Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jazzy 'Slims With Tina' - Part 2

Week 1 of my 'Slim With Tina' kickstarter course has been completed, and Week 2 has begun - with my renewed commitment!

I thought I'd tell you how it's going......

What's it All About? 

It's about changing our attitude to food. Food is but nutrition to fuel our bodies. It's up to us to choose what we ingest. It's up to us to make the right, healthy choices. On a daily basis. And that includes weekends. Those two/three days are my Achilles heel....

It's about reading labels, avoiding certain foodstuffs and learning all about the available healthy options.

It's about visualising our end goals and considering all our lifestyle choices, including our sleep patterns.

It's about increasing our water intake, and reducing those daily coffees.... sorry!

As part of this course Tina imparts all sorts of inspiring quotes, helpful links, delicious recipes and informative emails to our little group; keeping us motivated and interested. All written from personal experience , and in encouraging and non-bossy tones! 


There are quite a few life changes to be made in order for this new way of living to be successful, and they don't all have to be made in one day!

Weight-loss is the bonus, healthy living being the ultimate aim. 

In order to achieve that goal certain foods are to be avoided (sugar, wheat and processed foods mainly) but the array of healthier alternatives are astoundingly tasty! Nutritious and delicious - honestly.

If you've previously painstakingly counted your Pro-Points or Syns, then the first change you must make is to Stop. Right there! Banish the guilt and have that handful of nuts or half an avocado instead of a low-fat, but sugar containing, biscuit or bar for snack time.

Give yourself permission to have those couple of spoonfuls of seriously delicious, full fat Glenisk Natural Greek Yogurt with fruit or in a porridge smoothie; instead of some zero-fat, and sugar containing, alternative. I honestly had no idea how gorgeous natural, full-fat, yogurt could be.....

It's quite empowering actually, all this 'freedom' to eat healthily, and I'm finding the healthy options to be surprisingly filling too.

          Potato and Leek Soup with Spelt and Flaxseed Bread, from the 'Slim With Tina' Book. I'd never have eaten this on Weightwatchers!

These changes can be made slowly, they are lifelong changes after all and that is what I'm doing. I'm concentrating on Breakfasts, snacks and lunches and really enjoying the healthy options. There's a few more new and interesting recipes that I'm keen to try out too. Dinner options are a little tricky as I really don't want to go back to the days of making two or three different dinners. But I will deal with dinner changes soon, possibly converting some family members in the process!

So, How Did I do?

To be honest it's been a bit of the good, the great and not so good. But that's all down to me. I need to get my head back in the game, re-adjust my attitude to food and to re-set my mindset.

I found the changes easy during the week, but not so at the weekend, and on Day 2 I had my seriously doubting moments.

I mean it all seems quite airy fairy, doesn't it? How on earth can this work? I'm eating what is considered high in 'fat' and to be avoided at all costs on some diets, yet I'm supposed to lose weight?

Then two things happened.....

1) I stood on the scales, to prove that this was a waste of my time and I couldn't possibly continue - told you this would be an honest review - to find that I was down two pounds! In two days!

2) I came across a programme on the '10 Best Diets of the World' on TV last Saturday night and found it very interesting. Italy, France (with red wine, duck fat and pastries on the menu!) and Japan featured but, over-all, the country with the healthiest diet in the world  was ...... Iceland.
It was noted that the one thing that all ten countries had in common was that they all avoided processed food.

And just like that I was back on board, again.

After I finished my couple glasses of wine first, of course.....

And after I'd digested the fact that in eight days, after all the weekend madness, my overall weight loss was just one pound.

Good result really, when you think about it.

What's Next?

  • Stay motivated. Think of the lovely, wholesome food that I'm, mainly, consuming and how good it is for me
  • Stay with it at weekends - don't let that Achilles heel of mine trip me up and lead me astray!
  • Keep up my exercise, limited though it is. 
  • Read up on the Lifestyle and Sleep advice. I'm really looking forward to that section of the book as off-the wall sleep patterns feature prominently in my life. Through my food diary I think I might have found one connection.....

And think of my end goals, visualise them.....

And think of Iceland...... the country, not the food store!

Sounds so easy, doesn't it?

Take care,

NOTE:  You can read 'Slim With Tina January Kickstart' - My Journey, Part 1 here. 

Disclosure:  I have received a complementary place on this kickstarter course and a complementary copy of Tina's 'Slim With Tina' book, and in return I have agreed to share my journey with you over the next few weeks. Which is a fun, if slightly revealing, prospect for me! As usual my review will be an honest one. Wish me luck now!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Calm Between Two Storms.....

