Saturday, 15 February 2020

Kitchen Refit

As I've mentioned, we've recently had our kitchen refitted.  We have been without a kitchen for the past week and a half, but it has definitely been worth it!

Our old kitchen was the original one that came with the house (early 2000s), and though it didn't look too bad - despite the colour which I wasn't fond of - it really was badly planned.

Our old kitchen
Firstly, there was hardly any storage.  the largest cupboard in the top corner near the sink houses the boiler.  All the corner cupboards were split in two, and the largest space has the smallest doors; either you couldn't fit the item in the cupboard itself, or it would fit, but you can't get it through the door.  We added some shelves at the end, which we put on many jars and things, but really we wanted some fitted cupboards under the staircase there, that would hide away the mess whilst maximising space.

Secondly, the double oven (which needed the seals and the heating elements replaced anyway), had two ovens the exact same size.  What's the point in that? I'd much rather have a small oven for day-to-day use, and a larger oven when needed for Christmas, or dinner parties or whatever.  Not that I host dinner parties, but maybe with a decent kitchen I will?

Thirdly, there wasn't a lot of worktop space.  I know it looks like there is, because the kitchen is empty in that picture.  Usually, however, the end with the washing machine is full, holding the microwave, steamer, food-processor, [non George] grill, toaster etc etc etc.  The area to the left of the sink held my rubber tree, and general crap (bin bags, pens, hair bands, miscellaneous rubbish), the right of the sink held washing-up materials, flasks and the fruit bowl, and the side to the right of the oven held both my large slow cooker and my triple slow cooker.  If we wanted to bake, or do anything that required worktop space, we needed to use the dining table in the living room.

Initially we were looking to replace the doors on the existing cupboards, and get more cupboards at the washing machine end of the kitchen.  After getting quotes from various kitchen companies, we decided in the end to go with The Hedgehog Kitchen Company, a family run business consisting of a father and daughter team.  We discussed with them both what we were thinking and what we ideally would like from our kitchen, when we were able to have them in to do the work, and what our budget is. After taking measurements and making quick sketches, they quoted us for our ideal kitchen!  We would need to source a new oven and hob ourselves, and they would even fill in the hole in our ceiling where our immersion heater leaked last year!

Work in Progress

The work finally started last week.  The hardest thing was emptying the kitchen - who knew we had so much stuff?!  At least it gives us a chance to de-clutter and see what we really need. At the end of each day I took a photo of the work that had been completed, so we could see the progress that was being made.

We kept the same basic layout and the floor tiles, but that was about it.  We went for white cupboards, with sparkly black worktops and matching sparkly white splash-backs.  New double oven, with different sized ovens(!), we changed a gas hob for an induction hob (so now I'm excitedly looking for new pots and pans), and we got a stainless steel chimney to match.  The fridge-freezer was moved to the far end, the fridge from the conservatory moved back into the kitchen and deep cupboards were built around them in the space under the stairs.  The washing machine was moved next to the dishwasher, and the worktop extended.  Finally, new cupboard carcasses (not just doors) were put in around the oven, so that they can open wide to enable large items, like the slow cooker, being able to be put in them.

This is not to say it has all be plain sailing!

Because we were changing to an induction hob, we were advised to get an electrician in to check the power supply as both the hob and oven need to be hardwired in.  We did that and were told that, thankfully, our supply was sufficient, and could run off the existing fuse.  However, when the oven and hob were due to be fitted it was clear that the power supply was not enough, and we'd only be able to use one at a time - not ideal!  We were offered the chance to go back to our electrician to get him to fix it, but we decided it was probably better to use their electrician of choice since he knows more about it.  (An added bonus, this electrician lives near us, so we can use him in future!)

Then the "under counter" oven we chose didn't leave a space for the hob.  Even if we had kept a gas stove, there would not be space for the pipe to supply the gas.  So, the whole oven has had to be lowered to allow the hob to sit on top.  The base of the oven will now be slightly lower than the adjacent cupboards and there's an aluminium strip to fill the gap at the top.  I'm not too fussy, so I'm happy with this compromise. 

