My debut fantasy novel, The Archguardians of Laceria, is now available in paperback, and in all ebookstores!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

30 Day Shred - Level 2

   What confidence I had in level 1 was certainly set back in line during level 2. I first used the 30 Day Shred 3 years ago - it was my first 'real' workout - and since then I have bought, used and worn down almost every Jillian Michaels DVD there is. So, I figured that going back to my roots, to where my efforts for fat loss turned into a passion for movement and fitness, would be a piece of cake - forgive the inappropriate pun - if 2014 Kim could do it, 2017 Kim could blow it out of the water.
   And while I used level 1, which I gave only a week's use with the intention of putting a little more time into level 2 and 3, that was certainly the case. Jumping jacks, crunches, chest flyes - no problem for experience, right? And, actually, a pretty damn good place to start for those new to it. In short, it was clear how I was able to stick to it that first time around. Had I started with any other Jillian Michaels workout, I'd have certainly been frightened off.
   That's not to say that I didn't give level 1 my all; I chose the heaviest weights I could manage, I made deeper ranges of motion and moved faster, and that did the job. I made sure level 1 was still a challenge - I even gave the jumping jacks Tabata speed (personally, that's 28 jumping jacks in 20 seconds; my record is 30).

   Level 2, however...not quite the same story. The moves that made up level 1 were easy for beginners, but also easy to modify for advanced. The moves that made up level 2, however - not so easy. That was in part because the movements were those I'm not used to, that aren't hard enought to make it into other DVDs but not easy enough to make it into others, and when workouts are split into levels, the movements are grouped up and many simply just don't quite make the cut, be it for variety or because there's another move that will do the job just that little bit better, or is perhaps a bit more adaptable.
   Anyway, my point is, I struggled, and that continued into the second week despite having been put quite firmly in my place on the first and second day. So I'm sure it wasn't just overconfidence. And that was kind of nice. Yes, I was still pushing through with deeper movements and bigger weights - weights I didn't even own 3 years ago - and not once did I drop down.
   If I'm honest, it was the shoulders that hurt the most. It was brutal. Shoulder presses, V-raises, plank jacks and plank twists - not so bad on their own, but when performed in the same circuit, ouch. It was awful. The only mercy came with the double jump rope between the jacks and twists. But in hindsight, I realised that my shoulders rarely get worked, and they're such small muscles anyway (I had to use my 1.5kgs, while I use 4kg for most else), so it was actually kind of nice. In a very obscure, masochistic sort of way. With every painful raise, I knew I was doing good, improving a part of my body that had lagged behind the rest. My legs are strong because I always favour lower body workouts over upper body (bigger muscle groups = greater calorie burn; equating to greater fat burn while building more shapely legs and bum), and my upper body isn't what it could be. But even then, I realise my shoulders don't get much of a look in even then.

   Anyway, I begin level 3 tomorrow, and after being taken down several pegs in level 2, I'm nervous. But 2014 Kim managed it, so I certainly can now.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Friday Favourites

This week has been pretty good, if I'm honest. I've been writing diligently and loving every moment of it, I'm already very comfortable in the book (though I suppose that's to be expected as it's the second of a duology), and I'm feeling really quite energised by it.
Seeg has also been playing Starbound lately, a new and immense sandbox game, and I've been really enjoying the soundtrack. I've been pulling out a foldable camping chair, lining it in pillows and blankets and just parking myself next to his computer to watch and listen while I work. It's not at all distracting, and I'm actually getting really good work done in the process. Better than when he plays The Last Of Us or something equally as enthralling, for obvious reasons!
So it's only natural that its soundtrack made it into this week's favourites - as well as some fantasy reading button badges from one of my favourite artists, which I need, and a new slouchy hoodie I've been living in since the weather's turned colder! I can't wait for winter ♥

Reading buttons by The Picsees   ♥  Graze's Sweet & Smoky Carrot Crunch
Starbound soundtrack   ♥   Mantaris burnout hoody by ElleSport

Monday, 7 August 2017

I Think I'm Ready For Book Two!

   After 11 weeks rigidly redrafting my last book, the first of two, I called it more or less done on July 10th, which I announced with my very first vlog. Since then I have had my nose glued instead to notebooks and text files putting together the plan for the next. This usually takes a long time, but as this isn't a new story - new world, new characters, new plot - it was much easier because most things were already established. Though the plot does take a sudden 180 at the end of the first book, so there was still a lot to work out and it does feel like a new story, but the technical bits that take the longest were done years ago.

   I admit, I'm daunted, but only because it matters to me. I know I can do it, and do it well enough, and I'm very confident in the direction of the story, the revelations and the ending itself. It's just a big undertaking, and with the first half of the story already done, I worry I might forget something, a small but ultimately significant detail. I'm trying not to get in my head about it because that will just make it harder to begin, and I'm so very excited to start. And as it's only been three and a half months, since April 20th, that I've not really written creatively, it shouldn't take long to find my feet again.

   I am just so excited, and frightened. But I want to get on with it! Especially since the first book has been put away for the time being until I'm at a comfortable place in this one. Only once I'm about half way through here can I submit the first to agents (and then, inevitably, self-publish).
   But I've kept myself on short reins. I've forced myself to take the past two days off (which I almost never, ever do - if I have time to chill, I have time to write), giving myself the chance for my mind to slow down as well as remember details that may have slipped past - while redrafting I made notes of details I encountered as I went to make sure they were addressed, just in case I forgot something (I didn't) - and watched Seeg play Last of Us for the fourth time. Rather conveniently, he finished the game 11pm last night, so I have no distractions this evening and I feel fully refreshed and raring to go.

   Wish me luck! I'm so excited!!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

30 Day Shred - Level 1

   Having used the 30 Day Shred once before in 2014, when I decided to revisit it this month I intended to give level 1 only one week of use, and level 2 and 3 two weeks each. This is generally what I do whenever I revisit a level-based workout because that first level rarely offers a challenge the second time around, aside from heavier weights and deeper squats. Even so, I never let my ego get too inflated which is why I still indulge that first level - but I didn't expect such ease from level 1
   The 30 Day Shred was the first proper workout I'd ever done. As I am now, I thought it would probably be a touch easier than most other Jillian Michaels workouts I've done since, though I will admit that part of the reason I picked it up t begin with, and stuck with it, was that someone I didn't like tried it and gave up quickly and I wanted to out-do her. But it was still a Jillian Michaels workout, so I also thought when I picked it back up this month that it wasn't going to be easy. I was quite looking forward to revisiting my roots.
   Well, I just gave level 1 its one week run, and on day one I couldn't believe how easy it was!
   Though, I suppose 'easy' is the wrong word. 'Tame' would be more appropriate. Because there were only two moves I found difficult: the first was squats with shoulder press, which was my own fault for underestimating and choosing heavier weights (though I didn't exchange them at all throughout level 1), and side lunges with anterior raises because anterior raises, like tuck jumps, are my weakness. Which is why I do them. Otherwise, push ups, chest flyes, jumping jacks, punches, basic crunches - it was easy. Three circuits of 2 strength moves, 2 cardio moves and 2 ab moves, it's no wonder I was able to stick with it. It was scary at the time, because before that all I'd really done was dance cardio, but in terms of building lean muscle and using compound moves with weights, it was the very best place I could have started.

