Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's My Birthday

And I'll Cry If I Want To
Completely forgot that it was birthday month/s coming up! For our family January, February, June and August are our busiest birthday months. Every family has them, the rush of birthdays in a month that creep up on you without warning. I got reminded when I visited my mother today (yes that's right, I'm feeling much better!) and my soon to be 17 year old brother came in and excitedly said "5 days!" to which my dear mother replies with "till what?". My brother and I share a glance and we proceeded to tell her that it's his birthday in five days, her face went white. "Oh my gosh, I forgot!" she didn't mean to, and it's quite understandable with everything that's gone on, I don't think anyone has really settled into January, have they?
Last year was a wonderful Birthday, Ralph took me to the restaurant we had our first date, a beautiful French bred cuisine destination called The Lounge. It sits in the heart of Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, and begs to be dined in with it's beautiful decorated walls and furniture. It's become a home away from home for us, well it was, this past year we've only managed to go a few times, life has gotten in the way. I'd be happy if we went again this year. It's become a birthday tradition that in the morning I get a massage at a spa and an evening out, usually at this beautiful French sanctuary. A great way to age don't you think?
Last year ended a little stressful, so I was over the moon when I opened my stocking and in lay a gift certificate to one of our local spa's for a 1 hour massage. Something my body had been begging for, since having Rohan my back has been in really bad shape. I'd never had a bad back, this rock climber, runner and flexible lady was now making cracking noises every time she moved, locking up while changing nappies or bathing little boys. Last year my massage at Be...Salon was amazing, so much so I added a facial from my own pocket as a birthday treat to myself. I felt so refreshed, so ready for the day ahead. Everyone deserves to feel like that at least once a year, and a birthday if any is always a good day to experience it I think!
I may not have a luxurious life, but that just makes me appreciate luxury so much more!

~* Birthday Wishlist *~

A Calligraphy Set like this one from manuscript.

A New Camera Strap like this one from SweetStrapExpress on Etsy.

A Lomography Camera like this Lubitel 166 Universal 6x6 Medium Format Camera I found on Ebay.

A new scent like the spicey notes from Yves Rocher, Yria.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sickness In Slumber

Attack of The Stomach Bug
Answering emails in the office, when I get a niggle in my stomach. Without thought I glance at the computer clock, look at that, it's 2pm! I'm probably hungry right? The kitchen is a warm welcome to hunger pangs, moulding a home made sub from brown bread, cheese and mayonnaise, maybe could have done without the mayo but butter would have been too plain. It seems after every bite, instead of the rumbles in my stomach vanishing they get stronger, so much so by the time I finish I'm almost in agony!
Without warning I make a dash for the bathroom, from this moment on it's downhill only!

The evening is spent with my son Rohan by my side, he's somehow grown up in the last hour by stroking my face and hugging me gently as if he knows this is exactly what I wanted, I'm transported back to the time's of a little girl, curled up in my parents bed with mother by my side, stroking my face until I fall asleep. How this 17month old has managed to make me feel this all over again, has astonished me? 
But before I know it I'm back in the bathroom again. Rohan waits outside the door for me, knocking with the cutest "Heyo" you will ever hear. He's only privy to a small vocabulary at the moment, as most 1 year olds are, but he says so much with just one word! When I finally come out of the bathroom, I ask if he can bring me the Ipad to message Daddy, not really thinking he'll understand and I'll probably just end up lying in bed trying to stir up the courage to establish some way of outside contact. Oh yes, I haven't mentioned it's just Rohan and I at home, but you probably realized that already.
To my amazement about two minutes later he arrives in our bedroom with the Ipad in hand. For the next almost 2 hours he sat with me until Ralph got home. I felt so loved by this quality time with my son and what normally is my role, he took on.
So when Rohan came down with it the next day, you can imagine I was heartbroken. 
It came on a lot like mine, unexpected. He was fine and then he had a temperature, not chipper little Rohan any more. The pains in his stomach started and I watched helplessly as he scrunched up his knees and bent to the ground to relieve it. I dragged us both into bed, asked Ralph to make a hot water bottle, to relax his stomach along with the medicine. We found Calpol brought the temperature down but gripe water eased the stomach. Not just for colic eh! We spent our day and night in the cream walled solitary confinement I call the master bedroom. Staring at the blank ceiling when we weren't watching Disney movies or sleeping. I noticed how lacking in design and décor my room was, how it needed a little TLC, a bit like Rohan and I. But we were cared for, Ralph waited on us hand and foot, making sure we had warm water bottles, cold compresses, medicine top ups and anything to eat that we could keep down. I was delighted when Rohan started to spark up a bit and wanted to get up and play, it made me forget that I was still unwell, until I over did it and ended up having to go back to bed. He kept coming to check on me whenever he got too overworked and needed a rest.
When Rohan wasn't with me I felt a bit helpless, letting my motherly duties down. But why? He was in capable hands with Ralph. I found myself trying to get up whenever I heard him and then being "yelled" at to get back to bed. Of course I sat there twiddling my thumbs, mind racing with chores I needed to do, ideas for the shop, blog, photos, and everything else! My camera called to me, I was still knocking about the thought of how bland our bedroom looked. How "clean" feeling it was, like a hospital bedroom, just 2x smaller. I started to take photos of what I could see that needed an upgrade, some influence of life.

