Friday 30 March 2012

Losing The Inches

I've now lost two stone one pound since I started on my healthy eating regime, though it's not just about losing weight and healthy eating, it's also about losing the inches.

There's so many clothes hung up in my wardrobe which I haven't been able to squeeze myself in to. Since I stopped working and stopped smoking two years ago, the weight has gradually crept on and I've had to buy clothes in larger sizes. Now that the weight is coming off again, I've found that some of the clothes which I couldn't get in to before are now quite baggy on me.

As well as weighing myself every Sunday, I also measure certain areas. Since starting out I have lost four inches from my bust, three inches from my waist and four inches from my hips. Some weeks I may have only lost a pound or two, but the tape measure is slacker than it was the previous week and this really helps to spur me on.

I'm really beginning to see the lumps and bumps disappear, and I'm feeling much better for it too.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Feathering The Nest

It's around this time of year that birds pair up and start looking for somewhere suitable to make their nests.

I've been saving all the odd ends of yarn from my crochet, and as you can see, there's quite a few.

I've stuffed some of them in an empty peanut feeder and this has now been hung in the garden. The yarn should make a very comfortable nest liner so I hope the birds take plenty.

I'm looking forward to seeing some very colourful nests around the neighbourhood.

Saturday 24 March 2012

First And Second

Eleanor competed in a local music festival yesterday and did extremely well. Her first class was Girls and Boy Soprano Solo, 14 years and under. She had to sing a set song, A Smuggler's Song by Christopher le Fleming in key E minor, and she came first and won a cup to bring home for the year. We just need to get her name engraved on it now.

The second class she took part in was Junior Show class, 18 years and under. For this she had to sing a song from a show or musical, her own choice with a time limit of 5 minutes. Eleanor chose to sing Feed the Birds from Mary Poppins by Sherman & Sherman and came second.

We're really proud of her, she's got such a lovely voice even though I do say it myself, and I love to listen to her sing, though it's extremely nerve wracking watching her just in case she goes wrong, though she never has yet. She got some lovely complimentary comments from the adjudicator too.

This is the fourth year that Eleanor has competed at this festival and we see some familiar faces each year, but there were a few new faces there this year which is always good to see. I'm sure that Eleanor will be there again next year, she enjoys her singing so much.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Cake Decorating

I recently saw an advert on TV for a new magazine, Cake Decorating. I tend to stay away from these type of publications which build up in to a set as, after the first issue, the price shoots up and you can end up paying hundreds of pounds for the entire collection.

I didn't think it would harm to buy the first issue though, it was only 99p and came with two butterfly cutters and some pink glitter. I haven't had a good read through it yet, but after a quick flick I can see that it is rather good. Not only does it tell you how to decorate cakes and cookies, but it also has recipes in it too. I don't really have enough patience for cake decorating myself, but I'm sure that Eleanor would love to give it a go.

I've spent this morning in the kitchen, first of all making lasagne for tomorrow's dinner as Eleanor is competing in a singing festival late afternoon, so now all I have to do is shove the lasagne in the oven when we get home. I made enough to freeze one too. Then I made some Caramel Shortbread. This is another recipe from Attic24. I'm making my way through Lucy's recipes as they're all so easy, and so delicious. These are a batch I made last week, today's are still setting in the fridge.

I can tell you, it's very hard to stick to healthy eating when there's these scrummy goodies in the house.

Sunday 18 March 2012

Treats And Outings

Happy Mother's Day to all you mums out there, I hope you've enjoyed your day as I've thoroughly enjoyed mine.

This morning was all about treats. I was given two beautiful cards.

Daniel had chosen a card with some heartfelt words, I was very touched.

I love the fact that Eleanor always sends cards to Mummy even though she's 13.

Eleanor had composed a poem of her own inside her card.

I was given some wonderful gifts as well as cards.

Daniel bought me things for the garden and allotment, a blackcurrant bush to increase my fruit production and a cute little flowerpot man which will sit on my wall.

Eleanor bought me a vase with some pretty yellow carnations, and my favourite Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Inside the vase she had scrunched up lots of coloured paper, and had written a message on each sheet. Some of the messages read I'm so lucky to have a mum like you, It's the little things someone does that make something so special, Have a nice day, Thank you for everything you do, I love you.

