Monday, 24 February 2014

Slimming World Update and 'Magic Muffins'

After a few very focused weeks back at Slimming World I fell off the plan in a spectacular fashion this week with a new record of a 4lb in one week!

That's a week with no special occasions, holidays or nights out, my largest gain in all my SW years has been 3lb and that was after a two week all inclusive holiday.

But, Slimming world works, when you stick to the plan and last week I can't say that I did - 2 days after weigh in and a Valentines evening celebration at home with pizza knocked me sideways and I went off the rails somewhat!

Hey ho, after my shock on the scales on Wednesday I've been back on plan.  Superfree, scan bran and lots of water are my weapons this week, and of course my new favourite Slimming World muffins.

After the success of my 'Magic Pancakes' I decided to try a variation I'd seen mentioned in a facebook group, they are fab and I've been making them every few days.

Slimming World 'Muffins'
Makes 24 mini muffins.

Slimming world breakfast

35g porridge oats  (HE B choice)
1 Muller light / vitaline yoghurt or equivalent amount of fat free natural yoghurt
sweetener to taste
2 eggs separated

Soak the oats in the yoghurt overnight (or all day)
Add the egg yolk and sweetner and mix well.
Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks
Gently mix the egg white into the rest of the ingredients

Bake for about 20 minutes at 180c in a mini muffin tray

Serve with fruit and yoghurt, or eat them as they are!

You can eat the whole lot if you are using the porridge as a 'B choice'  or count them as 1/4 syn each!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Exciting new network for Famagusta!

How many times have you asked a question to be met with 'Google it' as a response?

These days we have come to expect information at our fingertips, and it came as a big surprise to me when I first arrived in Cyprus to find that Google was letting me down!

I looked for places to go, baby groups to attend, local information, bank holidays, how to register for schools, you name it I looked for it  and for the most part I couldn't find it. 

A while ago, due to my frustration I set up the 'East Coast Mum's' facebook group which in the end had over 100 members, I often shared information I saw online that I thought might interest other Mums, everything from local events to scheduled power cuts and enjoyed spreading the word to those who might not have heard, here it's not always that easy to know what's going on!

Over the last 4 years things have improved a lot but our little bit of Cyprus seems to have always been sadly neglected!

Well, not anymore....

Last week I became the founder of the brand new Famagusta Parents Network

FPN, Cyprus, directory

Created by myself, in conjunction with the existing popular Larnaca Parents Network,  the FPN is my new baby!

We now have a facebook group  and the Famagusta Parents Network blog which I hope will be a definitive source of local information on events, activities and facilities in the area.   I also hope that many relevant local businesses will get involved sharing their events with me and spreading the word.

We welcome all original and relevant content, if you would like to contribute an article including a link back to your business page or blog then please get in touch via email.

Of course you can also find us on Google +  +Famagusta Parents Network
                                                   Twitter @famagustapn

In the future I hope to arrange events in the community and I have lots of ideas..... it's all very exciting!

Some people may (in fact I'm sure they do) think I'm a little crazy as it is a labour of love and not for financial gain, but I couldn't honestly care less!   I truly believe that this is going to be a great asset to the region and hopefully show the rest of the island that there is more to us than Agia Napa..... and we don't close in the winter!

Famagusta Parents Networl

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Home Is Where you Make It

Recently I was asked to contribute to the HiFX Expat page, which offers advice to those looking to move abroad. After contributing to their campaign, I realised that I have lots of useful information which I could offer future expats and my favourite...

Let your new country become your home.

People always say that 'Home is where the heart is', this has never been truer than when moving abroad, because if you still consider England to be your home, then that is where your heart will be.

The day we arrived in Cyprus back in 2009 was the day it became our home, from the moment we stepped off the plane we made the conscious decision not to refer to England as 'home'. I figured that every time I thought of it as home I would feel like I didn't belong here and for me at least I didn't think I would be able to settle well if that was the case.

