Monday, 18 May 2015

The view from this mat

The trouble I have with yoga

I am a yoga fan, the benefits to be gained from having a yoga practice are immense - I'm so much more flexible then I used to be, I'm calmer, able to cope with life better and I feel it making me stronger.  All of these things are very practical benefits.  You don't need me to tell you that yoga has developed from an incredibly spiritual core and aligns itself with earth energy and chi and stuff like that (I am no expert obviously) and this is where my trouble with yoga comes in.

Should I have a practice that focuses purely on the fitness and stretching elements of yoga and dismiss the spiritual side of it because it makes me uncomfortable?  This question was raised for me on Friday when our normal teacher was away and we had a different lady covering the class who takes a very different approach...

Crack open the crystal water

So to give a bit of background the lady covering our class on Friday was witness to me getting wound up by Pat the Twat (you can read about him here) she is tight with Pat so I'm not flavour of the month with her.  Throughout the class she was casting me some shade which is fine I'm not her number one fan either but it's when she fetched the spritzer bottle from her bag and started spraying 'crystal infused water' in the air to cleanse the room and bring energy to the class that I questioned why I was there.  I'm sorry, I just can't get down with that, it feels like nonsense to me which raises the question - can you have one without the other?  Is it my place to pick and choose the bits of yoga I like and dismiss the bits I don't?  I really don't know, but I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on it in the comments!

Well that's distracting

Anyway whilst lying on our fronts deep breathing in our class on Friday I couldn't help but notice that there were an awful lot of pasty crumbs on the floor of the studio.  I had to chuckle to myself because the very presence of pasty crumbs on the floor of a room that has been cleansed with crystal infused water just seemed ridiculous!  Very different worlds collided in that class on Friday on more than one level.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

How to....

Yeah this sounds like a really weird how to doesn't it?  The thing is Sam and I pretty much exclusively shop at Aldi (but much of what I write here will also apply to Lidl) when we tell people this they look at us with the crinkled up face of disbelief, like it's not possible to do.  Well, yeah it is and we've saved ourselves a ton of money doing it so here are my does and don't s (free free to add any I've missed out in the comments!).

(It's worth pointing out that Sam is a vegetarian, I choose not to cook a separate meal for myself containing meat because frankly I'm just not bothered about eating meat everyday.)

Be prepared.

One of the great things about Aldi is that they have twice weekly special buys on all manner of random stuff from pillows to peonies, lunch boxes to lawn feed but once it's gone, it's gone.  My first tip would be to get the Aldi app on your phone it lets you know about the next three or so special buy days coming up and what's on offer.  If like us you own an allotment or have a garden it's worth waiting until they get their garden supplies in, we get all of our propagators, twine, pots and compost there (the compost is a bargain £1.99 for 40 litres).  The app allows you to plan ahead and compile a shopping list for your next visit.

Some of the other special buys I would recommend include their gin, tights, frying pans, spectacle wipes (yeah yeah I know), chocolate and wrapping paper.  I could add more to the list but things would get boring,

Know that you're there to get ingredients

One of the things that people don't get when we say we shop almost exclusively at Aldi is how can we get everything we need there?  Well I won't pretend that we haven't changed the way we purchase and prepare food, we make things from scratch a lot anyway but did have to plan what we were going to make so we could get the ingredients we needed from Aldi rather than going to another supermarket to get a ready made version.  You will get all of your basics there no problem, their fruit and veg is well priced (but can go off quicker than vegetables from other supermarkets) and things like toilet roll is cheaper than even the basics ranges at other supermarkets without having to use an entire roll to get your *cough* business done.

Abandon snobbery at the door

It took me a long time to do this.  When we started shopping there I didn't trust the meat, didn't want to eat any of the frozen food, wouldn't go near their beauty products at all but as I got over my own snobbery I realised just how much I have been paying over the odds for things.  The shampoo I get is 69p and is as good as the branded £4 bottle I would previously pick up, the painkillers work just as well as those from Boots, the cold meats and cheese taste A.M.A.Z.I.N.G and their booze is really, really well priced (beware like most other shops their prices did go up on booze over the Christmas period so stock up early for the cheaper price!).  You won't get the range of ready meals or the broad selection you get at the bigger supermarkets but if you weight that up against how much you could save, for us at least it seemed like a reasonable price to pay.

