Sunday, 29 July 2012

Sunday Weigh in: Week 3

I'm pleased to report that (somehow) I've had another reasonably successful week! Another half a pound off is not much,  but it's a step in the right direction. Next week is the first of this summer's weddings, and one of the main dress based tummy challenges for me this year so I will probably weigh in on Friday since I'll be wearing my supposed-body con dress on the Saturday!

Start weight: 9st 2lbs
Target weight: 8st 8lbs
This week: 0.5lb loss
Total loss: 4lbs
Current weight: 8st 13lb
BMI: 23.04 (target 22)

I'm not sure that I'm going to hit my 8st 8lb target weight by the time we go to California on the 13th August, but will definitely be a lot closer, which I am very pleased about. I'm hoping perhaps if I try really hard by then I will have lost another 2 or 3 lbs, so up to about half a stone overall, which seems a reasonable and health rate of loss.

This week has been another decent one for exercise, with slightly more cycling than last week, an hour at Bootcamp and also a visit to the local gym and a swim that we got on a Groupon voucher. I can't really imagine what my weight would be like if I didn't exercise regularly any more. I certainly have lost and maintained a healthier weight since I started to regularly work out and, for example, this week I shudder to think how many calories I consumed at my Olympic Opening Party Party, what with the crisps and sweets, beers and the odd glass of wine thrown in for good measure! I was quite virtuous yesterday though - we did a lot of cycling and when having a pub lunch I very nearly chose the fatty, meaty options with chips but in the end went for the vegetable burrito with rice, salad and guacamole, so considerably better for me but still hugely enjoyable and filling.

And speaking of food, I've been at work all morning and on walking tours at that, so time for me to peer in the cupboards and see what I can rustle up for lunch!

I think my fellow diet buddies, Jane and Cheryl are away on holiday this week, so I hope they're having a lovely time and not sweating the food stuff! Drop over to their blogs to catch up with their progress so far!


Silent Sunday

Monday, 23 July 2012

REVIEW: Very Lazy America South Cajun Paste

Nearly a year ago, I reviewed Very Lazy Chicken Chasseur concentrate. Did you miss it? You can always nip back and catch up ----> here. Well, those Very Lazy folks have been at it again and have come up with a new range of rubs and pastes. They sent me the Cajun Chicken paste to review (thanks guys) and last night we did just that.

And what better way is there to evoke the flavours of the Creole South than by a traditional BBQ? Yum yum, taking it to the next level. We thought that some chicken legs would take on the flavours well, as well as being a desireable BBQ treat.

My goodness, isn't this Very Lazy just a delight? I decided to make life even easier (and lazily avoid further washing up) I would marinade the chicken in a placcy bag that I could throw away afterwards. Just a couple of squirts of the paste went in, and a quick massage of the chicken and then I threw it to one side and forgot about it for a bit.

The Boy got the BBQ going. Eventually. Despite being a ruddy well darn tooting sunny day yesterday, it was also extremely windy. We didn't have any firelighters so were making lots of newspaper twists to try and light it. In the end, it was definitely the shot of absinthe over the top that got it going. Warning: don't light BBQs with flammable liquids of any type. It's silly and you should just remember to buy firelighters before the shops shut early on a Sunday.

We put the chicken out on the BBQ (once the flames had died down of course) and I decided to add an extra Jamie Oliver touch by throwing some rosemary on the coals to create aromatic smoke. I have no idea if it made a difference, but our rosemary bush has gone all massive so it needs taking down a peg or two.

We cooked them and, when they were cooked through, we ate them. And they were really delicious. The BBQ helped to add to the smokey flavour of the marinade and for my palette it had the perfect amount of background heat - it tasted spicey but didn't burn your mouth. I'd definitely recommend this paste to use with the char of hot coals. The chicken was moist and soft - not at all dry, even though I left it on for a bit of extra time to make totally sure it was cooked. I thought that considering it was basic brand chicken, this was a good flavour and texture and I think that the paste helped that. I'm not particularly sure that leaving the chicken to marinade did a huge amount (wasn't able to permeate the skin) - I think you'd mainly get the same effect from smearing it straight on before cooking (even lazier!).