When I wasn't documenting boredom I was reading, or checking emails online. Rest is such a funny word, if you think about it, it has many definitions. I did sleep. But I felt like I wasn't being productive enough with my time, I could still take it easy without having to sleep right?

The Midwife by Jennifer Worth is my choice of reading at the moment. Worth was a British nurse and musician who wrote about her practices as a Midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. And yes, if you hadn't already guessed it, they are the books that the BBC Telivision show Call The Midwife are based on. I haven't gotten very far through the book yet even though I've had plenty of time, my mind keeps on forming a barrier against any relaxation and never fails to remind me of other things I should or could be doing. But I love books, my childhood was spent either with my head between the pages of a good book or up a tree pretending I was in one. Books now wait for me before bed on the side table, silhouetted by the table lamp above. By then I'm usually too tired to carry through more than two or three pages, and for me once I pick up a book I like to read it through to the end without putting it down or it seems I can't enjoy it as much. But then it's over too quickly and I'm eager for more! Which wont be a problem with this one, thanks to Worth, she has more books waiting for me to pile into!
Today I'm almost over this bug, Rohan seems a lot better, he's running around, singing, dancing to his shows, permitting the odd dizzy spell that we both get from time to time still. We're both up and down in temperature and tiredness, but it's 12x better than we were a couple of days ago. I can actually stand up for long periods of times now, my back doesn't feel like it's been smashed in, nor do my muscles ache around my belly any more. Rohan has spent the morning back and forth from the bedroom running his cars over my back as I rest, it was quite nice actually. Great way to get a free massage, was a bit disappointed when Ralph called him into the other room thinking that he might be bothering me.
We're taking it day by day, it would be nice to be back to my somewhat normal self, but for now I will just take comfort in the fact that Rohan seems to be doing so much better inside and out.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

BOTN Training - Week 1

And So It Begins
Gasping for air and slightly bruised ego, the start statistics for shape training have hit me hard and I haven't even began! I knew I was out of shape but this is the biggest I've ever been! I don't even feel that big? For some reason I thought I looked bigger back in 2007 the first time I was ever considered obese, I could have sworn I was bigger? After the initial shock, came the unwanted photo op. excuse the untouched, unmadeup, unflattering photos. I still feel I don't look 203lbs, do I? DON'T answer that!

Ralph had estimated he was around 13 or 14 stone, which I laughed at as I thought I was around that mass and I knew I was bigger than him. But he was right. To be honest it will be a lot easier to turn the small amount of weight on him that is fat into muscle. His leg's are rock solid, any more and the veins are going to pop out with muscle on muscle. The great thing about Ralph is if he wants to lose weight all he has to do is think about it, as most men seem to do, but muscle building might take a little longer than a few bitstrips in his head. Still he'll accomplish it before me, down to science and that the fact that when we met his arms were bulging! So they are used to being worked, even if they haven't been worked in awhile.

