipient. I am now the proud owner of a delightful wallet of delicate Chinese papercuts whist the boys are now sporting assorted bracelets, key fobs and mobile phone dangly things.

Homeward bound , an impossibly beautiful view of the London skyline on the train at sunset. Birthday cake awaiting me on the kitchen table ... not to eat ( for me) but for the unmissable ceremony of blowing out the candles.

Can it get any better ? YES. Saturday spent at Ally Pally's Great Big Stamp and Scrapbooking Show meeting up with friends for a few laughs , coffee and cake ( peppermint tea and my Lighter Life Peanut bar for me )  and 7 hours of non stop shopping opportunities. Heaven.

And here I am on Sunday morning with the sun splitting the trees, out in the garden harvesting the lavender and enjoying a freshly brewed pot of fresh coffee.

Seems like I have just joined the ranks of the "Smugs' but don't worry , I've still got the laundry and the sports kit squabble to look forward to this evening.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

3 more fabulous things that have happened this week ...

1. Friends have started to notice.
2. The pain in my knee has gone ... maybe I can do without an op after all
3. Walking upstairs is a doddle

Thursday, 17 September 2009

3 Good Things That Happened Today

I can count 4 actually but I'll save one for tomorrow ...

1. I've found a new way of being able to drink coffee without milk ... if you add one teaspoonful of the vanilla shake mix, close your eyes and hold your nose you can almost believe you're drinking it white .

2. I actually quite like the strawberry flavour shakes... and I didn't have to hold my nose.

3. Saving the best 'til last ... today I walked into the  ( ironically named ) Fat Face  (hitherto forbidden territory being over a size 18) in Farnham and bought a pair of jeans 2 sizes smaller than my normal size. Admittedly I had to lie flat on the bed back home to get them on (reminiscent of the teenage years only then it was a size 8)  but it was worth it and presumably in another month's time, I'll be going back for a size another 2 sizes smaller.

All in all a very good day.

New jeans lying on top of old jeans


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Embroidery Heaven

How gorgous is this ?



I bought this embroidery floss chest at an antique fair many many years ago . Don't think I paid an enormous sum for it , probably around a fiver. It's been sat in the back of a cupboard for a couple of decades and now it's come into it's own .

Perfect for storing all of my scrapbooking embroidery bit and pieces . What is the fascination with haberdashery ? Anywhere I've ever been in the world , I've always sought out these shops. A couple of buttons and a length or two of ribbon to add to my collection are enough to fill me with joy.

So , I've found the perfect storage , now all I have to do is get round to using it all.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Autumn





This has to be my favourite season. What's not to like about Autumn ? Mellow evenings, the warmth rather than blaring heat of the sun ,amber light, change in the air, cool misty mornings and colour everywhere . We're very lucky to have this park on our doorstep - feels more like the countryside than London.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Little Wonder...

... that obesity is a national epidemic.

Today I drove my children to school. On the way , I passed no fewer than 18 take-away shops, about a dozen billboards advertising food, 11 trucks with pictures of food on their sides, heard 6 ads on the radio concerning food and noticed 7 garages all of which had been turned into mini supermarkets.

I lost count on the way home and as I opened the front door , there on my doormat were 3 leaflets for pizza take-aways and another for an Indian restaurant. And that was all before 9am.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My New Best Friends

say hello to my new best friends ...

Tabasco, Espresso and Black Pepper.

I don't think I've ever tried Tabasco before but because we're allowed it on Lighter Life I'm now becoming very familiar with it. It doesn't so much enhance or spice up the flavour of what you're eating, it actually obliterates it ... which, if you've ever tried Lighter Life's Tomato soup, you will appreciate, is a good thing. I have drawn the line at adding it to my Lighter Life porridge though.

Black coffee is also allowed and , not known for doing things by halves, I've opted for the double dose. It's small enough as it is , so having a double means 2 thimblefulls rather than one. Still , it gets me through a bad patch or rather floats me through it because by the time it's down the hatch, I'm usually as high as a kite.

And as for black pepper , well it's something to chew on - sad I know.

So if you see me floating towards you with tears in my eyes and steam coming out of the top of my head , you'll know I've just had a Tabasco spiced porridge with coarsely ground black pepper followed by a double espresso.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

HHK

Thought it was about time I shopped for new knickers. This is usually a perfunctory annual task - a quick pop to M&S for enough Bridget Jones style BIG pants to see me through another few months - top priority usually maximum stretch capacity.

This was quite a different experience.
First it had to be somewhere other than M&S , bless them but I won't be needing industrial sized undies any more so I can shop around for a change.
Secondly they had to be pink - no more fat black pants.
Thirdly - it would be nice if I could fit more than half a dozen pairs on the washing line at one time.

Job done, one pair of Elle McPherson frilly pink lacy things, 2 sizes smaller than my usual . Nice.

Oh yes ... and HKH stands for Halfway House Knickers . No point in opting for ludicrously small G strings .... yet.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Decision time

Apparently the average person has to make about 200 decisions a day about food.

