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12/31/2015

A Taste Of The Mountains with Ski Total* | Just Add Ginger


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At the beginning of December, I was asked if I would like to take part in a food challenge competition, run by Ski Total. The challenge was simple - to have a go at re-creating one of three recipes that have a ski-theme, thus emulating A Taste Of The Mountains. 

Being the massive food-lover, I of course excitedly accepted the challenge, and was very kindly sent the three recipe cards, along with a gift card for the supermarket of my choice to help buy the ingredients. Next came the tricky part...actually choosing which dish to cook (they all looked delicious.) After consulting with Boyfriend - I decided to have a go at making Gröstl, a real comfort-food dish that is popular in the region of Tirol in Austria. A real 'Alpine filler,' which uses potato, bacon and onion as the basis for the recipe. I know - sounds delicious, doesn't it? 

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Chilled beer in hand (has to be done,) we prepped all the ingredients before going about cooking. Boyfriend helped chop the potatoes, as I went about roughly chopping parsley, and a big white onion, which didn't make me cry - am I weird? The onion and 400g of smoked bacon lardons were added to a frying pan, which were cooked until golden. The smell that filled our kitchen was honestly amazing, and there may have been an odd bit of "testing the flavours" straight out of the frying pan going on. 

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Getting cocky and pretending to be in a proper kitchen - DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME FOLKS! 
Once the onion and lardons were golden brown, these were transferred to a plate and the cubed potatoes were cooked until reaching the same level of golden-ness. Paprika and a pinch of Caraway seeds were added which instantly kissed the potato and filled the whole kitchen with a spicy aromatic flavour that just instantly got my mouth watering. I really couldn't wait to get this dish in my belly! 

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Once the potatoes were cooked, and after a short break to take a selfie, the lardons and onion were added back to the frying pan with a pinch of the parsley, some salt and pepper. After a few extra minutes stirring, ensuring everything was coated in flavour, we fried an egg and placed this on top of the dish with a pinch of parsley as a finishing touch. 

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Gröstl was so much fun to make, and the end result was delicious. I could just imagine myself coming back from a long day skiing and tucking in to a big hearty bowl of this. It is very filling, and definitely more-ish, with little hits of paprika and caraway seeds coming through every now and again creating bursts of flavour in your mouth. Would I make it again? Definitely! 

*This blog post is a competition entry for the Ski Total Taste of the Mountains competition. I was very kindly sent the recipe cards, and a gift card to help coved the costs of the ingredients. All opinions are 100% my own, and guided by my taste-buds and experiences cooking the dish.

12/30/2015

Teacup Kitchen, Manchester | Just Add Ginger


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Even though I've been working in Manchester for five month, I still don't know anything about it. Oh, I could tell you where Primark is, or where the Arndale is, but I still haven't discovered the city's hidden treasures yet. And that is something I'm really hoping to change.

One evening, just before Christmas, Boyfriend surprised me and met me after work on my side of Manchester. Normally it's a mad run to the train at Piccadilly, so it was nice to take some time out and explore the city away from the main street lights and scores of Christmas shoppers. 

Teacup Kitchen is in Manchester's Northern Quarter, just a short walk away from the Arndale Centre and Market Street. Somewhat reminiscent of Leaf on Bold Street in Liverpool, the welcoming atmosphere immediately embraces you, and invites you to stay awhile. If it had been during the day I could easily see myself sitting there for hours getting lost in a book. It's almost like you have walked off the street and sat down in someone's kitchen - there's a cosiness, and something very comforting about the atmosphere that just makes you feel instantly at home

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Tummy's growling after long days in work, we immediately started to peruse the menu. Perhaps guessable by the name, Teacup Kitchen offers a very large selection of amazing-sounding teas. If you are an avid tea drinker, you would be in heaven here. Our teas come in cute teapots, with an accompanying egg timers which allowed you to choose how strong you wanted your cuppa. With a warm feeling now in our bellies, it was time to peruse the food menu

Being a sucker for a good plate of pie and mash, I chose the Cluck Cluck pie, and Boyfriend chose the same, but with chips. No shop bought meals for Teacup - the pies are freshly made, and oh could you tell! The confit chicken was so succulent and juicy it almost melted in your mouth. The veggies were cooked to perfection, with a slight crunch as you bit in to them, and the mushroom sauce was a well-seasoned accompaniment. And the mashed potato - oh, the mashed potatao! Creamy, delicious, and not a lump to be found. Honestly, this was one of the best slices of pie I've ever had, and I didn't want it to end.

