Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Day 29: sick day

Day 29: sick day by Lisa Durbin
Day 29: sick day, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

I have a terrible immune system. Whenever I tell my friends and family that I'm unwell, the response is usually, "AGAIN?" I don't know if it's because I'm asthmatic or if it's because I have small children (think it's the former because Paul rarely has a cold), but this is my winter. Someone gets a bug, I get it too, I get better, another kid gets a bug, I get that one, etc.

I've tried a few things: changes to my diet, extra vitamins, cutting things out of my diet, getting the flu shot. Chicken soup seems to be the best healer so far (and getting caught up on sleep.) Thankfully I never seem to be unwell for long. I'll get a crappy cold for maybe 3 days maximum. Hey, at least I haven't had Norovirus this year so far. That makes a change from every past winter!

So today I'm at home, feeling like my head's underwater and aching all over. Oh and to top it all off, I burned my mouth on my soup. Pitiful me.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Day 28: knitty

Day 28: knitty by Lisa Durbin
Day 28: knitty, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.
This isn't just to show you my (rather sad and slow) knitting skillz, but to talk about the stitch markers.

A few years ago, I came across a pattern that called for stitch markers. Having absolutely no idea what they were, I looked them up on t'internet and came across some beauties by Annarella (who doesn't seem to have a blog anymore sadly, but her pics are still on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/creativestitchmarkers/pool/tags/annarella/). I asked my friend Melanie if she could make something similar that I could buy from her, as she is the beady, jewellery making type. She took on the challenge and I eagerly awaiting my new markers. Not that I knew how to use them, but hey - knitting bling!

Melanie popped these markers in the post for me, as a gift, and I was thrilled. Not only did they have pretty beads on them, they spelled out my name. How cool was that?

I am now working on a shawl that requires all four of my markers, and they clack and jangle away while I knit. They are sweet and special, and they remind me that someone did something very nice for me.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

it's not just about the bacon

No photo today, sorry. I think it'll be more like "Photo Every Few Days or When It Strikes My Fancy".

When you do a less "conventional" diet (or "way of life" as many call it), you spend a lot of time justifying and explaining it to other people. Which, to be honest, doesn't really bother me and people are simply genuinely curious. In general, conversations tend to go like this:

Person A: "I'm on a diet."
Person B: "Oh, which one?"
Person A: "Weight Watchers."
Person B: [some words of understanding/reference to self or family member who followed the same plan]

Whereas with me:
Me: "I'm on a diet."
Person A: "Oh, which one?"
Me: "Well, it's not really a diet plan as such. I don't eat sugar, grains, or high starch foods and I do intermittant fasting."
Person A: "You WHAT?" [or, more often, "Oh, like Atkins." accompanied by a nose wrinkle.]

It's interesting because if you broke down what I ate and presented it to someone without specifying that it's low in carbohydrates, they wouldn't bat an eye. Once I mention low carbing, the assumption is that I eat my weight in steak and butter. Which I could, I suppose, but then I wouldn't actually lose any weight and I'd be bored shitless.

There was a really good, informative piece on the BBC about intermittent fasting (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549) which turned out to be not really fasting (as you eat on your "fast" days) but the concept does work on the same level.  On my fast days, I wait as long as I can before eating (i.e. based on a genuine urge for food rather than habit) and eat a small amount that day. I tend to go around 18 hours from my last big meal to my first food on the fast day.

On my non-fast days, I eat low carb. I don't go nuts and eat whatever I want, but I don't count calories. Again, I eat when I'm hungry and I eat foods that I deem healthy. So today for example (a non-fast day) I had:
  • Breakfast: 2 sausages
  • Snack: a little nibbly thing of cheesy crackers from my Graze box
  • Lunch: leftover cottage pie made with cauliflower mash, with peas
  • Snack: another nibbly thing of dark choc and almonds from my Graze box
  • Dinner: duck breasts with a stir fry, topped with cashew nuts
And oh lordy, I'm full. My dinner was at 6:30ish, and I will likely not eat until around 2pm tomorrow. The kind of food I'm eating keeps hunger at bay and the fast days are generally pretty easy.