I, on the other hand , only have to make one - do I stick at this Lighter Life or not ? Makes life simple doesn't it ?

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Lighte Life ... Lighter Me

Well blow me ... it actually works !

I am a staggering 10lbs lighter than I was last week - who'd have thought it ? Trousers feeling decidedly baggy, bra can now be fastened on a tighter setting. Maybe this madcap scheme actually works after all ?

Astonishingly I'm no longer hungry and have survived the following :

1.Being stuck behind a Lees of Scotland truck in a traffic jam on the M25. In case you're wondering who the hell Lees are - they make those wicked coconut chocolate snowballs. Was tempted to leap out of the car and jemmy open the back of the truck but didn't.

2. Husband's 50th birthday bash which began in the morning with me taking all the boys out for the Full Monty English Breakfast whilst I drank black tea.

3.My sister arriving on the doorstep with a bottle of wine and fish and chip supper.

There are many more but 3's enough to be going on with .. you get the picture. If I can survive those I can survive anything.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Day One in the House

9am - Feel like I need the Big Brother diary room to come and report in on Lighter Life progress.
I was still reeling from the shock of my bust measurement when I awoke this morning, having been measured last night. Immediately after the measuring, your photo is taken and I'm sure that in mine I will have a look of total incredulity on my face and if I look closer I'll be able to see myself mouthing the hideous figure that she'd just read off the tape measure.

Porridge for breakfast and it was actually OK . Not only that but I almost couldn't finish it although I'm not sure if that was down to uncertainty about the taste rather than fullness. Ate it with a small teaspoon ( old Weight Watchers trick) to make it last longer . Haven't quite perfected the lump eradication yet but I will be getting plenty of practice as that's what I'll be having every day for the next 98 days. Ate it alone , didn't want the children saying " Yuk that looks disgusting " or 'Can I try some... Yuk that's disgusting" or even just plan "Yuk" . Felt quite lonely at the breakfast table and reminiscent of that famous scene from Oliver.

12am - sadly I've been clock watching for the last 2 hours . Ravenous. vegetable soup for lunch - let's be honest it looked like orange glue but tasted OK thinakfully - maybe that was the tablespoon of pepper I added.

So far I've had to cook breakfast ( french toast) and lunch (scrambled eggs) for the boys, had to queue up to pay for petrol alongside the racks of sweets and choc bars at the garage and buy soft drinks for their trip this afternoon . I'm realising that every hour of every day I'm surrounded by references to food, the sight and smell of food, questions about food ( what's for tea ?) . Not that I didn't already know this , I'm just feeling it more acutely.

Worst of all I'm feeling hungry and I've got a headache although maybe that was the "last chance saloon" bottle of Chianti I downed last night in the knowledge that it would soon become a distant memory.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Bring It On

Just got back from my first Lighter Life meeting with a small carrier bag full of sachets. This is my 1st week's supply of food.
Thankfully , it all starts tomorrow morning so I ate pasta and the best part of a bottle of Chianti for supper. I realised that it would be the last time I chewed real food for the about 3 months. Thankfully our group seems like a great bunch of women - they made me laugh out loud - looks like we'll all be getting along famously.
Incidentally - when they measured my chest , I had to ask whether the figure they gave me was in inches or centimetres - enough said.

Today's the Day...

... I wave goodbye (for 14 weeks ) to real food and instead , punctuate my daily routine with 4 packets of powdered nourishment - a grand total of 500 calories per day.
Tonight , I will be sitting in a room with 12 other people on the same mission - to lose a massive amount of weight. I have a million questions buzzing around in my head and I'm queasily apprehensive , well maybe not that surprising.
Yesterday I ripped my favourite pair of trousers whilst cycling. Ordinarily I'd have been mad with my clumsiness but instead I shouted Yippee - because these will be going straight in the bin in a c couple of months time because they will be WAY TOO BIG.

Here are my 3 big fears :

1. Not losing enough weight
2. Baling out after a month or even less
3. Putting it all back on again when the 14 week programme finishes

I have about 18 other fears to add to the list but I'll limit it to 3 for the time being. Can you tell I'm anxious ?

On a more positive note here are my 3 big incentives:

1. Rather frivolous to be No. 1 but what the hell ( if like me you've spent the last decade buying shapless things in black and grey you'll know exactly what I mean) .... buying nice new clothes. Shallow I know but hey
2. Not being the fattest Mummy in the playground at pick-up time
3. Not loathing myself for being weak-willed and out of control

I read those back and felt quite sad.

