Six on Saturday 28th September

It feels like a very long time since I did a Six on Saturday. I was away on holiday in Spain for a week, and then I had a day to catch up, then had to jet straight back off to Spain for a work trip, then it was my birthday the day after I got back, so it feels like I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks. It felt really luxurious to have a lie in this morning.

The weather at home while we were on holiday was pretty good so the garden didn’t look too bad when we got back, but then while I was away for work there was a day of heavy downpours and, going by the look of my bistro ……

…… it was somewhat windy too! Unfortunately my leaf blower died on me last time I used it, so I may have to sort this out longhand (so to speak!)

Anyway, on to today’s Six. Don’t forget to pop over to the Propagator’s blog if you want to check out more Sixes.

Number one.

I’m far too embarrassed by the state of our front garden to show you the whole thing – suffice it to say, there’s somewhat of a dandelion party going on! I would like to show you my Hydrangea though.

This was an acquisition earlier this Summer from the sale table at Notcutts and it’s done really well. I wanted something that will grow quite big so it’ll take up lots of space and make maintaining the front a bit easier (hopefully!) so I jumped at this as soon as I saw it. Its flowers have been the palest of green through the Summer, but now they’re morphing into this beautiful pink.

Number two.

Into the back garden for the rest of my points, and I think I’ll start with my Sunflower which is almost properly open.

I was worried it would open while we were on holiday, and then while I was away for work, but it’s held on to save the best for my return. Probably tomorrow or Monday it’ll be at its full glory.

Just to give you an idea of how tall it’s grown, that’s the top of my head, and I’m five foot four. I’ll measure it later, but it’s got to be eight feet tall.

Number three.

The Coleus and Eupatorium cuttings in the greenhouse look to be doing quite well.

The purple Coleus and the Eupatorium are both starting to grow new leaves, which seems like it should be a good sign, but as this is my first time taking cuttings I might be wrong! Hopefully they’re growing roots as well as leaves. Maybe I should pinch the new leaves out so they focus purely on the roots. Any words of wisdom on this?

The red Coleus doesn’t look as happy, but I found the slithery perpetrator of that nibbled leaf still in the pot, so that explains it! He got unceremoniously chucked up the garden!

Number four.

I’ve still got some veg on the go.

Charlotte potatoes which have started to sprout nicely. I’ll get out later to cover as much as I can with compost to try to encourage more spuds. These are supposed to be ready for our Christmas lunch.

There’s a few leeks growing as well. These were supposed to be ready in October, but they look a way off yet, so maybe we’ll be able to have these for Christmas lunch too in a nice cheese sauce. Yum!

Number five.

The plants that continue to delight through Autumn are coming into their own.

The Eupatorium is starting to flower. They look pink to start off with and then when they open they’re a lovely bright white.

The Heather is showing off beautiful bright colours ….

…. as is the Cyclamen.

Finally the Callicarpa Bodinieri is starting to grow its purple berries, which is precisely why I bought one after falling in love with the berries this time last year.

Number six.

The trusty Cosmos.

Still going strong, as you can see.

The poor things are in desperate need of some deadheading though so I’ll do that over the weekend to try to prolong their pretty blooms.

That’s it then for this week. I’m off to the shops soon on a birthday shopping trip so no doubt I’ll tell you all about that soon.

Have a great weekend folks!

Six of Saturday 17th August

I missed last Saturday’s Six because I just had to tell you about the hedgehog rescue and subsequent camera purchase instead. It was still garden related, but not a Six.

I’m afraid I’m going to inflict a couple of photos of yours truly on you this week, just because I was so pleased with my success that I had to take selfies to mark the fact that I. Grew. These! Obviously the sun and rain and photosynthesis had a part to play blah blah blah, but I grew these!

So, what shall I start with for number one *scrolls through phone to check photos*. I think carrots.

Apologies for the lack of make up – I find the plants and other inhabitants of my garden aren’t fussed whether I’ve made an effort or not (in fact, the mozzies can’t get enough of me!) As an aside, I don’t know if it’s the angle of that photo, but my décolletage looks bony and I have cheekbones. Whoop – thank you Slimming World! Another stone to go …. ish.

