Is there any job more boring than defrosting the freezer?
It took half a day and a whole packet of Morrison's The Best Belgian Chocolate Dipped Chewy Florentines to get the job done!
..have the family midsummer barbecue on the beach? The forecast isn't good but it's not looking too bad...
They've been wrong before so you never know.
Finish cooking the food (can't believe Jamie says this takes only 15 minutes!).
Try to get the stain out of the jacket. Should have worn an apron.
Checklist - champagne, glasses, napkins, picnic quilts, umbrella, midge cream.
Look at the weather forecast for the ninth time.
Look up the glen. Uh-oh.
We ended up indoors with a log fire and pretty decorations (thanks Jennie) and had a lovely feast then donned wellies and sweaters for a walk on the beach.
Family, friends, food and wine, laughter and good conversation.
Last weekend In my search for something different I had a lunch of haggis in filo pastry with a whisky sauce, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and strawberries, a small glass of wine and a coffee, served on fine china by charming staff, surrounded by amazing flowers (not all real but the lilies were) and lit by chandeliers! All for £19.50. I just love the over-the-top grandeur of The Dome.
Well, once a year :-)
Then a quick tour of Harvey Nichols shoe department..
These shoes made me think of Cruella de Ville. £650.
See more amazing shoes at unbelievable prices here.
Have you done anything just for fun lately?
Can you think of something fun for this weekend?
Three carrots, two small apples, one small pear, cucumber, celery, spinach, kale and ginger..
Phillips Viva Collection juicer 700W XL feeding tube, Easy Clean.
One for now, one in the fridge for later or in the freezer for a day when I don't have time or am travelling. I do this about 9 days out of 10 and have supermarket fresh pressed juice for the 10th day.
For me the incentive to get healthier began with my eyes.
I am an artist and when the optician told me I had macular degeneration and gave me a leaflet saying it was the leading cause of blindness all I could think was 'No. Not my eyes. Please not my eyes.' I waited for her to tell me what would be done but she was very quiet (and wouldn't look me in the eye. It must be hard to tell someone this I guess). So I asked what could be done and she said there was no cure and no treatment but I could try eating more colourful vegetables and take a supplement called Macushield that was thought to maybe slow down the process. And, she added, if there was a sudden change in my sight to get myself to the hospital straight away.
Mercifully the degeneration has been quite slow, but to cut a long story short, I recently thought if eating more vegetables is the only thing on offer how can I get the maximum amount of vegetables into my body? I browsed the web and chanced on this health retreat! I thought about it a lot (I'd never been on any kind of retreat and thought I couldn't afford it), but after some months and at a rather low ebb I gulped at the price, and went ahead and booked it in January this year.
I think it may be the best money I have ever spent.
I made the decision that if I was going to be blind I was going to be slim and healthy and energetic and blind!
There is at least one very healthy mouse living in my compost bin and loving my juicer as much as I do. I lifted the lid to find it sitting up looking at me as if to say What have you brought me today then?
I wonder what Sue Blackwell would make of it. I can imagine a cross-section of the bin with elaborate tunnels and apartments and a whole family of mice living in warmth and luxury....
Do you remember this?
I printed it out some time ago and have just put it on a wall in a more prominent place. It speaks (in my favourite Quaker phrase) to my condition....
Grilled halloumi, with watermelon, blueberries and spinach - eating a rainbow. Yum.
Yay! I wore the new trousers (comfortably!) yesterday to a preview of Cowal Open Studios
The trousers are quite lightweight so just in time to get a few wearings of them before I need warmer ones. And an incentive not to put that weight back on before next spring/summer as I do like them and feel nice in them.
The show at The Creggans Inn features a work or two from each of the artists who will be opening their studios at the end of September. If you will be in the area it is well worth a look especially if you think you won't have time to visit all the studios - this might help you choose which to go to. (I am not taking part this year.) The Creggans do good lunches too.
I still have two fast days (today and Wednesday) of the 30 day challenge... How is your challenge going?
Don't stop yet!
I think I will continue with the 5:2 - eating lightly on two days of the week. It is said to have many health benefits and I feel good, and energetic on it.
..your bathroom scales need a new battery?
When you step on and off them four times and get four different readings!
So did I really lose those two pounds? My waistband tells me I lost something...
How often do you weigh yourself?
And have you lost any weight?
Gardening for several hours in hot sunshine today must have used up a few calories.
Day 8 of the 30 day challenge!
Not carrots but freshly picked brambles (blueberries) for breakfast with my porridge, though I did not have it till lunchtime. I can happily just have tea and coffee on the morning of a fast day then have one meal around 12.00 and another at about 5.30. (Two slices of ham and a big serving of stir-fried vegetables.) I've been surprised to find I have just as much energy on fast days (Mondays and Wednesdays) as the other days and have realised that that is as important to me as losing weight. My exercise has been pushing the lawnmower about. It is called Easyglide but it isn't easy and it doesn't glide..
