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⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently reading:  Half a World Away by Mike Gayle

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!

January, you make me feel brand new

What is it with January and a new year. We expect it to be a new start and a new us. We plan for it to be better and we make resolutions. In reality, we still have the old concerns with us and as we continue the year, nothing has changed. Actually that isn’t really true. I believe that we can all make changes to our lives if we want them; we just have to make the commitment. It also doesn’t have to be a new start in January; it can be any month or any day you choose to make the change. Also if you fail one day, you are not a complete failure. You just put that blip behind you and continue. You will get there.

I started this blog when I had been set 50 challenges by my daughter. Although I do have lots of things in my life that I’m proud of, this was a wonderful thing to do. It gave me goals to achieve. Since it finished, I have tried to find something to make myself committed and I certainly do want the years of my 50s to be memorable. I had wanted to make my goals in my birthday month so I could have another year of having a few challenges to aim for. I didn’t quite get there between June and December. I won’t say I failed; just didn’t quite start! So I am actually going to start in January and with the aid of my “Just Flamingo to It” pad, I am going to start an “Aims for” list of 10 things I want to do each month. The pad is magnetic so can be put on the fridge for easy viewing. I have also put it on my keep list on the phone so I can see it everywhere.

My January aims

Here are January’s aims:

  1. Finish Puddles of Love Cross stitch
  2. Book 3 classes at Leisure centre
  3. Sort out monthly food menu
  4. Lose 4 lbs
  5. Start on a de-clutter plan
  6. Read an author from my favourite author list
  7. Aim to run 3 times a week
  8. Try to get to 10,000 steps a day
  9. Aim for a relaxed and on time morning start
  10. Buy a mascara and learn to apply

I have tried to use words such as aim and try so I won’t feel disappointed if I don’t achieve everything. I always believe that it takes a lot of small changes to make the big change in our life. The item I want to achieve in January is to finish my Puddles of Love cross stitch so I can start on my new one. Cross stitch is something that I started in my 20s and I haven’t always been successful in achieving my finish. I was so proud of my completing my cross stitch challenge that I have continued with the hobby. It is so tempting to open my new cross stitch but I have told myself it can’t be done until Puddles of Love is completed. To achieve this, I do have to make sure other things in my life are in order; the dinners still need cooking, I need to exercise and I need to go to work to so if I make plans to achieve these things, I have time to stitch.

Aim to finish in January
My next cross stitching kit to start

Losing weight is something that always seems to be a January plan. I have been lucky because in 2012, I did get to my goal weight so I haven’t had too many worries with my weight in January. This year is a bit different; too much baking! I have weighed myself today and am not going to look at the scales until January 31st. I have set myself a small goal of 4lb loss because I think it should be achievable. If I do manage (actually I will manage) to lose this and continue over the following 4 months, I will be able to get into all my summer clothes!

So here are today’s plan to get some of those plans together:

  • Go for a walk around the block to try to achieve 10,000 steps
  • Make today’s dinner and put some portions in freezer so it will give me more stitching time this month.
  • Make tomorrow’s dinner so I can get to one of my classes at the leisure centre tomorrow
  • Cross stitch
  • Go to bed early tonight so I can read Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things and be able to get up early tomorrow for a more relaxing start to the day

In my 2nd week of the month/year, I do feel optimistic that I will be able to set and go on to achieve my aims.

Have a great 2nd week of 2018!

Dear Diary

Dear 2018

I am writing to you inspired by my Daughter Kathryn in two ways: her letters to December made me appreciate my downfalls of the month and made me want to explore the months more, and, one of the lovely gifts she gave me for Christmas; Dawn French’s Me You diary.

Dawn French Me You Diary

For Christmas 2016, I was given a diary from one of my friends; One Line a Day. Whilst January is the beginning of a new year, I actually started writing in it on the 25 December; something I thought I would regret after hearing the sad news (still very sad news in my opinion) that George Michael had died. This diary is a a five year diary so each page has room for 5 years of the same day. I would love to tell you that I wrote in it every day but September I wasn’t so good. I think life seemed a bit daunting. I have recovered now and am trying to make amends to my diary!

I promise to write in this every day!

I needed to make a few changes in my working life so the months between September and November involved that. That led me into December, without a “proper” job due to a gamble which I do believe might have paid off. More  on that later. I had decided that I wouldn’t start my “gambling” life gradually, I took a holiday; a very enjoyable one too! A bit riskier because I did have Christmas to prepare too. I left for my holiday with a few presents bought, no cards written but plenty ideas of what I needed to get once I got back.

