Tuesday, 4 September 2012

My pledge for Zero Waste Week

This week is Zero Waste Week and lots of people are pledging to reduce waste, esp food.  As someone who is v keen on recycling, reducing and reusing, this is an ideal time for me to think about what I can do to reduce my waste and I have come up with an idea. I use baby wipes to wipe myself, and usually either flush them or bin them, depending on what I use it for. So this week, I have pledged to use them and flush them instead of binning them all the time. How have I been doing? Well, I had put two in my bedroom bin so far, but I have taken one out and flushed it down the toilet when I used that room.  I plan to do this during the week as I go along.  I had started using face wipes, which aren't biodegradable or flushable, but I pledge not to use any of these this week and just use warm water and flannel instead to wash my face in the evening.

Earlier this morning, I started reusing a magazine that came in the paper for catching hairs from my legs when I shaved them. That is another way to reduce wastage.

So, let me know what your pledge is, and how you plan to go about it and get on with it.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Loving home grown fruit and veg

We have recently been loving home grown fruit and veg from our veg patch. We have been eating chives but they are getting rather brown rusty-looking now, either from age or the weather. Not many to cut at the moment. We haven't had much look with radishes again this year. Only had one out of the whole lot, which were nibbled by something.  We have had some carrots, and await more. We had a few cherry tomatoes the other day, and they were sweet.  We have had some spring onions, which taste stronger than shop bought ones. Even my mum finds them strong, and that is saying something. Recently we have had a glut of fresh beetroot, which we've grown for the first time.  They are really nice cooked.  Have a slightly earthy taste but nice. Probably grow some more next year.  We usually see what grows OK one year, to decide to plant again next year.

So, have you been growing fruit and veg?  What have you had success with so far?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Excess packaging on Father's Day

Today is Father's Day.  I bought my dad two packets of handkerchiefs, which came in a plastic box.  Now in those two plastic boxes, there was a piece of card to keep them standing up straight in the box.  In the hankies themselves, they each had a roll of card/paper to keep them standing up as a roll.  There were 5 hankies in each box. So that makes 10 pieces of paper, 2 pieces of card and two plastic boxes.  I had to throw away the plastic, as I didn't think I could recycle it.  But the other bits went for recycling.  Although most of it has gone for recycling, I still think that this was too much packaging.  I did make up for it in a way.  I put the boxes in a gift bag, but didn't sign the card on the bag so I can use it again and again, which I will do.

So, do you think this was too much packaging for two boxes of hankies? Let me know.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Changes to my eating over the years

I recently read in a Sainsbury's magazine an article about how food and how it is cooked has changed over the decades.  It asked people to email in to how their food has changed.  I thought this is a good ideas and replied.  Below is my reply:

In the 80s: breakfast was cereal such as rice crispies or Weetabix with milk. Lunch would be sandwich, yoghurt. Dinner would be fatty foods such as meat pies, pasties, meatballs, burgers. Desserts would be fruit pies, trifles.

In the 90s: breakfast was the same. Lunch was the same, too but dinners were changed to be more healthier due to my dad having major strokes, and finding out it was mainly due to high cholesterol. Out went the fatty dinnners, instead we had home-made chicken curry, spaghetti Bolognese, cold meats,casseroles. And we didn't have any desserts like before.  The curry ingredients changed too.  We first had potatoes and bread with it, then we cut out the potatoes.  Then we changed the bread to popadums, then finally out went the popadums. 

2000s: Another major change in my diet happened. I found I was interolerant to cow's milk, soya, fish and maybe wheat. I also changed my breakfasts to healthier versions. Instead of cereals I had different porridges: millet, quinoa and oats, which I heard about on the TV programme You are what you eat. I had these with fruit spread. These were made with oat milk. I also found goat's cheese and sheep's milk yoghurt. Out went snacking on biscuits, and instead I started snacking on nuts, seeds and dried dates. I gave up eating bread as sandwiches, after finding out I could be intolerant to wheat, and was getting fed up eating it every day by then. I started eating ryvitas instead. Dinners also changed, with a variety of new meals. These included: falafel, vegetarian sausages, houmous. This year I have discovered jacket potatoes and spices, which I have in a potato and chicken curry.  We now have two different curries.  One plain one with raisins in, and the new one with tinned tomatoes, spices, herbs and potatoes in.  I am preferring the latter one these days.