Overall, I did find this time saving. I usually faff around quite a lot imagining up tasty tidbits for the BBQ, so this was a quick win which I think will impress your friends and family. I think I would use it again - I wonder what it would have been like on our lamb kebabs.... Maybe next time! 9 out of 10 Extreme Points for this one.

REVIEW: The Globe, Leicester

We have lived in Leicester for a good 8 years now, and in that time is has been clear to us that the Globe is a local institution. Sadly, it has been in decline in recent years - it truly seemed to be a victim of the smoking ban as that was a noticeable turning points when the crowds thinned and the atmosphere slipped away (metaphorical atmosphere, not the smoke). So there were some worried looks when the doors finally shut a couple of months ago. Was this another historic pub, closing forever?

Happily, no! The Globe reopened last week after a facelift, some TLC and generally sensitive upgrading. It is now part of the same local group that run the Marquis Wellington - and you can see the top notch review I gave them incidentally just the other week on this blog. They are still an Everards pub, another great local institution. All the usual Everard Ales are available - my favourites being the Sunchaser and Beacon - although The Boy likes a pint of Original. They also have a selection of guest ales and ciders. When we visited, The Boy sampled the Everards Au which he gave a good thumbs up to as very refreshing on a summers day. As ever, the beer seems well looked after.

We haven't tried the menu yet, but the pictures on their website look pretty good. As I always remember the Globe's menu, it is traditional pub fare at a reasonable price. You never know, perhaps they will invite me in to sample its delights and then I'll be able to write you all another review on the food! They do nachos - I hope they are on par with those you find at the Marquis! There is a poster on the exterior of the pub at the moment, proudly proclaiming that many of their ingredients are sourced from Leicester market - which is a great sign. Not only that they are buying locally, but also that the food may actually be freshly cooked rather than freshly microwaved! I wait to try it with baited breath!

Current Menu July 2012

Lighting the Lamps
We didn't have a nosy upstairs so I can't comment on the refurbishment, but downstairs it was all pretty good. They've added a dumb waiter around the back and therefore a partition wall which is a little uncomfortable in what was already quite a cramped space. We visited on a Friday straight after work and it was already getting quite difficult to get passed other punters in this area - I imagine it would get worse as it gets busier. While the decor is more magnolia, clean lines and decorative displays of teacups than seen previously, it does feel clean and airy - but just different! As The Boy said, if we'd never been there before we would really have liked it and settled right in. There does appear to be more of the original wood of the building exposed now, which is great and the lovely piece of stained glass at the back remains in place. Also, the real unique touch are the gas powered lamps on the wall - a lovely touch, although we though at 5.30pm on a sunny afternoon it was a bit odd that they were lighting the lamps and putting candles out on the tables!!

It's great to have the Globe open again. It was lovely to see so many people coming in, just like we had, having a little nosy round and exclaiming on the changes before settling down for a quiet pint. I truly hope it is a success and that the Globe recaptures the great spirit I remember from when we first moved here. I've had birthday celebrations here, and I even came here in my wedding dress, in between the ceremony and the reception. I hope many more people get the chance to make fun memories here like we have. Ten out of Ten Extreme Points, if only for the nostalgia!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Sunday Weigh in: Week 2

So here we are again, another Sunday, another weigh in closer to my August of weddings and trying to look fabulousish!

Start weight: 9st 2lbs
Target weight: 8st 8lbs
This week: 0.5lb loss
Total loss: 3.5lb
Current weight: 8st 13.5lb
BMI: 23.12 (target 22)

I haven't set the world on fire, but neither have I put anything on, so it's all good. Half a pound is nothing to be sniffed at when I was only looking to lose 8lbs in the first place.

 I've had a week that has consisted of quite a lot of drinks with friends and eating out so once again, keeping a thorough food diary of what I'm eating and drinking provides me with good motivation of when it is time to say "no more"! I had a great bootcamp session this week though, a workout on the stepper and done somewhere in the region of 9 hours on the bike this week, so I think I'm certainly keeping fit enough.