Anyway, carrots! They’re not massive carrots, but they’re Nantes 5 seeds which I think are supposed to produce smallish carrots. Apparently they’re supposed to be early carrots, but I, being inherently impatient, thought they took AGES to grow. I don’t think I thinned them enough because some are hardly developed at all. There’s a good lot in the bed still growing so hopefully they’ll get a bit bigger now I’ve made space.

Straight on to the second selfie for number two.

Blueberries! This is the third Summer I’ve had this blueberry bush and it’s the first time it’s cropped! Oh happy happy day. When I bought it, it had three blueberries already on it, and that was it for that year. Last year it grew lots and lots of green berries, but they never matured into blueberries. This year it got all the green berries again and I thought that was all I’d get again, but they ripened into all these lovely, juicy blueberries. Hooray! These babies will be going in my overnight oats next week. Yummy antioxidants.

No more selfies today, I promise!

Number three is my tomato plants.

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These are supposed to be stripy tomatoes, but they don’t seem to be doing much of anything yet. Everyone else I know who grows tomato plants has had loads of fruit already, but my plants don’t even have any flowers yet! The stems are very thin too so I’m not even sure they’ll be able to support fruit. Staking will be in order if they get that far. The weather seems to be rapidly getting colder so I’m not hopeful for these. I don’t even like tomatoes, but I just wanted to grow one stripy tomato!

Continuing on the edible theme for number four – is this an olive starting to grow on my olive tree?

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There are a couple of these that I’ve only noticed today. I didn’t think the tree would fruit in this country, preferring a Greek climate (quite sensibly, I feel, so do I!) but it’s definitely doing something. Maybe it’s just some random berry.

Number five is rocket.

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Doesn’t look much like rocket at the moment because the seedlings still have their cotyledons but some of them are starting to grow their true leaves. I only sowed these seeds a couple of weeks ago because Adam Frost, when he was standing in for Monty on Gardeners’ World, said it wasn’t too late, so I thought I’d have a go.

For my sixth, and final point I’m going to leave the fruit and veg and show you my patio bed. This is the one I created back in the Spring to cover a weird gap in our patio.

This is what it looked like in March …

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… and here’s what it looks like now.

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I think I need to compare those side by side.

Wow! I didn’t realise how much the Hebes had grown, and I didn’t think the Cordyline had grown very much at all. I knew the Stipa Ponytails had, but wow (again) I’d forgotten how little they were. These were one of the best bargains I’ve found for the garden. They were 50p each in B&Q last year, but they’ve thrived in our garden (despite being kept in their pots for almost a year!) There were loads of them on sale for 50p but I could only carry two. I so wish I’d gone back and bought, like, ten! I love how willowy and wafty they are.

I did some more planting out today so there’s hardly anything left in my waiting bay now – I’ll have to do my rounds of the garden centres to restock! Maybe I’ll be able to show you that next week. If you’re interested to read any other Sixes, check out the Propagator’s blog.

TTFN.

Our first harvest!

Oh botheration! It’s raining! This is, of course, well needed and good for the garden, but why does it have to come at the weekend and not while I’m stuck inside an office?  I managed approximately ten minutes in the garden this morning before it started coming down too heavily to contemplate staying out there. Let’s hope tomorrow is better.

I did manage to get my first haul (haul may be a slight exaggeration but I’m sticking with it) of produce from the garden in those ten minutes.

Whoop! Homegrown goodness! The strawberries are from my three plants that I’ve had in a pot for a couple of years now. I’m still having no luck with the new plants in the raised bed. I’m going to put straw underneath them to see if that’ll deter the slugs, or whatever it is that’s eating them.

The potatoes are Maris Peers. I have three different types of potatoes in three bags up by the greenhouse, and while all three have (or had, in the case of the Maris Peers) humongous stems and leaves sprouting out of the top, the Maris Peers are the only ones which have flowered. They all got really battered in the heavy rain we had a couple of weeks ago so now I don’t really know what to expect from the other two bags.

