Tuesday 29 March 2016

Fast food is brought into the 21st century.

Fast food use to be stand in a queue, place your order and wait until they serve pre cooked food that was being kept warm. This obviously impacts on the temperature and the quality of the food. But fast food shoppers have evolved not only their wants, needs and tastes but their expectations on a standard they will accept.  There is so much out there to choose from to an ever growing market and the customers are becoming much more discerning.

Erica and franchise owner Jim.

So when I was invited along with fellow blogger Erica from Foodinburgh to one of the newer
McDonald's stores, the newish one in Silverburn Glasgow to find out about how and why McDonald's restaurant are evolving I thought it would be interesting to go and so accepted the offer. It is a few years since I have been in one of their restaurants, we used them fairly regularly with the three younger children, and have on occasion used them with the grandchildren but not for a few years now.

behind the scenes in the kitchen

We got a behind the scenes look in the kitchen and learned about the correct weights for the addition of items like lettuce and onions.
We saw the boxes neatly hung and easy to reach, they even have diagrams for the correct assembly of each of their burgers. We were shown in what order burgers are added to the hot plate depending on how many you are cooking at the time, this is so they are removed in the same order as they are added to make sure each is cooked to perfection.

Last time I bought a Big Mac they still used the system of the burgers being made up before hand and remade to replenish the used one as they went. Now all their food is made up fresh as you order. As soon as your order is placed it shows on a digital screen above your collection point, which is now a different counter than you order at. Once you order is ready your order number shows green and you know it is time to collect it.

the screen keeps you updated. 

We got a behind the scenes look at the kitchen, and even got to make a Big Mac to see how it is done. Did you know the big mac bun has names for each of the three pieces? A crown for the top, a heel for the bottom and a club for the middle, and that the sauce goes on the heel, and the club must go the right way up when assembled?
We got a chance to assemble a Big Mac for ourselves. When the shop is busy the staff get thirty five seconds to make one, but when quieter they get fifty seconds.

So how has it changed since I was last in? The new stores are now being built with digital kiosks so you can order without standing in a queue. I know I often use to feel pressured when you got to the front of the queue to order something quickly rather than taking the time to think. McDonald's offer a much larger range now apart from their traditional beef buns, they offer chicken, fish, pork, vegetarian, wraps, salads and breakfast. You can add a desert to that with the traditional McFlurry, ice-cream cones, apple pies, doughnuts, muffins, fruit and milkshakes. No longer do you need to drink soft drinks they do a wide range of coffee from latte to espresso to cappuccino, why not have it toffee flavoured or a cup of tea? So to be able to use a kiosk and take your time, personalising your order to suit rather than having to pick out the pickles or scrap off the sauce because you don't like them. A much easier way to spend time looking at what is on offer.
Currently 16% of Silverburn's customers use the kiosks, up from 13% when they first opened.

They have been brought right up to date and even have i-pads available on one of the tables. You can log in with your own account details and use your Facebook, twitter etc, shop on e-bay and play games. I have to say being the generation I am I do not allow phones etc at the table in my house, but my daughter does and I know it is a big part of most people's lives even when eating out. Nice to see them moving with the times.

various apps available

I also noticed that their are various bins to place your rubbish to segregate for recycling it rather than pouring it into one bin as previously, I was also happy to see a slop sink to pour an left over juice down, much better idea as I use to hate putting left over juice in the black bin.

 McDonald's have been working with a focus group to find out why people eat out, these fall into three main categories - a) a quick fix, b) a comfort eat and c)guilty pleasure. Most of their available range tends to fall into the first two categories of people, and so they wanted to evolve to cover the third category as well.

With this in mind they have introduced a new range of burgers that they are calling The Signature Collection. These are currently being trialled in sixty one restaurants up and down the country.

the new collection showing behind the order counter

This burger is designed to be more filling, but not quite as "fast" food as their other foods. The meat in a Big Mac is seven mm thick and takes forty seconds to cook, a quarter pounder is twelve mm thick and these new Signature ones are twenty mm and take five and a half minutes to cook. 

These currently come in three flavours, Classic, BBQ and Spicy and are served in a brioche bun. They are also looking to introduce Rich and Creamy, this will have soft cheese and blue cheese in. These are the first buns where the company are putting the sauce on the crown of the bun instead of the heel. 

Due to my time restraints last week we did not have time to order or try out the digital kiosks or the new Signature Collection but we decided to go back on Saturday and try out both, well I had to have an excuse to try them.

So what did we think?  The system was easy to use, it comes in various languages for people that do not speak English, The company thought this was important as in France it is only available in French and may well encourage more people in. The screens take you through the ordering step by step and allowed me to ask for no ice in my drink. Your order goes in numerical order with any counter orders ready for collection.

