Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Review of the Breville Halo health fryer

I was very excited to be given this bad boy to review on the blog. If you know me then you know I just love a kitchen gadget. I'm not going to lie my kitchen is huge - well I'm sure there are plenty that are bigger than mine but its big enough for me. Bigger than your average kitchen then. My cousin once remarked that its so big I have to have two kitchen roll holders.  The benefits of having a handyman husband type. Anyhow, in my said kitchen I have lots of cake baking paraphernalia, coffee machines, my beloved kitchen aid and lots of gadgets.  I have accumulated lots of kitchen stuff over the years.  Its normally the first thing I think of when someone asks what I would like for my birthday/Xmas. I have asked for a rice cooker this year - proper hard core!

Breville Halo Health Fryer. I took this picture prior to breaking my iphone - another blog post entirely 
Anyhow, back to the review.  My husband is northern. He likes chips. Thing is he doesn't get the deep fat fried ones that he dreams of. In fact, he said to me upon the arrival of my Halo that I made him chuck out his deep fat fryer when we got together.  So he is as excited as any man can be over a kitchen gadget.  I haven't, as yet, tried out the chips but I shall come back and tell you how I got on. Some reviews have said the paddle gets stuck but I didn't find this to be the case when we made churros.

A vintage deep fat fryer!! We've come a long way
Or as we like to call them chichi's instead.  We love a chichi when we go on holiday to France. Essentially they're a long doughnut minus the jam. They warm the cockles of your heart - only thing is they are incredibly fattening. Enter Mr Halo.  

I piped pieces of churros about 6 inches long. I think this was just about the right size for the fryer. There is a paddle that kept the churros moving so you don't have to turn it or anything. You just let it do its thing.  I set the timer for 12 minutes and whilst they weren't as crunchy as the ones that are deep fried they weren't as greasy either.  I have to say they came out a treat and my daughter was thrilled with them. My children said they tasted just as good as the ones in France. It does look very space age so 10/10 for design. I would ordinarily have pictures but as mentioned above I dropped my iphone and we couldn't find our normal camera. In any event, we were too busy watching the halo in action. I will post pictures when we make chips. We were mesmerised watching them turn around - it lights up and everything. 

The Halo has many features - it can do just about anything - bake, grill, roast etc.  It looks good and the price is reasonable (just over £100 on Amazon at the moment). I called this a gadget intially but it could easily become a regular staple in the kitchen.  I have friends who are at a certain slimming club and this would make an excellent gift for them.  They could eat an unlimited amount of chips!

The only downside I can see is the size. Its not a problem for me in my kitchen as I have lots of work surface and cupboards but if you have a small kitchen it would take up a fair bit of space. Having said this, if you are using it on a daily basis then its not a problem.  

To see the halo in action and all the various things you can cook with it check out this you tube clip. You can also check out all the particulars on the Breville website.

In any event, it got a thumbs up from us and the kids can't wait to try something else out at the weekend. A great Christmas present for those embarking on another diet in January!

I was given the Breville Halo Fryer to test out free of charge in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All my reviews are honest as you would come to expect from The 1970s Diet 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

What's Your Excuse for Not Getting Fit?

Is the second book that Joanne Henson has kindly given me to review. Much like the other "what's your excuse" book on not eating healthily it lists all manner of excuses. When I say book - its not going to take you ages to read and that's very appealing.  It acts as a quick guide also.  I immediately liked it when she talks about living in the UK.  In a nutshell she explained that if you live in the UK and you're not getting in a workout because of the weather then that's a whole  lot of exercise you're missing out on.  Simple but so true and really no one should be surprised when it rains in this country when it gets cold, windy or snows. We live in the UK!

What I like about her writing is that these sort of no nonsense statements really do stick in your mind. You might not take them all on board but I guarantee they'll be something that will really resonate with you.  For me it was the weather and also about being motivated. Something I have banged on about before - not being motivated to get back into a regular exercise routine in the winter months. Actually come to think of it I didn't for the duration of the school summer holidays. I can't even use the excuse of the weather for that one. I have always been motivated to exercise and from a very early age. For some reason there was a shift this year.

Anyhow, she talks of things that you are not 'motivated' to do i.e cleaning the toilet, getting up for work, the school run, the weekly food shop but you just do it because it needs to be done. You don't tend to think too much about it you just switch to auto pilot.  If you apply that to exercise then you will workout and even if you don't feel motivated you can certainly act motivated. Pretend you're really motivated to go for a hill walk in the rain and you will do it.

