Saturday, January 29, 2011

An update on the weight...!

Since rejoining Weight Watchers towards the end of last year I've lost a total of 13lbs.  I'm really pleased but the weight I am now is the weight I was when I first did Weight Watchers in 2003, which just proves that the lack of exercise due to the bad ankle through much of last year cost me dear!

Weight Watchers have introduced a new programme called Points Plus (I think it's Pro Points in the UK - why do they call them something different?  Seems ridiculous to me..........) which I really like as fruit is FREE..........completely and utterly free.  Makes such a difference!  Lots of people have been moaning and groaning about it, but I have complete confidence in the people at WW HQ who design the plans.  Lets face it, when they first introduced the points programme in the "olden days" I'm sure there were lots of complaints about that, and look how successful it's been!

I've found lots of WW based food blogs which has been a total blessing, and it's also expanded my range of recipes - much to Chris and Lukes joy.  In fact, Luke declared one dish "scrumptious" - high praise indeed from a 5yo.  Here are links to two of them: and

I don't know yet what I want my goal weight to be, but I know I want to lost at least the same helps that I'm actually enjoying the gym at the moment (Thank you Apple for inventing the Ipad which means I can read and listen to music at the same time!) and have discovered hula hooping!

So that's where I am.  Let's hope I can get to where I want to fact, let's hope I can figure out where I want to be!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Birthday trip to the Middle Of Nowhere, TX

In an earlier post I mentioned we were off into the wilds of Texas for Chris's birthday weekend.  We packed up the car, collected Luke from school and hit I10 - 6 hours later we arrived in Fort Stockton where we were staying for the night.  I'm not really sure what it's famous for - it was once a military outpost and some of the buildings remain - other than a rather large roadrunner:

Unfortunately I was up all night being sick on Friday which meant we had to abandon our plans to see the town of Balmorhea (Pronounce Bal-Marie) on Saturday morning and instead we headed to the "city" of Alpine where the lovely hotel staff let us check in early so I could go to bed!  I think Alpine is the biggest of all the populated areas in this part of Texas - lots of hotels/motels, the ever present McDonalds and Dairy Queen, and most randomly, a university: Now, no offence to Alpine, but I wonder how many out of town students they have?  I can't imagine it's a "hot" destination for those looking at schools!

The sickness meant I couldn't go to the Star Party at the McDonald Observatory with Chris and Luke, which was such a shame, but I'm glad they got to go.  They returned full of stories (and in Lukes case VERY tired!) and we decided that if I was better we would head back the following day to see it again - which also meant the boys would get to see the big telescopes, which they couldn't do at night as the astronomers were in there working.

Luke being Jupiter.....

Getting to move the HUGE telescope

There's a whole lot of nothing out there.....

So after returning and seeing the Observatory by day (which was fascinating) on Sunday we decided to drive to the town of Marfa and abit further West to see "Prada Marfa", an art installation by the side of the road just outside the city of Valentine (I use the term city lightly - it has a population of just over 200 and the only life we saw were 4 dogs and a horse.  The library was the nicest building we saw - much to my delight!)

I'd heard about the fake Prada store through a post over at (if memory serves, it was through Anne Cater) - about the bids to fill the empty 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square.  One of the companies bidding previous work includes this, and once I found out it was in Texas I was hoping we'd have the chance to go and see it!

Sunday night was spent eating dinner in a proper diner with booths and stools at the counter and watching NFL playoffs in the hotel room.  We then ventured back out to Marfa - it is the home of the mysterious Marfa Lights -  The city has made a special viewing area - although I thought the sign telling us it was for night time viewing only was a tad obvious!  We saw something, but whether it was "the" lights or not, I'm not sure.  It fascinated me how many people were there - the town plays on this though and has an annual Marfa Lights festival!  

Although I was feeling much better, I was exhausted by the end of the day!  Unfortunately  that night, both boys were up being sick.  Luckily (if I can call it that) Chris was only ill the once, but Luke (and therefore I!) were up every 45mins or forward to the Monday morning and a long long day in the car!  Thankfully, we made it home with no incidents and I can honestly say I've never been so glad to see my bed.

Illness aside, it was a great trip, and amazing to see the vast nothingness of the Big Bend region of Texas.  It's the polar opposite to the big cities and fast paced life that we've become used to.  I'll leave you with this great photo Chris took (the beauty of the isolation means that randomly stopping on the side of the highway is generally not an issue!):

Brooklyn - Colm Tóibín

Eilis Lacey has come of age in small-town Ireland in the years following World War Two. Though skilled at bookkeeping, she cannot find a job in the miserable Irish economy. When an Irish priest from Brooklyn to sponsor Eilis in America -- to live and work in a Brooklyn neighborhood "just like Ireland" -- she decides she must go, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind.

