Saturday 31 August 2013

I'm talking to YOU...

What do you feel when you read a blog?  Not just my blog, anyone's blog.

Do you feel like you have sneaked Into someone's room and discovered their diary laying open on the desk, and you just could not resist a wee peek?  Do you feel naughty, like you shouldn't really be reading it at all? Do you read it quietly so no one knows you're there?

OR, do you feel like the blogger is talking directly to you? When a blogger asks a question is it directed at you? Or is it that person behind you, the one reading over your shoulder?

I read a lot of blogs, a lot invite discussion, yet I, myself, barely ever seem to take part. Why? Are they talking to me? Are they really interested in my input? Can I be bothered to type out a reply?  I think it's a little bit of all of those.  

There has been the odd occasion that I have made the effort to reply and once or twice I have scrolled down to comment to find there's a whole load of comments already there, so I don't bother. I don't know why I do this, perhaps I don't want to intrude on the conversation.

Then a giveaway pops up and I really want to add my name to the ever growing list, but I can't, because I feel it would be most rude to lurk then just pop up, waving my hand wildly in the air, shouting 'me, me, me'.

It's a different ball game of course when you personally know the blogger, you feel comfortable commenting on the post without the fear of the blogger wondering who on earth the stranger is that's just written something under their piece.

I personally appreciate every single comment I get (well, except the spam ones of course) I get a buzz when my notification pops up to tell me there's a new one, and I scurry off to see what someone has written. I have a few regular commenters and their input is very much appreciated. Based on that I'm a bit ashamed to be a lurker, I really must comment more on other people's blogs.

Oh, and if you are a lurker too, I really don't mind if you want to add your name to a giveaway post. :)

As long as there are readers, I'll keep on blogging......... or (insert horrible thought) am I just rabbiting away to myself?!

It has been known  :)

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Crochet bolster cushion

Finally finished the project I ran out of yarn for.

I bought this bolster cushion in Dunelm Mill a wee while ago when I went into buy the round pad for my Blossom cushion, for some reason I couldn't resist it!

I picked up some yarn and a hook, and with no real idea of what I wanted to do, just started to crochet.

I decided to do Granny Hexagons, makes a difference from squares. I did a starburst effect where you hook in between the stitches rather than into the actual stitch itself, I like the pattern this gives.

Then I sewed them together, trying to make sure that the colours were not touching (there's no such thing as 'random' you know :) )

Actually, I didn't really sew them together, I hooked them together using a slip stitch into the outer loops only, which made the edges stand out and look like actual patchwork.

Of course, before I could finish I ran out of yarn & had to ask a friend for help.

Once I had enough to wrap around the bolster cushion I realised I would need to fill in the edge gaps as they were missing half a hexagon (is there a mathematical name for half a hexagon?). I decided the only thing that would suffice was ...... half a hexagon! But how?

It took me four attempts to get the numbers right, as the hexagons were worked in rounds, but the half hex had to be worked in rows, but I got there in the end.

For the ends I just made a round using all the colours and sewed (hooked) it into place.

I'm rather pleased with this I have to say, my sister has just put her order In for one in shades of brown & red, then I think I might need another for the other side of my sofa as it's so comfy!

If you fancy making one, give me a few days to write the pattern out & you can have a go yourself. (If it gets past a week, nag me)

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Ain't friends great?

This blog post is a great big fat THANK YOU to a friend and colleague, Amanda.

In my usual haphazard way I started a project with some scraps of wool, thinking I would have enough, but as I wasn't following a pattern I could not be totally sure.

I was using a yarn that came with a Crochet collection, you got a different colour each week, but sometimes repeated.  As I had collected all of the yarns it made a decent enough pile to look as though I could work a project with it.

Alas, it was not to be, I ran out a long way short of the finished item, and as I had sewn the components together as I went, I couldn't even fill the gaps with other colours unless I was to take the whole thing apart again.

Now normally you could just go and buy another ball of yarn, but I didn't know what make it was, it wasn't DK and it wasn't chunky, it wasn't white and it wasn't quite cream.

I sighed a lot, had a little rant at myself - well actually it was at everyone else but they ignored me - then put a rant on my Facebook page too.

Ain't friends great?   They commented on my rant and one of them suggested that someone else might have the same yarn.  Why didn't I think of that?? D'oh!

I remembered a colleague at work having the same collection, I wondered if she would let me have some of her cream yarn if I begged enough.

I barely had to beg at all, she just handed it over and a load more besides.  I was so chuffed I did a happy dance in the car-park.

