Sunday, 3 November 2013

4 Simple Goals Before 2014

In case you hadn't noticed, it's November. Where has the year gone exactly?! If, like me, you  feel like life passes you by in a bit of a blur then this post is for you.  Being busy isn't necessarily a bad thing but sometimes it's helpful to take a step back and refocus before diving back into the bedlam of your daily routine.

Whilst catching up on a few of my favourite blogs I came across a post by A Beautiful Mess called "4 Simple Goals before 2014".  The basis of the challenge is to choose 4 simple goals that will challenge and remind you to create healthy, life-enriching habits before the New Year.

 The rules are simple:

1) Choose simple goals that you may not otherwise get done but that are achievable.

2) Don't choose result orientated goals i.e. rather than to lose 10lbs choose to watch your portion sizes.

3) Choose personal goals.  They can be daily, weekly or one time achievements.

4) Reward yourself when each goal is achieved.

5) Blog about your goals - about each one plus a round up of how you've gotten on before the New Year then leave a link to your blog on the A Beautiful Mess post comment section.


So, I've been thinking about what my 4 simple goals would be. There are so many things that, in an ideal world, I would like to achieve but the beauty of this challenge is that by limiting your goals to 4 simple things you're forced to focus on things that you think would really enrich your life. So instead of listing out 100 things that I think would make me happy, what 4 simple things could I focus on between now and 2014 that would really make a difference to my life.

So here we go, my 4 simple goals before 2014 are:

1) To schedule in regular date nights/adventure days with Mr H

2) To fit in some kind of exercise everyday

3) To cook at least one homemade meal from scratch every week

4) To spend more quality time with friends and family

What would your 4 simple goals before 2014 be?

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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Current likes: 2nd November 2013

A little snap shot into the world of Ellie….

Reading:  Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Watching:  Vampire Diaries and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Playing:  Plants vs. Zombies

Listening:  Lorde, Royals

Wearing (work): Black suede boots

Wearing (wkend): Woolie blue jumper and Hunter wellies

Working on:  Management accounts and end of year audit

Last film I watched:  Thor: The Dark World

Last DVD boxset I watched:  The Inbetweeners

Food that’s good for me:  Bananas

Food that’s not so good for me:  Iced gingerbread biscuits

Drink (non-alcoholic):  Strawberry and banana smoothie

Drink (alcoholic):  Rosé

Projects:  Prepping the house for Christmas guests

Last purchase: Craft fair goodies made by the talented Anjali :)

Plan of action for tomorrow:  Sunday lunch and a dog walk, make apple tart, paint nails

Amateur Novelists vs. The Amateur Blogger {Writing Club}

Last year my friend and colleague Anne (or Annabelle as I like to call her) took part in NaNoWriMo –  National Novel Writing Month – where aspiring novelists work towards writing a 50,000 word novel between the 1st and 30th November.  {Find out a bit more about how it works here.}  Then this summer my brother Matt went on sabbatical to California where he spent time at a writing retreat working on a novel he’s been privately formulating for years.  Matt set up a blog to document his travels and share his experiences with friends, family and colleagues and slowly but surely amateur novelists back home started to come out of the wood work. 

With this year’s NaNoWriMo  fresh off the mark and Matt’s writing sabbatical getting people talking (and motivated) Anne suggested we start a Writing Club amongst (but not necessarily exclusive to) our work colleagues.  Genius!  Now, when I started this blog I didn’t give much thought to writing style and definitely didn’t think of myself as a ‘writer’.  I’ve never thought about the possibility of writing a novel, but I do love books, and I do love writing…. is there a place for an amateur blogger at writing club? 

Spurred on by the fact that I’ve been given some really good feedback from readers and encouraging comments about my writing style (hi Nicola!) I decided I’d give writing club a go.  Writing is writing right?  And while I may not be aiming to be the next J K Rowling I think I may be able to offer a little something different to the club. 

So how will I be using my Writing Club time? 

