Tuesday 21 April 2009

2 Simple Things

I just finished my Yoga Practice tonight. It's the first time I've done Yoga since April 11th - so that's 10 days without Yoga - even though I keep telling myself that I'll do it every day. Well, today and for the last week really - I haven't felt like myself. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with normal body chemistry, so when I take something out of the "magical formula" for weight loss I've been doing over the last 3 years - unbeknownst to me (until I REALLY notice it), it seriously affects my overall well being. Weight loss is only a side benefit from practicing Yoga really.

I think it does something with the glands when you do those twists, balances, etc - like squeezes them, or energizes them or something - but somehow - good chemistry comes out of it.

I feel 100 times better now than I did on my walk home today. Clearly - for me that means - walking is not as beneficial for me as Yoga is. Walking for 2 - 40 minute intervals every single day actually may trigger Hyper-Cortisol production. Anyway, I'm seeing the Doctor on Thursday to see if we can change something (medication perhaps) - because I've been gaining weight and suffering other unpleasant symptoms. There is no normal explanation for me doing so (as I really haven't changed that much about my lifestyle with the exception of a few "emotional eating" days - which was likely a product of the disease as well.) So, I've decided that instead of making a grand scheme/plan for weight loss - I shall do two simple things. My lifestyle is fine in every other way (as far as I'm concerned). I shall...

1. Do at least a little Yoga every single day. (7 days a week) I shall perhaps make up a spreadsheet with tick boxes to remind myself that I haven't done it yet for the day - so that it gets done.

2. Cut out refined sugar entirely from my diet. I shall use Honey, and bake good stuff from time to time, but as far as Candy, Juice, Pop, and Cakes go - they are out - in their entirety. They are like poison to my body. We all know this is true. It's as dangerous to me as pouring Battery Acid down my throat. (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it is very detrimental to my health)

I just have to accept that I'm not like other people, and I can't live the lifestyle other people live. (especially not in this country) Therefore, I have determined to do these two things.

Friday 17 April 2009

Watch This Space...

Sue Anne, Steve, and I have been digging a garden in Sue Anne's back yard. It's great to have a friend who rents a cottage - with actual land. I wish I had actual land. I just have a wee flat. Most people here only have a wee flat. Steve also has only a flat, no land. So, the 3 of us are taking advantage of what land we can use, and working towards growing our own food this year. I am super duper excited about it too. We've been tearing up grass and trying to get it all sorted for the last 4 weeks or so. Last week we put our wee greenhouses out and staked them to the ground. In the greenhouses, we are growing tomatoes and peppers. We bought 2 varieties of tomatoes - Money Maker and Shirley. You can see in the picture that we are using a grow-bag - which is really useful if you want to see quick results. Steve bought 4 different varieties of Peppers (which I am unable to name at the moment - but they look good) We put these in our smaller greenhouse.

So, that's one project we have. We've also used grow bags for our Blue and Oca Red Potatoes...

I wish I had taken pictures of the yard the way it looked before so that you can see what we've done to it. Sufficeth to say, we've done a lot of digging with what little time we had.

With this strip of land (which we dug up from sod)...

...we are going to lay down some fabric and plant vegetable seeds tomorrow. Among the vegetable seeds we have, there are Carrots (Purple, White, AND orange), Beets (yellow and maybe purple), peas, beans, bright lights - chard, cabbage, spring onions, yellow zucchini (what Britons call Courgettes), and other things I'm having trouble remembering at the moment. We have to get up super early tomorrow, because we've had a late start for something like 4 weeks in a row, and have tonnes of work to get done. We also have a commitment to climb the Lomond Hills tomorrow afternoon, so that will cut into gardening time substantially.

We've actually planted wee leeks, and purple sprouting Broccoli in this part of the garden already, but have a lot more to plant. Here you can see the Broccoli, but the wee leeks may be harder to spot...

On this side...

