Wow! Thank you to Michelle from Mummy From The Heart for a mention on her six month anniversary post. I am honoured but also want to thank her for suggesting I take part. It really does give me a chance to round up the week and celebrate the good things.

My first reason to be cheerful is Twitter related. A couple of weeks ago I replied to a retweet asking if anyone was or knew of a gardener. They needed their's clearing. I jokingly replied (well, not so jokingly!) I had a strapping 17 year old son who had time on their hands following completion of A level exams. (he was at this point worrying me because he didn't seem to have anything planned) We swapped DM's and before I knew it James was visiting to 'survey the job' (Really though it was so they could see what he was like, not that I was about to tell James that!)

A week later and over two and half days (one of which was the hottest and the next seemed to be the wettest) a garden is cleared and James has money in his pocket and the biggest smile I've seen on him for the longest time. He said although it was hard work, he had enjoyed it and it felt amazing to have earnt his own money.

So I would like to say a thank you to @agambar who took a chance and had faith. He has inspired my son to get his bum in gear and finally look for a job!!!! A true gentleman!

My second reason is my daughter got engaged while on holiday

So happy for them both (although I should add, technically I've been told its actually a 'commitment to be engaged' Personally there's a shiny ring, ergo they are engaged!)

And lastly another for Amy! She has been invited to her first job interview, since leaving university just three short weeks ago. The job role is something she really wants to do and links brilliantly with her degree. So fingers crossed it goes well and she now knows her CV is effective. The only downside is the job is in Livingstone, so really far away from us. But they have to leave home at some point and its painful, regardless of the number of miles.

So for me a brilliant week, the last before I return to work on Monday. A great end to my three month sick leave.

Don't forget to take a look Mummy From The Heart for other reasons to be cheerful!

Meal Planning Monday w/c 27th of June

I can't believe its Monday already, where did the last week go! It's time for meal planning Monday again, inspired by the wonderful At Home With Mrs M Go and give her site a look for other meal plans to inspire you!

Herbed chicken with roasted peppers, tomato and sweet potato wedges (Syn Free)
Chickpea and roasted red pepper pilaf (2.5 Syns)
Stir fry vegetables and rice noodles (Syn Free)
Butter chicken (Syn Free!)
Sticky 5-spice gammon (1 Syn)
Cheesy pasta and bacon (Syn Free if use cheese as HE)
Jacket Potato, beans and ham (Syn Free)

As usual, I'm following Slimming World plan (Extra Easy), although following a 'a little melt down' I've decided to give myself a little bit of holiday. So for snacks and lunches I'll be a little less strict. Happily, I enjoy the Slimming World recipes so much the main meals are staying on plan!

Don't forget for more inspiration, take a quick look at At Home With Mrs M and fingers crossed I won't have put on too many pounds with my break from plan!

Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

It's been a bit of a roller coaster week for me and I think this is reflected in the post. At times I have struggled to remain 'glass half full'

1- First and foremost, I have some amazing friends, both on Twitter and real life (you know what I mean!) and they have all rallied around when I had a bad day and I couldn't cope. I don't think anyone can appreciate how much a virtual {{{hug}}} or a 'I'm here for you tweet' can make a difference until you have been on the receiving end. So I am thankful to everyone who's there for me.

2 - I went to the Eden Project again this week and had a fabulous time snapping photo's. I have inherited MrC's old camera and after never having a 'good' one before been enjoying playing around with it. What do you think?

3 - I am so lucky to still have a grandparent and grateful my kids have gotten to know their great grandparents. We sadly lost my Pap in October, but my Nan is going from strength to strength at the ripe old age of 90!
She lives in the Midlands, but since Pap died she has joined some clubs, one of which have taken her on holiday to Teignmouth this week.
So Dad and I drove up to see her and bring her back for some lunch. I haven't seen her since Christmas, so it was a lovely treat!

She doesn't look her age does she??? I think at this point she was talking about getting a toy boy!

So although I haven't had the best week, there are always clouds and silver linings!

Please pop over to the wonderful Michelle of Mummy From The Heart fame and see what has made other people cheerful this week.