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Even though after our main we were feeing rather full, there was no way we were leaving without sampling dessert. I had already been eyeing up the Peanut Butter & Cookie Dough Brownie on the menu, and Boyfriend had been intrigued by the chocolate and nut tart (which I think was the dessert special of the day.)  Both were delicious, but I think I won with my choice. A rich, indulgent brownie, topped with lashings of peanut butter and gooey cookie dough, served with a ball of creamy, flavoursome vanilla ice cream, and dusted with chocolate. So generous a portion I couldn't finish, I ended up asking for the remaining dessert to be boxed up so I could take it home (no shame!) A dessert so tasty I was not willing to leave behind. 

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I may not know much of Manchester yet, but if you are planning on visiting the city, love tea, cake, or beautiful freshly-made grub, you must head over to Teacup Kitchen. With a menu you'll never get bored of, and a warm, welcoming atmosphere that just makes you feel so at home, it's a real hidden gem. 

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12/27/2015

29th Birthday Wishlist | Just Add Ginger

29th Birthday Wishlist

My 29th birthday is only a couple of weeks away now, and whereas normally I wouldn't have a clue what would be on my wishlist, this year, I completely know everything I am lusting after.

There are a couple of beauty products that have caught my eye over the pasty year. Something ESPA is always on every wishlist and their Winter Spice Candle has to be up there as one of my all-time favourite candles. Goodness knows I need as much downtime as I can get right now, and having that burning in the background would mean instant relaxation vibes galore. The ESPA Skin Radiance Mask is also on my list to help with the whole relaxation process. Its a lovely little luxurious "Sunday night" mask to have, and I've just run out of mine. Getting in to a good routine of regularly using a face mask on the lead up to the wedding is also really important. I don't think I could handle a skin eruption on my wedding day!

The Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar palette is one I've heard so much about. Granted I don't need another eyeshadow palette, but this year my love of make up has overtaken my love of clothes. I've heard lots of good things about Too Faced products lately, and anything that reminds me of chocolate instantly attracts my attention.

Boyfriend actually bought me Valentina Pink for our anniversary, and I loved it s much, I knew immediately I wanted to wear it as my wedding perfume. Sweet, florall, but not sickly, and with a scent that lingers on your skin for hours. I used a while bottle up in less than a month I loved it so much, so this is a definite restock must!

The Zoeva Rose Golden Brush Set has been something that has popped up in various YouTube videos on my subscription list throughout this year. One or two times I've added these to a virtual basket but chickened-out at the last minute. A lot of my brushes are knackered now, and these ones would make such pretty additions to my beauty stash.

And what girly girl wouldn't want to ring in her birthday with a bottle of her favourite fizz and bunch of beautiful flowers. This birthday I'm on a pampering mission, and these would be the cherry on top of a lovely big birthday cake this year!

12/25/2015

Merry Christmas | Just Add Ginger



Christmas 2015 is here! And I can hardly believe how quickly this year has gone. 

Just before we all tuck in to turkey, open presents, surround ourselves with loved ones, and eat one too many mince pies, I just wanted to take some time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. This year has been pretty spectacular, with highs and lows, but every moment has been an adventure, and I am so excited to celebrate, and look forward to an even more amazing 2016! 

Thank you to al my lovely JAG followers. Your comments, kind words, love and support really mean so much to me. Blogging brings me so much joy, and I am so lucky to be surrounded by people who support my passion, share my dream, and are genuinely some of the most amazing, talented and lovely people I've ever met. 

Here's to a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year and phenomenal future! 