I blame not making it up to a full pound off on the vanilla slice a colleague gave me at work on Friday. It was 325 calories and totally delicious. I think I am happy that I ate it and only lost half than didn't get to enjoy it and was telling you I am a pound off now. That's what it's all about isn't it, being comfortable with the decisions we make and responsible for their consequences?

In preparation (and hopeless optimism) for the future, does any one know of a good system to trial for maintaining my weight once I reach my goal? There are tonnes of weight loss schemes out there, but would love to review something which helps with maintenance.

Check out my diet buddies progress this week - an awesome week for Jane over at 7hippopotamus and a 'could be worse' time of it for Cheryl at Madhouse Family Reviews (who is off on her holibobs now, have a great time!).


Silent Sunday

Friday, 20 July 2012

Viva HotPants Winners!

I am pleased to announce that the winners of my competition for Viva HotPants were:

Lynne O'Connor
Olivia Bier
Melanie Jane Stirling

Congratulations! I'm sending you all an email now. Remember you need to get back to me within 48 hours with your postal address and size to pass on to the promoter otherwise I'll have to pick another winner... :(

Monday, 16 July 2012

REVIEW: The Marquis Wellington, Leicester

The Marquis is one of those pubs that brings back old memories for me. It was the pub where my new friends and I went for a drink on the afternoon of the first day of our Masters Degree. It's where we went back when we finally graduated. However, since those heady days (and it was an alright pub then) the Marquis has transformed itself, into one of the best kept secrets in Leicester. And it genuinely is. Despite having a full refurbishment, about 2 or 3 years ago and developing one of the best records in terms of food and service, it's still very rarely packed to the gills - which it should be. We went on Sunday for lunch and I was amazed that there were so many free tables - I was fretting on the way up that I should have booked in advance!

The Marquis is set in a lovely historic building on Leicester's London Road. Just far enough out of town to make it a relatively select crowd that go in there, although there is a good mix of students and older regulars in there for good measure. The staff are always welcoming and provide very attentive service. They offer a choice of the usual Everards fare when it comes to ales and a small, but decent selection of wines. The pub is always very clean and all the facilities are completely presentable.

The win for me (when I was a smoker, and still now) is the outdoor area. Four almost chalet like covered booths sport comfortable cushions, lighting and timed heaters for when the weather is chilly. They've also managed to pack a few more tables into what is actually quite a small patio area, but judicious use of light colours and eye catching bamboo and other plants means that it feels like a refined and roomy area to chill out with friends.

"The Greek"
The Marquis' menu is another big win for me. At first it looks like standard pub fare - chilli, burgers, nachos and a Sunday lunch offering. However, once you receive the food, you'll find it is more Gastropub, but without the pricetag. We even used our Tastecard there, giving us 2-4-1 on main meals, which made it deliciously cheap! 

For our astoundingly awesome Sunday lunch this week, we ordered 'The Greek' - a platter consisting of toasted pitta, hummus, dressed salad, feta, olives and crudites. Literally my only criticism of the entire meal we had was that the menu stated you receive tzatziki, but we got double hummus. But I rather like that, so I didn't bother to chase the tzatziki (which is a bit like chasing the dragon, but more dip-based).

You can see from the picture that a pesto like dressing is drizzled across the platter. This is very tasty. The whole combination of flavours is lovely, the smooth creamy hummus, with the sharp, tangy feta, and the herby dressing, contrasting with the crunchy vegetables. Just delicious. And a good sized portion for sharing. I loved it, and for £7.50  I think it is a good buy as a sharer.

Chilli Beef Nachos
But that was not all we had to share - we were on a 241 deal, so we also picked up the £6.50 chilli nachos, a great robust dish with strong, but subtle flavours. Your mound of tortillas is covered in melted cheese, ladles of a lightly spiced but tasty beef chilli, with plenty of kidney beans and a final coat of tomatoey salsa. Served on the side are guacamole and sour cream. All the ingredients taste of fine quality and this is a very filling dish! The Boy and I both agreed that we'd happily come back one day and see if we could manage one of these portions to ourselves, although we caught a glimpse of another table being served a Sunday Roast which looked great, so we're going to have to come back and try that (£7.95) before we have a nacho challenge.

