Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wee Chickadee #2

I finally finished knitting my great nephew Curtis's Wee Chickadee cardigan. I only had one sleeve to finish in the lead up to Christmas, but when I discovered I wouldn't be seeing him on Christmas day I stopped knitting. And only started again when I was heading to my great niece's birthday party at the weekend.
I was so happy that I finally found buttons I like, which happen to be a smaller version of the same buttons I attached to my own Chickadee cardigan. My cardigan, and Curtis's, have turned out to be the same design, and I'm really pleased with both of them. 

Meg had to get in on the act when I was photographing them. It's all about her after all.
The secret to my dieting success is all about SNACKS! I'm very interested in my snacks and think about them throughout the day. The Digestive Thins and the Oreo Thins are really great for 1 1/2 syns each biscuit. I could have ten a day if I wanted to. And the mint flutes are great for 1 syn each. I have two with my coffee at work in the morning and they sweeten my mood before the chaos begins! (My work frequently feels like I'm having a bun fight while standing in a hurricane on a moving platform... Sometimes that's fun, and sometimes it's just tiring.)
Our hen Georgie has started laying eggs again, after a break of months! I wonder if it's because we have a cockerel now??? (I don't know anything about cockerels re-invigorating hens, it's probably just a fantasy.) Anyway, she lays gorgeous deep, reddy-brown eggs so they really add diversity to our egg colour palette. Both green egg layers are laying again too, the blue egg layer never stopped laying, and the girls who lay light brown eggs are laying well too. The wee eggs at the front are from my wee pal Tiger, who is a bantam hen. She has just gone broody again, which is a shame as I've been having two tiny Tiger eggs for tea every Friday night. And when I needed 4 1/2 eggs to make a cake recently I used her egg as the half.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Slimming World vs Weightwatchers

I've been doing Slimming World for just over three months now, during which time I've lost 17lbs. It works on a really simple premise whereby certain groups of food are 'free', i.e. rice, pasta, potatoes, beans and pulses, fruit and vegetables. You're then allowed two 'healthy extras' each day - I always choose Weetabix and 350ml of skimmed milk - and everything else has a 'syn' value attached (chocolate, for example), and you're allowed 5 - 15 syns a day. It's an amazingly easy system to follow and I'm never hungry. Above is noodles with stir fry vegetables (all free).   
About 7 years ago I lost 2 1/2 stone with Weightwatchers. I lost half a stone a month, and found the Discovery Points system fairly easy. On Weightwatchers everything is weighed and has a points value attached. When I did the Discovery Points system, I was allowed 16 points a day. Although I found it easy at the time, because I was determined, I felt hungry and had to pace myself through my food allowance for the day. Above is my version of Eton Mess - made with Muller Light yoghourt and Sweet Freedom Chocolate Shot. 3 syns.
I actually tried going back to Weightwatchers a couple of years ago, during which time they had moved onto the ProPoints system, which had more flexibility than Discovery Points. However, I found Weightwatchers no longer inspired me. I was bored of counting and weighing everything, and I was bored of being hungry while trying to lose weight.

So when a work colleague had noticeably lost weight and I asked her how she'd done it, she explained the Slimming World plan to me and I joined soon after.

Between the two systems I much prefer Slimming World. Not being hungry while losing weight is a big bonus! It's also motivated me to cook for the first time. It means planning meals a bit more. With Weightwatchers it was easy to go into supermarkets and pick up a ready meal.

All of my syns go on treats. I don't drink, so don't have to allow for alcohol. Above is a Fibre One chocolate fudge brownie (4 syns) and three Mint chocolate flutes (1 syn each).

I have (temporarily, I hope) become a bit obsessed with following other Slimming World social media instagrammers who post everything they eat each day. It's a good way of picking up ideas and tips, but it's also really motivational to keep on track.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Knitting, sledging, and getting into the new year

It's been a slow start to the year. We were so busy at the end of last year that we've taken every opportunity to rest and slow down in January and February, though there have been busy pockets nonetheless.

I finally cast on the second sleeve of my great-nephew, Curtis's, cardigan yesterday. I haven't felt like knitting or sewing until now. I've been reading more, and writing. I'm knitting it in age 2, and he's currently 15 months' old, so it should fit him still and it won't take long to finish. I finally found buttons I like in John Lewis. I thought John Lewis was winding down its button selection but happily they'd replenished the stock when I went last week.
So the finished cardigan will be exactly the same as my adult Chickadee snowflake cardigan. Same colour, same motif, same (smaller) buttons. I love these transparent, perspex, colour-tinged buttons. 
We've had a couple of snowfalls this month. Last weekend my friends and their girls visited and there was just enough snow left to go sledging! They hadn't been sledging before and they were so excited! We had a few good runs. It doesn't look like there's enough snow here to sledge but actually it worked out well as it wasn't as fast a run as when there is proper coverage. 
And my wee companion. Hagos has been on tour this month, and Meg and I are such good friends. I absolutely love her. She's very cuddly at the moment. This is her exploring my fabric shelf in the kitchen cupboard.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year