You can't see them, but there's DEVIL ROOTS in there. By that I mean - roots of which there seems to be no end of. This has been my bane for a few weeks now. Tomorrow, if I get a chance, I shall finish cleaning it up, and perhaps get it looking presentable enough to plant something. We're thinking though, that because of the devil roots, we'll just plant something that needs a shallow root system - like squash. We've even discussed raised beds a bit, but that always costs so much, so we'll work with what we have.

Some highlights of the garden...

RHUBARB!!!!!!!!!!! I found these 2-year old Rhubarb advertised on the University weekly newsletter. 3 of them for £7. They're "Early Red" variety - good for pies!!!!!!!!!! I'm a wee bit over-excited about that part. Hopefully we'll get an excellent crop from these lovely plants.

Sue Anne unleashed her ample creative skills and organized this lovely rock garden - with adorable moss-covered rocks and wee plants - along the edge of our veggie patch.

The yard in all it's splendor. Note the 3 chairs and BBQ. The BBQ has become our very good friend - as it always is.

The Garden Mascot - Miss Meta.

And here - just for the fun of it is Steve doing his Physio exercises. Heehee.

So - yeah - watch this space. I'll take pictures as we go along and see progression in the exotic vegetable garden. I say exotic, simply because we all seem to agree that vegetables of unconventional colour are far more exciting than plain ones. They probably contain more varieties of phytonutrients as well. The more the better I say. Must get to bed early tonight. Busy day tomorrow.

Thursday 16 April 2009

This Lady Has Seriously Made My Day...

You have to watch the video all the way through to understand. Unfortunately I can't embed it, so you'll have to go to You Tube and watch it. Here's the link... (link)

You go Susan. You show them girl. She lives not too far away from me you know. In my books she's already as good as Elaine Paige, and hopefully she'll have the chance to prove it now.


Friday 10 April 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!?!?!

What's all this? My favorite novel of all time turned into a zombie parody? I'm sure the author is missing many of the finer character-development points that my dear Jane has put into the beloved novel; however - it looks to make entertaining reading. I think next month, when I have money, I may invest in this book. It's only £6.99, but still, I do have to watch the pennies. Check out the wikipedia article... (link)

I was hopeful the author would make Wickham a zombie who eats Lydia. However, there is no such luck. Only a true P&P fan - who harbors a hatred for those characters would wish for that. I'm kind of intrigued by the ninja fight at the end between Lady Catherine De Bourgh's army of Ninjas and Elizabeth. I've often been able to identify with Elizabeth's character - so to see her in full Ninja action would be great.

I wonder what the movie would be like? It would have to be done in a comedy manner - such as "Shaun of the Dead" and the like.

I'm sure there are people out there who would think that a parody such as this is almost sacrilegious. I can see no harm in it; and I'm Jane's biggest fan...

Wednesday 8 April 2009

My Simple Life

I'm back on board with music. (as you can hear) I decided to pick 12 simple songs that mean something to me instead of every single song that ever meant something to me. I hope you enjoy it.

I've had a pretty simple, average day today. Nothing out of the ordinary, except to say that I had a nice dinner with a very dear friend that I've made here in Dundee. My life is pretty average I would say. I know everybody back home thinks I'm having some sort of grand adventure. Granted, some days are pretty adventurous; but overall - it's just normal, every day life here in Scotland. Except that normal, every day life includes Scots - with accents, and a few cultural differences. I get up in the morning, rush around to get ready to go to work on time (as some of you know - this is not much different at all), get to work on time every single day (you also know that this IS out of the ordinary - as I do have to have chronic tardiness issues), work all day long, with an hour for lunch - where I walk around Dundee's lovely city centre. Then when my working day is done, I walk home, eat a simple dinner, goof off on the Internet with my friends, read a little, do some Yoga, maybe bake something, and go to bed at a ridiculous hour - just to do it all again the next day. That's life every day for me in Scotland.

