Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wheels in Motion - WI



Tonight I will be meeting a WI adviser from the Suffolk East Federation to discuss plans ahead of an exploratory meeting in a couple of weeks for a brand spanking new, modern & new wave WI group that I (yes, little old me) have set up!

You can read a bit more about it in my Radio Debut post, but basically... not knowing anyone in the area we now live, I decided to see if there was an interest in forming a new group. Little did I know, or expect, that I would have almost 100 people interested!

Tonight is really the first (scary!) step in everything falling into place. Tonight I will have made the commitment to go ahead with it. I'm not really sure how I'm feeling; excited, PROUD, scared, and curious I think as I'm not really sure what to expect.

Going forward a committee will need to be formed - in all honesty, I don't mind if I'm not part of that committee because I will have done what I set out to achieve - to form a new group, to do all of the organising it has taken, the radio interview, the press articles in local publications, the social media aspect... and for that, I am proud! All of this has been done without knowing a SINGLE SOUL in the area.

Most of all, I am looking forward to meeting new people, experiencing new things and having a couple of hours of female social-ness once a month!

Tonight is the Wheels in Motion night!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Alternative Shot Glass Use

Have you ever been given a shot glass as a gift? Perhaps as a thank you for being an usher or bridesmaid? Or as a souveneir from a holiday? 

If you're anything like us, we rarely (if ever!) drink shots at home so the shot glasses find their way to a cupboard where they sit. 

When I was contacted by GiftsOnline4U to see if I could help them out with a project to find alternative uses for Personalised Shot Glasses, I set myself a challenge! 

Knowing we had newly-engaged friends coming to visit soon (read about that post here) I was sure I could find a use for them. 

GiftsOnline4U have produced a video with ideas for 'shot glass desserts' which all looked great, but as I knew I was going to make cupcakes, I didn't want to make desserts that would go to waste.

Here is their video:
 

Having already made toothpick toppers for the cupcakes, I tried to think of something I could combine the shot glasses with. 

Then I remembered my friend loved olives! 

Ta-da! The shot glasses make perfect little holders for olives:


As they were personalised with "Congratulations Tom & Suzanna" they make a great little gift for my friends, and now they have also seen that shot glasses can have alternative uses rather than sit in a cupboard collecting dust!

I think they also look pretty great on my table spread of nibbles & drinks on my friends arrival:



Have a look at "Personalised Shot GlassesWith A Shot Of Fun" post for more ideas for using shot glasses. I'm definitely going to have a go at making candles & desserts!

Disclaimer: I was sent two personalised shot glasses for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own

Celebrations

One of my University Housemates recently got engaged. We only get to see each other 2 or 3 times a year as she's a West Coast girl, and I'm an East Coast girl.

Quite conveniently we'd booked in for them (my friend and her new fiance!) to come and stay this past weekend - we didn't let the snow stop us!

So when Tom proposed a couple of weeks ago, I was very excited that we could celebrate with them at ours. 

As March has been such a busy & expensive month, I tried to find ways that I could make the weekend a little bit special without breaking the bank. 

I baked some cupcakes & made little toothpick toppers with their initials, hearts & the word 'engaged'

The Royal Doulton (wedding present) champagne flutes made an appearance

I had personalised banners printed

The table was decorated with confetti

I cooked dinner ready for their arrival
 
.. and of course the glasses were filled with fizz!


Friday, 22 March 2013

March {Flashback Friday}

March 2013 has been a very busy month of celebrations! Not only was it Mother's Day & Easter, it's also the month of my nephew's second birthday, a lovely friends baby shower, and some very special friends got engaged! 

My blog has been pretty quiet apart from my weigh-ins, recipes and the occasional review as I have been super occupied and haven't managed to draft posts for scheduling. 

I promise to do posts on each celebration very soon, but here is a peak at what I have been upto: 


(p.s. the chocolate eggs weren't for me!)

Why, Why, Why

Saw this being shared around online and it amused me so thought I would share:  

Why, Why, Why,

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are almost dead?

Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they already know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars; but have to check when you say the paint is still wet?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an 'S' in the word 'lisp'?