I tried the BBQ and have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was firm, filling, tasty and certainly more sustaining than the normal burgers. The only downside for me was the fact as you bit into it the filling slipped and the sauce ended up round your face. We felt they were difficult to eat politely and with any sort of dignity. Not the sort of thing you order if out for a first date!! If there had been a knife available I would have cut it in half. These are not much more expensive than the normal range, and at just over £6 for your meal I thought good value for money.

the new BBQ Signature burger

In conclusion it is great to see the introduction of new technology designed to make life easier for the customer combined with the exciting new range of burgers still makes for the enjoyable experience we all have come to expect from a visit to McDonald's, I highly recommend that you pop along and try the experience for yourselves, you wont be disappointed.

This is a sponsored post.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Win a Gold Package from Thinking Slimmer

I have been trialling this package now for twelve weeks and have to say it is working with me. If you want to see what I think of it and how I found it you can read my post here.

Thinking Slimmer promotes itself as

This product markets itself as a Dynamic Interactive 12 week weight loss programme. From the inside, Slimpods change the outside

This is a three phase process and the package you win will take you through all three phases at a pace that suits you. There is a massive amount of information about each phase on the website, with a supportive group of fellow podders on Facebook. 

To enter this competition please follow the instructions in the Gleam form below.
Please note all comments are moderated before they will show so do not worry that your comment does not come up immediately. 

Win a Slimpod Gold membership

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder -

Thinking Slimmer - 12 weeks on

I started out on this journey twelve weeks ago, and have got an awful lot out of it. To start with it has been easy, put on the mp3 at night and go to sleep. how much easier can it be to lose weight? This plan for me was not about a short term fix it was about the longer term bigger picture. I am only a few years off of sixty and going through the menopause, an age where woman can  put on weight, lose bone density and have other issues. I had blood tests back at the end of January and they did not show any issues my blood sugar levels, cholesterol, vitamins, calcium and thyroid all came back good so I would like them to stay that way.

It really is as simple as it sounds,once you have signed up for the package there is a massive amount of information on the Thinking Slimmer website and an even larger amount of support out there from other podders who are also doing the plan.

The plan is presented to you in three phases, with lots of information on each phase that you read as you are going along. I feel with it being presented like this it is easier to absorb and deal with than it would be if it was all delivered in one go.

So taking this slowly I started Phase 1 - listening to the pod and allowing my subconcious to deal with it.

I have for years during the day when I am out in the community eaten on the run, I would eat a packet of crisps or two, or a packet of sweets as I drove from job to job. Mindless eating that filled a gap for a short time, but consuming calories for the sake of it. Because of this form of eating I was getting a lot of slumps and therefore would eat something else a two hours later when I got back in the car again. It would be more junk and so the cycle went on. Now I am finding I can happily go for four to six hours in between simply because I do not feel hungry.

Since starting this programme I have noticed many changes. Some of them I have consciously made, instead of having crisps in the car I now have fridge porridge or I will cook up a chicken breast the night before and take it, have been making cous cous and adding cooked vegetables and tuna to it and taking that with me. Not only are these much better foods to be eating but I cannot eat them while I am driving, so I am taking ten minutes and actually realising that I am eating, and enjoying the food, feeling the point at which I am full and stopping eating. This of course has a massive positive knock on effect as I am not getting the dips and there fore grabbing more junk to eat, win win all round.

So what are the changes food wise I have made food wise apart from that?

a) I have virtually stopped drinking diet fizzy juice and all the chemicals it contains and am now drinking fizzy water instead, I still like my fizz. Just think six two litre bottles of juice a week was a minimum of £6, equivalent bottle of water cost me £2.40, that is a saving of £187 a year to be healthier.
b) drinking caffeine free herbal tea more often though I only ever drunk two cups of normal tea a day before.
c) cut down to one drink of ribena a day, still quite like it for one drink gives me my daily vitamin C.
d) I am eating smaller portions, and often still leaving food on my plate. What is on my plate is lower in carbs and higher in protein and veg. The protein helps me feel fuller longer so again eating less often.
e) stopped the mindless eating, use to have a bad habit if this especially when I was tired in an evening. Can now bring through a bag of haribos and eat half a dozen consciously rather than eat the whole bag without noticing. I should also save money on my dental bill as well as before my teeth use to feel furry a lot of the time, that has all but stopped too.

This will all go to keeping my cholesterol and sugars normal. I like this one because you are not actually on a diet there are no forbidden foods and therefore no wagon to fall off of.

