In the middle of the year, I go walking in my gear

As June draws to a close, I’m sure everyone is echoing the same as me: where is the year going?I usually love June. Well it is my birthday month so that might be why. This year however, the weather has been dreadful and it made me, and no doubt lots of other people, a bit down. Lovely to see June going out with the highest temperatures of the year.

In the past, June has brought us sadness too with the loss of our loved ones. My mother died 4 years ago on 28th June and I will never forget my last birthday with her. As someone who loved birthdays, I know how sad she was that she wouldn’t make my next birthday, my special 50th. She would have loved that. As life has to go on, I find myself remembering my loved ones when I’m doing something that I think they would have enjoyed or been proud of. Mum would have loved boasting about her granddaughter’s graduation and enjoyed the chocolate honeycomb cake we made to remember what would have been her 75th birthday. This year I did something a bit different to think about her on the 4th anniversary of her falling asleep. I completed my 1,000 mile challenge for the year.

Mum and Dad at my wedding

The 1,000 mile challenge is a group of lovely people on the Rosemary Conley Online site. We record our mileage though the Fitbit or any other device and post a weekly post. There are some serious places where people record just their walks but this includes all daily activities. To complete in a year, you have to do just over 3 miles a day. As we should aim for 10,000 steps a day, this is very achievable. Now that I have finished my 1,000 miles, my next aim is to complete 2,000 miles. Confession time here: I have a spreadsheet dedicated to working out my stats. How sad am I! Current date for completing 2,000 steps is 18th December.

So apart from turning 53 and completing my 1,000 mile challenge, what else have I achieved in June:

  • Completed the lovely Jessica Smith Summer of Strength challenge. Even upgraded my weights to 1.5 kg!
  • Read 4 books making my Goodreads reading challenge total 32. 21 books to go.
  • Ran 38.22 miles. I aim for 30 miles per month.
  • Lost 1.75 lb in weight. Did want to get to goal but a girl has to enjoy her birthday.

Here are my July’s aims:

  1. Complete my cross stitch – I am going to stitch everyday in July to do this
  2. Tidy the larder – how can I bake when it’s so messy
  3. Run a 10k race – I am signed up to do a race at Portchester Castle on 28th July. I can do this!
  4. Change my running route – at the moment I like running round the block as its like my comfort blanket. My house is never far away
  5. Get to goal weight – 2lbs to go
  6. Plan weekly meals
  7. Arrange walk with Chris
  8. Re-introduce meat free Monday
  9. Read 4 books – write reviews
  10. Paint my nails

My biggest aim is to finish my cross stitch that I started in January so this is my 30 (or 31 as it is July) plan this month. I’m going to try to find an hour each day to stitch. Honestly it isn’t that big so it should have been finished a long time ago. Cross stitch helps me relax so I’m hoping if I can organise myself better, I will be able to do this.

My WIP – I aim to finish in July

I will let you know how I’m doing.

Speak soon.

Sugar and Spice and all things nice

When you are trying to lose weight the last thing you want to have is temptations. At work, any goodies go on my desk as I’m the least likely to be tempted. I’m not so good at home; Kathryn can open a large packet of crisps, eat what she wants and put the rest in the cupboard and forget about them. Once I have eyeballed them, I can not forget them. I have to have them. The same with cakes. At the beginning of my action to lose weight, when my baked in subscription box came through, I put them on top of the cupboard to bake at a later date. I love the boxes so did not want to give the subscription up.

June’s box was on its way last week when I was on holiday and I fully intended to bake it. Friday morning weigh in warned me I shouldn’t. Lots of birthday cakes and lovely food when eating out meant I saw a 1.5 lb gain. Not a disaster but should I really put temptation in the way: absolutely! Who could resist cherry crumble muffins.

Sunday morning, after a run (I run to eat cake), I started baking. As with all baking boxes, all dry ingredients were included. All I needed to add was unsalted butter, fresh cherries, milk and eggs. The box with ingredients is post box friendly so 12 greaseproof circles to make your own muffin cases. I am quite an expert with these now; my first attempt for lemon & poppy seed muffins weren’t successful. With the help of glasses, I managed to prepare my muffin cases very well.