If people evolved from apes,why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what colour bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that sofas are not in a Sale ?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialised?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Weightloss Journey Week #7



I'm feeling a bit bleurrrrgh about my weightloss journey this week - not sure whether it's because I have had a stinking cold for about 5 days now, or whether it's the miserable weather.. or just because I haven't been losing as much, as quickly, as I would like.

We've had another good week, sticking to slimming world meals - and both of us seem to be really enjoying the new recipes we've tried. This week, we've tried Rigatoni alla Amatriciana and the Mediterranean Chicken Bake (above photo) which have both been really nice and will feature on our meal plans again.

This coming week our meals are: SW chilli, grilled chicken with a cheesy broccoli and potato bake, bacon, spinach, mushroom & tomato pasta, jacket potato with baked beans, and as we have friends who are vegetarians coming to stay this weekend, I plan to make the spinach, red pepper & tomato cannelloni on Friday night (unless I find another SW vegetarian dish.. although we know this one is yummy!)

Breakfast has been two wheat biscuits with milk (HeA & B) and lunches have been either a tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce, or leftovers from the previous dinner... snacks of fruit (usually a banana, an apple and a plum) and fat free yoghurt. Last night we had a treat of meringue, strawberries and fat free strawberry yoghurt.

Our 1st wedding anniversary is just under 12 weeks away & I'm going to set myself a goal to lose 1 stone by then.

Hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer soon and I'll be more willing to go for walks in the evening which should help too. It's been so cold during the day I have spent most lunchtimes sat at my desk - I need to change that.

Here's to week #7 & hopefully some positivity!


Week #6 = 1lb loss

  

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Rigatoni alla Amatriciana {Recipe}

You may have noticed that quite a lot of our meals are pasta based - this is because it's fairly cheap, easy, slimming world friendly, and very versatile! Plus it works well as a leftovers lunch the following day.

Last night we tried another Slimming World pasta recipe - Rigatoni alla Amatriciana. The ingredients sounded a bit odd to me - bacon, chilli, garlic, basil, carrot, tomato & celery..?! But... it works, and it is super yummy! I love all of these alternatives to the classic spag bol, lasagnes and carbonara based pasta dishes and they certainly stop us from getting bored of eating the same thing over.
 
 

Rigatoni alla Amatriciana (Slimming World - extra easy 0 syns)
 
 
 
Ingredients
Bacon - visible fat removed
2 x carrots (grated or chopped)
2 x sticks of celery (chopped)
1-2 red chillies (chopped)
2 x garlic cloves (crushed)
1 x onion (chopped)
1 x tin chopped tomatoes
fresh basil
pasta
 
Method
Stirfry bacon, onion, garlic & chilli until browned slightly
Add celery, carrot & chopped tomatoes
Stir and bring to boil
Add basil and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes
Cook pasta to taste
 
ta-da!
 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Weightloss Diary Week #6

I'm proud to say that the scales showed me a different number this morning - I have come down to the next stone and have lost the first 1/2 stone. If I was attending SW meetings I would have received a shiny sticker!

It's taken 5 weeks to lost 1/2 stone but I believe that taking baby steps and losing it gradually helps to keep it off in the long run.

This week has been another strange one - it's the week of a ladies month where she *needs* chocolate, in any shape or form! I have tried my hardest to control that with cadburys highlights but I did have to cave and buy some Curly Wurlys towards the end of last week. From memory they are fairly low in syns - 5 or 6, and as we're not really using syns for much else I thought they wouldn't be too harmful.

As far as lunches go, I was trying to get back into salads but as I sit here typing this snow is falling quite heavily outside and salad is quite possibly the last thing on my mind! So, today I have had a tin of Heinz Spaghetti in tomato sauce for my lunch! Not exactly nutritious (although, did you know that is 1 of your 5 a day?!) but, I was reliably informed that they are free on SW extra easy. I also have a plum, and apple & a yoghurt.

Evening meals were fine during the week - lots of fresh fruit & vegetables and low-to-no fat grilled meat. The weekend was "ok" but Mr Sauvy B did make an appearence on Saturday night again... along with two scoops of chocolate ice cream when we went out for Mothers Day lunch.

