Tuesday, 23 June 2015

New House

So, yesterday we got the keys to our first house! It's a lovely 1920s end of terrace which needs some work (but hopefully not too much...).

We are hoping to move out of our rented flat in a week and a half so we've got lots to do before then! Currently there is Artex everywhere! The kitchen is tiny so we're planning an extension for next year or the year after, whenever we can save the money by!

Here are the before photos:

Sitting Room


Dining Room

Tiny Kitchen


Guest Room/Craft Room/Study

Computer Room

Main Bedroom


Cupboard under the stairs




Monday, 5 January 2015

Sugarfree Chocolate Granola

I recently got into making my own granola and I am completely converted. It's really easy and quick and it's delicious! It's not super cheap, but it is still cheaper than the nice granola at the supermarket (it just doesn't last long in my house because it's so yummy I eat it at every chance I get!).

I googled a bit and read through a few different recipes, then I experimented and adjusted them until I was happy with it so feel free to play around with this recipe.

This makes about 1kg of granola depending on the exact amounts you use. It only lasts me about 5 days so I tend to do 1.5x or double it.

(apart from the oats and oil most of these ingredients are optional, and all ingredients can be substituted, e.g. another grain instead of oats, different spices etc. you could also add chocolate chips to make it extra yummy but of course it would then not be sugar free...)
4 cups oats
1/2 or 1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg'
1 tsp ginger
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (larger fruits chopped)

1. Mix oats, nuts, seeds, salt, spices and cocoa powder in a large bowl
2. Add honey, oil and vanilla, mix until evenly distributed
3. Spread out on lined baking trays (not too thick or it will take ages to bake)
4. Bake in the oven for 45 mins -1 hour on a low heat (about 150 C) stirring occasionally.
5. Wait to cool then stir in dried fruit and store in an airtight container

Then ENJOY! (I'm off to eat some granola right now, writing this has made me hungry for granola!)

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Cheap and Easy Christmas Ornaments DIY

It's December, and that means CHRISTMAS!

I LOVE Christmas. Last year was the first year I had my own flat (without flatmates) to decorate. We also were a bit tight on money so I made these DIY ornaments to go on my first full sized Christmas tree (I already had quite a few ornaments as my mum has been gradually building up my collection in my stocking each year since I was about 10 - yes, I still have stockings!).

Toilet Roll Stars / Flowers

I saw these on Pinterest and decided to make them. They're super simple, just cut a toilet roll into 5 strips, flatten them a bit, glue together (hold it with pegs), paint ( I used gold and silver poster paint that I found in my mum's supplies from when we were kids!) and sprinkle with glitter. I then sprayed mine with hairspray to seal them a bit but that's optional.

Mini Bottles of Glitter

These were inspired by a necklace tutorial I saw. I found the bottles in a local pound shop. I think they are so cute and I'd wanted to buy them for ages so when I saw the tutorial I finally had an excuse to! I filled them with glitter (I made a funnel with paper to help with this), put the stoppers in and tied green wool around them to hang them on the tree. I bought two different types of glitter, the larger flaky one is from the pound shop and the normal one was from Wilkos. Although the pound shop one doesn't really look like proper glitter, I quite like the effect.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Organising the Expedit

Over the summer holidays I had a bit of a drive to make the flat prettier and more organised. I finally got around to tidying up the massive Expedit we have in the living room. Since we moved in (nearly a year ago) it has been a dumping ground for anything that didn't have a home elsewhere. That was not an ideal solution as it was on full show in our main living space. I had been feeling a little overwhelmed by trying to sort it but when I got started it was actually pretty quick and easy.

Unfortunately I don't have a before photo (I am so bad at remembering to take those!) but just imagine a jumble of random things, no organisation, no coordination etc.

And now it looks like this, tada:

In terms of how I went about tackling a daunting organisation project, I decided to make a list! I wrote a big list of all the things we had stored in the 3 areas I was tackling (under the stairs, the Expedit and the spare room cupboard) and then I marked which would fit in the Expedit, where each thing was mostly used and whether it was pretty or not (the last was a criteria for most of the items on the Expedit as it is on show and the other storage areas are not). From this I decided which things to store where and could then organise each area.

I have known for a while that I would like the living room colour scheme to be based around this blanket that I bought from Primark a couple of years ago (as much as I can control the colour scheme in our rented flat on almost no budget). I absolutely LOVE this blanket, I wear it all winter and it is so pretty as well as warm!

I thought that I wouldn't be able to style the Expedit with the right colours but then I realised that these boxes that I already had tie in nicely with the red, as does my knitting bag. That gave me enough inspiration to try to make it work with the colour scheme and I think I succeeded (I don't like things to be too matchy-matchy).

