Sunday, 31 July 2011

The end of an era

Well here we are, about to begin the second week of the summer holidays and already primary school is a distant memory. For those of you not in the know, 'A' finished her final year of primary school on Friday 22nd July and will be off to much scarier (well, to me anyway) High School come September. The last few weeks of term went by in a blur. We performed our usual summer concert with the school choir back in June and as ever this was a hit with the kids and the parents and even took our ladies choir in for an impromptu assembly performance. 'A' and the rest of year 6 shortly after, started work on their final school show which this year was to be 'Gel'. They performed the show over two nights and 'A' played Mrs Fletcher, a bit of a busy body come tea lady! She had to wear rollers in her hair and her Grandma's slippers but she loved every minute of it. The show was a roaring success and really showcased some new talents that we'd not had a chance to see before.

Last day of term came and went and surprisingly, not a tear was shed in the Griffiths household by Mother or Daughter. The usual traumatic leavers' assembly had been replaced by a more upbeat celebration of the children's time at primary school and although there were a few weepy souls there was not the usual flood of tears that has a kind of domino effect. Even the end of school bell went by without too much trauma. 'A' came out of school with a shirt full of signatures and couldn't wait to put her new found independence into action by heading off to the chip shop with friends (an essential trip that had been planned by the year 6's for a few day's and which we had no choice but to agree to!).

I did wonder if the fact that she'd actually left primary school and a whole chapter of her life behind, would kick in sometime during the first weeks of the holiday, but I can honestly it hasn't. I think the fact of the matter is, she's just ready to move on. If you'd have asked me this time last year I would have said, "she's still my little girl and will never be ready for high school in a years' time". However, she is and I can't believe the change in her over 12 months. Yes, she's still incredibly half soaked at times and has the memory capacity of a tea strainer but she has matured no end and I feel is really ready for the challenge of 'big' school. Whether I'll still be saying that in the Autumn when she's having friendship issues, detention for being late and not handing her homework in on time, remains to be seen! ;) Personally,  think the whole process was easier for me, knowing that I would be returning to the school again in September to continue with school choir.  It won't be quite the same though without my own lovely girl being there each week.  I'm sure she'll drop in from time to time though, should her busy extra curricular school life allow!

[caption id="attachment_971" align="alignleft" width="189" caption="First day at primary school"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_972" align="alignright" width="97" caption="Last day at primary school"][/caption]

Where did those 6 years go?

Welcome to Iris Folding

In one of my recent magazines there was a great article on the papercraft technique called 'Iris Folding'. Although rather time consuming the actual technique itself was fairly simple and I think the overall effect was really effective. My first attempt was for my friend Jo's birthday. We've spent many a morning chatting over a nice cuppa or three so I had a look round for an idea that would incorporate this. I found a super example on The Little Paper Studio which included a teapot design. I tried to create something similar and came up with my own little phrase – 'Always time for tea with friends' for the teapot tag. The only problem I came across was when trying to stick my finished design to the card face due to the thickness of the folded paper I had real difficulty with this. I think next time I would make my design a little smaller to allow more free space around the edge for sticking down.










I had another attempt at iris folding for my brother's birthday last week. This time I went for a slightly more appropriate theme for my brother of a hot air balloon. I managed to find a template online for the hot air balloon shape and used some left over papers for the iris folding. If you fancy having a go at iris folding have a look at Handcrafted Crafted Greetings for further instructions. They also have iris folding templates available here.

A couple of other events to make for saw me creating a 'Brownie' themed card for our Niece who was 7 back at the start of June and yesterday 'A' sang at the wedding of her Youth On Stage choreographer. I looked around for a little wedding card inspiration as I've not made one until now but I was quite pleased with the result. The idea came from Card Making Corner.







Thursday, 14 July 2011 gone!

Ok, I don't want to jinx things but............the IBS is gone, well, for now at least.

After following the instructions of the Colonic Hydrotherapist (see Colonic Hydrotherapy - what's good for Madonna's good for me!), for the entire duration of last week I cut wheat from my diet, ate sack loads of veg, salad and fresh produce and drank plenty of water.  OMG how hard was that!  Well I'm here to tell you, it was extremely hard, but nevertheless I stuck with it.  After the initial rough start with wheat withdrawal symptoms galore, by Thursday I gradually started to feel a little better.  I woke up headache free and for the first time in about 2 weeks, no niggly stomach pain developed as the day wore on.  Each day since then my stomach has gradually felt better and better and I haven't had a headache since last Wednesday which is a massive thing for me.

