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:

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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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The Rules of Engagement

It was a chilly Tuesday in March (2012).  Whilst I was at work, Mr H travelled up to North Wales to see his family for a few hours.  He came home in hyper active mode and with a parking ticket (for which I gave him grief, obvs).  That evening I went netball training as per usual.  I came home and jumped in the shower.  10 mins later Mr H knocked on the bathroom door, “how long are you going to be?”, “give me a minute” I answered grumpily.  I hurriedly wrapped my towel round me, grabbed my sweaty netball kit (nice), left my hair in a semi-towel dried mess and exited the bathroom.  I was then presented with Mr H holding a beautiful heart-shaped ring.  He dropped to one knee and said “Ellie, will you marry me?”  I proceeded to drop my kit (luckily not the towel), cover my face with my hands and swear (always the lady).  Of course I said yes and the rest, as they say, is history!  

Needless to say, our engagement was a complete surprise!  I had no idea that for the previous 3 weeks Mr H had been plotting, viewing rings and liaising delivery to his mum’s home (hence the trip to N.Wales, and the parking ticket).  The moment couldn’t have been more perfect for us.  I didn’t sleep that night for excitement.  I felt invincible (I also lost 5lbs from shear giddiness in the first week) and couldn’t wait to show off my beautiful engagement ring and start buying wedding magazines.

Fast forward a couple of months - something unexpected happened.  Wedding magazines became overwhelming, I couldn’t cope with people asking about the wedding and their opinions on everything and the fluffy engagement image started to distort into a stressful mess.  A cocktail of unexpected emotions started to surface.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved Mr H and had no qualms in marrying my partner in crime but for some reason this engagement period seemed to not only send me, but some of those around me completely bonkers! 

Visiting the Church where we would be married
I felt anxious about married life, sad to be seemingly leaving my family behind and confused over even the simplest of decisions.  Everyone expects the blushing bride to be a bubble of happiness; I wasn’t and for this I felt guilty. 

I then came across a book online called “Emotionally Engaged, a Bride’s Guide to Surviving the ‘Happiest’ Time of Her Life” by Allison Moir-Smith, a guide for distressed brides-to-be to help understand which of these emotions are normal (and in fact necessary).  I found the book enlightening and finally thought, hey it’s ok to feel this way and actually completely normal!  This was a huge weight off my mind!  Allison talks you through the fantasy vs. reality of being engaged and the stages of preparing for married life (including the end of your single life, seeing your new life take shape and life as a wife). 

I actually ended up taking a good couple of months off from wedding planning, took a step back, reminded myself of what’s really important (not necessarily table decorations!), spent quality time with Mr H and my family and friends and thought what we’d really like from our wedding day rather than what’s expected.  

I began to stand up for myself more, be decisive but also more relaxed.  I started to enjoy planning our wedding, learnt the beauty of delegation (you don’t have to take it all on yourself!) and having fun with my girl-friends (more on hen dos later!).  By the time we got to the actual wedding I was happy, relaxed and ready to enjoy not only our special day but our lives together as Mr and Mrs H.

And let me tell you, it was all totally worth it!


Speaking of engagements, Brooklyn from This Little Blonde and Stevie from Colorful Commotion have started a Engaged or Enraged link-up!  Here's my little contribution....

1. What was the funniest moment you have had while planning your wedding?

Underwear shopping with my Maid of Honor – including trying on possibly the baggiest, see through ensemble in England - I don’t think she’ll ever see me in the same light again!  Hilarious!

2. What is your favorite thing about your fiance/husband?

His generously, sense of humour and little button nose.

3. What was the most stressful part of planning a wedding? 

Other people!  Learning to accept opinions and ideas but ultimately making our own decisions. 

4. What is your favorite personal detail from your wedding?

Our personalised cocktails – Mr Pickles, Afro Circus, CanapĂ©s in the Night and Buttercup Delight. 

5. What was your favorite part about planning a wedding?

I love lists and being organised so filling in my wedding planner (and making budget spreadsheets) got me very excited!  I also loved seeing it all come together and, weirdly, posting my invites gave me butterflies - it finally felt like real people were coming rather than just names on a guest list!!  Plus having a good excuse to have regular pampering sessions and spend more time with my girls was amazing.

6. What would your fiancé/husband say is his favorite thing about you?

Apparently there are too many things to name just one (he's been taught very well!) but I would say his favorite thing is how we understand and stand by each other no matter what and always know what the other is thinking (apparently I give him my 'be sensible' look when I know he's about to do something naughty).  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Dressing Room

We are moving in just over one month's time and I'm starting to put ideas together for the different rooms in our new home.

Luckily in the new house we will have a room spare for me to have my very own dressing room!  I currently use the spare room, which in our flat is also used for storage, hanging washed clothes, guests and generally to put anything that doesn't have a place to live.  It has always been my dream to have a lovely dressing room with ample storage and clutter free surfaces... bliss!

So join me as I attempt to turn this....

Into something like this....
Pinterest Source

Ok so here are a few ideas pilfered from Pinterest:

Pinterest Sources:  {1}{2}{3}{4}{5}{6}{7}{8}{9}{10}

I love the idea of having a really clean, pure main colour (probably white) with a splash of subtle colour, maybe duck egg blue with a light grey?  I'm loving yellow at the moment but if I'm not careful the whole house will be yellow!!!  I definitely like the vintage style dressing table and the idea of lots of storage areas (picture 3.) with a huge mirror (picture 4.).

I really want the room to be usable but also picturesque and pretty (in stark contract to Mr. H's planned 'man room').  I'll need storage space for clothes, shoes, bags, jewellry, accessories and hair and beauty products.