I made cut some paper to go inside the clear drawers I store our first aid in (that took a bit of trial and error to get the right shape). I didn't have nice paper with red or navy tones in it so I went with some pink patterns that are close enough for now. I might change them at some point to fit better.

I also found this tissue box at Aldi which I think is really cute and was the perfect colours. And I added that pink box that had been hanging around in a cupboard (little secret: the box doesn't have anything in at the moment, it's just there cos it looks nice and to fill up a cubby!).

I'll post about the transformation of my magazine files soon.

The only thing left now is to find some nice fabric to cover the boxes at the bottom. That will have to wait for a trip to Walthamstow I think...

Monday, 8 September 2014

5:2 Tips and Tricks

Fasting isn't easy. As much as I love the 5:2 diet and what it does for my waist-line and my health, I don't always (or often!) love the fasting days. It can be really hard, but there are some tricks that will help you get through the day.

  • Water, water, water - drink as much water as you can, it fills your stomach and keeps you hydrated, it can also distract you from wanting to eat. For flavour you can add some mint leaves or a small amount of lemon juice.
  • Tea - if you can't drink any more water, tea is good. Strictly it should be black or herbal but I do often have tea with skimmed milk and ignore the calories (naughty I know, but it's only a few calories!). Find a herbal tea you like (I like mint green, or peppermint or camomile) for some variety. I also like to make fresh mint tea with mint from the garden, this makes a nice ice tea too for summer fasting days.
  • Fizzy drinks - not the ones full of sugar, plain fizzy water is good if you like it as it seems to fill you up a bit more than still water. I don't like plain fizzy water so I have it with some no added sugar squash. If I'm really struggling, like if I have a long day or am being extra active, I might treat myself to a diet coke.
  • Although it feels counter-intuitive, I find fasting a lot easier if I don't eat much the night before. It's very tempting to stuff yourself the evening before a fasting day but I find a small dinner and no snacks after really helps. I am much less hungry the next day and hardly notice that I'm fasting.
  • If none of the above work and you're really suffering, eat something low calorie. There's no point killing yourself over this. If you can, take the calories from a later meal, but if you have to go over your 500 (or 600 for men, lucky things!) it's not the end of the world. The book suggests that you shouldn't regularly go even a few calories over but I think that even if I end up eating a couple of hundred more calories (I very rarely do) then I'm still eating a LOT less than on a normal day, and I've still had my 16 hours fasting period.
Things to remember:

  • Hunger comes and goes so try to ignore it or drink one of the above and it should go away within an hour, I find my hunger patterns are the same on fasting and non-fasting days, I just don't get to satisfy them by eating on a fasting day
  • YOU CAN EAT TOMORROW!!! I find this really helps, especially when it gets towards the end of the day when I'm most hungry. Once it's evening, it feels like I've nearly succeeded so it's a waste to give in and it's only a few hours until I can eat (not counting the hours I'm asleep as I'm not conscious of hunger then!)
  • Be flexible - 5:2 is a lifestyle rather than a quick fix diet, so it needs to fit your life. I have 2 standard days (Monday and Thursday) but often move one or both to fit around my week. I also miss days if I can't fit them around what I'm doing or if I'm on holiday. Sometimes I do half days where I fast until the evening then have a normal meal (for example if I am going out for a meal and can't move my day). I have been known to do a normal fast day and then eat a cupcake in the evening (I had to test them to check they were edible!).
If possible, it's probably best to be as strict as you can manage for the first month or so whilst you get used to it, but then, be flexible. If you are fasting 2 days a week, every week, an extra few calories every now and then, or a missed day, isn't going to be a problem.

Friday, 22 August 2014

5:2 Recipes and Meal Plans

So, I know it's been AGES since my first post on doing the 5:2 diet! I finally got around to taking some photos of the meals I eat on my fasting days so I could make this post about recipes and meals.

Here are some of my go-to meals for fasting days. I don't like to cook much on a fasting day, I prefer a quick, easy meal but I do like some variety and over the year I've been on 5:2 I've built up quite a repertoire of fasting-friendly meals. I wouldn't really call these 'recipes' as most don't involve much preparation or cooking.

I tend to skip breakfast, have about 100 calories for lunch, sometimes a 50 calorie afternoon snack and the rest of my calories for dinner. If this isn't how you like to fast, just adapt it to work for you. Most of these meals can be added to or cut down to fit your requirements.

