Sunday, 27 January 2013

It's official

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my desire to start running. Well I'm still at it. Actually I think I've become quite addicted. Since starting the couch to 5k programme I've ran everyday and upped the programme to 10k!!

I've signed up to complete the Manchester 10k at the end of May. Now if I actually do this, it will be a huge personal achievement for me.

After just 3 weeks (almost) I am feeling and seeing the benefits. My mood has improved, I feel more focused with bags more energy. The major bonus (apart from feeling fitter) I've dropped a dress size and I feel fantastic!!!

So I think I've officially got the bug and long may it continue!! Who knows maybe London Marathon 2014 is achievable xx

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Sledging or Sledding?

Call it what you will (we call in sledging here near Manchester) but today, after last nights snowfall which left a blanket of snow approximately 12inches thick, we found the biggest hill in our local park and had a glorious afternoon. An afternoon filled with fun, lots of laughter and best of all it didn't cost us a penny, it was completely free!

Once the light began to fade, we returned home to mugs of hot chocolate, homemade soup and crusty bread. The girls had a warm bath to heat them up and we snuggled on the sofa in our PJ's under a blanket, perfect.

Now I thought I'd include some information regarding the history of sledding or sledging. My eldest asked the question so we 'Googled' it. Here are the results:

The word sled comes from the Middle English word “sledde” (a very old type of English that is so different from what we use today, you would have trouble recognizing it) which meant “slider.” And that’s exactly what it does! We use sleds during the winter because they move easily through ice and snow, and even rock and some grass in certain instances. We may think of sleds as just for fun, but sleds actually come from sleighs and sledges, which were used as far back as the medieval era in Europe for transporting goods and people. You may have noticed that in most pictures of Santa, his reindeer pull him through the night sky in a sleigh, but traditional sleighs were used for transporting people and were often drawn by horses or dogs. European explorers used sledges and sleighs to navigate their way through the Arctic and Antarctic, and in some colder Scandinavian countries sleighs and sledges were not only fast, they were exempt from tolls on roads and bridges and so became popular for moving sizable goods. Chilly places like the Arctic still have huskies pulling sleighs as an option for getting through the snow quickly! Sleds are shorter and lighter than a traditional sleigh or sledge, people realized that sliding through the snow was so fun, that it might be worth giving everyone a shot, even if they didn’t need to get anywhere! That’s where the sleds we know today come in.

Monday, 21 January 2013

and so it came

Well after several days of everywhere else in the country having snow, we woke to a blanket.

I love the sight of a fresh snow fall. Everything seems brighter, sharper and clean! I almost felt guilty for making fresh footprints.

My running is going well. It's almost second nature now, I wake I run!! I enjoy the extra energy it gives me and the freedom. The sound of my feet against the pavement is almost like another heartbeat.

My weight is starting to reduce to which is an added bonus.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Busy bee

I'm sorry I've not posted anything for a few days. I've had such a hectic week with lots to tell you.

Firstly Galaxy is making a speedy recovery. The vets are pleased with her progress and she's enjoying our long walks again. To date we still haven't heard from the insurance company about our claim. Hopefully no news is good news and they will pay out.

Now to me, I started the couch to 5k training programme just over a week ago and I feel fantastic. I've still got a long way to go with my training but I've definitely got the bug. I've even upped my game to couch to 10k and I'm hoping to run the Manchester 10k in May.

I love the freedom the solitude. Just me and my music (oh and galaxy near by). I'm not confident enough to road run yet, my local park is my setting and I'm having great fun!

Eventually I want to lose weight (I've got plenty to shift) but that's not my goal. My clothes are already starting to feel baggy so it must be working.

Onto my finances, with an unexpected trip to London we have spent £200 that we planned to pay off our debts. It's a slip up but something we both needed. We have returned optimistic and determined. I know this will be a good year for us.

Another totally unexpected event was that I got to 'chat' to my new friend on windows live. My perfect stranger. He's currently serving out in Afghanistan and it was wonderful to know his spirits were high and he's doing ok. I sometimes forget how difficult it must be for our Armed forces being away from family and friends. We usually exchange emails once or twice a week, a modern Pen Friend. I chat to him about stuff that's happening back in the UK (the weather is a hot top at the min) and he uses our emails as a sounding board to express his thoughts of being over in Helmand. It's almost like therapy really as there is very little to no chance of ever bumping into one another.

Our armed forces do a fantastic job and I wish them all a safe tour and speedy return home.

So, the weather? Everyone else in the country seems to be battling with the snow, guess what? We've not got any. Well not anything proper, just a fine dusting that melts as quickly as it lands. My hopes for a snow day have been dashed, but on a brighter note the lack of the white stuff as helped me stick to my running.