Love & Peace 


12/22/2015

Christmas This Or That? | Just Add Ginger



It's really no secret that I absolutely love Christmas. As soon as Halloween & Bonfire Night are over, the Christmas tunes are blasting out in the car, the decorations start to appear, and I go in to full Christmas mode! With Christmas just being a few shorts days away, as soon as I spotted this post on Sarah's blog, I just knew I had to jump right in and take part too!

Have to sing Jingle Bells loudly every time you walk into a room or wear a Santa Suit to work/school every day for a week? Oh definitely the Santa suit. To be honest I've been alternating between Christmas jumpers, Santa hats and reindeer head-boppers for the past couple of weeks at work, so wearing a Santa suit (or Mrs Claus ensemble) every day for a week would just make me even more full of festive cheer. I might throw in a few lines of Jingle Bells for good measure too!



Not celebrate Christmas this year or not celebrate your birthday this year? I don't think I could go a year without celebrating Christmas - it is just too special to me. This year has been a little bit low key because I'm on full "wedding diet" mode, so I'm already excited for next Christmas too! Like seriously - I've only had One mince pie so far... ONE! I deserve a medal. 

Have Frosty the Snowman for a friend or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Rudolph for sure! Free flying reindeer rides, skipping those stupidly long supermarket car park queues, and a short-cut to some time with the man with the bag. Oh yes, I'd love to be best buddies with that cute little shiny-nosed guy!

Have Mistletoe hanging in your bedroom doorway, or have a large decorated Christmas Tree in your bedroom doorway? I've never ever had a kiss under the mistletoe, so I definitely would have that for a chance at a cheeky peck rather than a Christmas tree in the doorway that no doubt I'll trip over constantly, or that Dave would jump in and knock over!

Write a Five Paragraph Essay about the meaning of Christmas or solve a page of Christmas themed maths problems? Haha maths...don't make me laugh! 

Have a job wrapping presents at the mall or have a job taking photographs of children sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall? If you have ever received a Christmas present wrapped by me then you'll agree just as much as I will that I'd be much better off taking photos!

See The Nut Cracker or Dance in the Nut Cracker? Go and see The Nutcracker. I love going to the ballet, and The Nutcracker is a production I have never seen, but always wanted to.

Be given £100 for Christmas to spend on yourself or be given £1000 before Christmas to buy presents for other people? Be given £1000 to spend on others. I just love seeing people unwrap their gifts, and I really try and put a lot of thoughts in to the presents I give. Seeing everyone's faces when they open gifts makes me so excited, and it's one of the things I look forward to most on Christmas day. 

Have a nose that glows red like Rudolf’s or have pointy ears like an elf? Pointy ears. I think having a glowing red nose would just make me look like a lobster. Red hair + Red nose....no quite sure that would work.

Be one of Santa’s Elves or be one of Santa’s Reindeer? Be one of the elves! *Googles elf name* .... Puddin' Angel-Pants! Yeah, I'd love to be an elf. Festive cheer all year round... I'd be in my element!

What would you choose? 

12/20/2015

ESPA 24-Hour Replenishing Moisturiser* | Just Add Ginger


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Even though our wedding is just a few months away. Even though my many hours spent pinning wedding-related things has taught me I should be getting in to a good skincare routine. Even though I know I should try better. I am still a very lazy girl when it comes to skincare. Which is why I love a beauty product you don't need to have time and 100% every day dedication for you to see a result. 

I have been loving my ESPA Skincare products for so long because they really do suit my lack of time/energy to a multi-step skincare routine so well. Just look back through my blog posts over the past year and you'll see just how much I have loved everything I've tried. Which is why when they very kindly snt me a sample of their 24-Hour Replenishing Moisturiser to try, I was really excited. I love using the Optimal Skin Pro Moisturiser, and really noticed a lot of difference in the quality of my skin after using it, but whenever there's an opportunity to try something new, I have to grab it. I know I'm only going to love it just as much, or even more. 