I decided after reading various articles online and a great product review over at 'A Mother's Ramblings' that I would give wheat or more so gluten free bread a try.  Even though I don't believe I have a wheat intolerance, I do believe that reducing it as part of my diet as helped dramatically and therefore would like to keep things that way.  I dashed down to Asda on Saturday morning to buy some of Warburtons new Gluten and Wheat Free bread and was surprised at how nice it was (and also some of Asda's Freefrom Lemon Shortbread Biscuits.......OMG heaven on earth!).  The good thing I've noticed though, is that I've not gone back to shovelling bread down my neck with every possible meal and snack, in fact I've only eaten around 4 or 5 slices in total since Saturday which basically means I've broken the wheat/carb addiction!

All things salad, veg and now fruit too are foremost in my mind.  'P' has helped loads by joining me on the healthy eating plan and bringing me some great things home from the supermarket to try.  We're slowly getting the kids onboard but at least they're eating more veg and fruit now.  Although not 100%, I can honestly say, *touches wood* that I've not felt this well in ages and I just hope it lasts.

For anyone out there who suffers with IBS, please take a good look at your diet before rushing off to the Docs for yet more useless medication.  I know it's not the same for everyone and some people really do have particular food allergies and intolerances that they need to get sorted, but there are also many people out there like I was, who live on a daily diet of stress and convenience food.  I'd highly recommend Colonic Hydrotherapy as a starting point but I really believe that it's the information and advice that the therapist gave me rather than the actual treatment, that's proved invaluable.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Hats off!

Updated my Florida scrapbook about a month ago and completely forgot that I'd not posted the new pics.  I did a couple of new pages, one based on Disney's Animal Kingdom - Kilimanjaro Safari's and another based around our addiction for trying on hats at the various parks.

[caption id="attachment_951" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Wild Things"][/caption]

I managed to get some super animal print cardstock from Ebay and used my newly bought Craft Robo to cut out the elephant and giraffe templates and also the 'Wild Thing' lettering (although I have sold this now as it did get to be a bit of a faff continually setting the pc up with it).   I wrote a short section of script from the tour onto the elephant.

[caption id="attachment_952" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Hats Off!"][/caption]

I had a rather random selection of backing papers already, from various packs I've bought on Ebay so decided to use some of these to make the page colourful and fun.  I managed to download a superb 'Willy Wonka' font which I used for the title and once again used the Craft Robo for this.  This was then attached using sticky pads to give a 3D effect.  I'd seen an article in Cardmaking and Papercraft magazine on crinkled paper flowers so had a go at this as an embellishment, using a flower shaped brad from WHSmith to finish off.  A Martha Stewart Deep Edge 'Flower Bed' punch was used for the edges of the spotted paper which I purchased from Secretcrafter recently.  A fantastic buy as I've used it loads!

Here's a close up of the 'Hats Off!' piccies:

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Colonic Hydrotherapy - what's good for Madonna's good for me!

I'm going to tell you of my recent encounter with Colonic Hydrotherapy or Colonic Irrigation as you may have heard of it.  I've not even told anyone apart from 'P' and the kids that I've had this done but after much searching on the web I thought that others may benefit from my experience so here goes.

I remember watching a program on TV a couple of years ago called 'The Spa of Embarrassing Illnesses' where people who suffered with different illnesses such as IBS, Psoriasis, Hyperhydrosis (sweating) were chosen to attend a retreat in Spain.  Each day they were given different activities such as yoga, meditation and given healthy detox foods and smoothies.  One of the 'activities' the participants were asked to carry out was a Colon Cleanse.  Even though at the time, this looked the most embarrassing and unbelievably uncomfortable experience, I couldn't help thinking that maybe this is something that could help me.  You see, call me a hypochondriac if you like (as 'P' often does :) ), but as I've got older I have the longest list of physical problems you could imagine the worst of which being IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Migraine.  I've been given various meds for the IBS, tried herbal teas and cutting out the greasy foods but nothing seems to help.  A huge factor in IBS is stress and although I don't feel that I lead a particularly stressful lifestyle I'm a real worrier - I worry about everything and I mean everything!  After being completely stress and IBS free during our holiday to Lake Como I returned and within a day of arriving home the IBS pain and symptoms were back, in fact pain far worse than any I'd suffered before.  I was miserable, lethargic and didn't know what to do, that's when 'P' suggested Colonic Hydrotherapy.

