8/365 Sunday= easy

2017-01-08-13.35.39.jpg.jpegIt’s the weekend.
The theme for Sunday will be ‘easy’. Like Sunday morning… geddit? To be honest, I ran out of ideas…

‘Moving about a bit more’ is on my to do list for 2017, so this morning I went for a stroll along the Oxford Canal with my husband, Martin. It was a lovely mild morning, perfect for a bit of easy exercise.
The pace was average, because the tow path was a bit muddy and slippy in places, but the views were not. The watery sunshine lifted our spirits and the still water mirrored the patches of blue and grey. It was also an opportunity to chat and make plans, time to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company. We covered almost 6km in about 90 minutes.



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7/365 Saturday = something for the weekend

It’s the weekend.
The theme for Saturday is ‘something for the weekend’. Random stuff.

A grand day out today, shopping and lunch with a friend. Lots of lovely  (second hand) purchases. This was my favourite thing.

Yes. It’s a bongo drum. (I warned you it might be random). Looking at it makes me very happy. ☺☺☺

Also a stack of books from the charity shop! More books! I also picked up some wooden picture frames and two gorgeous mirrors for the dining room. One of them is crying out to be my next project and will feature on a future monday=make post.  That’s it for now. Thanks for stopping by.


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6/365 Friday= food

Almost at the end of the first week of my 2017 365 challenge.
The theme for Friday will be ‘food’. Food plays a BIG part in my life. Cooking for my friends and family has always been an expression of love. It can make me nostalgic- for example, every time I make chicken soup it makes me think of my mum. ‘Weymouth’ pudding (aka panettone and butter pudding) reminds me of my dad and cooking with my sister during the fairytale family Christmas we spent in Weymouth.

Friday food will cover meal planning and recipes- old favourites and some new recipes from the many cookbooks I love to collect.

Tonight I am meal planning for the week ahead, with SW in mind, and also trying to use up food from the storecupboard and the freezer.

Breakfast: overnight oats for me, prepared in advance- I have a big box of frozen raspberries from Costco that I dip into every day. A splash of skimmed milk from my HExA, a fat free yoghurt and porridge oats as my HExB. To ring the changes,  add blueberries, mango, grated apple, pear, banana, grapes or strawberries. Cold, raw, porridge-so much better than it sounds!

Lunch: weekday lunches are generally home-made soup or a portion of leftover stew from the freezer. No bread *sob*

Snacks: I try to have lots of fruit on my desk in case I need a boost.

Saturday: lean lamb steaks, sweet potato mash, green beans, butternut squash and a glass of wine ( it’s the weekend!)

Sunday: Roast beef, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots ( cooked in frylight), cabbage, cauliflower, gravy but no yorkshire puddings. Not this week.

Monday: Chicken tikka and mango biryani- recipe in this month’s SW magazine, baked lentils and rice topped with chicken, cauliflower, spinach and mango. Not tried this before, so I am keen to see how it tastes.

Tuesday: Butternut squash stuffed with moroccan lamb and couscous, accompanied by a minty yoghurt dip- also from this month’s SW magazine. Something different, just what you need to keep you on track. It’s also weigh-in night for me, so I can look forward to this when I get home from group.

Wednesday: Meatballs made from Heck chicken italia sausages- (only 0.5syn each) with spaghetti and a tomato and vegetable sauce (chopped tomatoes, courgette, peppers, onions, garlic and any stray vegetables lurking in the fridge).

Thursday: Chicken and prawn jambalaya- smokey paprika rice with peppers, chicken and king prawns.

I will report back next week. Happy eating 🙂



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5/365 Thursday = thrift

I have challenged myself to post something every day for 2017.  Each day will have a broad theme to give me some structure and allow me to cover more of the things I am interested in.

The daily theme for Thursday will be ‘thrift’ – my definition of being thrifty includes using up leftovers, buying second hand or upcycling. It’s not just about saving money, it’s also about cutting down on waste.

In the spirit of thrift I am recycling one of my old posts about using leftover veg and home made stock to make chicken noodle soup. I could hardly wait to make stock  from the turkey bones and vegetables at Christmas. It’s in the freezer right now, with the scrappy bits of leftover turkey, and this will soon become glorious soup.  A week’s worth of lunches, for a tiny amount of money and effort.


