Thursday, October 31, 2013

First harvest.

For a few months now we have successfully kept the chickens away from the veggie patch. The little seedlings have flourished and we have seen the first of the sugar snap peas emerge. It is not really a big enough harvest to invite everyone around for tea but enough to add a little crunch to our salads! 
Fingers crossed we can keep the chooks away a while longer and maybe see some more of our veggies make it to the dinner table!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eat, Fast and Live Longer: The 5:2 diet, Is it still working?

I haven't written anything here about the 5:2 diet in a long while. I found that once I passed the 14 week mark there was nothing really new to tell you. I had documented the first weeks and months as I embarked on this very new way of life and enjoyed sharing the ups and downs of losing that magical 8 kilos.

With any fitness/diet/health resolution in my past there has been a familiar pattern. A period of dissatisfaction with my current weight/activity levels, a sincere desire to make positive change followed by a couple of months of genuine change which ever so slowly dwindles as my focus returns to trying to balance the home/work/family needs etc. I'm not a yo-yo dieter but I am a bit on/off with how much I prioritise exercise and healthy practises into my day to day life. If past experience was anything to go by I should have well and truly been sidetracked by now and quite possibly a couple of those kilos would have crept back on.

But they HAVEN'T ! This is now week 40 of following the 5:2 diet. Byron and myself have lost our extra weight, regained our healthy BMI and maintained our weights while eating and drinking normally 5 days a week. We have developed new habits that would now be hard to break. Each Sunday evening we look at the calendar for the coming week and see what is happening on the different days. We discount any days that have a birthday celebration, a night out with friends or any work commitments that will make fasting hard and we look at what days are left. We choose our two fast days and stick to them. We have some favourite meals like Vietnamese style basa fish with steamed veggies, Lentil tikka masala, Asian steak salad and Cottage pie with celeriac and leek mash. With only two fast days each week it is relatively easy to cycle these meals around to give variety and I often make/prepare/freeze about 8 portions of each meal at a time which makes it so easy to defrost and cook on future fast days.

My big goal back in January was to get back to my healthy BMI in time to celebrate turning 40 in August of this year. I bought myself a pair of red swimmers off the sale rack in February that I could barely squeeze into. The aim was to fit into them on my Birthday. I am so happy to say that I did. Sian took a photo of me on the beach that matched the dream in my head as I started the 5:2 diet in January. I have procrastinated about making it public as I am far more comfortable being the one holding the photo than the one posing in front of it. But I feel I'm ready to share it in the hope that anyone who identifies with my past behaviour of gradually reverting to old habits can see how very life changing this way of eating can be.

You may be facing a much larger weight loss journey than me or just want to reap the long term health benefits of protection against cancer, dementia or stroke. Whatever your path it will never be the exact same as mine. But it is worth starting. Because 9 months from now you might be looking back at a new you in the mirror, a healthier version of yourself reflected in a window as you walk past or in a photo taken by a loved one. And you will feel so good that you are taking steps to be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be.

Thank you everyone who has encouraged and supported me over the last 9 months. If I can support you in any way please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. If you are a Facebook user I can really recommend the Facebook 5:2 diet group page. They give amazing support and encouragement and there is always someone who will have the answer to a question you may have or someone who is going through similar experiences.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bush Fires

This week has seen some horrendous bushfires in New South Wales. So far over 200 homes have been burnt down and I'm sure that number will continue to rise as this week continues. Our suburb has not been under threat of burning so far but we have experienced a huge amount of smoke from fires burning about 10 km away from us. I saw the aerial photo below on the local news website and I have edited it to show where we are living in relation to one of the major fires currently burning. 

As you can see we have the safety of a large expanse of water between us and the fire so we feel relatively safe as long as the wind doesn't carry the fires around the west side of the lake. The scariest moment for our family was probably about 6pm on Thursday as we smelt the smoke in the air and watched the thick grey plumes blow across the lake and over and around our home. We were tuned in to constant updates on the local radio station and had everything tidy and ready for power cuts so that we wouldn't be tripping over shoes in the dark if we did need to evacuate. Luckily for us that didn't eventuate.

When I woke up at 6am on Friday morning the smoke was still in the air and there was a thin layer of fine ash settled on my car. As I drove to work I had to detour past the Toronto Fire Station to collect a colleague. I stopped to take a photo of the fire station in the deep orange sunrise. All the colours were magnified and beautiful due to the smoke in the air but it was an eerie and slightly scary beauty. 
As I worked in the hospital that morning the wind picked up again and we heard sirens wailing in the distance and had to shut all the windows and doors as yet more smoke rolled in over the hospital. As I walked up and down the corridors working I could smell the smoke inside the building and felt anxious about the elderly patients I was caring for and also for my son who's school was between the hospital and the fires and was undoubtedly also surrounded by smoke. All I could do was check my phone constantly for updates on the fires and reassure myself that the smoke outside was still from the out of control fire across the lake and not a new one nearer.