It was such a stormy night here in Ireland last night as Storm Rachel battered our country.  It is still, almost 24 hours later, very windy outside. Storm Rachel is quite the raging storm.

This morning, we on the more protected East side of the country woke up to a bright and sunny day, albeit with some stormy wild winds still howling.

And it seemed that a 'storm' abounded both outdoors and in .....

But the indoors version was just the usual 'storm' of getting a teenager out of bed and out the door to school on time. As I'm sure occurs in a lot of houses! All tall and testosterone-y, with bustling limbs going up and down the stairs many times - like it was a prescribed morning exercise - eventually getting out the door, all weighed down with a heavy book-filled bag. Phew. This is a daily 'storm', fueled by my inability to tell the time precisely (not correctly .... p.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y). In my defense there are five time pieces - including my watch and phone - in my small kitchen, all proudly declaring a precise time of their own choosing. And yes, you guessed it, none of them are in agreement. In order to resolve this contentious issue I will be having a conversation with the talking clock soon ..... and 'he' better know his seconds from his minutes. P.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y.

However, this 'storm' abated the minute I waved 'toodles' at the back end of a swiftly departing bus, while the outside one was gathering even more momentum.

But, deceivingly it was such a lovely sunny morning. And as I drove away from my village - after lots of calming tea with toast and comforting scrambled egg - I could see the slivers of winter sunbeams dancing through the old tall trees just ahead of me. They teasingly beckoned me forward, to come see the winter sunshine show in its full glory.... Just up ahead ... Keep driving... You're nearly there...

I could feel the calm and joy descend, embracing  me as I approached the bend in the road ahead. And as the road straightened out in front of me, the glorious winter sun appeared in all it's brilliance .......

It really was magnificent, it made my day all the brighter and spurned me on to spend a little time outdoors.

Which is exactly what I did by taking a bit of  a stroll along a very blustery Bray Seafront, buffeted with massive gusts of wind that saw the sea spray from the crashing waves cast about like birds spreading seeds.....

A  lovely morning, a perfect antidote to whatever ails you.

And while Storm Rachel's anger has abated somewhat, after quite a stormy afternoon, she's still flaffing about with her howling winds, refusing to leave our shores.

And all indoors is far, far quieter......

Take care,

Sunday, January 11, 2015

'Slim with Tina January Kickstart' - My Journey, Part 1

My New Year started last Monday January 5th sensibly, I thought to myself, coinciding with back-to-school times; with me brimming over with determination to get my 2015 goals and wishes off to a good start.

Of course one of my goals is some dreaded weight loss, as I'm sure it is for many of you out there. Or at least I hope it is! Although I'm quite sure none of you attacked and demolished the wine rack, box of Roses chocolates and box of scrumptious Tayto crisps, over the Christmas period, with quite the recklessness and total abandonment that I did! 

And now it's pay back time.

Added to the Christmas guzzling is the damage done to my previous weight loss, courtesy of a back injury last July. Between medications. which included a lot of steroids and opiates, comfort eating - all those yummy hospital desserts coming back to haunt me! - and an inability to exercise properly, I have my work cut out for me.

I've been trying to pare things back since last October but, even though I have the tools from a previous weight loss programme to hand, I simply cannot do this alone.

For example, even though this week started so positively it kind of fell apart at the weekend. 

I am clear in my goals and motivation though, but I clearly need direction and external motivation to keep me on track. Perhaps I also need to go at this from a different angle? A more holistic approach maybe?

It was rather timely then, when I saw a blogger offer from Tina Murphy for her Slim with Tina January Kickstart programme! I jumped at the chance to take part!

Tina has received many plaudits for her very popular  Run With Tina programmes and has been a regular feature on Irish TV .

Now, I don't generally do well on diets that are based on planned meals, banned foods and wine bans and have no idea really, what a Slim With Tina January Kickstart programme entails!

I have received a couple of positive and encouraging emails from Tina so far and more info will follow, as our intensive four-week programme commences tomorrow, Monday January 12th. Yikes!! 

I have also received a complementary copy of her Slim With Tina book which has gotten some great reviews.

I have had a quick look through the book, and at Tina's website, and so far it seems to be a good, positive and holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle, with the added benefit of some weight loss.

This kickstart programme has kicked off already, with us keeping a food diary for the last few days. And mine makes for some scary reading I can tell you! I can see quite clearly when and why I go overboard. I can already see that stress and boredom play their part. As do the sleepless nights and dogged tiredness.

So how am I, while Slimming With Tina,  going to change all that?

