Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Brunch with my first poached egg

This morning I woke up and went to the gym, and fully intended to come back and have a hearty brunch. I must have been feeling brave today because I Googled how to make a poached egg, and thanks to Delia, I have mastered the art of egg poaching and am proud to include a picture of my (half eaten, sorry) brunch below.

I have found that the secret is in the timing. Check out Delia Smith for the instructions. No I know it's not so scary to poach and egg, I may invest in one of those silicone egg poaching kitchen aids that I have always seen and wondered why anyone would need one...

Poached egg and grilled bacon on taost, with latte, aand fresh blackberries with natural yoghurt and granola. Yum


See more of my blog posts about food

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Upcycle your old clothes - Your clothes should be Loved Again!

Most of us could make a pretty big pile of clothes if we cleaned out our closet and set aside everything we wanted to sell or donate.  We sometimes find ourselves hanging on to pieces because they still look good but deep down we know they don’t look good on us.  Usually we donate clothes or have a garage sale.  It is certainly easier to do that but it doesn’t take much effort to reuse old clothing.  Thankfully, there are many ways we can reuse and salvage old clothes.

Repurpose your old clothing.  Those old jeans that you love but never wear can be cut into shorts.  If your pants are just a millimeter too short, have them tailored into capris. The sweater with the tight sleeves can be shaped into mittens or maybe a scarf.  What about those t-shirts that are just a bit too tight?  Use them in the winter time layered underneath the heavier clothing.  Some clothes could be transformed into clothing for your children or even your pet!  Think of your old clothes as unfinished works of art.

Swap your old clothes.  Start a clothing swap group with close friends and family.  Instead of donating or throwing out your old clothes, trade them!  The clothing will be used by others and you will also gain additions to your own wardrobe.  Swapping clothes can have the same effect as going on a shopping spree.  Simply set aside pieces you no longer wear, but remain in excellent condition, and have the rest of the clothing swap group do the same.  Make plans to get together and trade your clothes.  Take turns swapping to avoid an awkward moment of tug-of-war with a sister-in-law.

Donate your clothing.  If you are not able to find good use for your old clothes then someone will.  Try to notice those who are in need and what their particular needs are.  Anonymously share your clothes with them.  It is surprising how many people are in need that we never would think are.  Or give those clothes to your local charity.  Your clothes can also be given away on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Be resourceful.  If the clothes are damaged and not worth repairing or donating, consider saving the buttons and zippers or using the material for fashionable totes.  T-shirts can be transformed into pillow cases or even recyclable grocery bags.  Fill up those old socks with catnip and you have a new toy for your pet.  Don’t forget to keep some old clothes for messy projects like painting the house or cleaning out a flower bed.
You will feel so good about the empty space and extra hangers not to mention  reducing your household waste.  Sewing skills can be beneficial with recycling and re-using your wardrobe but not entirely necessary.  What would feel even better is knowing that you have helped a family by donating your clothes to them.   Use your imagination, be thoughtful and have fun!

 This post was written by my friend Terry Ford who is a writer with a passion for the environment. Her articles have been checked using the top grammar checker on the web.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

My Third Week at Slimming World

What a great week it's been in terms of my Slimming World participation! This week I lost 3lbs, and won the Slimmer of the Week award, something I thought I'd never be in the running for. The nice thing is when someone wins they get a sticker, a certificate and a basket of fruit. I'm now just half a pound off losing half a stone. I can certainly notice the difference in the way my clothes fit.

I was surprised that my weight loss was so high because I hadn't stuck to the plan so well. AB made some amazing giant cupcakes and I had one and a half of these, as well as having my full 15 syns each day. I have been eating loads of fruit and veg though which I think has really helped speed up my metabolism, as well as moving offices so haven't had a lot of time to think about food. I didn't have my usually weekly gym session either!

I've bought a Slimming World  recipe book for healthy main meals so that I can invite friends to dinner and still cook something decent without worrying about my waistline. If I stay off the chocolate I'll even be able to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner!

The thing I'm missing most is pizza, so in the oven right now is a concoction of flat bread, tomato sauce, healthy toppings and the teeniest sprinkly of cheese. Mmm cheeeeeeeeese 

See the rest of my Slimming World Blog

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Cost of Raising a Child

 I've got an interesting guest post for you here, which I've obtained because we're thinking of getting a dog in the new year as I guess a bit of a test run to see if we ever might be responsible enought to have a child - it seems a long way off! Anyway this post makes it all a but more real...

Any parent will tell you that raising a child will cost more than you expect, but a recent survey has shown that the cost of raising a child in the UK hit £200,000 for the first time. The eye-watering cost of £210,847 that parents spend on the average child may seem outrageous, but it includes all expenses from birth until their 21st birthday.

Changing times

The cost, when broken down, means that the average child costs £9668 per year, £806 per month, or £26.49 each and every day.

The report also shows that the cost of raising a child has gone up 50% from the official figures in 2003. This can be attributed to inflation, or the changes in child benefit regulations which have left many families ineligible for aid in raising their children.

Though it officially costs half again as much to raise a child now than it did in the last decade, some things remain the same: child care is the biggest expense in raising children. Parents today spend on average £67,430 per child for care throughout their childhood.

Education costs follow at a whopping £55,660, which includes school uniforms, after-school activities, and the parents’ contribution to university. This can cost much more, however, as university fees are set to rise in the fall of 2012. New parents are urged to consider the rising rates of university fees in their savings as well as expenses that are often overlooked, such as your child’s participation in clubs or sports.

It is also important to start saving before your child is born, as the early years are often the toughest to get through financially. New parents face a whopping £9,152 during the first 12 months of raising their child. After that, parents spend around £13,396 per year from the ages of one to four.

Cutting costs

Though the figures may seem like a doomsday sentence on parents everywhere, the numbers do not have to be this large. It’s possible to cut down on expenses with simple methods, such as not wasting the average £18,518 spend on food. Try instituting a weekly leftover night, or having a leftover party with neighbours or family friends.

It’s also important to teach your children that everything – from the water that they shower with, to the lights that they turn off at night – costs money, and to lead by example in being mindful of your usage.

Nikki Hart writes about Junior ISAs from the UKs leading Junior ISA Advice site.


Saturday, 3 December 2011

My Second Week at Slimming World

My second week at Slimming World went really quite well. I had hoped to have done better than my first week at Slimming World, because I had got used to the food optimising more and could work it to my advantage. I still managed to have drinks - wine, vodka, and chocolate Crunchies mostly! I have also still been able to enjoy my 3 cofees with milk a day. I am loving this "diet".

I did quite a lot of exercise last week - mostly walking. I managed to lose 2.5 lbs in the week which I am so pleased about! I'm aiming for 2 again this week. Will see how it goes as I've been too tired to exercise and did tuck in to a plate of fried chips on Thursday....