How could I fail to give the Marquis anything other than ten out of ten Extreme points? It's nearly all things to all people, a quiet boozer, a fun place to join in with an Open Mic night, a pub grub lunch time stop off or a Gastropub evening dine. We also need to go and check out the quality of the Monday night pub quiz when the students are back, and not to forget the drinks offers on Hell Yeah Wednesdays. Yes, this pub holds "Hell Yeah Wednesday" - what's not to like?

A Happy Hippy

UPDATE 12/10/12: Sad times! We went back to eat at the Marquis recently and they have changed their menu in line with what is served at The Globe. It's nowhere near as good any more. The pork belly is not crisp and the nachos to share don't even have chilli on them now. 

Looking at the menu we could see that the Greek platter is no longer available, just I think hummus and pitta - nowhere near as high quality an offer or at as good value as previously.

Sad times my friends, the crushing disappointment weighs heavily on my soul. One of the absolute top places to eat in the city, now not worth the trek up London Road? Has anyone else been recently, what do you think? Comment below...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Sunday Weigh In: Week 1

I joined in with some fellow bloggers last week who are acting as diet buddies for each other. It's nice to have some support out there and to know that I am (even if just nominally) answerable to other people for getting myself back into shape for all the lovely weddings I have to go to this autumn.

Start weight: 9st 2lbs
Target weight: 8st 8lbs
This week: 3lb loss
Total loss: 3lb
Current weight: 9st 0lb
BMI: 23.21 (target 22)

Get in!
It's been a good start for me this week. The Boy has been cooking lots of lovely vegetable meals and making salads. I have had some treats - wine, beers, even some crisps, but I have also been getting out there and doing a good bit of cycling. I've had a couple of work buffet meals at various events, but didn't go mad, and I have been using my new Easy Tone Stepper when not out walking, or on the bike or doing the Bootcamp class. I even had a cheeseburger and fries from a little independent shop on Friday, but I think I was quite good because I didn't drink the can of pop that came with it and gave it to the Boy instead. Every little helps! 

I think it's really been a benefit to me to record everything on MyFitnessPal app, because it helps me to make better choices, whether I really do want a snack, or another glass of wine, when I know exactly how much I've already had that day. It's also a good motivator to do some exercise to keep the figures for that day a bit more balanced out.

So, I've had a great week and I'm glad to report that so has CherylP59 - congratulations! Let's hope Hippopotamus7 has an equally good week. Go Diet Buddies!!


Silent Sunday

REVIEW: The Railway Inn, Glenfield

After a function this morning, we were looking for somewhere to have a spot of lunch. We happened to be passing The Railway Inn at Glenfield and so decided we'd pop in for a bite to eat.

The pub doesn't really look much from the outside, but there is a lot of parking, and round the back they have some picnic tables and also a great wooden shed-like structure which houses a number of tables - no doubt a great resource for smokers in the winter!

However, inside the pub is spacious and feels freshly decorated. It's all a bit Habitat, with large print floral wallpaper , but nice enough and comfortable. The pub was clearly clean and well maintained inside. We received a warm welcome from the bar maid who was warm, friendly and helpful throughout our visit.

The menu was a home printed, laminated affair that was rather tatty around the edges but it promised homemade food and reasonable prices. The expectation was rather high as many of the menu items seemed to be promise to be made from scratch, which was weird because the menu is massive, with a huge amount of choice. It took us a long time to decide, but eventually we went for the two meals for £8 option.

The food arrived within about 5 or 10 minutes of ordering - awesomely quick as we were really hungry, worryingly quick in terms of the food being fresh and made to order... I had the chicken, leek and ham pie in puff pastry, with chips and vegetables.