Just Looking

I have a pile of books by my bed and usually have 3 on the go at any one time. This morning I lay in bed and grabbed one off the pile. The cover was fascinating and inspired me to want to do a layout involving a hand cut tree with images hanging from the branches.
I leafed through a design book next , Jim Krause's Basic Design Index - always a fascinating source of inspiration.
Magazines spilled across the floor revealing an array of alluring ads , attention seeking colourways ... all in all a visual feast and I hadn't even got out of bed.
Too much inspiration , never enough time in which to capture it all .
SO ... today I decided that it's Ok just to look and see and enjoy without ALWAYS having to get it down in a scrapbook page.
It all goes into my subconscious mind anyway and will reveal itself in years to come in one form or another.. preferably creative and not frustrated.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Lighter Life

Tonight I have eaten :

I large packet of plain crisps
Half a loaf of Banana Bread
I large Pack of Fruit Allsorts
6 Deep Fried spicy chicken wings

Why ? Because in less than 48 hours I will be replacing all of my meals with food replacement packs on the Lighter Life programme. This feels like my Last Supper or rather Penultimate Supper. Tomorrow night's dinner will probably top 1000 calories and include a whole bar of Galaxy for pudding. I will then drink myself silly with a whole bottle of Rose and collapse into bed feeling nauseous. With any luck by the time I wake up the following morning I will be hating myself sufficiently to welcome in the new regime with open arms. Actually , these Fruit Allsorts are beginning to taste a bit disgusting already.

I'm hoping I won't turn into a diet bore which is why I'm not going to blab to everyone that I'm doing this - they'll only find out if they read my blog. Apologies in advance.

Friday, 21 August 2009





Day One in The Alps


No swine flu here or rather schwein flu. I feel like breathing twice as fast to stockpile enough clean air to last me after our return to Blighty.

It feels like paradise. Who needs a mosquito ( or worse - tourist ) infested tropical island, preceded by a hideous passage through Heathrow, when you can have heaven on a plate here in Switzerland. The sun has just risen over the mountain tops. Light wisps of cloud are swiftly disappearing from the horizon, the azure water of Lake Thun is sparkling and everywhere is an abundance of green lushness.

Window boxes bursting with immaculate blood red geraniums provide a burst of colour amongst the fairy story wooden chalets. Every scene looks like it has been plucked from the pages of a Hans Christian Anderson book.

Breakfast on the terrace of our hotel comprised a gourmet selection of wonderful smoked and air dried meats, pungent cheeses and our favourite seed encrusted bread rolls. The boys delight in ordering heisse milch for their hot chocolate. Never did a small bowl of stewed plums with yoghurt taste so good.

And here I am basking in the glorious sunshine , cooled with a delightful mountain breeze, tapping away at my Mac trying to capture a smidgeon of the loveliness in words which really can’t do it justice.

This morning promises a browse amongst the streets of Thun. The boys have a trip to the Swiss Army penknife shop planned and at some stage we’ll stop for a coffee which only the Swiss prepare to perfection - stuff the French and their brown soupy brew. Maybe it’s the spring water, maybe it’s the accompaniment of a sachet of sugar adorned with alpine views - the same as its ever been for decades.


This is one theme I’ll keep referring to - ‘the same as its ever been’. We’ve only been coming here as a family for 3 years but my husband holidayed in Switzerland for most of his childhood and the restaurants and cafes are still identical in appearance to the way they were in the sixties and seventies. The same brown and orange lampshades and patterned carpets. Trendy decor updates have been eschewed in favour of preserving the status quo which lends everywhere an air of comfortable familiarity year after year. It seems , fortunately, that the Ikea mentality has passed them by. Functional and well made fixtures and fittings survive the torrid ‘out with the old and in with the new’ fever that has swept Europe in the last 20 years. I would imagine that the boys could return in ten years time and have lunch in the cafe with the same crochet tablecloths and smoked glass tabletops that they see now. What a lovely thought.


Wednesday

I’m thinking of hiding in the cupboard in the bedroom designed to accommodate suitcases when not in use. The trade off between discomfort v. solitude swings toward the latter at the moment. We have just spent the hottest day of the year driving to Berne where H and FIL carry out their annual pilgrimage to the bank. Most people these days communicate via internet or phone but FIl being old fashioned likes to make appointments in person and needs to take H with him. Meanwhile me plus kids are given an hour ‘off’ to stay out of their way and entertain ourselves elsewhere. I head to a department store where we browse amongst the sweet ( their choice) and haberdashery departments ( my choice). On leaving the store youngest son announces that he needs the toilet. We’ve just passed one next to the ribbons and buttons but why mention it then when you can wait until you’ve left the store and so have to re-trace your steps back up to the 5th floor ?

40 minutes in and now that the sugar high has worn off, spirits are sagging. Time to stop for an ice cream. The streets are packed with interesting boutiques and myriad delightful shopping experiences but the only experience we’re about to have is another stop to buy yet another Coke. H and FIL meanwhile have finished their business at the bank and are looking for us. No peace for the wicked. FIL needs the toilet so it’s back to the good old 5th floor. The staff are beginning to recognise us.

No-one wants to stay in Berne except me , ever the frustrated shopper. FIL now needs feeding and the boys want to swim. Another hour in the car back to our apartment with my knees tucked up under my chin as I get the guest spot in the middle seat of the back of the car to break up hostilities.

I suggest that H and FIL go and have a nice quiet relaxing lunch by the lake whilst I take the children swimming ... again. They seem to think this is a great idea and who wouldn’t ... except me.

