Friday, 29 July 2016

Amy's New Home - The Pink House by Amy

I am delighted to introduce a new regular contributor to the blog!  You may remember Amy has written us a couple of guest posts in the past but the great news is, we now have a brand new home renovation project to share with you!  Amy has just bought a beautiful house in Essex and is going to share her home project with us here!  So over to the wonderful Amy and her tales of The Pink House...

As many of you will know, we’ve not had the best of luck when it comes to moving.  Getting to this stage where we are almost in our own house, with stairs and a roof and outside space and a proper front door has taken over two and a half years and more stress and heartbreak than we would ever have imagined, but it’s not a cliché to say that things happen for a reason and the house we now call home is one we could never have dreamed we would be able to own at the start of it all.

The previous owner had lived there for 41 years, and one of the things we fell in love with was the history connected to the house.  It’s grade 2 listed and has been a pub and a school as well as a home, has been countless different colours, and has even withstood an earthquake!  Our lovely vendors had clearly loved the house, and we wanted to respect all the love and care they had put into it in our own plans for renovation.  Our aim is to reflect the age of the house in our style of decorating, whilst at the same time applying a few modern touches such as a more open plan style living area, adding an en-suite and dressing room for our bedroom, as well as keeping an overall aesthetic that reflects our own slightly eclectic style.  We love traditional period features, mid century style décor, and bright spacious modernism and I think our plans reflect all of those things.

I’ll be posting regular updates on our renovations as they are done, and probably sharing a few cries for help in sourcing particularly tricky things I have my heart set on along the way :)


Sunday, 24 July 2016

90 Day SSS Plan - Cycle 3

I should have been finished cycle 3 on Saturday but I have chosen to extend it for 10 days (making it a 100 day plan rather than 90) to make up for the very naughty few days I had in Scotland - food, food, wine, food and NO workouts!  I did pack my weights but they never made it out of the roof box!

Cycle 3 has been HARD.  Not least because of our little holiday up north but also many other reasons.  Kalyan has been rather difficult these last few weeks, MAJOR tantrums (I suspect and hope it's teething related) meaning little rest, interrupted sleep, interrupted workouts and little to no food prep getting done.  I was FED UP!  I actually had a couple of meltdowns myself, one morning we were out wandering the village before 8am, none of us had eaten (they refused) and I was in floods of tears.  I just had to bundle them, semi-dressed, into the buggy and get out.  My amazing friend Holly, came to my rescue when I rang her for a chat, bless her - she bundled her 3 kids into her car and drove from the next village to find me and give me hug!  Just what I needed and then we made plans for later on after she got her twins to pre-school.  Another morning left me feeling useless and utterly exhausted by 9am so I managed to get us all (twins still in bibs and no socks on) out of the house again to pop-in where I pushed them into the hall, sat down and left them crying in the buggy while the lovely Lynda and Jane tried to comfort me (which set me off into floods again) and reassure me that they'd all been through the same thing.  Rose and her son took over trying to calm the twins while I had a mini breather before K eventually calmed down and P followed suit.  It's times like these I'm glad I have some amazing people nearby to go to since I have no family near.

I'll admit, until now I've loved the plan, I've been lucky that until recently, the twins had been sleeping really well and been mostly good-tempered and I always managed my workouts before they woke.  But a few days into cycle 3 I had had enough.  All of the weighing of every little thing was getting to me.  Tomato puree should be squeezed randomly into a bolognaise not carefully measured to the gram and don't get me started on the eggs!  I've had way fewer eggs this cycle as I just couldn't be bothered weighing out whole eggs and then my egg white portion just to make some scrambled eggs.  It was all just too much and I was getting irritable with it all.  The workouts are super hard with 150+ reps of 2 different exercises interspersed with HIITs.  I stuck at it though and mainly stuck to the food (until Glasgow) but had to abandon two workouts mid-way through due to K waking early and I missed a couple entirely due to a horrible virus.

I tried to catch up in the hotel gym when I had to go to Bristol for work but then we left for Scotland, an amazing wedding and a few days in my favourite old city with many favourite eateries to enjoy.  I wasn't going to miss out on such a rarity as getting to indulge in steak, Bread Meats Bread's awesome burgers (and a milkshake and poutine!) or some proper, fresh sushi or delicious fusion tapas.  Living down here in the country means our eating out is rather limited to (albeit lovely) pubs or Italian restaurants - there's just no variety like in Glasgow.  I also treated myself to a Krispy Kreme (Biscoff flavour, yum!), pate, moule frites, an ice cream...  I enjoyed my plan break shall we say!

