Thursday, 29 January 2015

Things No One Told You About Being a Home Owner

There is a lot of pressure to get that first step on the property ladder - the theory goes that if you're renting you're only paying someone else's mortgage, so you're just forking our 'dead' money into a bottomless pit. 

There's a lot of focus about how you're best to get that foot on the property-rung, but what about after you've picked up the keys?  Hubby and I have been in our first home for just over a year now, and we've discovered that the learning doesn't stop after you complete.


What happens when you move in to your new home and discover that the kitchen sink is rotten, or that someone had sawn through the floorboards in the spareroom or that only thing stopping the water-tank from crashing through the ceiling is one small plastic crate?  We uncovered all of the above in the last 12 months.  It also seems that the people we bought our house from had a thing for No-More-Nails.  No job too big for No-More-Nails... including sticking the bathroom light to the ceiling, fixing curtain rails, hanging curtain rails...

A little part of your New-Home-Owner brain makes you assume that your lovely new home will be shiney and new... the bubble quickly bursts when you're scrambling around in your loft trying to build a wooden frame around the header tank.

Be prepared to flex your DIY muscles - never assume that the people who were there before you didn't cut corners.

Maintaining boundaries

Your survey, and your solicitor will have told you which boarders you have responsibility for, so you're prepared to replace fence panels if they blow over.  But what you might not expect is your neighbour to complain to a door-to-door hedge-trimmer-man that the evergreens in your backyard are interrupting their Sky signal...

Tradesmen: It's not what you know, it's who you know

Sometimes no matter how much Googling you do, or Youtube videos you watch, the task remains beyond your DIY skills.  When that happens, your only option is to call in the big-guns.  But where do you start?  If you're like me and move to a new area away from family, how do you know where to turn to?

I have to recommend sites such as Mybuilder - you post the job you need completing on a board, and interested parties can 'bid' for your business (you can read reviews and see photos of previous work), all without sharing your personal details - or Trust A Trader where you can find the details of recommended tradesmen and women.  I've found a fantastic plasterer and a super double-glazer - and I'm not afraid to ask for more help when I need it.

I guess I really am a grown up.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Slimming World Breakfast Ideas

So here's the thing - I normally skip breakfast.  It's not that I try and side-step the calories, I just don't really like it.

I have really vivid memories of conversations with my mother trying to persuade me to eat in the mornings.  I was pretty good as a youngster, but hitting my teens saw my interest in breakfast food just dry up.

Its a bit of a standing joke with my husband that even going into the cereal aisle of a supermarket makes me twitchy.  All those over bright cartoon staring faces seem to be a little bit judgmental...  I can't stay there for long before having to take refuge in the baked-bean aisle.

I know I have to turn over a new leaf if I'm to lose the weight I want to... so I'm trying to persuade myself that breakfast isn't just about cardboard or over-sweetened cereal.  So for anyone else who struggles with the first meal of the day, here are my thoughts for taking on breakfast and staying on-plan with Slimming World:


What could be a better start to the day than a big bowl of fruit? Having tried a few combinations of fruit, I have to say that anything with strawberries makes me a very happy bunny.  

I've also been using my daily Healthy B to have cereal with it (in an attempt to get over my distaste you understand...) and make my Healthy A last longer by not having milk with it.  I top it all off with fat free yogurt, fromage frais, sometimes even a Muller Light.  It's really tasty, quick to make in the mornings pre-work, and lot more filling that cereal alone.

I've also prettied this up by serving layered fruit, yogurt and crushed bran flakes in glasses for a super-quick-and-easy dessert.

Sexy Eggs

There's no point beating around the bush on this one.  It turns out that I could eat this every day.  For every meal.  Scrambled eggs (2 minutes in the microwave, no milk), two pieces of wholemeal Nimble bread (Healthy B), topped with flaked smoked salmon.  I mean who wouldn't...

And then to make sure I had my third-of-a-plate of super-free foods, I stuffed-my-face with mushrooms (again another 2 minutes in the microwave) and fresh rocket.  Oh. my. god.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

And what makes this even better? It's totally Syn-Free.

The Classic Full-English

This has got to be one of the major selling-points of Slimming World has to be the fact that you can have a massive Full-English and still be on-plan.

This is the second weekend that I've tucked into an amazing hot breakfast.

Bacon (with the rind removed), scrambled eggs, baked beans, and frozen Quorn Sausages... This breakfast might be Syn-Free, I'm not actually sure... There are many different types of Quorn sausage listed on the Slimming World website, these were the frozen variety... but in an 8 pack, which isn't actually listed, so I'm not entirely sure if these Quorn Sausages are the Syn-free ones or not.  To be on the safe side I counted 0.5 Syns (10 pack), just in case.

For those people who may have tried Quorn sausages in the past and found them either underwhelming or tasteless (Hubby has described them both ways), will find the current packs of sausages much herbier and therefore much tastier.  I'm not suggesting that if you served them up no one would be able to tell the difference, but possibly if they were in something (a casserole, an omelette, a quiche) then you might just about get away with it...

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Starting new chapter with Endometriosis

It's been a while since I posted.

To be honest, a lot of things have changed - so this is the start of a new chapter.  Hubby and I finally sorted out our housing issues and moved into our first home (that's another story), we adopted a couple of cats, we've tried our hand at DIY, I changed jobs.  And I was diagnosed with endometriosis.

When I first started this blog, it was as a way of documenting my way through pregnancy, and eventually parenthood... but sadly that wasn't to be.  And now endo is going to further muddy the waters of my motherhood journey.

So what is Endometriosis?

Believe it or not but Endometriosis is the UK's second most common gynecological condition, but very few people have heard of it.  It's one of those invisible illnesses, and I've tried to 'grin and bare it' for years.  Even in the medical field it is misunderstood. I've been pushing for a gyne referral for years, without luck - thank goodness for the locum I saw who wasn't afraid to admit that he didn't know everything and agreed to my referral after a few minutes on Google.

In a nutshell Endometriosis is when cells from inside the womb end up elsewhere in the body (usually in the abdomen), and causes chronic pain.

A lot of women know what a 'bad' period is, but imagine that pain being completely debilitating - hotwater bottles and heat packs don't touch it, you're constantly popping pain killers but the pain is still enough to make you faint and vomit... Add in the constant tiredness, the struggle to sleep and the sometimes pregnancy-resembling bloat, and it's a really pretty picture.

I'm currently on the waiting list for surgery, but the truth is, there is no cure.

So why am I going under the knife?

Apparently the fact that I have been pregnant before is a good sign, but endo is can have implications for fertility, and the truth is unless a specialist takes a look, there is no way we can say what the chances are.  Both hubby and I are remaining hopeful.  I'm going to do everything I can to make this work.

And for me this will start by me trying to lose a few pounds.  I'm not sure if weight would have a big impact on the endo, but it can only help with the surgery.  So I've cleared the cupboards of junk, and joined Slimming World...  I've always tried to think a few steps ahead - that's why I'm Learning Early.