5 good things (finishing a mammoth cross stitch project, our one year anniversary, and Loki the Pug goes home).

25.6.16

Thank you for the love on my 7th blogging anniversary post. It really gave me a boost to know that you enjoy reading my blog, and that some of you have been around since the very beginning!

I have been unwell with a case of mastitis since Saturday (why am I so unlucky?!) but my course of antibiotics is coming to an end and I'm starting to feel human again so I thought I would pop a "5 good things" post together as they're a great way to talk about the positive things in life. As much as things have been a bit pants lately with my health I do still have lots of lovely things going on around me that I am really grateful for.

1) Remember over a year ago I started a cross stitch project for my niece? Well, I didn't finish it in time for her birth, or for her first Christmas, BUT it is now finished and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. It's an A-Z sampler by Historical Sampler and I bought mine from Amazon, here.

It is now framed and ready to hang - what do you think? It took hours and hours of work, and survived three house moves and two trips to the Isle of Man, but it has all been worth it as it will hopefully be around for a lifetime!


2) Love Island. No shame here, we are obsessed with watching it in our house!

3) Last week marked "one year since our first date" and Paul surprised me with a night away at a hotel. I found an anniversary card on top of my suitcase with a note telling me to pack a swimming cossie and something nice for dinner. I have never been surprised like that and it was just wonderful! Paul's friend came over to look after Lily and Lola and we had a relaxing afternoon in the hotel's pool/spa before dinner in the evening, which was seriously good. The restaurant had gluten free bread so I didn't miss out on a bread roll, or bread with my pate. I was so impressed! Nights away from home and a change of scenery are good for the soul I tell you.

4) June has been a lovely month which will be finished off with seeing my mum and dad tomorrow for Sunday lunch, two puddings and cheese/biscuits, a Sons of Pitches concert on Monday evening (front row seats!) and plans to catch up with a couple of friends that I haven't seen for absolutely ages.

5) We survived a week of looking after Loki the Pug! He was a handful at times, and woke us up in the night every.single.night, but we did come to love him and we were sad to see him go. Seeing him play with Lily and Lola was adorable but I think these two old timers are glad to have peace restored in their routines.


Let me know what you think about the cross stitch, and what your "good things" are right now!


Happy 7th blog birthday Lily loves Lola! [12.06.09 - 12.06.16]

12.6.16

Seven years... that is actual madness! I feel like so much has been squeezed into those years that it's not possible. 

I started this blog six months after I adopted Lily and Lola, when I was working in a really quiet reception job where there wasn't much to do. I used to religiously read The Tea Drinking English Rose and another which for the life of me I can't find or may not exist anymore. I was obsessed with Nicole Richie around that time and I would spend all my spare money on buying things she had (colourful Missoni scarves and huge Dior sunglasses mainly). I thought maybe I could set up my own blog and it would be a distraction from my tedious job. Not only that but I could document my life, outfits, hair changes, baking, and holidays. So that's what I did. Lily loves Lola was born!


I got a couple of hundred "followers" in my first few weeks which was so exciting. I think most people were there for the cute pugs rather than me, but I'll pretend otherwise. I loved those 2009/2010 blogging days. I attended a few big events with The Body Shop and Illamasqua, I made lots of online friends and I would spend hours and hours working on my blog and detailing the ins and outs of my life.

The blogging world is a very different place now. You're probably not going to see me jetting off on any all expenses paid holidays or sharing any remotely fashionable outfits but you'll continue to see an insight into a pretty normal 30-something year old's life. From Leeds to Sheffield. From breakups to a new love. From moving house ten billion times to settling in one place. From Lily and Lola being young whippersnappers to little old ladies. From my barnet being brown, blonde, ombre, long, short, and everything in between. Whether you've been here from the start or you're new, THANK YOU for reading and I hope you will continue to visit my little space of the internet.


(CLOSED) Happiness Planner giveaway! (UK only)

11.6.16

If you are looking to start a diary, set goals, read inspirational quotes and encourage a positive mental attitude then I have the giveaway for you and it's super easy to enter. I have one pink and gold Happiness Planner to give to one of my blog readers/subscribers. It's an undated 100 day planner so you don't need to worry about having half of it empty or rushing to start it - you can get going whenever you like.

