A few months ago I came across a lovely lady called Kathy on YouTube. She has a channel called MyDIY and publishes projects based around the things she mostly picks up in Dollar Stores.
Now to say I’m very jealous is an understatement. I cannot believe the quantity and quality of what she can get for just $. And don’t get me started on some of the creations she comes up with.
We have pound shops here in the UK. I do love having a good wander around them. They are great for branded toiletries, large dog poo bags(yep, we have a preference for them in our house!) and kitchen bits and pieces.
Since finding Kathy I have been more inspired to check out the pound stores around me. My recent video shows some of my recent finds :
But it doesn’t matter where I go or when, I never find the amazing things Kathy has from the Dollar Store.
It got me thinking. Why is there such a difference in products from the UK pound stores compared to the to USA dollar stores ? Is it our shopping habits? Are we not as creative? Can USA get better access to products than buyers in the UK? I really don’t know!
I used to be very creative. I always made my own cards for example. I even had one published in a crafting magazine a few years ago. It was for my dad and was based on a pair of denim overalls filled with tools. I have also made a few cakes for family and friends, but in the last few years time has been in short supply. With the right products, I am sure I could be inspired again to get my craft cupboard and drawers open once more.
Kathy comes back with signs, flowers, ribbons and so much more from her trips to the Dollar Store. She creates great wreaths, pool party decorations as well as ornaments such as the recent truck she make.
I appreciate that at Christmas, Halloween or Easter our pound stores do step up a bit, but day to day the products are not that inspiring in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, I have picked up the odd thing. I love my hanging flower pots from my recent purchase. It is incredible the gap in products.
It’s a question I may never get the answer to, so for the time being I am just going to have Dollar Store envy and keep watching Kathy.
On the flip side, I do wonder who makes the products at that price. Are they getting a fair wage? I do hope so. There could be an argument that without that work they would be able to feed their family, even if it isn’t much. It’s a tough one!
I’ve never been into a Dollar Store myself. If I ever return to America, I’m certainly going to make a visit! I may have to pay excess baggage home though and I could potentially get carried away!
If you don’t know what I mean, pop over to Kathy’s YouTube channel MYDIY and see, and of course don’t forget to subscribe to my channel Slimminginspirations4u.
This weekend, I finally found an excuse and the time to do some ‘non’ Slimming World baking. Its been a while and it reminded me so much of how much I miss it.
Theremustbe nothing better than the smell of freshly baked bread or cakes in your house. Since my hubby has stopped eating Carbs during the week, the opportunities for this have been dramatically reduced. I don’t eat cakes anyway and on Slimming World, the lovely baked white loaves I used to make would be a nono.
My stepdaughter was over this weekend, so I had the perfect excuse to bake. I had some lemons that needed to be used up, so a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake it was. I went to my favourite baking book for cakes – Mary Berry Easy Cakes. I’ve had it for around 30 years. It is full of so many amazing recipes that don’t take long to throw together!
It is funny really when you think of my other favourite baker – Paul Hollywood. I loved them both individually. Infact,Mary Berry’scookbookwas purchased at a time I didn’t really know who she was. They both went on to great success working together.
I am not sure if it is the fact that I turn 50 next week, but I’m beginning to getreally nostalgic. In mygrandparent’sday and even during my childhood, you would make a lot more cakes than you would ever buy. Who remembers the good old Victoria sponge? We would even make our own sponge to use in the trifle.
When I was first married in the late80’s, every weekend I would make batches of cakes to keep us going through the week. Mybest everwas a chocolate cake for an Easter party I was hosting.
If people popped round, you always had something in to offer them with a cup of tea. Cakes weren’t the only thing I’d make – biscuits and sweets too. It is a bit sad to think that these days, it is a treat rather than the norm.
I know I blame my hubby and my eating habits for this, but the reality is, I just don’t have the same time as I used to. The 3 hour a day commute certainly eats into myweekdays. Walking the dogs and cooking meals from scratch every evening leaves me with only an hour a night to relax or catch up with any other jobs I need to do.
My blogs are written during my train journey. Multitasking is the only way I can get through the mountain of tasks I have each week.
As time is limited in the week, we tend to leave all our jobs for the weekend. That then means again that having the odd hour to spare is limited.
Hubby and I were talking recently about what our ideal future would be. We would bothloveto work together in a joint business venture. Doing something where you produce a dish, whether a savoury or sweet would be my ideal. Hubby said he would be the delivery man! It’s only a pipe dream, we both know that, but it’s funny how something I really enjoy features so little in my life!