   Don't misunderstand me. I find it tame because I've done a lot crazier and more intense stuff in the three years since I first used the 30 Day Shred, so I've grown a lot, but it's no wonder it didn't scare me off. The 30 Day Shred is a pretty good fitness DVD for beginners who are looking to tone up and get fit beyond just shedding a few pounds - a starting point for people looking to challenge themselves. That wasn't my intention at the time, of course, I just wanted to lose weight, but it grew into so much more because it forced me to push myself, but not too far beyond what I was actually capable of at the time - it just revealed to me what that was.

   I start level 2 tomorrow, and while I anticipate another tame workout, that's only because of the number of moves. The low number per circuit and low number of circuits prevents it from being intimidating while guaranteeing burn. Aside from that, though, I do expect it to get a bit more difficult because I don't remember what's involved, and also because level 1 was a little too easy...

   I'll update again in two weeks, when I've finished with level 2.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Friday Favourites

This hasn't been the best week, if I'm honest. Since Tuesday I've been feeling so very run down, very ill and as though I'm being dogged by a migraine. I've been on edge, and while I love Vikings and Last of Us, which Seeg has just begun replaying, I'm finding that daily doses of the two alongside my mood and pains are putting me even more on edge.
Fortunately, though it doesn't feel like it, there have been a few easy pieces for this week's Friday Favourites - like the 'I ♥ David Attenborough' brooch and handmade energy balls my best friend popped around to give me, taking a moment away from her studies to see me which, in itself, was enough to put a smile on my face.
Then there's the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I can't believe how good it was, nor that the sequel was just as good.
Also, corset belts are in.
So I've had a few easy things to make me smile ♥

I love David Attenborough brooch   ♥   Delemi handmade energy balls
Corset Top by New Look   ♥   Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Monday, 31 July 2017

August: 30 Day Shred

Read Also: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3

   I had loads of fun with my genius workout set-up last month, combining African dance with Pilates in a HIIT format, and now I'm ready to get serious. Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred was the first proper workout I'd ever used, waaaay back in 2014, and now I'm revisiting with the intention of measuring myself against my green past self, as well as returning to my fitness roots.
   The 30 Day Shred was also the first Jillian Michaels workout I'd ever used (which I suppose goes without saying since it was my first proper workout), and I fell in love with her immediately. I own damn near every single one of her DVDs - I have my sure-fire favourites, my loathed yet go-to options, and my top-up finishers to max out my other workouts. But this is where I, like many of her loyal fans, started. I've used a lot of her DVDs multiple times, but this one I've never revisited. I think because it was my first, and that association makes me think it's not suitable for my present fitness level. But, of course, I would have used the beginner modifications the first time, I'd have used lighter weights and stopped several times throughout each set through exhaustion. Things that just wouldn't happen now.
   So I thought it would be fun, especially after I've grown to feel kind of negative about working out, to return to my roots and rediscover what made me fall in love with working out.

   So, this month, I'll be running through Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred for the first time in 3 years, going back to where it all began and blasting Past-Kim out of the water. And making her damned proud. Wearing XS/8 compression capris, rather than L/14 leggings that cut into my squish in the most unflattering way. And actual post-workout nutrition rather than a few 'well-deserved' cookies.
   I'll update...either in 2 weeks or once I've finished with level 1. I've got a lot of work to do before I can start writing my next book so I'm quite keen to concentrate on that...I'm sure my blog will suffer for it.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

African Dance/Pilates HIIT - 3 Weeks Later

   I don't mean to pat myself on the back or anything, but as no one else is going to, I have to say that my dance/Pilates HIIT combo worked a charm.
   Starting up Kukuwa's African dance workout, I ran through one 5-minute routine as a warm up, then turned it back to the start and began in earnest. The first two minutes of the dance routine, the lowest-impact part, was replaced by two minutes of Cassey Ho's Pilates. As soon as those two minutes were up I jumped to my feet and leapt straight into the dance at whatever part it was and followed it to the end. As soon as the routine ended and the next seamlessly began, I dropped back to the floor for the next 2-minute round of Pilates. I repeated this six times to total 30 minutes.
   Each routine lasts 5 minutes, give or take 10 seconds, and by replacing the first two minutes with body weight resistance Pilates, I skipped the lower-impact intro, letting my heart rate drop further than it would have had I continued dancing, then rose immediately for 3 minutes of non-stop, high-impact African dance - and with Kukuwa's truly full-bodied movements with hips, legs, arms and head, it didn't take long for my heart rate to jump back up.

   I kept the Pilates simple, consulting Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year Round for some good moves to create three different circuits which were each run through twice.
   The first circuit focused on the glutes, with knee-tap-pushes - 30 seconds on the left leg, 30 seconds on the right - and then fire hydrants - 30 seconds on the left and 30 on the right. Then 3 minutes of dance.
   The second circuit focused on upper body: 40 seconds of preying pulses, 40 seconds of arm circles (20 forward, 20 back), and 40 seconds of tricep dips.
   The third circuit focused on the legs: 30 seconds elevated leg circles on the left, then the right, then 30 seconds elevated hot potato on the left then the right.
   I love to work my lower body, it burns more calories than the rest, and my abs get worked enough in everything else I do and, until I've melted off the fat, there's nothing to be seen anyway. But if you were to try this workout, you could easily replace the leg circuit with abs, such as hip dips, crunches, side plank dips and plank up-downs.

