Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Over my past few posts I have received some wonderful comments and also attracted a few more followers but have not had the time to reply to my comments or come and check out your blogs. This has been because of The List which I am loving plowing through but it has taken me away from my new best friend - the blogesphere!
I love reading comments and checking out new followers and their blogs so I will spending the next few days, not working on my posts but coming to check yours out and replying to my wonderful commenter's and checking out their blogs too!
I can't wait to meet you all you new bloggy friends and re-acquaint myself with some old buddies!!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Weight Debate
I am currently attending Weight Watchers Meetings. Yes, hello, my name is Amanda and I have an eating problem. Well it's not a problem as much as a niggle (or jiggle) in my side.
I have never been ultra slim although looking back at photo's of me when I was at school I was pretty average and would be happy to be that average again. My weight started creeping on after I left school. I blame this on not riding my bike once I got my licence and having a disposable income to spend on takeaway. In my early 20's I realised that my height (158cm) was not conducive to my weight so I joined Weight Watchers and lost 5kg which was great and I felt fantastic, fitted into my old clothes etc.
At 23 I moved out of home and slowly it all started to creep on again, went to the UK a couple of times and added some Heathrow kilo's and so on and so on.
6 months before I got married I joined a gym, went everyday and lost a bit of weight but the change was mostly inches and toning of my muscles which I liked. A few months after I was married I fell pregnant with Grotbag and it's all been going down hill ever since.
After Grotbag I gave myself some leave and then we started trying for another baby so naturally my attitude was "well what's the point I will be preggers soon" and low and behold 18 months after Grotbag I did fall pregnant but unfortunately miscarried. The messing with hormones, the unhappiness of it all plus still wanting to fall pregnant again made weight loss a very low priority. 9 months later I fell pregnant but again miscarried. It was all too much, but I suddenly realised I needed a new focus as the baby making was all consuming.
So again I joined Weight Watchers along with Bling (my cousin, who is more like a sister and will make many an appearance in my blogs. So called as she likes a bit of Bling!). I lost 9kg just in time for my work Christmas party and felt fantastic. Then Hubby and I were told that to have another baby we would need IVF. I will probably talk about this in detail another blog but needless to say it involved lots of emotions, lots of drugs and lots of luck. And lucky we were. First time lucky and 9 months later Bugalugs entered this world! Through my pregnancy I got gestational diabetes and also had a hemorrhage which meant I couldn't do anything that raised my heartbeat which meant no exercise or even walking too far.
And so here I am again, carrying baby weight, emotional weight and the occasional Hungry Jacks weight. It's coming off. A lot slower this time and fluctuates depending on the time of the month but I have managed to shed to date 3.1kg (6.8 pounds) and feel much better for it too. I know I have to lose the weight. Having gestational diabetes means I am 50% more likely to get Type 2 diabetes when I am older and this is something that I really want to avoid. I have no more excuses, no more babies on the way and I need to be fit to keep up with my two growing boys, and I want to be a good example for them.
Some days are harder than others. I love food and love cooking so it's all about balance. But I will get there...because at the end of the day I have no alternative!
*** Post Script
I stopped going to Weight Watchers and the fluctuating weight (I was told this was to do with my hormones still correcting themselves after having Bugalugs) each week was doing my head in even if I had had a great week I would sometimes have put on half a kilo - it was too devastating. I realise that what I really need to do is exercise but so far it's just a theory! So the saga continues....
Sunday, November 22, 2009
I would love to take credit for this idea but like most fabulous ideas, someone else thought of them first! I found this little gem in "The Very Useful Christmas Book" by Taste.com.au which came free when you purchases 1of 6 other cooking magazines.
The recipe is called "Abby's Cookies in a Jar" Basically you put all the dry ingredients in a jar (the ones below are Decor 1L screw top jars from Big W), layered up all nicely like in my picture below....
Every year we get together with 3 other couples and their kids and have a Christmas lunch, we give small pressies to the kids and basically have a nice little catch up before Christmas. We did that today and I gave each family a jar of my cookie mix above. They LOVED the idea. But to sweeten the deal even more I made a batch of the cookies for them to try so they knew what to expect. My picture below of said made cookie....they were delish if I do say so myself!!