So overall, my diet has changed to a healther one over the years, for health reasons.

How has your diet changed over the years?  If it has, why?  Let me know.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Weight loss journey - month 3

So I was now appraoching my third month on the plan.  I was still cutting down houmous, walnuts and dates. Only having the nuts and dates as part of my syns of the day.  My weight was still going down.  But then came Easter.  I had treats.  I like the dark choc coated bananas from Holland and Barratts and my mum had bought me two bags of those.  Yummy.  But not good for the weight loss, though.  Having had those I went back to eating lots of nuts and dates again, and my weight went up and down.  But there was one good thing about having lost lots of weight already - I tried on a couple of party tops that had been too tight before and...they now fit snugly on me and I wasn't too tight in them.  Result.   One other thing I noticed about losing weight was that my rings kept twirling round my fingers, so the jewel on them stuck between fingers, and it hurt. But hey, I had lost 9 lbs by then.  Hurrah.  April came and went and in came May.  And...I was down to my target weight of 9 3.  Yay.  I had done it.  I had reached my ideal weight.  Ideal because I remembered that was the weight I had been shortly before being made redundant.

I set myself a new target of 9 2.  I have still a bit of a way to go, as my weight now fluctuates between 9 3 and 9 4.  I have to go back to the Plan now for the nice weather coming up.

Oh yes.  I will shortly be appearing on the Slimming World website as one of their successes.  Hurrah.  Success all around, me thinks.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Weight loss - second month

So I was in my second month of doing the Slimming World Plan, and losing weight for the first time in ages. How was I doing it?  I made a few slight changes to my diet.  I started to have raspberries (thawed frozen ones) with my porridge, and banana with another porridge.  But the banana didn't last that long as it started to disagree with me.  I had cut out spread on my ryvitas at lunch, kept an eye on my level of houmous intake, and had cut down the number of crackers I had for supper.  Plus cutting out and down the amount of walnuts and dates I had been having.  I found it is the little things that add the calories, such as the spread and houmous.  I kept this up for the month of February to March, and the results?

At the start of week 8 (12th March) I weighed 9 61/2.  So a loss of 61/2 over two months.  I was well pleased.  By then I had received two certificates.  One for reaching my target weight, and one for losing half a stone.  I also got a certificate for Silver Fitness.  You have to do 120 minutes of exercise a week.  I found this quite easy.  15 mins walk here, 15 mins of hoovering there, and 30 mins of shopping elsewhere.  This is what is keeping me motivating.  That I have to enter my weight each week, and enter my exercises too.  Knowing that I am keeping a tab of what exercise I am doing, I ensure that I do it.  I asked my mum once if she thought my attitude to exercise had changed, in that when she asked me if I wanted to walk over the road to the garden centre, I used to say no and now I say yes (to get the exercise in), and she said yes.   Result!

So, if you need motivating to lose weight or keep exercising my suggestion is: keep a diary of it somewhere.  As well as on the Slimming World website, I enter my weight weekly on the kitchen calendar.  You could do the same.  So have you any other tips to keep yourself motivated when losing weight or wanting to exercise?  Let me know.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Get Your House in Order

This was a great TV programme which aired recently.  It showed people who collected things madly that it took over their houses so they couldn't move properly.  What they did was to get a dealer and an interior designer to help the person.  They put all the collections in a warehouse and got the person to get rid of most of it, where the dealer then helped the person to sell the stuff to raise money to get the designer to redecorate key rooms of the house.  The idea was to redecorate the house so the person wouldn't want to clutter the house up again.  It was a really good way of doing it, and got me thinking what I might have in the house that I either haven't used or worn in ages.  The answer was two pairs of trousers that I used to wear to work and were now too tight, some books and other things.  Most of these things have gone to a charity shop.  I feel there is still probably a lot that I have that I don't use or wear or want that I can give away.  I want to go through a box of writing magazines in my cupboard upstairs, so I can then replace it with a full one from downstairs.  That way I save money on box files, by emptying one to reuse when I need it.  Although I have decided I do want to buy another concertina file to put my Angel work in, and the folder I now use for it will house all my factual publications eg my reader letters as a portfolio.

