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Thursday, 28 January 2016


My two garden battles for today. I hate both now.

Ages ago mum gave be a blackcurrant plant so I can grow my own blackcurrants for vodka (YUM!). So far it's lived on our patio in a bucket with a bin bag round it; and my watering can rose on it.

I have been trying to dig a hole for it for about 3 months... To be honest I tried like twice but the weather hasn't allowed a proper go and it was impossible to get it where I actually wanted. My plan for it was to go up the back of the garden by the garage - the ever changing corner of the garden. The difficulty is though where the drainage goes for the garage, although the actual piping is in next doors garden, there is underground piping that goes along the divide. When it all leaked/they put the new fence panel in/did whatever they did - not entirely sure what, they shoved a load more concrete down there. This means I have no hope of putting many plants in the corner at all unless I dig it all out again, This was a serious option for me until I thought that it might actually be there for a reason - and I didn't want to break something...

That corner has been a pain in my backside since we moved in really, to begin with there was some ugly trellis up and some bizarre ferns which I got rid of. I then planted my apple tree up there which got ruined when the fence came down grrr... So it's been difficult deciding what to really do there.

So... last year I made some trellis which was left over from the wood we brought for the fence. It was made back in the summer and sat down the side of the house for months until Scott finally put it up for me.

I have planted a Jasmine plant in front of it in hope that it will take well. It's got a beautiful pink flower. However, I have heard that Jasmine can spread like wildfire so I have kept it in the pot and I have partially dug it in. This was also because of the inability to dig a decent sized hole because of all the bloody concrete.

Since my apple tree was damaged, I didn't like where I had planted it - or even like it full stop and had contemplated getting rid of it... So today, whilst making decisions regarding the blackcurrant plant, I dug it up and put it in a pot.

It's musical plants all over again isn't it!? Specially as I also dug up a lovely rose which I put in the front garden last year also (loads of this stuff I never blogged about - how you all missed out!!!!) and put that in a pot too.

Post wedding, Scott and I buggered off on honeymoon and left all of your flowers with mum and Richard. The clever man he is, Richard took one of the roses and made a plant with it! I am so excited to see it flower it is unreal! I know I have enough roses as it is but that has gone in a pot too and I now have a little pot feature!

The pot were given to me by Scott's dad and have just sat in the garden for ages. Okay it does still look like a load of mud and the front pot on it's side has nothing in yet... But I do think it looks better than it did! Still a working progress and I really do want to get the blackcurrant plant in there somewhere - but for now it's still in its bucket with it's hat on!!

I'll let you know when I actually get it in the ground!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Caravan Cushion Covers

I haven't done much sewing recently, let alone blogged about it. I can't remember if I mentioned it before but for a long time I was slowly working on doing come upholstering. The neighbours brought a caravan last summer and wanted the cushion covers spruced up a bit. I can't blame them, they looks so old fashioned and dirty looking.

That's the only before photo I took, but as you can see, not very inspiring. This is a back cushion, the seat cushions were bigger and more shaped than this. In total there were 8 to do, 4 of which were larger (seating area is bigger on one side of the caravan than the other).

There is a shop near here that sells fabric on the roll for stupid prices! I think the fabric Emma picked up was like £7.50 and I covered the whole lot without being careful of wastage and there was still over half a roll left. I wouldn't have chosen the fabric myself but for that price you can't complain!

I didn't hate this project but it certainly had plenty of downsides what could have made me hate it. First of all they stank. And were really messy inside so every one I took apart I had to hoover them off and then my sewing room. I also needed loads of room to lie it all out and cut my pattern pieces. For a while I used our bedroom as we were part way though decorating so had no furniture in there. I somewhat cheated too by using the old covers for my pattern pieces and instead of spending more money on wadding. The problem with this though; my sewing machine really didn't like the thickness and a broke a few needles in the process.

The most expensive part was all the buttons. I fabric covered them so they matched like the originals and then laced them through to the back with a large darning needle. That was probably the worst bit. After one single cushion I thought my fingers were going to fall off and I got cramp. The foam is sprung and some of the buttons passed right by them making is really difficult. Got there in the end though...

I never particularly liked hand stitching and I hand finished all of these. However, after fighting it though my sewing machine then fighting to get the buttons though, I found the hand sewing quite relaxing and therapeutic!

Looks better I think! The top photo shows how they are not perfect but for a first attempt (and I did them for free), I don't think they're too bad. Emma did the curtains and overall they make it look much cleaner and brighter. I wouldn't rush to do them again but at the same time, It's nice to see them all done!

Found an App

So after spending ages on my silly spreadsheet which was meant to make graphs, then my computer skills failed me. I accidentally came across an app which does it all for me! It's called FitNotes. Basically you input all your info into it and it logs it and makes graphs out of it!

I know, I am incredibly sad.

This is the calendar view showing the days which information has been added. all the dots are colour coded for different types of activity. I don't know which colour is which yet. 

And heres my graph! The red line shows your general trend. You can change the graph so show you what you want. This one is showing max weight. The other options are; estimated one rep max, workout volume, total reps and max reps.

When you add each exercise it look like this, and when you add a new one it shows you your last inputted weight for each exercise. This, I think, will be ultra useful as I always forget what I did last time. I think that partly why things have been a bit stationary in terms of progress recently.

I don't think it's quite as good for the cardio side of things. It's good in terms of tracking distance and time. The above have been my runs which is good. Recently however, I have been doing some of the gyms fitness classes. you can input the time but obviously there isn't a distance to add as such so it then doesn't really tell you anything other than the fact you went.