So for now I will say goodbye. I promise ill be back soon with more tales to tell.
Make sure you all stay safe and wrap up warm.

Nicola xx

Saturday, 12 January 2013

An afternoon walk

I thought I would share a few photographs of one of my favourite places local to me, Healey Dell Nature Reserve.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Couch to 5K

So this year is all about rediscovering myself, reducing my debt and most of all living!!
One thing I've always fantasised about doing is sticking on a pair on running shoes, head phones with my favourite tracks playing and just going for a run without feeling like I'm going to die.

After careful consideration and research I've decided to embark on the couch to 5K challenge. This programme endorsed by the NHS gives you programmes to follow to enable to you to build up to a 5k none stop run. All the literature suggests that it can be done in 8-9 weeks, so I'm going to give it a go.

Last night i hunted out my running shoes, sports bra and earphones and set my alarm for 5am.
to be honest I'm usually up and about then anyway. I walk the dog most mornings between 5:30 and 6am so it wasn't a big deal.

arranging time for exercise i can do alone, tends to be difficult. I have issues with childcare, so i have to plan to squeeze it in when the OH and kids are still in bed. Early mornings seem to be the perfect time.

So as planned i braved the crisp morning air and ventured outside.

Day 1 Week 1

The 20minute programme involved a 5minute walking warm up, then 15 minutes of 1 min run + 1.5 min walk 6 times. Followed by a 5 minute cool down including stretches.

Thankfully its wasn't as difficult as i thought it would be and although it left me warm sweaty and slightly breathless, i didn't want to curl over and die.

Top Tip (can't remember who told me) to stay in the fat burning zone, when completing exercises to prevent over breathing, keep your mouth closed and breath through your nose. It definitely makes a difference because i do seem to sweat more (maybe too much info).

So after my 1st attempt i feel good, i may regret it tomorrow when i cant move, but watch this space.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Make it happen

After feeling pretty rubbish for the past couple of days today my mood is finally improving.
I've managed to get through the day without the urge to shop.
Although I haven't needed to buy anything for a couple of days, I've still felt the need to buy, everything, anything.

This episode of very limited funds has shown me I can do it. I can reduce my spending and reduce my debts.

After a difficult day at work I would normally come home and ring for a takeaway. But instead I raided my store cupboard and rustled up a healthy cheap meal of bacon mushroom tomato pasta.
From cupboard to table in 25mins, quicker, healthier and so much cheaper than a takeaway.

Here is what I did:
Chopped 2 small onions
3 cloves of Garlic
Handful of mushrooms chopped
4 rashers of smoked bacon diced
300ml approx of Pasata
Olive oil
Salt & Ground pepper to season
Pinch of sugar
Left over red wine (3 ice cubes) optional

Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil to soften. Add bacon and mushrooms. Once soften pour Pasata and add ice cubes.

Bring to boil then reduce to cook off alcohol.

Season to taste along with a pinch of salt.

To add a bit of a kick I added a couple of splashes of Tabasco sauce.

Simmer away until reduced and thick, stir into cooked pasta. I made enough sauce to serve 4.

Wine ice cubes? I've done this for years and I'm not sure where I read it. Not that I drink a lot of wine, but if I do have any left over, I freeze into ice cube trays. Then when I making anything like casseroles or pasta dishes I pop a couple in for added flavour.

I can do this, I can make things happen!


Roll on the 15th when the OH gets paid.
Up until Galaxy having her operation we where doing well. Since then I've had to raid our money jar to buy bread and a few other essentials.

If nothing, this past week as made me more determined to get rid of my debts and save.

On a brighter note I know I can manage without spending money. We have fuel in the car and food in the cupboards. The bills are paid and we're realising we don't need to buy stuff.

When we do have some money in our account I'll need to stock up on a few things but I'm going to try my hardest to put every penny into paying our debts off.

Baby steps and i will get there, this cold turkey is too difficult

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Officer down

I woke this morning to hear reports that a Police officer had been killed whilst responding to a 999 call.

PC Andy Bramma (32) was a serving officer in North Yorkshire who had recently transferred from Greater Manchester Police. Colleagues have paid tribute saying he was an outstanding officer who was dedicated to serving the public. May he Rest In Peace.

The passing of anyone is a sad occasion. Those who are left behind suffer the pain, the loss,the grief. No one knows if they will see tomorrow, nothing is certain. Death is all part of life, a natural circle.

When my OH left for his shift earlier, I made sure he knew I loved him. As I kissed my girls goodnight and settled them down to sleep, I told them that I loved them.

Life is precious but extremely fragile and short. However, it doesn't have to be limitless.
There are only two guarantees in life, you are born and you will die. These things are insignificant really, it's the events that happen in between that define us, that make it count.