Thank you to all the friends who have sent messages from overseas checking how we are. We truly feel safe at this point in time and just send our prayers in the direction of those families who have lost homes over the last few days. We also want to thank from the bottom of our hearts all the wonderful people helping to keep us safe. Particularly our local Fire Station in Toronto. It takes times like this for us to realise how lucky we are to have such brave people keeping us all from harm.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Miss A turns 2!

Are you a recent reader of this blog? Or are you an old timer? 
Do you remember what happened two years ago? 
Yes, the famous "The baby I (nearly) delivered!" story...

Well two years on and that friendship is sealed for life and I have become the very happy shared God-mother of  the adorable little Miss A. She is the most gorgeous kid you could ever hope to know. She is fiery and clever and cute as a button. With big eyes and curly golden hair and a smile that melts your heart. And she is 2! No more baby, hello little personality. 

This year on her actual birthday she was visiting grandparents and cousins. So on the weekend of their return her parents offered to call in so I could have my birthday hug. We decided to make a little afternoon tea with mini cup-cakes and a giant cup-cake birthday cake (best $5 cake tin I've ever bought!) Throw in a few pink balloons and some tissue paper wrapped up gifts and voila, an impromptu party! 

Little Miss A got shy as we sung Happy Birthday to her so I got the longest tightest squeezy hug from her as she hid her head in my neck until the singing stopped. 

The giant cup-cake was a huge success. And what Birthday table would be complete without a little ambulance to remind us of the day that brought us all together. 

Dear Little Miss A,
I am so thankful for the day I gave your mum my number "just in case" 
I'm glad your Dad rang me that night for help.
I'm grateful (and a teeny bit jealous) you came into this world under the safety of the paramedics who delivered you only down the road.
I'm so glad I get to see you each Monday in the school car park for a quick cuddle.
I'm so lucky I have been able to watch you grow over these last 2 years into a beautiful little girl.
I am so happy that I will get to be a part of your life over the coming years as you grow up.
I love you more than all the cup-cakes in the world!
G xo

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goodbye to the in-laws...

At the end of a very successful visit from Byrons parents we had a slap up goodbye BBQ. We made sure that all Myan and Den's favourite foods were on the menu, a huge tin of Anne's amazing potato bake, a mountain of frenched lamb cutlets and a big salad. And wine, lots of wine! 

As we brought the food to the table we jokingly put the tray of cooked meat where Myan's dinner plate should have been. Her face was priceless as she posed for a photo to send to the relatives in Wales but the funniest photo was the out-take when she turned to Den and said something and then laughed and laughed as he sat patiently waiting for his plate to be filled! 
It's always good to end a visit on a high and I think we did just that. We packed a lot of laughter into three weeks. The next day Byron drove them to Sydney to catch their plane home. 41 hours door to door. A long journey and not an easy one to do as the years catch up with us all. At each goodbye we can't help but be aware of the fragility of health and the uncertainty of whether there will be another journey in the future. This time however we have already booked and paid for five tickets to the UK and Ireland this coming January so the goodbyes were less emotional with the knowledge that it was only a matter of months before we will all be together again. 

Next time it will be a different country, a different table and probably different food but undoubtedly the same roars of laughter as we sit and eat together. 

Safe Home Myan and Den. It was a great visit!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mad mother...

When the kids were younger I used to lay their uniforms on their bedroom floors ready for them to put on the following morning. It helped the day get off to a smooth start and alerted me to any essential parts of the uniform that were missing and needed washing or ironing. They are big enough now that they are capable of dressing without being babied. Every now and again I still like to have a little bit of fun. This is a small glimpse of the " mad mother" behaviour my poor kids have to put up with....!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A new habit

As the weather here in Australia gets warmer and Spring wakes us all up from our Winter hibernation it is a chance to get out and about and shake the cobwebs from our heads. Rhiannon and myself have been for a couple of great walks together. We know that when Summer takes hold the heat will make long walks harder in the middle of the day but this time of year is perfect. It is warm and pleasant and you don't feel like you are sizzling under the full strength of the harsh Aussie sun.

At the end of a lovely walking track we came across a small cottage with a rambling garden full of simple flowers. Daisies, nasturtiums and many more we didn't know the names of. The seeds from these flowers had blown over the garden boundaries and spread out into the surrounding bushland. It was like someone had accidentally spilt a pallet of bright colours and they had splashed accidentally in places they didn't normally belong.