I have to say it really worked. On Monday, I decided to do my hill walk with Ipod irrespective of the weather. Sure enough Monday was dull, bleak with the added bonus of a bit of drizzle but I just thought about all the exercise I will miss if I don't just get out and do it.

I haven't been swimming for ages - again its getting colder etc but why should that really affect my attitude to going for a swim? Its not cold in the changing rooms, its not cold in the pool once I get my heart rate up and its a safe environment to work out it. I don't have dice with death with London buses like I do with cycling. The thing is I tend to hear other people's voices when I think about swimming "oh I don't like it in this weather - getting wet and especially my hair". Well, on Wednesday I put that all to one side and just went swimming. I am pleased to say I completed 40 lengths in about 40 minutes. Not as much as I used to do but a significant amount seeing as I haven't been since the summer.

Now on Friday, again, it was forecast for rain but with the UK statement firmly embedded in my brain I met a friend and, again, power walked (much faster with this friend as she set a good pace) along a hilly route. So I managed to get my heart rate up 3 x this week when it would have been far easier not to bother.  This is a massive improvement.

In other news, its my birthday tomorrow! Dah dah dah. We may or may not go to London depending on the weather. Exercise is one thing - 3 children in tow is another.  So we shall see.

How fab is the deco here - coming to a kitchen near me soon. I already have the chairs but in cream and blue piping but I would love to have a booth and totally redesign my kitchen.
I had a lovely lunch date in the week with my oldie bestie friend. We went to a lovely diner and I did have a cheeseburger (which was very fresh) with the trimmings. To compensate that I had no starter or desert and had soup for my dinner.  I didn't lose any weight this week which I'm okay with as its still 9lbs and I still have time before Xmas.

Here's Cath looking the picture of health - you can read her blog oh marvellous to see why a healthy lifestyle is so important to her.  We have waited 10 years for lunch without buggies and what not - did we feel guilty? Not a chance! 
Have a great weekend!

I was given a copy of the above book for free in exchange for a review. I always try and review things that are relevant to my blog (unless of course its something really extravagant and I just wnat it!) My review is, as always, brutally honest as you would come to expect

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Saturday Chit Chat

Howdy people. My weigh in day has changed to Thursday - I'm not sure how that happened but there you have it. Anyhow, I lost 1lb - so that's 8lbs since I whipped my fat arse (not in the same oiled up league as Kim Kardashian I'm afraid!) into gear.

I do feel a bit sluggish though and not as toned as I used to be.  My boot camp has been cancelled indefinitely which is a real pain as I really loved it. I feel the suffering I experienced for nearly a week after my sessions was fruitless. However, I have just received another book to review by Joanne and its called what's your excuse for not getting fit. I had a little flick through and I like it already. She refers to living in the UK and it rains - get over it! So if you don't exercise when its raining then you're missing out on a whole load of exercise. So true. I will do a proper review soon.  I have only been doing a power walk once a week recently which isn't enough and I really feel it.

So the plan, from Monday, is to do at least three of the following 1) hill walk, 2) bike ride, 3) swim, 4) kettlebells, 5) pilates and 6) Wii or one of my fitness xbox games.  Remember when I used to do those?  I do believe I was slimmer mmmm.

Turning to other tittle tattle - I loved the Sainsbury's advert although I don't know what Paul McCartney would have to say about it. I am, of course, referring to the Pipes of Peace he released one Christmas. But I suppose how else do you depict the scene of the British and German's having a knock around on Christmas Day? I love the Pipes of Peace - maybe he could re-release it?  I hadn't seen the John Lewis advert so I had a gander and I'm sorry but it was a bit pathetic wasn't it. Total commercialism with the penguin and all. I do believe you can now buy it for a stupid amount on ebay - urgh people please.  Besides I've never been a fan of kids having a special toy - bit like friends - love them all. Also saves a lot of pain and heartache if you lose it.

Speaking of all things war related - my husband is such a love. I don't normally gush about him as I always cringe at personal shit like that on facebook and the like.  Anyhow, following on from watching the Royal British Legion remembrance concert last Saturday - I was wondering exactly where my grandad was fighting in WWII.  I knew he served in Italy and then after he was based in Palestine - which he said was actually far more scary. I can believe it. Least if you are fighting a war you can defend yourself but if you are keeping the peace in a war torn country its quite a different and very difficult situation to be in.