This weeks meals include: grilled chicken with home made wedges, salad & mango salsa; mince in gravy with mash potato & vegetables; and a vegetable based pasta & sauce with bacon.

Progress is slow but steady!

Week #5 = 1lb loss

Friday, 8 March 2013

Radio Debut {Flashback Friday}

On Wednesday 6th March I had my first ever experience of speaking live on radio!

A couple of months ago now the lovely Lauren asked if I would like to join a WI group that is in the middle of where we both live (about a 45 minute drive for each of us). This is something I had been thinking about doing for a while. Having moved to a new area with my husband over a year ago, working in the neighbouring town, and not having any children yet as an excuse to meet people at mother & baby groups or school, I was trying to find ways of meeting new people.

When Lauren asked if I'd like to go along with her, I thought it would be a great "push" for me to actually do something, so of course I agreed! Our first meeting will be next Tuesday - the 12th.

After agreeing to go along with Lauren to that WI it got me thinking about groups more local to me as ideally I would like to meet other ladies who I can "pop round to see for a cup of tea" or someone who would accompany me on walks with a pram (when the time comes!) It worries me that when we do decide to have children, I will be stuck indoors with a newborn and I'd really like to know other people locally as our nearest friends and family live around an hour away. I did some research and discovered that a brand new community centre and facilities is about to be completed on our estate and are looking for clubs to hold their meetings there. I enquired about what sort of clubs had already signed up - the usual mother & baby, Rosemary Conley, and Jujitsu or whatever, but no 'social' groups as such.

I got in touch with the regional federation of the WI who told me that all you need to set up a new WI group is 8 member - 3 of who are prepared to hold positions of President, Secretary & Treasurer. Surely I could find 8 people?!

The next thing I did was set up a facebook & twitter account and was astounded at the interest! So far we have almost 60 'likers' and almost 30 'followers' - and that's in just 2 weeks.

We now have an "exploratory" meeting set up next month to gauge genuine interest and ideas, and hope to have our first official meeting in the new Community Centre in May!

Through twitter I contacted local newspapers & magazines asking them to help spread the word and the lovely Lesley Dolphin from BBC Radio Suffolk emailed me asking if I would do a live telephone call-in during their afternoon show discussing WI's - perfect timing!

So during my lunchbreak on Wednesday I sat at my desk talking live on BBC Suffolk! It was one of the strangest experiences of my life; in one way it felt like I was just having a chat with someone on the other end of the phone, but at the back of my mind I knew there could be hundreds of people listening to me! I had no idea of the questions I'd be asked so I couldn't even prepare ahead.

One of the questions I was asked was "What sort of things do you hope to do in the meetings" - and my mind went completely blank, all I could think about was wine tasting (surprised?!) but could only muster up "cup cake decorating and sugarcraft" - not very inspiring, is it?!

Although Matt was listening and text me after saying how proud of me he was, how well I came across, and how little "ermmmm's" I gave, so I guess I did ok if I had his seal of approval ;-)

It was a fantastic experience and if just one listener contacts me or comes to the meeting then it will have been worthwhile!

You can also read Laurens post about Joining the WI here

Monday, 4 March 2013

Spinach, Tomato, and Red Pepper Cannelloni

For dinner last night we tried a new recipe from the 'extra easy' slimming world book we have. At the moment we are both loving anything with spinach in so are keen to try new ways of bringing it in to our meals. This meal took a bit of prep time, but it is so worth it!
 

(I can comfirm that this is equally yummy heated up for lunch the next day!)
 
Ingredients:
1 onion, choppes
1 red pepper, deseeded & sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
low calorie cooking spray
2 level tbsp tomato puree
400g can chopped tomatoes
500g pack spinach, washed
250g tub quark
salt & pepper
large pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 pint skimmed milk
2 level tbsp cornflour
12 cannelloni pasta tubes
28g bunch basil, leaves only
57g reduced fat cheddar cheese, grated
 
 
Method:
Spray a pan with low calorie cooking spray and cook the onion, red pepper and garlic for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and chopped tomatoes with 113ml/4fl oz of water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
 
Cook the spinach, according to the pack instructions. Drain well and squeeze out all the water. Cool a little and chop roughly. Place in a bowl and mix with the quark, some seasoning and the nutmeg.
 
