Day 101, Diets and other stuff!

Yeah, my new time planner seems to be working, today I have done some work for a client, worked on a poster design for a fundraiser (a committee I am on) and left a slot to do some blogging, well actually hubby has gone out so I have some free time to catch up on my blog. I enjoy writing my blog (and reading other blogs) but it is always pushed back to being the last thing on my list and because of this I am now aware that I have not blogged about Day Zero since February, about Roller Derby since January and I blogged about a diet in February and have not mentioned it since. So, apart from Roller Derby which warrants a post of its own, this is going to be a bit of a catch up to keep you up to date on what I have been up to.

 

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Day Zero
885 Days to go, 13% complete.

Well without trying I have ticked off another two on my day zero list, #43 go to the theatre to see a show. I had a great evening in Oxford watching ‘An Evening of Burlesque’ with darling hubby, and #69 to tweet more, I am now up to 199 tweets, part of this is the fact that I have linked with my Facebook account so any public statuses are shared on twitter, and as Twitter now posts to my social and personal pages on Facebook I am inclined to compose tweets more.

I have also managed to mark a couple as ‘in progress’ and some of these are coming along quite nicely, I just have to remember to make a note of anything I do that is on my DZ list as trying to do it in retrospect is proving quite difficult – I know I have read books, watched movies, listened to new music and cooked new dishes but cannot remember at this point what they were.

 

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Diet
Remember me blogging about ‘The Two Day Diet’ that was serialized in the Daily Mail? (click here to read it).  Well the book arrived, and I had a look through and it is not as simple to do the diet as they made out, you still have to follow a Mediterranean diet for the other 5 days. A lot of my friends are having success with the 5:2 diet, where for two non-consecutive days a week you limit your calorie intake to just 500 calories, so I have decided to give this one a go.

My first challenge to face was to choose my days. I used to regularly have a ‘skinny day’ on a Monday out of guilt from the weekend excesses, so decided Monday would be one of my days, for the second day I needed to choose one where I did not have any roller derby training (could not do that on 500 calories) and one where I was not going to be rushing around too much. My only option was a Friday, great for feeling guilt free heading into the weekend. So Monday and Friday’s it is. So far I have had 3 fast days and lost 2lb. This way of dieting appeals to me as I can still eat normally the other 5 days, I have managed to maintain my weight on my ‘normal diet’ for 4 years now so must be doing something right, and on fast days only have to think – I can have that tomorrow if I want to.

If you are thinking of doing this diet be warned, it is tough to go a day on only 500 calories, I really struggled on the first day and did not space my meals/snacks out enough and ended up with a raging head ache and feeling sick, the second day was slightly easier as I had two small meals well spaced out, I did not get a headache this time, however, I could have eaten my own arm by 6pm and was seriously tired and ratty. I now space my calorie intake out even more, I am not a morning eater anyway so find 120 calories at 11am, 120 calories at 1pm, 250 calories at 6pm and then a 10 calorie jelly at 8pm works, I don’t feel as tired – and I drink either water or black tea with sweeteners during the day to make me feel full.

 

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Work
I went self-employed in January, however, because of my operation I did not do any marketing till a couple of weeks ago and have already had interest in my services and taken on a new client – a short term project that will need regular ad hoc work in the future. I have existing clients but this is my first since launching as Sharon Greenwood SMART (http://www.smartofficeservices.net)

Portfolio Building
This ties into work as it is something I need to do to build my business, so I have been doing some ‘free’ stuff to gain experience in areas where my portfolio is ‘unqualified’ or ‘inexperienced’. One of these areas is desktop publishing and specifically programme/brochure/e-magazine production. My roller derby team hosted their first open door bout on Sunday 21st April and I helped create the poster and programme for them – take a look here at the poster and view the programme here.

 

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Studying

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an eternal student. I love to study and take exams and it is very rare for me not to be attending a course or doing a correspondence course. I take some courses ‘just for fun’ however this time it is work related. I want to be able to offer a (locally) unique service, and focus on an area that will be useful to my other ‘services offered’ so signed up to do a proofreading and copyediting correspondence course, it was delivered a month ago now, and as yet I have not had a chance to look at it. This is the first time ever, that I have not jumped on the box as soon as it arrived and got ‘stuck in’ so I must have been feeling pretty rough when it arrived.

