Saturday, 30 July 2011

Six Word Saturday - Autumn already?

Summer seems to be flying by

Being that I've now got a job I can overhaul my wardrobe somewhat. It's full of clothes I've had for years which weren't necissarily the nicest pieces, and a lot of them were actually hand me downs from my mum. It's a symptom of being both mahooosively fat and also skint. It's not that lovely clothes don't exist out there for us fat girls but they are rather pricey and I've had much more important things to invest in. Like food, and bills and stuff.

Anyway, I was just browsing one of the less frumpy plus sized catalogues online (who are now so succesful that they're opening an actual shop here in Liverpool - I'm so excited!) and whilst there are still loads of summery cothes there it surprised me how many Aumtumn/Winter clothes were already out. We're only just going into hot hot August!

Obviously I'm so not used to clothes shopping ^_^;;;

 But it really made me think wow, where has this year gone? It doesn't seem like two minutes since we were up north for my birthday back in April. That said, time is an odd thing and it feels like years and years since I had long hair when in deed I only just had it cut in February. Odd how your perception of time gets so distorted. I wonder why April seems like just last week as opposed to February.

Basically, I think Summer has just decided to skip over us.

Not that I mind so much. I love Spring, when the sun is out and it's cheerful and you get that smell of fresh new life on the air, but there's still a nice fresh breeze to stir things up and you probably need at least a nice cardigan to keep the chill off your skin. The long hot days of Summer tend to irritate me. There's no enjoyment to be had from trying to get to sleep when the Sun is still shining, or staying asleep when the Sun wants to be out, nor is there enjoyment to be had from trying to accomplish regular day to day activity when weighed down with bucket fulls of sweat and getting more and more irritated as no relief is to be found.

Thankfully, I live in the northen part of a little Island sticking out into the North Atlantic and such long, hot Summer days are short lived and usually broken up with rain in between which can bring some relief.

Anyway, I've rambled on much too long. I know many of you out there love the Summer but I for now am looking forward to the end of it. It's just scary how soon it seems to have passed already!


Friday, 29 July 2011

Menu and shopping planning

Yesterday we had a wonderful time out. I didn't stick to my plan, but I didn't go overboard, I kinda met myself halfway. Sorry to Becky who read my blog before coming out and deciding not to indulge massively at Costa...but think of it this way, I very very briefly saved you from yourself!

Today is shopping day, and this weekend I'll be trying two new recipes and two new side dishes. The beauty with the main meals I'm trying out (tandoori chicken and home made Calzone pizza) is that once I've bought in the bulk of ingredients (the tandoori spice, bread and yeast etc) the fresh ingrediants (the chicken, and filling for the pizza) can be bought at no greater expense than my usual shopping budget, so I'm going to stock up tonight on a whole load of bread flour. Another great thing about the Calzone as well is that I can fill it up with just about anything I like. This weekend I'm using Tapas deli meats that Asda are pushing along with a ton of fresh cherry tomatoes and yummy, low fat mozzarella cheese. Way better than a store bought monstrosity!

As my recipe repertoire expands and I fill my cupboards up with flour, spices etc I've been trying to think up ways of being able to mix up my diet, as I believe I've mentioned before. Currently our weekly menu, each and every week, looks like this:

Monday: Low fat carbonara with leeks OR Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday: Stir Fry
Wednesday: Tortillioni with tomato sauce
Thursday: Stir Fry
Friday: Shopping night = pretty much free for all, but usualy a pizza or baguette for me, Ben likes his southern fried chicken
Saturday: Pie
Sunday: Roast

It's worked for us for so long because of the various offers on meat and stir fry veg etc that Asda has on at any one time, and the meals through the week are very low in calories thus make up for a little indulgence on Friday and Saturday. However, my problem is this;

Aside from a tiny bit of variation at the weekends, we've been eating this exact same menu, week in, week out, for at least six months.

If you're wondering why I've not dropped the weight off in that time, by the way, it's usually because we're very naughty and buy sweeties on a week night, or I drink gallons of hot chocolate at costa coffee, all bad habits we're trying to do away with. You know, those indulgences that you think "oh, it's just this once, it's not like it's every day" but then totally forget about since you're thinking about your main meals anyway and ultimately end up undoing all your hard work.


Anyhow, as I said, I've been trying to shake this up a bit and still stay within budget. Of course my recent good news is going to make budgeting for truly fresh and healthy food that little bit easier (who am I kidding, it's going to make it a WHOLE load easier!) but on my travels through the wonderful world of the interwebs I've found this awesome little tool. 

It's nothing at all to look at, but I've found it so useful so far just in planning what I need to buy for this weekend. The jist of it is that you have a database of recipe's with which you create a weekly menu plan. You can pick recipe's already there or you can input your own (which can be time consuming but worth it in my opinion). Once you've completed your menu plan for the week, it automatically generates a shopping list complete with how much of everything you need. For example, since I'm making calzone's and Naan breads this weekend I need to buy in at least 350g of flour. Then you simply tick off any items you already have in the cupboards and there you go, your shopping list for the week.

I'm hoping this will help me to both budget and juggle up my weekly menu a little. If I fill this baby up with loads of healthy recipe's soon I can simply think "mm what do I fancy this week", check off what I want and not worry about overdoing it at the shop whislt knowing I'm eating fresh, healthy food somewhat automatically.

Anyhow, this is my first week using it, and it's a somewhat odd week anyhow since there will be a lot of eating out with the folks so hopefully over the next couple of weeks I can really put it through its paces and let you know how it's working out for us.

Hope you're all well!


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Working out towards a better me.

This week I've really resolved to push towards my BTH goal one of loosing ten pounds, but perhaps this week wasn't the best week to start.

Tonight we're going out for dinner. It's partially to celebrate my getting a job, and partially because we have no food in the house. I'm also meeting Becky at Costa for coffee. Two big temptations. I could very easily indulge in a massive, cream and marshmallow topped hot chocolate and cake, then a big mixed grill with chips. My plan however is to treat myself to an iced tea (less than 100 calories) and perhaps some biscotti which are also not too bad, then have a salad or wrap when we get to the pub.

I shall, of course, report back on my success (or otherwise!). However tonight goes down I think will forshadow what will happen next week when my parents are visiting and we will no doubt be eating out with them. We're already booked in for the Red Hot World Buffet which is exactly how it sounds...but they serve loads of fresh fruit and veg and salads as well as all their less healthy fare's hoping I can strengthen my resolve here and now in preparation. I don't want to happen to me what usually happens when family visits or we visit family and my weight blooming yet again, wiping out my hard work from the past couple of months.

We shall see what we shall see. Of course I shall keep you updated :)
I've also been working towards this goal in other ways too. Indeed, I even got up about seven o clock this morning to do my work out for the day, which is epic stuff; in the couple of days since I started back with the Wii Fit I've actually begun to look forward to working out. Wii Fit is not going to turn me into the ultimate athlete, but I generally do 15 minutes of "yoga" (I use the term in the loosest sense; the positions and stretches are derived from yoga but it's hard to unite body and mind with the computer yelling "Your posture's great! You're wobbling a bit! Remember to breathe!" every ten seconds!) and minor strength building exercises as a warm up, followed by 15 - 20 minutes of aerobic exercises. By the time I've finished the warm up my heart is pumping and I'm really ready to go on the aerobics.

There's only so much you can do based around a small rectangle that stands a couple of inches off of the ground, but I think when you're as big as I, even this can help. I'm always sweating away after and the heart is going. Isn't this the measure of a good workout?