So...here is the recipe straight from the book if you can't be bothered going to the links above:
Abby's Cookies In a Jar
Equipment - You'll need a 1L glass jar with a lid
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (75g) firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (65g) rolled oats
100g craisins (dried cranberries), see variation (I used sultanas, dark & white chocolate in the ones I made above as I ran out of craisins for the gifts, m&ms would be cool too)
130g white chocolate chips
Extra ingredients for making cookies
125g butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Spoon the flour mixture into a 1L (4-cup) capacity glass jar. Top with brown sugar, then caster sugar. Top with oats, then craisins, then chocolate chips. Seal jar. Give as gift.
To make cookies, preheat oven to 190˚C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Empty jar into a large bowl. Add butter, egg and vanilla. Stir until well combined. Shape tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on baking trays approximately 5cm apart. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, swapping trays halfway during cooking, or until edges are lightly browned. Turn biscuits onto a wire rack to cool. Serve.
Notes & tips
For double choc chip biscuits, substitute craisins for dark or milk chocolate chips.
Download and print out the gift tag, complete with cooking instructions here
I understand this is quite a common idea in the USA so any of my readers from across the pond have any different variations to share please let me know!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Anywhoo, one of the first tasks I tackled after I wrote The List was clearing out my Tupperware cupboards - yes plural - I actually have one full kitchen corner cabinet, two dish drawers and a smaller draw all allocated to my plastic obsession (yeah, I know I can see your OMG expressions now!)
Hubby has no patience when it comes to putting dishes away, especially the plastic fantastic and so they just get thrown in and the door quickly shut hoping that they don't fall out the next time the draw is open. Which they usually do...the day after he has flown out again to work....so I have no one to swear at. This manifests into me doing the same thing having no time to neatly stack everything and so a jumbled mix of bowls and lids are left to their own devices.
At my Pink Ribbon Breakfast I had Tupperware come and show their wares as they donate 10% of all sales to the NBCF and also gave some great donations to the raffle. And of course I had to buy some so the day came when the delivery arrived and I literally had no where to put it. So this was number one of The List .
Well I even surprised myself with how much I had. Below is a picture of all the Tupperware that was in my cupboards.
This picture did NOT include:
- The myriad of inferior plastic that I also own (Decor anyone?)
- The kiddie plastic taking up one whole draw (IKEA, Take & Toss)
- The 32 (yes I counted) Tupperware containers that were in use in the pantry, fridge and freezers.
- My Tupperware Picnic set
- The new Tupperware that had been delivered including a 9 piece 'Outdoor Kitchen' set of funky black Tupperware.
This is the part where I get all defensive and justify it all. I'm good at it...I do it to Hubby all the time...
There are only a few things in that picture I do not use and after this clean out am donating to friends - they are the Fridge Smarts (the rectangle thingies with the breather holes) - never could get the hang of them, they take up too much room in my fridge and I go through my veggies too quickly for them to be any use.
That means that EVERYTHING else in that picture does actually get used. Especially my Illusion Bowls (left of the picture, blue lids with the salad servers sitting on them). In summer they are never in the cupboard but are full of salad. They are used at every BBQ and would have to be the best Tupperware purchase EVER.
My newest fabulous piece is the Rice Cooker (round red thingy front left) BEST RICE EVER and I can tell will be getting a lot of use.
Everything has now been put back, within easy reach and not just piled on top of each other so Hubby won't be bothered to put it back properly. I gave a few older bowls and lids to my mum for the holiday house as well as some inferior plastic and odds and ends as well. Everything now has a place and is easy to find and put away and gets used.
Many people have asked me over the years why don't I become a demonstrator. Well for one I don't have the kitchen space! And two, I don't want my love to be tainted which I think it might. Plus party plan income is really only good if you can have a lot of parties and with Hubby working away I would constantly have to get babysitters.
I have been to many parties over the years and can usually tell a new demonstrator what she needs to know and there are not many things left for me to buy. But it never stops me buying - I call it investment shopping! Hey there are worse things I could be doing right?
Well I am just happy this little task is off my list now and I can enjoy my fantastic plastic in all its glory sitting proudly in my cupboards. Now, where did I put that latest catalogue.......
Do you have a Tupperware addiction? What is your favourite piece? Is yours neatly stacked or a jumble of lids and bowls crammed into a draw? Let me know your plastic secret!!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
That has been what my life has been the last two weeks hence my lack of posts.
Let me tell you a little story....