He'd found a website for an extremely qualified Colonic Hydrotherapist just a couple of miles away who happens to be Chairperson of The Association of Registered Colon Hydrotherapists (ARCH).  As nervous as I was, I gave them a call and had a lovely chat with the lady's husband who told me all the 'ins and outs' (no pun intended :) ) of the whole colonic experience.  I decided enough was enough and booked in for the very next day for a consultation and colonic hydrotherapy treatment.

Now, I cannot begin to tell you how scared I was at the prospect of having a foreign object shoved in an unspeakable place to basically wash out my insides but I have to say the whole encounter was far easier than I'd first imagined and not at all embarrassing.  Gillian, the hydrotherapist, was very quick to put me at ease and the information she gave me about my colon and the effect the IBS has on it was invaluable.  I'm not going to put you off your lunch and post here about every graphic detail but suffice to say at the end of the 45 minute treatment I felt a lot better even though you generally need 2 or 3 treatments before your colon has been completely cleansed.

The hardest part of the consultation was admitting that my diet is, well, crap! It really is!  I think I've tried to fool myself that things really weren't as bad as they were on the whole diet front but having to list to someone your daily food intake kind of makes you sit up and take notice.  Never mind 5 a day I was lucky if I was eating any fruit or vegetables at all sometimes not even 5 a week!  Terrible I know and I hang my head in shame, no wonder she has IBS I hear you cry!  Anyway, I'm now in phase 2 of my treatment and I think the colonic cleanse was actually the easier part.  Gillian has requested that I completely remove wheat from my diet for a whole week to see how this affect me.  Now this might not seem difficult to most of you but I am a breadaholic.  On Gillian's say so I am not allowed to eat any bread or pasta and am to increase the amount of protein, vegetables and water that I consume on a daily basis.

I never realised quite what an impact this would have on me.

Today is day 4 of my wheat free week and the withdrawal symptoms I've experienced have been immense.  I have had headaches every single day since the initial treatment, I am so tired I could sleep standing up and emotionally I'm a wreck, even to the point of tears yesterday when 'P' wondered what the hell was wrong to which I could only reply "I don't know!".  I've done quite a lot of reading this morning and discovered that 'wheat withdrawal' is very real and that many people suffer with the same symptoms as me after removing wheat from their diet.  Apparently the symptoms normally last for around a week so I will be interested to see how things pan out.  The IBS seems to have improved slightly but I'm hoping that once my diet is on track and my body gets used to the new way of eating, things will be a lot better.  Since the weekend I've had no bread whatsoever (god, that's been hard) or processed foods and have had fruit yoghurt, soups, fresh vegetables, salad, plenty of fresh meat and lots and lots of water.  I have started to notice a difference in my skin and eyes already and I truly believe that a change such as this will eventually help if not cure many of my other physical problems.  Gillian advised me that I may feel worse before I get better so I will just keep trudging on for now.

I will most probably return to Stourbridge Colonic Hydrotherapy for at least another treatment as I really think this will help.  Colonic Hydrotherapy is reported to have a massive influence on your health and I'm hoping that easing my IBS will be only one of the many benefits.  Will keep you posted!

p.s. anyone who's thinking of having this done and wants to know the nitty-gritty so to speak, send me a message - I'd be glad to give you more info :)

Mission to get fit 2011 – Update 5....Race week!

Ok, so the countdown's almost over.  This Sunday will see me taking part in the Evesham Vale 10k in Worcestershire and I'm starting to get very, very worried.  Although I finally managed a long run of almost an hour on Sunday, I've done nowhere near enough training to prepare me for the 10k distance.  At my current long distance pace I can only hope to complete the course in around 1 hour 11 minutes (if I'm lucky) and that's a diabolical time compared to my previous years efforts.  However, I'm looking more to the next few months.  I've come a long way in the last couple of months and if I just continue the training my September race could see me getting my best time ever.

Not much on the training plan for this week due to Sunday being race day, so shouldn't be too taxing!

Week 6

Mon - Rest - Rest
Tues - Rest - Rest
Weds - 25 min easy - 25.36 min, 2.17m
Thurs - Rest - Rest
Fri - 35 min easy -
Sat - Rest - Rest
Sun - RACE DAY - 10K 10.30am Evesham Vale

Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Lovely Lago di Como

Last week saw 'P' and I visit the beautiful Lake Como as a present for his 40th birthday.  We headed off on Monday lunchtime flying out from Birmingham Airport to Milan Malpensa, arrived at around 4.30, met by our transfer driver and then had a nearly 2 hour drive to the little town of Bellagio where we were to spend our 5 night holiday.