What do we get from other supermarkets/shops?

  • Cat litter
  • Indigestion tablets
  • Mascara
  • Roll on deodorant
Seriously that's it.

The Aldi cat litter is really clumpy and heavy, I haven't seen them sell indigestion tablets (uuuuuuuuugh having indigestion tablets even be on our shopping list sucks, getting old sucks!), their mascara is really bad and I haven't braved using their roll-on yet.

A note about how to be efficient at the check out

The Aldi checkout process seems to really freak people out, but guys it's really efficient and awesome, be cool!  Don't be one of those people trying to pack your bags at the till, just sling your stuff back in your trolley, pay and take yourself over to the handy shelf area where you can pack your bags at your leisure it makes the whole thing much less stressful.  Not only that the staff can get people through those tills fast, which means they're not paying staff to be sat there for more time than they need to be WHICH MEANS THEY KEEP STAFFING COSTS DOWN AND THEREFORE THE PRICES ARE LOWER!

Believe it or not this post wasn't sponsored, I just really thing that we need to change the way we think about food shopping!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


It's coming up to a month since I listed steps one and two of #fudgeitfatclub, (you can read the post here) so I thought I would check back in and add to the list.

Scornful scales

THAT moment, when you step on the scales, look down and think "fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck how did that happen??".  I had that moment a while ago, I didn't feel like I had put on weight, I'd been careful with what I had been eating and how much exercise I was doing but the number on the scales was a real knock.  

Side note: this is the emotional journey I go through when processing bad news... Rage against it (this usually involves a lot of swearing and animated gestures of disbelief), bitch about it to others needling them verbally to agree with me, sulk, reflect and apply rational thought, reason with myself, look at it from another point of view, accept or find a solution.

After stomping about with my rage face on for a while I sped through the emotional journey and realised that with all the exercise I'd probably put on muscle mass not fat mass, I was certainly feeling more toned and confident.  It was in this moment that I made the decision not to measure my success on the scales but with a measurement tracker instead, this records bust, chest, arm, waist, stomach, hips, thighs, and calves.  Every week I will check and record my progress, I am liberated from the scales which feels awesome and progressive.


Its not all about the exercise, upping and upping the amount that I do won't fix things if I'm not focused on what and how much I'm eating.  I've been using the Diet Plan app and website to track the amount of calories I'm taking on usually aiming for 1200 a day and ensuring that I'm burning off more than I put in.  It is remarkable how much food you can justify away and kid yourself into believing 'don't count'.  I thought I would be too hungry to keep up the classes that I do (I'm not going to lie there are some days when the classes are a struggle) but actually it hasn't been too much of an issue.  80% of the journey is the food we eat, 20% is the exercise we do!


Monday, 11 May 2015

The view from 39a

The countdown begins

This past weekend Sam and I took to the plot to try and get things tidy and in order before I go to Boston and New York in less than two weeks!!!  (This trip is approaching quickly and I'm feeling really disorganised, last year I had every detail of our San Diego trip planned but because it's just me this time I'm taking a much more relaxed approach, not necessarily a good thing.)

In the polytunnel we found our first strawberry of the year and it tasted gooooooooooooood.  I seem to remember we had more fruits by this time last year but then it was considerably warmer then it has been this year.  

Getting ahead of ourselves?

In March I started some runner beans off in the polytunnel, as you can see they've come along nicely and have completely outgrown their tray so we planted them out which is a touch early and a bit of a risk but they really needed some root space.  We don't have a cold frame or a particularly sheltered spot on the plot so we planted them, tied them to the bean supports and put fleece around them.  I'm really hoping this coupled with the thorough blanket of slug pellets I set down will protect them and we'll get lots of pods.  Last year our plants were completely destroyed by slugs, and birds, and rabbits in fact pretty much anything that happened to be passing by had a go at my runner beans *huff*.