This afternoon we decided to take a walk to Temple Newsam. Rain had been forecast but it was actually quite warm and sunny. A couple of rhododendrons were in flower already but we shall go back again when the Rhododendron Walk is in full bloom as it's a fantastic display.

We walked through the park to the walled garden as we knew the glass house opens from March.

Inside the glass house are displays of climbing pelargoniums and fuchsias, and tropical plants among others.

There's plenty of colour to be found even though it's only the start of the season.

The daffodils are only just coming in to their best, there were plenty yet to open which I'm sure will look stunning in a week or so.

There are so many nests in the trees. They're so easy to see at the moment as the trees are so bare, but they'll be well covered soon when the trees are covered in leaves.

On our way back to the car we saw the white donkey foal which was born on Valentine's Day. It's the first donkey to be born at the farm, and it's so cute.

This evening, we've been out to Frankie and Benny's for a meal. It was booked as a surprise for Mother's Day, needless to say, my diet has gone out the window today. Never mind, it's been lovely to be spoilt the way I have.

I've had a wonderful day and it's all thanks to my wonderful family.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Sugar, Ah Honey Honey

Last week, my name was drawn second in Scarlet's giveaway which she was hosting on her Tales From Beyond The Nook blog.

I was lucky enough to win this gorgeous Colclough Linden sugar bowl, isn't it pretty? It's funny that this was my prize as I've been looking out for a nice sugar bowl for quite a while now.

At the moment it's holding a few sweeties, though I've been very good and have resisted the temptation to eat any, but I can assure you that it will be used for it's intended purpose.

Thank you, Scarlet, I love my prize and it will be put to good use.

I wish I hadn't chosen that title, I'll have the tune in my head all day now.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Shibden Hall And Park

It was a nice day yesterday so we decided to go a little further afield than we usually do and visit Shibden Hall and Park which is in Halifax. We've never been here before so we didn't really know what to expect. It was a little cooler there than it was at home, and quite breezy too, we would have probably been better going today as it's been a really lovely day.

Shibden Hall dates back 600 years. It was built around 1420, and from around 1615 to 1926, it was owned by the Lister family. Anne Lister 1791-1840 became the owner after the death of her aunt. She was known as a well off Yorkshire landowner, traveller, mountaineer and diarist. In her diaries she detailed her life, including her financial concerns, her work improving Shibden Hall and her lesbian activities. Her diaries contain details of her romantic and sexual relationships, but they were written in a code derived from a combination of algebra and Ancient Greek. They were deciphered in the 1930's.

We didn't look around the hall as we had Archie with us, it was really the grounds which we came to explore. There was plenty of open space for Archie to have a good run.

There was lots of water in the park, so we had to keep putting Archie back on his lead. We saw a couple of dogs which had jumped in the lake, and as we didn't fancy having a wet dog in the car we took precautions. He even had a go at getting in to this little fountain which was built in to a wall.

This waterfall emptied out in to a pool. Luckily, it wasn't within easy reach for Archie.

It was only the ducks and geese which were using the boating lake. I'm sure it's well used in summer though.

There's a lovely playground for children, it's just a shame that my two are too old to use play equipment now. It does make me feel old though. Archie managed to find a huge sandpit too.

A little train takes it's passengers around the grounds.

There were some lovely crocus displays but they were a little worse for wear, the wind had certainly given them a battering.

We came across a tree stump which was covered in moss and fungi, fascinating.

Back towards the hall, we could see the wall which surrounds it. Can you see the open door? Daniel and Eleanor are nothing if curious so off they went.

Eleanor went in one direction, she arrived at the top.

Daniel went in another direction, we could just see a face peering out of a window.

We popped in to one of the cafes for ice cream, very reasonably priced, and there was another cafe down by the lake too. I really enjoy exploring new places.

On the way home we popped in to Halifax town centre, looked round the shops there, and also had a mooch around the Piece Hall. It was nice to see it busier than I've seen it previously. We had an all round nice day.