[caption id="attachment_916" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="First night in Bellagio"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_917" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="'P' in Bellagio - first night"][/caption]

We stayed at the Hotel Bellagio which was right in the centre of town and ideally located for shopping and hopping on and off the ferry (Full tripadvisor review - Hotel Bellagio).  This was a very peaceful child-free break, 'A' was actually away with school at the Pioneer Centre and 'S' had a great time staying with both 'P's mom and my own.  I think they would have loved the initial sites at Lake Como but I do think that after a day or so they would have been completely bored as it's really not a child friendly place.  For us, however, it was magical!  People ask what we did to which I answer, eat, drink, catch the ferry, eat, drink, catch the ferry and eat, drink some more...........and that pretty much sums it up......heaven! :)

[caption id="attachment_918" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="Narrow street in Varenna"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_919" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="Me by the Lake in Bellagio"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_920" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="One of the main shopping streets in Bellagio"][/caption]

Bellagio itself is a lovely little town with lots of quaint narrow streets full of boutique shops and gifts galore.  Plenty of places to eat out or catch a late evening drink by the lakeside and a lovely walk from the car ferry station towards Villa Melzi, framed by Oleander trees and hundreds of colourful flowers.  There are too many restaurants and cafe's to name them all but one of our favourites was 'Baba Yaga' (Full Tripadvisor review) which did the most superb steak and pizza's.  There were also some not so good eateries including the highly overrated 'La Punta' (Full Tripadvisor review) where we had a most awful experience!

As already mentioned we spent most of our days wandering through the town or visiting one of the many nearby villages by ferry.  The little town of Varenna was just wonderful with the same narrow cobbled streets but a very peaceful feel to it and Menaggio was a little more built up with busier roads but still that same laid back, Lake Como vibe.

[caption id="attachment_923" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Varenna"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_924" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Idyllic location for a sit down in Varenna"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_927" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Menaggio"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_926" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Menaggio"][/caption]

We had a real mix of weather whilst there, hot and sunny on our first and last day with cloudy days and a thunderstorm in between.  We made the most of our sunny days for travelling on the ferry and kept the dismal weather for shopping and a visit to Villa Melzi in Bellagio.

[caption id="attachment_928" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Villa Melzi - Bellagio"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_930" align="aligncenter" width="199" caption="View of the Lake from Villa Melzi grounds"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_929" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Villa Melzi gardens"][/caption]

Our last day saw us visiting the lovely Lenno, Argegno and Tremezzo.  The trip from Lenno to Argegno gave us a superb opportunity to photograph the truly beautiful Villa Balbianello which was a location used in films such as Casino Royale and Star Wars.  Although our stop in Argegno was very brief we visited a wonderful little wine bar/cafe where we received fantastic service.  We only wish we'd taken more notice of the name but after a little googling I believe that it may be the 'Cafe Colombo'.

[caption id="attachment_931" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Lenno"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_932" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="'P' and I in Lenno"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_934" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Villa Balbianello"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_933" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Villa Balbianello"][/caption]

Needless to say we both felt thoroughly chilled after a Lake Como break, 5 nights was just right to see and do everything we wanted to and we both felt that we left completely fulfilled with what the area had to offer.


Mission to get fit 2011 – Update 4

Dear, oh dear, oh dear!!!!

Last week turned out to be a complete wash out on the training front.  Went all the way to lovely Lake Como with great intentions and running gear packed in the case only to return with it still neatly folded having not seen the light of day!

Got back on the training program this week with a great 45 minute run earlier in the week and a superb hill training session last night.  I'm very worried no about how I'm going to manage 10k.  I really could do with another 2 or 3 of weeks where in reality I have just 7 days to go until the first of my 10k races.  Never the less I will do what I can but I'm not going to kill myself over the next week by trying to cram in extra training sessions.  This will only play havoc with the shins and really won't help in the long term.  I really should have taken a step backwards to re-do week 4 of the training plan but if I'm to stand any hope of completing the full 10k distance I need to get my long run up to an hour this week, so onwards to week 5.

Week 4

Mon - Rest - Rest
Tues - 25 mins fartlek or hills - None !!!
Weds - Rest - Rest
Thurs - 40 mins mod - None !!!
Fri - Rest - Rest
Sat - 50 - 55 min long run - None !!!

Week 5

Mon - Rest - Rest
Tues - 45 min mod - 43 min mo, 3.90 miles
Weds - Rest - Rest
Thurs - Rest - Rest
Fri - 25 min fartlek or hill run - 25 min hill run
Sat - Rest - Rest
Sun - 55 - 60 min long run - 59.17 min, 4.91m