Returning to the plot

I've mentioned before how last year was a bit of a dip for us on the plot, enthusiasm hit a low and not an awful lot got done, one of the things that slipped off the list last year was planting sunflowers which was a real shame as the bees love them.  I suspect the lack of flowers on our plot resulted in a number of the butternut squash flowers not getting pollinated so we've rectified that this year and put in three different types of sunflower to cater to all the bees.

With a little bit more work on the plot this week and next weekend I'm hoping there won't be lots left for Sam to do when I'm away, and for that matter when I get back!  One of the next tasks we need to tick off is to construct the pumpkin pyramid (in actual fact we're going to be using the structure to grow butternut squashes - butternut squashes proved too much of an alliteration challenge for me).  Fingers crossed there will be enough time to get it all done...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

How to...

I've been trying to decide if this is a weird 'How to' post or if it could actually be useful to someone, to be honest I'm still undecided but I figured if you've never sold at a car boot sale before there might be something of use to you here!


So when I was a kid my mum and dad sold at car boot sales on a fairly regular basis, I dreaded it.  When you are five or six (I can't actually remember how old I was when I would go along) sitting around for three or four hours was mind numbingly dull, it wasn't until I was ready to sell some of my own toys that things started to get interesting.  Once I realised I could get cold hard cash for stuff I no longer used car boots sales became interesting and I started paying attention to how to sell.  I now do one or two big clear outs a year and sell at the afternoon car boot sale near us (there is a huge morning car boot very near us but on a Sunday getting up before six is not an option).

Your toolkit

One or two things to take with you to make selling a touch easier..
  • Carrier bags, if someone is buying armfuls of clothes from you make their life easier by offering them a bag.  I know it's a car boot sale but seriously customer service is still key!
  • Measuring tape, if you're selling curtains, bedlinen or furniture in particular it is really useful to take a measuring tape with you.  For example IKEA bedlinen is slightly bigger than standard UK bedlinen and not everyone works in centimetres so give your customers the chance to measure up!
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape - emergency clothes rail repair, jigsaw box repair, you just never know when this will come in handy!
  • Anti-bac wipes, if like me you're going around the house chucking stuff in boxes ready to sell you might not always pay close attention to the condition of things it's a good idea to have anti-bac wipes with you to give your goods and chattels and once over.  People are far more inclined to buy stuff that looks cared for than stuff caked in dust, plus it's a good time filler for those quieter moments.
  • A hat. I've been caught out on this one waaaaay too many times, even if it looks overcast take a hat you don't know how the weather can turn and no one loves sun stroke.
  • Snacks and plenty of water, again duhhhh I've been caught out on this one as well!  You don't want to be hangry on the day and you don't want to eat into your profits buying over priced food and drink on site.

Hints and tips
  • Don't just sell any old toot, before you chuck an item in the 'to sell' pile ask yourself (and be objective here) would I buy this item myself in it's current condition?  If the answer is no then just throw it away (don't give it to charity if it's broken or too worn they get charged for throwing away the stuff they can't sell so you would be hindering not helping!)
  • What are the high value items? Clothes in good condition from well know high street shops always sell well in particular jeans, CDs and DVDs used to, trade is slowing but still worth a punt, jigsaw puzzles in good condition, toys and baby clothes!  Now I don't have many of these to sell myself but if you have loft full of toys and baby clothes get yourself to a car boot you'll make an absolute mint!  (Worth checking on ebay first if you're selling toys like Lego and Playmobil as you might get more money for them selling them online.)
  • Compliment your customers outfits/jewellery/shoes whatever, if they think that your styles align they're more likely to take a closer look at what you have on offer.
  • I wouldn't bother pricing things up to be honest it's a waste of your time and stickers, have a vague idea of what you want to sell things for, start high (but realistic) and be prepared to haggle.
  • By mid-afternoon you get a stream of people passing by but they've got stall blindness they have seen so many they've stopped looking properly and few like to approach a stall that doesn't have people looking at it, if you have someone with you get them to fake browse your stall picking things up and really paying attention to your items it will pique someone's interest and sure enough it attracts people over! (I know, I know this seems so manipulative but it does work!)
And finally....