Back in 2007 I reached just under 200lbs, I was 5ft.2inches, which is why it might have looked heavier then than it does now. I started running, and when I couldn't run I used an elliptical machine in front of the television at least once a day for an hour or more. I ended up bring down my weight to 120lbs (8.5stone). Then in December 2011 I found out I was pregnant with our beautiful son Rohan. After he was born in August 2012 I managed to get my weight back down to 12stone having gained quite a lot during the pregnancy, which is around 160lbs. But something happened, without being allowed to exercise due to an unforeseen high risk labour and emergency c-section, I was left for a year without being alble to do anything but walk for exercise. This through me into a depression, which as anyone knows doesn't help with losing weight, or you do the opposite and lose too much weight, which wasn't in my case. I switched, as some of you who follow the blog will remember, to a gluten free and veggie only diet. This was brilliant, I made it down to 11 stone after all the up and down fluctuations and managed to hold it, until I decided to go back to meat in my die. The holidays hit, so it was fat and sugary foods which I normally wouldn't eat thrown into my daily routine also and BAM! here I am at 14.5 stone! Something I really let slip even though I was supposed to be training for Team Scotland's first tournament in the Battle Of The Nations 2014!

Week one training was designed for someone of our weight and height, and to hit the area's of the body that need a warm up to ease them into the next week of training. Saying that, this doesn't mean you are not going to be sore throughout the week, after all, that means it's working!

Week one consists of
Leg Raisers
Dumbell Lifts

I will go over what needs to be done to do these for someone who is very out of shape like me and someone who manages to push through them like Ralph.

Situps - As the name suggests is where you sit on the floor and sit up. BUT if you're not used to this you may need some assistance, yes it's fine, like I said, it's warm up week.
Lay on the floor and have someone kneel on your feet while pressing half their weight on your knee's. This will help keep your feet on the ground as you sit up as you may find your legs are raising. If you can't find a partner, hook your feet underneath a sofa or another heavy piece of furniture (that is not going to fall on top of you when you sit up) this will help you pull the upper half of your body up while also keeping your feet on the ground. Once you've gotten used to these you will be able to do sit-ups without any assistance.

Leg Raisers - Lay on the floor with your legs flat, hip width apart and your arms by your sides with your palms facing the floor. Raise your right leg to the ceiling, hold for one breath then lower just above the floor, hold for one breath. If you find you cannot do these just yet, lay on the floor as if you are about to do a situp, have one leg flat on the floor and the other in an arch (like you do with both legs on a situp). Lift the flat leg up in the air, while using the other leg to hold you in place and take some of the weight. After one breath bring the leg almost to the floor (no touching), hold for 1 breath and repeat. Then switch legs.

Pushups - Pushups are harder for lady's to do, due to those two things attached to our chests, they make us off balanced when lying face first and lifting in a plank position, causing our body to arch during a pushup, which you DON'T want. Your body should be straight, give or take a few, and this should not hurt your back, if it is hurting your back or ankles your are probably arching your body too much and putting too much strain on those two area's. If this is the case, put your knee's on the floor, lift your feet so you make a V shape with your legs, this will help take some of the strain off when your do a pushup until your upper body becomes strong enough to hold your weight.

Squats - There are two types of squats listed in week one, regular squats and wall squats. Regular squats start in a standing position with your legs hip width apart. Bend your knee's keeping your upper body straight, until you can bend no more, then raise your body back into standing position. You can even hold the squat for a few breaths before you return to standing position, if you find this hard then you maybe bending your knees too far, or you're either standing too far apart, or too close together.
The wall squat is one of my favourites. Place your back against a bare wall, and slide your back down the wall into a squat position, hold the squat for 50 seconds. The lower you squat the harder this will be, but it works your thighs and bum to it's max while keeping your posture in check!

Walking - Do I really need to explain this? Go outside, even if it's just in the garden doing some gardening for an hour. Take the dog for a walk (which I hope someone's been doing already!) Or get an elliptical/treadmill machine and place it in front of the telly if you really are not an outdoor person. And don't even make the weather excuse! If it's cold, it turns out you'll burn more calories than if you went for a walk in warmer temperatures, but don't forget to bring fluids either way!

Planks - Are not my favourite. They hurt like hell, and my body hates them! The only way I manage planks is combing them with leg raisers. Week one has both planks and leg raiser planks. A normal plank is where you lay on the floor either on your belly or back, with your feet and hands pointing outward. You then slightly raise your legs and arms off the floor and hold.
Leg Raiser Planks are where you lay on your back with your feet slightly apart and your arms either pointing outward or by your side (of you need a little help keeping steady). Raise both legs to the ceiling then back down above the floor (no resting them on the ground). Repeat. These work your bum, back, thighs, lower and upper stomach muscles.