Today I can't cope...

What has happened to me in the few short hours since I went to bed (well maybe long hours, I like my sleep!) I've woken this morning and I am a quivering wreck and I don't like it.

I feel out of sorts, out of control and can cry at the drop of a hat. The silliest thing has set me off today. Got a call about my company car mileage. I maintain I did it before I left for the operation, but something has gone wrong. Either I imagined I did it, or something happened when my manager left and it hasn't been approved.

Either way, its not a big deal...but it feels it.

I got a letter from the bank saying I needed to contact them asap as they hadn't been able to reach me. I call, I'm on hold for 7 minutes 'sorry please ignore, the letter was sent in error' My blood is boiling....but why? It's not a big deal, mistakes are made, no harm done....but I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders and I can't cope.

MrC is being lovely, really supportive. He has been brilliant (most of the time!!!) while I have been recovering. But why is him giving me a hug, a little kiss on the back of my neck when I least expect, a little squeeze of my hand sending me into an emotional wreck?

So I have a choice, and you know how I like choices. To give into these feelings which are making want to curl up into a ball, sleep for a week and cry like a baby or put it down onto virtual paper send it out into the bloggerverse, get my head down and crack on.

Because realistically, I will feel better later, something will make me laugh and put it all into perspective

But in the meantime thanks for the therapy session

Meal Planning Monday - 20th of June

Slimming World eating treated me well last week and I enjoyed trying out the three new recipes. I have blogged the recipes for chickpea pilaf (my particular favourite) and 5 spice sitcky gammon, take a look back if you are interested! I have linked them from last weeks meal planner.

(if you want the minced beef hash, let me know)

Have tried out scan bran carrot cake and scan bran scotch eggs, both again were delicious. If you have any other scan bran recipes you think I would like to try please let me know in comments, would love to hear from you!

So onto this week. Once again all meals are Slimming World friendly. I haven't specified a day for each one, as I tend to see what I fancy (or more likely how much I want to cook that day!)

Seafood Paella (Syn Free)
Chicken and Leek Pie (Syn Free)
Liver, bacon and onions, with mash and cabbage (Syn Free)
Breaded fish, SW chips and mushy peas (6 Syns)
Sweet Potato and Carrot Tagine (Syn Free)
Burger and wedges (Syn Free)
Baked Potato, Ham and Beans (Syn Free)

The tagine is a new recipe for me, so will let you know how I get on! If you'd like some more inspiration for meals, bob on over to Mrs M's site and see what other treats you can find!

Don't forget if you have any suggestions for me to try, let me know!

Listography - Inventions

The wonderful @Katetakes5 of Kate Takes 5 blog fame has thrown down the gauntlet, which I have decided to pick up and run with.

This week's theme is 'inventions'

Things I'd like to have invented no matter how wacky or hare brain are:- 

1- Self Filling Fridge
If you didn't catch it, here are by before and after pictures of my fridge from Monday. If you saw it now, it's back to looking like the before picture. My son (nearly 18) is six foot one, so skinny its untrue and eats for England. So keeping it stocked is almost a full time job.

I enjoy the going out and shopping for food and putting into the trolley, plus the cooking and eating bit at the end. But I detest the.....
 'unloading onto the belt, putting into bags, back into the trolley, to the car, unload out of the car, fight past the dog who wants to investigate every bag, empty all the bags onto the counter and finally find space in the fridge bit' in between.

I will be a happy woman when that invention comes onto the market.

Ironing Fairy

2 - Automatic Ironing and Putting Away Machine
 (I am sensing a theme!)

I have no problems with the whole washing and drying part of the cycle. But hate the ironing and then putting away.

I'm not allowed to do any ironing for a while anyway because of the operation (How long can I use that excuse for do you think? Answers on a postcard to .....) but something which could take the chore away would be manna from heaven.