On a fast day, I might have:
  • No breakfast (OH NOOOO! It's the most important meal of the day! Did you know a cereal company came up with that tidbit of health-related information? Really.)
  • Late lunch: grilled chicken on salad, olives, carrots with a bit of hummus.
  • Dinner: grilled haddock, prawns, scallops with lemon squeezed on top, served on sauteed spinach and leeks
Doesn't sound too deprived, does it? I've lost half a stone (7lbs) in two weeks, although I know I always dump a lot at first. It'll slow down to a more reasonable level of 1-2 (or no) pounds from here on.

I'm not entirely sure why my way of eating requires more explanation than someone doing a low fat, low calorie diet. The criticism I hear most is that low carbing is unhealthy because you "eliminate an entire food group." (Since when was sugar a food group? I digress.) If you're on other more traditional diets, there is certainly some form of elimination (or severe restriction) going on in terms of fat.

I don't totally avoid treats, for the sake of my sanity. On my non-fasting days, I will have carbs and sugar sometimes (usually in the form of wine or cake) but like any diet, I can't go nuts with it. The fasting I think will work because I don't like to have to think too much about what I'm doing. And if I want to "binge", that's okay - because I can fast the next day. Psychologically, it just seems easier to me.

I'm not going all defensive and getting pissy about people asking me questions. I'm very happy to chat about food, whether it's about stuffing my face or trying to lose weight. I've learned a lot from many different people but mostly from trial and error. There are "tricks" I use on a low carb diet that I used to employ when I was on Weight Watchers many moons ago. It's all good and it's all about what works for you.

Monday, 21 January 2013

surprise

Day 21: flowers

I came home after an exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyable snow day with the kids to a card through our door - flowers had been delivered to our next door neighbour's house. For me! And it's not even my birthday.
Day 21: flowers
Joking to my friend, I said "What's Paul done??" I opened the envelope and saw that the flowers weren't from my husband after all:

Day 21: flowers

They were from a young family I'd been helping through the (very sparse, very sporadic) breastfeeding peer supporting role I've been involved in since Isla was four months old. To say this made me day was an understatement. Knowing that I was able to help someone feel a little better and get them through some tough times means a lot.

Also, we had a snow day today. We built a huge snowman and the kids raced down a hill on a sled for the afternoon. Not bad for a Monday, eh?

Sunday, 20 January 2013

comfort food

Day 20: comfort food by Lisa Durbin
Day 20: comfort food, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 20: pinched a few extra roasties after supper tonight.

I love Sundays. We start the day with a full English cooked by Paul (bacon, sausages, eggs, sometimes mushrooms, and black pudding) and end it with a roast dinner. Today was one of my favourite kind of Sundays - a lazy Sunday. Jack had his BFF for a sleepover, which kept him busy and happy this morning. No one got dressed until 10:00, and all we've done all day is watch movies and the falling snow outside.

If there's one thing I would take with me if I were ever to return to Canada (which I won't), it would be the Sunday roast. As sad as it sounds, it's the highlight of my week. The kids get so excited about it, too. What can I say, we like our roasties.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

tidy

Day 19: tidy by Lisa Durbin
Day 19: tidy, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 19: cleaning frenzy. I've spent most of the day clearing out the kids' rooms, in a fit of post-Christmas/pre-Jack's birthday decluttering.

I am on a mission to rid this house of junk, to get rid of the constant need to walk around stuff. You can't walk anywhere in this house without having to walk over or around things, every door has something piled up behind it, and the cupboards are packed full of stuff. Not even useful stuff, just STUFF.

I'm not quite at "Hoarders" level yet, but I have some sort of block about putting things up for sale or bundling them up for charity. It's not like putting items on eBay is a chore (although getting to the post office is a complete pain) and there are plenty of Facebook pages for our area if you want to sell items. I just need to get around to it, but for some reason I don't.

Maybe I can hire a decluttering intern.

Friday, 18 January 2013

fully stocked

Day 18: fully stocked by Lisa Durbin
Day 18: fully stocked, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 18: we're ready for Snowmageddon. Bring it on.

(So far, we've got about 1" of snow.)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

work work work

Day 17: I am in the office with a mahoosive headache. The frost was pretty this morning, but I didn't get a chance to take a pic.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

um...