That said you neverknow. If we won a million our idea maybecome real, and I do have an idea and a name ! So watchthisspace !
In themeantimeI’mgoing to keep cooking!
Maybe that is why I love my vlogging. It forces me to think of new recipes or make the effort to cook something that will help me on my own Slimming World journey, but also inspire others.
I’d like to say I am going to make sure I find the time to do more. I know the people I work with would welcome some home cooking. Sadly, I am not sure I would be able to stick to it. In the meantime, I’m going to embrace every opportunity I can to get into the kitchen. I have a great platform in myYoutubeChannel. I will ensure I keep motivated each week. Sodon’t forget to subscribe to my channel to see what delights I come up with.
Do you remember at the beginning of
the year I decided to write a list of all the things I would like to achieve
during my 50th year? Well we
are now officially half way through that year.
Where has all that time gone?
How have I done so far? Below is my update:-
1) Travel to China
Still on schedule to achieve.
We went as planned in May and oh wow!
How amazing. Following where we
went on my YouTube channel
I still have my last day to publish
– but it is worth waiting for!
3)Weekend away in a VW Campervan
Still not on my radar!!
4) Re-visit Lundy Island
Well after a tricky time sorting out a boat, this trip is scheduled to happen
and I can’t wait!
5) Eat at a
Michelin star restaurant
Still not happened!
with Paul Hollywood
Sadly Paul hasn’t popped over to
help me in the kitchen yet!
my own boss
I’m still searching for that ‘ah ha’
moment that will make me rich!!
a new car with the registration of the year I was born
It is still a few months away before
the 69 plate is out. Sadly by bank balance isn’t matching this wish yet, but
you never know!
Get at least 1000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel
I’m at 149 at the moment so a few
more to go!
10) Take a
hot air balloon over my home town
Still need to do!
11) Have a
weekend away with my parents
Sadly this hasn’t happened yet, but
I hope to make it come true!
@Emirates – can you help me with
this one when I fly with you to China in August? Pretty please!!
a successful ‘Dry January’
Woo hoo! I absolutely smashed this.
5,000,000 steps in 2019
As I am still half way through the year,
I have time to complete this!
15) Learn to
I think this is for a winters
evening don’t you!!
I made this happen in March this
year and loved it!
Oh it is looking pretty sad at the
moment so I think this may need to happen soon!
my daily commute to work
I’m still having fun with the
trains!! At least the morning commute
has changed thanks to 4 extra carriages, which means I mostly get a seat now!
Lola to walk off a lead
Yer right! Hmm, not sure this is not going to happen!
Fido to not bark at the door
We have been trying very hard! I’ve now applied to the programme ‘Dogs
Behaving Very Badly’ for help! Fingers crossed!
Fido not to bark at noises
As above! Eek!
28) Have 5
minutes of fame on T.V. – preferably on This Morning
I’m still waiting for them to snap
me up lol!! I did get to meet Ruth and
Eamon at the @thismorning Live at the NEC in Birmingham. Eamon even had his hand on my knee!! Lol!
They were such a lovely couple!
29)Go to see
a musical at least once in 2019
Still to do, but we are in London
very soon so who knows!
30) Go to a
music festival or concert at least once in 2019
No happened yet, but the summer
isn’t over yet!
31) Write a blog at least
once a week
I’m smashing this with 2 – 3 some
my photography skills
I’ve not had chance much to take
many photos but when I have, I’ve really tried to be creative.
33) Clean out the garage
Don’t tell my hubby but, nah, not
yet! I will though promise!
34) Help raise awareness of
I’m still promoting this.
35) Help out someone at least
once a month
Ooh now I really have to think about
this one. I think I have, but I could do
36) Have a professional make
Still need to sort this one out!
37) Have a
This may not happen this year, but
friends and family’s birthdays
better. I could be a bit quicker poster
but it is an improvement.
dinner out once a month
We have done
this and it has been really nice to have someone cook for me. It hasn’t had to be posh, but good food.
41) Take an
hour out a week for ‘me time’
I’m trying but some weeks are just
42) Get 8
hours of sleep a night as much as possible
I’m totally failing this one. Only 6-7 hours a night at the moment.
more water and less diet coke
Right now I
am drinking a litre of squash! I’m
44) Have a
girls night out at least once every 3 months
about done this, but I really need a few more!
45) Have a
date night with hubby at least once every 3 months
I think we
have done this – yes, definitely. It is
good to spend quality time together.