I’d been waiting for some of our own potatoes before trying a recipe from my Pinch of Nom cookbook that I’ve been drawling over for a while. Pinch of Nom is amazing and is helping me immeasurably with Slimming World. It’s not strictly aimed at followers of any particular diet plan but is full of lower fat/calorie dishes and alternatives for people who are watching their weight.

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Bacon, onion and potato bake. Doesn’t it look yummy? It’s completely Syn free on Slimming World as long as you use bacon medallions (or cut any excess fat off) and count the cheese on top as part of your healthy extra A.

My version looked a bit different!

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Not a million miles off though, and it tasted delicious!

I had some potatoes left over, and certainly didn’t want to waste any after growing them myself, so I made my own version of the bacon and onion frittata from the cookbook.

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We can have this cold for lunch tomorrow. I’m supposed to fill one third of my plate with speed food (most fruit and veg) so I could do with serving this with some salad but unfortunately we don’t have any in! Maybe I’ll have some carrot sticks.

I whipped up some dessert so we could have our massive crop of five strawberries! I’d seen people talk about this in the Pinch of Nom Facebook group and decided to give it a go.

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Game changer! It’s so simple, yet tastes like a proper indulgent pudding. It’s just a couple of spoonfuls of quark mixed with an Options mint hot chocolate sachet (one Syn for half) and put in the fridge for a while. Obviously the strawberries made it!

Speaking of food, we had our first barbecue of the season last night. Slimming World friendly for me, obviously!

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We have the smallest barbecue in the world! It does for us though. I am quite tempted to invest in a gas one but can’t decide if it’s worth it.

My burgers were the anaemic looking ones at the back. I went to Tesco to get their meat free burgers because they have no Syns. Quorn burgers are two and a half Syns for some reason. I’m not vegetarian (obviously, given the bacon in my lunch) but I’m not a meat lover, especially red meat, so I’m more than happy to have veggie burgers, and it’s a bonus that they’re less Syns.

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Look at that! Double decker burger! On a diet! Look at Minnie sneakily eying it up!

I added cheese from my healthy extra A and I made a Syn free sauce with fat free natural yoghurt, mint and garlic. The barbecue was an impromptu decision so I’d already had my healthy extra B for breakfast, which meant I had to count the Syns in the bread roll but if I’d been more organised I could’ve had a wholemeal roll and counted it as my B option which would mean the whole thing was free!

I made some pasta salad to have with my sausages so I didn’t have to use more Syns on bread.

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The sausages are Linda McCartney veggie ones which are yummy. Much nicer than Quorn ones. I would’ve loved to have a couple of hubby’s real sausages but it’s a small sacrifice to make if I continue to lose weight. I tried to keep the Syns down by mixing the pasta with quark and fat free natural yoghurt instead of mayo, but I think next time I’ll use lighter than light mayo and Syn it.

I’m not losing weight super fast, but, as they say, slow and steady wins the race. Let’s hope so. Having switched from WW to Slimming World this time around, I feel like Slimming World is more sustainable. The diet gurus all say that you need to change your habits forever to keep the weight off and with WW that seems really restrictive and life altering to maintain forever because of the nature of the plan, whereas Slimming World is more flexible. We’ve had some really delicious meals which I would be happy to eat over and over again so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to stay on plan and that maintaining will be possible once I get to goal.

Support is crucial to anyone trying to lose weight. My hubby has no issue with weight, and he doesn’t put any pressure on me to change the way I look, but he knows it’s important to me so he tries to help as much as he can.

It used to be that you had to go to a diet group once a week to get external support, but these days social media plays a huge role. Writing about my weight loss journey (gosh that’s cliched!) on my blog and posting on Instagram is helpful to me, but there are millions of people on Instagram who post every meal they eat and give the recipes which helps to inspire me and give me new ideas. As I mentioned above, there’s a Pinch of Nom group on Facebook and most members seem to be following Slimming World so it’s a great community of like minded people sharing tips and tricks which are really helpful.

Let’s hope in a few months I’ll be able to report that I’m at target and planning to stay there forever! Right now, it’s nearly time for a takeaway – all counted and within plan, obviously!