The first thing that strikes you when you use any ESPA product is the scent, and this moisturiser is no different. Luxurious, comforting, and with warm, slightly spicy undertones that immediately tickle your nostrils and remind you of what it is like to be in a spa. The 24-Hour moisturiser is no different, and my mood was immediately made less frazzled as I crawled out of bed each morning, and applied a thin layer to my face. Just inhaling that scent brings about a calm in me. Whatever my day brings, I know I'll have well looked after skin, and a face that smells brilliant!

The consistency of the moisturiser is slightly lighter than the Pro, but still felt just as luxurious, melting in to my skin with ease, and making a great base for make up. Because I had a sample size to trial, I only used the moisturiser in the morning, but its lightweight quality would make it perfect for both day and night application. 

Even though I only had a small amount of the moisturiser to try, I did begin to notice a difference in my skin. It was smoother, slightly brighter, and just generally felt lovely. It sorted out my dry, scaly (such a sexy word) patches of skin, and in no way caused any sensetivity. It really is a lovely product to use. There is richness in the consistency, but it is lightweight enough to use twice a day and smells just divine! ESPA really never lets me down, and I would happily spend that little bit extra for the knowledge that I'm giving my skin exactly what it needs. 

*I was very kindly sent a sample of the 24-Hour Replenishing Moisturiser to trial. This in no way affects my opinion. They are completely informed by my experiences using the product and always 100% honest.

Postcards from Clapham | Just Add Ginger


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In November, Boyfriend and I took ourselves away for a weekend in the Yorkshire Dales. Both of us instantly fell in love with the sleepy village we stayed in, Clapham, and became completely overwhelmed by the gorgeous countryside, and surrounding towns, villages, and inanely beautiful places there were to explore. 

The stress of wedding things is gradually starting to niggle at us a little bit, and Boyfriend and I are becoming increasingly aware of how little time we have to sort things out, so having this time away really helped us switch off and just relax. No phones, no internet, just us, and a never-ending skyline of beauty.

With very busy work schedules, plans up to the end of January, and our nuptials in the not so distant future (3 months to go,) I was so grateful we got to have this time to ourselves. It's really made us so excited for our lives together, and we have already booked ourselves to go back to Clapham for our mini-moon...I just can't wait!


12/06/2015

Brookhouse, Clapham | Just Add Ginger

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Last weekend Boyfriend and I took ourselves off for a long weekend away in Yorkshire. We are a pair who are always on the go, visiting friends, family, and generally keeping very busy. And with the wedding coming up, it's really important to take some time out, sit back, and just enjoy being together. Boyfriend - the little scamp - actually booked this weekend himself, only letting me know what days I needed to take off work so up until we actually arrived in Yorkshire, I didn't really have any idea where we were going. 

Brookhouse in Clapham is as picturesque a guest house you could ever imagine. Comprised of four bedrooms upstairs, and a dining room at the front of the house where breakfast is served -and dinner on selected evenings - it is utterly idyllic. Set a mile or so away from Clapham station, it is really easy to get to sans car, and is a very easy walkable distance from the village centre.

After an eunexpected - and very welcome - collection as we headed up to Clapham from the station, we were shown our room, which, out of the four on offer, was, I believe, the smallest. Perfect for two, the room had a double bed, tea and coffee making facilities, an en-suite bathroom, and tv. Towels and dressing gowns were also provided for us, and the room was already toasty warm (a very welcome thing as the weather was bitter.) The view from the window looked out over trees and green, and beautiful countryside, and I couldn't help but do a little giddy dance of glee that this was to be our home for the next two days. 

The first evening, dinner was not on offer, so we dined out, but come the next morning, and breakfast time, we were really happy. A breakfast menu with a selection of various breakfast choices greeted us, and were were served tea and coffee as well as juice. The portions were generous but not massive, and certainly enough to fill you up for the start of your day ahead. 

And dinner was just beautiful. So well-made and delicious. Three courses, with differing options available, plus the option of a cheeky glass of wine as a warming accompaniment. We tucked in, basking in the warmth of a roaring fire, and I knew that leaving the next day was going to be extremely difficult.