While my fellow writing club members are working on character profiles, setting scenes and twisting plot lines how will I be making good use of writing club?  To be honest when I first sat down at Coffee No.1 with my skinny gingerbread latte surrounded by aspiring novelists I wasn’t really sure.  I was totally unprepared.  I didn’t even have a notebook and pen with me let alone my tablet and blog planner.  At first I tentatively took part in writing exercises and uncertainly listened as my colleagues exchanged ideas and advice on their latest chapter, then slowly but surely I started offering my input and formulating ideas.

Lately I seem to have let the busyness of life distract from my blog but writing club has helped remind me how much I love to write and made me more determined to dedicate time to writing all the blog ideas that float around in my head.  It has also got me thinking about my writing style and how it can be improved, the reasons why I started blogging and what I aim to get out of it.
So with armed with my updated blog planner, a new notebook (any excuse) and grim determination to, eh, blog… I am so ready for next week’s writing club gathering (and maybe a white chocolate mocha).  Watch this space!

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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Married to a chef

"Wow I'd love to be married to a chef!" - I hear this a lot when I tell people about Mr H's line of work.  But let me tell you, it's not all glamorous meals out and rosette standard food in your own kitchen.  Don't get me wrong there are perks to being the other half of a culinary expert (hello free meals!) but it's definitely not the lifestyle for everyone.

So here's an insight into what it's really like to be married to a chef:

1. Unsociable hours

As you've probably guessed, chefs work very unsociable hours.  Mr H's normal working day starts anytime between 6 and 8:30 am (depending upon if he's working the breakfast shift), he may then get an afternoon split between 3:30 and 5 pm, if he's not working an AFD (All F-ing Day...), then he's lucky to be home before midnight most nights. 

Chefs also work weekends and holidays it's pretty he's lucky to have any social life at all!  Friends and family (including moi) need to be understanding, and you'll need to accept that you'll go to a lot of events or gatherings on your lonesome.  Which brings me nicely onto my next point...

2. Ships in the night

If, like me, you work a regular Monday to Friday, 9-5 job you will be lucky to get a fleeting hello or goodbye from your chef. Ships in the night is definitely a good description.  Mornings are always a sleepy rush to get ready and get out the door and when Mr H goes back to work if he gets a split I'm just about leaving the office.  By the time he gets home in the evening I'm usually asleep or near enough to be pretty useless company. So it's pretty easy to go days (and days) without really seeing each other even though we live in the same house!

3. They rarely cook at home

Let's face it, no-one likes bringing their work home so I think it's pretty standard for a lot of chefs to live off take-aways or convenience foods during their working week and to want to take a break from cooking on their days off.  Plus, unless you're willing to spend a small fortune on equipment it's unlikely your home kitchen is equipped with a professionals tools.  This obviously doesn't mean that good food can't be made there, but let's not expect a restaurant standard menu ay?  Mr H is passionate about food and loves to be cooked for, just remember to expect 'constructive' criticism - he is a professional after all...  

Although it is lovely when when Mr H surprises me with dinner when I walk in the door and I know I'm in for a treat the fact that this doesn't happen on a weekly basis isn't necessarily a bad thing. Wonderful as his food is it's not always the healthiest (think salt and butter) and I tend to put on a few pounds when he's home for a period of time so less is definitely more, but a treat now and again never hurt anyone!

4. Health and Stress

Anyone who's seen Hell's Kitchen will know that being a chef can be stressful.  They work in a high pressure, time sensitive, hot hot hot environment either being shouted at or barking out orders to make sure everything is going smoothly.  Plus, although they're surrounded by food all day long chefs don't necessarily get a lot of chances to actually eat.  There is a saying 'never trust a skinny chef' but if that chef is working his butt off chances are he will be on the slim side!  Working in a physical environment, being under continuous stress and grabbing convenience food on the way all point to a potentially very unhealthy lifestyle.  This is worth bearing in mind when you are the other half of a chef, yes they're old enough to look after themselves, but I'm sure they wouldn't complain about a good home cooked meal (and maybe a multi-vitamin) being left in the fridge when they get home...