Then the oven itself was an arse to fit.  I stayed in the living room, but could definitely hear the trouble that was being had in trying to get it fitted, lol.  There were the wrong wires (that a different fitter may not have noticed, so could have caused a fire), that were also too short to fit easily, and the whole thing was just being difficult.  But it got fixed in the end and looks good.

This is our finished kitchen - at least as far as the refit is concerned.  We are going to repaint the kitchen, add some shelving units to the walls above the radiator and buy some new pots and pans, but we can take our time doing that. When that is finished I will do a quick update, so you all can see it fully decorated, but I am so happy with how it looks right now.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Weekly Update Y2w6.5

An early weekly update today, as I'm away at a dance festival next week and won't have my laptop with me.  I will be taking my scales, so I can keep monitoring things, but won't be posting anything online.

Despite still not having a kitchen - they're due to finish today, wahoo!!! - and in spite of eating too many McDonald's' this week, I am losing weight again!  I have discovered that my stomach is satisfied eating a McChicken Sandwich and a regular Cappucino (not full - I could eat a helluva lot more if I wanted to - but this would see me through to dinner) and it only comes in at 448kCals, so is a reasonable lunch.  Nutrition-wise it's not the best admittedly, but in the short-term, it is helping me keep on top of my weightloss goals, and my graph looks pretty (ie sloping downwards) again!

Next week, we're in a caravan, so will be able to cook our own foods, and eating out a few times (whether that be picking up a sandwich or eating in a pub/restaurant), so I still need to be mindful about what I'm eating, and make sensible choices.  Hopefully with a bit more nutrition than what I've been eating this week.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Rose of Prophesy by Hope Ann

This is another book I read because I bought it at some point and I'm working through the books in my account before buying more.  What I hadn't realised before I read it was that this was a novella, nor that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

This book seems to be no longer available on Amazon, so here is the blurb from goodreads:
She is afraid. Not because she is alone. Not because thick roiling clouds obscure the moon. Not because the wind rushes through the forest like a wild dragon. She is afraid because she is late. And to be late means death.

Her life had been happy once.

Despite the destruction wreaked by Tauscher, traitor to the King. Despite the distant war led by the Prince and fought with the help of her three brothers. Despite her own poorly-chosen nickname of Beauty, she'd enjoyed life.

Of course, that was also before her father left home on a hopeful errand but returned weary and ill, bearing a velvety scarlet rose which he claimed would never wither. But even life in the ancient hall, tucked away in the center of Mosswood, surrounded by roses of every description, overshadowed with mystery and home to a scarred figure who was more beast than man, wasn't too bad after a time.

But, in a flash of light, Beauty finally glimpses the truth. And the cost. The price which must be paid, or the sacrifice which must be made.

It is a curse which even love alone may not be able to break.
So, not realising when it started it was based on Beauty and The Beast, the fact that the protagonist's nickname is "Beauty" didn't give it away for me, nor the fact she asked her father for a rose - duh!  There was enough story around these elements that it felt totally natural.  (I did 'get' it, by the time we met the Beast, I'm not totally silly!)

For being book 1 in the series, I thought there was not enough background to the thing between the Prince and Tauscher.  There was also a reference that I totally didn't understand - the Stieg Der.  Always written in italics, and never explained.  I don't even know what it means (a quick google was no help).  Having finished the book, and noticing there is some Christian allegory to this retelling (though it is not overt, so I other than a Bible reference on the very last page, it won't 'ruin it' for non-Christian readers, but is an interesting twist) it's something to do with The Fall: 'stieg' is the past tense of 'steigen' in German, where 'steigen' means 'to climb'.  So is it a play on words, rather than The Climb (Der Aufsteig), to illustrate the fall, the words have been place backwards (Stieg Der)? I don't know.

Other than that, however, I enjoyed the book.  At 78 pages it is very short (Kindle estimates it will only take an hour to read) and if you enjoy retellings of classic fairy tales then you will enjoy this book.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Weekly Update Y2w6

So, I haven't lost weight since I've been home.  Actually, that's a slight lie, as I did initially lose weight, and then have piled it back on again.  I'm no longer below 94kilos.