3 - Self Clearing/Filing/Deleting Mailbox

In my working life I have 'co-ordinator' in my rather long job title. I have *gazzillions of e-mails everyday. Sometimes I feel a huge portion of the day is spent deleting or filing e-mails before I can action the new ones pouring in

I would like a tool which knows telepathically when I have completed the e-mail task request, and either files it in the correct place or deletes it.

It would also delete all the duplicate requests and the corresponding sent e-mails keeping IT happy with my mailbox limits & my stress within acceptable levels.

* Please note gazzillions could be an exaggeration

4 - More Hours in the Day (am sure I am not the only one asking for this!)

I have been off work for 3 months and return on the 4th of July. I have no idea how I am going to fit work into my busy schedule!

I thought boredom would be a problem while recuperating, how wrong was I!

I just want to have enough time to work, keep up with the cooking I have been enjoying, long walks most days, twitter and blogging. A 26 hour day would be lovely!

5 - No Regret Powder
I think a lot of people have regret in the lives. 'Why didn't I go to university when the opportunity arose?' 'I should have spent more time with my family.' ' I wonder what would have happened if I had branched out on my own'

We can't do anything about the 'what might have happened if....' but must live with what did.

Sometimes regret can stop us from moving forward, and living in regret doesn't solve anything or make a person feel any better about it.

'No regret powder', would empower people to live in the now with positivity and look forward to the future. It would enable a person to not feel guilty for choices made and enable them to continue their lives in a more fulfilling state of mind.

I have made decisions in my life which, with the degree in hindsight we all get after the fact, weren't the best, but there is no point in regretting them.

Everything which has ever happened to me, the good and the bad, has made me the person I am. I like me....so why regret?

So on that rather sombre note (sorry guys!) why not jump over to Kate's list and take a look at what other people have come up with! 

Why have I never been here before....?

Taken from Eden Project website

The Eden Project


Finally got my bottom in gear and visited the Eden Project. I live in Plymouth. The Eden Project is in St Austell. The time to drive between the two? Just over an hour

The Eden Project was on my 'List of things to do before I go back to work if I feel well enough and I don't need chemo' Tuesday was the day, and boy did I enjoy it.

If you are ever anywhere near it, please please pay it a visit. I think it is one of those places you just have to say you have seen.

I keep running things over in my head about what it was I liked. Several days later I still don't think I can actually verbalise it (which for me is unusual!)

A few of the things I liked?
  • Easy to get to
  • Navigating around the site was intuitive, you can't go wrong!
  • The people who work there were so friendy and knowledgeable. They looked happy and pleased to be there! (even the the bus driver!)
  • The site itself is just breath taking (and I am not a gardener!)
  • If, instead of paying the daily admission price, you choose to make the Eden Trust a gift of the same amount, you can exchange your admission ticket for an annual pass!
  • It just didn't feel like the usual touristy place to visit, it has integrity
 If I was asked to describe The Eden Project in five words they would be

I am getting my bottom back there next week, and I can't wait!

So in answer to the title of this blog ....I have no idea

Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Pilaf

Was convinced I was going to be the only person to enjoy this particular recipe. But for once I was proved wrong, they all loved it! I got it from the Slimming World recipe book Extra Easy Meals in Minutes, but am sure it will be on their website as well.

The Slimming World plan is working so well for me and they have hundreds of meals which don't feel like 'diet' food.

This is a one pot dish, which takes about 20 minutes to complete plus 15 minutes standing time. It's filling, cheap and flavoursome!

Serves 4
Each serving is
2.5 Syns on Extra Easy or Green
16 Syns on Original

Low calorie cooking spray
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic glove, peeled and crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp groun cinnamon
175g dried fine bulgar wheat
350ml vegetable stock
200g bottled roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped (I actually cooked my own up instead)
400g can chickpeas, drained
25g pack of dill, finely chopped
28g pack of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped mint (this for me is what made the meal)
110g reduced fat feta cheese, roughly chopped or crumbled
salt and black pepper

Spray a heavy-based saucepan with low caloried cooking spray and add the onion, garlic, ground cumin, ground cinnamon and bulgar wheat. Place over a medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast the grains.