Mix 4 tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour and whisk into the remaining milk. Pour into a saucepan and heat gently, stirring. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 1 minute.
 
Spread half the tomato and pepper sauce in a large ovenproof dish. Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the spinach mixture, arrange in the dish and spoon over the remaining sauce. Scatter over the basil leaves and finish with the white sauce. Sprinkle over the cheese and bake in the oven at 190°C/Gas 5 for 40 minutes.
 
Serve with a large mixed salad.
 
Slimming World Syns per serving = 5 (on Extra Easy plan)
 

Weightloss Diary Week #5

Another week over, and the end of February - my first month of weightloss.
 
I am really pleased to say I lost 2lbs this week which means a total of 6lbs lost in my first month. Just one more 1lb before I've lost 1/2 stone and I'll also be in the next stone range.
 
I wouldn't say I have been extreme dieting this month, just thinking more about what I put in my mouth.

Weekends have been the hardest as we often have friends staying so drink was involved and sometimes lunch or dinner out too.
 
This week has been a funny one for us as we're not normally vegetarians, but Matt didn't get a chance to go to the butchers so we've had a lot of pasta & vegetables - trying to vary it each day with a different home made, extra easy SW sauce.
 
Friday Matt treated me to steak as I had a pay review at work, but instead of frying it and then having a creamy sauce with it, Matt grilled it and served with new potatoes, beef tomato & roasted mediteranean vegetables which was equally yummy - if not nicer!
 
On Saturday we went out for lunch to Cafe Rouge with a friend... my favourite in there is usually croque monsieur with frites. Instead I opted for a salad.
 
Saturday night I made a SW spaghetti bolognaise and served with a salad.
 
Sunday we had a SW brunch and then cooked a lovely spinach & quark canelloni recipe from a slimming world book.
 
This weeks meal choices have been made by Matt, but from memory some of them are: pork stirfry, gammon, egg & home made wedges, and griddled chicken with roasted vegetables.
 
I really think it's important to try & vary the meals as much as possible so that we don't get bored. So far though we have both enjoyed all of the new SW recipes we have tried.
 
One major factor for us also is portion control. We have improved that this past week and when we have made too much pasta for dinner, I have kept it for my lunch the following day.
 
Looking forward to the week ahead and seeing the next stone down at the beginning of the scales!
 
 
Week #4 = 2lbs Loss

Friday, 1 March 2013

I-Pic {Review}

I recently came across a relatively small online company called i-pic . The idea was conceived, designed & developed in house and they are all made to order in their workshop in West Sussex.

An "i-pic" is tough magnetic A5 photo frame that you customise and personalise with your own special images and messages.

i-pic has a range of pre-made templates that you can add to, to personalise, or you can start completely from scratch.

There are lots & lots of themes to chose from: animals, awards, charity, family, graduation, new year, thank you teacher, and even a fireworks party!

With Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought it would be a great idea to make a wedding one for my Mum, using a photo of myself, Matt & my Mum.

The process was really simple, all that's required from you is to:

- either choose a design, or if you're feeling really creative, make your own
- upload a photo of your choice
- crop and move to how you would like the image to be printed
- decide on text for the front & back

i-pic have also just developed a new metallic finish - which is an option you can add at the checkout.

Delivery was really fast and I was impressed with the finish of the product. The photo has printed in high quality and the frame completes it! I chose the metallic finish which gives a lovely mirrored effect and catches the light. It's light weight so I wouldn't be worried about it falling off a fridge (or other magnetic surface) and I think my Mum will really love her gift.

The i-pic frame also comes with a little peg (which inserts into the bottom corner of the back) so that the frame can also be free standing, if like us, you don't have a magnetic surface!




The frames start from £14.99 and I think that they make a lovely present (for yourself or others!) and are a lovely, unique, way to display photos.

Disclaimer: I was sent an i-pic for the purpose of this review. All words are honest and my own