I think that, perhaps this weekend, I'll do my 15 minute warm up stretches and then do 30 minutes of aerobics. I'll admit I prefer the yoga more than anything, I'm already seeing an improvement with the positions I've been practising, but if I really want to burn this fat I'm going to have to do more of the aerobics stuff.

Anyhow, I should really stop procrastinating now and sew up the hole that has appeared in my good trousers (alas, a symptom of thunderthighs!) as I have yet another interview in a couple of hours, this time to volunteer with ChildLine. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

It's another NaBlo day...

Nothing much to say today. Accepted my terms of work for my new employer, start on Monday, just waiting for it to come round now, woohoo! The corner of shame is slowly being chipped the meantime, I think it's time for another NaBlo inspired post...thank goodness it's nearly the end of July and I shan't have to bore your eyes out with nonsensical filler posts ^_^;;

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
What is the first thing you do in the morning?

Shower! Can't do anything before I've showered! Then it's medicines, weigh in, update my charts, read my blogs, and then into whatever the day has to offer.

Short and sweet folks. Hope you're all well.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Murphy's Law

It's Murphy's Law. Pure and simple. You spend the entirity of the weekend, plus Friday before and Monday after, worrying...stressing...getting wound up and a little upset...head full of the what if's and the how come's and why did's...

But as soon as you just accept it is how it is and there's no point chewing the cud and you may as well get on with things as if nothing happened in the first place, as I did last night when I said to Ben that I wasn't waiting on that job call anymore and I'm just going to continue on with the job hunt as per normal and put it all to the back of my mind.

Then today, having not even thought about it, at almost 12 o clock sharp I got the phonecall saying "You've got the job, you start on Monday!"

On a practical level of course I'm bloody well over the moon! On a more philosophical level I have to grin and say yeah...this always happens to me...the minute I stop caring, the minute I just let things comes to me again. Just stop worrying on, Bex, you'll be fine!

Now I get to cross off another day zero item and I think I can consider my "keep up with the job hunt" goal for Beat the Heat pretty much complete!


Monday, 25 July 2011

Beat The Heat challenge - Week Four

We're almost half way through the challenge! Almost but not quite...

Weight Wars

1.       What have you done this week towards your goals? 

Rather than break them all down for you this week, I shall simply say "they're going as well as they had been." I completed my 28 day vitamin challenge to get me glugging them down and I have continued to take them since, the job hunt is, well, going. Still no word but it's still just Monday morning. Weight loss is none existant, but I have started working out again. I'm doubting whether I actually will loose ten pounds at all, but even if I break this bloody thing by the end of the ten weeks that'll be something! The xmas scarf is now starting to look like an actual scarf and not a raggy piece of woolen toilet roll (it really was terrible haha) and is growing longer every day, though I think it's seriously time to start thinking about my other gifts and putting some time towards them. The flat is looking better then ever. I even convinced Ben that it would be a good idea to put the Xbox and Wii on the TV stand as opposed to trailing their wires accross the lounge floor, which has meant that we can now get down to hoover in front of the tv and it has given us a suprising ammount of extra space. This weeks chorey challenge - break the corner of shame.

"The corner of shame?" I hear you say, "what is this corner of shame?"

This, my friends, is the corner of shame;

It's basically the heap of books and boxes and other...things...that we have no where else to put. On the far right hand side of that you can see the corner of the door into our lounge. Can I just say now that the rest of the lounge is practically spotless, it's just this wee corner of clutter. I mean, ultimately, we need another bookcase. Ben refuses to throw his books away and there just isn't the space to put them all. Even if I took the CD's off of the bookcase and put them into storage or something you'd only fit a couple extra books in there.

Aside from books, other interesting items you will find in the corner of shame include;

A dwarf
Statuettes of Annubis (who is missing an ear) and Bast (who is spattered with white paint from when my dad was redecorating...back when I still lived with my parents...whome I haven't lived with for 6 years now...)
A cauldron
A chinese syle sword
A violin
Body lotion that I started using then put on the bookshelf and forgot about
A Xmas tree and all of it's decorations
Lots and lots and lots of reusable ASDA bags.
A suitcase which is no longer in use (and will probably be transformed into extra book storage and hidden away in the bedroom. Eventually.)

Some of this rather interesting bric a brac can be chucked, and has only survived this long because once again Ben finds it difficult to part with anything that may carry any kind of sentimental value to any one at all (I do realise I'm perhaps being a little unfair to poor Ben, I too can "hoarde" things, but usually things that I think may one day be useful as opposed to things of sentimental value, and I do eventually throw these things away!)...the Egyptian Gods, for example, are actually mine, I filched them off of my dad, but Ben felt they were 'too important' to through away, even though he never knew I even had them till I pulled them out of my big suitcase when I decided that would be the travelling suitcase and not the storage one...he insisted they could probably be fixed up, and he's right they probably could...but we haven't anywhere to put them anyhow (hence why they are in the corner of shame).

So some of that will be finding its way to landfill, sad but true, some of it will have to be found a new home though God knows where (perhaps the sword can be hung up somewhere but I haven't the foggiest notion what to do with that violin). I promise to show you all how it ends up looking once I'm through with it, this time next week?

And now I remember this was a BTH blog post, not a "whinge about my clutter" post and I've completely gone off on a tangent. Sorry!

2.       What did you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

Pfff. Not an awful lot, I've been very focussed on getting things done. But perhaps being a do'er and not a sit around whinging'er is in itself cause to feel fabulous? I've not felt this motivated about my life in general as a whole (as opposed to feeling motivated in some aspects but totally demoralised in others) for a long time!

3.       Do you exercise? What is your favourite kind and why? 

I used to exercise, when I was a teenager, I did Taekwondo and our instructor was real big on general overall fitness. I was still big but it was good. Always felt great afterwards (though not so great during it has to be said!). When I had to stop going (for various reasons) I started going to the gym and I really enjoyed it when I could motivate myself to get there in the first place (going to a scheduled class is a lot different after all). I know a lot of people don't like the gym atmosphere, but I love it. The number crunching as much as anything else. Can I push myself to burn x number of calories etc. And the weights too, loved them. I do have an exercise bike (you may have noticed it hising in the corner of shame) and though it does indeed get used it's just not the same. It's an old and basic model, there's very little resistance in it to get your legs into and it just doesn't inspire me the way the big fancy number crunching things do. Sadly unless I get a lovely call from a lovely lady later today I can't afford the gym membership to be able to use said wonderful machines of glory. Walking around my neighbourhood does very little for me it has to be said. I want to start running eventually but once again, whilst some people find working out in a gym to be intimidating, the thought of going out there in front of the whole world (and specifically my busy little neighbourhood of Anfield) and running around infront of the crack heads and drunkards of this rather dusty and impoverished area of Liverpool intimidates the hell out of me. I'd rather be in the gym because, hey, that's what the gym is there for at the end of the day, and two fingers up to anyone who says otherwise!

4.       There are loads of fantastic bloggers here in the Beat the Heat competition, which blog or blogs have you discovered through the challenge that you particularly enjoy? Show that person some love! 

I've been trying to look up at least one new blog a week, I find it difficult to take in every blog at once, but in particular I've discovered and really gotten into Mary's Blog. A year ago she was about the same weight as me and now look at her! If I had as much will power as she...well, she's lost over 149lb's and I'm pretty much the same weight as I was...12 pounds down only (lol, a pound a month). She's very inspirational and she's the reason I've been thinking about getting into running. It's really made me realise that yes, I can do this.