So you've done three or four hours of selling, you've done pretty well and you've resisted the temptation to restock your car with bits and bobs from other sellers (hahahaha yeah right) but what do you do with the stuff left over?  If you're lucky enough to have storage chuck it in there wait a couple of weeks and do another car boot sale (perhaps after going around the house for another clear out?).  If that isn't an option then do consider donating to your favourite charity, I suspect charities are going to need all the support they can get in the next five years (significant look) but as I said before don't donate crap stuff, if it looks worn or is broken then just dump it.

Bonus photo?  This is me in 2008 when we left to go to the car boot sale that lovely March morning it was all clear skies and sunshine... and then the snow came, you'll see that snow does not deter a good car booter, the rummaging continued with vigour...

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The view from this mat


One of the things that originally put me off going to the gym was the idea of jiggling about next to honed and ridiculous gym bunnies casting their critical eye upon me.  What I actually found was a really supportive group of people, yes of course there are some arsehats but the majority of people are just trying to be healthier and fitter.  One such person is a guy who joined yoga a couple of weeks ago, he's clearly on a journey to get fitter, like all of us.  He's quiet, keeps himself to himself, turns up, works out and tries hard, and I'm endlessly impressed by him.  There's no posturing or making a big thing about how many people he knows in class and how he is a regular unlike....

The kill em with kindness couple

They don't sound too bad do they?  They're SUPER chatty, fake friendly (that's not just me being a bitch I have witnessed the teethy smiles to a persons face followed by the bitchy comments behind their back) and loud, they dominate every class they're in by demonstrating loudly that they have in jokes with the instructors.  

On a Thursday there is a pilates class straight after yoga, before the yoga class attendees have even had the chance to get their shoes on the kill em with kindness couple storm in to claim their space.  In theory I don't have a problem with that, we all have our 'spot' in each class but they claim their spot by dumping their stuff on you, literally ON YOU (they put a bag on my friends legs the other day).  To make matters worse the bloke in this irksome couple stinks, tangy, nasty, sweat stink which wafts around the room and punches you in the face. A courtesy spritz of deodorant would be appreciated by everyone fella.

The machine

The machine also goes by the name of Simon, he's our new Tuesday Body Pump instructor, he's really nice and built like a brick shithouse.  I like the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the class, last Tuesday he was covering the Body Combat class I take before I do Pump and seriously he is a MACHINE he just keeps going and going, he even claimed that the new Combat track was 'easy' hahahahahahaha!  Watching him roll those shoulders whilst upper cutting was confusing, his arms made perfect circles, I didn't even know that was possible!  Here is a visual representation of Simon:

I hope someone out there in blog land is writing about the curly haired lady at the gym who has no coordination or sense of timing!  What gym characters have you come across?

Monday, 4 May 2015

The view from 39a

I realised yesterday that I've been posting a lot about the gym and have neglected to mention anything about the other great love in my life,  the allotment (made ya feel queasy yet?).  In actual fact Sam and I have been working really hard on the plot recently, last year was a bit of a blip we lost motivation in the face of the never ending tide of weeds, but this year we're back on track.

Progress update

  1. This will be the final year of fruiting for these strawberries, we had a much larger patch at the front of the plot but have moved the new growth to a raised bed towards the back of the plot.  We need to plant something new in this part of the plot as the strawberries have been in situ for three years and we need to mix things up.  We're probably going to put runner beans here, they're great for getting nutrients into the ground, once they've finished fruiting you cut the tops of the plants off leaving the roots in the ground to decompose giving the soil a good feed.
  2. I've got spring and autumn fruiting raspberries here.  I planted then in September, they died off over winter convincing me that I'd lost them but they're coming back strong now, I doubt we'll get much fruit from them this year but hopefully next year I can get some jam from them.
  3. RAGE!  The whispy lady who took over the other half the plot has done nothing!  I'm being harsh, she's dug over a patch the size of a single mattress and put in some leggy looking broad beans o_O.  Oh how I regret giving up the other half of the plot!  The positives of this situation are that I want to distance myself from her lack of activity so have gone all out to dig our side of the plot over and get it looking as neat as possible.  
  4. Two new raised beds installed housing broad beans, beetroot, spring onions and strawberries.  They're made up of boards and bricks, they're not the most professional looking raised beds in all the world but I absolutely love them!
  5. The purple sprouting broccoli has finally gone to seed so I dug it out yesterday, I've left it on the plot for now because there were loads of shield bugs and ladybirds hidden amongst the flowers and I wanted to give them a chance to find new homes before I hack it up and chuck it in the compost bin.
What next?