It's bound to be an interesting few weeks ahead and while I'm a little nervous as I've no idea really what I'm letting myself in for, I may as well give it a go. Sure what have I to lose?

Except for hopefully a few pounds.

But perhaps I'll have more to gain than to lose. by gaining a healthier lifestyle, and some lovely sleep-filled nights, in the process?

Now that's something to aim for!

Pop back here over the next few weeks and I'll let you know how I'm doing!

But I'd best get going now, I have a bit of reading to do ;-)

Take care,

Disclosure:  I have received a complementary place on this kickstarting course and a complementary copy of Tina's 'Slim With Tina' book, and in return I have agreed to share my journey with you over the next few weeks. Which is a fun, if slightly revealing, prospect for me! As usual my review will be an honest one. Wish me luck now!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mia Tui Me - Again....... Meet 'Luca'!

I really do love those Mia Tui bags. So much so that I told you all about the first two bags I received back in January 2013. These are stylish, organiser bags and are ideal for a busy person who seems to live their daily life out of their handbags. Like me!

How I cherish my Grace and Amelia bags, and I really have put both of them through their paces in the past two years. They are still in good condition today too, and if ever they are not I shall be replacing them pronto I value them that much.

However, more recently I found carrying bags while on a crutch rather difficult. so I adjusted the strap on my Grace bag in order to distribute the weight a bit better and to leave my hands free, for safety reasons. It did help but I felt I needed something else....

Something more like a backpack type bag perhaps?

Not a 'here-I-am-going-on-a-hike'  type backpack, even though clearly I wasn't - being on a crutch and all. A more discreet and stylish bag was my wish.

Enter Luca - the answer to all my essential requirements ....

It really is yet another stylish and extremely well made bag from Mia Tui. It's designed for all occasions from office use to going on walkabouts, and is really handy for those trips when you need to keep your hands free. Luca is ideal as a laptop bag and makes a great man-bag too. But it's also suitable for all reasons and genders - maybe you're pushing a buggy, hiking through the woods..... or struggling on a crutch!

I love the red inner lining, which is also on the insides of the padded back-straps .....

As you can see there are three separate compartments, including a padded laptop pocket. There's also a small zipped pocket at the front. The Luca bag has the usual Mia Tui insulated water-bottle holder, clips for keys, phone/pen holders and one clear removable PVC bag.

Although a little awkward for Christmas shopping as you have to take the bag off your bag every time you need your purse, which was a lot! The Luca bag was really useful during my recent crutch-using days and will certainly get more usage in the future. 

My Luca bag now takes pride of place in my little Mia Tui family....

           From L to R: 'Luca' for walkabouts, 'Amelia' for traveling and show rehearsals, 
                         'Grace' for everyday, a handy, wrist-carrying purse and finally 
                   'Lottie' for when I only need a small bag.

You can tell I'm addicted, can't you?!

If you're interested in purchasing a Luca bag, or any bag from the extensive Mia Tui range then you'd best hot-foot it over to their website pronto. 

There's a sale on, you see, and if you spend stg£45 you get a FREE Poppy bag! 

Tip: P&P is stg£9.99 no matter how big, small or how many items you order so make the most of it! Maybe make a joint order with a friend?

That Poppy bag really does looks very stylish, doesn't it? And very tempting too.....

I think it would fit very nicely into my little Mia Tui family, don't you?!

Take care,

Disclosure: I received the Luca bag free-for-review when placing a recent order. However my review here is an honest one, as always.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Rewound.... and Fast Forward 2015 - Happy New Year!

It's one of my favourite times of the year - New Year's Eve. I know plenty of people who don't like it, in fact I usually ring it in alone. But I like it and I honour it every year, in my own positive way .... and am not afraid to open my hall door at midnight, glass of wine in hand - obviously,  and shout out a  'Happy New Year' to all and sundry - or to an empty street - before scuttling quickly back inside!

I actually find it exciting, to say goodbye to the year that's been, no matter how good or bad it was, and to welcome with open arms the new start that a New Year brings. It's refreshing I find .....

As I've explained before I don't do 'New Year's Resolutions', preferring to set myself goals instead. I've just re-read my New Year's post 2014, and my subsequent mentioned written list of goals and aspirations. I'd like to say that I did my list proud but I didn't really. Although in fairness a certain injury had a major effect and a whole five months of the year was wiped out as far as exercise and weight-control was concerned. I did okay on some of my goals though, in particular knitting and crochet which got a boost from said injury, and find that writing them down is very motivating and cathartic - and makes for a very humourous read-back twelve months later! And so, I will do the same for 2015 and I have similar goals in mind, but I will have to find new ways of achieving some of them!