5. The Restaurant Experience

As a chef's plus one it's likely that you will be lucky enough to sample food in a range of amazing restaurants (sometimes free of charge!).  But beware, taking your chef out to dinner can be like taking a professional dancer to your zumba class.  It may be nice, it may be fun, but it's not how they would do it, those two dishes shouldn't be served together, the duck is overcooked, what's the point of this cabbage?  You get the point, a lovely relaxing meal becomes a food audit.  Plus, suddenly you resent paying for something when you've been given a full breakdown of the actual cost it takes to make.

Sometimes it's just easier to go to Pizza Hut.

Also, it's worth mentioning here that I have what Mr H calls 'an untrained pallet'.  That is, I prefer basic food (hello mashed potato and gravy!) and have no idea how to use saffron, aspic jelly or sometimes even salt and pepper (!).  BUT I would say my taste buds have evolved over the time I've been with Mr H and I've definitely become less picky about what I eat - "deep fried scallop?  Pass it over!".  

6. Chef Whites

Ahh chef whites.... the bane of my life.  Everywhere I look around our home there are chef whites.  Waiting to be washed (stinky!), hanging out to dry or waiting to be ironed.  They're everywhere.  And don't get me started on stain removal!  With his crazy working hours I've taken the role of ironing Mr H's chef whites.  I dread to think how much of my life has been spent ironing whites, aprons and trousers.  If your chef can get their whites laundered at work, make sure they do!

7. Stability

A word of warning, it's not uncommon for chefs to change jobs fairly regularly and at least every 12 months or so.  This was a bit of a shock to me at first but I'm kind of used to it now, although I can't help thinking with every new job, "maybe this is the one he'll settle into". I think that the reason for changing jobs so regularly is partly because this is how chefs seem to move up the career ladder and gain experience, but I also think it's partly due to the fact that given the stressful environment they work in, if a kitchen isn't right for them it's very difficult for chefs to put up with it for long.  

Saying that, it's usually pretty easy for a chef to pick up work or at least do some temping.  Some chefs make a career out of temping as the money is so good, but can travel miles or live in somewhere for months at a time - not an ideal lifestyle for someone with a family.  Plus there's no guarantee for work or a steady income.  

8. Making it Work

So you're starting to think that your chef is merely a figment of your imagination and someone's playing a cruel trick leaving smelly chef whites on the bathroom floor every night.  But alas, you can make this work!

Over the years we've tried and tested a few tricks to make sure we get some quality time together or at least to discuss anything important. Sometimes these methods don't work all of the time, or at all, but it's important to try!

Here are a few hints and tips:
  • Make your own plans:  
    • I make sure I make plans to see friends, take part in hobbies and do my own thing.  It's easy to moan that your chef is never home when you've been bored on your own all week!
    • But I also try to be home for his split on the weekend and not to make plans on his evenings off
  • When schedules clash:
    • Making your own plans inevitably means that there will be times when your chef calls to say he has an unexpected night off when you've made plans to see a friend.  Your friend may be understanding and not mind if you want to rearrange but sometimes you'll just have to accept things can't always be scheduled perfectly - better than making no plans just in case! 
  • Be organised
    • We have a calendar to scribble down the main events of our week so we always have at least an idea of what the other is doing.
    • If you need your chef to be off for an important event, make sure you give them plenty of notice so they can book holiday or work days off around it
  • Communicate
    • Mr H will always try to call or text me on his split, even just a quick hello. I'll also text him to tell him about my day even though he may not pick my messages up until he's home in the evening with me snoring in bed! It's important to make these small bits of effort to keep in touch.
  • Make time 
    • Since we don't tend to get weekends together we try to book time away or days out together when we can. This may mean me taking time off work to coincide with his days off or us both booking time off to go away somewhere.
  • Don't expect too much
    • With a job like his, Mr H has little time at home.  Even on his days off he's speaking to suppliers, writing menus and organising rotas.  For this reason I've taken up most of the household jobs.  The deal is that he looks after the car and I look after the house and household finances.  We both do the gardening.  
    • BUT this is not an excuse for laziness!!
  • His time
    • I used to think that Mr H would want to spend all his free time with me and forget that actually he has friends, family and hobbies of his own.  Whoopsies!  So although it is important to spend quality time together, remember he needs his own space and time too. 
  • 10 minute moan
    • We all like to unload our daily stress, either over coffee with a friend or a long phone call.  Mr H doesn't get much opportunity for this so we have what's called a '10 minute moan' where we are allowed to moan about our day for 10 minutes before putting it to rest.  Not only does it give you an insight into each others day but you both feel ten times better for it!
  • Ultimately it's about making the most of any time you have together
    • Savor trips together, skip parties for a night in
    • Accept that somethings are beyond your control (like a table turning up late)
    • Be patient
    • And remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder!
For more advice and chat about being the other half of a chef check out this fab blog - Desperate Chef Wives!