How are your energy levels?
How is your programme going? Maybe you are having to adapt it somewhat, or perhaps you are having good results already?
If you have set yourself a health/well-being goal and a target, either a modest or ambitious one, do you plan to reward yourself if you meet your target? Or are you more likely to berate yourself for not getting there fast enough?
I definitely prefer carrots to sticks and am thinking of a whole day out (wearing those trousers which will of course fit perfectly by then....)
What will your reward be?
....on the road to slimmer and fitter!
I am going to make a point of setting an extra pretty table on fast days to extract every little bit of pleasure from my two mealtimes.
So far so delicious...
I have realised that by choosing the 5:2 diet I only have an 8 day challenge on my hands - 2 days each week over the 30 days. Yay! (I feel as if I've got away with something there!) They do say that one of the reasons for its success is that you only really have to summon up your willpower on two days each week....although of course you can't go mad on the other days.
My day started by sleeping late and almost missing my bus so I had no time for breakfast anyway! I had it at lunchtime, and dinner about 5.30. My exercise today was raking up grass and I had plenty of energy. I did have a busy day and that helped too to keep me from thinking about food all day - looks like fast days could also be the most productive.
Have you started?
How did it go?
(Baby steps are ok. The thing is to start.)
Here is another nice quote from The Fast Diet - ....take a deep breath and relax. Better yet, shrug. It's no big deal; you have nothing to lose but weight.
I do like a plan.
Join us in a 30 day challenge to lose some unwanted pounds. Or choose another health/well being-related goal and figure out how you will measure progress.
I have recorded (not here!) my weight, figured out my BMI (easy-peasy here), measured my waist (yikes! do you think Ikea tape measures are accurate?)
I have decided on what I think is a realistic target (losing 5lbs) and decided on my start day (Monday) and will shop for the food for my first two fast days (Monday and Wednesday). I like the look of the suggested meals in the book I plan to use (see yesterday's post)
I will also take another look at the favourite pair of trousers which no longer fasten, and maybe plan an occasion to wear them and what to wear with them - the fun part..
Here is a an exercise video from Scottish Ballet which I will get back to using this month maybe two or three times a week, starting tonight! (I find it much easier to exercise at night than in the morning.)
I used this video for a 30 day challenge last year. See how that went here and do notice how supportive and useful the comments were - people like you make this work for me - thank you all!
What's your plan?
Tell us in 'comments'. There's plenty room!
..less than usual on two days a week.
That is the principle behind the Fast Diet also known as the 5:2 diet which two of my friends have recommended. I think I will give it a try.
For 30 days.
I will read the book this week-end and start on Monday. That will give me time to shop.
What approach will you take? Will you repeat something that has worked for you in the past? Or try something different? Or also try the Fast Diet? Maybe your health/wellbeing-related goal won't be losing weight - having more energy, keeping weight on....you might spend some time over the weekend deciding on a realistic target for yourself and getting ready to start on Monday?
One of the things the authors Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer say is 'once you make a public commitment you are much more likely to stick with it.'
So join us in the comments - together we can do it! Your comments so far have been so energising! Yay!
NB The Weebly format does not always let you post a reply to a comment immediately below the comment - so if it gets a bit muddly just post your comment anyway! We are all smart people. We will work it out. The important thing is that we talk to one another, don't you think?
There are two things which make me feel good style-wise. A good haircut and being slim.
The first is easy. Penny, a Vidal Sassoon trained hairdresser, comes from the city over to Cowal every 6 to 8 weeks to her customers here. She is very skilled and manages to cut my very fine mousy hair into a quite bold shape I am very happy with. She is coming soon. Hurrah! Have you found a good hairdresser?
The second is rather harder, but makes a huge difference about how I look and feel. Every single thing I have looks better on me when I am leaner than I am right now.
I have been fortunate that being overweight has not been a big issue for me, but at just 5 feet tall (nearly) a few pounds makes a lot of difference and I want to lose about 5lbs. I gain and lose these few pounds repeatedly, but just now the extra pounds are proving very hard to shift. (Comfort eating! Though it is not at all comfortable to feel fat in my clothes...)
Is anyone willing to join me in trying to lose a few pounds over 30 days?
I like 30 day challenges and this is quite a modest target is it not?
This little box of chocolates keeps calling me, but I am saving them for my dinner guests on Friday....
PS I had just written this when I cam across the news of recent research showing that being overweight 'ages the brain'. Another incentive!
This is one kilo of quince.
I was so delighted with the floral perfume from my few small Japanese quince from the garden (see here) that I decided I would like more as a centerpiece on the table and to scent the room. I was particularly inspired by this beautiful image, which is a painting, not a photograph as I first thought.
None were to be had locally (I don't think many are grown in Scotland) and my local fruiterer had never heard of them, so after some searching on the internet I ordered a kilo. The postage cost more than the fruit!