 

As always,
thanks for reading

‘Hoping to keep on top of it now’
Sharon x

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How can I manage ‘everything’ being self-employed and a full time Mum?

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In January I went self-employed and started my own business, www.smartofficeservices.net.  My business plan is to offer services to local business, entrepreneurs, charities, clubs and groups. I want to offer some mainstream services, such as bookkeeping and office admin, and also offer some unique services such as e-Media solutions. My personal plan, is to be able to do work I love, with the variety and challenges I crave, and to be able to do this around caring for my family and being a full time Mum.

As I have only worked part time for one business for the last for four years, and done some freebie stuff for friends now and again, the going self-employed part was not as scary for me as it would be for some, I am not giving up a regular income to give it a go, I still work for the business only in a self-employed capacity now. Darling Hubby (DH) is also very supportive, and is happy to continue supporting our household to see if I can get this off the ground. Little man (C) starts school full time in September this year, and if my business is not good I will start looking for jobs so that we have a second regular income.

I hold qualifications for the skilled services I am offering , which is great, but for some of the newer services I want to offer  I am either unskilled or only part trained, so my first task as a self-employed person (SEP) is to take on the extra training I need and do some ‘gratis’ work to build up my portfolio – I would personally not employ someone who could not show examples of their work, so would not expect  any potential clients to take me on without checking out my portfolio and any testimonials first.

So, my website is up and running, I am enrolled on a copy editing and proofreading course, and I am volunteering to do ‘jobs’ that will boost my portfolio and experience, all this ground work is finally paying off, I was approached to do an internet research role for a local company, unfortunately I could not commit myself to the hours required, however, the ‘boss’ was impressed with my skills and versatility and has a few projects in the pipe line that he would like to talk to me about.  I was disappointed at the time, however, a few days later I received a desktop publishing enquiry and am having a consultancy meeting next week to have a look at the project.  In retrospect, I am happy that I did not get the internet research role, as this more exciting project has come along, and I would not have been able to fit it into my work schedule.

I am also working on two personal projects, that hopefully going forward, will earn me an extra income, and they will also be great for boosting my portfolio as they will cross several areas of my expertise.

So at this point in time my work commitments are the following:

  • 1 Existing – bookkeeping, Social Media Management, website and general admin. PAYING
  • 1 consultancy booked PAYING – with potential for contract after consultancy phase
  • 1  Short term Social Media Management – Free
  • 1 eBook  – Free
  • 2 poster designs – Free
  • 1 sports programme – Free
  • 1 e-Booklet – Free
  • 1 Social Media Project – mine
  • 1 website project – mine

I know that I have taken on a lot of Free work, but at the time I was thinking more about my portfolio, and not the actual time this would take, hence quite a few late nights, no time to blog, read, watch TV or to just relax.

Some days I just sit and think, how can I fit this all in?  I am a Mum, so during the day, I clean, I iron, I cook, I spend time with C, take him to classes, groups and on play dates, and on the days when he is not at pre-school my ‘working day’ will start at 8 pm after he goes to bed. On other days I just don’t know where to start with my ‘work’ and how to fit it into my already busy life. One thing I know now, is that I want www.smartofficeservices.net to be a success, but to do this I need to organise my time better, to prioritise my work – my personal projects might be the most exciting for me and the ones I am happy to give my heart and soul for too, but they don’t pay the bills (yet), and as I need an income, anything that brings a financial boost needs to be put first.

So, I have realised, that working ‘free-flow’ and doing what I want when I fancy it, and on occasion cutting it tight on deadlines, is not working for me and is not best for my business. I need to organise my work, family and social time much better, so am going to buy a project planner where I can block out slots for everything and stick to it – and if I take on paying clients anything I am doing for free needs to be pushed back unless I am willing to stay up to the early hours to complete it.