Now, what to make for dinner?

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Friday, 30 August 2013

Green Fingers {Guest Post for Anjali}

Here's a snippet of my my latest guest post.....

Well hello there fellow blog lovers!

Anjali has very kindly asked me to guest post again today whilst she is on her travels in the beautiful Scottish countryside.

So as some of you may know Mr H and I have recently moved into a new home complete with a front and back garden to play with!  As a couple we've only ever lived in rented apartments with no garden.  Before this I never really took much interest in my parents garden other than using it for sunbathing opportunities in the summer!
The garden pre Mr and Mrs H

I've long been craving a garden and absolutely LOVE visiting gardening centres.  There's so much possibility and nik-naks you can buy to add a personal touch let alone all the different plant, vegetable and aquatic choices!  So where to begin?

Accessorize, Accessorize!

I definitely don't have visions of a landscape masterpiece but more of a tidy, maintainable extension of our home with plenty of colour and wildlife attractions.  I'd like our garden to be somewhere we can relax and enjoy time with our friends over a few drinks and a BBQ (Mr H's homemade burgers are sublime!).

Read the full post on Anjali's From L&P to English Tea blog here!

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

And it was all yellow...

Hi peeps!  Hope everyone's enjoying the weekend.

I thought I'd use this post to give you a taster of my current colour crush.  Yellow has been really popular this season and is the ideal colour to add a bit of sunshine to your day.

It all started for me two years ago with this dress:

Mallorca - Summer 2011
Riffling through the Top Shop sale I found this and decided to make it my 'aim to fit into' summer holiday dress and come our holiday (and my weight target) I completely fell in love with it!  Since then I've been slowly adding a splash of lemon to my everyday life and wardrobe and now I can't get enough of it!

When we first got engaged I knew I wanted to incorporate yellow into our wedding.  I wanted a simple bouquet made up mainly of yellow roses and the florist came up trumps with this beauty:  (more wedding posts to come!)

Insight into our wedding
Moving into our new home has also been a good excuse to add in some yellow tones, although I've had to be careful not to decorate every room yellow!  Here are a few of my current favourite tid-bits:

{Plaque and Kitchenware - Next Home}{Nail polish - Barry M + Max Factor} {Bag - Debenhams}
What's your current colour crush?

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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Flay Tummy Diet: Update

I think a good way to describe my current diet is......coasting.  After a successful start to my flat tummy diet I hold my hands up and confess the road has been rocky.  I have had some yummy healthy food but also been sporadic in my willpower and motivation (plus had a nasty stomach bug which although made me go off my food initially then left me ravenous and craving carbs).

Now we've moved house and got that out the way it's time to re-focus, get back on that band wagon, set new goals and get into a new routine.  I'm going to start by using the rest of this week looking back over past posts and focusing on the preparation and the past success of week 1.

Setting Goals

I have several events coming up that should help with goals and motivation.  My best buddy Jane is getting married in October so there will be lot's of preparation, girlie days and of course the all important hen do and I'll definitely be wanting to look my best!  I'm also planning to run a 5k personal best at the end of Sept so this will keep me focused on training, as well as getting fit for the start of the netball season.  So lots to focus on!