5.       What song makes you want to dance at the moment?

Do I have to name one? I've been listening to Lady GaGa's latest album a lot lately as you might have seen on my twitter wall's "tweekly fm top three artists" chart that appears there every Friday. That album in general makes me want to try all kinds of dangerous stuff that I probably shouldn't unless I want a crazy dance related injury!

And finally the positive picture for the week...

From Five Words Tell a Story
I've been going on and on about this job interview and hearing back from them because I'll admit, the interviewer sold it good to me and she seemed so positive and all "yeah, it's all yours" afterwards. Yet still no official response. It may be early to say, or it may be that someone else better than me came in later. It may even be that she says that to everyone she interviews. Whatever. If it happens it happens. If it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. Nothing has changed, we're no worse off. Sure we'll have to spend longer saving up for our holiday and probably won't get to go for our anniversary next year, and we won't be able to move out of here until I find something else. But you know what? No better, no worse, I've learned some valuable lessons from the experience anyhow. The whole thing has also given me the thirst to get back into work again. I mean a real, biting hunger for it. Before I looked and applied because "I need a job" but I've been out of it for so long that I've almost settled into my routine of being housebound. Now I've had a taste of the possibilites even a few part time hours could have brought us I'm seriously raring to go, I don't just need a job anymore, I want one, anything at all, and I want to work hard at it. So that's most definitely something good to come out of this. Whatever happens, it's for a reason.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sunday weekly roundup number 2

It's been a pretty busy week!

  • Had a phone interview which led to a face to face interview in which I was told "hey, I'm pretty sure you're getting this job!" but then didn't hear any fingers crossed for tomorrow!
  • The living room is half finished in my continuing mission to blitz the flat. It's already looking fantastic and it's only the corner of shame and bookshelves to be sorted now. Oh how I fear the corner of shame...
  • I managed to cross off another quest from my day zero list! Taking vitamins is now hardwired into my soul.
  • I managed to break my plateau! But this little victory was short lived as I put it back on before weigh in day. I'm starting to doubt whether I'll be able to loose 10lb's by the end of BTH.
  • Although I've had a week full of little personal victories, the world at large has had a pretty traumatic week whether it be from a massacre in Norway or individual tragedy. Prayers for all who have suffered this week.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Six Word Saturday - The future!

I think things are looking up

Still no news from my interviewer, but I'm not worrying about it like I was yesterday. Whether or not I have got the job, things in general are looking up for us in the not too distant future. I'm very much excited for all the prospects that are coming our way :)


Friday, 22 July 2011

Deflated but still hopeful

So I had my interview this afternoon and it went very well. The interviewer and I clicked immediately and by the end of it she gave me her assurances that the job was as good as mine, and I should expect a call confirming this sometime this afternoon.

Of course it is now ten past nine at night and no such call has been recieved so I'm not sure how to feel about it all. Had she not said anything about the likelihood of me getting the position or the time by which to expect a call I would be happily relaxing, eagerly awaiting next week for such a call to say yes or no. As she did say what she said I've now got any number of thoughts through my head from "I mustn't have got the position at all/a later interviewee must have been much better than me" (though she said there were a couple of vacancies being recruited for) to "everything is fine, it's just that things are taking longer than she expected to put through, and I just have to wait for the call".

I'm therefore trying desperately not to get my hopes up (they've already been raised far enough!) but I'm finding it hard to put it from my mind. I feel rather restless and nervy. I know if I haven't heard anything by Monday I definitely haven't got it but until then, I'm existing in a bit of limbo, all because she was so positive and used those magical words "as far as I'm concerned, the job is yours".

Well, there's hope left yet anyhow :) And if I have indeed got it, I start on the 1st so not long to go!

Super duper fingers crossed!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Febreeze, eat your heart out

Well I almost totally flunked NaBlo today, if it weren't for Ben reminding me I would have completely forgotten to post! However as it's ten o clock and I need to be up early in the morning to get ready for my interview (wish me luck!) I'd better make it short and sweet.

The problem with tomorrow is that all my smart interview clothes have been packed away for a fair few months now and obviously I only found out I'd be having the interview yesterday at five o clock in the evening after I'd already put a load of laundry through. So I'm left with crinkly, wrinkly, musty smelling clothes. Of course in an ideal world I would have washed them today, however we don't have a tumble dryer and no outdoor space to hang washing so we have one clothes horse at a time and it takes sometimes two days to get things properly dry. I couldn't risk re washing them, and it didn't seem worth it since they were already clean, just not too fresh.

So I spent about an hour looking online and found a few recipe's for fabric refresher, or "homemade febreeze" and I settled on one that consists of water, fabric conditioner and bicarb of soda. I whipped it all up into a small body spray bottle (that of course I emptied and washed out...I didn't really use the body spray anyway) and now I have the most awesome little bottle of magic purple liquid and a gorgeous smelling shirt and trousers to wear tomorrow.

The crinkly wrinkly still defies me however. I don't actually have an iron or ironing board. Now, when I got married the lady who sold me my dress advised to hang the veil in the bathroom whilst I showered to get the wrinkles to drop with the steam, and it worked fantastically. I wondered if it would work on my shirt, but sadly not. So tomorrow I'll have to try something else. I've heard moistening it with water and fabric conditioner (like what I just made up!) and then setting a hair dryer on it can help to pull wrinkles out. Here's hoping anyhow because the bottom of the shirt is just one big wrinkly mess!

Sorry for probably having bored you half to death...but the NaBlo must be won!

Till next time, with hopefully some good news :)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Wee Bit Wednesday v51 and Interview Success

{one} what is your dream job?

Volcanologist, however I have neither the brains nor the body for that!

{two} how many best friends do you have?

I don't have a huge massive circle of friends, and so the ones that I have are really close and special to me. However, if I had to give a definitive number I'd say two.

{three} what’s the longest road trip you’ve ever taken?

Durham UK to Alicante Spain...we did it twice in fact. Something about my parents wanting to save money on air fares and care hire (there were five of us after all, and on the way back the first time round we brought my God mother and her daughters back with us so they could visit their family). This saving of the money was misplaced, but it was an amazing experience none the less!

{four} if you had to do one single thing every day for the next year, what would it be?

Something involving Ben, if you catch my drift *BOW CHICKA BOW WOW*

{five} what’s one story your family always tells about you?

My mum keeps telling everyone what a horrible, moody bitch I was when I was a teenager. I can't say she's wrong. My Granny on the other hand likes to tell cuter stories about how I would go around making songs up and shout at anyone who tried to sing nursery rhymes along with me cause, you know, I love the sound of my own voice and wanted to be centre stage. All very endearing stuff.

{six} how did your parents pick your name?

Well, they were actually going to call me Rachel but shortly before I was born dad decided he suddenly didn't like it (something about a card game called Rachel?) so they switched to Rebecca. Awful lot of good it did of course because people still call me Rachel for some strange and unknown reason..

{seven} what’s the one thing that scares you more than anything?

Aliens, medical needles, demonic possesion, death, steep hills (Yet another reason why I will never work my dream job :p)....take your pick, but I cannot choose just one!

{eight} are you a good cook?

I don't blow my trumpet about much...but yes...yes I am a good cook.

{nine} where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I haven't a bloody clue. I know where I would like to be, but I'm too much of a pessimist realist to say that's where I honestly see myself.