Dumbell Lifts - Always start with the lower weighted dumbbells if you haven't been training in awhile or at all. If it seems easy, then add a little more weight on, until it seems like you're lifting a bag of sugar in each hand. If it's a bit heavier that will give you better results but it shouldn't be hard to lift, remember it's just warm up week. 5lbs-10lbs is usually a good starting weight. If you find you are getting blisters on your hands you may want to try some weight lifting gloves or liquid chalk.

How We Got On - Week 1

Ralph - Stuck to the routine loosely as he has not long had knee surgery for the second time and is waiting on a ligament reattachment surgery. So his week consisted of his regular knee physio and focusing on his upper body. He has done a lot more weight lifting than was on the Week 1 training plan, and sit ups. He even managed some squats, which I was impressed with due to his knee! See, I told you he'd have no problem with this!
Holly - I started off very well, some exercises I found I needed to do the assisted version due to lack of muscle strength from not having used them in so long. I'm also suffering from hip and back problems at the moment, which I'm hoping will lesson once the muscles in my body get stronger as it will help put less strain on those areas. I have stuck to my usual intake of food (without picking more than usual) as we are easing into training and establishing a diet. By the end of the week I fell ill with a stomach flu like bug and ended up being bed ridden which is why this has been posted on a Tuesday rather than the passed Sunday I originally wanted it posted. Which means I've gone backwards, lost vital fluids and nutrients from not being able to hold food down or eating. Hopefully Week 2 will be better.

All in all it's been an interesting week. I have already seen results, my legs feel stronger and I did have more energy before I caught this stomach bug. Week 2 will focus on keeping up a schedule so your body starts to feel more comfortable with the routine a long with figuring out what kind of eating plan works best with the workout you are doing. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Year = New Hens!

So just over a year ago, lets say a year and a half we got two little hens and named them Barbara and Margo (inspired by Bab's and Margo from the hit 1970s TV show The Good Life) Late November we sadly lost Barbara to Impacted Crop, which is where food or inanimate objects get stuck in the sack that they store their food in at the front of their necks. This left Margo all alone, which she got used to surprisingly? Most chicken lovers and farmers will tell you that hens are not a one only bird, there's a reason for that word FLOCK. So when we found ourself with only one hen we thought it best to go searching for some friends.

On New Years Eve three new hens arrived in our garden, to Margo's disgust! She'd gotten quite used to all the attention from us and was rather liking be the hen of the house! Of course, even though it was her garden, the three new hens took over and put her at the bottom end of the pecking order! Oh poor, poor Margo! What have we done?

The NEW pecking order!

Number 1. Head Hen- Madam Talk Talk
Weighing in as a small bus.
Still unsure what breed she is.
Madam Talk Talk is as her name suggests, very talkative, to be honest all the newcomers are quite vocal, which is something we weren't used to with Barbara and Margo as they kept to themselves apart from the odd conversation whenever we came up to the coop.

What Makes Madam Talk Talk Top of The Pecking Order?
Well, she's a smart one. And that's saying a lot for a chicken...
She get's the second pecker to do all her dirty work, unless she can't then she'll do it herself. You know that saying "Never get someone else to do what you could have done yourself!"
She is the first to use the nesting box in the morning to lay, and no one, I repeat NO ONE, is allowed to use it before her or they will get a right beating! She's also the first to get any scraps that are thrown out too. The funny thing is, for such a confident and dominant girl she is the least humanly social out of all the girls, you can't pick her up, not that you'd want to as she being so heavy, she'll run away from you, unless you have food, but even then she wont eat it from your hand like the other girls would. She hate's having her photo taken, that could be due to the extra feather gain? Who knows? But sometime's I think this is very smart of her rather than odd. She's obviously the most observant out of the lot otherwise she wouldn't be top of the pecking order, which means she knows what humans equal, THE TOP TOP of the pecking order. Don't mess with them or you'll disappear!

Unique Traits/Looks?
Madam Talk Talk is quite large, almost Orpington breed large. We're still trying to figure out what breed she is as the previous owners of our new comers didn't know what breeds their hen's were. She is Speckled in colour. Black with pepper around the neck and scattering towards the rest of the body. Long and medium thick legs keep them cold hardy and she's still laying well into winter!