I'm going to re-start my 21 days of the flat tummy club diet, again using the My Fitness Pal app and introducing the RunKeeper app which is fantastic for tracking your workouts, including GPS tracking of your runs etc!  This then shows a map of where you've been, the distance and time and can be linked to My Fitness Pal to calculate calories burned and add them to your daily record.

So Monday morning my goal is to jump on the dreaded (for now!) scales to examine the damage and start my 21 days.  I still have a goal weight of 133lbs and will put in a time frame for this based upon my current weight.  I've also decided to include goal based rewards to really keep me focused.  More on this next week :)

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Sunday, 11 August 2013

Moving Day {Our New Home}

I finally have use of the internet for a couple of hours so going to give you a quick update!

All packed up!
We have moved {round of applause}!  The last couple of days of packing we're pretty stress free, apart from the fact I was feeling really under the weather so my routine was pretty much - pack, nap, pack, lie on sofa, pack.... but we got there in the end!

We picked up the keys to the house on Monday and did a few errands in town before heading over to suss the place out!  We decided to give the place a once over clean and washed the floors (downstairs is laminate) before heading back to the flat to finish the last bit of packing.

On Tuesday morning we got up bright and early, dressed in comfy clothes and got ready for a days work.  Little did we realise that the actual move would be a breeze!  I've never used a removal company before but they are definitely worth the money!  We literally stood around and twiddled our thumbs before deciding to go and have a coffee and something to eat in Costa.  Very hard work.
Empty flat :(

The removal men made short work of our worldly goods and it was strange to see that our lives fitted into a surprisingly small van....  But they did, and off we went!  The next stage was about as hard work as the first, apart from this time I was stood at the bottom of the stairs giving instructions - "office, kitchen, living room...."  I'd labelled all the boxes but forgot that they wouldn't necessarily know where we wanted all the bits of furniture!  Luckily the weather was on our side and it was a lovely sunny day which made the experience even easier!

The men finished unloading the van and accepted my offer of squash and crisps before cheerily waving goodbye, leaving Mr H and I to admire our new abode.  It was only lunchtime so we decided to get the kitchen, living room and bed sorted before popping into town to pick up some groceries and order an Indian take-away for dinner.  We don't have Sky, phoneline or internet set up yet and mobile signal is pretty poor.  But we do have freeview telly (hurray!) and have plenty to keep us occupied for the time being!

We spent the rest of the week unpacking, sorting, re-sorting, exploring and cleaning.  We've pretty much sorted all the rooms to be livable/useable.  Mr H has put up his dart board.  I've found a potential running route.  We've mown the lawns. So a pretty successful week I'd say!

One thing I'm loving at the moment is the lack of seagulls and the number of butterflies and bumble bees attracted to the garden (more on gardening to come).
Our new garden
Back to work tomorrow (boo!) but will have plenty of house posts coming up as we settle and nest in our new home :)

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Wednesday, 7 August 2013

I'll be back...

Just a quick update to say I'm still here but currently have no internet in the new house!

Move went well and working on lots of posts ready for when we re-connect to the world.

So, never fear - I will be back!

Ellie xx

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Master Bedroom

Moving day is drawing closer and I've started putting together ideas for how I'd like to decorate our rooms (in an ideal world!).  This week I've been looking at ideas for the master bedroom.  I'd really like to aim for uncluttered surfaces with clean lines whilst keeping the room livable and cosy.  I'd like to use clever storage so everything has a home and can be tucked away to keep surfaces clutter free.  I think that this is really important for a bedroom to promote relaxation and comfort ready for a good nights sleep.

So, colour wise I'm really liking turquoise and yellow on a white background.  I've always liked white bed covers and I think yellow and turquoise will work really well together to add a splash of colour.  I'm planning to keep the walls white and use the colours as an accent so the result is not too intense.

Here are some examples I've found on Pinterest:

{Pinterest Source}
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At the moment our bedroom is a bit of a mis-match of hand me down furniture.  I'd like to replace the bed and get creative with some of our current pieces of furniture, doing a bit of sanding and re-painting - maybe white or yellow!  Exciting stuff :)

Watch this space for updates on the refurb!