{ten} what’s your best childhood memory?

Psychologists reckon we tend to hold onto the bad memories more than good ones, as a hangover from our having to remember that when a mammoth sticks his tusk in you, it hurts and you're going to die. I can't really pin point any particularly epic childhood memory. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have a horrific childhood, I grew up in a loving, secure home surrounded by my family and my siblings and I never really fought or anything like that. I just don't recall any specifically brilliant memories from childhood. Ask me about my best memories from adolescence one day and then we'll get talking :D

In other news, I had my telephone interview today. Indeed, it finished about an hour ago. It was possibly the worst telephone interview I've ever had, I mumbled, I stuttered and stammered and ummed and aahed and my head really just wasn't into it at all. I practically shouted HELLO down the line at him, and I couldn't squirm out of the fact that I have a crap less than desirable employment history.

Despite it all, he's invited me back for the next round of interviews, an hour long do this Friday. Part of me is thinking that last time I got past a telephone interview and into the real deal they didn't call me back, someone else was just better than me. Part of me is trying to protect myself from dissapointment. That said, I have to wonder if someone isn't looking out for me...for a start, I know for a fine fact that my telephone interview was beyond poor, however I got through. Then there's the timing, it's just so perfect, yesterday Ben won some vouchers at work for good performance that we can now use to pay for our groceries on Friday, but if he hadn't won those vouchers I wouldn't actually be able to afford to go...I probably would have been able to beg/borrow/steal from someone somewhere in a pinch, but I like to take signs like that as something of a moral boost!

I was a little shocked to say the least when I recieved the email telling me where the interview was to be held. Earlier I couldn't remember which of their stores the position was for, so I logged back on and saw that it just said "Anfield". I checked the store finder and saw that there are about five different stores in Anfield, all within walking distance from myself (and when I say within walking distance, I mean it's practically next door, walking distance for me is a pretty damned short distance!). Yet the interview is all the way out in Huyton...which means nothing to anyone who doesn't know Liverpool I know, but it's basically gonna take me 30 minutes on the bus. Well, technically it's going to take longer, since this is only the interview and not the location of the job I'm gonna take the "I'm a scardy cat" route out of it and bus into town first and grab my bus from there rather than trying to intercept it...besides, less risky of buses missing each other then ^_^

So anyhow, I've rambled on way too much now so I shall leave you be...wish me luck for Friday, cause I really could do with this job!


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Kitchen Wish List

So, since the kitchen has been sorted and is still just as sparkly and shiny as it was when I first finished thanks to the implementation of my cleaning rota (I feel so grown up haha) I shall be treating myself to a couple of bits and bobs come the end of the month. Of course I plan and scheme my shopping lists months in advance and I already know exactly what I'll be getting, but if money was no object, I'd be filling my kitchen with all kinds of pretties...

A good old fashined cake stand, specifically this one from Paper Chase. One of my day zero tasks is to hold a good old fashioned afternoon tea party, and it wouldn't be a good old fashioned tea party without a good old fashioned cake stand! I think cake stands in general are just ridiculously pretty, but this one just makes me go "squeeeee" with delight and want to fill it up with pretty little cupcakes just to look at it!

A food blender...not necissarily that one, but one of some description. I keep finding all kinds of wonderful tasty recipe's for juices, smoothies, sauces, home made salsas etc that requre one of these babies that I either have to pass up or take the painstaking time over doing it by hand. Not everything can be done by hand of course, and not everything that is done by hand is necissarily better than the version that is done by gadget. My mum used to say the way I make my cakes (by putting everything in the bowl and smashing it all together with an electric hand whisk!) is "cheating" (she creams everything by hand in stages) but I know whose cakes were fluffier ;). Anyhow, Ben has been saying for AGES now that we should get one of these so he can make fruit sorbet and I guess that when Mary over at A Small Loss mentioned that frozen bannana makes a dessert similar to soft scoop ice cream when whisked up in one of these babies, I have to admit, I started coming round to his way of thinking!

I know these are obviously meant for jam jars, but I love glass cannisters like this and fully intend on getting some for my tea, coffee and sugar at the end of the month. They're simple, classy, and work in just about any setting.

A gold fish bowl! Well, no...a rose bowl! I love the way that flowers look when presented in one of these babys. So simple yet so elegant. I can just picture one of these sat on the edge of my kitchen bench, bursting with a bouquet of fresh white and yellow Chrysanthemums.
I have 24 individual silicone cup cake cases. They're so easy to use, and are brilliant for reducing your household waste. I use them for cup cakes or yorkshire puddings. Admittedly it does produce more washing up than a traditional baking tray, but if you clean up your cases as soon as someone has had a cake then it's not too bad, and as the silicone is almost completely none stick its usually just a case of wiping off the crumbs. Anyways, this is the bigger version. I absoloutely hate cleaning big cake tins out, and I'd absoloutely love a big silicone tin that I can just peel straight off of the cake!

This is a confectioners thermometer. Ben likes fudge and butter tablet, and has on a number of occasions tried to make it. However, without a thermometer it's never really turned out won't set or it sets too hard or it has a nasty texture...anyway, I've always wanted to give jam making a go which also requires some precise measuring of the temperature, so it seems logical that if Ben is to enjoy his home made fudge and I am to make some yummy yummy jam, this is the way to go!


Monday, 18 July 2011

Beat The Heat challenge - Week Three

It's the beginning of week three already...I can't believe how the time is flying!

Weight Wars

1.       What have you done this week to work towards your goals?
  •  Admittedly I haven't done much on the weight loss side. We're living off of a relatively limited menu at the minute for various reasons and it's very difficult to keep strict with ourselves in these circumstances. I've spoken to Ben about how dull our menu is (not the food itself, the food is actually wonderful if I may say so myself, but in that we eat the same meals on the same days every week generally) and we've come up with some nice ways to mix things up again but making sure our calories are still in check as it were. All that said, I'm still plateauing, but I haven't had my usual massive weekend fluctuation. I have a feelig that if I stick to my initial commitment of actually working out I'll probably break it this week.
  • As for the Christmas presents, I think I've already mentioned the scarf restart. Going by the time table of this challenge the scarf should have been done...however I'm not too phased. It doesn't take two weeks to whip up a pretty necklace. I'm pretty happy with how this is going.
  • Working towards my day zero list is totally going awesomely, by Friday I'll be able to cross off my vitamin challenge. The only thing I haven't started yet is the working out every day because I'm a lazy old thing. I think this week, my energies shall have to get really focussed on this particular aspect of my life...time to get REALLY moving!
  • I've been sniffing out all sorts of recipe's to try, but unfortunately it will be another two weeks before I can actually do anything. Despite having said rice pudding last time, I was inspired by the tele box the other night to create more Indian inspired food and shall probably be fixing up a Tandoori Chicken feast the way my mum used to make when I was about ten. Ben is excited. I don't think he's ever had home made Tandoori chicken before...
  • Again, I only actually found two jobs to apply for last week. However, I'm not beating myself up because I've managed to get a telephone interview, and you never know, if I actually get a job I think that pretty much renders this challenge complete! So, you know, wish me luck!
  • I was completely lacking in the energy department from about Wednesday onwards last week. I did get the bathroom sorted on the Monday and the "Command Centre" as it has now become known was done on Tuesday, and a year and a halfs worth of paper work was filed away or shredded as appropriate on Wednesday so I did make headway towards getting the flat finally sorted. This week we're on to the living room, and I completed all the weekly chores I needed to do this morning already so I have no excuse not to get the living room up to scratch over the next seven days.
2.       What have you done this week to make you feel fabulous?