I forgot to take a photo again today. It was frosty and pretty outside, though. You'll just have to use your imagination. (I can tell this photo a day thing ain't gonna last.)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

flakes

Day 14: we got a little snow yesterday. It was fluffy and pretty, and the kids were very excited to wake up to it but it quickly melted away. Despite the Met Office's numerous warnings and alerts, all we got was a bit of a dusting.

Worst. Snowstorm. Ever.

Day 15: I forgot to take a photo. Nothing interesting happened today anyway.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Day 13: snow watch by Lisa Durbin
Day 13: snow watch, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 13: We're on Snow Watch. Due for our first snowfall since February 2012, and the girls are a little bit excited about it. Jack is out playing rugby at a match in Milton Keynes and is likely a little less excited about the whole thing.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

look up - look waaaay up

Day 12: construction by Lisa Durbin
Day 12: construction, a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 12: we build a high bed for Jack.

Richard Parker

Day 11: "Life of Pi" by Lisa Durbin
Day 11: "Life of Pi", a photo by Lisa Durbin on Flickr.

Day 11: "Life of Pi"

A beautiful, moving, incredible film. I'm not usually a fan of 3D (I often find it doesn't add much to the experience) but this was astounding.

I've had the book since it came out in hardcover, but have yet to get around to reading it. I have a bit of an issue with book purchasing but not having the time to read, which is not good when you own a Kindle and can obtain books with one click. I'm glad I hadn't read the book beforehand so I didn't know what to expect, but now I'm very curious to read it.

I didn't know it takes place in Montreal (although I know Yann Martel grew up there and we have claimed him as our own) and it was lovely to see shots of my former hometown - and it was lovely that the film clearly identifies it as Montreal. We're used to being a stand-in for an endless number of American towns and very rarely appear as ourselves.

Lots to think about. And how nice to see a film at the cinema that isn't by Pixar.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Sunday, 6 January 2013

picture a day

I saw that my friend is doing something called "Project 365" over on her Suburban Mum blog, and I thought it was a great idea. It's simply one picture per day, but I thought it would be good to do for two reasons: it'll get me blogging more regularly and maybe I'll learn how to use my camera by the end of 2013.

I missed out the first couple of days and forgot to start posting them on here, but hey - better late than never.

So, we start on day 3: my new Uggs that proved tricky:

Boots
Truth be told, I've never been a big Uggs fan (or at least, not a fan of the original style Uggs.) Sadly, they've become the boots of chavs all over the UK and that didn't really appeal to me. I wanted a pair of warm, comfy boots and came across the biker style Uggs on the Office web site. I liked the style a lot more than the originals and they were heavily marked down. I couldn't resist! Had a bit of drama when I couldn't get them past my toes, but eventually realised that you cannot get them on unless you have bare feet. Wearing socks with these boots would be far too warm anyway. Suffice it to say, the boots finally went on and they are amazingly comfy. They're like wearing fluffy slippers to work all day long. Lovely.

Day 4: happy birthday, Katie:

Katie
One of my best friends had a couple of us over for a drink and "Magic Mike" viewing (HELLO!), and I made her a white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake. It was a really lovely evening; chilled and fun. If it isn't obvious from this photo, I still haven't really got the hang of my camera.

Day 5: Jack's bike wash:

DSC_0344
I guess if anything "good" came from our car accident a few months ago, it was the settlement money that Jack and I got for our injuries and stress. It wasn't a fortune, but it was enough for our little boy to get a brand new bike, a new bed (forthcoming), and a bit left over to put in his savings account. He spent ages washing it proudly in our front yard, and somehow managed to get a big blob of soap suds on his head.

Day 6: packing away Christmas:

DSC_0352
Although it's really nice to have our living room back, it's always a bit sad when Christmas gets packed away for another 11 months. We had a really lovely Christmas this year down in Kent with the in-laws. It was relaxing, full of food and prosecco, and Paul and I managed to sneak out for a film/supper.

Right, caught up now.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

resolving, 2013 edition

Yikes, I only just realised that it's that time of year - time to go back to last year's January post about resolutions and see how far I've come. Or not come.