Other rooms:  The Dressing Room

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

zzzz Nap Time Now zzzz

I've never been one of those people who can pretty much fall asleep anywhere, anytime (ahem, dad) however I do enjoy a good nap. No, I'm not 3, or 80, but no matter - nap time is good!  Mr H thinks I'm lazy, I think I'm a genius.

I remember going on an adult riding camp (horses) and spending all day riding (horses) accompanied with evenings spent at the pub (living the dream) started to take it's toll.  I soon discovered that a lunch time nap saw me happily through the afternoon activities and social time at the pub.  Sorted!

This started to become a recurring habit during my uni days where burning the candle at both ends was a way of life.  Starting to work full-time, quite frankly, messed up my routine.  Funnily enough I got the impression that my boss wouldn't be too keen on me curling up on the floor for a bit of afternoon shut eye.

{Pinterest Source}
Nowadays, when I'm particularity tired, stressed or a bit under the weather my first port of call tends to be a snooze.  At the moment things are pretty full on at work, plus we're getting ready to move house, so to be fair I'm probably napping more than usual.  I've started to have a nap before a netball match and admit that I've walked home with the intention of going to the gym but succumbed to a nap instead.  At least for the hour I wasn't eating chocolate so that's gotta be good right?!  Plus don't you burn more calories when you're asleep?!

So what are the pros and cons of napping?

A quick nap can work wonders to pull you through a tiresome or sleep-deprived day and 45 minutes of shut eye has been shown to improve memory function.  Other advantages include relaxation, improved alertness, mood and performance.  However, if you suffer from insomnia napping during the day can make bad sleeping habits worse plus you may suffer from sleep inertia - feeling groggy and disorientated after a snooze.

Sorry but this was too cute! {Pinterest Source}

Make nap time work for you:

  • I find optimal nap time tends to be mid-afternoon or straight after work.  Any later and your nap will be likely to interfere with your night-time sleeping.  
  • I aim to nap between 30-45 minutes.  It sometime takes me 10 minutes to drop off but it's still nice to lie and do nothing.  Try not to nap for too long, the longer you nap the more likely you are to feel groggy afterwards.
  • Create a peaceful, cool, dark environment with few distractions.  I use my eye mask to keep the light out :)
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time to wake up properly post nap and ensure you wipe up any drool, sort bed hair etc before leaving the house....

Good luck and sweet dreams!

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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Amateur Crafter {Guest Post for my little NZ friend}

So this is actually a guest post for my very good friend Anjali but I thought I'd  give you a snippet :)


....Hi I'm Ellie from the Tales of a Wannabe Perfect Housewife blog.  In a nutshell I'm a happy go lucky, Pinterest and sport loving trainee accountant, newly-wed to a Welsh Chef (find out more about me here!).

I like to think of myself as a bit of a homemaker, but in reality I just like everything to be clean and tidy.  I openly can't cook (I leave that to my other half), avoid DIY projects and would rather buy something than make it.  BUT all that is about to change!

I have seen the light and been inspired to give crafting a go (technical name?!).  I am surrounded by crafty people (excuse the pun), including the lovely Anjali, and finally feel like I could enter (very cautiously) into their world of ric rac, bobbins and homemade wonders.  I now walk past shops looking at peg bags and instead of buying one I think to myself "I could totally make that" and get very excited rifling through boxes of thread at the local market.....

Read the rest of this guest post on Anjali's From L&P to English Tea blog here!


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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Flat Tummy Diet Week 1

Well, week one is done and out the way!   So how did I get on?

Week 1:

Start weight: 150 lbs
Target weight: 133 lbs

Days in:  7
Current weight:  146 lbs
Weight loss so far:  4 lbs

Really pleased with this first week's weight loss.  I always find the first week tough as, although you've done the preparation, actually making the changes and seeing them through can be really difficult.  Plus there were the inevitable challenges, such as a family BBQ, which really test your willpower.  But getting past the initial few days without falling (too much) off the wagon is a real achievement.