So for anyone starting out as self-employed offering the same of similar services as I do,  these are my lessons learned (so far):

  • Do work for Free – but only if it is really going to benefit your portfolio/experience.  Restrict free work to the areas where you have just qualified or have limited experience. Before saying ‘yes’ to anything, think do I need to do this for free, if you are giving up your valuable time there needs to be some benefit to you.
  • Plan your time effectively – not just your work time, all your commitments need to be considered. Think about when you work best, can you move your other commitments around so that this is the time you are able to work?
  • If you have allocated two hours to a client, set an alarm for 10 minutes before the two hours is up – this gives you time to finish up where you are and take any notes for when you pick the work back up, whether that be in a few hours, or a few days.
  • A difficult one – if you really don’t like the idea of the doing the job offered, don’t do it just because you need the money.  A half hearted job is a job half done and it will not reflect well in your portfolio or testimonials. So unless you are absolutely desperate don’t do it.

If you are in a similar situation, or just have some ideas of how to be more effectively manage and balance your work, family, social life – let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Sharon.

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My neglected Blog :(

Well it’s 9.30 am Saturday morning, 20th April 2013, and little man is in his drama class, I have to wait for C and it is Dads dropping off today so no one to gossip to. So unexpectedly I have an hour to myself, so dig in my bag for my trusty notepad that travels with me, and decide that I don’t have to be at my computer to write my blog, I can do it here and now using old fashioned paper and pen and then type it up later, and hopefully I will find the time to do that before it goes out of date (this paragraph is being typed after drama class, between lunch and a friend of C’s birthday party this afternoon 1.34 pm)

I am only just feeling 100% after my operation in January, my energy levels were shot and I am only just getting back to where I used to be. On top of this I am on three committees, have little man to look after, a home to keep, a business to build, my beloved Roller Derby, a college course, my blog and a Day Zero project. So my next blog, which is currently in progress, will be:

How can I manage ‘everything’ as a self-employed full time Mum?

(second paragraph typed, 23.16 pm, got back from the party, made two lots of cupcakes for an event tomorrow, cooked supper, washed up, refreshed the dye on my hair, sorted out some things I need for my Roller Derby teams first bout tomorrow, started writing my blog and have decided that I do not really have time tonight to double check it and publish it, and have a busy day tomorrow so need to get to bed before 1 am)

Day 101 – February 2013 – 936 days left, 11% Complete

 

 

February has been a slow and unproductive time for me this year. I am recovering from surgery, and a bug or two that I picked up on the way, so have not been fully functional, no blogging, very little time on the internet, and no energy to do much really. I am really pleased that I decided to make an effort on my ‘good days’ and have managed to complete another 4% of my day zero 101 things in a 1001 days project.

So here we go, completed in February 2013:

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#28 Dye my Hair Purple
I am normally a ‘Pillarbox Red’ girl when it comes to my hair and wanted to try something different – my roller derby team colours are purple and neon green so thought that if I was going to change my colour that it would be nice to have something to go with my derby uniform, not sure hubby would let me get away with neon green hair, and too many ‘snot’ jokes come to mind – so purple it is. I was a little disappointed with the results – I like something a little more vivid, and am now thinking maybe Ultra-violet next time. Costs: 2 hair dyes £9.98

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#33 Decorate for Valentines Day
This may seem like an odd one, but for me it is about moving on. I have not celebrated Valentines for at least 20 years and it has nothing to do with ‘commercialism’ – the reason I don’t celebrate is because I got married on Valentines day and the marriage went bad, every valentines I am reminded of the mistakes made and the ended relationship. When I married I did it for love and planned on being with him forever, he on the other hand had different ideas. In retrospect, it was really lucky for me as after the split I found the right person for me and I am now married to my soul mate. So this year, to put old ‘ghosts’ to bed I decided that DH and I would celebrate our relationship, instead of me spending the day mourning a dead relationship long gone. So with happy thoughts I set about making decorations and cooking a nice meal to make the day special … and it was. I also now have a kitchen decorated with 3 metres of heart bunting that I am going to leave up, one because its pretty, and two, as a reminder that life is about ‘the now’. Costs: Bits to make bunting £10.97