We want to get another raised bed in the patch left after removing the purple sprouting broccoli, we've got just enough bricks but need to source some boards (we scan every single skip we pass at the moment) if anyone has any they would like to donate they would be gratefully received!

I'm hoping to get the runner bean structure up today with a view to planting out the 12 or so plants we have in the polytunnel when things get a little bit warmer.

Butternut squashes!  These are one of my favourite things to grow, and thanks to Pinterest we've learnt about squash structures, we have everything we need to build an A frame with netting to train the squashes up.  This has two benefits, firstly it reduces the amount of space the squashes take up (they trail a couple of metres per plant) and keeps the fruit of the ground reducing the risk of rotting or insect attacks, I'll let you know if its a success or not! 

A bank holiday weekend digging weeds out in the rain might not be to everyone's taste but I like nothing more than getting stuck in, getting mud under your nails and at this time of year starting the see the fruits of your labour.  The only other thing better?  Perhaps that feeling of taking your boots off, having a cup of coffee and as biscuit and relaxing aching muscles on the sofa infront of Amazon Prime!

Saturday, 2 May 2015


But I don't want to Om

Yoga has fast become one of my favourite classes each week, but to begin with I really struggled with the yoghurt-weavey nature of yoga.  I'm not very spiritual, even putting my hands in prayer during postures made me uncomfortable but the benefits of having a good ol' stretch every week have been immeasurable.  As part of #fudgetitfatclub I want to chart my progress with yoga so before class begins (i.e. there is no one around to see Sarah and I taking photos of ourselves) I'm going to take a photo of my downward facing dog pose to see where I can improve and what progress I've made.

Hamstrings of pain!

Week one (not technically week one of doing yoga but week one of charting progress), need to work on straightening my back which means working on my oh so tight hamstrings and hips.  Week two - time to move those feet closer if I can, and keep at those tight hips, happy that I can get my heels to the floor though when I started yoga they were way off so that's a good improvement.

Thought monkeys

One of the things yoga teaches you is to reign in those 'thought monkeys' (as our teacher labelled them this week).  Thought monkeys are those thoughts that pop into your head and jump around distracting you from your practice, here are some of mine:
  • There appears to be a dust stalactite hanging from the ceiling, if that falls it's going to land in my mouth, horror!!
  • (when doing any pose that involves looking at your feet), I neeeed to sort those trotters out before summer no one should have to witness them.
  • Is that my phone?  Oh crap, am I the person who didn't put their phone to silent?  Shit bags I am!!
  • I wonder how many people have used this mat before me?  If I put my face on it am I going to get spots?
  • Don't fart, don't fart, don't fart, don't fart, don't fart.

What are your thought monkeys when exercising?  I can't be the only one with this nonsense swimming around my head can I??

Friday, 1 May 2015

Wardrobe wishlist

Lazy bank holiday weekends...

... deserve casual new outfits!  I'm actually saving up for my forthcoming trip to Boston and New York at the end of May (eeeeeee only a few weeks to go!) so can't splurge on new outfits, but if I COULD I would put this little outfit together, I'd probably wear it with black leggings as it's not quite warm enough get to get the old pins out!

For the love of tan

I seem to be developing a deep rooted love of all things tan leather, I have actually ordered the sandals because I've been told they're really comfortable so I thought they would be great for stomping around the streets of New York and will go with most of my clothes (fingers crossed they arrive before I leave).  Lets not forgot the awesomeness of animal print either, almost every outfit I wear these days has a splash of animal print in there somewhere, this skirt is the perfect colour combination of red and turquoise, put with mustard yellow?  All my favourite colours in one place!


The weather for the forthcoming bank holiday weekend doesn't look amazing, a lot of rain and low temperatures but that's perfect for me. I've had some hectic weekends recently and I could really do with a pj day, relaxing, watching films and drinking cups of coffee - bliss!  What plans do you have, anyone travelling this weekend?

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