Pour the stock into the saucepan, stir well, then bring to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat and cook on a gentle simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove from the heat and add the red peppers and chickpeas, without stirring them in (don't know why, I just do as I'm told!) cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes

Just before serving remove the lid and fluff up the grains with a fork, mixing in the red peppers and chickpeas. Carefully fold in the herbs (fresh ones are best for this recipe) and scatter over the feta cheese.

Season to taste and serve hot, warm or cold (I found it was surprisingly hot at this stage, enough for me to not have to zap it)

You can swap the bulgar wheat for couscous or replace the chickpeas with canned mixed beans.

I actually cooked my own peppers with some cherry tomotoes, think this can be a very versitile recipe! Am looking forward to cooking extra and having it cold for lunch!

Let me know if you try this and what you think by leaving a comment. Any suggestions for other variations you can think of?

I've been tagged.........

                            by Kate Takes 5...(you can go off people you know!) and the theme is.......

Or what would be my song of choice


an act of singing along to a music video, especially one from which the original vocals have been electronically eliminated.
1985–1990; < Japanese, = kara  empty + oke  orchestra

This is the dictionary definition, my definition is

Wine, good friends, more wine, loud music, wine, microphone, more wine, PUBLIC HUMILIATION!!!!!

I love singing, I enjoy singing...I'm just no good at it! Don't know what happened but when I left school, my singing voice got left in the classroom along with the P.E bag I'd has since 1st Year and my school tie.

So singing karaoke isn't high on my list of things to do. The only times I have had a go have been alcohol fueled. So memories the next morning have been hazy. My choice though would be....Abba inspired!

In my head I sound like this but in reality its more like this

Thank you ....(a very loose one!) to Kate Takes 5 I am passing the baton onto

@MunkeyKris @shiftystylin @ImSoBloginThis @alittlebit

What would yours be? Leave a comment and share my humiliation with the blogosphere

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 24

Do you know what guys? I have had a great week! If you forget about work issues and possible redundancy, looking back its all been good. So was a struggle to think of just three things. However here are the ones which came to the front of my mind

1 - Visted the Eden Project I live in Plymouth, just over an hour away, so have no idea why I have never been before. It was brilliant, I can't wait to go back and would recommend to anyone. I think it's a case of not appreciating all the things you have right on your doorstep

2 - Had a brilliant walk with my Mum on Monday was about 4 miles. We had a great time just chatting and walking, nosing at people's houses and then admiring the view of the Hoe. I've mapped it if you'd like to take a look! Click here to see it.

The downside to it though was we were both sunburnt! I wrote on Twitter " What's black and white and red all over? A sunburnt panda" Why did I say that? Because I had negative panda eyes where I'd been wearing sunglasses! A great look....not!

3 - My lovely daughter moved all her stuff back in this week. She moved out nearly three years ago to start her university life taking a degree in Toxicology at Plymouth University. She made the decision to rent throughout the summer months as well. So this is her first time back living with us. And its not going to be easy!

When she left she was cocky teenager who thought she knew it all and had attitude!  She's coming back as  young confident woman with a busy social life and a wide range of friends and interests,her own views and considered opinions. We have got to get used to the fact she isn't our little girl anymore!

And it although it will be difficult for everyone to get used to it, there may be a few misunderstandings, tears, tantrums and arguements (and that's just MrC) I am so looking forward to having my best friend back under the same roof as me!

So on that note I will leave you to peruse and enjoy's others simply brilliant reasons on Mummy From the Heart blog

Meal Planning Monday - 13th of June

Wow, what a week! The weather was shocking near the end, so I did a lot of juggling and substitutions. Mind you, managed to use nearly all the fruit and vegetables which is unusual!

Had a bit of a planning disaster on Sunday. It rained all day so decided to cook a beef casserole. Went rummaging and found the parsnips and swede I wanted to use were 'not quite' edible enough (Ok for soup but not to roast) so changed it. 'Found' sweet potatoes and butternut squash which I roasted with the carrots. Was horrified though when I realised, with the beef and tomato casserole everything on the plate was orange! Tasted okay though, but must plan how the dish looks more carefully!