Family BBQ

I admit that I haven't been 100% good (who can say no when the boss brings ice cream into the office?!) but I feel so much better in myself already - my clothes don't feel so tight, I'm not as bloated and uncomfortable and I'm enjoying my food more.  I've also found that I'm craving sweet foods less and don't seem to be as hungry as I thought I would be when faced with less calories.

Office Ice Cream!

But it's still early days and I've still got two weeks of 1,200 calories left before I raise this to a more maintainable number.  I'm aiming to get under 140 lbs by the end of the 21 days (>10 lbs lost) and will then re-evaluate for the remaining ~7 lbs.  Seeing photos from the weekend remind me that I'm not yet at the weight I'd like to be but I'm definitely feeling really motivated to keep up the diet!

What this space for next week's update!

How are you getting on?

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

Preparing for the Big Move

Just over 3 weeks to go before moving day!

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences in life and no wonder - physically dismantling and moving yourself, your belongings and your life to a completely new home is a huge task!

Having not moved for over 3 1/2 years I've been reminding myself of hints and tips ready for moving day.  We're relatively lucky in the fact that we currently live in a rented 2 bed apartment and don't actually have a huge amount of furniture (although I'm sure there's more than I think!).  Plus the house we'll be moving into (also rented) will already have some key pieces of furniture and a working kitchen etc.  Plus has been decorated and is being professionally cleaned so should be ready for us to slot our lives straight into!

We have decided this time round to hire a removal company to do all the heavy lifting and wrapping of furniture.  They provide boxes for us to do our own packing, which I actually prefer, and also ensures that all our contents will be fully insured during the move.

To-do list:

  • Gather quotes and book removal company
  • Start to declutter rooms (I tend to do this quite regularly anyways but starting early will make life much easier!)
  • Start collecting packing materials
  • Run down food stores (especially freezer)
  • Give notice (rented property)
  • Think about whether any of your belongings need to go into storage
  • Book time off work
  • Recruit friends and family to help
  • Make a list of utilities and contracts to contact (see list below)
  • Send change of address cards/email
  • Start dismantling and packing
  • Arrange for a time to collect keys
  • Meet the neighbours!

Check out these great moving lists and printables from Martha Stewart!

{Pinterest Source}

Hints and tips:

  • Pack room by room, keeping items for each room together and use coloured stickers to co-ordinate boxes to rooms
  • Pack non-essential items first
  • Pack a bag of essentials for each member of the family
  • Organise a kitchen box of tea, coffee, biscuits etc + take-away menus 
  • Avoid packing unwanted items (de-clutter)
  • Use strong packing boxes!
  • Ensure to keep important documents safe
  • Don't overfill boxes, use smaller boxes for heavy items such as books
  • Ensure you check items for damage post-move
  • Remember to take meter readings at old and new home
  • Have a designated area for non-essential boxes that can be unpacked later on

I also love the tips from I heart nap time.

{Pinterest Source}

Who to contact:

  • Insurance
  • Gas
  • Electricity 
  • Water
  • Financial companies (bank, loans, credit cards etc)
  • Post Office - redirect post
  • Electoral register
  • Mobile phone provider
  • Council tax
  • Phone and internet providers
  • Employer
  • Car (DVLA, break down cover, insurance)
  • Drivers licence
  • Doctor, dentist and optician
  • Subscriptions 
  • TV license
  • Non-essential organisations - gym membership, store loyalty cards etc

So wish us luck as we embark on preparing for our next big move!

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Friday, 12 July 2013

I {heart} Netball! + Sports Beat 2013

I spent last weekend at a new local festival called Sports Beat and thought I'd use this opportunity to not only share the weekend's antics but also introduce you to the sport I love - netball!

I used to play netball at school and always loved it, then had a 10 year break as I went off to uni and started working life.  About a year after I moved back to Gloucestershire an old school friend got in touch and asked whether I'd be interested in joining her team, Upton Ladies. So off I went on a chilly evening in March to training and tried to remind myself how to play!