I own a Happiness Planner which I bought a few months ago (I blogged about it here) and I love it. First of all it is aesthetically pleasing in the prettiest pink and gold scheme. It is packed full of quotes to keep you motivated and the activities are designed to make you think about what makes you happy and how you can incorporate those things into your daily life to increase your happiness. There are exercises at the beginning where you have to think really hard about yourself as a person. What are your good traits? Bad traits? What do you want to change about yourself? It is quite tough to complete but it's a real eye opener.

This giveaway is open to subscribers of my blog only and just those based in the UK this time (sorry international folk!) All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what makes you happy and how you incorporate it into your life. 


I will pick one winner after the giveaway closes at midnight on Saturday 18 June 2016. Good luck!

Life lately (Pug-sitting, pizza and progress!)

10.6.16

It's pouring down with rain which is a rather rubbish end to a sunny week, although there's something quite therapeutic about being sat inside by the window listening to the rain. Sadly I need to venture out in it in a couple of hours. Not fun!

We have had our hands full this week with another pug! We are looking after Loki the pug while his owners are on holiday, just for a week, and boy has he kept us on our toes. We have been totally spoilt with Lily and Lola who are quite small for pugs, sleep through the night, follow our every move, and (as they are oldies now) plod along quite slowly. Loki is full of beans and has been darting around our garden, running into next doors house, not responding to his name, and has had us running around like a couple of lunatics. Not to mention the first two nights he didn't sleep through the night which meant neither did we.

As his time staying with us comes to an end he seems much more settled and is used to his new surroundings. It is hilarious watching him try to get Lily and Lola to play with him. Lily ignores him and Lola looks like a cranky old lady about to explode! Bless them, they are quite set in their ways now being nine years old, as opposed to his two.


We had a glorious day last Sunday in the garden. It's not often Paul has a day off from work, training courses or band related stuff so we fully made the most of the sunshine and a whole day together. We pitched up on a blanket in the back garden with our sun cream, music and iced drinks and worked on our tans.

Since I've been so good with my new eating plan we had a takeaway for tea. I had heard about a place in Sheffield called Italia Uno which has a regular menu along with vegan, gluten free, and low calories menus. I couldn't get pizza off my mind so gluten free pizza it was! It was good to satisfy my craving but the dough was an odd consistency. Almost sticky and very, very thin.

I remember making cauliflower pizza bases a while back which turned out really well so I think next time I fancy some pizza I'm going to give a DIY gluten free base a whirl. I can't for the life of me remember which recipe I used so if anybody has a good one they can share, please do!


In health news I am still sticking with my exercise plan. I am generally doing between 4 to 5 days per week of low impact, low intensity workouts and so far it hasn't killed me. Always a good sign. 

I have found that afternoon naps are sneaking in and have gone from occasionally to every day, so I need to knock that on the head. I sleep on a night, most of the time, but it's never good quality deep sleep so I rarely wake up feeling refreshed. If I could work out how to fix my night time sleep I would be happy as Larry! 

I'm going to sign off now. There are a couple of Disney vlogs with my name on! Do let me know what you have been up to this week, and whether you like reading these types of blog posts. I have no idea if my mundane life is of interest to anyone?! :)

Coconut Prawn Korma (Madeleine Shaw - testing the recipe!)

9.6.16

At the top of my wishlist is one of Madeleine Shaw's cookbooks as I have been really impressed with the recipes on her blog. They all fit in nicely with my new gluten free/sugar free lifestyle and, everything I have made so far, has been easy to make and really tasty. What I also like about her recipes are that they don't call for really obscure ingredients which are hard to find. There is just one thing I haven't managed to track down yet and that's coconut sugar, which I want for baking a cake, so I will have to order some online.

This week we whipped up her coconut prawn korma recipe as we always have a tin of coconut milk in the cupboard, and we have built up a good collection of spices which this recipe utilised. 

Not only is this korma healthy and incredibly tasty, but the recipe gave us enough for four servings instead of two, as we had some brown rice with ours. We will definitely make this again. I've been craving it non-stop since we polished off our second batch! 


10 goals for June.