46) Take a
Well I did
say a trip not a holiday so does the 30 minute trip with work count?
47) Go to
see Wasps at least 3 times during the year
We have been
once but will go more later in the year – promise.
the rules to Rugby
Oops! I really must talk to hubby!
49) Take up
a new hobby
I just need
to find the time!!
50) Keep in
touch more with family and friends who live away
Facebook is great, but I really need
to put some weekends away to see friends.
We have managed a couple of weekends this year, but we should do more!
So, there have been some things
ticked off, I really need to start doing a few more! I will keep you posted!!
Wow, what great weather we had this weekend! So who has a Braai? Ok BBQ? Yep it has the be done.
We went the whole hog and had 2! First one Friday night and another last night. You have to love eating outside.
Last nights Braai was all about using the leftovers. It’s amazing what you can create with a bit of imagination.
Saturday temperatures reached over 34 degrees for us! Not that I sat out in it myself! Oh no! We had friends round on the evening so first things first I needed to catch up on the housework! It has to be done especially with 2 malting dogs!
Talking of malting dogs, they do struggle when it’s so warm! Fido thankfully knows how to cool down. He stands in the shower waiting for someone to turn the taps in for him!!
Anyway, back to the friends coming for dinner. As it was going to be such a lovely day I decided the menu needed to reflect that.
Hubby offered to make his prawn soup! It’s light but very tasty. Perfect for a hot summer evening.
For main, I opted for pineapple and salmon kebabs with Jerk seasoning, with home grown new potatoes and a pomegranate and feta salad. As a salad dressing I made a Dijon mustard dressing. So far all free on Slimming World, but still tasty.
Now, this is where it got interesting. For dessert, I decided on an ice cream cake. Well why wouldn’t you!
The cake requires 2 layers of ice cream and a raspberry coulis, topped with a ginger biscuit layer! Sounds fab doesn’t it! And it was apparently (I made a syn free version for me).
The problem I had was the weather! I mean, when it’s over 34 degrees outside, how are you supposed to stop the layers melting while constructing them!
It was a case of moving very quickly and having a hubby on hand to open freezer doors for you!
I published a video of it here!
I had to laugh when I watched it back. I looked quite fresh at the start of it! By the end I was definitely wilting !!
The main thing is the food went down a treat! Note to myself though! Don’t try it again unless it’s about 10 degrees cooler!
I’m not complaining though! I love it when it’s hot hot hot !
Do you ever read a magazine or see something on TV that gets your creative juices going? Over the years I have!
In previous years it’s been Jamie’s 15 minute meals, The Hairy Bikers and of course not forgetting, Ready Steady Cook.
My current favourite has to be The Pioneer Women. I’m totally hooked. I’ve even series linked all her episodes.
So who is The Pioneer Women? Ree Drummond! I love her nick name Ree. Her real name is Ann Marie. My own name is Maria but have always been known as Marie to my family. As a kid my nickname was Me Me. My nieces still call me it. Ree is such a great nickname for Marie!
Ree seems to have an amazing life, living on a ranch in Oklahoma in America. She is married to a real cowboy – Ladd – and has 4 children. How romantic does that sound?
Her cooking is every day cooking from dinners to desserts, to things that keep the kids happy!
She always starts the programme with the phrase ‘welcome to my frontier’.
Ree started off blogging about her time on the ranch back in 2006. Her blogs have even won awards.
In 2011 The Food Network awarded her her own Series called what else – The Pioneer Women!
She prepares every day meals from chicken pie, pork ribs, chicken dinner, pork chops to easy desserts and cakes in her lodge. I think she is now up to series 20!
What I love about her is that she showcases her food in such a way that you can easily transfer that to your own kitchen. She doesn’t use fancy gadgets, just everyday pots and pans like we have.
You have to sometimes translate some of the ingredients as we call some things a different name here in the UK.
I love sitting down in the evening and catching up on an episode. Last night she did a beef stroganoff. I haven’t done one for ages. It’s definitely something I’m planning for next week now.
Now when I say she inspires me, that is exactly what she does. I wouldn’t cook her meals exactly to her recipe as she uses ingredients I wouldn’t, because I’m on Slimming World. Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is amazing and my hubby would eat them just as they are. I just need to shift a few pounds as you know, so a tweak would be needed for me.
She uses cream, butter, oil and salt. All things I wouldn’t use. This is where the inspiration comes in! I look at what she makes and try to work out how I can do it for me on Slimming World. Most things can of course be changed. There are some things she makes though that you definately wouldn’t want to mess with, like her chocolate episode! Marshmallows covered in chocolate and cookie pieces! I think my nieces would have a great time making those.