That was about three years ago and I've never looked back!  I love to play netball, I love to improve and learn new skills, I love keeping fit, but most of all I love the very special group of girls I have met along the way and now call close friends. The support and camaraderie on and off court is brilliant and, although admittedly netball politics can sometimes get in the way, ultimately we have formed a group of friends who are always there for eachother no matter what.

I now play for Upton in the Gloucestershire County Netball League and summer Fun League plus play a mixed netball fun league (boys n gals) on a Sunday and fill in for friend's teams as and when needed. Sometimes I can play netball up to 4 times a week.  I would play everyday if my body would let me!

Anyways, back to the festival!

This is the first year that Sports Beat has been held in Gloucester and it was great to see such a well put together event right on our doorstep!  The weekend consisted of different sporting events (inc. rugby 7s, netball and Iron Man type competitions) and a great line up of bands (including The Feeling who I love!).  It was lovely and sunny and as I chilled out on a picnic blanket drinking locally produced cider, watching Andy Murray in the men's Wimbledon final I thought to myself life really couldn't get any better!

It was hot.  Very, very hot.  Playing conditions were tough but we all persevered.  One team dropped out on the second day (but they had been camping for two nights plus been on a hen do!!) and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Between-match cider break

We also got to meet some of the England Netball Team, including captain Pamela Cookey!

We then proceeded to chill out on the grass in front on the main stage and enjoy the sunshine - some of the girls even got in the hot tub!  A few of us went back to watch the bands in the evenings and took our other halves along, Mr H got rather, um, merry having also been in the pub most of the afternoon!!!

All in all a fabulous weekend with the girls, and boys, and definitely one to look out for next year!

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Flat Tummy Diet Day 1

See part 1: background and part 2: preparation.

Ok, so today is the day - My 21 days have started!

Just to recap for the next 21 days I will be using a combination of Kate Adams' Flat Tummy Diet Club and the My Fitness Pal app, used to track calorie consumption.  I will be aiming for a net count of 1200 calories per day (with exercise having a negative effect).  This is a dieting technique I have used before with success; however my downfall has been maintaining the effects long term.  Therefore, my plan is to complete my 21 days at 1200 calories before moving to a more maintainable daily consumption, making adjustments as necessary depending upon how much weight I can lose.

I'd like to use this opportunity to make a life-style change (without expecting results over night) and to look long-term at my relationship with food.  I'd also like to learn to cook home-made nutritious meals and keep to my 'happy weight' rather than yo-yo dieting.

My meal plan for today is pretty standard when I embark on my 21 days, it may not be the most exciting but this is what works for me and I plan to try to spice up my meal plans as I go along!

So here we go - day 1!

Start weight: 150 lbs
Target weight: 133 lbs

Days in:  0
Current weight:  150 lbs
Weight loss so far:  0 lbs

Breakfast:  Granola with raspberries (measured using Rosemary Conely's Portion Pots) with a couple of dessert spoons of natural yoghurt and a cup of tea = 308 calories

Lunch:  Salad made with ham, cous cous, cherry tomatoes and coleslaw = 211 calories

Dinner:  Breaded cod with mediterranean roasted vegetables = 396 calories

Snacks:  Skinny vanilla latte (Starbucks), small apple, cup of tea and Muller Lighter yoghurt = 254 calories

Exercise:  Walking = -56 calories

Net calories for the day:  87 calories remaining

Notes:  Felt really determined to eat well today and not fall at the first hurdle!  It's been nice and sunny which, in my opinion, makes eating yummy salads and fruit easier!  I did have a little treat this morning courtesy of Starbucks but I made sure I allowed for this in my calories and this won't be a daily occurrence! I didn't have any real planned exercise in today so I made sure I had a bit of a walk at lunchtime as well as my usual walk to work.  I ate dinner slightly later than usual which helped stop evening snacking.  I also drank loooaaads of water (partly due to the hot weather!).  All in all a good Flat Tummy day :)

How did you get on?

My next Flat Tummy post will be after the first 7 days and first weigh in!

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