As far as this blog is concerned I've had my ups and downs, and my very silent moments, when I could find nothing, neither in life nor in my head, to write about. Yet again a certain injury gave me an unexpected boost and material, enabling me to bore you all for months about my trials and tribulations!! I have yet to write that extended HSE/ A & E disaster post, although I did write this one, under the influence of severe pain and medications. Nothing has changed with A & E trips or MRI scan waits in this country, in fact it got worse as the year went on....

So, what did I find to write about in 2014 then? At this point feel free to skip on if you wish, this is more of a cathartic look-back and motivator going forward for myself, if I'm to continue blogging!

Well, the closing of the Irish Thomas Cook offices gave me the opportunity to share my trip to Bermuda in 1980 with you. I also took another nostalgic look-back at Parenting- Through the Swimming Years  and I wrote about Teenage Adventures and Coming of Age.  All the years we spend nurturing our water-winged toddlers/young children and how they suddenly grow up on us....

In February we sadly said goodbye to our gorgeous budgie Sunny, we still think of and talk about him. The plan was to get another one in the summer but, that pesky injury got in the way of our plans yet  again!

I told you all about our amazing Florida Holiday  -  so nice to have this all recorded in one place.

I tried to be funny when sharing some 'interesting' moments, like getting Lost in The Woods and about a certain 'treatment' I received !

Oh, and for an apparently 'silent blogger' I was quite gobby at times during 2014!

I told you all about the dangers of Pilates Classes - Top Tip: go to a class run by a Pilates-specific (or better still a Physiotherapist-Pilates trained) instructors.

I gobbed about the fate of Stay-at-Home-Parents and how little they're thought of at times, especially by successive Governments,  in The Perfect Family and In The Forgotten Worker. I firmly believe in every word I wrote....

I ranted about Water Charges and how I can see people cutting back on water usage to the extent that our whole nation becomes a Dirty Old Town. And on how much I believe peaceful protests to be the more appropriate way to go.

I fumed about the unfairness of circular 0030/2014 and it's effect on Inclusion of our Special Needs Children  and about Mental Health Awareness. The latter being very pertinent with regard to the recent Cork tragedy. It's not good enough to send patients home from hospital when they're well enough to be cared for by community care, when that care is not sufficiently available... for both the patient AND the family.This is sadly not the first tragedy of it's kind and this article from a mum, with whom I totally agree, is worth reading. We must give more to Mental Health Services in this country and help prevent such awful tragedies. Now there's a worthwhile goal for 2015.

And finally I raged about residential abuse in Care Home Concerns., another issue that can be a goal for 2015 : give the vulnerable a voice and ensure that it's heard.

Gosh, all this rewinding is making me all gobby again isn't it?! I'd best stop now.

And look forward to 2015 with positivity and determination. But I need some motivation too, something to aim my recovery at. To get dancing again.....

And look what I found. Hip Op eration - a dance crew from New Zealand aged from 67 to 95! They've even traveled to the Hip Hop championships in Las Vegas!

So I'll leave you with this video, feeling that there's plenty of hope for me yet!

You know where my dance brain is going with this, don't you?!

Thanks for joining me on my ramblings this year. May you find your positivity, determination and motivation for 2015, wherever you can, and may the brand New Year be all you want it to be.

Happy New Year!

Take care,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 'Reasons to be Cheerful' #R2BC ......

I've always loved Christmas and am lucky to have such a lovely store of Christmas memories, from childhood on. Not that the presents were huge when we were children - they really weren't - or that we had lots of money - we really didn't. We always appreciated what we got though, and the time we spent visiting all our relatives on Christmas morning. Getting to meet all my cousins at both Grandparent's houses was always such a special highlight.

Fast forward a hundred a few years or so and while the traditions may have changed, we are now creating memories for our own children. I have lovely memories of Christmases tinged with Santa magic for my son, but now that he's fifteen I do wonder how special his festive memory bank is? And I wonder if he'll remember this Christmas as being especially nice? Given that it was a bit of a Gypsy Christmas, insofar as the visiting we did and the lovely Christmas dinners - yes, plural - we had quite literally, handed to us on a plate!

Midnight Mass

For me, the festive feelings kicked off as usual with the great Irish tradition of 'Midnight Mass' on Christmas Eve.... at 8 pm! Although I was very uncomfortable sitting in the hard wooden pews this year it was still the usual, special part of our Christmas festivities. The packed church, nice singing and the usual sense of community was just right for the special, religious night, that it was. And all finished off nicely with the new tradition of a quick Christmas drink with friends.