So, have you got anything in your house that you either haven't worn or used for ages, that you think could be chucked out?  Let me know.  Let's get our houses in order!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

New plan, new meals

So I am four weeks into my new health plan.  And it has given my mum the inspiration to try cooking new meals.  The first one we tried was chicken and potato curry with lots of spices.  We usually have a curry with just curry powder in, chicken and rice and a few raisins.  This one has lots of different spices, potatoes and onion and garlic.  It would be hotter if we had put all the ingredients in which included ginger and chillies, but I can't take too much heat in food.  Anyway, we tried it and we loved it.  So much so that we have had it again a couple more times.  Be warned, the smell of the spices linger indoors for 2-3 days afterwards we found.

The other new dinner we tried was jacket potato and baked beans.  I had this once at work and really liked it.  We both really like it now.  We had it for dinner yesterday.  We find it is a quick and easy meal to do (10 mins to do) and is a stop gap for when we can't think of something to put on the menu or want something quick to eat if we have been out for the day or have visitors.

So, two new meals that we both love and will eat again soon.

Next week I will be taking a break from talking about weight loss and foods, and talking about decluttering your house.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Losing weight - Month One

So, back in January I began the Slimming World Food Optimising Plan.  The first thing I did was to measure out my porridge flakes and Oat Milk.  Straight away I could see I would be having less breakfast than I used to have.  When I poured the porridge in the bowl, it was only half full instead of two thirds full.  With it being less, I didn't need so much fruit spread on it.  I also decided to have a change from fruit spread, which was .5 syn a tspn.  I had berries instead with artificial sweetener on.  And very nice they are too. More cutting down.  Then came lunch.  I usually have spread and houmous on my ryvitas, but both of those were syns and I could only have 15 in a day, and they added up to too many.  So the spread was cut out and the houmous was cut down.  Even more less food than I was used to.  Dinner wasn't too much of a problem, as most of the times they have free foods of veg, spuds and meat in.  It was the snacking that added up the syn points for me.  I used to eat lots of walnuts and lots of dried dates.  Now I couldn't eat them, as 4 of each of those were 2 syns each.  And I didn't have that many to go for the day's amount.  I cut them out.  Less food again.  Then came supper. I used to have 3 oatcakes with peanut butter and sunflower seed butter on, but oatcakes were 3 syns each, plus 1 each for the butters.  I had to have other crackers, which were only 1 syn each - crispbreads, corn  thins and Tucs with spread on.  And I tried to eke out the spread.

So for me, the first month was measuring and cutting out hidden extras/calories. My mum had kept on at me that I was eating too much houmous anyway, and that it was a lot of calories I was eating in a week (used to get through a pot a week).

So, the first month: not so much breakfast with not so much fruit spread.  Two porridges I have fruit spread on now, and the other I have berries.  No spread with my ryvitas for lunch, and less houmous, too.  Less oatcakes for supper, and more other crackers with spread instead.

Weight to start: 9 13
Weight end of month one: 9.11

Next post will be out new meals.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My weight loss journey - why and how

Like most of people, when the new year came I decided that I definitely wanted to lose weight. My weight had crept up and up since I was made redundant and at home full-time. I wasn't doing the walking that I had done before, and was sitting down more than before. My stomach had got bigger; something that my mum had commented on and thought I might have to see the dr about to find out why. I didn't know how I was going to do it. But then in the Daily Mirror in January, there was free booklets from Slimming World and their Food Optimising Plan. I went on their website and found out that my BMI was 25.2 and in the 'at risk' section. I had to do something. I read the booklets and thought, this is a way that I can lose weight. What I liked about it was no foods are restricted. You have 'free foods' which are fresh/frozen veg and fruit, fish, lean meat, poultry, potatoes, rice, pasta and eggs. These you can have as much of as you want. Then there are the healthy extras: milk and bread (bread has to be fibre), and has to be measured. You can have a roll or 2 slices of bread, and a certain measure of milk and cheese. Everything else to eat is considered a sin. You are allowed up to 15 sins a day. I then joined the online membership for 3 months (have just resubscribed for another 3). Online you have a FIT log, where you can submit how many minutes exercise you have done each day. There are awards. The silver award you have to do 120 mins a week. I have managed to get that far and am working towards a gold one now. My weight at the start of the plan was 10 st 1.

