Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Jamie @ MK Dons - Playing for Success

Jamie was very lucky to be chosen to be part of a group going to MK Dons Stadium as part of Playing for Success on a Monday straight from school to do some learning as part of MKDons work with schools and in the community.  He went for several weeks and then in May we had the presentation event where we also got the chance to go to the stadium.  Below are a couple of photos from the event, where Jamie got the chance to meet a couple of the First team players (I couldn't tell you who they were!!) who presented the awards so Jamie was delighted.  He really enjoyed the whole experience and loved the opportunity to have guided tours round the stadium and meet up with several of the names who play there.  There certainly seemed to be a fantastic atmosphere around the event and the people working with the children appeared to be very interested and dedicated to supporting and encouraging the children.

Sadly for Jamie he struggled to get onto the stage as he was at that time on crutches!! (but more of that later!!)


Monday, 11 July 2011

Detox or Diet?

Mike and I decided that we would really get to grips with our health and well being and as a couple of his pals at work had done the GM diet and had lost well on it we decided that we would give it a go.  It was going to be a challenge.  This 7 day diet or detox as I have preferred to call it, as it is only something that can be followed for short bursts, is the starter of us seriously trying to get fit and loose some weight.
There are a couple of difficulties with us for this we love cooking and eating,  we like to eat out, we like to eat as a family and we like to eat with friends and that has of course told.  There are other issues, I am very much an emotional eater and that is something I have been battling with now for some time, and we each have our favourite things which are not good for us!!
So here we are on our HAWB (health and well being) programme, I prefer to call it that as it sounds so much better than a diet.  This first stage the GM Diet (which is really the cabbage soup under another name) is aimed at giving us a really good start and focusing our minds on what we want to achieve.  The diet promises that you will loose from 10 - 17lbs but I am keeping an open mind, as I have always found it very difficult to loose weight  So on Sunday we made sure we had all of the bits and pieces that we needed for Monday.  I even cheated and got us some pre-prepared melon to start the day so it was ready and waiting when we got up.  Everyday we have to try and drink lots of water up to 10 glasses or around the 2 litres mark which will be good for us regardless.  We both have our favourite drinks to wean ourselves off, me, my coke and Mike his coffee.

Monday - Day 1 - consists of all fruits except bananas. Your first day will consist of all the fruits you want. It is strongly suggested that you consume lots of melons the first day. Especially watermelon and a loupe. (all italics from here)

We had 3 melons (water, honeydew and cantaloupe), apples, strawberries, pineapple and pears to keep us going.  I made up a huge platter of fruit so it was there for us to pick at - at anytime during the day.  I also made up a huge pan of soup, which we put in the fridge and then took a little out and watered down and heated up whenever we wanted soup.

The day went a lot better than I had expected, clearly preparation is everything.  I cannot say it wasn't boring, it was, the soup is only just bearable and I don't think I managed to drink all of the water I needed to - but we got through it.  Day 1 - done.

Tuesday - Day 2 consists of  all vegetables. You are encouraged to eat until you are stuffed with all the raw or cooked vegetables of your choice. There is no limit on the amount or type. For your complex carbohydrate, you will start day two with a large baked potato for breakfast. You may top the potato with one pat of butter.

I hadn't been looking forward to the idea of a jacket potato for breakfast but Mike put them on and after Jamie went to school I quite happily sat down and tucked into mine for breakfast and it was lovely.  The rest of the day was very difficult as it is only vegetables.  We added some to the soup but even that didn't make the soup that palatable.  Mike was doing ok, but by about 4pm I was really struggling and was sick and had a vicious headache and had to take to my bed.  Mike tried to wake me later but there was no point,  I was falling asleep as he spoke to me, I did then sleep for about 18 hours.  I had had a small amount of food and some tea earlier to see if that helped - it didn't!

So the big question was would I make it to day 3, well surprisingly I did and woke up raring to go again - it must have been all of that sleep.

Wednesday - Day 3 - A mixture of fruits and vegetables of your choice. Any amount, any quantity. No bananas yet. No potatoes today.

Day 3 seemed a little easier as we could have fruit again, which made a big difference and we managed to make the soup a little more edible with the addition of carrots (lots) and peas (not as many) so that helped enormously.  Day 3 passed much more easily than day 2 and even Mike confessed to struggling on day 2.

Thursday - Day 4 - Bananas and milk. Today you will eat as many as eight bananas and drink three glasses of milk. This will be combined with the special soup which may be eaten in limited quantities.

Now this was a strange day - the milk was a joy and we both enjoyed a tea (me) and coffee (Mike) and I love bananas so that wasn't really a struggle, I think I had 6 through the day and Mike probably 6 or 7.  We didn't have any soup, we couldn't face that without the additions of carrots and peas but we made it.  The glasses of milk were lovely.