I've met many expats who still refer to England as home even after many years here, they go back 'home' for holidays, they miss their friends back 'home', and things are not like this at 'home'.

It felt a little strange at first always making a point of saying 'In England / back in England' and we tripped up a couple of times before correcting ourselves but it didn't take long,  Remember the saying 'fake it until you make it'?  That was my plan!

It worked, after a year when I went back to England for a holiday, I left after 3 weeks to come home and by then I actually believed it!

I know some people come to see how they like living here before committing to stay permanently and that's fine if that's what they want but I knew if we'd done that it would be likely that a bad day or bad week would have me running for the airport and I didn't move my whole life across the world to have to do it again.

That's not to say we'd never leave Cyprus 'Never say never' after all (how many more cliches can I fit into one post!) Once I'd have sworn blind that I'd never move abroad so who knows what might happen in the future, but for now and the foreseeable future we have no plans to go anywhere, except maybe a bigger house one day!

Image credit

This post is written in conjunction with Expert Expats 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Braving the beach!

It appears that I'm not naturally an 'outdoorsy' person, although I do love to go out (assuming it's not too cold, wet or windy!) once you factor the boys into the equation and the stuff you have to take with you, the best time to go avoiding naps to ensure a happier baby, the decision of where to go - can I push a buggy there, will they walk that far, will I have to carry a very heavy toddler,  etc etc, I often come to the conclusion that staying put is far easier.

I'm realise that is rubbish, and I often 'waste' the fact I live in the ideal place to be outdoors.  I know that everyone else seems to manage ok with 2 or more kids or various ages and they make it look so easy!

This year I WILL get out more. I went from Leo being difficult to heavily pregnant just as he got a little easier to control, then back into buggies and then the very high summer temperatures and then the crawling stage.

It's slowly getting easier, now Louka can walk as he hates to be stuck in the buggy and when he was crawling it limited where we could go.

I forced myself to take the boys to the beach last weekend, convincing myself I didn't care that the sand gets everywhere, and Louka runs away in the wrong direction and then lays on the floor and cries when you try and stop him.  I love the beach in theory, but I find it so much more exhausting than playgrounds or swimming pools, I have no idea why that is!

They had fun though, and I even I did briefly, we managed almost a couple of hours until Louka decided to throw himself face down in the sand as I tried to stop him running away.

My Mum was with us, so that helped as I was on 'Louka watch' while she made castles and roads with Leo and stopped Leo going crazy as Louka instantly demolished everything he did!

Louka spent a long time with a bucket and spade slowly putting sand in his bucket before tipping it over himself.  He tried to eat it several times and poured it over his head but didn't seem overly bothered by it!

We lasted about an hour until Louka let us know he had had enough, we got the message when he laid face down crying in the sand!

Never mind, assuming the weather is the same we've arranged to go with a couple of friends next week and take a picnic, always safety in numbers!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 7 February 2014

Facebook Flashback Friday

With Facebook celebrating it's 10th anniversary this week and the floods of 'Lookback videos' doing the rounds I can't believe I didn't think of it for my Flashback Friday!

Jenny did though and as soon as I saw the title of her blog post I knew I HAD to do the same!

I joined Facebook in 2007, the year it seems it became popular according to most of the videos I've watched. I had no idea what it was but I was invited by a friend of mine who I was friends with on Myspace.   (I'd used Myspace for a while and liked it but now I'm now really sure what I used it for!)

I remember my first two facebook friends and loved reading their profile and witty status updates. One of them still has their original 'About me'

"Owner of lions, fine art, the secret of time travel and an over active imagination"

the other was something about tights and custard creams!

At first there was not many people I knew on there but gradually they appeared and I suddenly found a few old friends I'd lost touch with whilst changing jobs or leaving school and then I was hooked!

I exchanged some lovely emails with some people I'd once been very close to and enjoyed looking at their photos of what they were up to now, I'm naturally a nosy cow and it was fab to see these snapshots of their new lives and to see that a couple had even married their boyfriends from back in the early days!