So far, after 3 months, I have lost 9 pounds. Something I never thought I'd do after being so heavy for so long. I weighed myself this morning and was 9st 4. A weight I've not been for a couple of years.

This is my journey how I managed to lose weight. Next post will be the first two weeks of the plan and how I lost weight.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Easter goodies for food intolerances/sensitivities

It is now Easter, so happy Easter everyone. So, how do you celebrate Easter if you have a food intolerance or sensitivity, esp if it's for dairy products when there are lots of milk choc eggs about in the shops. The answer is easy, as shops, esp Holland and Barrett's, do sell Easter foods for these problems. I bought my mum a packet of dark choc coated ginger and a packet of dark choc coated rice cakes and a book. My mum bought me 2 packets of dark choc coated banana pieces, which are yummy. There are only 3 bits left, which I shall try and save for tomorrow. I also got a notepad and pen, a lotion applicator for my back, and the latest Intrigues out. It helps if you know what the other person likes to eat and read, esp eat. I knew that Mum likes what I bought her, and knew that she wanted the book I got her. There are lots of other different ideas for Easter presents, not just foods. But this is what we have bought each other, and v nice too.

Next post is going to be the first of many about my weight loss journey, and how I managed to get to the weight I am now (something I didn't expect to do for ages).

Monday, 2 April 2012

Vitality Show 2012 and IBS

On Friday 23 March, my mum and I went to the Vitality Show at Earl's Court. It is our annual day trip now. After we eventually got there (got the wrong train - my fault - and had to go back one stop, we settled ourselves. I saw a stand from Haymax sellling 2 for 3 of their little pots, so when we had made ourselves comfortable, we went back there and I bought a tin of 3 pots. Money saved. I wanted to go to a talk at 12, so we made our way to the stage where it was being held. Being early, we found a table to sit at and eat our lunch. By this time, I had looked at the map and the list of exhibitors, and cirlced which ones I wanted to visit. We had our lunch, then went to the stage. It was a talk about IBS. And here is what I learnt (some of it I knew already from personal experience).

IBS can be caused by the way we feel and live our lives. It can inc headache, backache, tiredness and irritable bladder. It is an individual illness. One thing that was mentioned that can cause it is FODMAP, which is a name for various foods that are fermented or can ferment in your body. They inc plums, apples and peaches. Again it is an individual illness, as some foods can affect people, some don't. (I can't eat apples, only properly cooked ones). Some people say it is the food that causes the IBS, but it is your gut. You can sense when your stomach is upset, so don't eat then. For instance, if you have an infection, it makes your gut more sensitive. (I know about this, as years ago I had gastroenteritis, and that brought on my IBS badly, so that when I ate dairy foods, the IBS came back).
Thought and gut feelings go together. For instance. If you are upset, then your gut will get so, too. I know this from personal experience. Another feeling that can cause IBS, esp with me, is stress. If I get stressed, then my insides do, too, so movements inside slow down, and make it hard for me to go. This causes an uncomfortable problem down below for me. It was said that some people like probiotics but the Dr who did the talk said they are not for all. He said that the gut breaks down toxins from the environment, esp social environment. Eg anything that rekindles a memory of a bad food experience can bring it on.
Food intolerances can start in childhood.
Foods can have meaning. Eg chocolate can either be seen as a treat or guilt.
It is not what you eat but the way you eat that can cause IBS. If you rush your food, then you are likely to get an upset.
The dr talking, said they are looking at ways for self-management of IBS. Inc dietary help, finding ways to hlep inc yoga and meditation for emotion. They are thinking of possibly putting someone in GP practices with experience of IBS to help with self-care. I think this is a good idea. The dr is now semi-retired from his practice, but now works with the IBS network. They are aiming to get a plan out this year for self-management. I will look out for this as this is an illness I know a lot about, as I have had it for many years.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


On my quest to eat more healthily, I have recently read about the benefits of stevia. One of them is helping blood pressure. It is said that it can help lower it. Although I have high blood pressure, and take medication for this, I thought I'd try it. I bought Light at Heart by Tate and Lyle, which is a blend of white sugar and stevia. You can taste the sugar in it. I don't mind the taste of it. But don't know if I will buy it again because it is much dearer than artificial sweeteners (it's £2.49) and because it contains the sugar, it has more calories per tsp. I will keep on trying it and see how it goes.