We had the most amazing new year at a castle in Northern Ireland. This is the view from the drawing room. It was a friend's 40th birthday. He hired the castle and invited sixty of his closest friends and family.
Our friends Noosh and Rick were also there, along with other people we knew. Tim had also hired an amazing catering company to cater the whole weekend. We were first to arrive for the informal NI Afternoon Tea on the second day. We sat at the table and didn't move until we'd had our fill of soup, meringues, shortbread and cake. 
Our cottage was a short walk from the castle next to a donkey field. The donkeys were obviously used to charming people as they came running to get the apples we fed them. They were very cute.
The first night we had a meal followed by a ceilidh. The second day was FULL of activities, a couple of which we ducked out of to get some rest, as in the evening it was the Rock-aoke! As the birthday boy is a musician, and a few other musicians had been invited, the other guests had all been asked to submit a song request, which the supergroup would play live. Above - Noosh and Rick's rendition of Parklife! 
Hagos, accompanied by Heather and Mike doing a glitter song (with appropriate head gear). In total Hagos played on thirty songs! It was mega.
We are both now recovering from the most horrendous flu ever. Four days of blank existence, punctuated by a hacking cough. 
Noosh and I did a duet on Knowing Me, Knowing You, by Abba. The whole point of doing it was to do this video selfie during the middle eight. Our backing Supergroup consisted of, Hagos (Lodestar/Senser), Tim and Rick (Ash), Nathan (Snow Patrol) and Keith (We Are Scientists). It's all about the Instagram :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


I only made two Christmas presents this year. The pink Wee Chickadee by Ysolda, for my great-niece Kelsie (in her Baby Claus outfit below), and a blue snowflake Wee Chickadee for my great-nephew Curtis. I finished sewing the buttons on Kelsie's cardigan on Christmas Eve, and only managed to knit half of one sleeve on Curtis's cardigan. It turned out I wouldn't be seeing him on Christmas Day so I decided to put it aside and finish it for the next time I'll be down visiting and give it to him then. I think the whole of Kelsie's cardigan works really well. I love the colour combination and the dark pink sparkly buttons.
I decided, three weeks before Christmas, to join Slimming World. I did Weightwatchers successfully a few years ago and lost two and a half stones in five months. I kept it off for a good couple of years, then with life changes put a stone and a half back on again. I did briefly return to Weightwatchers a couple of years ago, in which time their programme had changed, but somehow never really took to the new Propoints system.
Every year I get to December and feel sick of the glut and over-indulgence that is happening in the run up to Christmas. And when I noticed a colleague had lost weight I asked her what she was doing, and she explained Slimming World to me. It caught my imagination and I joined a couple of weeks later. 

Having done both now, I would say Weightwatchers is easier if you need to grab ready meals (most supermarkets do a range and it's easy to work out how many points there are in a product) but I actually much prefer Slimming World now. It is making me cook for the first time ever! (And actually the results are delicious!) It means planning ahead a bit more, but essentially there is no weighing and counting on lots of food I already really like and eat. The only thing I have to count is a few treats a day. There are 5-15 syns available each day, and, of course, I spend all of mine on chocolate and sugar-related items. The mince pie is home-made and only three and a half syns each, and the Mikado chocolate stick is half a syn. The violet cream is three syns (and totally worth it). 
This is Kelsie in her Baby Claus outfit on Christmas Day. She is nine months old now and is turning out to be a sweet girl. 
She loved the Chocolate Yule Log when dessert was brought out.

Today is the first day in a long time that I don't have to go anywhere or do anything (except clean out the chickens!). I'm fighting off a cold (sore throat, heavy head) and have a twitch in my eye that I only get when I am extremely tired. I don't intend achieving anything today except for sprawling on the couch, maybe reading a book, or listening to the vintage Christmas murder mystery I downloaded from Audible, drinking hot tea and letting everything go. (Like Elsa in Frozen, which I watched for the first time today.)
**Update - Kelsie wearing her Wee Chickadee cardigan and looking gorgeous in it. 

Monday, December 05, 2016


This scarf took only a few evenings to complete. It's knitted in Rowan Cocoon. Really soft and luxurious. 
I forgot I'd knitted 2x2 rib at the first end and duly knitted 1x1 rib at the second end.I unknitted rather than ripping back, so all the stitches would remain turned the right way when it came to reknitting.
I love the colours.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Knitting Frenzy

I finished the charcoal Chickadee. I've still to sew on the buttons but the (very few) ends have been sewn in. I love it, and I'm glad I decided not to include a motif. 
It's impossible to photograph the buttons to full effect but they're great.
I've been in an absolute storm of knitting recently. I can't stop. As soon as I cast off the charcoal cardigan, I cast on this gorgeous, luscious red cardigan. Another Chickadee. I go into a trance. I knit when I'm happy, and I knit as therapy, to distract myself from difficulties.
And somewhere in amongst it I knitted two Christmas balls. 
The heart ball was knitted on 3mm needles, the snowman ball was knitted on 2.5mm needles. Half a millimetre obviously makes a big difference in size! The heart ball is too big.
I decided to park the luscious red cardigan when I got to the point of knitting the sleeves, so I could knit this scarf. My coat and jacket are purple this winter, and my handbag is purple and yellow tweed, really cheerful colours, so I decided to knit matching accessories. The wool for the scarf is Rowan Cocoon. I got it from loveknitting.com and coincidentally ordered on a day it was £6.60 a ball, instead of the usual price of just under £10! I also ordered 4 ply to knit matching mittens too. The scarf has only taken 3 evenings of not much effort to get over halfway.
It has turned frosty at last. Whole days where the sun doesn't thaw certain parts of the land. I like walking to see what has changed in the countryside. There are many moments of beauty.
And this great friend of ours. She is very busy these days. She has found a cache of big, fat mice over the back wall, and she spends a lot of time out there hunting (and bringing them in - dead and alive). She is jealous of anything I give my attention to (that isn't her) and has taken to sitting on my knitting patterns so I have to STOP and pay attention to HER. And with this much beauty, why would I want to look at anything else?