When I can afford it, and/or when friends are doing something a little adventurous, I go and see cool stuff. Next week-end I'm hiking up in the Lomond hills. It's not much of a hike - just a wee hill really, but it should be scenic. This week-end I'll be working on my garden with Steve, (Sue Anne has other plans Saturday) and on Sunday, we will enjoy a lovely Easter dinner put together by Sue Anne. I mean - really - my life hasn't changed that much. The things that have changed are the people in my life, the weather, the scenery, and well, I now have a view from my window that is insanely incomparable to the non-scene from my basement bedroom in Calgary. I also have ocean instead of prairie. I eat fish now. It is waaaaaaaaaay better fresh than frozen. Who knew? In Alberta we really don't know what Fish is supposed to taste like - as it turns out. Fresh fish is delicious. I still have to struggle a little to eat it at times, but it tastes great.

One big difference in my life when I compare now to when I was in Calgary - is that I live alone. I have to admit, I really, really like living alone. I'm not saying I wouldn't like a man invading my little world. I certainly would enjoy that, but living alone is a really nice change for me. I don't have to answer to anyone, I can eat in my own kitchen, wash my own dishes, clean my own messes, and just generally do whatever I want in my own house. It's really great. This is the very first time I have experienced this phenomenon of living alone. I realize that it isn't for everyone, but I highly recommend it. When I'm lonely, I call a friend, or visit with a friend, or just listen to music or whatever. I have a pretty satisfying life. I'm not saying it's perfect - by any stretch of the imagination, but it is content - for now.

Now and then, I experience these moments of perfection. Have you ever had that sort of experience? Where you're sitting there, and you realize that life can't get much better than that moment - right then. It's very brief, and then life returns to normal. I've had a few of those lately, and I haven't had that feeling in a very long time. So, I must be on the right track. I'm not saying there hasn't been trials. Oh, there's been trials! But, that's nothing new, so I just keep plugging away.

There's this greeting card I have on my wall (I've had it for like - 9 years), and I have (obviously) no idea who wrote it. It is somewhat cheezy, but it's a good reminder to me of how I should view my life...

"As you journey through life, choose your destinations well - but do not hurry there. You will arrive soon enough. Wander the back roads and forgotten paths, keeping your destination in your heart. Like the fixed point of a compass. Seek out new voices, strange sights, and ideas foreign to your own. Such things are riches for the soul. And if, upon arrival, you find that your destination is not exactly as you had dreamed, do not be disappointed. Think of all you would have missed but for the journey there, and know that the true worth of your travels lies not in where you come to be at journey's end, but in who you come to be along the way."

That's pretty much - the story of my life.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Home Grown

I've been watching this show on the BBC iplayer. I don't own a TV, so all of my entertainment comes from the internet. Thankfully, I live in a country where the greatest TV in the world is produced. It's also free, and you can get it on the internet (for a limited time) if you don't have a TV of your own.

Anyway - "Grow Your Own Drugs" with James Wong - Ethnobotanist extraordinaire is a really exciting show. I saw the title weeks ago and thought - oh yeah - hmm, this is Britain is it? They teach people how to home grow. Then, out of curiosity (such a curious girl), I started watching it, and it turns out to be right up my alley. James uses plants of all kinds - easily available right here in Britain to make home remedies - the way everybody used to. They're useful home remedies as well, and it makes complete sense to me that they would work. Obviously, some remedies worked better for some people on the show than others; and James made disclaimers stating that on each episode. The thing is, that if it might work for you, then why wouldn't you try it. After all, science can back up the chemicals contained in the plants, and where do you think the pharmaceutical companies get those chemicals???? Obviously from the plants. It would be worth it as well - knowing exactly what you're taking, and exactly where it came from. Having said that, you also need to be careful when using these home remedies, because plants can be just as dangerous as modern/traditional medicine if used improperly. You should give plants the same respect you would to drugs bought at the store. James also said that in each episode.

I got so excited about the show - that I found James' book on Amazon for £9.34 including delivery. This is pretty exciting, because the day after I purchased it, I found it at WH Smith for £14.99. I thought to myself - "suckers..."

James taught me how to make mouthwash out of Thyme; sore muscle treatments out of chillies and mustard; constipation remedies out of figs and senna; an Athlete's foot treatment out of garlic (which also makes a nice salad dressing); an insect bite and sting treatment out of plantain leaves; Varicose Vein treatment out of Horse Chestnuts, and Vodka; a PMS treatment (sign me up) out of Chaste Berry Tea; and last but not least (this is what sold me) - he taught me how to make CRYSTALLIZED GINGER out of ginger and umm - sugar for Travel Sickness. Oh James - how I love you.