Evidently I forgot to take a photograph until halfway through... The pie was OK - there was a lot of puff pastry, at a ratio of about 3:1 versus fillig, so it was quite a while until I got to any chicken. There was barely any leek in the filling which was disappointing, but I am pretty sure it was a bought in pie rather than homemade. The chips and carrots and peas were standard frozen products. The meal came with a big gravy boat, with gravy granuales made up. How did I know they were granuales? Because there were big lumpy bits where it hadn't been stirred enough to dissolve properly! There was a lot though, so The Boy could have some on his meal as well.

The Boy ordered the Sirloin Steak with chips and veg (Sirloin, on a 2 for £8 menu?) and it was awful! The first one came, ordered rare but was cooked through to dryness. This was probably because it was so thick, and weirdly pale, that it actually looked like a pork steak!
The second one was 'cooked to order' and came out about 4 minutes later. This one was better, but still very weirdly pale. Actually it looks way better in the photo than it did in reality, a lot more colour to it. No blood though, which you kind of expect with a rare steak. I think it made the Boy feel a bit sick because it was so anaemic, but he soldiered on and ate it anyway.

So all in, the food is very reasonably priced, the staff are friendly and the pub is comfortable. However, this is a case of you get what you pay for. The strengths of this pub menu, from what we could see, are things that you can pull out of the freezer and deep fry, as processed food always comes across the best when everything is bought in frozen. The drinks prices weren't too bad though, we paid £3 for a pint of Fosters and £3.30 for an Old Speckled Hen. Overall I'd give the Railway Inn 3 out of 10 Extreme Points, but next time we'll just go there for a drink!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

REVIEW: Reebok Easy Tone Step and toning up for Summer!

My seeming addiction to Reebok workout equipment continues with the latest addition to my home workout gear, the Reebok Easy Tone Step. I was very lucky to be supplied with it by Gymworld Fitness, after being the lucky winner of a competition on the lovely Lilinha Angel's blog. It took a while to get to me because the people from Gymworld Fitness were on holiday but it's finally arrived and I have been enjoying trying it out.
I'll wager this is different to any step you have ever seen before! It certainly still looks unusual to me! It is a sturdy plastic step with soft, rubbery and good grippy top, excellent for standing on in bare feet or trainers (although no doubt for health and safety reasons I should probably only be advocating using this kit with trainers!). The grip bumps along the surface are smaller and more closely spaced in the centre, showing the optimum area for least balance challenge. The further away from the centre your hands or feet are placed, the more challenging the exercise. And why is that?
Because underneath, instead of fixed feet, the step has two inflated pods, which have been "engineered to create natural instability". I don't know about you but I am tad unstable by nature, so I wasn't sure how well I would get on with this piece of kit, but in reality it's really easy to use. Much easier than the first few times I tried an inverted bosu ball for example - great for a beginner - the 'natural instability' is not so great that you are falling all over the place, but more a micro instability which means your muscles have to work that little bit extra on every exercise to keep you balanced.

The step comes with a pump, in case your balance pods lose inflatability, and also a DVD which introduces how to work out with the step and gives a number of exercise videos that you can work along to. I found it a great introduction to using the step and gave me some good ideas of how I can use it. Like with the other Reebok kit, they also provide videos freely online for you to access. I think this is a good resource and ideal for me, working out on my own at home.

Today I did a half hour workout using a combination of my Easy Tone Step and my epic Cardio Bell. I mixed up a whole range of exercises and managed to do some cardio work as well as toning exercises for my arms, core and legs. The Step is really easy to use in a number of different ways which helps you to not get bored. The little switch underneath controls the airflow, either keeping it steady or allowing the air to flow from one pod to the other, which increases the intensity of the exercises. I found that it was good to mix up whether I had it on or off, or somewhere in the middle, depending what exercises I was doing. It is great that you can use the step either way up as well, really increasing the variety of exercises and muscle groups that you are working. As you can see I am really pleased with this piece of kit, a genuinely positive addition to my home fitness regime.