Meantime, my weight has gone down a lot this year after going on the Slimming World Food Optimising Plan. So far I have lost 7 1/2 pounds, which I am v happy with. Watch this space for how I get on with the plan.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


Did you know that it's National Chip week, this week? Well, it is. Among all the chips out there, what do you think the healthiest ones are? I believe they are the ones that are home-made and sprayed with oil such as Fry Light. My mum and I had those yesterday and... they didn't turn out that good. We parboiled them for 4 minutes and cooked them for 25. They weren't all that brown and some weren't all that cooked through either. Mum had a couple that were hard to cut because they were still a bit raw. We will try again some other time, and then we'll parboil them for longer, spray them with Fry Light more and cook them for longer.

Have you cooked home-made chips? How did they turn out? Let me know. Would like to know how to get them right as they are healthier to eat than shop bought ones.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Barefoot Botanicals SOS

Last year I mentioned the above organic company. I gave them a low rating for green. This has now changed. Near the end of last year, my mum and I went to So Organic in Greenwich to buy some more products. BB had changed their packaging. It is now more striking and eyecatching. What is more, on the tube inside the box, it now says ' recycleable packaging'. Yay. For most people, they won't be able to recycle this at home but for me, I can. My borough council now takes all plastic packaging, inc ones like this, that has those words on. So, my green rating has now changed. I now give it a 5 out of 5.

The price has slightly changed, too. The larger tube now costs me £18. I think the smaller tube, 75ml, would be about £16. The smell has also changed. It was originally a v nice orange blossom smell and had changed to a not so nice one, so that I have been using it only for my eczema. Now, it has gone back to the original orangey smell and I will buy more of it.

The only other change in this range is that they no longer do the foot cream, which smelled nice. I use something else that smells nicer now.

So, an all round cheer for Barefoot Botanicals SOS range.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Decluttering and saving money

Well, it's that time of year again when everyone is urged to declutter for the new year. I started before Xmas, sorting out old magazines and papers. In the new year I began going through all my folders with paper cuttings I'd collected over the last few years and took out any that I didn't want. It was a lot. Some of them I'd forgotten I'd had. I only kept what I thought I really needed. Then my mum began going through her photo albums and taking out ones she didn't want because they didn't mean a thing to her. So I started the same job. This is where I managed to save money. I went through most of my albums, a couple have photos of nothing but my two nephews as babies, and took out any that didn't mean a thing to me anymore, any that were duplicated and there were some. I kept a lot of holiday stuff, because it gave me an idea for a series of magical romance stories, different to the Geraldine ones. So, how did I save money? Well, as I went taking photos out, I moved them to the album before the one they were in. By the end of sorting out, I had two spare albums. So if I want to buy any more albums, I don't need to now as I already have two there. Money saved.

So, what have you decluttered, saving money at the same time? Let me know.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Losing weight

As many people are probably doing this time of year, I am trying to lose weight. I have got two inspirations to spur me on. The Biggest Loser TV programme and free Slimming World booklets that came with the paper the other week. I went on the S World website the other day to check my BMI and got a shock. It had gone up a few points and am in the 'at risk' section. As I have numerous health issues already, I don't want to add to them. So am taking this seriously. I am trying follow the S World Food Optimising plan were Free Foods are foods such as fruit and veg, and carbs as well as lean meat and poultry. I had been cutting out the dessert I used to have after dinner and have it for supper instead of crackers. It had been going well until this morning when I got stomach pains. So now I am changing tack as I think it's too much fruit and veg for me. Instead I will have crackers for supper not the tinned fruit and ice dessert I'd been having. We shall see what happens now. I had gone down half a pound from yesterday this morning. I have also been trying to measure my Oat milk so that I have their right amount, but if I want a piece of goat's cheese for lunch/dinner,like today, then I will have less milk. I still have my ryvitas for lunch but don't know if these count as healthy extras or syns. I am thinking of joining an online group but it costs money to do so, and don't know if I want to spend that money. I think if I do then I won't go to either a retreat or conference this year. We shall see. Will put my updates on here when they arrive.