Project now back under-way, I have more than enough to complete and it is all down to great friends, one having the good idea and one handing over her yarn  :)

There is a little note in my head to make her something nice one day to say thank you, I certainly owe her.

Monday 26 August 2013

Shona's Birthday Cake

My baby girl is 20 today....that means I have no more teenagers, just adult children now, what a sobering thought - when did that happen?  Where did those 20 years go, I don't feel a day older than then, but the mirror disagrees.

Anyway, birthday cake time.  What could I do that she might like.

Couldn't decide, and usually I have the idea in my head before hitting the supermarket shelves, but not this time.

Wandering around the baking aisle for inspiration I spotted a Betty Crocker Red Velvet cake mix.  Now, it has to be noted that I never use boxed cake mixes, never needed to as I can easily bash up my own, but for some reason this one looked really nice, and as I needed the whole of my baking cupboard replenished with flour, sugar, baking powder etc.. I ended up thinking it might be a quicker, cheaper and easier option.  So I bought it.

I did the mix in a large cake tin rather than the two sandwich tins that the box suggested to make a deeper cake and I have to say I was well impressed with the amount of cake it yielded as well as the beautifully spongey delicious texture.

I split it and filled it with a thick generous splodge of strawberry jam. Now, just to decorate it.

I bashed up some buttercream (as although on the box of mix the cake is decorated with a rich cream icing, you have to buy that separately) and smothered the sides in it, then I rolled the sides in crushed Gold Bars (Shona's favourite biscuit)

On the top I added popping candy, a chocolate heart lolly-pop and some edible wafer butterflies.

Ok, so it looks like a giant fishcake, it wasn't the golden, sparkly, eye-dazzling display that I had in my head, but it tastes GREAT !

Friday 23 August 2013

Daddy L's New Shirt.

Those of you who have the pleasure of knowing Daddy L will understand that his dress sense is amazing, quite flamboyant at times, and sometimes just crazy.  He likes bright shirts, lots of shirts, and the brightest socks you can find.

In Marrakesh they even matched the plant pots!

Jazzy jackets too.  (with Shona on her 18th)

So when he asked me to tie-dye a shirt of his I knew it would have to be slightly mad and colourful.

It started off a boring dull mushroom colour.  (forgot to take a photo, but it was so dull it would have bored you to sleep anyway)

I bought some marbles - actually, I sent Shona to the pound shop with a £5 note to buy marbles.  Thinking they would be small bags I told her to get 5, she did, but they were huge bags and I still have 4 bags left.  (quickly Googling "what to do with marbles").

I tied up the shirt with lots of marbles and elastic bands.  It took HOURS, honestly, those little blighters take ages to tie in.

Then we put it on our heads for a laugh!


It was so heavy once all the marbles were in, she couldn't keep it on her head for long, although I do think it suited her.

I then dyed half in one colour and half in another, before that though I dipped the back side of it in a third colour to make the marble  gaps stand out more.

Delivered Unashamedly un-ironed, which he grumbled about. 

I don't DO ironing.

Here it is after my mother got her hands on it :) looks better huh?

I don't think I have seen him without it on yet, he must just wash it and wear it again.  Mad I tell ya, and you wonder where I get it from!

Chips 'n' gravy.

The phone rings.... my daughter......"going to the chippy, want anything?"

"No thanks"

WHAT??? Seriously....WHAT? Who said that? Can't have been me.

It was, and what resulted was me watching them eat chips with gravy (It's a Northern thing) while my broccoli was steaming.

It should be law that whenever someone is on a diet, the whole family has to diet, NOT eat chips & gravy. What would have been worse if it had have been chips, cheese & gravy (that's a Northern thing too - but don't knock it ill you've tried it). I love that, melty cheese dripping with rich gravy (veggie gravy of course)

Photo stolen from the internet

Do you know whats even worse than worse? THEY LEFT SOME!!

Forgive the capital letters, it's my belly talking, my mind is being very angelic and healthy, my belly doesn't agree, it's shouting at me - chips, cheese, gravy, scabby donkey..... Oh, hang on, I'm a vegetarian, just the scabs then, sprinkled on top of the cheese.

I've felt it today, those shakes just make me hungry, my stomach has been touching my spine all day. My Mallory Belt got so loose it just fell right off when I was walking (you know that's a lie, right?)

I've just devoured my Moroccan chickpea tagine & broccoli in about 4 mouthfuls.

This is a side plate, a largish side plate mind, so although it looks like a decent portion, it's not. At least not for me, but I have to say it tasted delicious. I've certainly no complaints about the flavours of these foods, I just think I need to pad them out with some more veggies.