When I was pregnant in Bugalugs last year Hubby and I got into panic mode about "getting things done to the house". I needed to change the BIG junk room to a SMALLER junk room so that the baby could have somewhere to sleep. We had also ripped up every shred of carpet as they were disgusting from the renters who had lived here before we bought our house and one day (after vacuuming and realising it had made no difference) I told Hubby I would rather walk on concrete than the carpet. We hired a skip the next day and Hubby ripped the lot up.
Then I panicked that we needed flooring because of Bugalugs imminent arrival plus the house was so dusty with concrete floors and Grotbag couldn't play very well on his playroom floor! The only place in the house which didn't have carpet was the kitchen/family/dining room plus the bathrooms and laundry. Yes, that meant that all the bedrooms, the junk room and the playroom didn't have carpet. Which also meant that to lay new flooring (not carpet, dog hair and carpet don't mix, we have commercial wood look vinyl) EVERYTHING had to come out of the rooms before it could be laid. Remember I am 7 months pregnant at this point.
We called in family to help and by the time the flooring guy came all that was left in the rooms were the beds. Everything else was on and in my dining room. I wish I had taken a picture because it was like a huge mountain of crap. Most of it was from the Junk room and as storage is a problem in our house, there was no where to put it. There was also lots and lots and lots of baby stuff, the cot, change table, baby bath - all that had been stored in the junk room from when it had been used by Grotbag. This was all done TWO WEEKS before the flooring guy came because of Hubby's work pattern. Hubby came home the week the floors were being laid and then flew back before there was a chance to move everything back. So for another week I sat with the contents of most of my home in my dining room.
Then one night after a wonder baby shower, my waters broke and I went into early labour.
I was having a planned C Section at my OB/GYN insistence because of previous procedures and it wasn't supposed to be for 3 weeks. Yeah, Bugalugs wanted out and wasn't going to wait. Hubby was away and couldn't believe he was going to miss it (he couldn't fly out till the next night as there were not planes!) and so Mum was called in and Bling too and Bugalugs made his safe arrival into the world.
With all the contents of my home still in my dining room.
I was not bringing a new baby home from hospital with the pile of crap from hell staring at me. So from the hospital bed I gave instructions that Hubby was to go get many of those large plastic storage tubs. The my mum and Auntie B rallied round and put all contents in the dining room into the boxes, labelled them and stacked them in the new 'spare room'. I had visions of pulling out a box at a time, sorting through it while Bugalugs slept and it would all be sorted in a few weeks.
HA! They haven't been touched in 9 months and what was a lovely stacked orderly room is now again a huge junk pile dumping ground and I can barely walk in the room.
So the biggest over whelming factor in my home is the clutter that needs to just GO. Time is obviously against me - I just have none and all this was really getting me down. My head was swimming with things that needed to be done, especially with Christmas coming up, me going to Melbourne, Lay-bys to pick up - well it is never ending.
I started waking in the morning dreading my day not knowing what to tackle first. I was moody and felt like I had no control. I couldn't see the woods for the trees if you know what I mean.
How did this happen? When I was in paid work I was soooooo organised. Everything had it's place, tasks were done to deadline and I never panicked about anything. I loved being busy.
Then one of my best friend V gave me the advice I had been looking for. I told her how I had been feeling and she said that she had felt that way too a couple of months ago. And then one day she just sat down and wrote a list. One huge mother of a list of everything that she needed or wanted to do. Small things and big things. Then she just planned her days around different tasks on the list.
OMG! Really, could it be that easy? I used to make lists all the time in my paid working life and I loved the pleasure and sense of accomplishment when I ticked a task off my list.
V brought the biggest smile to my face, and the next day that is exactly what I did. I wrote everything I wanted or needed to do. Appointments I needed to make, organisation tasks, big tasks like painting the playroom and small tasks like email friend cupcake recipe.
So far The List is 2.5 lined A4 pages long and I have been adding too it everyday. I have already marked quite a few tasks off. Everyday I check The List and make a mini list of what I want to accomplish that day. It may only be one thing but once done, it's off the list. I can't believe I ever thought I would remember everything in my head that is now on The List. I must have been delusional.
I can't tell you how much better I feel. It really is quite amazing. I am not constantly trying to remember tasks as they are all on paper and out of my head. I can prioritise tasks. I can concentrate on one task at a time without worrying whether I should be doing something else instead. I can plan certain tasks for when Hubby is home and he can also work from the list.