Number 2. Second Pecker - Kentucky
Weighing in at cyborg level.
Brown/Red maybe a Golden Sex Link?
As you can see Kentucky looks a lot like a Rooster, in fact I thought she was when they first brought her over. But they insisted she was female. And when the first batch of eggs came the next morning, it was proof they were right, unless I have the first rooster ever to lay eggs?

Why is Kentucky Second In The Pecking Order?
Before Kentucky came to live with us, she apparently was last in the pecking order. Since coming here she's really changed personality, maybe out of anger of being re-homed? Or she saw a chance to get higher in the pecking order when she met Margo. Someone SHE could put in their place that hadn't already established themselves into the flock. Although I'm quite surprised that she wasn't second billing in her last home as here she's managed to chase a cat out of the garden, and goes for Margo any time she can, another reason why I thought she might be a cockerel.

Unique Traits/Looks?
Her massive comb! (The funny red thing on her head) She has a very large single comb, almost the size of a cockerels! Along with quite long and thick legs. She could possibly be a Golden Sex Link?

Number 3.  The third musketeer - Clara
Weighing in as fragile
Could be a Black Sex Link in Breed?

Clara is the smallest of all four hen's. She's usually under Madam Talk Talk's wing, following her about like a shadow. This used to make her second in the pecking order at her old house.

Why Third?
As she shows no initiative and doesn't seem to get involved, shy's away from any other chicken under Madam Talk Talk this makes her third in line. Causes no trouble, and try's to stay out of it. She'll happily come and eat from your hand or even come in the house if she's allowed. Last to lay an egg.

Unique Traits/Looks?
Can run amazingly fast! Just easily tricked. Quite needy when it comes to hens, has to have a mother hen to shadow. Unlike the other three who don't mind being left alone at times.

Number 4. Finding Her Place - Margo
Weighing in as a misplaced pillow
Is a Red Sex Link Hen

Margo we've had longest out of all our hens. She's also the most social. Our 1 and 1/2 year old son's best friend. She'll follow him around the garden. But at the moment she's quite scared of the other three hen's and will hide behind me for protection if I'm outside.

Why is she at the lower end of the pecking order?
At the moment she's at the lower end because the other three had already established a bond together. It's almost as if Margo is the new comer not the other three. In a way she is, because she is new to them.

Unique Traits/Looks?
Margo is the most social chicken I have ever met. She will run up to a complete stranger just to be pet or ask for food. She comes when her name is called, which I've never experienced a chicken do until now. She wont poop in the house if she comes in and she'll happily fall asleep on your lap if you let her. She's figured out how to slip into the house whenever the door is opened now too.

As you can see they'd happily come in the house if they could, only because they know that's where the food comes from!

Having some nice mixed feed, of course Margo's no where to be seen...

Chasing Margo off as she tried to join in with the mix feed.

Lining up for a drink.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Chalk Board Painted Bottles

Chalk it up!
As you may have noticed anything with chalk board paint is IN at the moment! And what better way to up-cycle those wine bottles you either have stashed in the corner waiting to be taken to the recycle bin but instead have just been gathering dust or you know someone who does!

My soon to be husband and I order wine by the case from a little place called, we like this as it's more unheard of, small wine makers that get shout outs, and they are very nice too! Anyway, instead of throwing anything a way I have a bad habit of keeping everything for I always have a million idea's of what I could make out of it, but a lot of the time I never get too and whatever it is just sits in the house collecting dust, as I said before!

But I've found some very useful things I can make out of wine bottles, and due to knowing (and being...*cough cough) a wine junkie, we never seem to run out. Chalk board paint has been a favourite of mine since a young age, my mother used it on things around the house like cupboard doors, we even had old fireplaces that had been shut up and used as décor covered in chalk board paint so that we could draw on. A while ago I started doing that on cups so people could write their names on them, but then pinterest took over and it seemed everyone was doing that. So much for an original idea huh?
Even though this is not so original, chalk board wine bottles are sparking up the décor ladder at the moment, especially for occasions like weddings. Something I planned on doing at ours. They are great table number holders, or you can draw patterns on them with chalk and just have in amongst the table centrepieces.
Another one I've found looks great is on my stool for my jewellery, I hang the jewellery off of the bottles and write their description and price on the bottle in chalk.
They can be used as flower vases, that double as a message board.

They are a nice feature to an occasion or even just around the house. And if you don't want to make them yourselves you can buy them from the BumpedUP Etsy shop here.