   Kukuwa is the highest impact dance workout I've ever used, and that, joined with its simple (but high-energy) moves and its reliable 5-minute-routine set up, makes it the only viable option for a dance HIIT workout. I don't see how other dance workouts could work in its place. But, that said, it's lower impact than squat jumps, burpees and tuck jumps, and won't provide the same results as a more typical HIIT workout. But, that said, it's a great option if you're looking for something effective but fun and really quite different, or perhaps as an active recovery after a big workout schedule like Piit28, which I used throughout June.
   I go on about Kukuwa a lot, but I think I should mention that I'm not affiliated with Kukuwa in any way, shape or form. I've never been paid, sponsored or endorsed to mention them - in fact, I've had no contact with them beyond the occasional tweet. I just absolutely adore Kukuwa and her workout, and I truly believe that it - like the 30 Day Shred, 10 Minute Body Transformation, 10 Minute Solution's Knockout Body and Jillian Michaels' Kickbox Fast Fix - should be a staple in anyone's fitness DVD collection. It's not a mainstream release so you won't find it in physical stores, only on Kukuwa's webstore and perhaps on Amazon, but the DVD itself is region-free, shipping from the US, and you can also buy it as an immediate digital download. This isn't out of anyone's reach.
   As for Pilates moves, you can find every worthwhile Pilates move under the sun for free on Blogilates as printables or videos.

   This workout is going to be a great fall-back for when I'm feeling unenthusiastic. Fun, yet effective.
   I dare any of you not to shake your boomsey when Twa Mi Beat starts up.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Friday Favourites

This week has been cold. It's been amazing. I've slept better and been generally more comfortable - though ice cream has still been on the menu. After a migraine on Tuesday evening, I treated myself to one to celebrate my survival.
Otherwise, this week I've been working on my plan for the next book - working out both sides (hero & villain) and merging them together, and now I've got lots of details floating about that I need to work on, from simple matters of the after-effects of war, to more plot-relevant details. So I've been binge 'watching' Death in Paradise again, which means it's on in the background while my nose is glued to a notebook.
I've also been really enjoying Twinings' new sweet green teas, particularly lemon drizzle. It smells just like it, which has resulted in of such a cake...
Also, I accidentally left my Birchbox subscription running and got the best box ever out of it! I particularly love the coconut & vanilla mineral deodorant <3

Death in Paradise   ♥   Lemon Drizzle green tea from Twinings Teashop

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Unicorn Pancake Breakfast Pizza

   Happy Tuesday! I have to say, breakfast is a pretty important meal - and I don't just mean for fuel or 'breaking the fast' and getting your metabolism moving for the day ahead, but also because it can really cheer me up. I get affected by bad dreams rather stupidly; even if I can't remember them, if I've had a bad dream, I'll be in a bad mood all morning. Not angry, necessarily, but sometimes sad, unsettled, tense or jumpy. And I'm never quite sure why. I'm in one such mood today.
   But a nice breakfast can calm me down and get me off to a better start, and after seeing so many 'unicorn' smoothies, I wanted to try something myself. Which wasn't hard, since anything can be made 'unicorn' by adding some pastel colours, and unicorn in particular favours pastel blue and pink. Which creates a problem, doesn't it? Blue is easy with artificial colouring, but if you're looking to stay healthy and join the 'unicorn' craze, you're a bit stuck. Right?
   It took some research, but the secret ingredient is butterfly pea flowers. This intense blue flower has been used in Southeast Asian cooking for a very long time, and is also consumed as a tea. You can get it powdered in the west, but it's not that common, and trends for about £2.50 for 10g on Ebay. But that's enough. I generally use 1/4 teaspoon when I use it and it's more than enough. It's also very dark - I was a bit concerned that I'd gotten some rubbish and that perhaps it was only a specific variety that was so blue, because mine was inky as a powder, but once added to my eggs (yes, my eggs, all kinds of things wind up in my eggs) it turned wonderfully pastel.

   Anyway. Unicorn breakfast pancakes. Or breakfast 'pizza'. It's clean, oh so healthy, and so very easy! A simple, giant pancake topped with yoghurt coloured with butterfly pea flower and a crushed raspberry, topped with blueberries and raspberries and a few yoghurt flours (drawn in yoghurt and frozen).

   I always use Flapjacked's protein pancake mix because you just add water, a single serving is 200 calories (which is easy to half, since it's 1/2 cup mix to 1.3 cup water), 20g of protein, they're made from oat flour and nothing artificial at all. Plus they make great pancakes, and great cakes! Sometimes I'll just spoon the batter into mini cupcake moulds, press a strawberry into each, add a sprinkle of baobab on top and bake at gas mark 4 for 10 minutes. Divine. You can get Flapjacked's protein pancake mixes through Protein Pick & Mix under snacks > breakfast > pancakes.
   I usually use the buttermilk base because it's totally neutral. It's not sweet in the slightest as there's also no added sugar, but a few drops of vanilla can change that, as can the simple addition of fruit, so I usually add a few berries into the batter. I didn't do that with my unicorn pancake pizza, though.

   I also used Yeo Valley's honey greek yoghurt as a top, because it's probably my favourite yoghurt ever. I used to buy big tubs when I was a fatty and eat the whole thing, or bake some chocolate cakes and eat them with cold honey yoghurt. So freaking good! And because Yeo Valley is so clean - greek, organic, bio live yoghurt - I've never had to say goodbye!
   And if you're wondering, I did buy the flower powder through Ebay. I haven't yet found a more reliable source in the UK.

makes 2 unicorn pancakes
pancake mix (I used 1 serving of flapjacked protein pancake mix)
1 pot of yoghurt (I used a 100g pot of Yeo Valley Greek with honey)
handful of blueberries
handful of raspberries
1/2 teaspoon butterfly pea flower
Note: I only made one pancake, so I used half of a serving of pancake mix and half of a pot of yoghurt.

1. Make your pancake mix and prepare your pancake. I actually oven-baked mine by lining a cookie sheet with greaseproof paper and spreading my batter over that, and cooking it for 10 minutes at 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4. It was personal preference.

2. Divide your batter in half and make your two giant pancakes.

3. Set them aside to cool a little and mix up the yoghurt. Split the pot in half and add 1/2 teaspoon of butterfly pea flower to one half (unless you'd like more blue than pink, then add more yoghurt) and 2 raspberries to the other, smoosh and mix.

Note: the butterfly pea flower will seem a bit gritty, so leave it to stand for a minute then mix it again,
then another minute and mix it again. This allows the colour to smooth and intensify.

4. Spread your yoghurt, as desired, over the pancakes, then top with fruit and any decorative bits - shavings of organic white chocolate like Green & Black's, chia seeds, dragon fruit/pitaya. Whatever strikes your fancy. I drew some flowers with yoghurt onto baking paper and froze them. They melted very quickly - I managed to get 2 off before they got too soft, but they firmed up again quickly enough. Just have to work quickly with them!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Friday Favourites

I've been obsessing over blueberries lately, though I've not been eating them. It's just been the idea of them, so I gave in and bought some to make some white chocolate and blueberry protein pancakes for breakfast on Tuesday and, of course, yum. Best breakfast ever. I've been using Flapjacked's buttermilk protein pancake mix as a base because it's easy and there's nothing artificial at all. I get it through Protein Pick & Mix. Though I have to admit that I don't fry them, I bake them in the oven. So they're more like cookie-cakes than pancakes...
Also, one of my favourite artists on Etsy made this awesome paleolithic cave painting piece - it's totally unaffordable, but it's so awesome. I had to share it.
Also, Vikings is amazing. Seeg and I just started watching it, and I'm hooked.