So unfortunately Blogging has taken to "scorching it's butt on my back burner" this week while I prioritise some tasks from the list. One of today's tasks was to blog about The List (yay anothere task I can cross off) and so addicted to blogging and telling you about my life, I couldn't complete some of my tasks without documenting the ones I felt were good blog fodder!!! So stay tuned!
And V thanks, you saved my sanity, my kids and Hubby from a very grumpy mum/wife!
Do you keep A List? How do you keep on top of everything in your life? Is your house about to burst at the seams from clutter? Do you have any clutter buster tips for me? What's your best organisational tip? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Friday, November 6, 2009
If your so inclined you can find that post HERE (which also features a fabulous banana bread recipe!)
Anywhoo, I thought I would first explain about our little Book Club. AKA Wine Club, Therapy Session, Desert Club etc. Most of our partners do not believe we actually read books and that it is just an excuse to have a catch up.
Our Book Club started a couple of years back on the way home from a girls night out. We were talking books and one of us mentioned a book we wanted to read. We all have similar tastes and would usually swap books. We all agreed we wanted to read said book and so started our own Book Club. We also agreed it would be a great way to have a regular catch up as with our ever growing families this was becoming harder and harder.
There were 5 of us to begin with (AB, Me, V, ES & J) and 4 of us had known each other 20 odd years. ES ended up moving to Albany - 5 hours drive away, had to opt out and J decided she couldn't get through her stack of books let alone a book club book so then there were 3. We recruited another friend of ours ET (her initials, not the alien!) and so now we are 4.
We have read some brilliant books, and some doozies. We have tried to be over intellectual (Anna Karenina) and struggled and then too low brow for discussion (This Charming Man by Marian Keyes). We each take turns picking books and we haven't always agreed which is fantastic considering we have similar tastes. I have to note too that my fellow Book Clubbers were very understanding while I was pregnant and couldn't read as it made me nauseous. Thank goodness for ipods and audio books!
Just as a side bar, the audio book (Breath by Tim Winton) experience for me was fantastic but it did give me a completely different perspective on the book to everyone else in Book Club. Many thought it was quite a slow book but I think because I was hearing it with accents and inflections it seemed to flow really well. Just thought I would mention it.
I also credit our little Book Club to opening the doors to the Twilight series and many books I would other wise have not read or been exposed to.
So our latest book, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (a West Australian author - Yay!) was picked by ET. ET was going to pick his first novel called Rhubarb but noted that Craig Silvey was going to talk about Jasper Jones at the University of Western Australia as part of the Perth International Writers Festival so we jumped at the opportunity to go see him. So last night was our Book Club Excursion.
I love to go hear writers talk about their novels. It gives a different perspective of the characters, what made the author choose certain elements of the book and where their inspiration comes from. And Craig Silvey did not disappoint.
He talked about how he came to write the book. The pressure of writing a second book when the first was so critically acclaimed. How he actually shelved his second book and started Jasper Jones. He read from the book which I so adore from and author and answered questions from the audience. I asked him a question regarding one of the characters and why he made them have the personality they did. He answered with a joke and then clearly described his reasoning. It didn't change my opinion of the character, but did give me a new respect for the character. Another question from the audience was whether Craig had held 'real' jobs. Of which he had, and told us how he had been writing for 10 years but had only just got paid. He was asked his influences which were Mark Twain and Haper Lee and that is why he wrote Jasper Jones as a bow to Southern Gothic novels. I was most disappointed when an audience member questioned him on the grammar in the book and whether something was dialogue or not. I didn't really find it appropriate and it was almost like she was picking a fight and it really wasn't relevant questioning for the evening. Call his editor?
The evening went all too quickly and before we knew it we were being ushered out for Craig to sign books. I would have loved to have sat and discussed the book with him he really was a great speaker and so passionate about his work (what author isn't?).
We all went for coffee and cake afterwards but since I was the only one to finish the book we decided to meet in a week to discuss it properly. I really did love the book. There are not many books I would read again but this one I definitely would. It maybe that one of my favourite books is To Kill A Mocking Bird and I am predicting that Jasper Jones will also be a classic book read and discussed by many in years to come. So if you are looking for your next Book Club book, this just might be the one! Fantastic well rounded characters and lots to discuss.