So you see the cupboard under the eaves of our apartment’s bedroom is looking like a definite improvement. Everyone's been fed, watered and enjoyed the opportunity to empty their bowels or bladders. With any luck and if I’m very good and well behaved I’ll get to go up to the local Co-op later to buy replacement beers and snacks because of course they’ll all need feeding in about another hour.


Thursday

The perfect day in Thun...by myself. The boys have gone off to do things in boats. This means I can take photos with abandon without the usual groans. First stop is a back road up into the mountains behind Sigriswil but I don’t get very far before having to stop to take pictures of the ludicrously beautiful church whose simple spire juts up into a pure blue sky. Feeling brave I venture further up the mountainside on a single track with no passing places. The only real danger, other than meeting a tractor en route, is that once up there I may never want to come down again. Pulling over alongside a water trough I find a curious metal door built into the rock. Presumably one of the many hiding places that the Swiss hid their arms during the war. The view from up here is breathtakingly beutiful and the peace and quiet leave me gasping. The serenity up here is food for the soul. I drink it in hoping to fill up my tanks.

I manage the drive into Thun without incident remembering to drive on the right. Straight to my favourite shop Krebser An odd choice for many people maybe but for me it is heaven. Books, art materials, wrapping papers, cards and all in one place. Not only that but downstairs is a place to drink coffee, dispensed from a machine but perfect nonetheless. I open the window to let in a cool breeze and find the river Aar racing past below . I have now gone to heaven.

On to Steinmanns where I indulge in a cake . I have no idea what it is or even what it tastes of but each layer packs a punch and is better than the last, crisp buttery pastry, chocolate nuttiness, creamy mousse and then some sort of cake oozing with liqueur. How clever - cake and booze ... what a fabulous way to get drunk.

Back to the car via the Swiss Army penknife shop where I try out a pink model complete with nail clippers. Hmmm , maybe later in the week.

Can the perfect day get any better ? Yes , at the Schloss Hunegg where they’re hosting a Steiff Teddy Bear exhibition. This brings out the child in me. Cabinet after cabinet stuffed with whimsical bears and animals , every shape and size. Enormous working panoramic models, bears in cars, Noah’s arks, trains, windmills, climbing trees. I stifle a squeal of delight. The only problem is how to resist the shop downstairs lined up wit row after row of smiling teddies. One in particular stand out a mile. A pleading little face and thankfully a small (ish) price ticket, the deal is done and he and and I retire to the garden for the perfect cup of coffee and a photo shoot.


Friday

Embarrassingly, I find myself 2,500m above sea level on the peak of the Stockhorn, amongst serious European climbers all wearing appropriate boots and walking sticks, wearing a daft pair of rubber flip flops.

The boys give me the heeby jeebies by pretending to fall off the cliff tops whilst I cling to pitiful clumps of grass and try to conquer my fear of heights. It’s not a full blown phobia but I do need a good hour to acclimatise myself to the extreme altitude and convince myself that we will all return back down to earth alive. I have visions of losing it and conjure up a wheeze that will get me down the mountain with minimum loss of face - a feigned heart attack and a stretcher ride down in the cable car. Thankfully it doesn’t come to that and within a short time I’m skipping down the steps like a mountain goat ... in my trusty flip flops.

The best lunch so far - Rosti with mushrooms (good choice) and a large stein of beer (bad choice). The boys are in heaven when their carafe of Coke arrives to wash down their pommes frites. The heat of the day catches up with me the lager and sun don’t mix well especially as the heat of the cable car is near roasting temperature. Still , there’s the lake halfway down to look forward to. What a gem. The camera can’t do it justice and certainly can’t capture the sound of the distant Swiss cowbells nor the smell of the woodsmoke from the fire slowly roasting a rack os Bratwurst by the water’s edge.

En route home we stop at an antique shop where I discover a handful of exquisite Sheerenschnitten pictures depicting the typical alpine scenes. What an unexpected treat.


Saturday

Today’s Tages Post at the breakfast table shows a large icon of the sun on the cover. A good sign. I don’t think we’ve ever had such fine weather on any family holiday EVER.
Plans for the day include a trip to Thun to buy Theo his Swiss drumsticks, maybe a bar of two of chocolate and possibly my pink Swiss Army penknife. The boys are cavorting about in the pool which I can see from the breakfast terrace of the Solbad Hotel whilst I tap away at my keyboard, occasionally looking up to glimpse the snow-capped Jungfrua, Monch and Eiger in the distance. Perfect. Incidentally, I'd never realised how clever the Toblerone logo was . Have a look at the picture on the right ( Today I hav mostly been eating..). Toblerone is produced in Berne whose symbol is a bear. If you look closely at the picture of the mountain on the wrapper , you'll see a cleverly hidden bear.
Our shopping trip to Thun proved very productive. Highlight of the shops had to be the Cat Lover’s shop where a sleeping puss called Cherry lay squished into a cardboard box on the counter. Our own puss is now the proud owner of a Swiss flag cat collar. Cake in Steinmanns where we had difficulty choosing . Ended up with a mixed plate of tiny cakes and patisserie to accompany our coffee. I found the perfect scrapbookers Swiss Army penknife complete with USB stick, scissors and pen amongst other tools. Not only that but I also found a pair of proper scissors to try out my own Scherenschnitte and a couple of sheets of the special black paper. Seem to find examples of this traditional paper craft wherever I go now - they even had some in the cat shop.