The Gothic Line - pic google

In any event, the husband ordered a book on the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards and an officers account of this battalion told us what my grandad was doing during 1944 (he was posted then when he had just turned 18). Turns out he would have been dropped off in Naples and worked his way up to the northern part of Italy and 'The Gothic Line'. We read first hand accounts by an officer. In particular that they ate their Christmas Day dinner 4 days late and heard the Germans singing O Tannenbaum. So when I saw the Sainsbury's advert it did bring a tear to my eye.

My husband found out he fought the SS and the German Paras - they were also known (a tad unfairly) as the D-Day Dodgers as they hadn't fought on the beaches of Normandy.  My grandad had in his possession an SS lugar pistol which is worth a small fortune now - sadly my dad decided to swap this for some football cards when he was younger!! Ahhhh.  A decorated Lugar is worth up to £40,000 now. Oh well, maybe we'll have our Del boy moment another day.

Made out of bronze these were given to the families - it is quite something to still have one in the family. Picture ebay
I also found out that my Auntie has my Great, Great Uncle's Dead Man's Penny (these were given to the families of the fallen in WWI). I was delighted to hear this as I had been trying to find one on ebay. By all accounts its in my cousin's house - her son is currently the custodian of it. He is 9 and I would love to bribe him with some X-box games to do a swap but I shall console myself with the fact we have it in the family and that's the main thing.  Besides, my husband had actually ordered a dead man's penny with another person's name on it. His intention was to get in embossed with my Great, Great Uncle's name. In fact, he purchased three for all our ancestors. Trouble is we can't do it! It doesn't seem right somehow. My son said "you can't erase the dead mans name!" I think he may have a point.

So that's all my chit chat for Saturday. I'm loving these cosy nights in and I have managed to do all my Christmas shopping online. No squealing was involved. I've also ordered the turkey from the local butchers.  Next week (Sunday) to be precise is my birthday - we're hoping to take the kids to London or see Paddington Bear at the cinema. Perfect!

See you soon

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

What's Your Excuse for Not Eating Healthily?

Is a wonderful book I was given recently to review and I'm so glad I came across the author by chance on Twitter.

Joanne Henson is a lifestyle coach and has self published her own book on all the excuses that people come up with when it comes to dieting. And what an exhaustive and exhausting list it is too!  My goodness, they're all in there. What I love about this book is the matter of fact answer to every single one of them! I will definitely be using it as a reference guide when I start trying to come up with my own excuses. After a while you think if only we put as much effort into eating the right foods than the excuses we manage to muster up life would be so much simpler.

Much of what Joanne writes about I totally agree with and have written about here on my blog. In particular that diet clubs simply do not work. She gives an example of one of her clients who said its the only thing that works! Clearly not.  Also Christmas - don't get me started on Christmas. I know of someone that put up their tree on Remembrance Sunday. Could the world get anymore messed up!? In bad taste doesn't even come close.

Never mind about remembering the lives that were lost and the impact of the lost generation - lets just buy stuff like Christmas jumpers and put up countdowns on 'how many sleeps' it is till the big day.  Urgh why is everyone so infantile? We're not a patch on the fallen generation even my grandparents were far more humble and tasteful when it came to Christmas. Sorry back to the book.

Yes, Joanne quite rightly points out that you can buy a Christmas calorie busting coffee at the beginning of November. So Christmas isn't (not for a long time) about Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day - the treats start in November.  The best line in the book says "you're not a dog!" when it comes to a 'treat'. This really made me laugh and is so true.  We don't need food rewards!

She talks about people who say they always have a big breakfast on a Saturday etc and makes the point that if you've always done the same thing expect the same results. You have to change the things you've always done as clearly its not working.

I also liked how people who say they're a 'chocoholic' wear it like a badge of honor - something to be proud of but would it sound quite as amusing if they said "I eat too much chocolate"? I would probably add "and that's why I'm fat".

The only part I felt was a bit lenient was the temptation - removing all temptation.  She talked of her husband changing his favorite biscuit to one that she didn't like thus removing the temptation. I would take a hard line approach on that - others shouldn't have to change what they eat just because it might tempt me. This is where my chimp book comes in handy - the chimp wants instant gratification and if you can remember that then you can just not eat things that others are merrily chomping away on.

I will certainly be using this as a reference book and keeping it handy at all times. I enjoyed it immensely and was very excited that someone was talking my language.  I would highly recommend it if you struggle to eat well for a sustained period. I guarantee you will be nodding in agreement whilst turning the pages.

So it you want a 'treat' this Christmas I would highly recommend this book.

I asked for a free copy of this book to review on my blog. I did not receive payment and the views expressed are my own and are always honest. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

All The Pretty Things....And Not So Pretty..