#70 Donate Nectar (loyalty) points to Charity
I am a sucker for loyalty cards and have them for all the stores I regularly shop at. My biggest accumulator is Nectar points and I normally save these up and then buy gift cards with them to spend on treats for myself. For 1600 points (about 4 months collecting) I am able to buy school supplies via Oxfam Unwrapped so this month I have used my loyalty points to do just that – it’s nice knowing that as small gesture by me will make a big difference to a school in Somaliland. Cost: Free

and the Works In progress:

#32 Discover a new kid craft for C every month
This month we made wax hearts and valentines day cards. Cost: £3.50 for silicon mould, £1 for crayons.

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#9 Sweet Dish
I made microwave flapjack, so quick, so easy and so nice, these were gone before I could get a picture and will be making them again and again. Chewy Microwave flapjack recipe.

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#10 Savoury dish – BBQ chicken thighs. I am a breast girl, so have never bought chicken thighs, but as we are trying to budget a little decided to get some of this cheaper meat and see how it was – these are really delicious and a keeper recipe, I used my own recipe for the rice but will be making these again. BBQ chicken thigh recipe.

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#11 had quite a bit of time for reading so read a whole collection this month, and the best bit, they were free as received them as part of a kindle book deal. Laurell K Hamilton’s, Merry Gentry series 1-8. Check them out here

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Well that makes it 12/101 and £1.50 to be added to the 101 jar (3 complete at 50p each).  I spend £25.45 to complete tasks this month, but I would have been buying hair dyes anyway, and I am keeping my heart bunting up as it looks pretty in the kitchen so money well spent.

Off to start planning for March, happy 101 xxx

The 5:2 Diet – Another Fad?

Well due to surgery and then getting an infection I have now been restricted to the sofa for coming up two weeks   – apart from being bored, and missing being active I have gained 3 lbs. Not a big deal, but if this continues for much longer my currently healthy BMI will become an unhealthy one – again not a big deal, unless like me you are Insulin Resistant and suffer from Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome where the slightest weight gain can have a profound impact on your body and the necessity to increase your medications – so having weighed myself this morning and knowing that my weight was creeping back up my mind turned to ‘dieting’.

Now I have tried many a diet, some like the South Beach and Atkins being way to restrictive for me,  The Dukan Diet, again too faffy and faddy. The only one I have ever had real success with was the original Weight Watchers Points System, however, I felt restricted with that too as I was always on a diet and always thinking about food, and the things that I couldn’t have were always on my mind. Through exercise and everything in moderation I have managed to lose weight and to keep it off, if I have a day of overeating I compensate by having a ‘spa’ day the day after, where I will really limit my calorie intake to a yoghurt, an apple, a banana and water. For my recent operation, I wanted to lose a few extra pounds and basically starved myself for a week before my pre-op and for the first time in a very long time I registered as a normal BMI – OK right on the limit of being overweight, but still normal and I want to keep a normal BMI and get into the middle of the range so need to lose around a stone – it will be better for my general health and fitness and may mean I can get off some of the medications I take.

So, with diet on my mind the Daily Mail splash headline “Free Inside – Your Brilliant Diary Planner for the 2-day Diet”. “Clinically proven to help you lose weight” caught my eye. A friend had recently told me about the 5:2 Diet Book by Kate Harrison (available on Amazon) and I had got as far as searching for 250 calorie recipes, brunch and supper, as more often than not I don’t eat until 11am and then not again until supper time with the boys, and had bookmarked a few – so seeing this in the Daily Mail, and thinking that a few newspapers would be cheaper than the book, I decided to take a closer look.

I skimmed over the main article, “The Two Day Diet Could have saved me from Breast Cancer’ by Jenni Murray with key statements jumping out at me  especially “proven to balance hormones”, “proven to reduce insulin resistance”  as these are symptoms of PCOS that I have to deal with on a daily basis and have to take medication for. Feeling a little bit excited, sad I know, I immediately dived into the accompanying booklet (which is a couple of pages of blurb, an essentials shopping list and 8 week personal planner) to read more, and found the following claims:

  • The pounds are clinically proven to come off – and stay off
  • You need never go hungry
  • From cancer to diabetes this diet is designed by doctors to reduce your risk off disease.

