Unlardy, Writing life

The Unlardy Project – end of week 5

Weight change this week: 1 lb down (total loss 8.5 lbs)

Exercise this week: daily dog-walk; Thursday, chipper and step circuit (no time for gym because Christmas parties, physio and meetings)

What worked well/tip of the week: Planning ahead for meals out

Bits where I had to think: Christmas dinner (got husband to eat my roast potato so I had enough in my budget for pudding); Christmas party (zero-point breakfast, zero-point soup before the party so I wasn’t super-hungry and would therefore choose sensibly); Birmingham to see Def Leppard (I wanted my pizza and a bottle of Peroni to go with the gig, which meant being mindful and budgeting for it)

What needs to change next week: *really* need to increase my steps on non-gym days (but I have plans for next year that will fix it, as in training for the 10k on non-weights days)

Mindset: pleased with the results so am keeping going

Favourite/new recipe this week: Prawn and mango tartlets – makes 12 (based on a BBC Good Food recipe)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large seeded tortilla wraps
  • 100g cooked prawns, chopped
  • 150g mango, chopped into small dice
  • 1 lime
  • oil spray
  • fresh coriander (optional)

Method:

Cut out rounds from the tortilla with a 6cm ring cutter (you should get 6 to a tortilla); place them in the microwave for about 5 seconds to soften them, then put them in a non-stick 12-hole tartlet tin and press down. (A mini muffin tin would probably work better because you’d get a deeper cup.)

Spray with oil (1 spray per tartlet – spread it with your fingers) and bake for 5-6 mins at 180C until golden and crisp. Cool on a rack.

Meanwhile, mix the prawns and mango with the lime juice.

Just before you’re ready to serve the tartlets (ie to stop them going soggy), divide the prawns and mango between the cooled cases and top with a coriander leaf.

(I’m thinking about adding a little chopped fresh chili to this mixture. Obviously you could do all sorts of things for fillings; I reckon chicken and pomegranate with a little bit of harissa-spiced yogurt would be nice. As for the trimmings – spray with a little oil and bake for 5 mins and they’re good with dip.)

Unlardy, Writing life

The Unlardy Project: end of week 3

Weight change this week:  2 lbs down (total loss 5 lbs)

Exercise this week: daily dog-walk; Wednesday, weights and CV circuit; Friday, ‘chipper’ circuit and step circuit; Monday, ‘chipper’ circuit and step circuit

What worked well/tip of the week: planning ahead for last-minute meals out

Bits where I had to think: looking at menus and making sensible choices!

What needs to change next week: definitely need to increase my steps on non-gym days.

Mindset: very pleased with the results so am keeping going

Favourite/new recipe this week: Enchiladas (based on a WW recipe) – serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 300g chicken fillets (or 400g block of tofu)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1 red (bell) pepper, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 200g can sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 400g can kidney or black beans, drained and slightly mashed
  • 300g passata
  • 4 wholemeal tortillas
  • 100ml reduced fat sour cream
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • oil spray for misting

Method:

Bake the chicken fillets (or cubed tofu) for 20 mins at 180 degrees C. Shred the fillets once cooked

Meanwhile mist a large pan with oil spray, saute the onion, garlic, pepper and cumin.

Add 200g of passata, the beans and the sweetcorn, and simmer for 5 mins.

Divide the veg mixture between the wraps, top with chicken (or tofu), roll them up and put in an ovenproof dish, seam-side down.

Mix the remaining 100g of passata with the sour cream, pour over the top, and sprinkle the cheese over.

Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 mins; serve with salad.

 

Writing life

Behind the Scenes: A Diamond in the Snow

Blickling Hall is a place that’s inspired me for years, and I’ve pinched it as a setting in a few books now (including RoNA Rose shortlisted book Sold to the Highest Bidder).

While I was writing it, they started opening in the winter and having curators there, and my friend Jo and I went for a research trip (including lunch and a wander round). The team was incredibly helpful with suggestions about death watch beetle and mould (so much better than my original idea of a roof that needed work). I was hugely inspired for the ballroom by the Peter the Great Room. And then there’s the gorgeous garden and the lake… (Have I mentioned the Great Wood, with its fantastic show of bluebells every year? Love, love, love this place. If we lived slightly nearer, I’d probably go there every day to write!)