In related, but other news, I have decided to join forces with Jane and Cheryl and others in their supportive group of Diet Buddies. Since quitting smoking I have gained over half a stone, and with an impending visit to California for my best mate's wedding I really want to get back into the shape that I had. I have stopped going to the gym in recent months as without an annual bus ticket it was just taking too much time out of my day to get there and get home again, but I have been cycling for my commute and more besides. This is why my home workout regime has become more important. I have also been using the MyFitnessPal app to monitor my food intake which has made me a lot more aware of what I'm putting in.

Since I stopped smoking I have noticed the following - I eat breakfast where I didn't before (admittedly better for you overall, but still a lot of additional calories compared to what I was eating), I snack now (I essentially snacked once a fortnight before) and I am drinking more now (probably a work thing!). So, I am not so much on a 'diet' as being more aware of making good choices, ensuring I keep up the home exercise and hopefully this will lead to losing at least half a stone by the time I go on holiday and definitely being more toned and feeling more confident. I shall check in on the Sunday weigh with my Diet Buddies and keep my fingers crossed. Starting weight, 9st 2lbs... Desired end, a BMI of 22. Here is my terrifying Wii Fit screen at the start (in my defense I literally did this after I had my tea. Hopefully that will pay off on Sunday and give me a confidence boost, lol).
NB Weirdly, this was the second body test I did as I forgot to photograph it the first time round. How my BMI had gone up 0.8 points in 2 minutes I have no idea. But it annoyed me.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

REVIEW: H&M Cracked Nail Polish

Base coat in dark purple

Over 18 months ago now, I reviewed the Layla Grafitti topcoat. Cracked nail varnish was a new thing back then, and I hadn't come across the phenomena before and I absolutely loved it. I've seen over time that cracked top coats have flooded the market, with the high street making affordable knock off versions of this excellent product and I thought it was time that I bought myself one and tested it out. The Layla polish I had came in white and I really wanted a black one, which would be more versatile for the sort of outfits I usually wear.

H&M have a black one for £1.99 which seemed like a huge bargain. I decided to put it over a dark purple base coat for a special evening function I was attending last week. You can see the result when I added the top coat below.

The Finished Result
My verdict? Terrible. 1 out of 10 Extreme Points for this poor quality product. About one of half of my right thumb nail got the desired cracked effect, while all the other nails were covered in a semi transparent, lumpy and uneven coat of matte black goop. I quite liked the incidental matte finish, but to be honest that wasn't what I was going for and if I wanted matte, I would have bought a proper product to achieve the effect, without the patchy uneveness. So, unfortunately, my opinion of H&M continues to sink to previous unimagined depths. Will they be able to pull me back? I don't know, at the moment I can't say I'm inclined to set foot back in their shops at the moment, so I don't know how they'll win me round. If this was Twitter, twould be a #fail indeed.


Silent Sunday

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Creating labels for your pages in Blogger: A step by step guide

On a recent blog post, a lovely visitor asked me how I had achieved my blog layout.
"How did you get the other pages to show all posts under a certain label?
 I'd love to do that with mine but can't figure it out!"

The coveted layout

Well, I confess at first I couldn't remember how I had done it! I remember googling round for ages to try and figure out how this layout could be achieved in Blogger, but after scooting round in the design section it has all come back to me. I've decided that for Jaye's benefit and hopefully to help someone else as well I would write a clear, easy to follow guide to add this layout to your own blog.

Step One
Go into your Blogger settings, where you check on your Stats etc. and click on the Pages option in the left hand menu.

Decide what labels you want at the top of your page - they need to be one word so you can easily put a seach link in for them.

Step Two
To add the Pages, use the 'New Page' option and select 'Web Address: Send Readers to another web address'.

Put your desired label in the 'Page Title' box and then add the web address for searching your blog for that tag. In this case the formula is ''.

Step Three
Once you have added as many labels as you want and made sure you have selected the option to show the labels as 'top tabs', you need to check that your search is picking up the right posts.

To do this, you need to make sure that your corresponding label is flagged up as a tag on the relevant post. For example, for my recent Great Garden Moments post, I wanted the post to be picked up by people who clicked the 'Gardening' label at the top of my blog. Therefore, I had to make sure that 'gardening' was one of my tags for that post, as per this picture:


* Use the Pages option to choose your labels.
* Set the Pages up as a search link for your blog.
* Make sure the relevant blog posts have that search term in the tags.