BrooklynBrooklyn by Colm Tóibín
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really really enjoyed this.  I opened it thinking it was going to be a tale of one girls awful experience in the move to a foreign country and filled with tales of how the awful Americans treated her.  So, what a pleasant surprise to find that Eilis was treated well, her job wasn't horrendous and she had a comfortable (if abit socially uncomfortable!) place to live.

I liked Eilis and really felt for her when news came from home and was abit surprised with the ending.  I wasn't sure how I felt about her decision at the end when I first read it, but 7 hours later I think it was the right one.

I shall be looking out for more of Toibins work.

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So, this is book No7 of my challenge to read 100 this year.......I should get one more done before the month is finished so I´m really pleased with the start to the year!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Men and Memory

.....or lack therefore of in my husbands case!  I was soaking in the bath earlier thinking I could hear what sounded like a hot water tank - which it couldn't be as it's in the garage, miles away from where I was.  So I dismissed it.  Fast forward an hour, and I'm in the living room (Chris having just gone to bed) when I can hear said noise again.........only now it sounds like the outside tap................I wander into the bedroom and say "I think the outside tap is on" to which Chris responds by leaping out of bed and running outside:  he'd turned it on about 3 hours previously to fill up the pool...........................thank goodness I heard it and didn't dismiss it!

I can't be the only one with a husband with a shoddy memory, can I?   Don't even get me started on the bath mat issue...............

A Belated Happy New Year....

So, an un-book related post from me.  Happy new year to everyone - I hope 2011 is everything you want it to be.

So the last month or so has flown by.  We had a mammoth road trip to Florida for Christmas: 3500 miles, 5 states and Disneyworld :)  We had an absolutely wonderful time - packed 3 parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) into 3 1/2 days and also managed a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.

Fact Fans - Each stripe on the US flag on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building is 8ft wide!

Memorial Garden

How gorgeous is that sand!  Pensacola Naval Station, Florida - on the Gulf Coast


I could talk forever about the trip but I won't.  Suffice to say - I want to go back.  There's so much we didn't get to see, and that's without adding Epcot and Universal Studios into the mix!

The trip home was pretty uneventful - we stopped in New Orleans but didn't do as much as we'd liked as Chris had an awful cold so Luke and I did some sightseeing but not much else.  We plan on going back at some point!

And then we got back into Texas, and stopped to see this:

Beaumont, Tx.  It used to be the worlds largest fire hydrant....

We are heading to the wilds of West Texas on the 14th Jan - for Chris's birthday we are off to the McDonald Observatory for a Saturday night star party.  This is how isolated it is:

Who knows what we'll see on this trip!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

And another challenge.....

This "shouldn't" be too 12 books that have been on my TBR for longer than 6 months by the end of the year.  My 12 picks are:

Affinity Bridge - George Mann Finished June 28th
Thin - Grace Bowman - Finished April 1st
The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee - Rebecca Miller No longer have!
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse Finished October 30th
The Closers - Michael Connelly - Finished Feb 12th
The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne - Finished March 18th
Casino Royale - Ian Fleming Finished June 23rd
Between Heaven and Ground Zero - Leslie Haskin - Gave up Aug 15th.  Got halfway through and couldn't do anymore!
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid - Finished Sept 12th
Corpsing - Toby Litt - Finished June 7th
Native Tongue - Carl Hiaasen Finished Dec 31st!!!
Capital Crimes - Faye & Jonathan Kellerman  - Can't find!  In storage possibly......
Train - Pete Dexter (Replacement book) - Finished Aug 10th
Always & Forever - Cathy Kelly (Replacement book) Finished November

Monday, January 03, 2011

100 Books In A Year....

So, Treez, over at has signed up to this challenge and I am too.  I read 83 books last year which was up on my 2009 total, and my tastes have diversified greatly in the last year so I'm hopeful that I can do this.  So, wish me luck and if you fancy joining in, head on over to Book Chick City ................and good luck and happy reading!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

ZeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't sure about reading this book as non-fiction doesn't often do it for me, but this read more like fiction and was compelling, awful, sad and uplifting all at the same time.  In a way, I wish it had been fiction as it's still mind-blowing to me that what happened Abdulrahman Zeitoun, his family and the rest of New Orleans didn't have to happen, and in a so-called civilised society, it shouldn't have.

This book is a wonderful glimpse into one mans journey post-Katrina, the struggle his family has to maintain some normalcy whilst not knowing what has happened to their husband/father, and it shines a spotlight onto the best and worst of those who were meant to be in charge and helping........

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