I have a shake left today, I will be taking care not to mix it with coffee.

Those buggers are eating chocolate now. Horrid little trolls.

ps: The Amazon links are affiliated  if you click and buy I might get a few pennies.  Just so you know :)

Thursday 22 August 2013

Weight To Go

Along with the Malory Band I bought this week, I thought I would kick start my diet/healthy eating with
a box of prepared diet food from Weight To Go.

Normally I wouldn't use something like this, but because Hubster is away and I have only myself to cook for, I thought it would be an ideal time to see if this kind of thing works or not.

It came highly recommended by someone I know who lost a lot of weight on this system, and it was half price for the first week - £30 - so I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.

It's based on shakes, soups and an evening meal - all supplied in one box delivery, along with snack bars. 

You get to choose the food and you get 21 shakes, 7 bars, 7 soups and 7 meals.

I started it today,  goodbye cheese, it's been nice knowing you.

I started the day with a shake, vanilla.

I think I whipped it up a little too much, I had to eat it with a spoon! But it tasted nice.  But was that it?  Half a wine glass full of sweet froth?  Breakfast?  Hang on though, it's more breakfast than I usually eat, so it should do the trick.

The idea is to have SHAKE - SOUP - SHAKE - MEAL - SHAKE with the bar somewhere in-between in case of hunger.

Well, it certainly got my tummy rumbling.  So at 12.15pm before going out to work I had another shake, strawberry.  This one was more like a smoothie, very yummy indeed.

As I was leaving the house 10 mins later, I grabbed one of the snack bars, just in case I got a bit shaky later on.  I ate that 3 minutes later at the first traffic light I got stuck at.  Now this is me who doesn't really snack, or eat chocolate, but I really enjoyed that peanut puffy bar thing.

Back at home at 4.30pm I was really starting to feel the hunger, so I had a soup.

A much thinner consistency than I would normally make my home-made soups, but it was very tasty.  And I would normally have a couple of thick slices of wholemeal seeded bread to dunk in it so it didn't really fill me up. By now my hunger had kicked in and I couldn't wait for dinner!

Dinner came at 6.30pm, carrot and coriander curry, which I added a baked tomato and some mange tout to.  I put it on a small plate as it would have looked lost on my normal dinner plates, and ate it a little too quickly.  I could have happily eaten it all again, twice over.  But there lies my problem, and I know it!

I was still hungry when I put my fork down, but the taste of the food was very satisfying, just needed a bigger portion.  However, after about half an hour I stopped feeling hungry and could happily get on with my evening feeling quite satiated.

At 11.30pm I realised I still had a shake left to have, so I had it mixed with warm coffee as a latte style bedtime drink  as suggested in the accompanying booklet.


It stayed lumpy, it had the texture of vomit & the powdery bits were nasty on the tongue, three mouthfuls I managed before tipping it down the sink.  Shan't be trying that again in a hurry!

I brushed my teeth instead and went to bed.

Will let you know the result at the end of the week  :)

You can find all the details, plus the half price offer, HERE on the Weight To Go website.  Tell them I sent you by using this code (RF09A (Sue Simmons)) and I will get £5.00 worth of M&S Vouchers, and you will get £5.00 off your first order  :)

The Malory Band

Hi, I am Sooz, a serial dieter - and diet hater.

I've done 'em all over the years, Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Cabbage Soup, Peanut Butter & Green Beans (yeah, really!!), Atkins, Slim Fast to name but a few.

Time has come to jump back on the diet train and have another go.  Age is creeping up on me and I find my knees aching, my back aching, my lungs struggling and my blood pressure is high. What's next I ask myself, and that is exactly what I DON'T want to find out.

Actually, let me explain my diet habits, I am sure they can be picked apart and reasons given to why I am overweight. (coz I don't already know!!)  Breakfast only happens if someone makes me it, if it is left to me I forget.  Mornings bring a need for caffeine and a two bagger brew, they do not bring a craving for food.  Lunch time I am usually trotting off to work and still not feeling the need for food very much.  Work days will find me eating around 4.30pm when I get home, ravenous at that point - usually Marmite (or something) on toast.  Then a big evening meal, on a large plate, full to the brim.  No snacks, no puds, no sugary drinks.  I don't eat packets of jaffa cakes in one sitting, I don't snack on crisps or biscuits during the day, in fact they don't even get into my house.  I don't crave chocolate and I don't secret eat.  I just eat BIG meals and the wrong stuff.