Friday 9 March 2012

Something's Cooking

This is what we're having for tea tonight, Pork Casserole. Mick isn't a lover of pork, so I thought I'd get the slow cooker out and make a casserole to try and tempt him. I find that meat cooked slowly in the slow cooker is much more tender. I have to admit that I don't use my slow cooker very often, they're really handy when you're out at work all day as you can put tea on before you go to work and it's all ready for when you get home again, but I don't need to do that since I've stopped working. It should be a really tasty tea as along with the pork, there's leeks, parsnips and onions which are all home grown, and swede, carrots and new potatoes which aren't home grown.

The breadmaker is currently rustling up some dough for me. I don't really use the machine for baking the bread as it never turns out to my liking, but it's great for making dough, saving me from having to knead it. Once the dough's risen, I take it out and divide it up to make rolls and bake them in the oven. We'll have lovely warm bread with our casserole tonight.

I've also been doing some baking today. Ever since I started my healthy eating plan in January, I've been craving Butterfly Buns. I don't know why, it's years since I've had one. It's a simple recipe 4oz each of margarine, caster sugar and flour, and two eggs. This makes a dozen buns. I only made half of them in to Butterfly Buns as not everyone likes the buttercream which is used, so the other half were left plain. I shall have a treat after my tea, I've been good this week.

I whipped up a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies too. This recipe comes from Attic24, I've made these before and they're delicious.

I wonder if I could get away with eating a bun and a cookie.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

February's Finished Item

The item I chose to make for February is Fetching by Cheryl Niamath. These fingerless gloves are knitted in an aran yarn which knits up quickly. I chose Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran which is 100% Merino and wonderfully soft, and which I already had in my stash.

There were lots of techniques in this pattern which I hadn't attempted before. I had never knit cables, nor had I worked a picot bind off. In fact, I'd never had a go at gloves or mittens before, so it was an education knitting on to a spare piece of yarn then pulling the yarn out again in order to knit the thumb, but I managed it.

Of course, like most things I knit, Eleanor has claimed these. I might have to knit another pair for myself.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Forever Liesl

I've just finished reading Forever Liesl by Charmian Carr. The Sound Of Music has to be one of my all time favourite films, and this book, written by the actress who played Captain Von Trapp's eldest daughter, Liesl, is full of anecdotes about the making of the film, and how it changed her life. I really enjoyed reading it.

Also in February, I read The Other Side of the Dale by Gervase Phinn. This was a fun book which made me chuckle throughout, recounting tales from his time as a school inspector in the Yorkshire Dales.

I'm now reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I'm not very far in but I'm already enjoying it immensely. This book has been made in to a film, but I'd much rather read a book before I see the film rather than the other way round.

On my trips round the charity shops, I've managed to pick up a couple of books from The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I haven't yet read the first book in this series but it's in my pile of books waiting to be read, so I might as well pick up any other books I see from the series. These only cost me 49p each from a local hospice charity shop, and they look like new.

I also managed to find the second Gervase Phinn book, Over Hill and Dale.

I'm so pleased that I set myself the challenge of reading a book each month in 2012, it's certainly renewed my love of reading.

Thursday 1 March 2012

A Host, Of Golden Daffodils

It's a beautiful, sunny March the 1st here in Yorkshire, and that sunshine extends indoors where these wonderful daffodils are brightening up my room.

I went in to Leeds on Saturday with Eleanor. As usual, she came home with lots of shopping bags, whereas the only thing that found it's way home with me were these gorgeous flowers.

We went in to Kirkgate Market where there are lots of flower stalls, and I found these beauties for 50p per bunch. I bought three bunches and ended up with 33 stems. I could have separated them in to a few different vases, but I think they look stunning displayed together. I'm really enjoying them. The vase was one of my mum's. She sent so many things to the charity shop when she moved house last year, but I managed to save this vase. I can remember it from my childhood, so she must have had it quite a lot of years.

These aren't the only daffodils in the house at the moment. I bought these Narcissus Tete a Tete from Morrisons for £1.50, another bargain seeing as they're planted in a ceramic pot which can be used again. They're such dainty little flowers, and I'll be able to plant the bulbs out in the garden when they've finished flowering so that they'll spring back to life again next year.

I'm loving this challenge of having lots of flowers in the house in 2012.