Priya eating her chicken teriyaki in an altogether MUCH neater way than her brother!
(See below!)

Face out of focus but too good an expression with his first burger not to share!

Drinking the last of his ice-cream after tapas.  A trick his Granny taught him!!! 

Glasgow was a much needed change and a rest from the plan.  Sadly it coincided with my final week on plan so when I would have normally been giving a final push of effort to get a great final result, I was dong the opposite.  However, it has left me feeling motivated again (especially after an unsurprising 5lb gain in a week!) and back on the plan properly for a few more days.  I had managed to lose a total of 20 lbs (9kg) on the plan (I measured just before we left) and a fantastic 16.5" so hopefully I can continue and meet my goal of losing 2 stone in the next couple of months.  As it is, I've already lost 2 stone since July last year so I'm pretty thrilled with that!

After I've finished the plan, I hope to stick to the main principles but relaxing on the measuring.  I will be sensible, have many new recipes to draw on and will stick to the portions of exercise I enjoyed (cycle 2 was great for me with the weights but when life gets tough, I'll just get in my HIIT sessions which are so much shorter!)

Having had over a week without working out it's been tough to get back into it.  I finally forced myself today after a rest day back on plan food yesterday and I'm glad it's done.  I'll hopefully get back into my usual routine again now.  

Bex's Bookshelf - reviews

I've read a few good books lately and it's so long since I reviewed anything so here are my thoughts on my recent reads.

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies was a book club choice and not something I would normally choose.  This is why I like being in a book club because, although it can be hit or miss (there have been a couple of choices I haven't enjoyed), it expands my reading repertoire and can unearth some gems I would otherwise miss.  It's only £1.99 on Kindle at the moment.

Set in colonial times in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), we follow the story of 19 year old Englishwoman Gwen as she travels to be with her new husband in their tea plantation home.

I instantly liked Gwen and was interested in her story and how her life would evolve in this new, exotic land.  Having visited Sri Lanka, I also found the setting with the history and local politics very interesting.  There was intrigue, romance, secrets, mystery and excitement, all things I love in a story but the main thing was wanting to know what would happen to these characters, even the one I hated!

I was really keen to talk about this one at book club but unfortunately Nik was on call that evening so I ended up being 30 minutes late, had awful trouble parking and they'd already finished the discussion!!  The rest of my evening out was spent at the end of a very long table being largely ignored with one person sitting next to me actually entirely turned towards the person on her other side leaving me with only her back for company.  I also managed to spill someone's wine due to an extremely wobbly table and immediately offered to replace it but was then highly embarrassed to find my wallet was at home in the changing bag so I was unable to!  I actually drove home in tears after a horrendous, wasted evening out.

Since that rather depressing evening, I decided to start up my own local book club with friends from my village and the next which I plan to be much more inclusive, smaller and intimate being held in each other's homes rather than pub venues with parking issues, noise and big tables meaning difficult chat.  I've called it The Book Club With Wine (although the wine is optional of course!) and it's going to be very informal, fun and relaxed.  I chose the first book and have finished it already - The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.

This thriller is apparently along the lines of Strangers on a Train, which I've neither read nor seen so I don't know how similar or not it is but the premise is apparently the same, two strangers meet and discuss killing their partners (or so I believe).  This book is quite dark, delving into the past of the mysterious Lily who approaches Ted and begins encouraging him that he could get away with murdering his wife and she can help.  Her motives are initially unclear but she's a fascinating character.

There are plenty of twists and turns and some interesting yet disturbing ideas exploring the value of life.  I was always guessing and enjoyed being along for the ride, waiting to see what would become of all the characters.

Another thriller I read recently was the next choice from the original book club, Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris.  I already had this downloaded on my Kindle (it's also only £1.99) and zipped through it in 2 days!

Although rather dark and disturbing (I know some found it a difficult read, especially if they had been affected by bad relationships in the past), I found I was desperate to know what was going to happen and I really enjoyed how the story was written, flitting easily between past and present each chapter to fill you in on how the current situation came to be.

Again, I liked the main character, Grace, despite thinking some of her decisions rather foolish and was gripped by her life with Jack.  In fact, this was one that still had me thinking about it days later, the last few lines in particular - shivers.  I loved the ending despite it being a little predictable.  I preferred it to the end of Gone Girl which, although it had so many twists keeping me guessing, had a rather odd and disappointing finale and no likeable characters.  Behind closed doors had me loving not just one but three characters.  Millie is awesome!

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