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4/365 Wednesday= What I wore this week

Today is day 4 of the 2017 365 challenge.
I have challenged myself to post something every day for 2017.  Each day will have a broad theme to give me some structure and allow me to cover more of the things I am interested in. The theme for Wednesday will be ‘what I wore this week’ and is designed to capture my progress towards the holy grail of the capsule wardrobe.

The idea of a capsule wardrobe has been on my ‘to do’ list for some time. In the past, as a ‘larger’ size woman with a limited budget,  I would often buy something  just because it fitted me, especially if it was on sale. Going forward, I am determined that anything I buy has to fit with what I already own.

I sold/donated a huge chunk of my wardrobe last year when I successfully lost some weight, and bought very little to replace it, planning to eventually build up a new wardrobe of smaller sized items that would harmonise effortlessly and bring co-ordinated joy and serenity and admiring glances. It’s good to dream…

Back to reality, I have gained several pounds which is restricting my choice of outfits to the baggy, stretchy and forgiving items. My last temp job before Christmas had a casual dress code so I lived in jeans, long tops and cardigans and the occasional jersey dress. My current role is a little more formal at times and involves regular meetings, with an four-day business event to attend at the end of next month. I am desperate to get back into some of my ‘smart’ dresses and a pair of trousers I have never worn.

I am going to post a record of some of my outfits on a Wednesday to see what works and how I can mix/match.
Another of my ‘wardrobe Wednesday’ goals is to wear all of my shoes- some of the more fabulous pairs never leave the wardrobe, and that’s just not right! To start me off, here is pair number one: what I am wearing right now- not a fashion statement, not exactly fabulous, but super comfy slippers!






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3/365 Tuesday = Moment of Truth

I have challenged myself to post something every day for 2017. Each day will have a broad theme to give me some structure and allow me to cover more of the things I am interested in. 

Welcome to day 3 of my 2017 365 challenge.
The theme for Tuesday will be ‘moment of truth’. A tad melodramatic to be sure, but Tuesday will be SW weigh in day and I always hear an internal “dah-dah- daaaahhh” when the scales register. There is a promise of exultation at every kilo lost or crushing disappointment when it’s a gain. Having to do the ‘i was just happy to be nominated’ brave smile.

It’s been nine months since my last weigh in; at the end of March 2016 I had shed almost two stone and was feeling pretty good. Fast forward to tonight and the scales accuse me of gaining 20lbs. 

Tomorrow I am back on plan.


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2/365 Monday = make

I have challenged myself to post something every day for 2017. My aims and reasons can be found here.  Each day will have a broad theme to give me some structure and allow me to cover more of the things I am interested in. These may change unexpectedly; I am a strange hybrid of logic and whimsy.
Bite me.

Okay- here is day 2 of my 2017 365 challenge.
I have decided the theme for Monday will be ‘make’. This gives me lots of scope for posts and an incentive to be more crafty. For my first Monday make, I am going to share a really simple idea. It barely scrapes in as a ‘make’ to be honest, more of a way to create something fun and useful out of items I have hoarded.

These three tins contained smoked paprika or pimenton, which we evidently use a lot, and I had kept the empty tins because they were so different and attractive. To my delight, the dip in the lid was pretty much the right size for a tealight candle. That’s it. They sit on my window sill and glow away while I am cooking.






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1/365 Happy new year

Every year many of us set ourselves goals or resolutions to be ‘better’-  giving up smoking, drinking, chocolate or whatever, or vowing to join the gym, save money, write that novel, get a promotion. All perfectly reasonable resolutions and like most people, I start every year with the best intentions.

And this year is no exception.

One of my aims this year is to post to this blog every day. That’s achievable, right? I have completed a 365 challenge in the past, so I know it can be done. Why am I doing this? Because I have other goals in mind, and by writing them down and tracking my progress, I hope to achieve them too.