So onto this week's plan;-

- Sticky 5-spice gammon with noodles and pak choi (1 Syn)
- Minced beef hash (free)
- Chickpea and roasted red pepper pilaf (2.5 Syns)
(these are taken from the recipe book extra easy meals in minutes)
- Cottage Pie and vegetables (Syn Free)
- Lemon Chicken and vegetable couscous (Syn free)
- Homemade burgers, Slimming World chips and salad (Syn free)
- Roasted chicken, roast potato, parsnips and vegetables (2 Syns)

As always, these are Slimming World friendly meals following the Extra Easy plan.

Last week I lost 3 lbs, so am really pleased and motivated for this week

Am going to go back to something on wholemeal toast for breakfasts (ie eggs, tomato or mushrooms) Lunches will be salads, rices, homemade soup and left overs!

If anything takes your fancy and you want the recipe, let me know! And for more inspiration to spice up your meal times take at looks At Home With Mrs M's page with links to lots of other weekly plans!

Sticky 5-Spice Gammon

This is delicious and really quick and easy. It's taken from the Slimming World recipe book 'Extra Easy, Meals in Minutes'

Serves 4
1 Syn on Extra Easy
1 Syn on Original
13 Syns on Green

Freezer Friendly and ready in about 15-20 minutes (if you have everything to hand!)

2 tsp Chinese 5-Spice powder
4 x 175g gammon steak with all the fat removed cut into large bite-sized pieces
Low calorie cooking spray
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced (I used the cheating chillie in a tube!)
Finely grated zest and juice of an orange
1 level tbsp of clear honey
100 ml of chicken stock
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Pak choi to serve
Egg noodles to serve

Sprinkle the 5-spice powder over the cut up gammon steaks. Spray a large wide, non-stick frying pan with low calorie cooking spray and cook the gammon over a high heat for 2-3 minutes or until the edges are tinged brown.

Add the red chillies, orange zest and juice, honey, stock and soy sauce and simmer rapidly for 4-5 minutes or until the sauce becomes sticky and the gammon is glazed and golden with almost burn edges. (I felt this took a bit longer than stated, but go with your gut instinct!)

Serve immediately with steamed pak choi and cooked egg noodles, and any pan juices poured over.

The glaze works well with pork or chicken too!

Before & After

Before shopping (the cupboard is bare!)

And after! (cup runs over)

All of this for meals this week! Take a look at my meal planner!

Listography Goes Travelling

Thought as I missed the last theme of Decisions (sorry, I just couldn't decide what to include...boom boom!) I should definitely give Kate Takes 5 Travelling and 'The Top Five Places I'd Like to Visit a go this week!

I don't even own a passport, visiting far flung places hasn't been something I have ever been able to contemplate (for various very boring reasons), but it hasn't stopped me from thinking and planning amazing trips 'for when I retire!'

So five places I would like to travel to are:-

Egypt and the Pyramids

Every since 'we did' Tutankhamun in Mrs Catwright's history class I have been fascinated. The Egyption civilisation just captivated me then and still does now.

The Grand Canyon

One of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, it must be an amazing sight. The numbers sound huge (The Grand Canyon is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and attains a depth of over a mile (6,000 feet / 1,800 metres)) but they just can't do justice to actually seeing it for yourself. I can't begin to imagine what it actually looks like.

The Great Wall of China

A wonder of the world which just blows my mind when you think of the technology (or lack of it) used to build it and how old it is. Amazing! Its also something else which I have read about but the numbers mean nothing until I can see it for myself.

To travel to and travel across a glacier

Don't mind where (but obviously it would be somewhere cold!) but want to see for myself something which has and continues to shape the landscape. Britain would not look like it does if it wasn't for the work the glaciers of the great ice age did in transforming it. The hugeness of it, the fact its moving, albeit slowly and the beauty but danger of it appeals to me. And if you believe everything your read about global warming, we may not have any left soon!