Sadly, the format of the book changed so it no longer contains a ‘dear reader’ letter (which was where I’d thanked the team for their help), but I popped in today to take a copy of the book, a proper thank-you card and chocolates to show my appreciation.  The autumn colour was stunning. And I’ll let the pics show you just how wonderful the place is. (The front of the house, the library, the Peter the Great Room, the back of the house and the lake.)

 

Writing life

Planet Kate, 23 September 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week (and a catchup on the last month) :

  • Work: writing M&B #85 (Medical Romance set in a GP surgery with a PAT dog); and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: (Long list as it was a month) The House by the Lake, Ella Carey; The Unfinished Garden, Barbara Claypole White; Secret Seduction, Susan Napier; The Face of a Stranger, Anne Perry; A Dangerous Mourning, Anne Perry; Defend and Betray, Anne Perry; The Sheikh’s Mail Order Bride, Marguerite Kate; Whistles After Dark, April Taylor; The Accident, C L Taylor; The Fear, C L Taylor; The Emerald Comb, Kathleen McGurl; The Brighton Mermaid, Dorothy Koomson; The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell; The Memory Collector, Fiona Harper; The Daughters of Red Hill Hall, Kathleen McGuril
    Looking forward to: Mark Watson at Norwich Playhouse
  • Workouts: managing twice a week at the gym at the moment, as well as dogwalks – go, me!
  • Planet Kate last month or so: both teens at home, working hard, Marcus Brigstocke at Norwich Playhouse, the annual M&B author lunch, various research trips involving 1940s stuff (steam train, air bases) and beach walks with dog, and taking eldest back to uni
  • Fave pic from the last month: sunrise (aka my favourite bit of the day: dogwalk), sunset at Hunstanton, and louring clouds at Cromer.

 

Writing life

Planet Kate 20 August 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: Finishing revisions on book 84 then working on writing M&B #85 (Medical Romance set in a GP surgery with a PAT dog); updating my website one backlist book per day; and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (reread for Chloe so she can bounce ideas off me for her long essay – I didn’t enjoy it this time round, either, although some of the writing was beautiful – I couldn’t warm to the central character); Louisa George, The Secret Art of Forgiveness (really enjoyed); Sophia Jenkins, The Forgotten Guide to Happiness (enjoyed); Jan Jones, A Question of Thyme (fantastic)
  • Looking forward to: a quiet week, working
  • Workouts: I must get back to the gym!
  • Planet Kate last week: revisions, revisions, and sneaky trips to the seaside to clear my head. And starting soya isoflavones and sage tablets for hot flushes as they’re becoming miserable. (So far, not working… but I need to give it a couple of weeks.) Also had a trip to Jimmy’s for a family meet-up which was utterly lovely. Chloe was going to drive – but her L-plates blew away so she had to pull into the next lay by and swap with me.
  • Fave pic from the last week: an owl butterfly (which is massive), Archie  under my desk, and the sunset at Brancaster
Writing life

Planet Kate 13 August 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: revisions to M&B #84 (Florence, art world); writing M&B #85 (Medical Romance set in a GP surgery with a PAT dog); updating my website one backlist book per day; and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: The Zig-Zag Girl, Elly Griffiths (enjoyed); The Woman who Met Her Match, Fiona Gibson (enjoyed); started three others but they didn’t grab me and I’ve given myself permission not to slog through them as life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying
  • Looking forward to: a quiet week
  • Workouts: dog-walking, last week – wayyyyy too hot to go to the gym
  • Planet Kate last week: High point was seeing King Lear on Wednesday – the best Shakespeare performance I’ve seen in the last 35 years. Strong cast, good staging, and Ian McKellen was utterly amazing – really nuanced portrayal. Also visited Leighton’s house in Kensington (amazing interiors), had a quick trip into the National (useful for revisions as there’s a scene set there) and an exhibition at the Design Museum.
  • Fave pic from the last week:image.jpeg
Writing life

Planet Kate, 6 August 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: writing M&B #85 (Medical Romance set in a GP surgery with a PAT dog); updating my website one backlist book per day; and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: CJ Sansom, Lamentation (enjoyed); Sarah Morgan, How to Keep a Secret (think this is her best one to date – really enjoyed it);
  • Looking forward to: King Lear at the Duke of York Theatre (Ian McKellen)
  • Workouts: dog walking, and lots of walking in Bath and Bristol
  • Planet Kate last week: mainly working; took Chloe out in my car for the first time; took Chloe to Bristol for a look round the uni and then stayed overnight (it’s a long way!) and had a bucket-list day in Bath. Was fabulous to visit the Abbey, the Baths (the curse tablets have been on my wishlist for a very long time), trying the spa water (quite sulphurous and WARM!), lunch in a nice indie veggie cafe, a general wander to soak up the architecture, and a visit to Herschel’s house (amazing to stand in the very garden where Uranus was discovered).
  • Fave pic from the last week – difficult to choose! So here is the Roman bath; a lead tablet which has the only surviving example of Celtic writing (in Latin letters); William Herschel’s garden, where he discovered Uranus (and Caroline discovered a comet and also corrected Flamsteed’s tables); Caroline Herschel’s dress (she was so tiny, bless her); a night watchman’s sentry box from 1810;  and Norfolk Terrace (my son took his first steps on the grass outside here, 20 years ago)

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Writing life

Planet Kate, 23 July 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: finishing M&B #84 (True Love Romance set in Florence/art world); feeling guilty about not updating my website one backlist book per day; and pretty much ignoring my Big Book;
  • Reading: The Flower Arrangement, Ella Griffin (enjoyed); Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Miranda Dickinson (enjoyed)
  • Looking forward to: Othello at the Globe on Friday
  • Workouts: big fat failure – I am out of time, and the scales this morning were not nice so I need to try harder
  • Planet Kate last week: a few days away in Buckinghamshire – visited Waddesdon Manor (where I loved the fountain and was intrigued by the Sèvres ice cream cups), Stowe (fabulous gardens) and Bletchley Park (really, really interesting); also The Mystery Plays at the Cathedral, which were very well done indeed (and I throughly enjoyed the Norwich accents in Cain and Abel).
  • Fave pic from the last week: the fountain at Waddesdon, one of the lakes at Stowe, and an Enigma machine from Bletchley.

 

Writing life

Planet Kate, 9 July 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: writing M&B #84 (True Love romance set in the world of art, partly in Florence); updating my website one backlist book per day; and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: Rowan Coleman, The Summer of Impossible Things (enjoyed); Tracy Rees, Amy Snow (absolutely EXCELLENT and I will look out for more by her)
  • Looking forward to: The Tempest at Norwich Cathedral
  • Workouts: too hot to do the gym – dog walks early, so Archie’s paws are safe on the pavement
  • Planet Kate last week: Melting in the heat (I prefer cool weather!); Uni of Sheffield open day, and thoroughly enjoyed the English department’s presentation (loved the fact that their lecture theatre is a converted church). I also have another big book brewing in my head, which involves opera; as a result. I have tickets to La Traviata (plus a ‘behind the curtain’ performance later in the year) and tickets to The Magic Flute in London next year (!)
  • Fave pic from the last week: a summery sky, an early morning sniff of lavender (aka my beautiful dog posing) and a petunia in my neighbour’s hanging basket that I thought was just gorgeous.
Writing life

Planet Kate, 2 July 2018

What’s happening in my world, this week:

  • Work: writing M&B #84 (True Love romance set in the world of art, partly in Florence); updating my website one backlist book per day; and faffing about with my Big Book;
  • Reading: The Silent Companions, Laura Purcell; It Had to Be You, Susan Elizabeth Phillips; Dear Dad, Giselle Green (really enjoyed); The Things We Never Said, Susan Elliot Wright (absolutely brilliant – couldn’t put it down and I’m going to keep an eye out for future ones)
  • Looking forward to: open day at the University of Sheffield
  • Workouts: dogwalking, last week
  • Planet Kate last week: Work, work and more work – but I did finish the revisions! Uni of Nottingham open day on Saturday – Chloe loved the campus (and I enjoyed the talk – great attitude towards students) but the course isn’t right for her. Went to the seaside on the way home. And more work. And melting in the heat. And too many barbecues (even though I’m being sensible and sticking to salmon or tuna steaks).
  • Fave pic from the last week: a spaniel waiting for his share of barbecued salmon; the University of Nottingham; and a day at Cromer where you could really see where the depth of the water changed.