Paleolithic cave painting by DemiurgusDreams   ♥   blueberry & white chocolate pancakes
Victoria's Secret shea body oil   ♥   Vikings

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Hotel Chocolat Teaolat Review

   Tea is wonderful, isn't it? I never drink anything but tea or water. It's so light, pure, and the warmth is good for you. In fact, though it doesn't sound it, warm drinks are more hydrating than cold drinks because your body doesn't have to warm it up before it can absorb it. It's put to use moments after you drink it - every reaction in your body requires water, and that, of course, includes sweating, which is your body's natural temperature-regulator. Sweat evaporates on your skin, cooling you down. And if you're hydrated, you can sweat properly, and not lose out on the water your body needs for other tasks like digestion and brain function.
   Tea is also calorie-free - which means you get flavour for free! It's only when you add sugar and milk that calories start to step in, and most tea - green, herbal, fruit, white, etc - are best enjoyed straight, with neither sugar nor milk.

   But, regardless of how hydrating tea is, sometimes you just can't beat a cold drink. Iced tea, which is a marvellous thing, is generally prepared with teabags, topped up with cold water and sweetened with some sugar, syrup or fruit. This is because the flavour isn't translated so well in the cold (though, as a side note, I find that does not ring true for pizza), and as such shouldn't be consumed as copiously as a good cup of tea, but they should certainly still be enjoyed.

   I also love hot chocolate, but it's thick and full of calories so I reserve it as a winter treat. In fact I love all things chocolate - you remember the chocolate tasting and smelling stamps I have in my epic stamp collection - so when I discovered that Hotel Chocolat made chocolate tea, sampling it shot right to the top of my to-do list.

   Hotel Chocolat's Teaolat teabags contain only natural ingredients, and cacao shells top that list in all cases. Taken straight from the encased cacao bean, the shells are high in antioxidants and are usually discarded by chocolate makers. Fortunately, Hotel Chocolat have found a decidedly unique and delicious use for them, and at less than 1 calorie a cup, you get the taste of chocolate for free!

   If I'm honest, I couldn't really distinguish anything but the chocolate in these teas on the first cup. I could smell the lemon in the cacao, lemongrass & ginseng Energise tea, but the ginseng was nearly non-existent. I could also smell the lemon in the cacao, camomile & lemon Unwind tea. As for the English Breakfast, the Assam was there, but the cacao dominated all three. But, when it comes to tea, the goodness from the herbs and leaves will still be in the water. Whether or not you can taste it doesn't make a difference.
   Having said that, when I brewed a second cup from the teabag (don't judge me), the ginseng suddenly revealed itself.
   But it should be stated that this chocolate is not a sweet chocolate. It's brewed directly from the cacao shells which, if you're familiar with cacao powder, is basically pure chocolate, but not as bitter as a dark chocolate bar. But it means that the goodness of chocolate - the true physical and mental health benefits people shout about but only actually apply to the darkest bars or the purest powders -  is present in this tea, so you can reap the benefits guilt-free. It's kind of like a calorie-free, light hot chocolate.

   And this goodness can also be found in Hotel Chocolat's iced teaolat range, which is new out this summer. First of all, it's needless, but I'll point out the colours of the tea because they are gorgeous. Then the bottles, because they're adorable.
   These iced teas don't conform to the typical iced tea recipes with added sugar. Instead they use fruit juices to flavour and sweeten, with naturally-occurring sugars rather than any added, or anything artificial - just like everything else Hotel Chocolat offers, there are no artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours or preservatives. They also have added B3, B6, B7 and B12, which is a good thing for people like me who suffer from migraines, as vitamin B6 is proven to help reduce them.
   Made with a base of water and white grape, these chocolate iced teas are only 60 calories per 330ml a bottle and 2.5g sugar - all natural.

   I tasted the difference in each iced teaolat, as subtle as they were. I tasted the raspberry, and the cacao was mild but the scent was present; the sparkling lemon, with tonic water rather than carbonation, was a good pairing, and the cacao here was the most prominent, as a swift and pleasant aftertaste. And as for ginger and chai, it's simply gorgeous.
   Absolutely, 100% guilt-free iced teas with a unique chocolate twist

   If you haven't tried Hotel Chocolat's tea range - teaolat bags or iced - I urge you to! They're worth the price tag, as everything in Hotel Chocolat's walls are, but you might want to save them for when you're searching for a chocolate fix without the guilt or simply for the right moment. And certainly all for yourself!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Something A Bit Different...[Vlog]

   How's that for something a bit different?
   I've wanted to make a video blog for ages but I've never felt that I had anything worth the trouble of making a video to say. But, when I finished my book on the weekend, and I was so excited, I decided to just go for it. Because what do I have to lose?
   Like I said in the video, I've felt for a long time that my blog has lacked personality, so I wanted to imprint myself on it a little bit more. But this won't be a frequent occurrence because my rate of news probably won't change at all. But I'm happy with it this way.
   Oh, and excuse the accent. It's atrocious, I know. I was raised in north Bristol where everyone speaks properly, but my parents are both from south Bristol so they and their families talk with rolling R's and rougher country accents. So my accent is a peculiar fusion. One which I've only just become aware of. Frightfully aware.

   Anyway, as I said in my very first vlog, I've finished my book!! Yes, after 11 weeks of rigid work I've finished redrafting, tweaking, adjusting and polishing; the whole thing has been formatted and is ready for printing barring the absence of a cover, which I'm hoping to get point. But like I also said, this book is the first of two, so I'm going to sit on this book for a while until I'm in a comfortable place with the next, then I'll submit it to literary agents. And when they reject it - because timing in the market and their own workload is just as relevant a factor as the writing itself - I'll self-publish it. I'm so much more confident in this one than The Archguardians of Laceria (which you can read the first chapter of for free here), but even that one I felt was good when I wrote it. So I'm hoping this one truly is better. And when it's published, I'll definitely be sending this one out to my favourite fantasy book bloggers!