Preparing muffin cases

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The next job was to prepare the cherries. This was a bit of a messy and time consuming job. They needed stoning and cutting into quarters.

Preparing cherries – time consuming

Thankfully, the rest of the preparation was reasonably easy. I next made the crumble mixture melting butter before adding bag 1 (light brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon). Once mixed, bag 2 (plain flour) was added by rubbing in to make the crumble.

Crumble mix

The muffin mixture was quickly put together by beating butter with bag 3 (more light brown sugar and granulated sugar). The eggs were whisked before adding to the mixture. The prepared cherries were added in to this along with bag 4 (plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground cinnamon, mixed spice, salt and vanilla). This was spooned into the muffin cases, the crumble mixture added on top and they were finished with flaked almonds (bag 5). They went into the oven and after 25 minutes, they were ready. As you can imagine from the ingredients, the kitchen smelt wonderful and I couldn’t wait to try them.

Muffin mixture
Waiting for them to cool – so tempting

They did not disappoint – these muffins could become one of my favourites.

One of my five a day?

I recommend this subscription because all dry ingredients are in the box and weighed out so it makes baking that bit easier. As I love to bake, my larder does normally have a lot of ingredients stored away so I can make the recipes again as the recipe cards do come with the measurements needed. Sometimes they are easy to make but then the next month, you might get something that is a challenge. Whatever the bake, there is always a bit of a twist.

Speak soon.

I Wanna Runaway

Kathryn doesn’t own a kindle: Kathryn doesn’t want a kindle. My old kindle has been given to my sister Tracy who is putting it to very good use. Whilst Kathryn can now gift me kindle books, she refuses to plus she thinks if she is going to buy me a book, it will be her choice and not something from my ever growing list. I do like most of her choices and if she has read something and given it a glowing review, I will borrow it from her. This year I have read three of her books.

She was particularly enthusiastic about Jog On by Bella Mackie; a book she said she was going to make all her friends read so they could see the benefits of running particularly with mental health. Having been spurred on to up my exercise in January by taking on the RedJanuary challenge, which encourages to support your mental health and exercise every day throughout January (January is a dreary day for most people so having a plan to do something every day gets you out of bed and really does make you feel better), I wanted to read this book. As soon as Kathryn closed the cover on her book, I asked if I could borrow it.

Jog On by Bella Mackie

The author had spent most of her life battling with anxiety and depression. She was known as the sad kid at school. Finding herself alone after a very short marriage, Bella literally picked herself off the floor and dragged herself outside and started running. Her first run was slow, in the dark and lasted a few minutes. Overtime, she was able to do little more. It wasn’t an easy task for Bella; she explains her fears of public places and public transport. Eventually, through running or “jogging”, she was able to face these fears. She was able to experience the city she lived in but hadn’t noticed before. She was also able to take a tube and fly in a plane without having a panic attack.

I normally read a book in a week; this took me two weeks. There is a lot of details about different anxieties and depression. We can all think that we are depressed sometimes when we have a difficult week or anxious when we have to do something new but Bella explains how much more a person with anxiety issues will worry about little things.

I did find this a fascinating read. Bella picked up her running using one of the couch25k podcasts. I started running with this and at the age of 47, I went from someone who couldn’t run for a bus to someone that could run for 30 minutes with out stopping. I had recently lost my younger brother who had been diagonised with schizophrenia in his 20s. As I faced each weekly challenge, I thought of him, imagining that if he had taken up running or any exercise, maybe he would have reached 50 or older. A few years later, my mum died. At the age of 14, my mum had a nervous breakdown. I don’t believe she ever fully recovered from it. The understanding wasn’t available from family or the medical world. I have a song on my running playlist which we played at her funeral; Show me the Way to Amarillo. Whenever it plays on my run, I imagine my mum is with me.

Bella believes running saved her life and I certainly can see that running or any form of exercise will help your mental health. I know that baking and cooking always makes me feel good. I love eating it too: that’s why I exercise – I can eat cake!

Happy by Fearne Cotton

Another book I read on my goodreads list was Happy by Fearne Cotton. Again, this was a proper book given to me by Kathryn. Fearne is a lady I admire. She seems so bubbly but she talks about her battle with depression. In this book, she shares ideas to finding joy in every day. Fearne openly talks about her own battle and how she tries to approach things differently to avoid black days. Again this book took me a long time to read: I actually started reading this in 2018 but put it down before finishing it this year. I think it needs another read sometime.

Finally another book I must mention to do with running is Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson. This lady has run in a lot of Marathons. She doesn’t run to get her best time; she aims to finish them whilst meeting lots of interesting people on the way. I started reading this to get some inspiration to pick up my running again in 2018. I don’t have any intention of taking part in a marathon but reading this book, Lisa certainly makes you feel you could. She also made me realise that although my running is probably at the same pace as somebody else’s walking pace, I am still a runner.

Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson

I love reading and one of the reasons I enjoy it is that I get something out of the books I am reading. I think these three books gave me inspiration and each one had parts I could recognise from my life. I am a big fan of fiction books but am trying to read a non-fiction once a month.

Speak soon.

53 Goodreads Challenge

In 2018, I joined Jordan and Kathryn on taking part in the Goodreads challenge for the year. They were aiming to read 52 books in the year whilst I chose 26 books. I soon changed to 52 as I was reading one a week. I actually managed over 60 books that year.

The Goodreads site is a good place to record the books that you want to read and have read. You can add your friends and see what they are reading, write and read reviews (I don’t tend to write reviews) and receive recommendations based on the types of books you like to read. I use it mainly for the challenge. As it was my 53rd birthday this year, I decided to make this year’s challenge 53 books to read.

I tend to read from my kindle but encouraged (or bullied) by my kids, I do sometimes read a “proper” book! On Wednesday, I visited the town of Reigate. We enjoyed a lovely walk through Priory Park. I discovered this box which is a part of the Little Free Library, a place where you can exchange your books. When I opened the box there were books which could be exchanged with a book you’ve read. A brilliant idea which I’m going to look in to more.

Box in Priory Park, Reigate
Little Free Library open box

Here is a list of books I have read so far. I have included my Goodreads ratings which are marked out of 5.  My ratings are very rarely below a 3 because if I really don’t like a book, I won’t waste my time by reading it. I will try to write reviews for the books I have read:

1 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, Stuart Kelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
3 Nice Work by Celia Imrie ⭐⭐⭐
4 Lizzie’s Secret by Rosie Clark ⭐⭐⭐⭐
5 The Island Villa by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
6 I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
7 Still Me by Jojo Moyes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8 Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
9 Maybe Now by Colleen Hoover ⭐⭐⭐⭐
10 The Rest of Me by Katie Marsh ⭐⭐⭐⭐
11 Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom by Lena Bentson⭐⭐⭐⭐
12 The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
13 I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
14 One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly ⭐⭐⭐⭐
15 The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
16 Happy: Finding Joy in Every Day by Fearne Cotton⭐⭐⭐⭐
17 You Then, Me Now by Nick Alexander⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
18 The Tattooist of Aushwitz by Heather Morris⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
19 Your Pace or Mine by Lisa Jackson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
20 The Little Perfume Shop of Champs Elyees⭐⭐⭐
21 The Promise by Teresa Driscoll ⭐⭐⭐
22 Sea of Memories by Fiona Valpy ⭐⭐⭐⭐
23 Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause ⭐⭐⭐⭐
24 The Last Piece of my Heart by Paige Toon⭐⭐⭐⭐
25 Summer on the Italian Lake by Lucy Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
26 The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
27 How to Find Love in a Bookshop ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
28 The Spitfire Girls by Soraya M Lane ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
29 Jog On by Bella Mackie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
30 Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon⭐⭐⭐⭐
31 Half a World Away by Mike Gayle ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
32 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently reading:  High Tide by Veronica Henry

Speak soon!

Build me up buttercup (or peonies)

Although yesterday the weather started off promising, by the time we got home from our day out, Chris and I were cold and tired. It had started raining whilst we were eating our delicious lunch so we got very  wet running to the car.  The rain continued on the drive home making it seem never ending. I was ready for a cup of tea and to flop on the sofa but was greeted by two big boxes arranged by my Son and fulfilled by Freddie’s Flowers. I was so excited.

Exciting delivery

This year’s birthday had brought me lots of flowers: as I wasn’t on holiday this year, I actually got to appreciate them. Jordan had bought me a bit of a different gift;  flowers  that are chosen by Freddie’s flowers and are delivered fresh from the grower. There are hints and tips ready for you to arrange. How fun is that?!

Instructions!

I have to say that I’m not a gardener at all (I wouldn’t know a weed from a shrub) and artistic I am not! Having said that, I was up for this sort of challenge (it’s a tame one. If he had bought me a bungee jump, I would have not been so pleased).

So this is what I got in the boxes:

A vase which is beautiful and the fresh cut flowers waiting to be arranged.

Beautiful vase

A card with a message from Jordan in an envelope written beautifully. The card also tells me that I have a further two to expect.

Card with beautifully written envelope

Information about the flowers in the box and also a guide to how to style the arrangement. You can also find a video on how to do it. I couldn’t find this (I blame my age on this and also my impatience to give it a go) so followed the guide.

The flowers inside this week’s box were peonies, stock, alstroemeria, agapanthus and solidago. I have enjoyed watching the various different stages of the peony, from bud to opening up.  As the information on the life of a peony states, they have perked up!

Peony opening

I have loved the challenge of displaying the flowers and am learning lots about the flower world. I hope I have done justice with my effort.

My effort – the peony bud and one coming to life!

Looking forward to next month’s arrivals.

Speak soon.

53 Red balloons go by

Okay, so unlike my 50th birthday, I didn’t have any balloons for this occasion but I did have a very nice birthday cake made by lovely kids. I made one for work too so diet not going well.

Lovely birthday cake

For my 50th birthday, I was busking in the sunshine in Lanzorote (well I did enjoy wave jumping with Kathryn in Fuerturventura because my treat was a day trip there). This birthday, it was pouring with rain and I didn’t fancy paddling in the rough seas of the Solent. Did enjoy a lovely lunch with Chris whilst watching the rough seas. The food was not great for the diet but who cares on your birthday!

Delicious

One of the most memorable moments of my 50th birthday was my 50 challenges. They weren’t big challenges (the 10 mile run and making croissants were huge to me) but they did make the year stand out for me. It is something I would highly recommend. Challenges keep me on track and alert. I would fall asleep on the sofa after work at 5pm if I didn’t push myself to do exercise or dance round the kitchen making dinner. If I don’t exercise before work, I do my daily solitaire and sudoku puzzles on my iPad (warning: extremely addictive so do need to turn iPad off and not use it again that day!). So this year I plan to do more challenges. To start with, I plan to do 30 day challenges. I love books like Challenge Yourself I Dare You by Stuart Ralph and 50 New Year’s resolutions because they spur me on and give me tips on how to achieve something. I plan to put this in action and set myself 12 challenges over the year. I’m going to cheat with June as we are 11 days in and plan to do at least one blog a week. Before the end of the month, I will hopefully have a full year’s plan.

One challenge which has become a regular annual one is the Goodreads challenge. I took part in it last year for the first time, and initially I was going to aim for 26 books whilst Jordan and Kathryn were hoping to read 52. I did change to 52 and a smug me can say I was the only one who completed. I actually read over 60 books. We are all reading again. This time I have challenged myself to read 53 (age came into that). I am out in front again and have read 29. Jordan has nearly finished his 28th book so this year’s challenge is getting very competitive. The kids are a bit old fashioned and like to try to put delaying tactics in my way like giving me proper books to read. Well I can take that challenge. Not so good in the work bag though: takes up a lot of room!

Speak soon!

It’s all about the plan

I joined the gym in 2017 and for 7 months, I went to lots of different classes. The gym itself didn’t appeal to me at all. I did enjoy the aquafit classes and even liked going swimming occasionally. I will always look like a meerkat when swimming though: I don’t like putting my face in the water at all.