On the whole though, her recipes easily transfer into syn free versions. This is what I love about cooking. Taking great ideas and making them your own.
I’d love to cook alongside Ree and create great meals together that taste good but work for Slimming World too. Obviously that isn’t her cooking style or requirement. I should image with the work they do on the ranch, they soon burn off any calories.
Ree is such a natural presenter. It’s like a friend showing you how they cooked dinner tonight. She is so easy to watch and I’m also loving following her life on the ranch. Watching her children growing up and going off to college!
If you haven’t seen her programme before, go along to The Food Network and check her out! Maybe she will inspire you to get into the kitchen too!
So today I’d planned the topic of my blog out! It was supposed to be titled ‘The Sun is out, the sky is blue!’. Well the sun is definitely not out and the sky is a grubby shade of grey!
The weather reports have been promising us a heatwave. Europe is steeped in temperatures in the 40’s. We were not going to get those type of temperatures, but in the 20’s is still good for me!
Yesterday was a horrible day. It did start off around 18 degrees and humid, but oh boy did it rain. I really considered not taking the dogs out, but then that wouldn’t be fair. Being Border Collies they have so much energy. If you don’t exercise them you know about it! Especially Lola who is currently going through the terrible 2’s!
So I popped on a pair of shorts and raincoat. Yes you heard right, shorts. I figured that wet legs would be more comfortable than wet trousers or jeans! And I was right!
By the time we got back the 3 of us were dripping wet. I was able to jump into the hot shower but the dogs had to settle for a rub-a-dub-dub! In normal speak, a towel dry!
The downside to wet dogs is that smell! Eek! Lots of Scentsy wax warmers were needed. I tried opening windows but the rain was just heavy!
Thankfully it finally stopped late afternoon, but not before it had dropped around 50mm of rain! I know that as I bought my hubby a weather station for Christmas. It’s great for keeping a check on what the weather really did in our area.
Working at home yesterday meant I had time to be creative in the kitchen last night. I do love having that extra hour our so. I’ve posted one of my videos from that session here:
Tomorrow I will publish my gorgeous breakfast cakes.
After an amazing dinner it was time to relax, in anticipation of the heatwave today!
I woke up all excited this morning. I dressed in shorts and a fleece!
As I stepped out of the house it dawned on me. Instead of sun it was raining. That was not forecast!
We had a drizzly walk. Quite cool too! I’m not loving this.
It’s nearly July and I can count on 1 hand the sunny days we have had this year! I’m so disappointed.
I’m praying now that this is just a blip! Tomorrow I’m going to be swamped in that heatwave.
If you are a member of Slimming World you will know there are so many recipe books out there. I think I have most of them.
Every so often, if you buy a 12 week countdown you get one for free!
I must be honest, recently I’ve been a little bit negative about them producing another book. What else could they come up with. I mean, they have the BBQ, Soups, One Pot, Meals for One, meals using 5 ingredients, desserts, the list goes on!
The recent one is called SP Sensations. I received mine as part of a 12 week countdown a few weeks ago!
I took it home expecting it to go into my recipe book cupboard, never to see the light of day!
That evening as I ate dinner I flicked through. Suddenly I found myself leaving markers of things I liked! Oh wow, this book truly was different and amazing.
Suddenly I had an increased urge to be more creative in the kitchen. I got my groceries app out and started my weekly shopping list!
Turkey with Chorizo, Tuna Niscose are my first dishes. Hubby tasted them and was amazed at the flavours!
Another dish was cinnamon prawns! I think I actually got ‘you have excelled yourself’ from hubby on this one!
Even where I haven’t used the recipe exactly, it’s inspired other dishes.
The other night I made the Gong Bao Chicken. The recipe is for 4. As I only needed it for 2 I still made up the oyster sauce mix for 4, so I could use the left over to create a dish last night. Which I have to say was amazing. I will be posting that dish on my YouTube channel on Friday!
Suddenly dinner times are exciting again. I’m no longer tired or bored of having to think of meals every night to cook. I can’t wait to get home and produce something amazing.
When you have only 2 hours every evening to cook, prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day, eat and do everything else that you need to do before going to bed to start the day again the next day, it’s easy to get into a rut. This new book has completely reenergised me!
So if you are able, go get this book. If you can’t, then make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to see my creations, as I share them with you!