All great things in themselves, but I have read this before with diets and then found out that the diet itself is so restrictive there is no way in the world I, as an undisciplined foodie, would ever manage to make them a life change, so they became a ‘fad’ for me, and in truth I did not even manage some of them for a week. I had to cut out way to many if not all of my ‘in moderation’ foods and treats and then being undisciplined would binge on them, breaking my diet, and ending up as a yo-yo dieter – not great for your body or your self-esteem.

So why could this one be different for me? Well it works on the principle that you eat normally for 5 days and then have 2 diet days and as I already do regular ‘spa days’ I know that I can survive on a limited calorie intake for at least one day, so why not two, and if I actually sit down and work it out I can find some filling recipes that will be 500 calories per day and healthier than a yoghurt, banana and apple. The following also mean that I am more likely to stick to it.

  • On your diet days you can eat Pesto and Mayonnaise
  • You can have up to seven units of alcohol a week (not on diet days)
  • You can still enjoy Tea and Coffee
  • Extensive list of food you can enjoy on diet days
  • You can eat Camembert and mozzarella on your diet days
  • You can eat chocolate (not on diet days)
  • Diet drinks and sugar free squash are allowed

Yeah, my favourite 3 C’s are allowed – Coffee, Chocolate and Cheese, and I find that mayonnaise with a few herbs can cheer up a boring salad (chicken breast, lettuce, and home made ranch dressing is one of my normal day favourites).

So for the next week I will (if I remember) pick up a copy of the Daily Mail for the related articles and recipes, and the book itself will be out on the 14th February – available on Amazon –  I am not sure yet  if I will buy it as the principles of the diet seem quite simple and I would only want it for  the recipes and there are a wealth of them available on Google just search 5:2 Recipes. I may change my mind and buy it after reading the news articles though, or if I forget to buy the paper.

So my next step is to ‘plan ahead’,  I am still under medical supervision so cannot start a diet plan just yet, so this will give me some time to do some research, check out recipes and come up with a realistic ‘diet day’ meal plan that will keep me full and will also be suitable for  DH and Little C.

If /when I try this diet I plan on using the personal planner  from the paper to keep a log  of diet and non-diet day foods and any weight loss, and  I will share the results, recipes I use, and any other useful information I pick up along the way here on my blog.

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General Musing: Solitude, no thanks, I need my Heart and Soul.

It’s Saturday night and I am recovering from surgery so house bound, little man is on holiday and due home tomorrow and hubby has gone out to a charity quiz night, and I am lonely. I have just spent five days on bed rest and today was my first ‘mobile’ day, and my brain appears to have come back online after the anaesthetic.  In five days I have read three books, five magazines, watched series 1 and 2 of ‘The Big Bang Theory’, caught up on several hours of recorded TV/films and I am bored and craving company. Even chocolate is not raising my spirit. I would hit the wine, but it will not agree with my medication or aid my recovery *sigh*

Wind back the clock a couple of weeks and I was having a conversation with my sister.

Me: “I wish they would get out from under my feet, every time I turn around one of them (DH or Little C) is harassing me for something or getting under my feet – I really want to be on my own today and get on with what I need to do”

Now here I am wishing they were here, ok little man would be in bed as it is 10pm in the evening and DH and I would probably just be sat watching some inane TV show, but they would be here, and I would not feel like something was missing.

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Now there are times in my life that I just want to say ‘stop the world I want to get off’, when the pressures of being a working Mum and a perfectionist get to me and I have more things to do in the day than I have time for, when the men in my house are (or seem to be) constantly vying for my attention. Days when I just want to grab my iPod and walking boots and head into the fields to recoup and recharge, days when I just want the house to myself, days when I don’t want to play/cook/clean.