Friday - Day 5 - You will eat beef and tomatoes. Eat two 10 oz. portions of lean beef. Hamburger is OK. Combine this with six whole tomatoes. On day five you must increase your water intake by one quart.

Personally I don't quite know how hamburger would fit the description of lean meat but so be it.  We chose lean beef slices and steak .  Increasing the amount of water I'm drinking is not easy as I'm struggling to drink 2 litres as it is, as I write (at 5.30 I reckon I'm just over the l litre mark).  Mike took beef and tomatoes into work to snack on, I had tomatoes for breakfast and then did us steak and tomatoes for lunch.  We are having steak for tea (Jamie with some chips) - although I've eaten all of my tomatoes for the day.  We haven't managed any soup either so a fresh batch to be made tomorrow.  I think we both feel that we are almost onto the home straight now.

Day 5 done - 2 days to go, the final corner approaches - although feel I've had far too much red meat, of which we don't really eat an awful lot and there is more tomorrow whereas I am craving fruit.

Saturday - Day 6 - Beef and vegetables. Today you may eat an unlimited amount of beef and vegetables. Eat to your hearts content.

Starting the day with beef is unpalatable for me, I haven't been able to manage it, so its tomato and water (yummy).  Although hard we have both lost some weight so far (fingers crossed and hope this doesn't jinx it).  I think today is likely to consist of beef and soup, maybe a steak and beef salad.  The thought of so much red meat doesn't fill me with longing (I think for next time we may try to find an alternative version that maybe has chicken instead of beef or even a more vegetarian version for me).

Quite a hard day today, made a beef and mushroom stir fry, with beans, broccoli and mange tout for lunch which was yummy but really hungry now - have done well on the water front today and have managed my 2 litres with much more ease - so I guess that means I'm getting used to the quantities of water I'm now drinking and that is one thing that I want to continue from this detox.  Have had to come and have a little rest doing this as I am feeling quite yucky just at the moment, but it will pass.  I am planning on making soup, beef and cabbage for dinner (yum yum).

Dinner was pretty nice actually and that was Day 6 done and dusted, so it will be hooray for day 7 and the final day!!!!!!!

Sunday - Day 7 - Today your food intake will consist of brown rice, fruit juices and all the vegetables you care to consume.

The fruit juice is great, really refreshing after so much water but the soup I decided to make with the addition of the brown rice was BAD(!), so bad that I really struggled to eat any of it at all, but I had had plenty of calories with the fruit juice so that was going to be it for the day - well at least it is the last day.  We have both got ourselves into a mindset and the fact that we had to cook dinner for Jamie and his Grandma, after we had a busy day more of which in another blog, that we weren't bothered or even picked at what they were eating which was Shepherd's Pie and Cheesecake.   

So writing this I am now on the last 3 hours or so before I go to bed, 2 hours if I get to bed by 9pm and read a book, so I can now say that I have almost completed the week, brilliant, and I feel pretty good.  We have planned our menu for tomorrow so we won't go mad, well except we have to take Jamie out for a celebration meal (again more of that in a later blog) but I think we both feel very determined with what we still have to achieve and the careful and positively healthy choices we will make from the menu.



So after all that the most important question must be well how have we done - well we've stuck with which feels great and we have lost weight which makes it worthwhile.  Yes I think we will make some changes next time, alter the soup composition slightly, have chicken and cottage cheese instead of so much beef, but we will do it again - I think in around 2 months time and it will be hawb all the way between now and then.

Mike lost a whopping 21lbs which is brilliant and I lost  13lbs which is amazing for me to loose so consistently - and that my friends is just the start.  So my conclusion is the diet is not fun, its hard work, but it is doable and for us it worked, it gave us the kickstart we needed for the next two months of healthy eating and hopefully some more weight loss.  I guess the crucial factor now will be does that loss stay a loss when we go back to a more normal (although modified and healthy diet) - I will let you know!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

A couple of photos of my spring garden, sadly they don't look like that now, but as Mike has a few days off next week, I think we will get some work done on planting up my flowers arrangers garden at the front of the house.  The weather has made it almost impossible with being so dry, and the soil here when  dry becomes impenetrable, so as we've had some rain, next week (fingers crossed) maybe the time to get that job done. 

Nothing spectacular but they do brighten up the January to April!


Friday, 8 July 2011

New Reading List!

So completing my reading list, means time to draw up another list, which in itself is always fun.  This list will of course take a long time to complete, as I read books from the library and have other books on the go too by my favourite authors, but its useful to have a list to go back to when I can't decide what to read next and it also keeps me focused in reading some books which really need to be moved off the shelves where they have gathered dust for some time.