We are viewing the house again on Monday so I'm going to have a proper look at the room and get some measurements before I buy anything.  I then plan to start researching dressing tables and build the rest of the room around this as the centre piece.

Watch this space!

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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Flat Tummy Diet Part 2: Preparation

~ Note:  I am not a nutritionist or doctor so please seek medical advice before embarking on any new diet or exercise regime! ~
Ok, so just to reiterate (in my opinion) this part of the dieting process is key and not to be rushed.

I will be following the principles used in Kate Adam’s Flat Tummy Club Diet which follows a 21 day ‘kick-start’ approach followed by maintenance and adjustments where necessary depending upon how much weight you’d like to lose. 

In addition to this I will be using the My Fitness Pal app to track calories and keep me mindful of what I am eating and using tips and recipes from fellow bloggers (Can you stay for dinner? and Nosh and Nourish being a couple of my favorites), Pinterest, magazines (such as Zest Magazine) and a great book I found on my shelf at home: The Diet Doctors Inside and Out.

Ok so let’s get started.  I would say once you’ve got past the contemplation stage (see Flat Tummy Diet Part 1) you will need at least a week of preparation before you start your diet.

During this week really think about what you eat, how active you are and why you want to diet in the first place.  Be mindful of portion sizes and remember that extra spoon of sugar or cream on your hot chocolate.  Remember the aim is not to necessarily change your behaviour this week but to raise awareness and get you mentally ready for the next 21 days (and beyond!).

Ellie’s top tips for successful preparation:

  • Keep a food and activity diary
  • Be honest
  • Clear out your cupboards and don’t buy any unhealthy foods for your fridge/cupboard i.e. a huge slab of chocolate that will only be an unwelcome temptation when you start your diet
  • Start researching new foods and recipes to try
  • Plan your meals and snacks and make a shopping list
  • Look at potential future challenges and how you’d handle them
  • Tell your friends, colleagues and family (make a fun no cake zone sign for your desk)
  • Write the main reason you’re doing this on post-its and locate in key trigger areas – I had ‘bikini’ written on a post-it on my computer at work which I looked at every time the biscuits were being passed round!
  • Hop on those scales and face the music!  Note down your current weight, measurements if you wish and how you feel
  • Write down your target(s) and put somewhere visible
  • Be confident – you can do this!
  • Get excited – this is just the beginning!

I like to move it, move it….

Whether you think of exercise as friend or foe the fact of the matter is, it’s very good for you.  For me personally I can be quite fit but unhappy with my weight and only really lose weight by eating healthily BUT a combination of the two definitely gets the best results.

If you currently don’t exercise at all please do not go mad and throw yourself into a full on fitness routine without at least taking prior medical advice.  Not only will you most likely lose all motivation very quickly and find your new routine unsustainable but you could do yourself some serious injury.  Slowly but surely is the best way to go.

This also goes for sporadic exercisers – if you haven’t done it for a while it’s unlikely that you will be at the same level you were when you stopped! 

Then there’s the honed exercisers – why not try a new sport?  Bootcamp? Shake it up a little and remind those muscles how to work and ache!

Plus remember to put exercise into your diary and commit to it.  Even if t's just for 10mins. 

I’m somewhere inbetween sporadic and honed in the fact that I do exercise regularly but I’m also quite lazy so really need to push myself to see results.  Having an aim helps.  Watch this space for my 10k training plan coming soon!

Yummy foods

Ok, part of the preparation is to think about alternative healthy food options and to write our shopping list ready to start our diet.  I'm really not the best chef but here are some basic ideas:
  • Fruit and veg (think outside the box (carrot sticks and hummus), frozen is still good) 
  • Nuts (unsalted)
  • Wholegrain/brown bread, rice and pasta
  • Skimmed or semi-skimmed milk
  • Fish – fresh, frozen or tinned
  • Ryvita or rice cakes (with chocolate spread = yummy evening treat)
  • Dark chocolate (personally I like the fruit and nut kind)
  • Lean meat
  • Eggs (scrambled, poached, boiled)
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Cous cous
  • Yoghurt


  • Confectionery, including biscuits and crisps
  • Ready meals
  • Alcohol (sorry!)
  • White bread and pasta
  • Fizzy drinks

Just a note here, I’m not a fan of banning anything completely.  It’s all about portion control and making the right choices.  Do you really need that mound of grated cheese on top of your spaghetti?  Bread for lunch so no bread with dinner etc. Small changes can go a long way. 

Ok so now we’re (hopefully) feeling a bit more optimistic about embarking on our 21 days of Flat Tummy Dieting.  Our cupboards are full of healthy yummy foods, we know what we’re going to eat for the next week, banned cakes from the house and put our targets up in plain sight.

For 21 days (starting Monday 8th July) I will be aiming for a net consumption of 1,200 calories a day (using exercise as a negative).  Work out your aimed calorie count here.   I have chosen this number of calories based on the calculator but also from previous experience of following this diet.  Please do not set your calorie aim too low!  If you are struggling to exercise on this amount of calories make adjustments as necessary but I would say for these 21 days reduce the exercise rather than up the calories too much. 

Breakfast:  300
Snack:  50
Lunch:  300
Snack:  50
Dinner:  500
Snack:  100
Exercise: - 100 minimum

= 1,200

After the 21 days I will then up my calories to a more manageable level – remember this is a kick-start only!  But also remember this is a long-term health change.

Week 1 plan coming soon!  Wish me luck and let me know your thoughts.  Why not join me?  Would love to hear from you :)

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