At first I didn't want to write this post, because Brookhouse is now so special to us. Everybody has that place that makes them feel at home every time they go there, and Brookhouse is now that place for us. The staff are so friendly, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere did not cease to be warm and welcoming throughout our stay. We have already booked our mini-moon stay and will be heading back in April. And I cannot wait

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11/29/2015

Christmas Beauty Wishlist 2015 | Just Add Ginger


Christmas Beauty Wishlist 2015


If you have been following me on my blog for a while now, you'll know that it's no secret. For me, Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! I love everything about it. The food, the fun, the festive cheer. Everything about the Yuletide just makes me happy and revert back to a child-like state of immeasurable glee.

This year, unlike the past few, I actually have a pretty good idea of what I would like on my Christmas wishlist. The past couple of months my preferences have drastically changed, and whereas I would be drawn to lusting over fashion, I really am loving my beauty and lifestyle products.

Of course, right there at the top are my picks from the Lush Christmas collection. Now I'm a Lushie all year round, but the Christmas products for me are my absolute all time favourites to use. You'll usually find me in the Lush in Liverpool, cramming as many Luxury Lush Puds as I can in to my basket. But I'e had to be incredibly restrained this year (wedding purchases take priority) and instead I have put some of the products I know will be the best in making me feel like a pampered princess (mainly those precious little puds, Rose Jam, The Golden Wonder, and Yog Nog.)

No Christmas wishlist of mine would be complete without featuring some ESPA Skincare products. Scroll through my posts over the past year and ESPA have featured a lot. They are by far my most beloved skincare brand, and I could sing their praises til' the cows come home. Up there amongst my most favourite ESPA products are the Bergamot & Jasmine Foam Bath, Winter Spice Candle, and Skin Radiance Mask. So of course, these had to make it on to my wishlist.

Now, generally I'm not one for lusting over loads of high-end make up. Trust me I would be, but my bank balance just doesn't accommodate this as an option. But the one thing that I have been completely drawn in by and cannot get out of my head are the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. Forever a fan of a glowy complexion, I would love to give these a try. And have you seen the packaging of the palette? Oh my goodness. It is just the prettiest thing I've ever seen. Just seeing that every time I opened my make up drawer would be enough for me (not that I'm fickle of anything...!)

Santa, if you're reading this, I think I've been an exceptionally good girl this year, so if you could hit me up with any of these beauties, I'll be oh-so very grateful!

10/18/2015

Choosing Our Wedding Invites | Just Add Ginger



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Around this time ast year, Boyfriend and I, together with his mum and sister, took ourselves off one sunny Autumn Sunday to a wedding fayre at Formby Hall. By this point, I think we had decided on a few things in terms of what we wanted but smaller details - like our wedding stationary - hadn't really received much attention. 

But as soon as we saw The Lost Penguin stand at the wedding fair, I knew I had made up my mind. I may not have known exactly what I wanted, but a few things were for certain. I didn't want any fuss, and I wanted to try and support local businesses throughout the wedding planning process as much as possible. 

Corrine - who set up The Lost Penguin - could not have been more helpful throughout the whole process of ordering our wedding stationary. Once we had chosen the design we wanted, I sent her over an initial email with all my questions, and she soon got back to me, answering all of my questions, and reassuring my stressy side that we had made the right decision. We were even able to order sample invites at a small cost (£5.00 I think,) with details of our nuptials on it, so that we could actually see what our invites would eventually look like.

Fast-forward to late September. The time has come for us to order our invitations. With lots of overseas invites to send, and my lack of faith in the postal service, we gave ourselves ample time for things to arrive at their destinations. With just over five months to go before the wedding, but our numbers having to me in several weeks before the big day, time is running away with itself! I even went to the extent of double-stamping our UK invites to absolutely 100% make sure that they got to their intended destinations. Yeah....I'm so not paranoid!

After sitting down with Boyfriend for the umpteenth time, revising our guest list, and finalising numbers, I sent the order email through to The Lost Penguin. It was a nail-biting moment. Invites are a pretty big thing. It means everything is set in stone, the time is getting closer, and people will be showing up  to watch you get married. Emotions were definitely high as I sat there and clicked that "Send" button. 