   I also shared my new Asian wildlife jewellery collection, which has started to roll out today. I'm listing two a day, starting with the full collection bundle listing and the individual sika deer today, and by Friday evening they'll all be up! Yay! I don't expect them to do very well, but only because some of the animals like the crane and the takin are kind of obscure. But if I wanted to make things just to make money, I'd be making dogs and cats. When was the last time I had either of those listed that weren't leopards or wolves? It's true I don't enjoy it as much as I used to, but that's all the more reason to stick to making the things I want to make. And I'm lucky to receive custom requests, too. I've had one for a platypus, one for a hippo, one for a group of meerkats, and I got another unusual request just last night! I wouldn't get those kinds of interesting requests if I didn't make such specific pieces.

   Anyways, I'll video blog again, because I enjoyed it, but it will be a way off. They'll be tagged 'vlog', so you'll be able to find what few I make easily enough.

   Also, I have no idea how to say goodbye. And I didn't want to refilm it because then it would be stiff and forced. And that was so not the point. If I look foolish, I look foolish. I am foolish. This is me.

I do not own the music used in this video. Bowerlake, Autumn, from Fable 2

Monday, 10 July 2017

July: African Dance & Pilates HIIT

 Read also: 3 Weeks Later

   Ahh, July. I say that like it's a good thing. It isn't. I dislike the summer. It's hot, it's sticky, you can't do anything, and your wholeday revolves around keeping cool. I've never liked the summer. Ice cream and bright colours are the only upsides. Yep, I live in England. How anyone further south survives is just beyond me.
   Fortunately, I always get my workout done in the morning, so it's not usually too hot. Windows and doors open, fan on, whack a water bottle in the fridge as soon as I get up and I'm all set.
   So you can imagine that doing Piit28 last month was doubly difficult. But because it was so difficult, in line with my new year's resolution to know when to back off and take a break when I need it (my body hurts), this month I'm going to something simpler.
   I'm keeping it colourful and enthusiastic, so Cassey Ho is remaining on my line-up if much lower impact, and I'm pairing it with my old favourite, Kukuwa. Pop Pilates and African dance. Tell me I've got it wrong - I dare you.
   But I'm not alternating days, or doing 20/20 minutes. Instead, I'm putting together a low-impact HIIT workout combining the two. And it is only feasable because of Kukuwa's unique structure.

The Cardio
   Unlike any other dance workout DVD, Kukuwa is very high-energy dance that never slows down and is, truly, total-body all the time. The reason it's so high-energy and so full-body is because the movements are simple and quick to learn, which means you can really put all your energy into them. This also means that time is not wasted relearning the moves every time you use it. You can put it on and jump right in. Literally.
   There are two sections on the DVD, intermediate and advanced, and both are made up of 6 5-minute routines, and they truly are 5 minutes, give or take 10 seconds. And this is important to this HIIT routine, too. Each routine is on its own DVD 'chapter', making it easy to flick back or forwards to the start of a routine with the touch of a single button, which, again, is important for what I'm trying to do this month.

The Resistance
   Pilates is harder than it looks - it seriously gets into your muscles, and it burns quickly, but it's also very low-impact as far as heart rate is concerned. See where I'm going with this? You can get your breath back.
   I've got Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year Round book on hand for this, a veritable bible of Pilates moves, bright colours and clean, seasonal recipes, and they're the kind of moves that 30-45 seconds of is more than enough. The book splits the workouts into areas of the body, grouping bum workouts, leg workouts, arm workouts, back workouts and so on all individually for each season, and each feature about 6 or 7 moves. That means that this book provides about 25 moves for your bum, 25 for your legs, 25 for your arms - you get the picture. It's jam-packed. But that also means that I can either mix and match areas, or focus on the lower or upper body. And I can swap moves out for others if they get stale.

African Dance & Pilates HIIT
   So, my plan is simple: play a full 30 minute Kukuwa program - either intermediate, or advanced. However, I will only be doing the last 3 minutes of the 5 minute routines. It's true that it doesn't take much time to learn the moves, but after the first minute or two, all the moves have been strung together and so the final three minutes are higher impact and more confident than the first. This means I get the most out of the cardio.
   As for the first two minutes, I will not be idle. This is Pilates time. I'm going to string together 3 Pilates moves, performed for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds to set up between each. When this is done, I get up and boogy. When the routine is over, I hit the mat again and let the DVD play for the music, and after two minutes of 30/10/30/10/30/10, I dance the last 3 minutes. And then the next routine starts.
   This will give me a solid 30 minute workout combining dance cardio and Pilates. It won't be too high impact because even Kukuwa doesn't compare to a routine combining jump squats, burpees and tuck jumps, but it will definitely be enjoyable, and after the difficulty that is Piit28 last month, I'm going to welcome it.

   I start this workout for the first time in about an hour, and I'll blog about it in 2 weeks. Perhaps. I say perhaps because I'm only giving this 3 weeks, total, so perhaps it will be in a week and a half. Piit28 ran over the end of the month because my 2-week post-holiday slim-down threw my calendar out the window, but as this month's workout won't be as effective as Piit28, nor what I have planned for August, I didn't want to compromise on them in favour of an experiment. But if it's going to be effective, 3 weeks will be just enough to tell.

   Also, hell yes, pretty turquoise-mint Pamela shorts by Fabletics

   I'm rather looking forward to this!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Piit28 - 4 Weeks Later

   Ohhh man I'm glad that's over. Piit28 hurts. I've said it enough that you'd think it wouldn't surprise me every day, but it does. But I've finished my second run (my first was back in October) and while I'm glad to see the back of it...I'm also not. It's hard, but it works, and while I don't waste my time on workouts that don't, this is one I have total confidence in. But I just can't maintain it for more than 28 days. It's true that Piit28 is very, very well put together, because breaking the workouts into body areas means you're able to work out 6 days a week without putting undue strain on muscles or compromising recovery, and that means you can do your best every day and maximise your calorie burn by fitting more into 28 days.
   But I'm used to 4 days a week, not 6, and I adore my rest days. I like getting up a little later, having a more interesting breakfast rather than something small to make sure it's settled by the time I start my workout, and tending my Etsy shop or playing some video games instead of jumping around. I burned out a while ago, and I found that it's these rest days that give me the strength to keep at it all.
   But I can sacrifice 2 rest days a week for a month if it means greater results. Why else am I doing it?

   Also, I belatedly discovered that completing Piit28 earns you an additional reward aside from immense fat burn and muscle toning: a free Piit28 tank top! Yay!! So here's mine, earned from October and redeemed 2 weeks ago, arriving just in time to mark the end of the second run! Also, bonus Nozdormu leggings from Wild Bangarang.