We stopped a while and made daisy chains. Rhiannon was a natural. I gave up as stem after stem split under my stubbie fingers but Rhiannon had a daisy crown in no time at all! We came home rejuvinated. Not just from the fresh air but from the time together, a precious thing in our normally busy lives.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Mother-in-law from hell!

Why is it that so many mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationships are rocky? I can only imagine that there might be an element of tug-of-war between the two biggest female loves in his life. The mother, the woman who has loved him from infancy to adulthood and knows every detail of his past as he grew into the man he is today. And then the woman who has fallen in love with the adult man and feels she knows the "real" him inside out, shares his dreams and fears, has seen his adult soul in a way that no-one else will have been let in. 

In this way I know that Byron's mother knows all the details of his childhood. What he was like as he grew up. The funny characteristics he had through all the stages of his babyhood, toddler tantrums, teenage angst until he went away to Uni. What he loved to laugh at, what he loved to eat, his favourite home cooked dinners and treats. 

Equally I think I know the current Mr B pretty well. After 17 years of marriage I'd like to think I know what makes him laugh now, what way he likes his coffee, what foods he enjoys. Many of these things will be the same and some will have changed over the years. Essentially though we both love the same man. We both know that he holds a huge place in our hearts and we know that we have a place in his too. There is room for both. If only every bride could know that on her wedding day. If only she could view her Mother-in-law not as competition but as a team mate. 

My own Mother told me a story as I counted down the days to my wedding. She talked about how her Mother-in-law used to come to Sunday dinner and would stand outside the front window and tap on the glass and rattle a box of smarties at myself and my brother. We were very young, pre-school age and obviously after a few smarties we didn't want to eat our veggies. It bugged my mum at the time but little did any of us know that my Granny wasn't going to be around for very much longer. In the scheme of the things my wise mother told me "Did it really matter?" 

And so I find myself sharing my house, my kitchen with my Mother-in-law. I am quite stubbornly independent. I don't share my kitchen well. Even though I am regularly offered help I just as regularly turn it down. But I know that I have a wonderful opportunity to stand back sometimes and let Byron's mother have my space, wear my apron and let her make treats for Byron and the kids that don't require weighing scales, that require wisdom and patience, the feel of a hand and the judgement of an eye. I have been taught by my own wise Mum that life is fragile and we need to appreciate the time we have with each other. 

And so I share with you a photo of the Mother-in-law from hell. My husbands Mother Myan. Busy in my kitchen preparing Welsh treats for all to scoff later. Are you shocked with the name I give her? Have you looked closely at her head? Yes, there, can you see it now? The little diamante horns? Let me present to you the woman who made Byron the character that he is today. The woman who can wear her teenage grand-daughters silly headband and can have my kitchen filled with the sound of howls of laughter. The woman who pulled her silliest face and happily let me take a photo. The lady who said "Put it anywhere love, Facebook, Blog, Inter-web, I don't care!"

This is the woman that I can view as competition for the rest of my marriage. Or the woman I can take my hat off to and say Thank You. 

Thank You for making and moulding the man I love today. 

I will never be able to make Welsh Cakes like you, or bread pudding with whiskey. I will never be able to pull off quite such a wicked look as you but I promise you this. I will love him. As much as you loved him all those years you raised him. As much as you love him still. I will love him that much and more. 


I promise. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Catch up!

It's been a while since I managed to write here. Life has been a bit hectic for the last two weeks. It has been school holidays and we have had overseas visitors. Byron's parents from Wales landed on the last day of school term. There have been so many "bloggable" moments and I shall try to catch up this weekend by back-dating a few stories and photos to fill in the blanks!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Five Spice!

We try to sit down each evening with the kids and have a gadget free hour where we leave all ipods, iphones etc in their chargers in another room. We curl up on the sofa and try to find something on the tv that we can all watch as a family. Usually it is something like Man V's Wild, Mythbusters or a David Attenborough documentary. As the kids get older they are wanting to sit in on other shows we watch that are a bit more borderline suitable. 

Live at the Apollo is a comedy that has different comedians each week. It is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes the comedians are very crude and as the topics progress we find ourselves having coughing fits and quickly changing channels to something more suitable. One exception was a funny segment about all the different spices and herbs in a cupboard that are talking to one another about how little they have been used. Other than one use of the word "B*****d" it is quite funny and has had the kids and Byron randomly saying "I'm five spice" in falsetto and doubling over laughing! You can hopefully see it here...
As I browsed through the spice aisle looking for some cinnamon the other day look what caught my eye! Five Spice!!! I could help myself. I had to take a selfie to text message to the kids before I bought it. Now the only question is... How long will it sit in the cupboard waiting to be used!