I got all dolled up for the cinema on Friday. Whatever the occassion, I love curling up my hair and putting on "The Mask". If I could, I would have an entire dressing room full of makeup and hair bits. Always makes me feel wonderful!

3.       I wrote about gadgets this week (my fav one anyway), do you have any gadgets that help you to your goals or are you a low tech kinda person?

I don't have too many gadgets but, as I mentioned last week, that's more because I've never had the cash to buy them. What I do have were either gifts or hand me downs. I don't really mind. I make the best of what I have. My best friend at the minute is google calendar, as I've been scheduling all my chores rota's with that, kind of like how FLY lady did with the cozi calendar, but built with my home specifically in mind, and on google so I can flick between my email and G+ etc. It's just there, I don't need to go looking for it, and it's fab. As for weight loss, the best tool I have to hand is MFP. As someone messaged me last night to say (which was a total shock, actually, as it's never happened before in the year I've been using it and at first I was a I don't neccesarily write everything down there, especially not since I started to track my calories over a longer time period than day to day on my laptop. It's still really useful to check my BMR, BMI, and calories in meals and recipe's so it generally still gets used day to day for one or more of these things, and of course because I like the weight loss badge I can then slap onto the side of my blog :D. I do have a bit of a gadget wish list though. I really want a Kinnect for the Xbox, however it's totally impractical for our flat because it's so tiny. I also want a heart rate monitor so I can work out how effective my workouts are (I like to know I'm making a difference, and at the minute I feel like I can walk down the street and actually be gaining calories for all the good I'm doing!).

4.       We are half way through the year, what have you achieved so far (in all aspects of life)?

Let's be frank; not an awful lot. That's why I signed up to this challenge. I have learned to knit, however, and of course I have tentatively stepped towards making this flat a home (which will in itself be a mega life time achievement if you ask me!). I've lost 12 pounds since January. That's an achievement. Not a huge one, a tiny drop in the ocean of how much I have to loose, but it's still an achievement. I have some sort of direction towards which I am aiming my life, which is also something to be proud of since the past few years have been spent swimming aimlesly. Yeah, not a lot, but that's still better than "nothing at all". Oh, and of course I have set up a blog which is read by people I didn't have to bribe to do so. You guys totally rock!

5.       Tell me one of your secrets to achieving goals and living a happy life?

Well, I'm absoloutely not a guru on this matter. But one of the biggest things I've learned over the past year or so is that it's one thing to talk, another thing to get off your bum and do it. And it's only by getting off your bum and doing it that things will ever actually happen. It's possibly a bit shocking that it took me 24 years to learn this (of course, I'd been told it before, but being told and actually realising it for real are two different things) but once again, better late than never.

And, of course, to end it all, here is my positive picture for the week:

This is me and my baby brother a couple of days after my birthday. Of course, he's not really a baby anymore, because he's turning 13 this week! But he'll always be my baby bro of course ^_^ Happy birthday to the Natty Nat!


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Weekly Roundup

I never seem to have much to say about Sundays, because Sundays in my house are a quiet day of relaxation where the most strenuous activity is generally washing up after a fabulous roast dinner, and the highlight of the afternoon is the weekly phonecall home to keep in touch with our families. There are exceptions, of course, but for now I think NaBlo Sundays will have to be about reflecting upon the week.

  • Restarted the wonky scarf of wobbledom. Becky was lovely and lent me a pair of bigger knitting needles (the pattern called for bigger ones anyway) and already it's so much easier than my 3.75mm ones that I was using, especially to control the tension. Thanks chuck!
  • As of yesterday I have two interviews to look forward two! One, of course, is the ChildLine interview, which is coming up in two weeks time, and is of course for a voluntary position. Still, I'm not snubbing it at all, I have this great and grand master plan of how I intend to build back my life, and this is pivotal to that. Of course if nothing comes of it (I don't think that will be the case, but you know, don't count your chickens) I'll step back and reassess and replan but for now, this is the keystone to my plans.
  • The other interview is a telephone interview for actual paid work, and I'm really chuffed because on the strength of my application and poor work history I didn't think I'd get it. It's time to shine methinks! I hope I do get it because the working hours would be ideal for me, and it's within walking distance from home so that gets me more active. Of course, no counting of my chickens, but it would be pretty ideal.
  • I've been picking my brains and have come up with even more awesome gift idea's to keep my fingers occupied between now and December. The best thing about this? Whilst I already had a good list, now I don't have worry that such and such bumps into such and such and realise I made them the exact same gift...
  • It has come to my attention that coffee tables are the work of the devil when it comes to collecting clutter. Ben cleared ours yesterday, but now it's back to square one. It's like a never ending battle...
  • Harry Potter was epic. The next 4 weeks or so look to have more epic times, and I'm looking forward to each and every one of them.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The last of the Potters pt. 2

Well, this was never meant to be a two parter, but since it's my first entry since actually seeing the film (and as today has been such a wonderful, relaxing day which seems to have gone by far too fast and really nothing much at all has gone on to blog about) it may as well be.

It was absoloutely magnificent. I said to Becky before we went in that I'd probably shed a few tears by the end of it. I was one of the few people who wasn't actually crying at the end as it turns out, but not because it didn't touch me...merely because my powers of holding back the tears in order to maintain my eyeliner so I don't have to bus home with streaky cheeks is phenomenal. It was quite a tear jerker, for a number of reasons;

  1. The end is so happy! Yes, they include the epilogue, and you know, it's always weepy to see a new, happy generation spawned from the loins of your good friends. Not that Harry Potter is a good friend, but you know...the children! Awww...
  2. Everyone dies. And whilst the deaths aren't the same as Dobby's death when he dies there right before your eyes, it's still terrible and sad.
  3. Although I maintain it isn't the same kind of "end of an era" thing as when the book came out, there certainly aren't any more Harry Potter films left. All I have now is Twilight, and that just isn't the same...
There's really not that much to say. If you've read the books, you'll know how close to the story the films have always kept and this was no different. If you haven't read them, well you'll certainly not want me spoiling it any more than I already have. I watched Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone this afternoon when it was shown on ITV and it's amazing how much the effects etc have come along. It was very shiny, full of action.

Oh yes, once again, if you've actually read the books you'll already be expecting a much more action packed spectacle than part one, and if you haven't, then don't let the last films more dull sequences bore you. Part two hits the ground running, then doesn't stop till the end.

No film is perfect of course, but I find it hard to think of anything majorly poor, all things considered. I suppose Bellatrix's death was a little underwhelming, though amusing (if death ever can be funny) death by ulta tight corsetry. Voldemort's death too was a bit underwhelming...not the death itself, but the duel at the end just...well it just wasn't how I pictured it in my head. I can't fault the film for not being able to read my mind. Once again, because of the solid and dedicated fan base the directors had a hard job on their hands when it came to bringing such an epic scene to the screen.

All in all I can't wait to see it again when my folks come down...and if they decide they don't want to see it...then I can't wait to watch all eight films back to back :D

Till later folks,

Friday, 15 July 2011

The last of the Potters

Well, after yesterdays total flunk out and spitting out my dummy, I've woken up today feeling full of energy and happy sparkleness (yes, that is totally a real word, and completely a viable emotional state!).

Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that in ten hours time I'll be hunkering down in the cinema with my popcorn, ready and waiting for....