Sunday

Almost too hot for comfort today - temperature up in the 30’s. After breakfast on the terrace, a beautiful lakeside drive in the comfort of the air conditioned car and a stop at Brienz for lunch . Must remember to visit this place next year - the Wildbach Hotel, conveniently perched on the lakeside opposite the Giessbach Falls and the perfect place to take a dip in the icy lake after eating.
I’ve stopped taking photos - they just don’t do the place justice. Every shot turns out looking like a picture postcard.


Monday

Last day today - too bad , I’m just starting to feel relaxed. Went up the Niederhorn today. The drive there was nerve wracking but stunning - hairpin bends around craggy rockfaces with 1000m plus sheer drops to ground level on the other side. Standing atop the muntain peak within touching distance of the clouds and surrounded by the sound of silence does the soul good. You can only look around and wonder at the marvel of nature. I breathe deeply and soak it all in, reluctant to ever leave. And finally I realise what holidays are all about. Not the ‘glamour’ of travel or change of scene and not the amnesty from cleaning and cooking ( although that is a bonus) . It’s time to think and reflect and take stock. Life is so busy these days that you never get the chance just to stand still and let your mind wander.

Tuesady/Wednesday

Driving back through France where every motor way rest-stop smells like a urinal and every village and town is utterly spoiled by a rash of hideously gaudy advertising placards on the outskirts. I’ve never quite ‘got’ FRance and don’t suppose I ever will. For a start it’s full of Brits and the food actually leaves a lot to be desired. I suppose there’s always the cheap wine so one 1 out of 3 aint bad.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Home from our holiday

Maybe it's the sun, maybe it's the vino ( probably the latter) but does anyone else do that thing with their other halves when on holiday ? ... you know the thing where , after a few glasses of the local tipple too many, you start talking about what really pisses you off ? And you say things like .... "I really hate that my life has turned into one endless pile of laundry" and then your other half , in a moment of continental holiday madness, resolves to do one evening's ironing per week. And you think " Wow - everything is going to be better after all"

... and then one day after getting back you find it all unravels horribly ?

Well , here I am, 8 loads of washing later , after having filled up the fridge for all the cuckoo-like hungry mouths to feed and I''ve just hung out yet another load of underpants and where is my other half ? Watching the cricket with a beer of course.

Why do I fall for it every year ?

Schnerenschnitte



How gorgeous are these ?

I bought a book years ago in the US on this paper-craft and had forgotten all about it until I found these in a Swiss craft shop last week whilst on holiday. Felt inspired enough to buy some precision scissors and some special paper. Now all I have to acquire is the patience of a saint and a few hundred spare hours.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

My New Obsession

The weather .... but then isn't everyone obsessed with this topic at the moment ?
We're off to Switzerland next week . In eager anticipation, I googled the worldwide weather prediction service. To my surprise , the tiny village where we're staying was actually listed. You're then given 5 little icons in a row which depict the kind of weather you can expect. These range from blinding sunshine to the " Sodom and Gomorrah end of the world' type scenario , represented by a violent thunderbolt and the deepest shade of grey. Guess what we can look forward to in our little alpine resort next week ? Rather typically the icon line-up for Tenby, from which we've just returned after a week of grey skies , had , rather tantalisingly, a line up of 5 smiling suns , taunting me like a fruit machine jackpot.

I spent the morning musing about past Holidays from Hell . There was the Isle of Wight near death experience when my youngest son's temperature rocketed to sky high danger levels on arrival. Husband , dispatched to find emergency water to re-hydrate him with, returned with a fluorescent Slush Puppy. This little drama unfolded on Ryde Seafront . We were surrounded by 1001 scooters, convening to celebrate their annual convention. The sound was reminiscent of a swarm of buzzing hornets. I could have happily swatted all or any of them as we battled our way along the esplanade in search of a chemist selling Calpol. Happy Days.

Then there was the Great Flood of 2004. Groping my way downstairs at 6am, having been awoken by my youngest son to go watch some cartoon dross on telly , I reached the penultimate step to find the carpet mysteriously floating on top of a brown sea of muddy water. The persistent rain of the previous 48 hours had finally burst the banks of the rain sodden garden and had swept into the cottage, bringing with it the contents of the neighbouring septic tanks by the smell of it. The contents of the cereal boxes in the floor level kitchen cabinets had emptied themselves and the kitchen resembled a giant bowl of effluent coco pops.
Carrying a child under each arm, I made it to the car which was perilously close to being engulfed by the lapping water and drove , or rather spluttered out of the driveway towards the the A1 and the relative safety of home, stopping only when my youngest wailed " I need a pooh" . Judging by the look on the policeman's face whose cop car I parked alongside at the services, he must have thought I was a new escapee from the local asylum. It was only then that I realised I was still dressed in a nighty and one flip flop having lost the other underwater in the drowned garden. This was further confirmed by the fact that I left the car engine running whilst parked up in the car park for fear of it never starting again if I switched it off. It's at times like those that you usually bump into your boss or your children's Head Teacher. Thankfully neither on this occassion.