Lunches (approx. 100 calories)

  • a carrot (41 calories per 100g) and a fromage frais (47 calories)
  • 3 cream crackers (33 calories each)
  • a mushroom (4 calories) and a low fat yoghurt (100 calories)
  • a small apple (60 calories) and a low fat cheese triangle (25 calories)
  • salad - mix and match what you like, some of my ingredients are: grated carrot (40 calories), lettuce (5 calories), tomato (18 calories) extra light mayonnaise (11 calories), frozen peas (13 calories for 20g), frozen sweetcorn (17 calories for 20g), beetroot (19 calories for 50g)


  • Soup with 1 slice of toast - homemade soups can be about 100 calories (fresh or frozen veg boiled in water with 1/4 stock cube and you can add some low fat yoghurt when serving), tinned are usually around 200 calories for the whole tin, bread is about 100 calories a slice
  • Wrap pizzas - low fat wrap (weight watchers are around 100 calories), spread with tomato puree, top with any veg you like (I usually have red pepper, onion, sweetcorn and spinach but anything you like) then 30g of low fat mozarella, bake for about 10 mins
  • Porridge - maybe an odd choice for dinner but I love porridge and this one fills you up nicely, 60g of oats made with water, a splash of skimmed milk and 3 teaspoons of skinny hot chocolate is about 250 calories
  • Stir fry - the value range stir fry packs from supermarkets are about 30 calories per 100g. I have 200g veg with 50g noodles (about 160 calories) and a teaspoon of soy sauce (22 calories) = 244 calories
  • Salad - see above in lunch but to add a few calories for dinner I sometimes have chickpeas (50g = 60 calories), or low fat cheese (calories depend on which type but usually about 70 calories per serving) or low fat hummous (50g = 120 calories)
  • Baked sweet potato (86 calories for 100g) with sour cream (1 tablespoon = about 40 calories)

  • Low fat yoghurt (50 calories per 100g) with one of: small apple (50 calories), raisins (42 calories for 14g), honey (50 calories per tablespoon)
  • Biscuit - the following biscuits are all around 50 calories each: value chocolate chip cookie, jaffa cake, custard cream, bourbon
  • Skinny hot chocolate (40 calories)
  • 3 squares of chocolate (100 calories) - I don't really recommend this as I find it tends to make me want more and feel hungrier but if you're really craving chocolate....


  • small clementine (about 20 calories)
  • yoghurt tube (40 calories)
  • fruit compote (baby food pots or pouches - 50-70 calories) 
  • popcorn (air-popped, 31 calories per cup) with salt or small amount of sugar

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Easy Peasy Lined Skirt

I finally made a skirt! Actually, this is the second skirt I've ever made - the only item of clothing I have ever made for myself is a skirt I made when I was about 15 (I still have it!), I keep meaning to actually get on and make some clothes for myself but somehow baby/toddler clothes and house-y stuff always seems so much more achievable!

So, back to the skirt. I made this for my niece but the pattern is super simple and could be made for any size. I used some cute nautical theme fabric that I bought last year for a (failed) attempt at at a romper for her. Sorry about the photos, I took them on my phone as my camera charger has disappeared...)

Lining fabric (if you want to line it)
Wide elastic (I used 1" elastic for a toddler, you might want wider for an adult)

Cut matching rectangles from your main and lining fabric. The width depends on how gathered you want it, for stiffer fabrics/if you're using lining you'll want it to be less gathered. I just used what I had left from my main fabric which I think was about 80cm wide (my niece's waist is 49cm so it was about 1.6x her waist). The height should be however long you want your skirt plus enough to fold over your elastic (so I added about 3 inches to mine for that) and to hem (I did a large hem so that it can be lengthened as she grows but for an adult just add a couple of cm).

Fold both rectangles right sides together (for the lining right sides together means the side that you want to be able to see on the inside). Place one on top of the other and sew down the open edge. (It's a bit hard to see in this picture sorry!)

Turn the main fabric right side out, over the lining so that you end up with a tube with the main fabric on the outside and and lining inside. This is the bit where you check you have everything in the right place!

Turn the skirt inside out and iron down a small hem on the top edge and then fold down again to create a casing for your elastic. Sew around this, leaving a small gap.

Thread your elastic through this gap and round the casing using a safety pin (or however you like). I like to do this before I cut the elastic but you can measure and cut first.

Pull the elastic tight until it is just shorter than your waist measurement and cut. Sew the ends together (I overlapped the ends and sewed at both sides of the overlap so that it can be let out as she grows). Sew up the gap.

At the bottom of the skirt, fold over the edge twice, iron and hem. I handstitched the hem but you can machine it if you prefer.

And now you should have a beautiful skirt : )