There've been some tearful moments in the world of Potter recently. The cast gave an emotional goodbye at the premier last week, and all over people are saying it's the end of an era.

I don't quite feel the same way. To me, it's the end of a hangover of an era. The kind of hangover that makes you sit up and think "wow, what the hell just happened?". To me, the end of the era was when I turned the last page of the book, screaming "OH MY GOD" at Ben.

Incidentally, that's how I end all the books I love having read them the first time. It's just how I roll.

Don't get me wrong, I love the films. I remember when the first film was released. There was so much expectation, so many breaths to be held. It could have gone spectacularly wrong, of course, what with the massive fan base with all their expectations, but I looked on it with the attitude that I just wanted to see if it looked "in real life" like it did in my head. To my astonishment, it really did...not perfectly, of course not, but there was no mistaking who was who, what was what, where was where, it was all there. That is a testament not only to the skill of the director and his crew, but one hundred percent to JK Rowling and her skill as a writer.

The movies to me are like the cherry on the top of the cake. It's all very razzle dazzle, complete and utter eye candy. Brilliant stuff, don't get me wrong. And the way it all played out, seeing the cast grow up together, not just the children but the older members too, that was something really special.

But as much as I know I'm just going to love tonight with every bone in my body, and I'll be out there in a few months time ready to get my grubby mits on the box set when it inevitably comes out, and yes of course I'll shed a tear when everyone dies (I remember before the book was released, Rowling had said that a main character dies which may upset some people, but by the end of it, all I could think was "well, who was she talking about, because actually, pretty much everyone is dead now...") but it won't be the same Earth moving calamity and feeling of loss and "ending of an era" to me that everyone is hyping it up to be. The era has already ended, this is merely the after party.


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Energy please!

The energy and motivation I seemed to have in bucket loads the past few weeks has just completely drained out of me. I don't know whether it's because we've reached that time of the month where we're just waiting on pay day and can't do much of anything except twiddle our thumbs and wait, or whether it's because the sun decided to turn up the thermostat again or what, but if someone could hook me up to some IV energy I would be most greatful!

For the past couple of days I've been absoloutely knackered, some nights I struggle to settle down to sleep but once I'm asleep that's it, I'm out until 10:30 the next morning, and it's taking me an hour just to get up and moving and "human". Up until this week I'd trained myself to get up at 9:15 latest and then I'd be bouncing around doing my thing, couldn't wait to get up to my elbows. It feels like I've totally taken a slide backwards and I don't know why.

I'm eating properly. 3 meals (I went through a period last month where I'd be on only two meals a day, which yes is silly and not at all healthy for anyone but honestly I didn't feel the need for the third) with pleanty of energy full complex carbs and fresh fruit and veg. But I still need to top up with a nice strong caffeinated brew every couple of hours just to keep my eyes open and that just isn't me - the last time I ever relied on caffeine was when I worked night shifts, and I generally don't drink caffeine because it seriously fucks my sleeping patterns up.

Which could explain my difficulty drifting off, but I'm getting loads of sleep when I do drop off.

Still, I'm keeping up with my daily chores, so what progress I've made with my weekly rota is at least not being undone, even if it is basically grinding to a halt. This week is supposed to be bathroom week. I finished that on Monday (I've kept on top of that room over the years at least so it wasn't really too bad to spruce up again). Since I finished that I started on the living room...the computer desk has been converted into a nice desk for, well, anything since it doesn't have our massive moniter, tower, piles of wire etc clunking it all up. The mountain of papers and letters have been sorted and filed or shredded as needed. We just need an actual desk chair now! But anyway, I finished that and since then I've just not felt the energy at all to do anything else. Next week is the actual living room week and I wanted to get a real head's the biggest job and I want it nice in time for my family visiting in August.

Well, there's still day light left. The next job is the coffee table, not too bad. I know I'm not going to get my whole to do list done today, so perhaps I'll shove off the sweeping of the kitchen floor till's Harry Potter time tomorrow and I'm meeting Becky in the late afternoon for a couple of drinks beforehand, and because I'm a horrible horrible vain person I will spend at least two hours getting ready for that (And that's not including the time for my hair to set into curls :p) so I don't really want any massive, long drawn out chores to do (at the same time I know if I make excuses to drop the system for a day I'll end up breaking this very tentatively built habit!)

Anyway, this has really turned into a long, drawn out and energy draining entry hasn't it! We tend to say to our friends when they go through crises, come, cry on my shoulder, get it all out, but don't you think that sometimes we also just need to have a bit of a moan and a complain, even if it's about nothing at all? No? Ah well just me then!

In other news, I've decided to unravel my scarf and start again. There's no way I can justify giving it to anyone. Also, I've found another pattern...the same kind of technique to create a lovely lacey scarf, but simpler, and won't require me to count all the rows. I can simply set myself into it and zone out and get it done. I shall definitely pay more attention to the tension etc this time. Learn from my mistakes!

Sorry for nagging and complaining your ears (or eyes) off, but I'm too tired to actually think fo anything interesting to talk about today, and you know, NaBloPoMo...


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Chit chat

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Who was the last person you spoke to on the telephone?

Ben. Unless I am asked this on a weekend, it is always Ben. So long as I am not in work, he always calls me on his lunch break for a chat. Always has, and I suspect he always will. Sometimes our conversations last little more than ten minutes because I'm busy and there's nothing "pressing" being discussed. Sometimes we get into a deep conversation regarding the latest controversy to hit our favourite sport or how we're going to slice off a few pennies from our shopping budget this week (or conversely if it's coming up to pay day, how we intend to enjoy our temporary financial freedom!).

 We've tried to stop our calling compulsion. Usually for financial reasons. It's expensive to call a mobile number for half an hour every day from our landline. And I don't always have credit on my phone to call him. Since he discovered Orange magic numbers however (20 whole English pennies for as long as we like!) we've been in chatty heaven.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Yes, sometimes I say "I'm going now because you're just eating noodles at me down the phone" but my days are basically divided into two halves; before Ben has called, and after Ben has called. Before Ben has called is the sad time of the day, because I had to say goodbye to him before he hopped off to work. After Ben has called is a happy time of the day, because we've made silly cute noises down the phone at each other and soon he will be home again!

So much more romantic than a text message, no? Stolen from Pinterest
Anyone who says that marriage kills off romance is wrong. You just need to work at it. And calling each other every day, even though we live, eat and sleep right in each others pockets (you can't help it when your flat is as small as ours!) is one of the ways we keep our romance alive. The moment we stop calling each other at lunch time is the moment the romance is dead. Unless I've got a job. In which case the romance will just be beginning ;)


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Google is my apple

I was in my last years of secondary school when apple did something absoloutely massive and brought out the iPod. I never saw one in the flesh till the end of my first year in sixth form, when some friends were earning enough from their weekend jobs to invest in such trinkets. Then cheaper mp3 players hit the shelves and I personally thought iPods would never really take off because why would people shell out that much for an iPod when something that could do the exact same thing could be bought in any range of shapes, sizes and colours but for much cheaper.

Well what can I say, I was young, naive, and didn't understand the power of branding. I was brought up in a world where you could have your gadgets by all means, but if you could get something that did the same for cheaper, you automatically just did.

I've always looked at the people who shout about the iThis and iThats with a mixture of jealousy but also bafflement. Jealousy because, whatever you think of apples products I've as superficial a streak in me as anyone and the many iThings out there are pretty and shiny and come with apps on them that do all manner of magical things, and I've never been able to afford to invest in any iProduct in my life (and won't for a while, at least not until I get me a job haha). But the bafflement came from the way some people automatically go for the iStuff without even thinking about it.