   July's workout is going to be more low-key after this month, and it's actually something I'm putting together myself, fusing two different workouts to make something new and more effective than they would be on their own. I have little idea how well it will work, but I suppose I'll find out when I try it tomorrow!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Friday Favourites

It's been a very green week. It seems every single neighbour has decided to cut their grass this week, so I've been blessed with the goregous green smell every single day. I've also been drinking more matcha - not sure why, it's just kind of happened - and we just summed up BBCs Robin Hood,which is an amazing programme, it's just a shame that in the third series they traded the writers and a few of the good actors for better costumes. But it still had me crying in the end!
Also, how cute are these shorts?! I've been after a pair for ages for my exercise, and this is the first I've seen that I absolutely adore. They are, obviously, from Fabletics. Everything always is.

Nature sniffings   ♥   Pamela shorts by Fabletics

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Christmas In July Sale!

Yes, that's right, this year I've decided to participate in Etsy's Christmas In July sale - so from now until July 10th, you can get 20% off shop-wide* with the code ETSYCIJ17. Get a head start on your Christmas shopping with my biggest discount of the year, or treat yourself!

* Exceptions: full collection listings and gift sets, as they're already discounted, and custom orders, which are priced according to the work

Friday, 30 June 2017

Friday Favourites

Ahhh, Friday. Couldn't come soon enough. All week I've been glued to my laptop working on my book's next draft, and I feel drained. Fortunately this week hasn't been short of uplifting details, and for once I can put together a Friday Favourites of things I actually own rather than things I've been crushing on!
Piit28 is hard, it hurts, but it's such a satisfying burn and I've been feeling really great all week knowing that I'm doing such good work. It's also a great opportunity to clear my mind and get it out of the book and back to my actual surroundings.
I picked up a gorgeous new mug on my recent visit to WWT Slimbridge, featuring a beautiful cerise squirrel by Sarah Young, which has been filled with about 5 cups of teapigs' limited edition birthday tea already. And at the end of the day, when I've finished as many chapters as I can, I've been chilling out with No Man's Sky or Duplessy & The Violins of the Worlds' Crazy Horse album.

Cerise squirrel mug  by Sarah Young   ♥   Blogilates' PIIT28 1.0

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Piit28 - 2 Weeks Later

   Crikey, I forgot how hard Piit28 is! Pilates is always deceptive, and so is the idea of 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. It doesn't sound like much, especially when those 45 seconds are Pilates - how can clams and grasshoppers be so hard?! When they're coupled with tuck jumps and stupid flipping frog hops, that's when. Suddenly those 45 seconds become a nightmare.
   But they work. There are no two ways about it. When it hurts, when it sucks, I just tell myself that that's when it counts the most. It's pushing past your comfort zone that gets you the results you want, and deserve, and that's why I chose Piit28 this month, because it does all of those horrible, wonderful things.

   I have to say, though, that Cassey's attitude is the only thing, along with the fact that I know it's working, that keeps me going. She must be immensely strong, because she can keep up that bubbly attitude and simply keep talking while doing the 7 minute circuit, and, I know, I know, she only does it once and you have to replay the video, but those are some tough 7 minutes, even on the first round, so you have to admire that strength.
   I toyed with the idea of becoming a qualified Pop Pilates instructor, but it was clearly just a daydream, because I realised while doing even the easiest and most classic of Pilates movements that I could never demonstrate and talk at the same time, and I can talk for England. It's only when you consider taking on her role yourself that you notice the finer details that really highlight her passion and abilities. But, you could also say, if I put the same time and dedication into one single form of exercise like she has Pilates, I could get that strong and capable, too.
   And, if I'm honest, though I love kettlebells and kickboxing, if I was going to instruct anything, it would be yoga or Pilates.

   So, these past two weeks have been brutal but incredible, and while I know I'll probably feel different when it comes time for tomorrow morning's workout, right now I can't wait to get down to it! Two more weeks to go!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday Favourites

With the heat wave, this past week has been filled with every effort to keep cool. I've had the Wind Waker soundtrack on repeat for the images of the sea - and because it's freaking fun - I've been wearing loose clothes, stuffing my face with ice cream - I can't get enough of Green & Black's caramel and hazelnut organic ice cream, but, alas, Tesco doesn't stock it so one pot has had to be enough. For everything else, there are Magnums.
I've also seriously been keeping my mind busy. I've done incredible work on redrafting my book - I've been averaging 5 chapters a week, but just knocked out 11! Woo! Progress. I'm past the half way mark now! And I'm still loving it. I have a thousand times more confidence in it than The Archguardians of Laceria - and I felt that that one was good enough to publish!

Legend of Zelda Wind Waker OST   ♥   Innocent tank from EMP
Green & Black's caramel hazelnut ice cream   ♥   Redrafting my next book

Thursday, 22 June 2017

That Was a Nice Summer...

   Crikey. Okay, so, I don't know where you're reading this from, but England has just had its summer. 20 C is positively tropical, and I can only just handle that, but this past week has seen highs of 33 C, locally. It's been awful.
   I'm sure many of you are scoffing at this, but it all comes down to what you're used to, and in England, we don't really get high temperatures, especially in the south west. So going from 20 C to 31 C literally overnight was a shock. Fans have been on through the night, ice cream has become a (welcome) daily necessity, and I've been drinking about 3.5 litres a day. Fortunately, I knock my exercise out in the mornings, so it's still comparatively cool and windows open and fans on are enough, even to see me through PIIT 28. But Seeg exercises in the afternoon and has had to skip a couple. I can't blame him. I've struggled with my shop - putting tiny creatures into tiny jars is fiddly at the best of times, but trying to do it at 5pm when you're hot and already frustrated is just impossible.

   The upside is, though, despite how difficult putting jewellery together has been, I've not been otherwise hindered. I've been working on a new jewellery collection for the summer and I'm totally on schedule with it (hoping to release it early July), and I've been doing some amazing work redrafting my book. Last week I got 11 chapters done rather than my average of 5, which gave me such a sense of accomplishment, and while I had music stuck in my head on Monday that totally blocked my concentration, I'm more or less keeping up momentum despite book work being done on an evening when the temperatures have been at their worst. Fortunately that means it's also been too hot for idiots to go out into the park and play loud, awful music until midnight, which blocks my work because of synaesthesia, and because writing doesn't require much movement, I'm free to sit down, stick a fan in my face and work for 5 hours until bed time.
   Speaking of which, I know it was trending, but I've not actually had much trouble sleeping. The only issue has been having to have the curtains open through the night to get air flowing, because with the early sunrise, by body is a bit quick to decide it's time to wake up. 5am is too soon. I don't care if it's light out.