My excuse defence is that we're getting our kitchen done at the moment, so have been without a hob for a few days, and are still without an oven, so we've had to eat a lot of pre-made meals and takeaways.  Added to that, it probably didn't help that I ate a whole packet of biscuits by myself on Friday morning, before going out with a meal with my husband that night (the rare Friday nights we have free are date night, as both girls are dancing until 9pm!), meeting up with friends from uni for a meal on the Saturday, and we had a family day on Sunday which involved a meal out, after which I went to Afternoon Tea with ladies from church, and had more than one slice of cake...  But it's probably the fault of not having a fully working kitchen, lol.

On the positive side, and yes I can still see a positive side, my kitchen is looking good so far, and I'm looking forward to cooking in there again.  And my weight does bump up and down fairly frequently, so I'm not giving up, but taking it on the chin and I know my weight will come down again soon.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Weekly Update Y2w5

Just a quick update today as I need to take DD2 to her science club.  I'm still losing weight!
I did put on weight over the weekend, as we were celebrating my mum's 60th birthday, but not as much as I was expecting and I'm still below 94kilos - hurrah!
I'm confident that I can start to lose weight again now I'm home. <fingers crossed>

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Keen-eyed readers may notice that I've already done a review of this book with this picture.  That was a summary of the whole series (albeit with the blurb from this book) done from memory as I do really like these books.

This time, however, I was recommending this book to someone and because it's been a long time since I have read them, I have decided to reread them, not only to refresh myself of the story, but also to see the story now that I know how it ends.  (Don't worry, no spoilers here!)

I am not disappointed!  It's amazing how much detail there is in the book that I hadn't noticed the first time through.  There are hints as to what is ahead, both the short-term and also longer-term in other books of the series; and all the riddles and deciphering of old texts make perfect sense.

I read this book in just a few days (eight to be exact, according to goodreads) and even though I knew what was coming, I couldn't put it down.  There was much more packed into this first book than I remembered, and even though I remembered the overarching story, there were some details (eg about Nosy) that I had forgotten.

If you enjoy reading fiction, this book is for you.  It's filled with drama, twists, hierarchical society, battles, raiders, royalty, assassinations, love, honour and a smattering of magic.  Even though I intended to alternate between rereading this series and reading new (to me) fiction, I've already started on book 2 because it is so gripping.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Weekly Update Y2w4

I'm really happy with my weightloss this week!  It's not a lot - I've lost more in previous weeks - but it is consistent.  And I haven't been depriving myself, just trying to be more mindful about what I put into my mouth.

I have even eaten our this week (and chose a starter with a side, because I didn't need to have a main course), went out drinking with a friend (and chose to have spritzers, rather than just alcohol), had puddings at home and eaten chocolates (which I've shared with family). I think this mindfulness is probably the key to long term weightloss.

I have had 'bad days' in between too - on Saturday I was absolutely starving, to the point of feeling sick.  I had planned to go straight home after taking DD2 dancing and make myself a big bowl of porridge, but I couldn't manage it, and had to stop in Aldi to get some food (I needed to buy the girls lunch anyway).  I ate half my sandwich in the car, so I was able to drive home.  Then when home, I ate the other half and the popcorn I had bought for myself.  That's probably when I should have stopped, but I also ate 2 sausage rolls (200kcals each - who knew!?), half a packet of cookies and had a yoghurt.  One mistake (meal!) doesn't mean the day is a write-off, and I brought it back at dinner time, simply having some prawn party food.  I didn't need to eat anything more!

Because I'm feeling good about losing weight today, I decided to look ahead and see what will happen if I continue losing weight at the same rate.  My current rate is 'slow' but I'm hoping that means that when it does all come off, I will have created enough good habits that it won't all pile straight back on again.  The main thing I need to watch is that when my weight stabilises for a while, or even if it increases for a few weeks, I don't give up altogether.  This is slow, but so worthwhile.

I have guestimated my rate of weightloss (roughly 1 kilo every 10 days), but looking at the top graph I think that's a fair estimation.  If I continue at that rate, I won't hit my target weightloss until the very end of the year.  So, it's the long game I'm playing and I need to keep that in the forefront of my mind.  But, if I do reach it at the end of the year, I'll be in a good place to arrange my mastectomy and still get it done before I turn 40.