Example, a few people in different circles of mine have been toying with the idea of getting an iPad recently, and asked for advice and opinions. Now personally, as much as I wanted a tablet when they first hit the market, I've since gone off the idea since I don't think I could do anything with one that I can't already do on my phone, and for heavier duty work I prefer an actual computer anyway. But functionality aside, a few people said well, why don't you look elsewhere on the market for a better deal on tablets...some people said because they just WANTED an iPad because, hey, more iGadgets! Some people said because they didn't even think about it, they just automatically clicked that if they got a tablet it would just be an iPad. Others, bless their souls, didn't realise there were other tablets out there and thought an iPad was a unique entity, much like my Gran thinks all mp3 players are called iPods.

Actually I don't know if she does think that at all, but I know I've heard some older folk refer to my mp3 player as an iPod before.


My point is, there's a cult status surrounding apple iProduce. It's no secret, it's widely known, ridiculed by some and simply sighed at by others. I've sneered at this and rolled my eyes. I used to be pretty indifferent, or an envious onlooker, too cash strapped to join the iClub, but then all that hoo ha about apple writing into their TOS that they could collect data about your whereabouts and sell it on to anyone they just seemed a little...too evil, to me. And then of course I found out that adobe software like flash wasn't supported because basically, so it sounded to me, Steve Jobs is a greedy old beggar. Nope, I've never been one of those people, and when my opinion was eventually turned, it was turned hard. Understood the iBrand had influence and pulling power, but never understood the mindset by which someone could become iEnslaved (am I taking it to iFar yet? :p) by that influence the way some people are.

But then google plus was brought out to a select few and I was pissed off that I wasn't given an invite (why I felt entitled I don't know) and was even more pissed when I had to wait for my friend to be able to give me an invite!

Friends, it's time to come clean and admit it. I do know all of the above that I claimed not to. I know it all too well, for I am a slave to Google.

By the way, if anyone else is on google plus or wants an invite, ya know, let's do this!

In other, actual news as opposed to ranting about technology brands, I had a phonecall from ChildLine earlier, and I have an interview with them in a couple of weeks time! Let's hope they don't take one look at me and think "psycho, reject!"

Not that there's any reason for them to. Just, you know, it would be quite nice for something like this to work out for me!


Monday, 11 July 2011

Beat The Heat challenge - Week Two

Weight Wars

1. What progress have you made on your goals this week?

Loose ten pounds: Not a sausage! I've hit a bit of a plateau, and I'm wavering around one pound either way. However, I'm not too phased about that. Firstly, I've been so adamantly focussed on getting the flat sorted that I kinda haven't stuck to my work out 3 days a week fact I haven't worked out at beginning to incorporate that into my routine this week should help shake things up. Secondly, I know from experience that I tend to have a sudden drop and then a little re gain, plateau, then begin to loose again. The trick this time is to not loose focus during said plateau!

Make at least five Christmas presents: Once again my absoloute eagle like focus on the state of my flat has been detrimental to working towards this. Also, I've been totally demoralized by my current project (the scarf of wonkness). I don't want to waste all the wool I've already knitted...I think I have to keep calm, carry on, dedicate more time to this and just get it finished. Once it's done I can decide what I'll do with it. At the minute I can't move on to another project anyway so I may as well hunker on down. That's the point fo a challenge after all!

Work towards my day zero list: This one has been going well. I've been taking my vitamins each and every day and I'm about halfway through Dracula. I've not picked up my story, once again I had scheduled it in like the craft work but have been getting side tracked. I need to be more strict about my time management.

Expand my recipe journal: Very well indeed, I made a fantastic curry which was absoloutely delicious! It has gone straight into my recipe journal. It might be a couple of weeks before I get the spare dosh to get the ingredients for a new recipe, but I'm planning a lovely creamy rice pudding...not so great on the diet perhaps but I've been jumping at the chance to make one for months now, and anyway, a little treat now and then didn't hurt anyone! Also I'll be making the actual side dishes for the curry, the Bombay Potatoes and the Naan Breads.

Keep on track with the job search: This of course I have been working towards, though I dissapointed myself in only getting two applications sent off last week, and so I'm already running behind. I think part of the reason is that when I made my daily schedule to help me keep on top of my goals, I scheduled job hunting in for later in the day, after my chores but before fun time. Of course by that point I was tired and groggy, not at all thinking clearly per se, and just wanted a rest. I'm going to have a shake up. Hunting for a job is not just another task that needs to be ticked off my to do list, it is an absoloute necessity and shall henceforth get top priority; I am not allowed to continue with the rest of the day's schedule until I've done my best in this area.

"FLY" Through my chores: You don't need me to talk any more about this. My motivation in this area has, for some reason, taken a leap. I'm striking whilst the iron is hot and getting in as much done as I can, but obviously just because my focus has been razor sharp on this particular goal doesn't mean I can forget my other duties and responsibilities. I'm going to reshuffle the daily schedule I made to help me get this done so that I can give due time to my other goals too. It's all a matter of balance!

2. What did you do to make yourself feel fabulous?

I sorted the kitchen! But aside from it being just plain nice to have a clean, organized kitchen, the biggest reason this has made me feel fabulous is that I haven't just sat on my arse all week. I've been productive and useful. There's not been a single day this week where I've felt surplus to requirements or a drain on Ben's resources. I've felt productive and valuable to my household. And that is the most fabulous feeling of all.

3. Did you have a moment in your life where everything changed for you, an epiphany moment, or has it happened gradually?

I don't like to talk much about the effect it had on me personally, because I hate to detract from the grief that Ben and his family have been dealing with, but the biggest epiphany for me was (coming up to) this time last year, when his father died. I've been massively blessed in my life in that the only people so close to me to pass over were my great grandparents. At the time I was about five years old, and honestly I thought it was brilliant that they'd died because "Nana is an angel now, that's so cool". I'd never had to deal with the realities of death from an adult perspective and, along with many other feelings of grief and bereavement that I'd never had before, my own mortality dawned on me like a kick to the gut, along with the mortality of all those I love. Since then I've taken great strides towards improving my health, trying desperately to try and get my family to improve theirs without sounding like a great big nasty person who wants to stop them having fun or doesn't understand the difficulties they face, and trying to live life to the fullest that I can without wasting my days away. Even though it was definitely an epiphany moment it has been a long process getting to this point, and it's been like an uphill struggle changing my own mindset, battling with old habits and new realisations. I'm really only just starting to make real headway now in fixing the too numerous to count problems in my life and finding meaning and purpose in what I do.

4. What made you get involved with the Beat The Heat challenge?

Oddly enough, probably as part of that whole finding purpose and meaning process I'm going through. Turning it into a challenge with measurable goals seemed to be the perfect framework to kick myself up the bum. I've done my internal processig, time to turn it into action!

5. What is your favourite TV Show at the moment?

If this had been asked a couple of weeks ago it would have been a struggle to answer! However, since many of my favourite programmes have now come to the end of their seasons, there's one definitive winner in this; True Blood!

Positive Picture

I haven't taken many pictures this week, and I haven't any old pictures to coincide with any particular incident this week. However, I feel this picture just sums my week up perfectly.

Clean and tidy kitchen!!!!!!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Household planner

It's's finally done...the kitchen is clean, the clutter has been disposed of, and if anyone so much as sets a finger in there, there'll be hell to pay...