   Who knows? Perhaps this heatwave would have been worse had my attention not been so focused. I certainly had plenty to take my mind off of it. And Seeg has just picked up Assassin's Creed Black Flag again, and its focus in the tropics has certainly felt appropriate.
  But I'm looking forward to returning to lovely English weather - clouds, drizzle and wind - and perhaps another week of summer a month or so down the line. Because that's more or less how it goes.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Friday Favourites

Rain, clouds, high winds and gloom. Yes, that's right, summer's well and truly on its way!
I'm still loving a few favourites from our 7 year anniversary a few weeks ago - Green & Pleasant's independantly brewed cider, ale and lager contain no nasties at all and no added sugar, and as someone who doesn't usually drink, I actually quite enjoyed them! And, also, how can I not love the custard cream cushion? I excitedly told the postlady what it was when she delivered it, and it really brightens up the room alongside the teacake!
We also watched the Assassin's Creed movie during the holiday, and while games generally don't translate well to movies, AC did. The only issue really was the animus - in the film, a huge mechanical arm; in the games, a high-tech hospital bed. But it worked. I cannot fault the film at all, and the decision to have them speaking Spanish throughout every scene in ancient Spain was also a nice touch.
And, finally, we ventured out to Puzzlewood with my lovely Lucy last week, soaking up the surrealism, and went to Bella Italia afterwards for a meal. Their 'less is amore' range lets you swap the pasta for spiralised veggies, and as I'm not personally that big on pasta, I decided to give it a try, choosing the same dish I had with pasta last time, this time without. The flavour didn't change, the texture barely did, but it dropped the meal to less than 300 calories, issued one of my 5 a day, and justified The Godfather afterwards. They even have the recipe for spiralised gamberoni posted on their website.

Green & Pleasant   ♥   Custard Cream cushion by Nikki McWilliams
Bella Italia's 'Less is AmorĂ©' gamberoni   ♥   the Assassin's Creed movie

Monday, 12 June 2017

June: PIIT 28

   I had fully intended to use a 'new' (old, but new for me) Jillian Michaels DVD - you know, one of the very, very few I've not used yet - but I actually kind of wanted to get some proper HIIT in. Flow Movement was fine, but very low-impact, and while Lean in 14 is a reliable post-holiday slimdown workout, it's not particularly HIIT-ish, but rather it's quite steady-paced.
   I hate HIIT, it's hard, but it's hard because it works, and lately I feel like I've been too comfortable. Yes, I have been struggling with things, but it's not the kind of struggling that yields results. I want to push PBs and break some barriers, and HIIT is the best way to do that.
   Sooo, I'm revisiting another workout: PIIT 28. I've only used Cassey Ho's pilates HIIT workout once, and I do not have fond memories aside from her attitude in the videos. Which means it's exactly what I'm after.

   So, I'm armed with floral favourites - I would love something from her beautiful PopFlex range but, being a full-time carer, I just can't possibly afford it - my beautiful mint green yoga mat and the living room fan on full power. I'm daunted despite having done it before, but I know it will work and, if I push myself and give it my all, as much as it will hurt, it will work all the more and certainly be worth the pain. And it's only 28 minutes a day!
   I'll probably take it easier next month, though - I'm thinking Kukuwa. I am still had over heels for that African dance workout, it's so unique and the most effective dance cardio ever because every part of your body is always in motion.

   So I'll update again, as usual, in two weeks. I know I've done it before - 2 weeks, 4 weeks and a workout review - but given the unenthusiastic place I'm in with my exercise right now, and how I feel I've not seen results in ages, I'm hoping I'll be able to give a positive update for once.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Wakame & Shrimp Summer Seaweed Salad

   Summer is on its way. Or so it would have you believe. I reckon we've had our summer here in England. And it was a very nice week.
   But all these summery inspo pictures on my twitter feed and people sharing their summer plans, I start feeling the summer vibes (if I turn my back to the window). I'm wearing tank tops, yearning for ice creams and generally turning towards cooler food. I'm also itching to travel, but as that's not an option, I can at least indulge in the flavours of far away places.
   But I'm not keen on heat. Tropical places look gorgeous, but I wouldn't enjoy them. I can barely stand an English summer. So, in truth, I don't really want to go much further south than I already am.
   My bucket list of destinations is the Arctic, Canada, Norway, Iceland and Japan. Japan is kind of the odd one out on the list because it's warmer than the others - indeed a few of the southern islands are tropical - but it's the culture and the food that interests me, not just the sights. In fact, Japanese is my favourite cuisine - all the fish, the noodles, the miso, green tea, and the fact that their confectionary is packaged by the serving - no share sized bags. It's easier to stop when you're supposed to; the temptation to gorge is made harder to indulge if you have to consciously go through another wrapper.
   Over the holiday week Seeg and I made a few Japanese dishes, including simple niku udon (beef udon) and our favourite: okonomiyaki. But the latter in particular is quite heavy and so reserved for holidays (2 or 3 times a year).
   So, with my desire to travel for a summer holiday and my love of food, I put together a nice, cool little Japanese lunch to spice up mid week: a wakame seaweed salad with shrimp.

   It might sound a little odd, or perhaps look unappetising, but you'd be wrong. It's also quite nutritious.
   The wakame seaweed doesn't offer much of a taste, instead the flavour comes from the marinade of soy sauce, white rice vinegar and miso paste, the latter of which intensifies the flavour without making it saltier. Instead the wakame contributes more variety in texture than much else, chewy but not rubbery, giving the small dish a lot more body.
   As for why I would eat seaweed, wakame provides a great source of iodine, as many sea vegetables do, and iodine is required to produce the thyroid hormone, which keeps cells and the metabolic rate healthy. It's also a good source of magnesium, and as I suffer from magnesium-related migraines, I'm always keen to keep myself topped up on that mineral in particular.
   Miso is also packed full of vitamins, and it's a healthy, fermented food full of good bacteria and enzymes which is great for your gut. The western diet doesn't get much of this, but it's quite common in the east, which is thought to contribute to lower BMIs. But heat can kill the goodness of miso quite quickly, so miso paste is usually added at the end of recipes to minimise the exposure to heat. In this case, we're adding it to room-temperature fluid - soy sauce and white rice vinegar - and then refrigerating. Miso paste should always be stored tightly sealed in the fridge.

Serves 1; 200cals, 35g protein, 7g carbs
2 tbsp dried wakame seaweed
30ml / 1/8cup white rice vinegar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp brown rice miso paste
150g / 5oz cooked and cooled shrimp/prawns
1 green onion, chopped

1. Put the dried seaweed in a bowl and cover with warm water. Leave to soak and expand for 10 minutes.

2. Mix the rice vinegar (sometimes called rice wine vinegar), soy sauce and brown miso paste until combined.

3. Remove the wakame from the water and plunge briefly into boiling water, then rinse in cold. Remove from water and squeeze out the excess, then combine wakame, shrimp, chopped onion and the vinegar mix in a bowl.

4. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving.

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Archguardians of Laceria is 1 Year Old!

   EEE!! My book is 1 year old! I published it on June 4th 2016 and it's just had its first birthday!
   It's done better than I expected it to have in that time, but a great deal of that is down to the week it was available for free on Kindle while it was a part of KDP Unlimited, which I couldn't continue if I wanted to distribute it onto other platforms like Nook, Kobo and iBooks. Which, if I'm honest, I don't feel has paid off, but I don't want to limit myself to just Kindle.
   But, when you consider the fact that I have no idea how to advertise, nor am I confident enough to present it to book bloggers and ask them to review it, so all the exposure it has gotten has been through this blog and my meagre twitter account, I'm kind of pleased with what I've done with it.

   I'm really pleased with where I am at the moment, too. Having published The Archguardians of Laceria one year ago, I'm presently redrafting my next book - one unrelated to Archguardians, set in a different world, with different cultures, different magic and so on - after having completed it a month or so ago, and once I'm satisfied with it, I'll get to work on the next. This book is the first of two, and while I was planning on holding the first back until the second is complete, I might actually submit it to agencies when I'm a comfortable point in the second instead, one third, half way, something like that. I don't know yet.
   If I'm honest, I'm actually surprised by my position. One year after publishing one book, I'm almost ready to publish another!

   As it's the book's birthday, I'm hosting another book bundle giveaway! Pictured above, it includes: a paperback copy, rakikik necklace or keychain (winner's choice), flower necklace from the pages of the test print book, jar of Alvetha's tea, sticker, a copy of the map of Laceria printed on parchment.
   It's open worldwide until June 19th. Enter via the rafflecopter widget below. The entries will be checked at the end of the competition and the winner will be contacted directly on the 20th with 72 hours to respond and accept the prize. If the entries are false or the winner doesn't respond within the specified time frame, a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is closed.
The winner has been contacted & accepted their prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Flowbility; Floor Flow - 4 Weeks Later

   Flow Movement has provided an interesting month. A frustrating, bruising month. It truly is a mixture of dance and yoga, and it takes so much grace and control to execute it properly - grace and control that you will only really develop with practise. The movements aren't like anything I've seen anywhere else, and as there's a lot of core and upper body strength involved, it is very refreshing, but it's also very difficult to grasp, and that makes it frustrating.

   I used Session 1, which consisted of six tutorials totalling about 25 minutes. But it took me two weeks to be able to progress past tutorial 3 because they were so hard to grasp, and even then I ended up giving in to one movement because I wasn't brave enough.
   You can't use a mat or a carpet because you won't be able to move properly, so you need a smooth, hard floor, and when you're pivoting onto your shoulders, it can really hurt. It gets better in time, but it took a month to get to that point, and that can be really off-putting.

   The movements are also hard to follow while doing it because, using Seeg's summary, 'spinning around on the floor' makes it difficult to keep your eyes on the screen. If you learn by watching first, that's not a problem, but if you learn by doing like I do, it's very challenging to keep up with. Which makes it frustrating, and you will begin to feel nauseous, which only makes it worse.

   Having said all of that, it is immensely satisfying when you start to get it, when you're able to flow through a sequence and keep it going - and you really do flow with such grace when you get familiar with it - and that returns the enjoyment.
   When I reached that point, I found my heart rate rose and I began to sweat, which surprised me until I thought about how much effort goes into lifting your body and moving it so slowly and precisely. It's not necessarily a workout that's going to improve weightloss - it's more something to improve strength, grace, flexibility and co-ordination - but it did turn out to be  more demanding than I expected.

   After four weeks, I managed to familiarise myself with four of the six tutorials, and loosely grasp the final two. I feel - and it's silly to say - sexier and more confident in my body, which is rare because my self confidence has always been below average - I'm sure you've noticed the bare minimum number of pictures of me on my own blog - and I've also felt more confident and aware of my general movement.
   I'm working on a full review, but after my little holiday last week, I'm a bit behind on everything, which is why this post is late. But it will be up, in good time!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Back To The Grindstone.

   So my blog has been a little quiet lately because I've been a bit distracted. Seeg and I had a little holiday last week, which consisted mostly of The Wind Waker, okonomiyaki, ice cream, feeding a tarantula and working on my next draft. It was awesome.
   We're both big foodies, so we experiment with new recipes and foods, and while okonomiyaki is a favourite and always on the holiday menu, we tried crab fried rice, niku udon and all kinds of pancakes. Then there's the date night favourite dessert of freshly baked brownies, hot out of the oven, served with Ben & Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream for good measure, after a decadent duck dinner.

   Yep. I gained a little weight. But I expected that and planned ahead for it. My cupboards are now stocked with lots of healthy snacks and fresh ingredients, I've got new recipes to try, new products, and I'm raring to get back on the healthy old horse. I'm actually kind of sick of the holiday freedom, physically and mentally. I'm looking forward to stability, confidence and wellness. I'm also returning to Lean in 14, my two-week post-holiday slim down staple, so I've got some kettlebell swinging to do for the next two weeks before trying a new workout. That's always proven to be enough in the past, so there's no reason it won't now.
   I also got some lovely goodies, including Nikki McWilliams' new custard cream cushion (to go with my teacake), and a new Two Steps From Hell CD for our 7 year anniversary.

   It was a very enjoyable, quiet week, but also hot. We had a heat wave, and in Bristol, 28 C is high, especially out of the blue. So I went way out of my comfort zone with skirts, dresses and - would you believe it - shorts, and oversized, loose, breezey shirts were far more acceptable, meaning I could hide when I felt chunky without anyone batting an eyelid.
   We spent most of the time with video games, but while I usually watch Seeg play while I work, it was fortunate that I gave myself the week off of anything important, because he's just picked up The Wind Waker, and aside from Beedle's half-swallowed "Thaank yooouu" there's no spoken dialogue, so I have to pay attention if I want to follow.

   But the holiday is over, we're back to normal - demanding workouts, healthy eating and early rising to look after mum. Sometimes I think the comfort of stability and routine is the very reason we go on holidays and staycations. To upset our routine so that we're grateful to get back to it.
   Or perhaps I am just an insane creature of habit.
   But I do feel chilled and refreshed all the same, I enjoyed myself, and I'm happy to work on undoing all the weight gain because every bite was worth every Turkish get up.