I'd almost forgotten the Greek Heatwave from Hell in 1988 . But then that's enough scary stories for one day . I'll leave that for another time.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Fish, Chips and Fudge



... in that order. That's what we've been feasting on this week. We've just got back from a week's trip to Pembrokeshire. Here are the highlights.....

Tenby - what a delightful little place. The Edinburgh Rock coloured Georgain houses were so beautiful - they looked good enough to eat. Nothing to do obviously with the fact that there are more sweet shops, ice cream parlours and fish and chip restaurants per square mile than anywhere else on earth. I learned that it's 5,000 population swells to 55,000 during the summer months ( well I say summer loosely, felt more like winter in the cold rain ) which must be a real double edged sword for the residents - income but overcrowding.

Welsh Cakes - I could live off these , in fact I think I did.

Stackpole Quay - what an absolute delight only I don't want to tell everybody or else it won't be so quiet and delightful. I can recommend the bacon butties at the tearoom.

Our £1 challenge in the Pound shop - now a firmly established family favourite on holidays. We draw lots for names then off we go armed with nothing more than a £1 coin and 5 minutes in which to buy a surprise gift for our secret recipient. What a hoot. I'm now the proud owner of a fake cowskin mobile phone cover.

Sea and Sand - a winning combination . You can't beat it on a sunny day. Shame we only get a handful per year. Anyone who says they don't mind whether it rains or not is lying.


Coming home - we had a great adventure but nothing beats that first night back in your own bed , a hot bath in a bathroom you recognise and to be re-united with your hair straighteners.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The Many Shades of Grey

From the window of the house where we're staying in Wales you can see the sea ... technically. What you can actually see is a murky grey line which meets a slightly darker grey line - that's where the sea meets the sky. When the rain is particularly bad the 2 colours of grey merge and become one big grey nothingness.

When children draw pictures of the seaside they always draw both sky and sea in blue. I'm not sure why, especially if they've been on holiday to Wales. If I were still a child I'd draw a picture with a lot of grey in it. In fact I'd get a grey crayon and cover the whole page in grey. If I were a grown up I'd draw a picture of my wallet gaping open with a shower of £10 notes disappearing out of it like a plague of locusts.

On the bright side I've discovered Welsh Cakes.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Summertime ... and the weather is ... well , pretty awful really


I took my youngest to a sailing club this morning. For a sizeable amount of money, paid to the outdoorsy looking teen manning the reception desk, he was allowed to change into a rather shabby looking wetsuit about 2 sizes too small and toddled off to be dunked in a grey reservoir for the rest of the day.

Actually , he's attending something called Water Fun ( or Water Hell in my book) which runs for the whole week and introduces your offspring to the delights of kayaking, windsurfing, knee boarding and sailing .. like I said ... Water Hell.

I wished I could embrace the whole sailing fraternity thing. For a moment I thought I could. We turned off a grubby road, aptly called the Staines Bypass, into a narrow tree lined lane and entered the sailing club gates where a large spikey ramp thing prevented us from going any further , ostensibly to prevent fly-tippers and graffiti hooligans from plying their trade. Once we'd convinced them of our credentials we were allowed in and asked to take the right hand fork and proceed to the car park. After climbing 66 steps ( I know this because I counted every one , somewhat breathlessly by the time I'd reached fifty something) we ascended into a little bit if suburban heaven.

A large expanse of glistening water greeted us accompanied by the clanking of those sail mast thingies and the swooping of gulls, all lending to the illusion of being beside the sea. If you closed your eyes and breathed deeply , I swear I could almost smell salt on the breeze or maybe it was just the chips they'd be serving at lunchtime.

Most of the children there were sun kissed and fresh air types - a good sign. Excellent decision I thought , all the benefits of healthy exercise and team building stuff and I don't even have to dip my toe in the water . Perfect. Here were in the suburbs of London and I could almost believe we were salty sea dogs, hoisting the mainsail and all the that palaver. A little bit of maritime heaven.

I turned to descend the 66 steps and as I did so , I left behind my vision of seaside loveliness. A police siren wailed from the road below and the 24 hour Tescos loomed out of the grey mist . Back to reality.

And as for my scrapbook pages this summer , rather than the 'Fun in the Sun' variety I think they're more likely to be 'Rain is a Pain' . Having said that I can always look back on last years and remind myself what proper sunshine looked like.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Gadget Junkie


I can't help myself . Never show me a new gadget ... chances are I'll want to buy it. I bought this little toy at the weekend from Calico Crafts - it's a glue dot dispenser and works a treat . Pricey at £13.99 but very economical with it's refills - 500 dots for £2.99 which I reckon will save me a fortune on Herma - well that's what I told myself to justify it's expense.
Anyway - used it all weekend and I love it. Now if only they'd make it in pink !