Solitude has been forced on me this week, hubby has been at work and I have turned down ‘visitors’ because I just don’t have the energy for it. I have been given the space and me time that I was craving and I HATE IT. I would much rather watch a film with DH than on my own. I would much rather have my book interrupted by a little boy shouting for me to ‘look at his tower’ or to ‘come paint mummy’. I would much rather be cooking fish fingers and chips for the third night in a row than microwaving a gourmet M&S meal. I would much rather have weekends away with my family instead of my annual ‘me weekend’. At the end of the day, I am lucky, I have two guys in my life who love me and need me and who will also give me ‘time out’ if I need it.

Little C, you are my heart, DH you are my soul and without you both I feel lost and lonely.
Solitude, I miss you too, but you can wait, I need my heart and soul back.

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Pinterest should come with a risk of Addiction Warning.

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A few months ago I discovered Pinterest, this website has been described as “the new Google”, “like getting a new magazine in the post everyday” and as “electronic hoarding” – well I use google as my preferred search engine, love reading magazines,  and have subscriptions to cooking, women’s and gossip mags land on my doorstep weekly, and I am a hoarder, so I guess this is why I like this site so much.

Now just in case you are not aware of the Pinterest phenomenon it is an online pin board/notice board where you can save and share, well anything and everything, and there are a lot of categories to browse through. Now as the name implies you ‘pin your interests’ and it is a ‘visual’ site, it uses images, in a simple format and layout so that images that appeal to you capture your attention. There is an option to add a description of up to 500 characters to an image, but I rarely see anyone using the full capacity.

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Now I love coffee table books, recipe books, and in general any media that shows me ‘images’ of the outcome. It is said that “a picture is worth a 1000 words” and it always amazes me how  our brains, just by viewing an image can quickly take in so much detail and content – it takes seconds, whereas reading a paragraph of information takes longer and (for me anyway) is not always as interesting. If a picture appeals to you, your eyes are drawn to it, whereas words on a page are only words until you make an effort to read them.

One of the things I like about this site is that you can save from most websites (apart from Facebook), you can upload your own stuff, browse other peoples ‘pins’, follow boards, follow individuals and repin other peoples ideas to your boards – all with the click of a button. Pinterest is not just for individuals, you will also find popular magazines, brands and business have boards too.  It is a place to store (albeit publicly) your ideas, wishes and dreams.

My favourite things to pin are recipes, however  I have boards relating to all areas of my life, fun ideas for little one,  things I think are Good Ideas, things that  are Useful to Know and 44 others. I am working through my browser bookmarks at the moment and adding them to the applicable board, so much easier to find what I am lookng for by scanning images, than going through a 40 long list of drop down folders and around 900 bookmarks.

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I currently have 47 boards, have pinned 933 ideas, and have 71 people following my pins. I scan my main page and those I am following every couple of days, and if I am on a website and something catches my eye I will pin it, a lot of websites now have a button for you to pin directly, but you can add a ‘pin it’ button to your tool bar which is a really handy tool. I even follow links in subscribed foodie emails now as I have a place to store the recipes without adding more to my browser or having to log into each different websites ‘My recipe folder’. Its great when I am inspired by something or have an idea for a project that I can just find the method or solution for online and save it to a board for future reference.

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So you know that I check out the site everyday, and have pinned 933 items, so how many of these have I actually done? Well I guess around 20, mostly recipes, which isn’t too bad – hubby has loved a change from my usual repertoire of dishes, and little man has enjoyed trying new crafts and games that I had never heard of before finding Pinterest, and I have had fun pinning and planning, I know that I will never cook all the 93 recipes in ‘food glorious food or bake all the cakes in ‘Let Them eat cake‘ but the ideas are there if I fancy trying something different, and I have ordered some craft supplies to make some decorations for Valentines this year, and have printed off the instructions for a sock monkey and a memory bear, things I would not have thought about doing before becoming a pinner.

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If you are a fellow pinner enjoy my boards and if not I hope I have created enough interest for you to go an have a look, so go on and have a go – just click here – but be warned, if you are a hoarder, read lots of magazines and use the internet rather than the library to search out information, you are likely to become addicted.

Happy Pinning
Sharon x

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