But there is more, I now go to Slimpod Gold Phase two of the plan aka the Chillpod.

The Chillpod is our other clinically-proven download which helps you control your response to stress. With the Slimpod and Chillpod working together it means you should no longer need to overeat.

This one tackles subjects such as emotional eating, beating your cravings and recognising your triggers. Mine were always when I was tired, and I can certainly notice a difference then.

I would like to think this is working in the background as the last few weeks have been a bit abnormal even in my life and I am adding extra pressure to my workload for an hour and a half ever morning and the same again in an evening. While my grandchildren are a pleasure they are still hard work.  Jokingly said to my daughter the other day think I will change the name of my blog to "Its hard working having fun as a gran". I have to say this is where the plan is truly coming into its own, as I know for a fact that I am doing much less comfort and convenience eating than I would have been doing before I started this.

Anyway I seem to be managing fine with this, prioritising what needs to be done, backed off quite a bit from social media and my blog and  have rekindled my love again for cross stitching, something I have not done in years. Have found this very relaxing.

Then comes phase 3 the Fitpod. This is the one that gets you motivated and moving. Exercise and eating healthier work hand in hand, Exercise is not only good for your body but good for your brain as well.

Thinking Slimmer tells us;

The beneficial effects of physical activity have been well researched:
Exercise makes you happy  
Exercise increases your resilience to stress.
Exercise alleviates the symptoms of many brain disorders.
Regular physical exercise increases brain plasticity – the brain’s ability to keep growing and changing.
Exercise delivers more oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Exercise results in a bigger brain and better memory.
So it’s clear that exercise is one of the best things you can do for brain health and function.

I have always had an active job, think the only office job I have had was before the children were born. I have child minded, done play group leader, shop floor staff and now work in a hospital. I walk miles in a shift pushing a hoover, mopping floors, pushing trolleys, bending up and down to trolleys and stretching across beds. I also have active pursuits between taking the grandchildren out, geocaching, and happily walk. I use to cycle and swim but they were given up for medical reasons.

But while this was maintaining my weight, and to some extent my health I have really felt the urge to exercise more. I am still getting out with the grandchildren but have started using videos on you tube as well. There are thousands out there, something to interest every one and so much variety there is no need to get bored. I have done Jane Fonda basic workouts, run a mile, run two, do a 5k in forty minutes in the bedroom, if I have had less time then I will do a fifteen or twenty minute HiiT workouts, they are all there.

I feel I am standing more upright having being using weights to tone my arms and shoulders, feel my core muscles must be getting stronger as I am a lot better balanced when doing the workouts that require balancing,

So what has this plan done for me so far?

I have lost fifteen pounds in the twelve weeks, better than I had hoped for, I would have been happy with an average of a pound a week, after all this for me is about long term sustainability, and an average of a pound a week would be four stone in the first year. I would be much happier and I am sure healthier four stone lighter, would be much better for my knees and other joints.
I have also lost a total of eleven inches, half from my neck, three from my bust, one from my waist, three from my biceps, three from my hips, and half from my thigh.

I have also found I am suffering much less with flushing especially at night. Not sure why this should be but I am not complaining.

So I am going to keep on podding, love the effect it has and no calorie counting, meal planning or buying special food.

If you would like to try this for yourself I am running a competition for you to win your own gold plan.

You can find the competition here.

#spon I was provided with this package to trial, but that has not influenced my honest findings.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

A day out in the March sunshine

DD3 ( Auntie H) was helping out this weekend. Fifi was away at Cadet camp, SIL was working, the other grandparents were at an event away from home, so DD3 said she would do the whole weekend, arriving for up time at 7.30 am and staying until bed time at 7pm.  When I told them at bedtime on Friday that Auntie H was coming the next morning they both said yeeehhhh and raised their arms in the air.

On Sunday I was off from work and so as it was a nice day we decided to get them out for a while, and so we decided to take them to the beach by bus. Once DD1 buys another universal car seat I can take the twins out in the car, until then I cannot. The bus is not a venture to undertake alone as the twin buggy needs folding which means moving the bags off the bottom, so to hold onto the bags, the twins and carry the buggy onto the bus is impossible. Dinky was not overly keen on the bus and cried when we took her on and she sat on DD3 knee, where as Minky was quite happy to sit on the seat next to me and chat away and sing wheels on the bus and other songs as we went into the town. Bob was not to keen on coming but he was told tough luck he was having to come.