Now the little ones scent the kitchen, and these scent the sitting room. These have a slightly different fragrance - slightly more vegetably than flowery and with a hint of sherberty fizziness. It is more pronounced in the warmth of evening and very strong when you come down in the morning,
I am thinking of making quince gin....which might be ready for (first mention) Christmas!
What is your favourite fruit or vegetable smell of the moment?
Now I really can believe the season is changing. One of my greatest simplest pleasures is eating out of doors and today we sat out, well wrapped up, enjoying sourdough bread from a great little shop in the next village (Quainton) with some good cheese and my first glass of Clos d'Yvinge Le Prince - superb. Your health!
....those little desserts that I mentioned (and keeping the weight off - thank you Mireille Guiliano).
I thought I'd share as they're so easy. A small portion is perfect.
Plums gently stewed in water with a little vanilla sugar added (or one drop of almond essence). Served warm with a small spoonful of plain yogurt and a scattering of toasted almonds.
Slices of mango dusted with icing sugar and placed under a hot grill for 5 minutes. Served as above but with freshly grated nutmeg instead of almonds.
Pears peeled and quartered and poached in water and red wine or water, lemon juice and sugar. Served hot with yoghurt and a tiny tiny bit of black pepper.
These take so little time they can be cooking while you eat the main course. Cook in a saucepan without a lid so that the juices reduce and become slightly syrupy.
A baked apple takes longer of course. No need to core it - just half it across the way and top with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Peaches, halved and stoned, grilled till hot - place a chocolate on the centre where the stone was and allow to melt a moment or two before serving. Half a peach each is enough I find, and those shell shaped chocolates are good. At this time of year you can buy very small boxes with just four chocolates - one with dessert and one with coffee.
Then there are those pears in lazy chocolate sauce....
A couple of years ago, trying to simplify shopping, and tired of standing in dismay in front of 600 bottles of wine trying to choose just one, I decided to join a wine club. The simple aim was to find a few red and a couple of white wines that I really liked.
It's been a great pleasure, and not an expensive one. I was sent a mixed box of twelve bottles two or three times a year. The first was a 50% off deal (though I don't think they do that now) and you could cancel at any time. (M&S if you are in UK.)
In a recent box was this wine, Le Rouge et le Noir 2009, one sip of which made me stop in my tracks. So full of complex flavours, it made me want to stop and think about it, and savour each mouthful. I looked up the name on Google and found an interesting story, and that the maker, a woman called Patricia Atkinson had written a book about how she became, from necessity and through some extremely hard work, a winemaker.
Courtesy of Amazon, the book was with me before the bottle was empty and I enjoyed them both together. A bottle and the book would make a good present don't you think?
That is if you can find a bottle. I've bought up the stock. (Only kidding, though I have ordered 12bottles.) Other wines are made under the label Clos d'Yvigne of course, and I'm looking forward to trying some of them.
You might enjoy this article about Patricia Atkinson, although it is more than a decade old.
I know a little more than I did about wine, but that little has increased my enjoyment of it a lot.
PS I applied the 'does it spark joy' test (see previous posts) to this piece of linen fabric, and do you know, I love that simple bit of cloth.
Funny what you love, isn't it!
Do you like chestnuts?
Out here in the sticks we have no landline phone, broadband is erratic - now you have it now you don't - and to get a mobile signal I have to go down the village to the end of the jetty, when the tide is out! But hey, the weather is fabulous.
BT have been making promises for three days now...
Mireille Guiliano's book French Women Don't Don't Get Fat has gone to the top of my favourite foodbook list because it is different and the most fun. See the list here. And for more Simply Eat posts check out March 2010 if you have time.
I am currently 'finding a new equilibrium', 'cultivating a new intuition' and 'manipulating how the five senses are meeting in what is put before me'
I told you it was different!
Do you have a favourite book about food? (Not necessarily a cookbook.)
To make you smile - spotted by my husband in York - a sign in a shop window which read
Everything Full Price! Today Only!
EXTRA! in case I can't post tomorrow...Have you seen this? Sounds like truly sustainable energy. Quite exciting.
Here are some of the reasons why I like this book.
Firstly it is because it is as much about Joie de vivre and about it's subtitle The Secret of Eating for Pleasure as it is about staying slim (Clever commercial title though!)
Secondly because I've lost a few pounds while having chocolate, wine and delicious meals since I bought the book a couple of weeks ago!
Thirdly because, to my surprise, it has got me interested in cooking again.
Here are some quotes I like, and have copied into my notebook where for three weeks I'm recording what I'm eating:-
Learn to say no with an eye to saying yes to something else.
A balanced and time-tested relation to food and life.
Be the master of both your willpower and your pleasures
Quality over quantity.
Treat every meal as something special.
More tomorrow (broadband problems permitting!)
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)