After June, I didn’t go to the gym a lot at all. I like to get my money’s worth from my monthly fee so when each session was costing me more than £8, I knew it was time to give it up. My running for the year hadn’t been spectacular but I did manage to complete the couch25k again in August and built up gradually. In December I did one run of 3.38 miles: my longest for a while. After that I pushed myself and can now do a 10k run (6.2 miles in old money!) once a month.

In January, I upped my game a lot. I joined a group on Rosemary Conley online to complete 1,000 miles by walking in one year and also joined RedJanuary, a community initiative to support your mental health by doing something active every day in January. I will tell you more about these later but whilst I was doing Red January, I discovered a lady called Jessica Smith and her walk strong workouts. I bought my first DVD, Walk the Weight Off 30 day plan, at the beginning of January and have worked out with her regularly every week. I now have two more of her DVDs in my collection. In the DVDs, she has two other ladies working out with her. There is Debbie, her mum, who shows you gentler versions of the exercise. If you want to up the game, you follow her friend, Beth. Jessica is a very likeable lady and it is like having a personal coach working with you. I’ve always liked cardio but not very good at toning. With the walk the weight off DVDs you have a 30 days plan, which includes toning with weights and a toning band. Jessica explains every move and you feel she is in the room when she suddenly tells you how to stand so you don’t hurt your knees. There are also some stretching plans too which includes yoga moves.

Red January

Jessica’s workouts can be found on YouTube and you can join the community at Jessica Smith TV. You are sent newsletters with new challenges coming up. I have just started a Summer of Strength plan and it is great. You are given two options; a DVD workout or something from YouTube. Now I have finally learnt how to watch YouTube on the TV, and as I don’t have the DVDs, I am working from YouTube.

This plan is more about building up strength rather than cardio so there is a use of weights. It also includes stretching, something I need a lot of practice in. The challenge is over 5 weeks and is broken down into:

Week 1 – stamina
Week 2 – endurance
Week 3 – power
Week 4 – function
Week 5 – total strength

Each week is over 5 days with two rest days to do what you want to do. I always make sure I have one day of rest although I aim to walk for pleasure on that day.

I love the plan as I wouldn’t normally choose these type of exercises. My last day of exercise for week 2 was total body barre. I did 52 minute ballet burn. I loved it. It’s a sort of cardio and strength ballet inspired workout so I didn’t have to point my toes too much! Some days I have said glad that is over but I’ve always been chuffed I’ve done it!

Maybe not getting ballet burn quite right!

Basically if you love the gym, keep up with the membership. If not, find something that suits you. I much prefer working out on my own and in my own time so this is perfect for me. One thing that I try to do is plan my exercise each week especially now I am fitting in this plan. I am trying to use my bullet point journal for this (more about this another day) and planning week two was great as I could fit it around going out.

It’s all about the plan

Happy exercising whatever your choice.

Speak soon!

Weighting for that day (you can get what you want)

When I approached my 50th birthday, I had a very trim figure. I was determined that I wasn’t going to be one of those people that believed excess weight came because you were older. I knew that it didn’t: most of the time it comes from eating too much and/or lack of exercise.  I had lost my weight in 2012 and I was proud that I kept it off.
A week before the big 50th

So what happened between 2016 and 2018 when I started putting the weight back on. Well I could give many excuses but it was mainly to do with eating too much. The biggest culprit was cake. I do love baking and I love eating it. I also decided not to get on the scales. What a mistake. Whilst I don’t think you should get on the scales daily, I would recommend once a week weigh in (or once a month). It helps you keep on the straight and narrow.

Every month in 2018, I sat down making a  list of 10 aims for the month. Each month I aimed to lose 4lbs. It never happened. I got to September 2018 and decided that the only way I was going to lose anything was to rejoin Rosemary Conley online so I joined up for 3 months. Pleased with my achievements, I continued my membership for a further 12 months.