So we headed for the beach to start with. Minky was inpatient to get out and started playing straight away. Dinky on the other hand was not keen on getting out, so we unstrapped her and got on with playing. As soon as the tubs and spades came out she was not long in joining in with the fun.

to start she would only stand

then she would sit on the bag we had breought

he was quite happy to play straight off

filling the tub to make sandcastles

me teaching him how to fill the tub

We were digging holes and standing Minky in and burying his feet, we then buried his legs when he was sat down, Dinky wanted nothing to do with being covered.

she preferred the rake

look Grandma has a camera, I must smile

Bob played as well 

We took a wander down to the waters edge, Minky was not for getting his wellies wet, where as Dinky was happy to let the waves wash over her wellies. Always amazes me the difference in them.

We wandered back up to the digging. 

Dinky quite happy to wander free

At this point we decided to head up to the play park and have lunch and then a play. 

leaving the beach

The play park, as usual was busy, but we were lucky and grabbed a table as somebody left. 

Bob eating lunch

Dinky and I

Minky and Dinky

Minky on the slide. 
A year ago this boy knew no fear and happily climbed anywhere he could get. now he seems much more reserved and does not like climbing as much.

he was not for climbing

trying to pull up the scoop. 

sitting on the steps to the slide

dropping sand through the holes. 
We had kept an eye on the time as there is only one bus an hour and we knew it was getting near nap time so we headed back for the bus. Minky sat quiet and half asleep on the bus. 

where as Dinky would only sit on Auntie H knee

When we got home the twins went for a sleep and Auntie H and Bob did some colouring.
Poor Auntie H was exhausted at the end of the weekend, but had had lots of fun.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday 19 March 2016

Project 366 week 11

Been another quick week full of grandchildren, from the youngest to the oldest. There have been four breakfast runs and four bedtime routines. The breakfast run involves being down for 7.30 to get the twins out of the cots, downstairs, fed and dressed. The evening run is baths and bed with some housework to help out afterwards. Plus keeping on top of the washing and tumble drying.
I love the way our wider family are pulling together, the other grandparents going over during the day to help out, DD2 did her bit last week and DD3 has given up her days off as well, makes me proud to be related to them all.
Plus me having to realise for all the head thinks I am still twenty nine the body is beginning to tell me differently.
Think I have only managed a work out twice this week, but better than nothing.


DD2 and SIL down for the weekend. They brought with them their wedding album. I have to say these have changed since the days of pictures stuck on a page. The album was beautiful, no actual physical pictures, just digital prints laid over backgrounds of the rooms/settings they were taken in. I have never seen anything like it before. DD2 did the breakfast run.

Wedding Album 


Did the breakfast run, and in the evening took Bob to gymnastics and then went for a walk round the local estate before we went back to pick him up. SIL was home to do the bedtime routine and DD3 had a day off so was down to help out during the day. Hubby had a GP appointment and now has another lot of tablets to take.

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that protein is good for breakfast, so when I had seen these in the supermarket I could not resist trying them. I was also sent a pack of 24 to try by Weetabix. The chocolate ones are very nice without being over powering or too chocolatey tasting and the other ones hubby says taste just the same as normal ones with the pieces of protein giving a sort of sugary crunch to the inside of them, I take mine with yoghurt which also contains protein to help me feel full for longer.

NEW Weetabix Protein is not only high in wheat protein but contains all the goodness of traditional Weetabix cereal; High in fibre, low in sugar, salt and fat and fortified with Iron and vitamins, with a serving of Weetabix Protein with milk (40g portion with 135ml semi-skimmed milk) containing 12g of protein compared to 6g from a large egg.

Weetabix Protein


Alarm went off at 5am, hubby on the swim run this week. I did breakfast run and back down for bedtime run. I actually managed to get Minky sat still long enough to get a picture of the four youngest.

the four youngest


The other grandparents did the morning run today, and typical I was awake at just after 5am and up just after 6am. We went down and took the twins out to the park for a while.
We both had eye examinations and my prescription has changed, need slightly stronger for both my reading and distance, so also got new driving sunglasses as I did not replace these two years ago. Back down for bedtime routine.

I won this on the local radio station. Not had a chance to listen to either of the yet.

my prize


Back for breakfast run. The two of them really make you laugh in the morning, breakfast is "cereals bowl" and then "toast jam". So the toast goes in and the two of them laugh their little heads off and point and shout toast jam toast jam  very excitedly when the toast pops up, just so adorable that something as a toaster popping makes them laugh their heads off.   Daughter has got an infection in her wound and needed to go and get antibiotics and hopefully it will clear up. Back for bedtime routine. Fifi stayed with is again tonight.

I see changes in Spud, she is now awake for short periods of time during the day and goes in her bouncy chair at times.Here she is lying on her Babymoov lovenest pillow, review to follow.

Look Grandma I am awake. 