Well let me start with the pretty first shall I? Pretty good that I lost 7lbs in just over a week I think. Now this would ordinarily be a right joyous affair, however, I had managed to get to my heaviest (I'm not quite sure how that happened as it was all a bit out of the blue). So, thankfully I'm back in control and my target is to have lost 16lbs by Xmas Day.  So 9lbs to go.

As the nights are drawing in, I have been perusing 'things'. Lots of pretty things I don't really need but they look lovely nonetheless.  Its my birthday at the end of the month so I like to do a bit of virtual shopping. In addition, Christmas is a coming and I always struggle to think of things "I want" as my first thought is what to get the kids, husband and family members. Then said family members want to know what to get for the above.  Anyhow, I'm going to indulge myself and you. What do you think maybe I should do a trendy lifestyle blog aka Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely? Pah ha ha.

Lovely these little blighters - currently en route thank you Lakeland for relieving me of a few pounds as naturally you don't just buy cookie cutters when you visit! I thought these would make great place name settings for Xmas Day Dinner.

Typical isn't it - last year I couldn't find a Kitchen Aid hand mixer for love nor money and yet here it is also at Lakeland £99. I think I actually prefer my Dualit which has a far more retro feel.  

I love these bags! My friend Barbara (classy chick) liked their facebook page and I've been hooked ever since. I did like Michael Kors but it seems so does every woman I see.  These glorious bags are by henri bendel a New York company. Their website alone is enough to entice you. This one is a 'petrol' satchel and is naturally more expensive than the dark blue colour I initially had my eyes on.

Now this is just the ticket to indulge my Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton fetish at the moment. What I love about this coat is the hood. From M&Co.
Speaking of which - I have started a collection of green eyeshadows (I normally wear varying shades of brown).
This was on my wish list last year (mother!) its a bit pricey at £60 odd quid but I love it. You probably need a modest pair of boobs really to wear it. I love the fact the hunted is now the hunter. From Joules

Comfort before fashion and all that - not quite sure on these from Clarks but my inner soon to be 41 year old is screaming 'comfort' on the school run. And then I saw these bad boys below...

And then I saw these..I love these also. Which ones? You decide! All from Clarks.

Its taken me so long to upload and give you links and what not that I'll have to do a separate post on the 'not so pretty' things. 

I hope I've indulged your material yearnings on a cold and wet November evening here in the UK.

Be back soon!

Disclaimer - this is my own personal wish list and I haven't been paid or given these items to review which I would always disclose.  

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Bitter Blogger

So I am. I could wail so I could. I appear to have gone all Irish on you. I have one thing on my bucket list. It is not to visit the Himalayas, swim with dolphins, climb Kilimanjaro (that's what posh people do when they fancy a day out), take a train ride through the Rocky Mountains (okay wouldn't mind that one) or anything deep or profound. Nope. I am that shallow. Number one on my bucket list is (or rather was) to appear on Catchphrase. Yarp that's it. Not impossible some might say. Not too expensive - it would have been the cost of a one day Travelcard. Alas, I am rapidly approaching 41 and it appears my dream to press that buzzer is unattainable. Cue lots of wailing and a quick reference to my book on how to manage my ape chimp in this situation.

So close but so far! Cue wailing
In August I applied to go on the show. I sold my soul. I was witty, funny, talked of pissing myself on the M25 and other embarrassing stories of a desperate nature and was generally a total prize prat just to get a phone call. Seriously these applications mean you leave any dignity or self respect firmly away from your laptop.  To have an even bigger chance of getting on a quiz show you can send in a video clip.  Yes you can make an even bigger dick of yourself - in print isn't sufficient enough.  So I filled in my 14 pages and stopped short of writing 'pick me, I beg you' and hoped for the best.

You cannot imagine the excitement I had then, whilst on holiday, a lady had left a message on my mobile to say she was calling about the show. Her name was Megan - yes you Megan you you!! More of which later. I composed myself and phoned from France citing my blog etc etc, talked with enthusiasm and generally came over all excitable puppy like.  I thought I did well. I was positive I would have to be arranging childcare upon my return so I could travel to my audition. Maybe I should have said I'd spend the money on cancer research rather than a holiday and the normal stuff? I wish they could tell you why you are not the chosen one. More wailing.