I've been making a lot of to do lists and the such recently so that I know everything that I need to get done gets done. This includes things such as my santa list which I mentioned in another post, and this week a list of everything that needed doing in the kitchen to bring it up to spec.

Thing is, I'll make these lists in a notebook or in a random word document or spreadsheet, no where specific, and then I'll forget where I put them. This is no good to me, of course, so I think it's about high time I actually got myself an actual, physical, paper and ink household planner in which to stash all my to do lists, cleaning rota's etc. That way if something were to happen to the laptop I'll still have access, and once I've made a list or schedule it can go away into the household planner and stay there. I also thought it's probably a good idea to start keeping our latest bank statements and bills etc in there...I do have a box file in which I put them in, but when it comes to applying for a job and you need the last 3 months of whatever to prove address or identity I always end up trying to join the dots, does this page go with that one etc.

Anyway, it's just a thought, and will probably be my next little project after setting up 'the comand centre' as it has now been dubbed (ie the old computer desk lol).

As for now? I'm going to go and have me a well deserved cup of tea and possibly a nap. I'm zonked!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Recipe: Cheap and dirty home made Curry

This recipe was adapted from a Hairy Bikers recipe. I've always wanted to try making a curry from scratch, but the constraints on our budget this month meant that I couldn't go the whole hog and pay out for things such as cinnamon sticks. Still, all the other spices, fresh or dry, can be bought for mere pennies if you check out your supermarket own brand. The only thing on this list of ingredients that I payed more than £1 was the meat.

Servings: 2
Calories per serving: 551 (approximately, curry only, please make allowances for rice etc)
Cost per serving: £2.50 (approximately, I have no idea how much a teaspoon of any given spice is!)


All the yummy ingredients...guess where I shop! Also, curse blogger for not displaying the picture correctly! Ah well...
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 310g Lamb (I'm using boneless lamb leg steaks)
  • 2 Onions
  • 4 red chillies
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • Approximately 1tsp fresh root ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp garam masala
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes (400g)
  • 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper to season
Preparation before cooking
  • Chop lamb into bitesized chunks
  • Roughly chop onion
  • Finely chop fresh spices (garlic, root ginger and chillies)
  • Measure out dry spices 
All the measured out and chopped up dry and fresh spices. Note that I cannot "finely" chop chillies or garlic for toffee
    • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a big pan  to a medium high heat
    • Once sufficiently heated, add your chopped up lamb and brown all over
    I hear action shots make for great blog posts...
    • Add another 1 tbsp olive oil along with the onions and fresh spices
    • Once the onions are turning brown, add the dry spices and stir well for a minute or so
    • Add the tomatoes, stir in well 
    At this point, the concoction should look like this.
    •  Reduce the heat to simmer for an hour. Remember to check back regularly and add a splash of water if the curry begins to dry out
    Another action shot! Inside my square cauldron a feast is bubbling up...just in case you were wondering, our kitchen is tiny and we don't have room for an actual oven, so we have this massive electric pan which is the best thing in the world EVER and in the background there is a miniature countertop electric oven which is the second best thing ever because it gets hot enough to make a roast in and the hob gets hot enough to steam veggies on but not hot enough to make pancakes :(
    •  Once cooked, squeeze in the fresh lime juice then serve
    The final product before the side dish is added (in today's case that would be roast potatoes which may seem odd for going with curry, but savoury rice makes me ill). Oh dear I seem to have splashed some when serving :o so messy...
    So it doesn't exactly look like the most appetising thing in the world, but imagine it served on top of a bed of rice or in one of those stainless steel curry dishes you get in restaurants, with a bit of fresh corriander sprucing it up like a little green hat and then it looks much nicer! Anyone who hasn't tried a curry before now (I know curry isn't quite as popular in the USA as it is here in the UK) don't be put off by the appearence of my meagre offering on a pitiful little dinner plate.

    And how does it taste? Well to be honest, it was so spicy it burnt off my taste buds and I only managed to get a real taste in the first couple of bites. Next time I'm going to halve the ammount of fresh chillies I use as this seems to be the source of much of the heat. As for the flavour, it was quite aromatic and I'm proud to say not at all flat or two dimensional...if a flavour can be two dimensional lol. I hope you get what I mean! The first assault on the senses is the heat from the chillies, but then you bite into the lamb and you get the lovely earthy flavours (I always thought lamb had quite an earthy flavour). This is accompanied by the aromatic flavours of the spices, and then as you swallow it's all topped off with the fresh tang from the lime. Quite a flavoursome experience, and that really surprised me being that I cooked it with my own two hands.

    But the curry king here abouts is Ben, he being the one who introduced me to curry as a regular dish in the first instance. What do you think Ben? Is this as success? One for the recipe journal?

    If you look carefully, you can see smoke emerging from his mouth from where his taste buds are slowly being burnt off
    I think that's a yes!

    Six Word Saturday - Kitchen

     My kitchen has never been cleaner

    It's strange to admit, but once I've kicked myself up the backside to actually do cleaning, and do it properly, I actually rather enjoy it. It's become this weeks compulsion, even. I'm afraid to admit it, but I may well become one of those people who buys Good Housekeeping every month, and it's not that there's anything wrong with such's just that, well, I never understood what women (or men, like I said yesterday we don't discriminate and I know of men who are way better at housekeeping than many of the women I know!) could get from reading magazines about housekeeping when surely housekeeping was the complete antithisis of rest and relaxation (rest and relaxation being in my mind what magazines should be all about, even if only in the sense that you are reading about something that fascinates you).

    I totally understand why people can enjoy it now. I think Ben was seriously scared yesterday when I spent a good three or four hours just happily scrubbing, decluttering, wiping and washing and yet declined every offer of help.

    "But you keep making strange noises, and huffing and puffing, and I'm worried that you're struggling or need help" says he.

    "Well, you know, that's what happens when you scrub a floor" says I. I never even realised I was making such noises, and I'm the queen of sighing and huffing and puffing when I'm pissed off at having to, for example, wash the dishes.

    I hope that, whilst I'll inevitably have days in which I cannot be fashed with doing housework (who doesn't?) I won't loose my mojo. I hope I can now carry this great positive energy I've found into the rest of the flat.

    God knows that after three and a half years it's about time I turned this place into a home, and not just a place to stash our detritus out of the rain.

    I look forward to blogging to you this evening from my super duper lovely new kitchen with a smashing curry recipe :)

    Friday, 8 July 2011

    Post number 100!

    Well, I was going to try and do something a little bit out of the ordinary for my 100th blog post cause, you know, 100! But instead my hand has been forced because I have just laughed my backside off to the other side of the room.

    Just checked my blog stats, as I do, and one of the searches that led some poor soul from google to this here little blog?

    "Porno Mature"

    WTH Google? Hahahahahahahaha!!! Why are you sending people searching for mature porn to my blog?

    Well mister (or missus, I've been known to partake in the watching of porn after all, we don't discriminate here *snigger*) mature porn hunter. Welcome to my blog. I'm sure you'll find it excrutiatingly dull and none pornographic, and probably not at all what you were looking for.

    In fact lol, here's what I'll do for this 100th post. I'll have a giveaway after all. If you have the guts to fess up in this here comments box that you found my blog by searching for porn, of any kind, I will send you five English pounds sterling*. Because dude, at least you owned up to it!


    * Lol, no I won't, but come on, be a good sport eh? Eh? Eh? :D