People I knew were joining up to facebook in droves and I loved the fact we could be in contact online where we never had been before. I posted a load of old photos going right back to nursery school and loved all the comments and reactions from the people in them.   I didn't realise however that their friends would be able to also see them once they were tagged as I found out when a male friend was not so impressed about some drunken photo's I'd posted that his boss saw - oops!

Looking back at the photos I posted that year, with the exception of the old ones. they are nearly all drunken nights out, parties, or fancy dress.  I think I will be forever glad that we did not have smart phones then and the ability to upload straight to facebook without having to look through them the following day!
My 30th birthday party, one of many we went to in 2007
Just the two of us - Antigua 2006

I started spending more time on there once I was on maternity leave, spending hours playing Bejeweled Blitz and I was really pleased to announce Leo's birth (after text messages to a few people first!)   I still have a print out of all the lovely messages and congratulations we received.

and then there were three

Once we moved to Cyprus it really came into it's own and I truly became a facebook addict!  It's my one link to my 'old' life I guess but its also helped me so much in my new one.

It's the easiest way to share photos and info with family in the UK and I love to see the updates and bits of news. (although I'd love it more if my best friends would get on there!)

It's also been a great way of getting to know people here in Cyprus, much easier to send someone a friend request than to ask for their phone number!

It's amazing to think how much has changed since my early facebook days,   from the carefree dancing, drinking days through the 'ohmygod we're having a baby / moving to Cyprus / we're having another baby!

Carefree days on the boat in 2007

I love to look back over the photos and the updates,   love it or hate it facebook contains a huge portion of my life!

Linking up to Flashback Friday

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My biggest piece of advice

You may have realised, especially if you know me in real life and have been on the receiving end of my often endless emails, texts and phone calls that I like to get people together. Parties, picnics, play dates you name it I've tried to arrange it!

Because it's all about friendship, and when I was asked my best piece of advice for an expat, making friends was my reply.

When you decide to live in another country for no apparent reason other than ‘because you can’ there are obviously lots of things to consider but there is one very important thing you need to do, it’s not deciding where to live, getting a job or learning the language although these are very good things to have on your ‘to do list’. The most important thing and my biggest piece of advice is to make friends.

When you arrive in an unfamiliar place, in country where you don’t speak the main language, when you don’t know how to make a doctors appointment or how to get your car taxed, when you don’t know how or where to register your child in school or when you need to get some huge sheets of plasterboard up a winding flight of stairs you need the help of friends. 

Friends can often help you decide where to live, they can help you find a job, they may even have a job for you and never has the saying ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ been more true than here in Cyprus. 

Friends will show you the ropes, they’ve probably been there and done it, or they know someone who has. They will have battled bureaucracy, got lost and confused by unfamiliar procedures and they will probably know where to buy Marmite. If they don’t know the answers they can point you in the direction of the pub and at least make you feel at home. 

When it all feels like its going wrong and you wonder if you made a mistake friends will tell you they have wondered the same thing and remind you that it will all be ok. Without friends you will never feel at home whatever country you are in. 

When we were planning our move to Cyprus we didn’t know anyone, or anything for that matter, we ignored all the standard advice – research the area, get a job and generally have a plan. We brought an apartment, packed our bags and brought some plane tickets. What we did do though is make our first friend before even getting on the plane. ‘Meeting’ a fellow Mum online with a similar age child via an internet forum who turned out to be living just a few streets away was our first step to making our new home actually feel like home.

But you can never have too many friends! 
I’ve never felt as lonely as the night I stood on my balcony in the first month of living in Cyprus whilst my husband as out playing on his new pool team (with the husband of my ‘first’ friend) It was winter and surprisingly cold, we had no tv, no internet and no landline phone. Our apartment has a fantastic view, overlooking the uninhabited city of Varosha, lovely in the sunshine but that night I looked out to darkness and realised I knew virtually no-one and was miles away from everything I’d ever known. I vowed that I would make it work, and not only that I’d do everything I could to ensure that others didn’t have to feel the same. 

When we finally got our internet connection I did what I do best and scoured the internet whilst I tried to come up with a plan. With a combination of websites, fourms, facebook and my newly created blog I tried to bring fellow expat Mums together. I created a facebook group after realising that there was no easy way of doing this. 

East coast Mums was born and two years later has over 100 members, through the group I have arranged many meet ups, usually day time meets for Mums and kids of all ages but occasional evening ‘girls nights out’. I’ve travelled further afield and met people from other cities not only British expats, but German, Greek and Serbian to name just a few. 

I joined a dedicated social network ‘Mums in Cyprus’ and through my contributions and passion for bringing people together was recently invited to work with them. This opened up my network of friends and acquaintances even more and makes me feel like I can make a difference. 

Through my endeavours I’ve met lots of people, but most importantly have made a circle of people I would now consider to be good friends. People that I would feel happy to call in a crisis or when I need a friendly face. 

This group of people are always there, they are also many miles away from the place they once called home and they know the challenges of making a new home in a foreign land. They know that living in Cyprus is not all sunshine and cocktails, that there are bills to be paid, jobs to be done and that 40 degrees is hard going day in day out when you don’t spend your time laying by the pool. 

They understand when you disappear off the radar when family or friends come to visit or during the summer months while everyone works their fingers to the bone in the tourist industry. They are still there in the winter when the visitors leave and the residents get their island back and you remember that ‘real life’ will still go on. 

I’ve learnt many things during my four years living in Cyprus and because of the people I have been lucky enough to meet I’ve rarely had to learn the hard way. A friendly word of advice can save hours of confusion and frustration caused by trying to figure out how to get a medical card or the best place to buy a car.

If was to offer just one piece of advice to someone else who has made the decision to move abroad, it would be to get out there and make friends, everything else will come because it has too but you will never be ‘at home’ without friends.
First published on Expats in 2012

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Winter time play time

Just before our household got hit by the winter lurgy last week I took the boys out for a bit of fresh air and we went to have a play in a playground we'd never been to before. Always on the look out for new places to go I'm always excited to see somewhere that looks different when I see my friends in Cyprus put new photos up on facebook and like some mad stalker I often message them to find out where they have discovered!

Hotels are a very common place to visit, especially in summer and we have a mental list of those where non-residents are welcome to use the pool.  We do have a communal pool in our appartment complex but it's nice to use hotel pools when meeting up with others, and they all have baby pools which ours lacks. 

During the winter most hotels are closed and tend to be forgotten but a couple are still good to use for the playgrounds.  

So after finding out where my friend had been after seeing some 'new' playground equipment, the boys and I headed out to discover it ourselves!

We started with the leaves, something you don't get very often due to the 'wrong' type of trees!  The boys loved crunching through them although Leo was not so fascinated by them as his little brother!

There were two play areas, both suitable for Louka (with assistance) which was brilliant as it is so difficult trying to watch Louka and stop him doing something he's not big enough to do when Leo insists on me watching everything!

Big climbing frames, with wide steps rather than ladders. Things to spin and turn and platforms to run about on.  They became fire engines, rocket ships and Super Hero mission control in the time we were there.

Louka is a 'climber' unlike Leo was at that age and has no fear, something that is both good and bad! It's made easier that Leo usually loves to help him and is a lot of help when they are just out of reach.

They both loved the 'twisty slide' I was a little nervous at Louka going down it, at the same age Leo would have hated it and would have surely cried but even though it was fast and the first time Louka slid down on his head he thought it hilarious and went on again and again!

Right next to the playground we found the rather abandoned looking stage and bar area,  of course Leo couldn't resist getting on it and jumping around like a mad thing!

It was a nice little break and Leo loved the fact we had found a 'new' place.  Only problem now is the fact he wants a new place to go every week!

Linking up to Country Kids

Country Kids
from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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