What's Your Style ?


I remember reading any book I could get my hands on when I first started scrapbooking. I didn't know where to go to find good sources of inspiration - everything was new ... don't think I'd even discovered UK Scrappers back then ( how on earth did I spend my time ??). One of these books divided scrappers into certain 'styles' , like Shabby Chic , Vintage, Clean Graphic and the like. I tried to pigeon hole my style but found I couldn't . One day I might be using messy paint, the next I'd be using grids of photos like Cathy Zielske. And 3 years later , I still can't define my style which I think is a good thing. However, one thing's for sure.. I'm not a mad fan of Vintage, hate purple and prefer to make my own embellishments. I've also realised that I have a favourite palette of colours - think Farrow and Ball meets Conran ... or at least that's what I'd like to think. There's always a neutral shade or 2 coupled with a bright vibrant colour. There's usually a bit of fabric and maybe a spot of stitching and usually a little cluster of happy little items. This one above sums it up I suppose. Mind you tomorrow's layout will probably be completely different.

I never really know how a layout is going to turn out when I start . It all depends on how the mood takes me. Sometimes it even depends on what music I'm listening to or what the weather's like. One thing will always be consistent though. The photos is the main driver , the story is equally as important although you might not always be able to read it without delving and it has to make me happy . I reckon those 3 things define my style. Now all I have to do is think of a name to define it. Maybe I could just call it 'Happy' .

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Fabric


... can't get enough of it. I almost love it as much as paper and that's saying something.
Used some canvas on this layout which was for a challenge set by Craftystash Workshop which was supposed to have been last weekend but was sadly cancelled - get well soon Tracie. Got the old sewing machine out of mothballs also. Reckon if I left it out , I'd sew on every layout. Sewed some journalling lines - might try this again soon as I really liked how it turned out.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Birthday Boy


My baby is 10 today. Double figures - how daunting.
True to form , when asked how he'd like to spend it he said he didn't mind so long as it was with his family.
Present opening in bed, pancakes for breakfast, a quick trip to Thorpe Park ( thank goodness for annual passes ) and home for tea and birthday cake. Perfect ... apart from having to queue for half an hour to be turned upside down in something called Zodiac. I think today must have been 'Get in free to Thorpe Park' day or maybe they were just handing out free tenners on the door. Anyway it felt like the entire world was there besides us , hence the queues. And here was me thinking that most school hadn't broken up for Sumer yet or maybe just 2 million kids decided to play truant on the same day.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Things My Children Have Taught Me


I may be getting on but I'm still able to learn something new every day , this old dog can indeed be taught new tricks.

My children are a constant source of amazement to me. I adore the way they see things in an uncomplicated way without the jaundice that comes with advancing age. It's too easy to be cynical these days, trying to find the positive side is so much harder but worth the effort.

Here are 3 random things I've observed in the last 24 hours alone...

* Simple Pleasures - a bowl of popcorn can bring squeals of delight
* Anticipation - remembering that it's your birthday in 13 days time and better still your party at the weekend can produce an ear splitting grin
* Finding Time - to stroke the cat and tell her that you love her

Today therefore , I'm going to make myself some popcorn, count up the days til my birthday and stroke the cat and tell her to get off the bed and stop leaving hairs everywhere ... then I'll tell her that I also love her.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Teeth

I've been seeing rather a lot of a dashing young doctor in London for the last 2 years. Sadly for no better reason that he is my youngest son's orthodontist. Actually I'm not that fond of him at all ( the man that is not my son of whom I'm very fond ) , although he seems like a nice enough bloke. I always get a telling off for not making sure that my son wear his brace 24/7. As I can't actually be with my son 24/7 on school days , I have to rely on his sense of responsibility for keeping it in , which at 9 years is a tall order.

Two years ago my husband dispatched my son down one of those wretched flume rides at a swimming pool. He emerged seconds later from the other end minus his brand new front tooth. The water turned red and the lifeguard passed out. My husband phoned me to say everything was alright, which turned out to be a complete lie as he then went on to ask what he should do having told me what had happened. Ever since then we have paid monthly visits to the Eastman Dental Hospital in London for extensive remedial treatment. Although this is free in terms of it being NHS , it still costs an arm and a leg getting there and back.

Today we're going to take in the Bank of England Museum en route where, apparently, you can pick up a real gold bar to see how much it weighs. If it doesn't weigh that much I plan to do a runner with said gold bar to fund our mounting expenses in which case you may read about it in tomorrow's papers.