Here’s the list (in no particular order). Many of the goals are connected in some way. Some may seem trivial but hey, its MY list:

  • Lose weight. I have fallen off the wagon since last April, so back to SW this week.
    I feel unhealthy and unfit and this has to stop.
  • Meal plan to cut shopping bills and reduce waste. Cook healthy meals, and try new recipes.
  • Work on my capsule wardrobe. I started this when I ditched some of my ‘fat’ clothes.
  • Wear my shoes. I have some seriously fab shoes that I never wear. I’m going to wear them and post pics of the proof.
  • Bust my craft/sewing stash. I’m going to sew for myself and make things that make me happy. Being creative is good for the soul.
  • Look for ways to waste less. I love being thrifty; upcycling and using pre-loved items. I’m going to share my thrifty tips to save money and time.
  • Write my new panto. Deadline June. Eek!
  • Read more. I mean books, not facebook or twitter.
  • Get a new job. This one’s important. My short term contract ends in March, so serious searching starts soon.
  • Move about more. Do some walking or swimming. Look after myself.

I may add others as I go along, but that seems plenty to be going along with. My idea is to set a theme for each day of the week to give some structure, e.g.’Friday = Food’ which could be menu plans or recipes. Tuesday is my weigh in day so that will be SW related.
So, if you are a regular reader, prepare for a daily dose of me and my life.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope 2017 is fabulous for all of us.


You may be marvelling at how up-beat and positive I am at this early hour. Truth is, I wrote this last night before I went to a NYE party. I’m probably still asleep, or nursing a hangover right now. The healthy stuff starts tomorrow!




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Cupboard love – an upcycling project

Our long-held plan to convert the downstairs study/ spare room/ junk room into a usable dining room is becoming a reality. We have talked the talk for lord knows how long- time for action!

Working on this project has helped me to hold onto a sense of purpose since being made redundant in September. It seemed a great idea to use my newly found free time to create something positive.

20160813_133258.jpgI am very keen on upcycling and rescuing second hand or pre-loved furniture and we have been lucky to find some fabulous pieces. Today I have finished working on one of these pieces – a small wooden cupboard which will become our cocktail/drinks cabinet; a place to store glasses and bottles and the ideal display area for the vintage glass soda syphon ( pictured) we found at a car boot sale and the champagne/ice bucket we picked up on holiday at a vintage emporium in West Bay, Dorset (the setting for TV drama Broadchurch).

The cupboard was purchased from Second Time Around in Banbury,  a charity furniture restoration project that recycles unwanted or donated wooden furniture. The project provides training and volunteering opportunities to promote social inclusion and independance for adults with learning disabilities. There is a lovely shop next to the workshop which sells furniture, mirrors, vintage and antique accessories and also a coffee shop to refresh you while browsing.

Back to the cupboard. I have had to do very little work to the exterior apart from a clean and polish. I used a traditional beeswax polish from Cambridge Traditional Products. It smells incredible and the wood really glows after just a couple of applications. The interior was painted with Annie Sloan chalk paint in cream, and rubbed back to show the grain before receiving two coats of clear wax to seal and protect.

Close up of the gilded rods

Close up of the gilded rods

When I first saw the cupboard, I was attracted by the metal rods in the doors, and decided to make a feature of them. I used a roll of imitation gold leaf purchased from Wrights of Lymm.   As I have never tried gilding before, I had a go on a lamp base with some copper leaf sheets…(that’s another blog post). The distressed effect was achieved by applying the adhesive size with a cotton wool ball for a patchy finish. It was great fun to do and turned out well for a first attempt, don’t you think?  There is quite a lot left on the roll, now I find myself eyeing up the curtain pole and picture frames….somebody stop me!!





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Friday feast

After a busy week you want something simple and comforting on Friday night to ease you into the weekend. Spaghetti and meatballs fits the bill for me.
So, tonight we had home made meatballs using lean minced beef with a scant handful of breadcrumbs to bind. I always keep a stash of breadcrumbs in the freezer to use up any odd bits of bread that might otherwise go to waste.
Last night (Thursday) was shopping and menu planning night and I found myself with a pile of unused vegetables in danger of being thrown away – oh the horror!! I hate waste… Slow cooker to the rescue – slightly wrinkly carrots and peppers joined leeks, celery and tomatoes in the pot to bubble gently away to make a tasty sauce to accompany tonight’s meatballs.
A quick whizz with the stick blender (not too much as I like it chunky) and there’s enough stashed in the freezer for two more meals.
It’s not the prettiest meal ever but it’s hearty, low fat, SW friendly, thrifty and above all damn tasty.
Happy Friday everyone.


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