Happy Holidays

On holiday, I was able to keep up with Kathryn’s blog and her letters to December. I felt quite tearful reading some of the traditions we had created and how she had enjoyed them. Our Christmas day is always a quiet relaxed affair (even that has pressure put on it) and Kathryn did seem to appreciate them. It did come as a bit of a shock because Kathryn is far from a boring girl and our Christmas day isn’t one of these great big family days. It is always tradition for mum and dad to fall asleep.

I did learn a lot about myself in December by reading the December letters and watching Kathryn achieving the many things she set to do each day. In the past, I have put pressure on myself by thinking everything should be perfect. This year, perfection went out of the window (I never achieve it anyway) and I enjoyed the month so much more. These are some of the things that made it easier:

  • Supermarket food deliveries – this has been a big plus all year. I have a shop on the same day, same time every week and it has made my life so much easier
  • Online shopping – normally we have a Christmas shopping day which can involve going into a lot of cafes for lattes, writing out lists of what we want to buy, buying six things and then coming home to buy the rest online. One week before Christmas, the laptop was brought into action and all presents were purchased. Who needs to start shopping in September!
  • A “does it matter” approach – do I need to worry if I haven’t got swede for roast veg on the day? Is it necessary for the Christmas cake to be perfectly decorated? So what if we haven’t got shortbread (hold on I should care about that one!). What if I only decided 5 minutes before the dinner was being served I want the table to look? In the big scheme of things, these things should not put a cloud over the day. All resolvable – just have to remember to buy Marks and Spencer’s shortbread in September next year!
  • Lists – Kathryn loves lists; they often scare me. December this year, I discovered how to use them in the best way with my phone and a program called Keep. I do love gadgets and this one certainly made me happy this December. I plan to start enjoying lists.

So 2018, December will not frighten me this year. In fact, I’m not going to get frighted by any of the months. Each month, with help from Dawn, is going to be a blank page: a new month to get things right and forget about what happened the month before (I will have it all written down of course but there will be no dwelling over it). So today, 1 January 2018, I plan to eat the lovely cake I made yesterday (plan on getting back into my clothes can wait until tomorrow), hopefully achieve 10,000 steps on my fitbit, if it stops raining and make a plan for January but not the whole of you, 2018.

Yummy food that make my clothes shrink – to be enjoyed today!

Love from a glass half full me x

It Takes five (ingredients that is)

I love cooking and baking and although not trying out too many recipes from my vast book collection, my love of food is still there. I am probably still a person who is a traditionalist with her meat and vegetable meals but have made Mondays a meat free day. I have to work hard on remembering this when making my sandwich for work.

Another thing I do tend to do is follow recipes very closely and rarely deviate from them. I’ve surprised myself recently by actually coming up with my own Monday night recipe. This one is quick and easy and contains just five ingredients; three of which are my favourite foods of the moment.

5 ingredients

The ingredients are (first three are my favourites):

  1. Cauldron Lincolnshire vegetarian sausages – I love sausages and wanted to find a vegetarian sausages. The reviews were very good for these and I can confirm that they are lovely. They do a few varieties and whilst normally I would go for a Cumberland, they are not as good as a Lincolnshire.
  2. Spinach – I just so love this. Why does it disintegrate so much!
  3. Goats cheese – Chris has raved about this for years but I’ve only just started enjoying it. My favourite cheese (other than cheddar) at the moment. I will still eat Camembert, Brie, Wensleydale with cranberry, etc!
  4. Baked potatoes – I forgot; I love potatoes in any form – mashed, roasted, chipped, baked and let’s not forget the plain boiled new potato.
  5. Peppers – any colour will do.
Colourful Dish

Tina’s method

  1. I allow 2 sausages per person and whilst I could fry this, I tend to stick these in the oven for 20 minutes whilst preparing the rest. The great thing about these sausages is that you can actually cook them from frozen so I don’t have to remember to get them out of the freezer.
  2.  I put the potatoes in the microwave allowing one per person.    Whilst these are cooking, I slice two peppers (any colour but red and yellow give a wonderful colour to the dish).
  3. Once the potatoes are cooked, (I always over cook but it still works) I slice each one into wedges. My lovely red pan is put onto heat with a squirt of oil. I add the potatoes to this and fry until turning a golden brown. Then add the peppers and continue frying for a few more minutes.
  4.  I then chop the cooked sausages up, add to the pan along with a bag of spinach and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. It might look like a lot of spinach but it isn’t when this process has completed.
  5. Add the goats cheese and the dish is ready to be served. Once upon a time, I would have made sure Chris has the most of everything. I realise now that life is too short; I go for lots of goats cheese!
Tina’s Veggie Sausage and Goat Cheese Delight

New potatoes can be substituted for the baked potatoes.

The sausages are also great in a toad in the hole (another favourite dish).

Toad in the Hole

Hope you enjoy this dish.