Does that make sense? I hope that is a useful explanation!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Zaggora Hotpants Review Round-up and Competition

I've been a HotPants Ambassador for a year now! In order to celebrate this illustrious anniversary, I thought I'd give you a quick reference guide to the Zaggora reviews I have posted over the last 12 months, as well as giving you the opportunity to win a pair of Zaggora's new awesomely-bright Viva HotPants for yourself!

Click on the links in the list below to read my Zaggora reviews.

The Original Zaggora HotPants

Zaggora Flares - the full leg coverage

Zaggora Viva HotPants - thinner, more colourful, super awesome!

  • I loved the look of Viva HotPants and thought I was ready for yet another Two Week Challenge. Check out my super exciting home exercise photos using my kettlebell!
  • However, being something of an Old Hand now, when it comes to Zaggora products, I realised I just wasn't organised enough. There may not be any measurements, but I did hit upon what I consider to be a very handy list of pros and cons which I hope will be helpful for people looking to buy Viva Hotpants.

I hear that Zaggora are starting to develop tops now as well, which I have certainly been suggesting for a long time, so can't wait to try those. And a year on I am pleased to say that I am still pleased to be a Zaggora ambassador. In combination with my exercise and 4 months of regular cycling, I have much more toned thighs. I have maintained my weight well and have incredibly soft skin. Personally, I feel confident that using Zaggora products has made this all a little easier than if it was just exercise alone. What are your experiences of Zaggora products?

And now, the moment you've been waiting for! Win one of these little bundles of wet-suity goodness all for yourself! If you have any issues with the Rafflecopter, do try refreshing the page. Here's to another successful year with Zaggora!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you haven't heard about Viva HotPants yet (or you haven't read my reviews - you naughty thing) the Zaggora press release gives you the low down:

"The new Viva Hotpants include five, new and bright colour leggings 
with contrasting seams ending just below the knee. 
Viva's new cut have a curved seam construction that is narrower at the back, 
widens around the bottom and then narrows in on the thighs to accentuate the body shape, 
slim the thighs and create a flattering silhouette.
 Like the original Hotpants and the rest of the Zaggora range, 
Viva Hotpants target the thighs, stomach and  bottom 
with the ability for women to lose 2 jean sizes in 2 weeks, 
as reported by thousands of women at"

Great Garden Moments

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now will know that our Great Garden Moment of 2011 was getting our raised beds organised, after much effort on my behalf and that of The Boy. 
We awaited this year's Spring with rising excitement, looking forward to the bumper harvests that our much increased growing space would produce. However, it has been a bit of a washout. Constant rain has seen an explosion in the slug and snail population which has destroyed wave after wave of seedlings and provided me with great disappointment. My gardening goal for this year was to grow an aubergine. Just one. But I couldn't because three waves of seedlings have been eaten.

However, the occasional sunshine, perpetual rain and perseverance have led me to have a Great Garden Moment of 2012! I am pleased to announce that softly, softly I have caught the monkey. 

The fruit bushes on the right are heaving with berries, lapping up the great rainfall. My new fruit bushes in the left hand border are becoming nicely established and are likely to crop next year. I have a perpetual bloom of roses which are well trailed along the fence. The rosemary is now so big it may well require its own postcode soon. I have given away kale to three people now, because we have so much! The spinach, baby cabbages and garlic are all growing well and the leeks and onions (bottom left) are finally establishing themselves.

And, my absolute Great Gardening Moment? My courgette plants are finally about to burst into bloom. I feel blessed that although the spring and early summer of 2012 has been so damp that I have not yet sat out in my garden as much as I would like, what little time I have spent out there is now proving so productive. I love my little patch of urban green.

This blog post is my entry into the Great Garden Moments Competition - so fingers crossed! Maybe when the sun does finally come to stay I'll be sitting out in my garden in considerable more comfort and style than at present.
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