Easter Island

Again another civilisation which is no longer. I think the huge sculptures are mesmerising and at the same time so sad. It's believed this race of people used all their natural resources in their quest to put up these huge blocks of stone. They ran out of tree's, which they needed to move the massive structures into place. This in turn meant they had no material to build shelter and more importantly to keep themselves warm and fed.

So there you go, my five places I want to visit. I apologise now if they duplicate any of the others you can see on Kate Takes Five pages. I purposely didn't read any before I put mine together. But I'm going to take a peek at them now, and suggest you do too!

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 23

I've been a bad blogger! Planned loads in my head, three or four on paper, but haven't actually commited and posted one since Monday.

Well Mummy from the Heart will get back into the swing with her wonderful Reasons to be Cheerful

So here are my three things to be cheerful for this week.

My wonderful daughter Amy has been studying Toxicology at the University Plymouth and is awaiting her finals result. We are all on tenderhooks, because healthwise she hasn't had the best of year. She has worked hard and tried her best and that is all you can ask of anyone. However she did find out this week that for her oral dissertation presentation she received a first! Goes some way towards the final results.

Well done Amy!

Now this one may seem a bit odd, but bear with me. Earlier in the week my department was put into consultation, in preparation for making changes and redundancies. My role is one which is affected, so I need to decide if I want to put myself forward for it and then hope I am successful. There is a chance I won't be and will be made redundant, not good in this climate.

But on the flip side of this bombshell, its given me the impetus to actually examine what I want from a job and I'm thankful to discover I'm working somewhere I want to be, with wonderful people and love my job. How many people can actually say that? And if I don't end up with a role or decide to leave, I can take those experiences with me and build it somewhere else.

I'm still recuperating from my operation and don't go back to my brilliant job until the 4th of July. I am using the time wisely to build up my strength and stamina. It's a hard slog but I'm getting there. Am still planning on completing the 13 mile midnight walk for St Lukes Hospice on the 30th of July (everyone says I am crazy.......major surgery, what are you thinking? 13 miles?? .......That's half a marathon!! You are mad!!!) But I'm getting a buzz from raising money for this worthwhile cause and its giving me something to aim for.

Today I reached a milestone, I managed to walk 3 miles without a break! I am not sure if I will be able to actually complete the event, but will give it my best shot. If anyone is interested in helping me keep motivated, please donate at my Just Giving Pages, even if its just a pound, they all count!

Don't forget to take a look at Mummy from the Heart blog and visit the other Reasons to be Cheerful!

Meal Planning Monday - 6th of June

I know it's Tuesday....but it been a busy week for me already, better late than never to link with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday!

Last week was reasonably successful, even though I did change the meals a bit because the weather caught me by surprise (It was actually warm and sunny) so substituted a couple with homemade coleslaw and potato salad!

Last weeks Slimming World Thai Chicken Curry was a resounding success (so much so the left overs were frozen and make another showing this week!) Will post the recipe later this week for anyone interested. Please sign up for automated notifications if you are.

So to this weeks meal planner (All Slimming World type recipes)

Steak, SW chips and salad
Lemon Chicken and coriander couscous
Creamy cheese and bacon pasta
Gammon, pineapple, sweet potato wedges and fried egg
Thai Chicken Curry and rice (from the freezer)
Roast chicken, roast potatoes and parsnip and vegetables
Homemade burger, wholemeal roll, tomato salsa and rice salad

I have also discovered something called scandinavian bran which slimming world devotees lovingly called scan bran. It looks a bit like small ryvita, but tastes....a bit like cardboard. Was introduced to it on Twitter as it helps fill you up! I tried the banana cake recipe and it is surprisingly tasty (especially if you want cake but without the fats and lower sugar) Its only 13 syns, for the whole cake! To put that into perspective Tesco Banana Cake is 8 syns per slice. I've made a batch in bun cases to be frozen for snack attacks!

Lunches will be salads and left overs, breakfasts, eggs, lean bacon and tomatoes. I've also perfected homemade SW houmous, so that's snacks sorted!

Oh, I managed to lose a 1lb this week! Result!

Have a great week and don't forget to check out other meal planners on Mrs M's blog!