Jackie Collins - Drop Dead Beautiful
Possibly the last one ever, and only read-ng it because i-ts part of the Lucky Santangelo series which i have read and enjoyed.  I haven't enjoyed her books quite so much for some ti-me, although at one point she was a guilty pleasure, but this is one of those gathering dust and taking up space on a shelf so its on the list it goes.

Simone de Beauvour - The Blood of Others
One of those that I feel I need to read, an antidote to the above in many ways.   I've read some Albert Camus so I am guessing this may be in a similar vein, although I have a feeling this may be hard going.  Set in Paris during the German occupation, this is the story of a love affair told as one of the lovers lays dying and asks all of the fundamental existentialist questions, who am I, why am I here etc.

M J Hyland - Carry Me Down
I can't remember why I bought this one now, although I think it may be set in Ireland, so that might explain it, a regular foray into Ireland in all its glories.  A new author so unknown territory, which is never a bad thing.

Jean Plaidy - Katherine the Virgin Widow
I love these, real escapism - I've started the Tudor series from the beginning, despite reading many of them before but now I will have no gaps.  Holiday reading for me and pure relaxation.

Alexander McCall Smith - The World According to
This was a handon from a friend, I've heard a lot about this author, so am looking forward to seeing what he is about.  This book appears to be part of a series so I'll give it a go although I'm not really looking to get into another series of books at the moment as I have several on the go.

Katie Fford - Going Dutch
Another handon, chicklit I think and a summer read for sure.

Campbell Armstrong - Jigsaw
I read the first part of this, Jig, years and years ago, terrorism, counter-terrorist expert Frank Pagan, picked this up in a second hand bookstore and it has sat on the shelf for some time, so I wonder if its as good as I remember.

Andersens - Fairy Tales
Always worth another read, and on the list purely because it was near Jigsaw on the shelf, and I hope to encourage Jamie to read it after me.

Louis De Bernieres - Capt Corelli's Mandolin
One that I really ought to read, as we also have the film sat here waiting to be watched.  As a return trip to Kefalonia is high on the agenda this year (well it is one of the places we are thinking of) this really would be the right time to read it - or do I save it for there - the sounds, sea, smells etc would really bring it to life!!

Agatha Christie - Murder on the Orient Express
One of my favourite films and as I've suprisingly never read an Agatha Christie, this one sounds like a good summer read.

Charles Dickens - David Copperfield
A true classic and one I've been meaning to read for a long time.

Alex Kava - Whitewash
One of my favourite authors who I've got a little behind with, not her usual character Maggie O'Dell but new characters and a new setting.

Mike Tucker - The Nightmare of Black Island
The final Doctor Who novel of our box of 10, this allows me to get my hit of David Tenents doctor and Rose too, a quick but fun read.

Lisa Appigananesi - A Good Woman
I can't remember where this one came from, but it has been on the shelves quite a while so time for it to be read and gone, another new author to me so may be interesting.

Alan Johnston - Kidnapped and Other Dispatches
I bought this for Mike, but it is only a short book and will be interesting to read about what happened to this BBC reporter, and it clears more shelf space.

Steve Strange - Blitzed
As I'd just read Midge's autobiography, I thought this would be good follow up, get SS perspective on Visage and read about the 80's which is always fun.

Les Dennis - Must the Show Go On
Another of Mike's books, and more space to be cleared, but Mike said this was a really good read, so I'll give it a go - it is more of a challenge for me reading about people I'm not very interested in but I'll take the hubby's recommendation.

Imperial War Museum Duxford
The guide book, but has lots of reading in it and it will fill in some gaps from the visits.

Michael Pennington - Hamlet A Users Guide
Mike and I are going to see Michael Pennington at MK Theatre in Sept, and I've read one of his other books, so this is one I want to read, I had planned to read it before we saw Hamlet but I never got around to it, so here goes.

William Shakespeare - Hamlet
Rather like the one above, sames worthwhile reading the text the book is talking about at the same time.

Gael Lindenfeld - The Positive Woman
Another self-development book by one of the very best in her field.
I'm not really setting a time for this list but I would like to do it in a year but maybe that is a little optimistic!!


Currently Reading -

Flower Club Quiz Night

Mike and I had an enjoyable evening at the flower club quiz night, with some of my friends S, L, and M who along with Mike and I made up our team, and we were equal first and then were pipped on the tie-break.  Really enjoyable evening though, a ploughman's supper and I worked my way through a bottle of rose, so was very happy all evening.  Definitely on the calendar for next year!!

Book Review - Kathy Reichs 206 Bones

Beware Spoilers
I am a fan of Kathy Reichs novels and enjoy them very much and this was no exception.  The plot was a little similar to a plot of a Patricia Cornwell (can't remember which book around Black Notice/The Last Precinct time) in which someone close to Temperance Brennan was trying to sabotage her and her reputation.  This book is set in the lead up to Christmas and Brennan is anxious to get back to North Carolina from the cold of Quebec to spend the holiday with her daughter.