6.6.16

- Get out in the sunshine at every available opportunity. Me and Lola went to our local park the other day and, although it took us both an age to walk round it, we had a lovely stroll and I took loads of photos of her looking rather cute.

- I'm also working on my photo editing so you'll have to let me know if these photos are any good?! I'm clueless when it comes to messing around with photos on picmonkey! Practice makes perfect as they say. 

- Take a digital detox! I have realised that trying to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and (more recently) Snapchat is exhausting and uses up my limited energy. So for the remainder of June I am going to stick with my blog and Instagram only, taking a short break from the other channels in the hopes that it will give me time and energy to focus on other things. It will also be good to remove any comparison between myself and others which can sometimes get me down. 

- Stop researching my illness on the internet. If you have chronic fatigue syndrome you will no doubt have endlessly googled the symptoms, cures, and read other people's stories. I have found that the internet is filled with the negative stories instead of the stories of those who recovered. So I am going to stop googling my symptoms in the hopes that it will stop me dwelling on them. 


- Pick up a cross stitching project. I started a new piece recently but I haven't had the inclination to work on it much. I plan to have a flick through my stash of old Cross Stitcher magazines to find a small design to work on. It's so much better working on something when you know it won't take you a year to complete (like my last project did!)

- Bake a gluten free and sugar free cake for our anniversary. I have been searching for the right recipe that doesn't require a million obscure ingredients and, when I find a good'un, I will be giving it a whirl to enjoy on our one year anniversary. 

- Let go of the past. Yes I used to be able to run around 24/7 with tons of energy, I used to do crazy workouts, I used to work full time, I used to be able to get through a day without crashing/burning/napping, but that's the past and at the moment I need to accept that things have changed and I just need to focus on getting better. 

- Make some money on eBay. I hate accumulating too much "stuff" so it's definitely time for a clear out. I'm hoping to make a couple of hundred quid on eBay, although with their fees and Paypal's fees that could be easier said than done!

- Finish one of my half-read books. With a break from social media I might have more time on my hands to sit down with a book and bloody finish the thing. I am halfway through After You by Jojo Moyes and also halfway through The Girl on the Train so I need to pull my finger out and get one, or both, completed. 

- Do my hair and makeup and wear something other than jogging bottoms at least once a week ;)

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May round-up and 5 good things (Busted, babies, and Bath & Body Works).

5.6.16

So May was a pretty good month for us. We had a 3 night trip to Berlin at the start of the month which was lots of fun. The sun shone for us and we managed to see and do quite a bit, considering how poorly I felt. You can read about that trip> here! It felt so good to get some sun on our skin and satisfying to tick another place off our wish-list.

We saw Busted in concert at Sheffield Arena after I nabbed a couple of tickets when they were first released a little while ago. I was a HUGE Busted fan in my sixth form days. I had the chance to be in the Year 3000 video, only missing out because I had an exam (with hindsight I would have been better off going to the video shoot, ha!) Paul didn't really want to go but said he would keep me company. Guess who enjoyed himself massively? Yep! We both thought they were really bloody good, and our seats were such a good spot!

I got to spend a few days with my mum, sister and niece which was lovely. Mabel is the cutest little lady. We enjoyed some verrrry early mornings in front of Baby TV, walks down to the beach, and lots of cuddles and playing with toys. I don't get to see her very often so it was good to have 5 solid days with her. I love being an auntie!

We had a visit from a cheeky pug called Loki, who belongs to a friend of Paul's. We were a bit nervous about how Lily and Lola would take to him as they're old ladies now and very set in their ways but they really liked him! It was adorable to see them being inquisitive about him.

We also went to a christening which was a nice excuse to put a frock on and do my hair - it doesn't happen that often these days! We only stayed a few hours as, yes you guessed it, I wasn't feeling very well, but it was nice to catch up with some of Paul's friends all the same.


5 good things:

1) My sister brought a couple of Bath & Body Works candles back from Florida for me and my friend Katy also got me one from her recent trip to Dubai (thanks ladies!) I got a couple of the Watermelon Lemonade scent, and a Praline Pecan Cobbler one too. Both delicious.

2) We have vowed to start entering more competitions. I spent a solid couple of hours the other night entering lots of online competitions, scouring out holidays to Florida! Paul recently ordered some cheap postcards so that we can enter the ITV contests by post and it makes me ridiculously excited that we could win 250k or a holiday. Unlikely, yes, but I'm still ruddy excited about it! A girl can dream!