So, I would love to hear if you are in a Book Club and what type it is - good friends or organised by a library or other group. What have been some great books you have read that you would not have other wise read? What are ones that you think should be avoided? What is your favourite book or author? Basically comment about your love of books - I would love to read you bookish thoughts!
Jasper Jones: "Late on a hot summer night in the tail end of 1965, Charlie Bucktin, a precocious and bookish boy of thirteen, is startled by an urgent knock on the window of his sleep-out. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in the regional mining town of Corrigan. Rebellious, mixed-race and solitary, Jasper is a distant figure of danger and intrigue for Charlie. So when Jasper begs for his help, Charlie eagerly steals into the night by his side, terribly afraid but desperate to impress.Jasper takes him through town and to his secret glade in the bush, and it's here that Charlie bears witness to Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion as he locks horns with his tempestuous mother; falls nervously in love and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend, Jeffrey Lu. And in vainly attempting to restore the parts that have been shaken loose, Charlie learns to discern the truth from the myth, and why white lies creep like a curse. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart."
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Rules of course are:
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Well the day was a great success and really fun. All the girls (no boys allowed - kicked Hubby and my boys out!) came dressed in pink and brought a little something to eat and share. The food was FABULOUS just look at the photos below. AB out did herself from last year with her Pink Ribbon Cake and Ren's pink lamingtons we as fluffy as clouds. We had a raffle and it worked out I had just enough prizes for everyone to take something home! It was like a politically correct kids party with everyone getting a prize!!
We basically spent the rest of the time chatting and gossiping and ooohhhing and ahhhing at the latest Tupperware. Tupperware give 10% of all sales made on the day to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and also provided a few raffle prizes as well! So I invite them to be part of the day each year.
Anyway below are a few photos from the day - I am totally all pinked out but will be back to host another Pink Ribbon Day next year. Like the title says, in a house full of boys it's the only time I get to have a 'pink' party!!
You can help me achieve my fundraising goal by making a donation, with all money raised going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation's research programs, It's quick and easy. You can make a secure online donation to my breakfast using your credit card by clicking HERE.
Did ya miss me??
I missed you guys real bad! But it was nice to take a break from the computer screen and relax and recharge!
So where have I been?
Me, Hubby and the Boys travelled 3 hours in the car down the coast of Western Australia to the South West to a small town called Busselton. My parents rent out a holiday home there and so the perks of that is that out of peak times we get to stay there for free.
This is Busselton:
Well that's Busselton Jetty but you get the idea - some of the best beaches in the world are in the South West.
Only 45km from Busselton is Margaret River which contains more wineries than you can poke a stick at and half a dozen boutique breweries as well. There is tons for the kids to do too, with farms, mazes, mini golf etc etc so it is a great place for a family holiday. Yallingup and Dunsborough are just down the road too a favourite for haunt for surfers.
We spent 5 days there and had a great relaxing time. We went to farms, breweries, the Busselton Show was on while we were in town, we went to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory (YUM!), went to the beach and just basically chilled out as a family!
Usually I take the opportunity to take the home chef hat off while we are away, as I cook every night at home so while we are away we usually eat out for every meal other than breakfast But as it is just before Christmas it's not the best time to be flashing the cash on holiday. Also the holiday house is set up as a home away from home (literally, most of my old kitchen plates, cups and glasses have migrated down there, even my old hair dryer - it's like the ghosts of household items past) then I decided to be a bit more frugal this year.
I packed lunches for during the day for 4 out of the 5 days also cooked 3 out of the 5 nights rather than eating out. The one day we did have lunch out we didn't have dinner as we were so full! Preparing our own meals made a huge difference to the holiday budget and we hardly noticed it. Most places are set up to be able to have a picnic lunch anyway and it was lovely sitting by the beach having our lunch than ordering an expensive (as it is a tourist destination, eating out can be pricey) meal. In fact the most expensive part of the holiday was paying to kennel my dogs!
So what has this got to do with Lonely Planet?
Well on our car trip back they announced on the radio that Lonely Planet has named the South West in it's worlds top ten holiday destinations. They have designated a chapter in their Best In Travel 2010 edition.
The world will now know what us West Australian's have known for years. It was our little secret. While others ranted on about Sydney and Brisbane and shopping in Melbourne we would snicker knowing we had our little 'South West'.
Well thanks Lonely Planet - the secret is out! As long as they don't tell anyone about the North West....D'oh!!!