The central crimes of the book are the murders of 4 elderly women, and its nice to see a different victim to the norm of many other similar books as it gives the story a different edge to the usual young attractive woman or child.  Tempe has to work with on/off love interest Andrew Ryan to solve these crimes and to work out who is sabotaging her in the forensic laboratory.

The story is largely told in flashback, as Tempe is trying to escape from her capture and incarceration in somewhere not too pleasant.  There are of course some clues along the way to the identity of the saboteur, some subtle and some not so.  I enjoyed the book and read it in about three sittings which is back to my usual form for Kathy Reichs, so I am now looking forward to the next one.

I have got a little behind with Kathy Reichs whom I usually read as soon as the next book was out,  so I think I have a couple still to catch up on  - Mortal Remains, Virals (which I believe may be aimed at a teenage market) and Flash and Bones (which is published in September) so fingers crossed the library has one of the first two on my next visit.


Reading challenge 16/16 - COMPLETE!!
Currently reading  - TBC

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Guitar Grade 3 and A Guitar Competition

Jamie competed in a guitar competition at Thornton College recently, he did well and played his piece,   really well, with a couple of minor mistakes.  He got some great feedback from the judge but he was up against some much older competitors with lots more experience so he did himself proud competing.  Well done Jamie!!

He also took his Grade 3 exam and passed with Merit, so he did much better than Grade 2 when he got a pass.  We are really really proud of him so now he has started working on his Grade 4 - as his guitar teacher keeps telling him - he has some real talent, he just needs to keep practising and focussed.l  WELL DONE JAMIE!!!!!

And he was part of the MK SMS end of term concert with his guitar ensemble where they played  and this was great fun to see him participating with some of the friends he has made.  Next term they are learning to play Mr Blue Sky by ELO.

I was sure I had some photos to go with this but can't find them at the moment ......I am being rather forgetful lately!!


Stampin' Up Party 2

One of the girls from the crop had a stampin' up party so we all gathered again to enjoy some great company, to have some fun making things, have a good look at all of the lovely Stampin' Up goodies and have a generally great time.  This time we made a 'Thank-you' card doing some stamping and cutting out, personally speaking in crafting straight lines are very much overrated (well they are for me!!)

I bought a couple of items, I have been so impressed with the cardstock, that I decided to stock up and bought a selection of the 12x12 to keep me going scrapbooking for a while and this cardstock can be seen in some of the upcoming posts of pages I've done.

I bought a range of colours which I hope will keep me going for some time, everything from brights to neutrals and some lovely rich jewel tones in between.

I also bought a stamp roller to allow me to put some images onto the card stock and play around with a few ideas for layouts - a big swirly pattern - because I like big swirls!!

I also bought a set of stamps (I love the way they come in the DVD case, makes them so easy to store and find when needed!) and these were the ones used on the card, they have some lovely delicate images on, damask pattern, flower, butterfly - all really useful images.  And they were on special offer too, so were a good price.  I think these can be used to create backgrounds on layouts and little added areas of interest too, I might even use them if I go for the card making at Bucks County Show again!!
A great fun evening, a fantastic cake from N, thanks for the doggy bag for the boys they loved it, in fact Jamie was waiting up to see if there was any cake, and made it downstairs in about 0.5 seconds to devour it - he wasn't waiting until Saturday!!


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Book Review - Learn to Be an Optimist by Lucy MacDonald

Hooray!!  I have finally finished my reading list (well a little while ago now as I am so behind!)  but here goes.

Learn to Be an Optimist by Lucy MacDonald

This was of course not a straightforward read, and whilst I have read it I am still working through it and probably will for some time to come.

This book is a great introduction to optimism and covers the subject well, there are great explanations of a variety of issues concerning and surrounding optimism and many exercises and sections to work through to allow the reader to analyse where they are on a optimism scale at the moment and then to work on themselves to improve their skills and abilities to be more optimistic.

The book gives the reader a thorough understanding of the subject, using some very good examples from those who are more optimistic, it explores optimistic attitudes and how to gain, nurture and use them in problem solving, to build confidence amongst others.  It also explores optimism and both physical and mental health and then helps you put it all into action.

The book can be read just as it is and gives the reader lots of food for thought and areas where they may be able to improve on their own beliefs and thinking or it can be read and worked through, like going on a self-development programme.  One of the suggestions the book makes is to create an optimism journal and that is where I am at the moment - working my way through the book and the exercises again with the journal - once complete the journal will be something which I can use and dip into as and when the need arises, something I can use when the black dog appears to be heading my way.

I would thoroughly recommend this book as a great way to explore and understand optimism, and for anyone like myself who has by nature and nurture a pessimistic outlook then this is a great place to start to work on improving ones optimistic outlooks on life.


Reading challenge 16/16 - finished!!
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