My goals for 2012 were:

  • Purge and organise. I started working on this recently and it's been incredibly liberating. There is still quite a way to go yet, and I still have yet to find a way to keep myself organised. 
Ah, yes. The house is a tip. I did declutter the kitchen the other day, though.
  • Make our home a sweet home. We aren't going to move for quite some time, so we need to sort out all the loose ends around here and make this a place we can really be happy with, at least for the next little while. Must. Get. Rid. Of. That. Floral. Wallpaper. In. The. Corridor. Gaaaaaah. 
We actually talked about this on the drive home after Christmas. The plan is to look into renovating and adding another room at the back of the house. I am so gonna make this happen. Mama wants her living room back and a peaceful place without a television blaring in it.
  • Focus on my health. I don't just mean losing weight (which has been the albatross around my neck for decades now), but finding solutions for the small yet annoying health niggles I've been enduring for the past couple of years. 
Move along, nothing to see here.
  • Figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I might return to work, in some capacity, when Isla increases her hours at nursery in September. It might be tech writing again, or it might be something totally different. I don't know yet. Be creative. My soul goes numb when I'm not doing something creative, whether it's delving into the cobwebby part of my brain that used to do graphic design, making something, or figuring out how to do a rugby ball cake (true.) 
I did return to the office in the form of contracting/tech writing, and I'm loving it. It's given me back my identity and confidence in spades. Which leads to...
  • Get "published". Doesn't have to be paid work (it likely won't be and will probably be an article online), but I need to write and it would be great to get a piece out there in the public domain. This is very much related to my last point. 
I ended up getting two regular writing gigs and it's been amazing fun. I'm so glad that I ended up pursuing this dream, because it led to many fantastic opportunities last year (like chatting to Lewis Smith. Oh yes indeed.)
  • Buy as much London Olympic tat as possible. (Not really. Well, maybe just a little tat.)
We scored two Wenlocks and a Pride the lion, a baseball cap, and a souvenir photo. Not bad!

My goals for 2013 are:

  • Again with the house decluttering and making bigger thing. The mess. Oh god, the mess. Make it go away.
  • Stick to the damn diet. Managed two days of it so far but ate quite a lot of cheesecake and crisps last night. I am a very good diet starter.
  • Keep writing. I'm keeping my ear to the ground and looking out for any opportunities. Last year gave me a real boost and I feel more confident to pitch articles. 
  • Do something interesting. Not sure what this will be yet. Learn a skill? Go somewhere new? Finally sit down with that book on writing Japanese characters? I just want to do something a bit different that doesn't involve leaping from a plane or getting something pierced.
  • Spend less time online. I did take my iPad with me when we went away for Christmas, but because I can't type on it to save my life, I spent much less time on it. I just used it to do a bit of work, check emails in the morning, and that was about it - and it was kind of nice. So less time farting around on the internet, starting now. Goodnight.

just a girl

My boy likes Harry Potter, things that explode, playing in dirt, and thinks fart jokes are the epitome of hilarious. My girl like Barbies, dressing up as a ballerina, having tea parties, and doing my hair. My middle child likes constructing things, running around, playing in dirt, and thinks fart jokes are the epitome of hilarious - and is a girl.

The next passport photo.
"She's not a very girly girl", many people have said to me, with a touch of forlornness. "She doesn't really like girl toys, does she?" is another one I hear often. I scratch my head as I watch my daughter brush the hair of her dolls and begs me to let her put makeup on. She's not what I would call a tomboy, but she's seemingly not "girly" enough for some.

She stomps her way through her ballet class and she's usually the loudest one in the group - which is exactly what I was like as a kid. I tried ballet once, but it was pretty apparent that I was more of a tap or jazz kind of gal. Teachers constantly commented on the volume of my voice and laugh (and even recently a friend commented that he could hear me laughing from outside when we were at the pub.) I don't know if anyone would say I'm not feminine, though. So why do we expect little girls to be frills and pink and Tinkerbell?

I adore my thunderous, roaring Mimi. I wouldn't think to say to someone, "Gosh, your daughter is really girly, isn't she?" Girls are girls, whether they're demure and have blonde ringlets or covered in mud. Jesus Christ, no wonder most of us grow up with low self esteem. When did we decide that there was an acceptable level of girlyness?