The 'Private Visit'.

Christmas Day dawned gloriously, both weather and family wise, starting with a small family visit to my mother in her 'care home'. She was so nicely dressed in her new Christmas clothes that I had laid out for her. She and her fellow residents were also very well attended by smiling and polite staff who, having left their own families at home, faced a long shift that day. We were grateful to them, and to the fact that my mam was in such great form and enjoyed her Christmas dinner with such relish. She is quite the miracle. This was yet another Christmas we weren't supposed to have and, whatever is to come, I will have the lovely memories of this special visit for always.

Peace and Calm

Some Christmas Day winter sun made for such lovely views to instill some inner peace and calm on our travels that day....

Family Time

The family time continued with time spent with other close family members. Sumptuous and plentiful food was accompanied by both flowing wine and conversation and such lovely company. It really was the most enjoyable and relaxing way to spend both Christmas and St Stephen's Day.

Home Sweet Home

No matter how enjoyable the Christmas was - and it really was - there is nothing like finally coming home sweet home. To enjoy another lovely quick stroll and flop around in sweats to enjoy more food and some festive TV viewing.

And yes, there were some lovely presents, even if  the 'Santa' online order did go horribly wrong and has yet to arrive, but there's more to Christmas than all that.

I hope the teen festive memory bank is awash this year and that his patience is rewarded.

And wherever you are I do hope you had a lovely Jazzy Christmas too!

Note: I doubt there's an #RTBC blog hop this week, and if there is I can't find it! I'm going ahead with this anyway as I do feel cheerful..... and very grateful. 

UPDATE: I was so cheered by and grateful for my Christmas this year that I've been quite cheeky and tagged this post onto the New Year's #R2BC Linky over at Ojo's World!

I've already written my New Year's post and wish you all a positive 2015 with many, many reasons to be cheerful....

Take care,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dear Son.....

I know you like History so I thought you might like to know some of the prominent world events on this day fifteen years ago: December 22nd 1999.

  • The world feared the forthcoming brand-new Millennium, terrified of the damage it would do to computers globally, branding it: Y2K. Something I know you find hopelessly hilarious today.

Oh yes, there was most definitely a shining light in that 24 hour period.

However, neither you nor I were really taking notice of these world events on this day back then.

We were most definitely otherwise engaged.

I had spent two days walking around hospital corridors and up and down any stairwell I could find, in a desperate attempt to get you to introduce yourself to the world. Well, at the very least to get you to introduce yourself to us, your parents!

But you had other ideas. A sign of things to come perhaps?! You were very comfortable where you were, thank you very much, but I however was not! You were getting bigger and bigger and leaning on things you really shouldn't. It was time to move out, Buster! Actually, I believed you were holding on for another nine days just to be a aluminium Millennium Baby, but I wanted to finally see your little face.... NOW!

And finally, after much ado and serious prodding and monitoring - I swear, there was more going into me than coming out that day! -the light shone that bit brighter in the world, as you came into it.

You were gorgeous. Perfect. With your little rosebud mouth in a perfect 'O', as you gazed all around you when you were finally placed into my arms. A neighbour was later to use the word 'exquisite' to describe you. He was absolutely right too and I should know, being your completely unbiased mother and all.

Now I'm sure that somewhere in this country there is an air and gas machine that was rendered completely useless, and an anesthesiologist who still has the indelible marks of my hands on his wrist from that day. Although I do recall him telling me that his were the last hands I should grab . Good advice really, given that he was mid-epidural-injecting at the time.

But none of that mattered now that you'd finally arrived, a whole ten days late and a few ounces heavier.

You've brightened our lives, given substance to our world and made us very, very proud since that day fifteen years ago. Now, if you'd just clean your room and 'get off that screen' without being incessantly nagged, all would be absolutely perfect! But you're a teenager and your resistance is to be expected :-) 

We've been on an incredible and inspiring journey with you in the last fifteen years son. we've watched you grow into the lovely, handsome young man that you are becoming.

I sense that you are now entering another, more maturing, chapter in your life and we very much look forward to travelling this road with you too.

It promises to be very exciting. Especially if your 'Santa List' and your plans with it come to fruition. This could actually be quite a defining Birthday and Christmas present this year and I really hope that it is.....

You are fifteen years old today, Dear Son, which makes  me fifteen years older. But we won't dwell on that, oh no, not for a tiny minute.

Instead I will simply wish you the happiest 15th Birthday and the Merriest Christmas ever.

May you have a lovely day and may all your dreams and wishes for the future come to pass.

Lots of Love Always,

Mum and Dad