Unlike my 2012 weight loss, my loss this time has been slow but steady. I have even had gains some weeks but they haven’t been a shock. This week saw a gain of a 1/4 lb. I wasn’t surprised (I actually thought it would be more). Here are the reasons why:

  • Sunday roast made by my son Jordan and his lovely girlfriend  Thais. (Not the roast itself; I blame the banoffee pie we had for dessert)
  • Carrot and Pecan Squares from my Baking Club subscription (so worth the extra 1/4 lb. More to follow!)
  • Pimms and more Pimms
  • Thursday’s macaroni cheese (one of my favourites and it did include broccoli and spinach) whilst eating out on a night to the theatre

    Yummy Cake

Whilst I know that I would have had a loss if I didn’t indulge, I enjoyed all I ate and drank so I don’t have any regrets.

I do believe that following any diet and exercise plan is going to help you lose weight;  you just have to find the right one for you. For some people, going to a weight loss club where they are weighed and can share their experiences, is the better option. I like online because I can go on to the website when I want. It is more of a self accountable experience; you have to be totally honest with yourself. Why wouldn’t you though? You’ve paid the money so it isn’t any good cheating.

So what do I get out of it:

  • Rosemary’s daily motivation minute (also a daily exercise challenge. I will try to do this from today!)
  • Recipe of the day (see my favourite breakfast at the moment).
  • Recipes – there are lots. I love cooking and a lot of my favourite meals come from this collection
  • Weight loss challenges (I’m in the Summer 2019 challenge at moment)
  • Coaches who you can message and also send you words of encouragement. They do have one-2-one coaching which is an extra cost. If I lose my motivation, I would give this a go
  • The community chat – I look here daily. I find tips here as well as encouragement and motivation. Most of my Fitbit friends are from this lovely group of people.
Overnight Strawberry Oats

I have only got 4lbs to get to goal. I’m hoping that with a big effort in June, and I will be there.

Speak soon!

This is Me

Well I am now fast approaching my 53rd birthday and I can honestly say that I don’t mind being in my 50s at all; I have a lovely family, am happy in my work (well it would be nice to be a lady of leisure but as that ain’t going to happen, I should be happy) and I have finally realised that as long as I’m a nice person to people round me, I can be who I want to be and not have to worry about what anyone else thinks. Oh yes did I mention that I got The Greatest Showman DVD and CD for my last birthday from my daughter’s lovely boyfriend and I’m totally obsessed by it. This is Me is a mind blowing track and the words have so much meaning that I’m not going to make any apologies for stealing them!

My blog was started after Kathryn set me my 50 challenges for my 50th birthday. I had always wanted to start a blog and had initially bought some reading material to help me. Reading about it actually frightened me; all these authors seemed to want to ram their ideas at you and whilst I understand and abide by the rules in life, why should I follow rules in something that I wanted to be fun. I decided to make my own rules; just do what I wanted. The year of my challenges was absolutely brilliant and I have tried hard to set myself challenges after this but I have somehow lost my way a bit. So I have decided a revamp is in order. I want this to be about my 50s so my plans are about to write about my 5 favourite things:

  • Family, friends and favourite things
  • Reading
  • Cross Stitching
  • Cooking and baking
  • Keeping active

Okay, so I am cheating with the first one. It is giving me the power to write about anything I like: the theatre, flamingos, George Michael and the list goes on! As I say, this is me!

I have also been inspired to have a go at “bullet planning” after reading a book called “How to Bullet Plan” by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. I’m not a great person with lists. I get very scared looking at what I have to do. I know that to achieve a balanced lifestyle, I am going to try to bullet plan regularly and will share my successful (and hopefully not too many unsuccessful) attempts with keeping this up. I forgot to mention that another favourite thing is stationery so it has been a good excuse to get some lovely notebooks.

Do I need two books? I do!

Over the next month, I will share my new favourite exercise DVDs, my Goodread challenge, my last baked in kit, my latest cross stitch (which I must challenge myself to finish) and maybe flamingos.

My latest cross stitch kit

 

Speak soon!

No more counting hours

The first two weeks of the year have flown by and as I approach my 52nd birthday, I would like to make this year (and all future years too) another memorable year. My aims that I have started this year are to make sure I do achieve this. I’m also on a mission to make my Me You diary an exciting read; one that Dawn French would be proud of. I’m not going to be jumping out of planes or do any bungee jumping but I would like to make sure that each day counts.