Several more emails were sent back and forth confirming details and invite phrasing. At some points, I could feel myself being extra-picky, and was worried I'd come off like a raging Bridezilla, but Corinne tweaked everything that I asked to be altered, and made sure that I was 100% happy before the design was signed off to be printed. 

Waiting for that parcel to arrive was like waiting the birth of a child. I had expected the invites to take at least a few weeks to arrive, but I think in total - including the parcel waiting for us at the sorting office for a week - that everything was delivered in 10 days. And that is just amazing! 

At the time of writing this, not everyone has received their invites. Once they have, I will let you know which design we went for. But let me tell you, I could not have asked for anything more beautiful, or better suited to us as a couple. They are just us. So us. And even when we experienced one little hiccup with the order, The Lost Penguin could not have been more accommodating and understanding. Absolutely outstanding on the customer service front. 

If you planning a wedding up North, and thinking about ordering your wedding stationary, definitely give The Lost Penguin a look. They are super-attentive, the designs are beautiful, and there is something to suit all taste and wedding theme. Not only just offering invites, but with a large range of other wedding extras, I find myself trying to think of extra things we might need, just so I have an excuse to order something else. 

10/11/2015

Stoptober Week One | Just Add Ginger

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StarT Of Week Weight: 10st 5lbs

I thought that the first week of embarking on a pre-Christmas junk detox would be hell. If you read my initial Stoptober post, then you will know just how much I love my food. I thought I'd really miss all the very naughty, but oh-so delicious food I had been enjoying. and find not having the odd glass of wine or can of beer after work a little too much to bear, but actually, I'm rather proud of my progress this first week.

Before anybody reading this starts to worry, I will re-iterate that Stoptober is by no means an excuse for me to lose weight. (I've conquered my past demons, and I would never let them take me over again.) This for me is something I need to do. My wedding dress depends on it. I love Christmas too much to deny all its delights, but I simply cannot risk putting on weight at the weight I am now. There's only so much squashing of my bum cheeks one can do to get me in to my dress, and at the moment it is a comfortable - but ever so slightly snug - fit. 

The one thing that has proved the biggest issue has been breakfast. I am still finishing up a course of medication for indigestion (long story) but basically I cannot eat anything before I have to leave for work. So I've been munching on cereal bars at the train station whilst waiting to start my commute. This is fine, but I don't half miss my morning bowl of cereal and mug of coffee, I have to wait until I get into work at the moment until I can have my little cup of decaffeinated joy. 

Lunch is my most fun meal. I feel like I'm a child again. Packed away in my little lunch-box is a Dairylea and ham wrap, a bag of crisps, and a chocolate bar. This is enough to carry me through until tea usually, and is accompanied by ample glasses of water throughout the day. Sometimes I'll indulge in a second coffee whilst sitting at my desk, but that's only if I'm feeling especially indulgent. Fridays at work may start to be a problem. Everyone has started to bring in snacks and treats, but I have managed to curb the temptation to eat all the things, and have just picked at the odd few treats. Yes. This makes me very proud! 

Dinner has been the more substantial meal, with it having been most pasta this week. But by having something bigger, I've been able to kick my pudding habit. But if I've needed something sweet, I'e had a little of it. This has mostly been in Dark Chocomel and chocolate biscuit form, although yesterday I did treat myself to a pack of Reese's Pieces candy for whilst we were wedding invite addressing (the peanut butter obsession is still strong) BUT I still have loads left. The 'September Me' would not have looked twice to eat the whole box in one, but I had a few, and popped the rest very proudly back in to the cupboard. 

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End Of Week Weight: 10st 1lbs 

I weighed myself this morning to see if my Stoptober plan was having any effect...To my delight I was 4lbs down! This was good news, but not quite progress yet. 10st is a difficult weight for me to break, but I need to in order for those mountains of roast potatoes, lashings of gravy and eleven thousand mince pies over Christmas to be both totally justifiable and enjoyed.