3) We have some fun things coming up for June including celebrating one year since our first date. This time last year we hadn't even swapped txt messages so it's weird to think how much has happened since then. Life is a funny ol' thing!

4) June also brings another concert, this time on a smaller scale. We have front row seats to see Sons of Pitches and we are both ridiculously excited for it. If any of you watched Gareth Malone's Naked Choir last year you will remember them. It should be fun!

5) I found another Disney couple to follow on YouTube. Yussss. I have just binge-watched all of the vlogs on That Sounds Fun and it has fuelled my desire to book a 7th Florida holiday. Unfortunately being ill and not being able to save has thrown a spanner in the works so Virgin Holidays, if you're watching, help a girl out...! ;)

What are your "good things" at the moment? 

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Making big changes for my health/CFS: going gluten free/sugar free. 1 1/2 weeks in!

4.6.16

As you know I have had a few health problems in the last 10 months, starting with glandular fever last August, which has resulted in my immune system packing its bags and heading off into the sunset without me. One of the worst things about having glandular fever for me was daily nausea and a lack of appetite. Food was no longer tasty or enjoyable so I often turned to toast and stodge as it was comforting and easy for me to make. I could barely shower and get dressed, let alone cook a decent meal! Fast forward a few months and my appetite/tastes are still all over the place.

To give myself the best chance of recovering from chronic fatigue syndrome I recently sought advice from a nutritional therapist (recommended to me by one of my Twitter/IG pals - thanks Caroline!). I knew my diet was terrible but the whole process was a wake-up call that I needed to start making more of an effort with food in order to fuel my body to recover. After analysing my food diaries and having a Skype appointment with Rebecca, who specialises in helping those with chronic fatigue syndrome (check out her fab business here!), I was provided with lots of guidance on what I can do to improve my health.

Basically my diet mainly consisted of sugary treats and carbs. Tasty, sure, but not really doing me any favours. I was trying to drink lots of water but tea/coffee were my drink of choice especially when I needed a little energy boost (note: most of the time).

So what am I doing? Lots of things! For the past week and four days I have been gluten free and sugar free. Sounds massively hard doesn't it? I actually haven't found it too bad so far. I have had a couple of accidental slip-ups and a purposeful slip-up when my mum brought a slab of Victoria Sponge round for us, but I'm confident that I can keep going with it and commit to it fully.


As well as taking supplements to help the bacteria in my gut, I am eating protein with every meal and snack, drinking at least 2 litres of water a day, limiting carbs, cutting right back on caffeine, and getting lots and lots of fruit and veggies in. There are also lots of foods I need to include to support good bacteria in my belly such as garlic, oregano, leeks, and coconut oil.

I thought I would miss bread but I can't say that I have. I already feel so much less bloated, my tummy is flatter, and I can feel a small increase in my energy levels already which I hope will continue.

Being someone with a massive sweet tooth, it has been tough at times to cut out sugary treats, especially when I see my boyfriend tucking into chocolate, biscuits and cake. The first thing I did after my consultation was pay Madeleine Shaw's blog a visit to find a recipe for a healthy dessert. I made her raw brownies and they were amazing! A small square of those was enough to keep my cravings at bay. They are so chocolate-y and sweet! Other than that I occasionally have some dark chocolate and this week I picked up some Coyo yoghurt which I don't love but it's better than nothing! However I find that the meals and snacks I eat now fill me up for so long that I don't always have room for pudding!


My goals:

- To clear my "brain fog" and be able to concentrate and focus on things more

- To feel more energetic, especially first thing on a morning

- Ideally I would like to lose a little bit of the weight I have put on over the last 10 months

- To stick with being gluten free and sugar free 100% of the time, trying new recipes as much as possible especially experimenting with "healthy cake" so that I don't miss out on occasions when others are having it

- To feel well enough to get back to my normal work/life routine would be the ultimate goal and one I hope to achieve!

Are you gluten free or sugar free or have you tried either before? I am particularly nervous about eating at cafes/restaurants so if anybody knows good places in Sheffield to visit please do let me know in the comments box.

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