So love freely, spend as much time with your children as they can stand and never be afraid to dance in the rain, for tomorrow may never come.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Back to normal

Well normality will hopefully return to our lives tomorrow. The girls finally return to school.

For me, this means two things; returning to strict routines and being extremely busy.

So today will be spent, sorting uniforms, packing school bags and making sure I've got supplies for packed lunches.

I had planned on going food shopping yesterday, but Galaxy wasn't well enough to be left alone. So it's on my to do list for today.

We had discussed allowing the girls to go onto school dinners for the winter months, I liked the idea of them having a hot meal during the day, but the cost of two children on school meals per month is approximately £78.

I know I can feed both my girls a healthy nutritious lunch for a fraction of that cost.
Introducing food flasks was suggested. This will enable them to take soup, stew or pasta in for lunch, but I'm not sure how it would be received by the school. I'll add it to my list of jobs for next week.

My food shop this week will have to be very frugal. After receiving the vet bill of £910 (which may not be covered by insurance) eating meals constructed of store cupboard supplies and eating from the freezer will be required.

Childcare costs will also resume this week, I'm still waiting on Decembers invoice yet. Luckily the OH shift rota reduces the number of days the girls need to be aftercare this next two weeks, so saving a little extra there.

So with normality just over the horizon, wish me luck, I know it's going to be a big shock to the system.


Well it's been a traumatic 18 hours, our beloved dog Galaxy had to undergo emergency life saving surgery last night.

Thankfully she made it through, but it's going to be a long road to recovery.

My budgeting skills will definitely need to be put to good use over the next few months, as it looks like we may not be covered on her pet insurance.

With a bill so far at around £1000 (with extra costs to incur) there will be no treats or luxuries for awhile.

The alternative to not having the surgery was too painful to consider. We decided if she could have quality of life we would do what we could.

Galaxy is my first baby, we brought her into our lives when we first moved into our house. After last night, I don't to consider our home without her.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Restricting what I blog

Before I continue with my blog I've got re evaluate the content I post (much to my dislike)

Fellow bloggers have inspired me to take control of my life, my finances and change my view on things.
You have been honest and open about your challenges, fears and aspirations.
When I started this blog, that was also my intention. However my OH is not as comfortable with some of my posts.

He has requested I remove the post about our finances. I have to respect his wishes and so I have done as he asked.

I will still continue to blog my journey, sharing tips, successes and failures. But I can't post anything that is too personal to my family. I probably won't mention him in posts again.

I hope you understand, this blog was for me, but along the short path I have travelled I managed to kick up some dust that needs to settle.

Blogging will resume as normal tomorrow.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Time out

After my stressful day (not resolved yet)
all I needed was a hot bubble bath, candles and the voice of Otis Redding to relax me.


Every silver lining has a cloud

Just when I thought things where finally looking up, something comes along to take the wind from my sails.

My 2013 challenges are going great, I've not spent any money since 27th December (bus fare doesn't count) and even after all the bills of Christmas have been paid, we have enough money left until pay day to survive and pay extra off our credit card.

Then comes the blow....
I return to work today to be informed we are relocating at the end of the month. This wouldn't be a problem if it didn't increase my commute time to 1.5 hours. Now I know that may not seem to drastic for some, but for me it's the tip of the iceberg. The major issue I have is that it affects childcare.
I don't have the luxury of family support to help with regular childcare, so I rely on afterschool and holiday clubs. Our primary school only accommodates children until 5:15.

At the moment I work 2 miles away from school and with public transport I can be there in 25mins. I just take the time from my lunch break. No issues, the boss is happy. In order to get to school on time I will have to leave the new place at 3:45pm to make it in time. This isn't going to work.

What are my options?

I can't afford another car.
My OH can't rely on public transport if he finishes at 3am, so no family car for me.
It's too far to cycle and time consuming
Changing childcare is almost impossible for two children in my area.
I can't afford to give up work or reduce my hours to part time.

I feel like banging my head against a wall!
Why is it so difficult being a working Mum?

Think I'm going to have an early night and sleep on it. Hopefully a miracle will happen overnight.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Beginnings

So the sun as risen on the first day of 2013.

Opening my eyes this morning I felt slightly excited with the challenges I've set myself for the coming year. I'm not calling them resolutions. So much pressure is placed upon the very word. I have a fresh start, new page or blank canvas to do as I wish.

Hopefully this year will lead to a new way of thinking and a new way of life.

The OH survived the nightshift and is safely sleeping upstairs. My girls are happily playing with gifts from Christmas.
I have ham roasting in the oven for our evening meal, what more do I need.

I'm back at work tomorrow, so I'm just sorting my work clothes out. I have a pair of trousers that the hem needs stitching (make do and mend)

The radio is playing in the background and I feel content. I know it's only early but 2013 as been good to me so far. Long may it continue.