Saturday, 13 June 2009


Bumper Stash boxes for sale over on UK SCrappers if any scrappers are interested. Listed in the Marketplac here

here's a pic of a representative sample. Can't guarantee you'll get all or any of these particular items as this box may already have been sold but it will be similar and the original value will be between £30 - £40.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Kids


I have 3 children . Two of them are aged 9 and 14 . The other one is 49 , soon to be 50.
I remember seeing a bib in Mothercare once that read " I don't know what I want , but I want it now". I wonder of they do it in grown up sizes ?
My husband bought himself a Manopause car earlier this year. Guess what ? It didn't make him happy but then at the moment , I don't know what would. If I'd known that his mid life crisis was going to be classic textbook then I'd probably have got my money's worth out of my own menopause. Sadly though I didn't do any of the ranting or raving or tantrums that you read about in women's magazines. I have been known to say " Is it me or is it hot in here" but that was about it. HIndsight is a wonderful thing.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Comments

Apologies to anyone who may have left a comment on here and wondered why it hadn't appeared. When I logged on tonight , there waiting for me was a list of something called unmoderated comment. All kinds of lovely people had left all kinds of lovely comments and there they all were , all lined up and waiting to be 'moderated' by me.

They were all perfectly nice comments and didn't appear to require any form of 'moderation' at all . It all sounded terribly Big Brotherish. Anyway ... consider yourselves all duly moderated now. There's obviously a whole etiquette to this blogging malarkey of which , until now , I've been blissfully unaware. I'm still struggling with a whole new Facebook vocabulary ( although I quite like the sound of poking whatever that is) so it may be some time before I conquer the art of bog etiquette.

In the meantime, keep leaving the comments. It's lovely to think than in some small way my little blog is leaving some kind of impression out there in cyberspace. And could someone please enlighten me as to how you can 'poke' someone on Facebook and more importantly why you'd want to ?

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The Joys of Half Term

By all accounts therefore this should be a short piece.

Actually I do really like these short school holidays , mostly because we get a week off the mayhem that is a schoolday morning.

Instructions such as ... Don't forget your breaktime snack .... don't forget to brush your teeth..... Don't forget to pack your homework ..... Tuck your shirt in , have become abbreviated to SNACK, TEETH, HOMEWORK, SHIRT - this last one said with a world weary sigh of exasperation that only comes with having repeated the same instruction over many years to no effect.

On the first day of the half term, the phone will inevitably ring and the caller will be told that Mum can't come to the phone as she's still in bed. By the second day the X box has usually overheated through constant use. Day three comes the guilt , I really should take them somewhere educational, inspiring, uplifting or all three. On day four a meticulously planned day out up in town is executed involving trains, tubes, snacks , searches for toilets, a London attraction or two, more snacks followed by exhaustion and a fractious train ride home. Vast amounts of cash will have been handed over in the pursuit of 'Having a Good Time'.

Sometimes we do actually have a good time. Yesterday was a classic case ... managed to park next to the station, didn't have to wait too long for a train, navigated our way effortlessly to Leicester Square ( my attempts at the educational element - teaching the bots how to read a tube map fell on deaf ears) , found comic book heaven in a shop called Orbital a minutes walk from the tube, dined at Inamo - a wonderfully hi-tech eatery in Wardour Street with interactive tables ( thanks for the recommendation Mary Anne) and took in China Town on the way home including the wonderfully tacky China Town market - a haven for lovers of kitsch ( that includes me) and then home. Not a cross word was exchanged and we didn't lose youngest son's brace for a change.

Friday is usually a chance to re-group ie. spend nothing for at least 24 hours and allow the bank balance to get over the shock. Then comes the weekend usually spent locating lost items of sports kit, and wondering how to fill the next 48 hours on a tight budget. The children start becoming a little fractious - fed up with eachother and me and counting down the remaining hours of freedom.

School holidays aren't cheap but you can still have fun without financial pain - this afternoon's trip is a bike ride to the Woodland Gardens , a pack of home-made Chocolate Brownies and a shady spot to finish my book before our Book Group meets again on Tuesday. The boys, in theory will spend many happy hours splashing through the streams and climbing trees. The reality is that someone needs the toilet for a pooh ( no WCs at the Woodland Gardens) and there will be an injury of some description with no plasters to hand. However at least it won't have cost an arm and a leg , maybe just an injured arm.

I used to get £50 from the shiny money machine in the wall where the boys used to think you got money for free, at times , I think they still do. This used to last a few days. Now it only seems to last a few hours. As the old saying goes ... Money Talks ... Mine says Goodbye.

The moral of the tale ? Marry someone rich.
Only joking , what I really meant was marry someone VERY rich.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Eye Candy




These beauties arrived today . They're business cards from a company called MOO and they're free ! The marketing ploy worked, I'll certainly be ordering some more.


And then these turned up ... all the way from Singapore. Now I know I could buy some crochet hooks and all different colours of wool and a book about how to crochet but then where would I put it all , where would I find the time and it would cost a whole heap more than the few dollars these cost and these ones actually look like flowers whereas mine would no doubt turn out like knotted clumps. Mind you they're WAY too nice to use on a scrapbook page . Think I may just have to turn them into a brooch or two. Not only that but they were accompanied by a sweet hand written note thanking me for supporting her home craft business.