But on that note and moving on, I went to spin for the first time today! Last week I went to body conditioning and saw my neighbour, Lou there. I think that day was the day that I started to come down with my cold (I was ill all weekend) and found just the body conditioning itself really hard; and I ached for 2 days after! Lou had just done a 45min spin class then made body conditioning look easy too! I felt like a tit! Then, for some reason, I agreed to join her this week! First to do Bootcamp yesterday - which wasn't too bad actually despite still being a bit coldy, and then doing the both today! 

I think I could get quite into spin. The first 10 minutes I was regretting it. Couldn't see how I would get though a whole 45min session... But then... I loved it, I kept up, pushed with the rest of them and sweated my arse off! I even got a bit overzealous at one point and nearly fell off when going from sitting to standing. The motion got ahead of me and I nearly pulled my foot out of the pedal. Towards the end my legs were full of jelly so standing and cycling became increasingly difficult... I made it to the end though!! Just about! 

We then did a lot of leg work in body con....

I've sat on the sofa in front of a film for the rest of the day...

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Carrots and Parsnips

After the success of my onions, I had high hops for my parsnips and carrots. After a slow start were none of my seeds came up, my plants started to grow steadily. As usual, Planted everything too close to each other and soon my parsnip plants overtook the carrots so I had to pin them all back. I found it difficult growing root veggies and you can't see how they are doing?! Patience isn't my strongest attribute!

Winter then came and we got really busy so it all more or less died back apart from a few bare carrot stems. A few weeks ago I started pulling some of them, I got a few regular sized parsnip but all my good sized (so far) carrots had been eaten (bloody slugs!!). What I did get proved to be very yummy though.

Yesterday I decided to pull the rest of the parsnips and to begin with was really disappointed with what I found; they were all far too small to do anything with, I then came to the last one, and low and behold!!!!!

Look at that beast!! If only they were all like that! That must have grown from the 1st lot of seeds I put in where only two came up (the first one looked all impressive on top but had no downward root when I pulled it).

This one will be in my cooking pot tomorrow evening I think!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

December flop, January motivation toys!

I decided to start writing this blog in the wrong month really. I wasn't too good at going to the gym in December and I am now having to start from scratch again! Indulging over the Christmas period wasn't too detrimental to the scales but it didn't exactly keep me on track either.

Since my run in December I have had good intentions in terms of going again, and that was my main plan for when at home. I managed to go once..... HA! At least once was better than not at all, specially as I couldn't go to the gym at home. I went with the boys who completely ran the socks off me; Ben ran ahead (he's 13!) and Luke (16) stayed with me for moral support. It was embarrassing how bad I was!

Luke had since done the same route again in 34mins.. only about 10mins quicker than me! Nevermind, something to aspire to! That run was a pain in the arse really. As I am sure you have probably realised, I don't like to do anything unless I can log it and I am a bit of a tech geek. I tracked that route with the Endomondo App which is great but I didn't have any pockets so had to hold my phone the whole way round. This wasn't great; there was a particularly muddy track we ran along which I decided to throw my phone on the floor and then Luke kicked it... dirty dirty phone! You can also do it using the Fitbit App but with my Fitbit One, I still had to have my phone for GPS and the Fitbit App not only needs a continuous internet connection (I live in the dark ages and don't have unlimited data), but also drains battery something awful! Luckily my phone has a pretty hefty case on it as I'm well known for being clumsy but this got me thinking.... It really is a pain having to carry is whenever you go on a run or anywhere you want to track..

A Few people got Fitbit's for Christmas so my friend list has grown! Jamie got a Fitbit Charge HR. I've looked at these and been really interested as I would like to have a heart rate monitoring device, but because it's a wrist tracker I have never gone for it because I can't wear it to work. However, seeing his did make me start thinking about it again. I have also wondered whether heart rate tracking would improve the accuracy of calorie burn when at the gym. I didn't research this but assumed that it would be more accurate and therefore went out at brought a Fitbit Surge! A bit spur of the moment but I love it!! I went for top of the range one in the end as I figured that buying the Surge was basically the same as my one but with the heart rate monitoring whereas the Surge has GPS tracking so no more dropping my phone in the mud! You can have two trackers assigned to the same account so I still wear my One to work and then wear my Surge the rest of the time.

I even ran round the block like I said I might..!!

Thats 3.2miles of the 5miles I wanted to achieve. I am happy with that so far! My average heart rate was 170bpm! I liked the watch GPS as it vibrated every mile and told me that my average pace was for the last completed mile, a good motivator!

I wore it to the gym this afternoon. It's calorie burn total compared to what the gym equipment suggested was pretty interesting..

This was the Surge's breakdown of my activity at the gym. The bike machine thought that I burned 147 calories, the watch 156. Not a lot of difference so that's probably relatively accurate. However, the weight machines totaled up suggested that I burned 457 calories, just a little different from the watch! Up until now I have just logged whatever my end calorie burn is at the end of my work out. In this instance this would have been 604 calories. But my Fitbit reckons it would only be 425 calories. using Fitbit's result, that would be 5.6 calories burned per minute VS. 7.9 calories a minute using the gyms result. Whilst out for my run, Fitbit said that I burned 9 calories a minute. So, I would guess that actually, my fitbit is far more reliable than the gym equipment  surely theres no way I can burn nearly as many calories a minute weight training as when out for a run!

I read an article which states that calculating calorie burn whilst strength training is really difficult and not that much. Therefore, I think listening to the Fitbit is definitely the way forward. Quite scary really because all these months I have been calorie counting based on what the gym equipment has told me. This means I have probably fluffed up my eating! Not that it has mattered too much, it's not like I'm actively trying to loose weight. But still! It's irritating!