I do have a few exciting things to look forward to. I will be going to London to see The Lion King in April. Kathryn wanted to see this so we bought 2 tickets for Christmas presents. Lucky old me gets to go with her on this outing. We are also going to go to The Ritz for tea in May. This had been one of Kathryn’s challenges set for my 50th birthday but when she did set it, she hadn’t realised that poor students could not afford this luxury, so, with reluctance, we changed the challenge. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped a box from Kathryn at Christmas time to find a voucher for tea at The Ritz. They are certainly two experiences that I am looking forward to sharing with you.

The Ritz London

Looking at my list of aims for January, I can confirm that I should be collecting  quite a few ticks this month. Here is my progress:

Finish Puddles of Love

I actually finished all of the cross stitch on Sunday. Just have backstitch, some French knots and beading to do so it will be a very good tick.

Puddles of Love cross stitch completed

Book 3 classes at leisure centre per week

In November, I took out a membership at our local leisure centre. I have attended the gym a few times but much prefer the classes. To make the membership pay, I need to go at least 2 times a week. My initial cost was £99 for 3 months which was a bargain. I like value for money and have made sure that I have stuck to going. I have been going to the same zumba class for other 5 years now and I always go with somebody else. Going on my own was a little out of my comfort zone. I decided I would try a selection of classes and find what I liked. I have found everyone so friendly; even the receptionist calls me by my first name without looking at my card now! Last week I did 5 different classes. This week I have 4 booked:

Aquafitthis was another challenge for my 50th Birthday. Amazing that I love this class now.
Fat Blaster – my stomach ached a lot when I did this last week but I had done a Legs, Bums and Tums class the night before.
Zumba – as I have other plans for Friday, I have to do this class straight after fat blaster. I love this zumba class.
Body Jam – this is a mad dance class. Absolutely no idea what I’m doing but it is fun and worth getting up for on a Sunday morning..

I do recommend trying classes and finding what you actually like to do. So far, there has only been one class that I haven’t been keen on and that was totally to do with me; not the class itself. There are still a few more I plan to try so I think I will be making my membership pay.

Read an author from my favourite author list

My old faithful kindle with hundreds of books still to read was replaced at Christmas by a Kindle paperwhite. I can now read in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep in my bed!! Haven’t had to yet though. I am always downloading books and thought that I would make sure that I downloaded new books this year from my favourite authors. I intended to make a list of 12 authors but came up with 14!

January’s favourite author read

My author this month was Jodi Picoult. I read Small Great Things, a book about what happens when a new born baby suddenly dies. I have always loved reading books by Jodi Picoult; I love her style of writing and learning about the subjects she writes about. I have to admit that I felt uncomfortable reading this book at the beginning. It involves racism in a very violent way. There are a lot of other prejudices in the book apart from the racism and it  made me think about my own prejudices; I couldn’t find any sympathy with the character who was racist at all. I actually don’t think that the author wanted us to anyway but it did make me realise how easily it can to be judgmental. I have read other readers’ reviews on this book and there are some who believe the author is not qualified to write on some of the subjects. Whilst it can be an uncomfortable read, it is a powerful one. I look forward to her next new release.

Aim for a relaxed and on time morning start

This aim might seem a little mad but I always tend to cram far too much into the time before I leave for work. This one will always be a work in progress but I am actually leaving for work on time at the moment. I just can’t be held responsible for traffic though!!

Buy a mascara and learn to apply

Another mad one but I will explain. I have never been big on make up and always find I look like a panda when applying mascara. I had started having my eyelashes tinted but I’ve decided that it is an expense I could do without. After reading reviews, I purchased an Eyeco waterproof mascara from Marks and Spencers. I decided to go for a travel size one as there wasn’t a lot of difference in the price and I wanted to check it was right for me. I have only had it a few days and have yet to check it out for a full working day or whether it lasts in the swimming pool.

eyeko mascara – no more panda eyes

So this week I am hoping to start my running again, plan out the food better and maybe try to get 10,000 steps a few more times!

Enjoy the third week of January – lighter evenings are coming!