Apparently you can get a Ginger root (which is really a rhizome) and plant it in a giant pot, put it in your front window, and grow ginger yourself. I'm going to do it - obviously. I'm also going to make my own Crystallized Ginger, of course. When I do, I shall show you how it worked out. I need to buy myself a few tools in order to do so, but when I do - I shall be making the Crystallized Ginger. I shall also try other things over time. It's nice to have the book so that I know how.

If you live in the UK, I think you can still catch it for the next few days on the iplayer. So - you should if you get the chance. If you don't - umm - look for it on amazon? or ebay? Or perhaps Satellite TV?

You can find his recipes here... (link)

James is also adorable - have you noticed? I wonder if he's un-attached...

Sunday 5 April 2009

What I've Been Up To...

Well, it's been almost a month since I blogged last, so I thought I'd give an update as to what I've been doing, and how I've been going with the goals set in my last blog...

The goals, umm - haven't gone great. It's really hard to keep to conventional diet goals when so much good food is around. I'm not even speaking of the grease-fare that Scottish people call food. I'm speaking of my dear friends and their excellent regular healthy-ish cooking - which I seem to have no will to turn down, and of course I must have seconds. Then there's the chocolate. Gaaaaaarrrrrr, the chocolate. However, I have come to a conclusion that as long as my clothes continue to fit, and as long as I'm comfortable with my body, then the scale can go to hell. That's right - no more weighing. I'm still going to try to eat healthy and do Yoga every day, and obviously will walk to work and all of that (because that's part of my normal every day life), but I'm not going to lose sleep over weight gained - simply because there are so many factors involved in weight gain. There's muscle (which I seem to have a lot of lately), and there's stupid monthly hormone nonsense, and other things. I'm not saying I'm not rolly - I'm definitely a little rolly, so obviously something needs to change. It can all be taken care of, however, by small, consistent changes. So - there is my update on weight loss. (or rather fat maintenance)

Other than that, I've been working away at the University. I'm now on a temporary contract at the School I've been working with until September - so that's a good thing. I've had 3 major interviews for permanent positions over the last 3 weeks - each of which lead to me being unsuccessful in obtaining the positions. However, I'm learning. I will find something permanent soon-ish, and my foot is in the door now (I'm an actual University employee), so hopefully that will work in my favor.

Steve, Sue Anne, and I have been planting a garden!!!! That's the most exciting thing I have to report today. Sue Anne lives in this fantastic little cottage with a tiny bit of land at the back, so we have decided to plant food and reap the benefits. So exciting. I am contributing Purple Carrots, White Carrots, and Yellow Beets; and I found on the University weekly newsletter "2 year old" Rhubarb Plants - which we planted yesterday and hope to get at least a few excellent pies and/or crumbles out of this fall. We have also planted Blue and Red Potatoes, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, and Leeks. I am also using the lovely seeds which mbfm sent me for Christmas. Thanks mbfm. Missing you. So, yes sir - we are going to have a lovely harvest this year. We're also doing Tomatoes, and Peppers (in a wee greenhouse), and other items which we haven't actually entirely decided on yet. It turns out we have loads of room, so we'll make the most of it. I will have to take some pictures. I wish I had taken before pictures because we really had to (and still have to) turn a fair bit of sod. We're sod-turning machines. When I'm at Sue Anne's next weekend I'll take some pictures of our lovely little garden in progress.

Nothing to report in the Social department. Sorry to disappoint. I have lots of lovely friends, though - dating prospects are apparently scarce, or shy, or something. It makes it more difficult apparently because I'm old. Not too worried though, I'm having fun with my friends.

Still haven't made the trip south to visit my family - but in a few months I hope to feel semi-secure enough financially to do so.

That's all I have for now, but thought I should at least write something - as I know people do actually read this from time to time.