Where's your loyalty Roy to all the children (me!!) of the 80's that watched your show!
Now, the application deadline was the second week in October so naturally I thought I might hear after this date.  I took to twitter to see how the land was lying. It turns out auditions were in August!! So does it mean the first applications get through? Did my holiday scupper my chances of getting on the show? Urghhh. In any event, I want a national inquiry as to the deadline being October and auditions are in August.  Like the title suggest I am bitter. BITTER I TELL YOU!!!

To add insult to injury some other blogger got an audition - I thought that was cool thing to say on the show "I'm a blogger, I've got virtual trophies don't you know" - now it seems someone else will be saying that. I hope they get knocked out in the first round. BITTER!!

Say what you see - a sad, bitter and wailing 40 year old woman - her dreams crashed!

I have a confession to make in that not to let sleeping dogs lie (catchphrase) I dug out the number that called me in France. I found Megan's number and left a message to ask if I had an audition. Surprise, surprise she didn't return my call. Wails again. No, I'm not a nutter but why can't people just say you were too boring, you didn't come across well or you're just a wanker.

So Mr Chips this one's for you...

This really mad me laugh - its on google and I'm not really that bitter I have gotten over it!

My sisters were once on Blockbusters - remember that? My parents had a video recording of it but I'm certain my sisters have destroyed it. They were pretty rubbish on it - they won £25 and were up against some gold run supremo. I had to endure years of the theme tune down the corridors of my secondary school even when they had left and I wasn't even on the show!

P for pissed off! 
So there you have it a bitter blog in good spirits. A bit of fun on how not to get on a quiz show. Maybe I should write a blog on that?  I have had phone calls for Come Dine with Me, In it to Win It and Perfection - which I did get an audition for but its so bloody hard that game so was saving myself for the big one.  I had a call back for Pointless but I couldn't talk as was doing the school run - needless to say I didn't get a call back.

So, if you a person who chooses contestants for a show - please put me out of my misery and tell me what I'm doing wrong!

Until next time....

Monday, 27 October 2014

Happy Birthday Blog!

I suddenly realised this week that my blog is 3 years old (on 25th October). I first started writing it to lose weight and got a bit side tracked with rants and what not along the way!  I cannot quite believe that I will shortly have over one million hits. Who would have thought? Now, I read in YOU magazine this Sunday that some fashion bloggers get one million hits a day - that's serious stuff and it is a full time job - writing, tweeting, uploading pictures all the time.  Good luck to them. I would have loved to have those sorts of numbers etc in the beginning but I'm happy with my little blog and the occasional review opportunities and what not that come my way. I also think I've got the balance between living my life and documenting it.

Anyhow, enough of all that jazz. Where am I? Well I've taken charge of my diet again after staying the same for so long. If you do the same things you can expect the same results don't you think? I've nearly finished my chimp book and have put my CORE into practice. That would be "commitment" "ownership" "responsibility" and "excellence".  I had to list all the 'hurdles' - things I will always have to jump over i.e eating fewer calories, committing to exercise, changing eating habits, pmt etc. The 'barriers' which can be moved i.e temptation, weather (exercising indoors), negative people (remove!). The 'pitfalls' i.e emotions, attitude etc.  I have worked out my plan and how I am going to achieve it. Then you have to add what is 'essential' to lose weight. That would be exercise, calories - what is 'significant' i.e setting time aside and what is 'desirable' but not essential i.e support from others.

What I've learnt from this book is that willpower does not exist - its about having the commitment to reach your goal.  In addition, beating yourself up is the most pointless emotion ever. It serves no purpose.

So in order to honor my commitment to losing weight I have decided to focus more on my blog, complete my fitness pal (eating 1500 calories a day) and exercise 3 x a week. I had to agree this with my chimp as by all accounts if you can't agree then there's more chance of failure. Basically you have to be realistic. I'm going to stop beating myself up for not exercising properly in the half term. I will aim to be as active as possibly with the kids as this is realistic. I have set a target to lose 16lbs by Xmas this is based on losing 2lb a week. If I commit to the above then I can do it.

In other news, we went to London on Saturday to see the ceramic poppies in the moat at The Tower of London (I've also ordered one) - yes they're not real as someone actually said out loud "so they're not real then?".  We were able to get to the railings to see the poppies but the walk around on the pavement was heaving - we walked back to London Bridge via Tower Bridge so got a good view from all sides. Prior to that we visited the Imperial War Museum - the kids really enjoyed it although again it was very busy. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with children - boys and girls alike as there is so much to see and touch.

Here are some pictures from our grand day out!

The magnificent Spitfire

The many volunteers planting the poppies
A brilliant work of art

Stunning and sad in equal measure

Be back soon!