My tastebuds demand flavour, the only flavour that fat, sugar and salt will produce within a meal.  Think curries, think tagines, think cheese.  Uh oh, cheese, my downfall.  Especially halloumi (half a block at a time), fried in olive oil with herbs.  Nom nom.  Being vegetarian often has me reaching for cheese.

We eat out a lot too, it's our naughty habit.  It's become a standing joke between family and friends how often we eat out.  Indian is our favourite, followed by Italian..... you're getting the picture?  Side-by-side with eating out comes the alcohol....Red Wine.  I LOVE this stuff, but I am fussy, I am no alchie you know.  It has to be black red, like blood, New World and a bottle.  No messing about with small, medium or large for me - bottle.

So, I might not snack, I might not eat until late afternoon, but when I do I eat badly and drink badly.

Hubster has been working away and I have been socialising quite a lot, then there was the 10 day holiday - not just eating out every evening, but lunchtimes and breakfasts too!  Now, I am feeling it.

Ahh, there is some medication I take too that doesn't help, but let's not get bogged down with excuses  ;)

A fortnight ago, after a lovely meal out with friends and copious amounts of wine, I earned myself a four day hangover.  Now, my hangovers, when I have been silly enough to get one, have been stretching to two-dayers of later, but a four-dayer was completely unnecessary, what on earth was that about?  Still, it put me off drinking for a while, 17 days in fact so far.  Even the holiday in Cornwall didn't tempt me to drink, and it was at that point that I thought I need to do something. I need to ........ d... d... d... d... dddd... ddddd.. dddd... DIET !

Being the believer in miracle cures that I am (I know, I know) I read about this band in a magazine - The Mallory Band.  Basically it is a bit of string with a button on it, you tie it around your waist and wear it all the time so you can feel when you are getting fatter, or thinner as hopefully the case will be.

Sounds simple doesn't it?  I likened it to the elastic band therapy in my head.  You wear an elastic band around your wrist and snap it when you want to eat (or drink, or gamble, or look at naughty pictures on the internet).  In theory, very good, in reality, it would hurt, I would cry, then get a biscuit to cheer myself up!

I thought about making one, crochet a chain?  But the material needed to be waterproof, chaff-proof, comfy, non-stretch...... I just bought one, it was only the price of a meal out  ;) - £25 ish.

Well, here is it, I wanted to be excited, but I just feel like it's going to be like a ball and chain - good, that's good right?

Nice packaging, wonder if they have the same packing supplier as iPhone.  That could be where some of the £25 goes.

Posh little bag to keep it in when it's not being worn - hang on..... you're supposed to wear it all the time.  Useless little bag then.  Actually, they should ditch the box and just sent the belt in the bag, saves money on packaging which can be passed onto the purchaser (I was going to say 'consumer' but thought it might throw up jokes about me eating it!!) and on postage.  Would knock at least a fiver off the price I would have thought.

The dude itself, see?  String.

Actually, I like it, it feels nice, it feels expensive and I do like it.

I followed the instructions and fitted it.  There is NO WAY ON EARTH that I am showing you a photo of my belly, so here is a nice image of a nice flat tummy and the band.

My band was a slightly longer one than that, when I say longer, I mean double the length.

It felt nice and smooth, I fitted it to feel like a slightly tight waistband, which is a bugger when I sit down as I have to breath in - but that's another selling point, it is supposed to help your posture.  I am not sure about how it looks when I sit like that though, I am sure it just looks like I am holding in a fart.

So, it's on, it's in place, it feels ok, I know it's there, it hasn't stopped me overeating yet as I am not overeating this week - that's a whole new blog post (coming soon), and I am currently sitting down without it feeling tight as I have pushed it up over my fat belly and it's sitting just under my boobies. - THAT'S how you cheat  ;)

Obviously it has to be used with a healthy eating plan so I am trying another diet along side, blog post following soon.

Will keep you up to date on the results.

ps: The Amazon links are affiliated  if you click and buy I might get a few pennies.  Just so you know :)

edited to add:  Slept in it last night, didn't feel it at all.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Crochet Baby Flip-Flops

My boss sent me this photo.....

She strangely seemed to go all gooey over them, and as she is not a gooey type of person I thought I would make them up and pop them on her desk, for a giggle.

Now, whatever language it may be on there, I don't speak (or read) it, however, I can read the chart, so forming the bottom of the shoes wasn't a huge issue.

I figured out that I would need to make two pieces, one in pink and one in white, then from there I just copied the pictures, and guessed  :)

Damn cute aint they?  Cute enough to go gooey over!

Weston-Super-Mare - in photographs.

If you like you can see more photos HERE.