Alarm went off just after 5am and off they went swimming. I got up and caught up with our washing and some housework before going down for the breakfast run. Out this afternoon to pick up my new insoles from podiatry as my feet are getting worse, and have been given some exercises to do to try and help as well. Back for the bedtime routine.

Dinky adores her little sister


Have finished the pink owl on the blanket to balance the blue one and have started a train as well. Just the waste canvas to pull off on this.

pink owl to balance blue owl 

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday 12 March 2016

Project 366 week 10


Mothers Day, not something we go in for in a big way. I think it is lovely when you have young children who make you a card and a present, but not into the hype and commercialism. But have to say I love the bunches of flowers I got from the older two girls.

One from Moonpig one from Bunches


Took Bob to gymnastics but somebody there before hand had hand, foot and mouth disease, and although the staff were trying their best to clean before our class went in I was taking no risks with him having cracks on his hands from his eczema and explained to him why we were not staying and brought him home. So instead of a walk I went and did an exercise class with youtube. Progressed now onto HiiT workouts. I have to say them along with the Thinking Slimmer are really working. For the first time in over twenty years I weight less than 16 stone, not much less but less is better than more in this case. I have lost twelve pounds since I started this nine weeks ago, so really pleased with that.I swithered over embarrassing myself by sharing but am pleased with this so here it is.

too much but improving


Been doing some holiday relief cover this week at a complex. I admire this spread of crocuses ( croci?) every year. They are looking very Spring like.

Spring has sprung


Popped into daughters on the way home. Conveniently Spud was starting to stir, so of course I had to pick her up. When ever she is up Dinky just wants to "duddle baby sister" so baby sister got a duddle. Daughter has put a step next to the pram so the twins can climb up and look in and they love standing watching her.

Dinky cuddles Spud


Was a lovely afternoon so we went for a wander and picked up a cache while we were out. There was snow on the peaks of Arran with the ship stopped in front.

Arran in the haze with a ship anchored in front


SIL starts his new job today and so left home at 6am. As daughter cannot lift the twins just yet and Fifi was away swimming then I was down for 7.30 am to do breakfast and get them dressed. Love how when I walked into their bedroom their wee faces light up and they shout my name over and over.  Went back down to do bath and bedtime and a bit of housework. Other grandparents are doing the weekend and DD3 doing Monday, so I am not back now till Tuesday.

drinking water in the bath


This is the first picture on the blanket, have to say I am quite pleased with how it has turned out. Just got to pull out the waste canvas now. This owl is in the top right corner, going to balance it up with a pink one bottom left.

cross stitch owl 

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky

Saturday 5 March 2016

Project 366 week 9


Was too nice to stay in the library in my break so went out for a walk and picked up a few caches at the same time.

the river under the bridge at Dalrymple


Attended a leap year geocache event, thought it would be nice to mark the date off the calender. Was a fun night, managed to get my 500th cache, We did 16 on our way up taking a longer route than need be to get to the destination but added to the fun. Was an awful drive back in near white out snow for the first eight miles, all I can say is thank goodness for the white line down the middle of the road.

our group at the table


Fifi swims for the local council swim team and has been moved up a group. This now involves being at the poolside for 6am two mornings a week. As her dad due to work commitments is not able to take her then the two granddads are taking it in turns week about. This week it was hubby's turn so I was all alone at 6am.

All alone am I


Down at daughters early so she could go book in for her c section at 7.30 am. The children and I had fun. Auntie H turned up to help out for a few hours and the other grandparents came over to help and brought a lovely shepherds pie for every bodies tea.

  Let me introduce you to  Evangeline Amelia Mcleod. weight 7.5lb time 09:46am. We went up for a short while tonight to visit. Mum and daughter both doing well, older two are besotted with her. 

meet Evie


I took over looking  after the children  so that the other grandparents could go and visit.They took Bob with them as he was desperate to see Evie again.  Then I took Fifi up to visit in the evening as SIL came home to do the twins bath and bedtime routine. Fifi has missed her mum and will be glad to get her home. . 

Evie and Fifi


Sorry baby spam week this week, the picture I took of the snow looking very pretty on the top of Arran will never see the light of day now....lol.
Evie is home, the twins are delighted with her, I am sure the novelty will wear off. 

Evie is home


In keeping with the baby theme, but Ziggy this time,the blanket now has the waste canvas attached to some of the squares ready to start sewing. First up is an owl. The blanket itself is 28 squares to the inch, designed for complex cross stitching. My eye sight is not good enough for that any more  so the waste canvas will make it 10 squares per inch, meaning much simpler but still nice pictures. 

the waste canvas is added

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky