Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy Hogmanay

Well, as much as I adore Christmas, I have to admit that I'm quite glad that it's over for another year. I feel like I've been planning it since September (and I have, if I'm honest!) so it's nice to have a break on the horizon.
  
I thought it would be fun to fill in a wee New Year Questionnaire. I'm not a massive fan of Hogmanay but I love the fresh start and possibilities that a new year brings with it. I feel like it's a time to change and a time to put things into perspective. Although some people don't like making resolutions - I'm the complete opposite. I like to put plans into motion, to feel enthusiastic about the challenges and changes to come. No matter how far I get, it won't be a failure if I at least try.

So, onto the questions...

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
I got a tattoo and got my ears pierced a further 3 times (taking the total to 5). I also visited a psychic which I had never done before. I'm sure I did other things, too, but I have a cold and my mind is fairly fuzzy as I'm writing this.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I haven't even looked to see what they were yet so I can't say for sure. But yes, I will definitely make more resolutions for next year. Love them.

3. What countries did you visit?

Erm - I'm not sure that I set foot outside Scotland to be honest.

4. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I would like to be happy and content. I would like the same for my family. I would also like to fall in love.

5. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Wednesday 10th July - our darling Rosie left us. :(

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Em - I think that I have two. The first is that I have managed to drag myself into a much better frame of mind than I have been before. It's been a struggle but I've come a long way. The other is to accept that some things aren't for me and just to walk away once the decision has been made.

7. What was your biggest failure?
I don't want to come across as all hippy but if you learn something - how can anything be a failure?

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Unfortunately, yes. Many and often.

9. What was the best thing you bought?

No one thing stands out above all others - I love everything I've bought!

10. Where did most of your money go?

Other than the usual - rent, food, petrol etc - most of my money has gone on books, clothes, shoes and Christmas.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I get overly excited about many and most things from seeing a robin through to winning money on the lottery (not that I've ever won more than a tenner - but that's okay!). I also got super excited when Andy Murray won Wimbledon - was fantastic!

12. What song will always remind you of 2013?
'I Love It' by Icona Pop was a fairly big tune of the year and one that I quite enjoyed, too. Later in the year, Katy Perry's 'Roar' struck quite a chord. And who can forget 'Let's Get Ready to Rumble' by PJ and Duncan?

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?
All in all, I'm happier although not happy.
I'm fatter yet not fat.
I'm both richer and poorer, if that's possible.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Smiling, laughing, baking, organising, doing more to be happy, sewing, crafting, reading, relaxing, writing and getting my business off the ground. Not much then!!

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying, nagging, crying, getting angry and caring about people's feelings when they couldn't give a jot for mine.

16. How did you spend Christmas?

I spent Christmas with my family and lovely it was, too.

17. Did you fall in love in 2013?
No but hopefully that just means that something fab is waiting for me next year.

18. What was your favourite TV program?

My usuals - Big Bang Theory, Made in Chelsea, Great British Bake Off, Family Guy, Real Housewives franchise and I'm loving Death Comes to Pemberley.

19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don't hate anyone but there are one or two people that have really shown their true colours this year.

20. What was the best book you read?

There were so many good ones that I couldn't possibly pick one. Nora Roberts, Sabrina Jeffries, Sarah MacLean, Molly O'Keefe, Julie James and a few others definitely deserve a mention for some fab books.

21. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I can't think that I've discovered any new music this year - not that I haven't loved a lot of the different types of music this year.

22. What did you want and get?

I got a little better which is good enough for me.

23. What did you want and not get?
I wanted to win the lottery and find love. Maybe next year!

24. What was your favourite film of this year?

I'm not sure if I don't have favourite films, music and the like or if I just have the worst memory in the world. I can't think of any outstanding films that I have seen this year!!

25. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Funnily enough, I can't remember what I did on my birthday but I do know that I turned 31! I'm actually beginning to doubt that now.

26. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? 
Winning the lottery or, perhaps, having the superpower to mete out justice to those who annoyed me!

27. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

A little bit individual but heading towards scruffy!

28. What kept you sane?

Moot question. ;)

29. Which celebrity/public figure
did you fancy the most?
I was about to be all smug and say 'no-one' but then Henry Cavill popped into my head. Yum!

30. What political issue stirred you the most?
Politics is just a tin-opener for a can of worms and I just don't want to go there!!

31. Who did you miss?

My Rosie.

32. Who was the best new person you met?
Did I meet any new people? I don't think that I did. People that are still in my life, I mean!

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learnt in 2013. 
A smile doesn't always indicate kindness. Not that I wasn't aware of it before but it was pointed out to me this year that people, by and large, are out for themselves only. They aren't necessarily against you (although sometimes they are) but they make their plans and their schemes for their own benefit regardless of what it does to other people.

And that's me for this year.

Happy Hogmanay and all the best for 2014.

I hope it's awesome!

J xx

Monday, 30 December 2013

Written in the Stars...

I'm not an avid horoscope reader and I certainly take the predictions with a pinch of salt. However, I do have a love for reading my stars at this time of year. I suppose it embodies everything I like about the New Year - it's got the positivity, the excitement and the hopes for the future. Plus, it would be fun to make a note of everything and see, next year, how things panned out.

In the Sunday papers yesterday, I found my 2014 horoscope for Taurus.


Okay, so since I'm being honest, the way I like to work horoscopes is to read only the things that apply to me, completely ignore things that aren't like me or don't apply to me in any way, shape or form and then marvel in wonder when things are so true, likely to be true, or I want them to be true. With me so far? 

Right, let's get on with the portion of this blog which will gush about how wonderfully accurate this particular horoscope is and then get very excited for the year ahead!


The first bit:
  • I wonder if being ruled by Venus and her 'sense of promise' is why I get so excited about the possibilities of a new year? So that sounds like me. 
  • And, lord knows, I'm stubborn as the days are long so that definitely hits the mark, too!
  • Looks like I'm off and running with this horoscope!

The year ahead: 
  • Interesting. Since I'm not currently working (and not just because it's the Christmas hols) I really hope the 'demands' means that I get a job in January. Either that or the demands that are coming thick and fast are from me finally having the courage to start my own business. That would be exciting!
  • Practical yet creative - did they follow me to write this horoscope?
  • Health and fitness are a focus from now - I'm not waiting until May! 
  • A new arrival announced in August? Wait until I tell Debs that not long after her wedding (or before!!), she might be in the family way!! Bwa ha ha!
  • Ooh and my man will finally step up in October - happy days!

In years to come: 
  • Ever since October my man is really stepping up to the plate - liking loving the promise of romance continuing into 2015! 
  • And I wonder if the little dig about my finances is another hint at finding my passion in work? Hmmmm.

For Fun:
  • That is me to the letter. Every single bit of it.

In Love:
  • That's a little freaky as it sounds suspiciously like what the psychic said to me (and is definitely true!). I like to think of myself as a hopeless romantic who is also something of a commitment-phobe! I can now revise that to being particular in order to find the right person.
  • The last bit - 'even if you don't always show it' - is definitely a nod to the fact that I can be a mean ol' sod on occasion!! 

Star Style:
  • Well cut styles? Well, I don't tend to follow fashions and I do like 'simple' pieces, however I really like quirky and fun accessory items so this is perhaps one of the things I will ignore.
  • The fact that it says that the throat is the body area associated with this sign gives me the willies! I have a phobia about throats (yes, I do realise it's a very weird thing to have a fear of!) so I don't really know where to go with this. *shudders*

At Home:
  • I do love my creature comforts, oh and definitely food. Spot on.
  • Ignoring the colour scheme bits because while I like earthy tones for my living spaces, my kitchen has to be retro black, white and red - like a 50s Coca Cola diner. Slightly different than delicate pink!
  • My garden is a picture - it's fab!

As A Taurean you... (my spell check wanted me to change that word to Tureen - snort!)

  • Definitely need a job with security - it's why my recent decisions about jobs was a MASSIVE step out of my comfort zone. (And why I'm now grumpy that I can't go crazy in the sales!)
  • I suppose I'm dependable - sounds a bit boring though!
  • Excel in creative stuff - that's so kind. I'll take it.
  • On a bad day I can be so much worse than this implies so I'll take this one, too!

Love Compatibility:
  • This is where I always think people take horoscopes too far - not dating someone because they are 'incompatible' with your own sign. Don't be silly! That said, from this and what the psychic told me, my man will be a Virgo. (Did I just admonish people for being lunatics then come out with a statement like my last? That's right - I did!!)

So, my life is going to be awe-some in 2014. A little positive thinking goes a long way and it what can it hurt to get a wee bit excited about what the future may hold?

Happy Hogmanay-eve!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Time to let go...

Well, we're nearly at the end of the year. Definitely time to do some thinking and to let go.


Friday, 20 December 2013

Christmas can start...

The last day of work (I say work but I can guarantee not a soul did a shred of work today in my organisation - myself included!) was today and now the Christmas celebrations can properly begin. Yay!

I also have this feeling that 2014 is going to be an AWESOME year so, for that fact, I'm quite looking forward to Hogmanay, too! For once!

As I move forward, this is what I need to remember - every cloud has a silver lining.


5 more sleeps 'til Santa!!

B x

Thursday, 19 December 2013

A visit to the Dietitian

Today I had an appointment with a dietitian. In preparation for this appointment, last night I googled 'questions to ask a dietician' and came up with some, well, unusual responses.
  • Ask what your BMR is
  • Ask what your BMI is
  • Ask what your TDEE is
Wow! You might as well have told me to ask what my C3PO is for all the sense that the above made to me! Surely diet is a bit more simple than that?

As most will know, I have Ulcerative Colitis which does cause a little bit of trouble for me in the bowel department. Most people conclude that diet plays little to no part in the causing of, or the treatment of Ulcerative Colitis. Now I'm not a medical professional - far from it - but I have never been able to understand why most experts believe that what you eat doesn't make a difference to a disease that is all about the bowel. But that's just me.

So, being one to ignore people and find things out for myself, I have, over the last 7 years (since diagnosis) tried a variety of elimination diets to determine what I can and cannot eat. Or should and should not eat. Unfortunately, even by keeping a detailed food diary, I couldn't pinpoint any particular foods or groups of food that consistently had an effect on how I felt physically.

I was coming to the conclusion that all foods hated me.

Then, of course, there is the link with mental health. When I'm feeling low, that certainly does affect what I eat, how much I eat and if I eat. And how I feel afterwards.

So - what to do? My doctor decided to refer me to the dietitian for some help and advice and I was keen to go.

Other than the rather baffling questions above - I specifically wanted to know whether I was intolerant to gluten, to lactose or some other crazy thing! Basically, what should I eat, or not eat, to make me feel better?

This is probably a good time to mention, rather ashamedly, that my diet is, erm, not the best. I don't drink a lot of fizzy juices, I don't eat takeaways and I don't tend to drink alcohol. Good? Well...

I do eat a lot of chocolate, sweets and chocolate. Oh, and chocolate.

If I'm ever too tired to eat, don't have anything planned or am just looking for a pick me up, I turn to chocolate. Sure it hurts my stomach, but so does most food and I figure that at least I'm not eating full meals AND chocolate!

I know, I know - it all sounds a wee bit silly when you write it down but, as the dietitian mentioned today, food is such a big part of our lives, but it's also routine. You can almost switch off when you're doing it because it's so... normal.

So, the dietitian...

I went in and told my story, as above. She then asked me the question that I had dreaded - what have you eaten today? I answered truthfully that I had eaten an apple. And a chocolate orange. By this time it was 2.30pm so there were more things about that statement that were shameful than you would first think. I was trying to defend myself when I realised that my excuse was that I wouldn't have had the chocolate orange but my colleague didn't want to eat his birthday cake until the afternoon so I had to have something other than cake for breakfast/lunch.

As excuses go - it's pretty shit.

Luckily for me, the dietitian has seen it all - heard it all.

Then she said something that surprised me. She said that my first issue is making sure that I eat consistently.

What - does it not matter what I eat?

Of course it does but I was told to take it one step at a time. My first task is to eat consistently.

As the dietitian pointed out, on some mornings I'm eating breakfast, and others not. Then sometimes I eat lunch at 12noon, sometimes 1.30pm and sometimes not at all. Tea is rather the same story. So, my bowels, already not in pristine health, are being overwhelmed. When will she eat? What will she eat? It's very possible that my stomach isn't reacting to the food itself, but the fact that sometimes it gets healthy food, sometimes it gets unhealthy food and sometimes nothing at all.

It's an interesting thought and one which I hadn't actually considered before.

So, before I can decide if I have any intolerances, I have to make sure my body knows when it will get food and to feed it with consistent portions with protein, veggies and carbs in each meal. Only then will my stomach settle down enough to be able to conclusively say whether it's the food that affecting me or just the inconsistent diet and schedule.

So, as appointments go - it was useful.

And at least she didn't tell me to avoid chocolate, biscuits and good stuff over the Christmas period! Double bonus!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I claim you! (Or, Claiming your Bloglovin' Blog)

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
 
Although I was never a user of Google Reader, I was aware of the controversy when they axed it. Ironically enough, the big hoohah was probably the best piece of free marketing for all the other websites that allow you to follow your favourite blog. You couldn't pay for that kind of exposure. Well, you could, but you'd be bankrupt.

So this is where I learned about Bloglovin'.

As I played about, I was advised to "claim my blog". This sounded slightly primitive and definitely something I wanted to do. Who hasn't dreamed of claiming something in their own name? Okay, maybe just me!!

In Bloglovin', you press the little blue heart and choose to edit your settings.

Halfway down the page you'll see a button called 'Blogs by me'. Click to add your own blog.

It's time for the claiming. Click that claim blog button!

Now just add the name of your blog and search. If your blog doesn't come up the first time, try a few alternatives and it will suddenly appear.

When your blog appears in the list, click to claim. Yay!

Now some html code appears, asking you to add to your blog.

The html code that appears is thus:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So, what happens then?

Don't do what I did and get so confused that you go through the process about a hundred times! Then, you read the text that says, some blogs require you to put the provided html at the top of the blog post. Ooops.

Then don't do what I did next and keep going round in circles again.

Keep the window that has the code open. Now go to a separate window and add the code to your blog post - at the top just to be safe!

Once you've published your post, return to the window on Bloglovin' and press the button to claim your blog.

You are now taken to a page where you can change details about your blog on Bloglovin' to make it easier for new readers to find you.

You can add a description, thumbnail and category. It's like social media for blogs!

There's also a nice little statistic tracker where you can watch your followers as they (hopefully) go on the up and up!

You'll also get a shiny email with 5 top tips to find those readers. Good times.

So that's what I learned today. Every day's a school day!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Numb

I'm beginning to wonder if the depression medication actually takes away the emotions or if it just suppresses them.

I am back at work today after a week off to use up my holidays before my contract ends at the end of the month. I wasn't looking forward to going back but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be when I worked at the bakery. (I didn't really work at a bakery - I'm just just substituting so I don't break out in a panic at the mere mention of the real name of the company I used to work for. I would *love* to work in a bakery!!)

Despite this, there are things going on at work, plots afoot (afeet?) and mind games being played - the kind of office politics that go hand in hand with most office jobs.

It's exhausting.

I feel emotionally drained and have learnt today that I'm considered even more superfluous than I could possibly have imagined. There's an interesting saying by Eleanor Roosevelt: "No-one can make you feel inferior without your consent. As much as I like this quote, I don't completely agree. If people are mentally beating you on a regular basis, it's just not possible to think well of yourself when they constantly tell you you're worthless. Or worse, imply that you are. At least if someone straight out tells you to your face, you can refute it. If it's said behind your back...

So, onto my question...

... here I sit. I've driven home, made my tea and now I have no obligations until tomorrow at 9am.

I'm just sitting here.

I feel like I should be crying.

I feel like I should be crying like my heart is breaking.

Instead I feel a little detached. Numb.

To be honest, I'm not sure which is better.

I feel a little lost.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Snow and the London Underground

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snowwwwww! (Fans of festive movies must sing that part!)

Yesterday was terribly windy but, for us at least, not as crazy as the wonderful hurricane bawbag from a couple of years ago. The Forth Road Bridge did close for a while and all our trains were suspended but apart from that we managed to escape much of the madness.

I have always thought that I would fit in well with the survivalists who are ready for any emergency that comes their way. I have no desire for there to be emergencies but I do like the planning and preparation that goes into being prepared! So, yesterday I calmly took stock of my bottled water, candles, non-perishable food and snow shovel. Just in case.

Then I went shopping.

There were a couple of flurries of snow and while it's still lying, it looks more like someone dusted the ground with icing sugar or polystyrene balls!

The first 'proper' snow of our season (I live in relatively low land and by the coast so while the slopes have been open for at least a month - we've seen nowt so far!) is set for tonight. The clouds are close and ominous and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully it will give us a nice flurry - just enough to make it pretty but not too much that we all get stranded!

I love snow! I love Christmas! Put the two together and you get one happy bunny!

Now for the London Underground part of my day. Apart from driving round the outskirts of London on my way to Dover, I have never been there. It's on my wishlist but not something I've done quite yet.

Anyway, regardless of that, I have been battling with a game on sporcle for at least a couple of months now. It's something that I come back to every now and then - determined to list each and every one of the 268 tube stations using groupings of three letters! Bizarre and slightly pointless but a challenge nonetheless.

Today I did it!!!

Proof:

It's the small things in life!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

A healthy mind in a healthy body...

I went to the German Christmas Market in Edinburgh today - a family Christmas tradition that I very much enjoy. More on that later... but while I was there I did something that I have been determined to do for a while - I visited a psychic.

I'm not actually sure if psychic is the correct term but she was of gypsy origin and her family had always had 'the gift of sight'. She read palms and tarot and given the choice, I chose to have my tarot read. This wasn't for any particular reason - I just had to pick one and that's the choice that I felt like making at the time. As hard as it was for me, I was trying not to overthink things overly much!

To say that I was nervous was a massive understatement. My mum had waited with me in the bleeding cold for about 40 minutes while I waited my turn and she kept me sane (ish) during the wait. Thanks, mama!

After my reading, I felt (and still feel) a little overwhelmed by everything that she said. I'm not going to go into the details of what she revealed to me but let me just say that it was comforting and motivating at the same time. I have a bad habit of chickening out of things at the last minute so I'm glad I had people there to persuade me to go ahead with this.

So now I feel I have a little direction. Actually, I have belief in my own direction which is so much better.

When I came home, I spotted the word sophrosyne and this seemed hugely fitting for how I'm now feeling.

Let's go.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Happiness is...

It's been a tough week. As I'm determined to see the good in things - I will admit that despite all that has been going on, I have had a little bit of a wake up call as to how my illness (depression rather than UC) must have affected my family.

I have always been grateful of the way that my family have stood with me as I fell to my lows. They have given me advice and, when I didn't want to hear anything, they just held my hand and let me know they were there for me.

This last week, however, I have learned to appreciate them even more and am even more thankful for everything that they have done for me.

So the things that have been keeping me happy this particular week are...

Christmas started in my house with my trusty Christmas desktop and my fab USB lights:





The next bit of Christmassy goodness came when I attended my first Christmas concert of the season. The singing was superb (perhaps not so much the tunes with audience participation!) and I also doubled up by having my first mince pie and mulled wine of 2013. Needless to say, it will also be the last mulled wine I have this year! Mulled wine always seems like something that should taste delicious... but it's howfing. Plus, I haven't had any alcohol since my Snowball (retro 70s - yeah!) last Christmas so even a small glass gave me a good ol' glow!!

 



My tree is up! This is a picture of it in the daytime and everyone knows that Christmas trees are most magical at night so expect another picture soon!


I've also started a new book. Sarah MacLean's 'No Good Duke Goes Unpunished'. It's a historical romance and even though it's not a festive read - it arrived in the post the other day (I pre-ordered it in May in case anyone's reading this and thinks I broke the 'don't buy yourself anything in the run up to Christmas' rule!) and I just had to start reading it right away. The chilly nights, bundled up warm and toasty on the couch covered in a crochet blanket. Add in a cup of tea and book - what could be better?


And, of course, being Christmas, we have to get a cheesy pic of people snogging under the mistletoe! Or under the angel and rudolph headbands at the very least!


It's the little things!

Monday, 25 November 2013

One Month To Go...

I have two official milestones when it comes to celebrating Christmas:

1. 25th November - when I'm allowed to enjoy one or two things Christmassy without feeling too bad about it.
2. 1st December - when I'm allowed to enjoy all Christmassy things in a public fashion without feeling subjected to ridicule.

My unofficial milestone is probably the beginning of December when Christmas 24 starts on the telly (gotta love those cheesy Christmas flicks), when I secretly slip in a few festive tunes into my ipod's repertoire and when I contemplate wrapping all the presents that I pretend I've yet to buy.

Unfortunately, this unofficial milestone actually makes it quite difficult to get excited for Christmas in the correct way. I feel the giddy, naughty excitement from the beginning of November. It's illicit, secret and fun!

But I have a sensible side that tells me I'm not allowed to reveal my secret joy lest I get lambasted much like the Christmas music does when it's played in September in shopping centres across the land!

So I tamp it down and try to act normal. But, by the time it is socially acceptable to celebrate Christmas - wear the earrings, jumpers, headbands, brooches, rings, necklaces, tinsel etc - I feel like I've lost that loving feeling. The excitement never is the same.

Not this year - I'm determined to feel the excitement throughout December.

So, I've already changed my computer screen to my lovely Christmas scene. I've even decorated it with some gorgeous USB lights which block the screen in multiple ways but I forgive them because they're so cheery!

The next book I'm reading will be the Harlequin Blaze Christmas anthology - nothing quite as good as hot stories on chilly nights. And to top it off, yesterday we went to the live feed of Andre Rieu's Christmas Concert in our local cinema.

We sat in the back row, decked out in all our Christmas finery and had a blast. There's nothing quite like music to get you into the Christmas spirit!

Not long to go now...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Tattoo Time

I never did show off my tattoo!!

I got it the same week that I got my ears pierced another three times.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm not having a breakdown or a mid-life crisis! I just had a notion to start doing things that I'd always wanted to do. To tick things off my bucket list, if you will.

I'd always wanted a tattoo but being a worrier at heart, I feared that as soon as the needle was placed on my skin, I would jump 10 feet and leave myself with an inky line across my body. Yep - these are the kind of things I think about.

Anyway, the pain was more akin to a scratch (I got it on the back of my neck as you can see below) and I wasn't overly traumatised (or etched with a permanent inky line right up my back)!

After the fact, I have to admit that I was a little apathetic about it. I wondered if I'd done the right thing despite little being able to be done to rectify it. That lasted less than a week and now I'm delighted with it. My only problem is that I can't see it without the use of a mirror!

I now have grand plans to get another couple of tattoos. Small ones like the first that are discreet and pretty.

I also have to admit to a secret thrill every time someone comments on it in that incredulous way. I know it's a teeny, tiny heart but I like the fact that I'm surprising everyone who probably looks at me and suspects that I'm a little bit too vanilla to be doing something badass. Again, I know teeny tiny hearts aren't generally badass but I get my kicks where I can!

Since this picture was taken (thanks to my big sis who also did my hair), I've had my hair bobbed so that my curls sit round my face like a little mop. And yesterday I dyed it a sort of milk chocolate brown. We'll see how long that lasts!

 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato Tear & Share Bread

Being a sweet girl rather than savoury (in tastes if not in personality) - I am much more likely to reach for a slab of chocolate or cupcake rather than a piece of bread. I was going to add 'when I'm hungry' but who am I trying to kid?

Anyway, things change.

And this bread recipe definitely contributed to that.

Let me introduce to you... Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato Tear & Share Bread.

I'll pause a second while you digest the yumminess of that name.

And while you're waiting, I'll show you a picture of it to whet your appetite.


Ooooh.

Not only does this look good, it tastes rather fab, too. I've seen other tear and share bread recipes around the internet but putting your own little spin on something really makes it personal and makes it sure that it will be something you're sure to enjoy.

It was a good day for making bread yesterday. Although it was bitterly cold, the sun was shining in through the windows. Despite this, my old stone house didn't stand a chance of heating up so the heating was on full blast. So that's sunny and toasty conditions on the windowsill. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

So let's crack on with the show.


Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato Tear and Share Bread

What you need:

For the bread
8oz white bread flour
4oz plain flour
250ml (approx 8 1/2 fl oz) warm water
1/4 oz instant yeast
1 1/2 oz castor sugar
A generous pinch of salt (I used about 1/4 tsp)

For the filling
A good dash of herbs (either fresh or dried)
2 oz butter, melted
A decent handful of cheeses (I used edam and mature cheddar)
Some soft cheese (I used a garlic and herb variety)
3 tomatoes, roasted in the oven, skins removed and left to cool


Directions:

I'm not a baking puritan (except when it comes to using weights to measure out ingredients!) so I used my Kenwood to do all the hard graft. Feel free to do this by hand if you fancy - more power to you!

1. The first thing to do is roast your tomatoes. Pop them into the oven (at about 180 C) for approximately 20 minutes until the skin has puffed up. Take them out the oven and leave them to cool.

2. In your mixing bowl add the water, sugar and yeast. Using your 'K' beater (or general mixing paddle) gently add in the bread flour and mix on a slow speed. This is simply to stop your flour going everywhere except where you want it to be! This didn't work for me as my flour always has a mind of its own. I'm going to pretend it's all part of the experience!

3. Change onto your dough hook (which looks suspiciously like something Cpt. Hook donated) and add the plain flour until the dough forms. If you need to, add a little more water so that it comes together. Let the machine knead the dough for 10 minutes until it has come together nicely and isn't sticking to the sides of the bowl.

4. A little bit of kneading is required now but just a little. Pop the dough onto a floured surface and knead so that your ball of dough is lovely, smooth and round. Lightly oil a bowl (bigger than the size of your dough - it's going to get bigger!) and add your dough. Put cling film over the top of the bowl and leave it in a toasty place for a couple of hours until it's approximately doubled in size. It pains me to say that this break gives you an ideal chance to tidy up as you go along. Or, you could just watch Christmas movies like I did and leave the clearing up until much, much later!

 

5. Once it's puffed up (and your movie has finished) place the bread onto a floured unit and give it a pounding until it's a flat shape resembling a large rectangle approximately 1cm thick. I don't know why I don't have a picture of the bread once it's on the unit but here it is after rising!

6. Now it's time to melt your butter and grate your cheese. Drizzle the melted butter over the top of your dough rectangle. Generously sprinkle your grated cheese and herbs over the top so that it covers every piece of dough. Now put some blobs of soft cheese all over the dough so that it's evenly spaced but quite sparse.

7. Now get your tomatoes. They should easily be cool enough to handle and the skin should easily slip off. Pop a knife into each tomato and allow the majority of the juices to flow out. Chop (or just tear with your hands) so that the tomatoes are in bite sized chunks. Scatter these over the dough and cheese.
8. Find a standard bread tin for your loaf. Tip it onto its short side in preparation for receiving the dough. Check the size of your tin so that you can begin to cut your dough into the correct size pieces. You should be aiming for bits of dough that are roughly the size of the tin but this is a grabby time of bread - the more rustic it looks, the better!


9. Cut your dough into squares and pile them into your tin. Your filling will fall out - just pop it back in or sprinkle it over the top once you're done. All the dough should fit roughly into the tin.


10. More rising now - cling film your loaf tin again and put it back in its cosy home for about 40 minutes. More time for clearing up - sigh.


11. Pre-heat your oven to 180 C and bake your loaf for about 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. I used foil over the top of the loaf which ended up being a little bit of a mistake. It stuck to all the glorious, bubbling cheese! It did come off but perhaps I should have popped it in the oven naked!


12. It's ready! Unlike other breads, don't expect this one to sound hollow when you tap the bottom. I wouldn't recommend even looking at the bottom if you're used to making standard loaves - it looks a little soggy but I promise you, that's what it's supposed to look like!

13. Eat and be happy.



An interesting note about my experiment with this bread. Have you ever asked yourself - can I use yeast that's out of date? Well, based on this particular experience, I would say the answer is yes. My yeast was dated best before 6 months ago. I gave it a go, not really expecting anything to come of it, and it worked perfectly. Happy days.

This bread doesn't really need anything added to it to be enjoyed. Even the next day, cold, it tasted delicious and didn't need any additional flavours. I consider butter to be a flavour, by the way!

This is a really easy recipe so adapt it to make any tear and share bread that takes your fancy. How about chocolate and orange tear and share bread? Or apple and cinnamon? Cheese and bacon? Oh - bliss!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Hot Man Conspiracy

I have realised that there is a conspiracy afoot. A really annoying conspiracy that is out to turn me into a bluestocking spinster.

Or at least not let me leave the current bluestocking spinster club of which I am a current member.

Hell, who am I kidding? I'm the bloody president!

Anyway, the story starts off like this...

It was lunchtime and I decided to take a trip to the local supermarket.

I could have walked but it was lashing down with rain and gale force winds were picking up speed I was far too lazy for such things as health and exercise. Bear in mind that I was heading to said supermarket to drool at their Christmas aisle while picking up a sandwich for my lunch - not exactly the actions of one who is particularly concerned about her health. Not right at that precise minute anyway.

I parked up, wondering all the while whether everyone had to submit to a partial lobotomy before entering a supermarket car park or if it was just the woman who stepped into the path of my car, then deciding to look, and then deciding to stop. Still in the path of my car. My moving car. *Sigh*

Into the shop I went, and made a beeline for the Christmas stuff. I stopped at a people snarl only to look right into the oddly shaped hairstyle on the back of one of my colleague's heads. It's distinctive. I guess this would be good time to point out that I am something of an introvert. I can speak to people and if you were to talk to me, you probably wouldn't realise my horror at having to do so. But afterwards, I must run away and hide, all the while running through every. single. nuance of the conversation, facial expressions, outfits and etc that just transpired. It's exhausting!

So it was true to form that I quickly snuck past and headed for the sanctuary of the clothing section. Thus started a conversation in my head that attempted to calculate the destination, route and probable shopping habits of someone who I barely know.

Another aside - does anyone else have this problem with people you barely know? The people I don't know - I can ignore if they ignore me. The people I know well - I'm not scared of. It's those middling people - the people with whom the conversation is awkward even before I've joined in. I'm not a fan of those people.

Anyway, I thought and contemplated and calculated. I took a trip to the back of the store and eyed up all the aisles. Sensing the coast was clear, I headed back down to the Christmas aisle. Who is likely to return to an aisle after they have been there?

I got to the bottom and, horror of horrors, spotted my colleague. And, to make matters worse, she had another colleague with her. Double the trouble, double the awkward. I did a u-turn and found myself aimlessly walking down the baby aisle. I don't have a baby. By the end of the shopping trip I had also found out that I don't have a dog, a drinking problem, a cheese obsession or a need for large quantities of sandwich bags for only £1.

I calculated probable routes once again and determined my next course of action. Heading back to the tills, I arrived at the self checkouts... and bumped straight into my colleagues. How? How does this happen?

"Oh, hello," they said. "Oh, hello," I replied, with a great imitation of someone who hasn't been running round a giant superstore trying to dodge these exact people for the last 20 minutes. I then offered them a carefree laugh that sounded more like a strangled hippo (mahhh hehrrrr rarrrrr) and strode off in the direction of the busy manned tills like a woman on a mission. I waited a good 10 minutes in a queue, all to avoid more banal chit chat and hippo sounds.

After all that, this is my gripe...

The shop is big. There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of folk in said store at any one time. Of all those people, on this occasion, I was trying to avoid just two. Yet, on multiple occasions, despite my planning and strategising, I managed to bump slap bang into them. Dammit.

With so many other people in the store (other than those I was trying to avoid) I will have to assume that at any one time, there also has to be at least one hot, single, delectable man in the store. The law of averages would assume this to be true. Ergo, whenever I am in the store, there should always be a potential husband on the loose.

Do I bump into hot, single men on multiple occasions when I'm shopping? No.

Do I have to worry that I will meet hot, single men so often around the store so that it gets embarrassing? No.

Do I see them so often that I need to plan and strategise in order to keep away from these hoards of sexy, hot men (ooh look, it changed!)? No.

Do I see hot sexy men wherever I go? Well, yes, actually.

Just kidding. No. It's always no.

Despite using the words 'potential husband on the loose' above - I can assure you that I'm not a crazed stalker in jungle khaki walking around stores with a hot, single man sized butterfly net. Because of this, I don't have any reason to think that said men are all hiding from me in the store or out (and having better luck at avoiding people than I seem to do). Please also remember that I wouldn't be able to talk to them (because I'm ignoring them as above) so they have no reason to suspect that I'm a) a babbling idiot who often imitates hippos in conversation and b) a little bit weird in general.

I can therefore only come to one conclusion: there is definitely some sort of conspiracy here.

Until I start to bump into hot men on a more regular basis, I will continue to believe that.

I'm just putting it out there into the universe to let it know that I'm onto it. I know there are games afoot and I am wise to it.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Happy Place Tuesday

I woke up this morning long after the sun had risen. Actually, it's winter so it wasn't that long after the sun rose which doesn't make me any less lazy but does make me feel better!

There's nothing quite like waking up and knowing that the day is all your own. It's the last day of my holidays so, despite feeling slightly under the weather (damn UC), I was determined to pack as much in as I could before my time is under someone else's rule.

After a fairly lazy rising mixed together with a little panic when I realised that I'd sold something on ebay and needed to package it up for posting, I met my mum and we hit the superstore. While mum went round and actually did her weekly shop, I went round and was transported to childhood as I stared in awe at all the Christmas decorations and scrummy foods. Did I mention that I LOVE Christmas? But more on that in another post... (probably numerous other posts!)

I forgot to mention one fab detail of the day - the weather! It was the first proper frost of the season and the whole world had been doused with silvery glitter. Add to that, the lovely winter sun was out full force which made the glitter sparkle and made me all dreamy for skipping through the park on a crisp morning. However, I just stared at it from my window. Much warmer that way.

Shopping was done. We took my granny to the library where I hadn't been for months and months. In my experience, old ladies like to take their time with certain tasks and excursions. Not my granny. Not today at any rate. I was holding some books to look at to see if I wanted to borrow them when it was suddenly time to go. And when it's time to go, it's time to go. So I rushed away with several books:

1. Super Stretch. Creating a more flexible me in only 1 hour a week - I'm happy with that.
2. Is Gluten Making Me Ill? A doorstop book that I hope to build up the enthusiasm to read. I also might just wait until my Dietitian's appointment at the end of December and ask her!
3. A book about button crafts. I don't know the name of it because I left it with my mum for her to read for the moment.
4. The Waist Line Plan. I was happy with this choice until I finally got around to reading the cover once I was home. The subline of the book is: Beat Middle-Age spread in just 6 weeks.

*Tumbleweed*

Hmmm - maybe not so happy any more but what the hey - I'm only 30 and 18 months so it's obviously just a book that's not for me. Then I turned it over and read the blurb: "Essential reading for anyone over 30..."

*Angry tumbleweed*

30 is middle aged? How to make a girl feel down in one easy sentence!

I'll still read it and probably it will be the most interesting book of all my picks. But then that might be the senility kicking in!

After that, it was a double whammy of happiness as I read some of the new Nora Roberts book (The Dark Witch) and watched an episode of The Pioneer Woman as she cooked her way through chocolate recipes and a chowder.

The characters in Nora Roberts' books never fail to make me happy. I want to be them (even the ones that fight the forces of darkness!) and I want their lives and their relationships. Not to mention their houses, gardens, dogs and etc. It's a happy place. If I had to choose one to be - I want to be Parker from the Bride Quartet. But that's for another post, too!

I've recently discovered that Ree Drummond's kitchen is another happy place. Her family, life, ranch - everything looks so idyllic and I covet. How I covet!

From there it was onto another happy place. Fair enough that any place that serves delicious food must be a happy place! In this case it was Wok and Spice - a Chinese buffet in the next town over. I ate heartily and of things that I know are a little, shall we say dubious, to one with my bowels! But it was goooood.

The afternoon pretty much consisted of a mixture of recovering from lunch and experimenting with a new tear and share bread recipe. I'm thinking of calling it Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato Tear and Share Bread. It's just done the second rise and is about to be popped in the oven. If the recipe works out (and tastes delish) then I'll share it tomorrow!

So what's next for the rest of the day? Well, I have plans to go for a walk with my dad. The sun has now been down for a couple of hours and the frost didn't lift all day. Without the sun, I'm anticipating a bitter cold but it does give me a nice excuse to wear some cute woolly bunnets and scarves and wrap up all snuggly.

Speaking of snuggly, I have more grand plans for this evening. I think, to honour my last day of freedom for a while, I will snuggle up with my cosy trousers (polar bears, no less), a warming cup of tea (in a very apt mug) and Christmas movies. Sounds delightful.

And the perfect end to what has been a really fun time off. But useful too, I have only a few other bits and bobs to go and I'm ready for Christmas!

Not long to go now!

J xx

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Project: Love Myself

My biggest challenge in life is to accept myself for who I am. Actually, not just accept myself but to love myself.

I have to remember that I don't have to be like other people and also that other people don't have to like me for me to be valuable.

And this is how Project: Love Myself was born.

I am going to make it my goal, going forward, to start to fall in love with myself. At the start of any budding romance, the first thing is to get to know the person that you're hopefully going to fall in love with. As this is an arranged marriage, of sorts, I already know that we are destined to be happy together so I don't have to worry about hopefully turning into definitely.

So, for this to happen I have to set myself a list of 'love' challenges.

Based on nothing more scientific that I think they sound like a good idea, I will do the following:

  • Wink at myself in the mirror each morning as if I have an exciting and mysterious secret. This is to make me like myself and become my friend. What are friends without secrets?
  • Put links to my Pinterest and Twitter accounts on my blog so that I can force myself not to be ashamed or try and hide who I really am. If I'm happy with myself then why should I care whether other people know the 'real me' or not?
  • Stand naked in front of the mirror (when I'm getting dressed or undressed - otherwise it's just weird!) and see my real body. Like what you see. Tell myself that.
  • Practise the art of speaking to myself as if I was someone else. You wouldn't tell someone else they were a fat, unlovable waste of space. Or at least I hope you wouldn't!
  • Write down lots of random things about myself that I'm 'secretly' proud of. Stop them from being secret just because I think that other people will judge me for them.
  •  Don't try to tone down your enthusiasm over things that you like. Even if other people don't like the same things - you do. And that's fine. What fun would it be if we were all the same? To gain extra credit - in conversations, tell people about the things that you like without expecting affirmations.
  • If someone gives you a compliment - say thank you! You don't have to tell people that it's a hand me down, cheap or just from the supermarket - you don't owe anyone explanations!
  •  If someone doesn't like something you do, own or wear - that doesn't matter. Take criticism in the spirit that it's delivered to you but the underlying thing is, if I like it and feel good with/in it then that's all that matters.
  •  Smile - I'm cute when I smile! (That was really difficult to write but well done me!)
  •  Remember that nobody's perfect. Everybody has hang ups. Everybody worries. Everybody is real.
Here endith the list.

J x







Tuesday, 12 November 2013

I can feel it happening...

It's hard to describe how I've been feeling of late. I suppose you never really realise how far you've come until you actually stop and take stock. Or, in my case, when you feel like the path you are travelling has suddenly turned into an escalator and you're walking up the down side.

I have this panic - I look back and see where I've been and I really don't want to go there again. It's so far down yet so close. But the escalator is speeding up and I need to walk twice as fast just to stay in the same place. But I'm getting exhausted and I don't have the energy to keep going. So I sit down and slip slowly back down the escalator until I have gathered up enough energy to walk again. Yet the tired moments are coming thick and fast and after each burst of walking I'm still finding myself a little bit further back than I started.

I don't want to be this person. I don't want to be depressed.

I don't want to be in constant fear of the swirling vortex of darkness that's at the bottom of the escalator.

The sad thing is that I thought I was getting better. I have been getting better. Compared to this time last year I am doing much better. But now I know what it's like to be mired in feelings of utter despair, the fear of returning is added into the mix of feelings I'm experiencing.

I'm depressed.

That doesn't mean I'm sad and it doesn't mean that I'm grumpy. If I could 'cheer up' I would - believe me. I wish I could 'cheer up'. I wish that I didn't keep coming back to this place. This lonely, all-consuming place that I hate.

As it is, I'm on that escalator and can't get off and can't stop.

J x

Saturday, 26 October 2013

What's love got to do with it?

I know I'm not the most consistent when it comes to blogging but I do have to admit that this particular entry has been in progress for about two weeks now. Actually, that's a lie; it's more like 8 weeks!

The reason for the time that I've spent pondering over this is simply because I couldn't find a way to get what I wanted to say into words. I have now come to the conclusion that I will just start to write and hope that the words rearrange themselves into an order that both makes sense and articulates what I want them to.

So - here we go...

Of late I have been feeling a little bit, well, restless is the only way I can really describe it. To be honest, I've been questioning the existence of love. This query is answered rather quickly as I have seen others in love and I happen to believe that all the stories, films, poems and songs must come from someone's experiences.

I'm just beginning to wonder, then, if maybe it's just not for me.

For several months now, 6 to be exact, I have been enrolled with an online dating site. It's not the first time that I have delved into the mysterious world that is online dating but it is definitely the first time that I have stuck it out for such a long period of time.

The reason for this is that online dating is not for the faint of heart or for those lacking in self esteem. It's one thing to not be asked on any dates in real life but somewhere that people are paying their hard earned cash to find dates - that's a little upsetting. Even with my depression under control and my new coping strategies, it really does dent your confidence when you put yourself out there and are summarily rejected.

Don't get me wrong - I've chatted to some people, met some people and the like, but choosing whether you like someone by a checklist of their attributes doesn't seem romantic enough for me, and there just isn't any spark there. The longer it's gone on, I'm finding it more and more of a chore. Should it be fun? I don't really relish the idea that I would tell any future children that not only did I choose their father from a set of criteria, I also had to force myself to reply to messages and actually had a ticklist going of when I had last contacted them and when I had to do so again. It's been making it more like a task than the prospect of finding love.

I have decided it's not for me.

You may think this decision has been an easy one but it really has not. People have tried to reassure me that perhaps I will find someone in the last few weeks before my subscription ends. But that will not happen - it's not a person I want - it's love.

I know that people have found love and had families at an older age than I am now. I just have to realistically look at my past history and realise that perhaps it's not in the cards for me. Perhaps I'm just not cut out for this.

I'm 31 years old. Practically everyone I know is married, getting married, having kids or has a significant other. Then there's me.

All I want is love. The kind of love you read about. The kind of love that you see in movies. The kind of boring, run of the mill love that will make someone accept me for who I am. That kind of love that makes your heart race, your stomach lurch and you feel both excited and antsy while being calm and contented all at the same time. It's a feeling I fear I will never experience.

I don't know what's in store for me. I don't know if I'll get my heart's desire. But the decision I've made about online dating is about so much more. It's a decision that I'm going to have to get on with my life and not pin all my hopes and dreams on finding my soul mate. It's liberating while at the same time being very upsetting.

I've got to get out there and do things that I would have preferred to do with someone else. I can't put my life on hold because perhaps my dream guy has been waylaid. We all know that men are rubbish at asking for directions.

I also have to stop trying to change myself to make myself potentially more attractive to the opposite sex. Telling myself that if I was a little prettier, or a little thinner, or a little more exciting, that I might someone is really not doing anything for my mental health.

I guess I could settle but is it wrong to want it all? To want that spark? I guess I'd rather be alone but I have to say that it's getting really lonely that way.

This has been a really heart wrenching post and I have to admit that I haven't cried quite as much in a long time. To try and end on a positive note and cheer myself up, I will now list the five things that I appreciate most about being single.


The end.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Two Exciting Things...

Two exciting things happened to me today - on a day that I didn't expect any excitement to be forthcoming.

You see, today was my first day back at work after a short spell of feeling under the weather. While under said weather, my MO consisted of trashy TV, comfy clothes and snuggling up on my couch from dawn until dusk (or 10am, when I dragged myself out of bed, until 9pm when I threw myself back in).

I'm sure you can appreciate why swapping the above for nagging bosses, condescending colleagues and sitting in the corner of my stuffy office all day, was a bit of a drama for me.

But, as I'm very lucky to have a job, I must now list three things I appreciate about work:

1. My chair swivels
2. I have shops just across the road. Cheap shops. My kind of shops.
3. Going to work allows me to buy things from these shops. And Amazon. And ebay.

However, anyone who has had to go back into work after an absence will agree that it is quite a traumatic experience. Actually being there is fine but the thought of going back in just ruins the day to start off with. Luckily, my first exciting thing managed to make me smile...

Have you ever had an email that says:
Hello!
Remember that book you ordered months ago and completely forgot about - it's being delivered to you tomorrow.

No - neither have I. Until today!

But wait - it gets better!

My head starting churning into gear trying to figure out whether I have already spent my pennies for this month when the email went on:

Don't worry about paying for this book. When you bought it, you sensibly used a gift certificate so you owe us nothing.

Yay! What could be better? Nothing? Wrong. Then I read this:

Oh, and by the way, the book we're sending you is a Christmas Romance. The best type of book. Ever.

Happy days.

Didn't I tell you I love Amazon?!

My second exciting thing doesn't come close to topping the first one but I was pleased with it none the less.

I decided to use my trip to work to do a little housekeeping. *Shocking behaviour!* As part of my insurance, I get free credit card protection should I happen to misplace any of them. I just have to phone up and give them all the details and I'm good to go. 

I duly phoned the number and spoke to a nice lady on the other end.

Me: Can I please give you some card details for my credit card protection?
Nice Lady: Yes, of course. Are you adding new cards or amending old details?
Me: Adding new cards - I've never done this before so I won't have any cards on the system to amend.
Nice Lady:  *Silence* Well, there are three cards listed here so you must be a person of suspicious nature that is trying to filch money from some unsuspecting genuine customer. (Fine, she probably only thought the last part!)
Me: No, I've never done this before.
Suspicious Lady: Yes, you really have.
Me: Hmmm - are the cards there boring card 1, boring card 2 and crazy-exciting-let's-spend-money card?
Confused Lady: They are. You must have added them previously.
Me: Wow. I'm so organised. Go me!
Confused Lady: But you didn't remember about adding them you crazy thing. (She actually said that! No she didn't!)
Me: I may not have a memory but I am super efficient. I'm awesome!
Scared Lady: Alrighty, then, cheerio, nutter!
Me: Woo hoo! Cheerio!


So, despite being forced to go into work (apparently I signed a contract!), I managed to have a fairly nice day.

Perhaps they're just easing me back in gently. Tomorrow should be fun!

B x

Friday, 18 October 2013

A pain in the bahookie...

Bahookie, noun (Scottish): one's backside, bottom or bum

I suppose I am quite a greedy person which is why one illness would never have been enough for me. If one is good then two must be better!

When I was 24 years old, I was diagnosed with the chronic bowel disease, Ulcerative Colitis. This is an inflammatory disease (the sister disease to Crohn's disease) that affects the large intestine and brings with it the kind of symptoms that people don't normally discuss! If you want all the juicy details, click here.

My road to diagnosis was, compared to many others, relatively smooth. I was having a tough time at work and had been signed off with stress (illness number 2 - come on down!). During that time, I noticed that I had some blood in my stool.

This is where I will take a break to apologise and inform you that one of the biggest symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis is the lowering of any embarrassment when talking about poop and etc. Where other people cringe, blush or suffer from abject horror, I can talk crap until the cows come home. This is the only (the one and only) symptom of UC that is contagious and I note that my family also talk crap on occasion!

Anyway, being of a certain generation and a nosey parker, I quickly went online to find out what was wrong with me. I self diagnosed myself and went to the doctor to tell him all about it.

I remember quite clearly telling him my symptoms with my mum beside me for support. In an attempt to alleviate my worries, my mum said to Mr Dr: "She's convinced herself she's got Crohn's disease!" The words "silly billy" were implied by the tone. Nobody obviously told Mr Dr that the correct response to such a statement is something along the lines of: "Don't worry - she hasn't." Not my doctor. He comes back with: "She probably has!"

Oh for heaven's sake! Wasn't he the same doc that just signed me off for stress? Do I look like I'm a calm, non-worrying sort of person? Thought not!

Anyway, what he lacked in tact, he more than made up for in doctoring when he managed to get me an appointment with the hospital with great haste.

To protect the innocent, I will now provide you with some words and allow you to fill in the details yourself.

Tears.
Panic.
Big lunch.
Hospital gown with gaping back.
Enema.
Shame.
Colonoscopy.
Tea and toast.

Hospital toast is the best - isn't it? I remember vividly the surgeon/consultant-man coming over to me while I was lying in the bed, recovering, and told me I had UC.

My reaction: Cool - is there any more toast?

It was only once I'd bought myself a book about my disease that I realised the huge impact this potentially could have on me. I guess, when something doesn't have the word 'disease' in the title - you just don't seem to think it's that bad.


I'm now an old hand at this bowel business. Foam enemas, laxatives, colonoscopies, steroids, blood, guts and hospitals - I've had an education!

I'm now on 12 tablets a day to keep me under control (in body, at least) and haven't had a major flare up for about a year. Having at one time been on 28 tablets a day - I'm quite pleased with that!

I suppose that the reason for this walk down memory lane is because of how I've been feeling lately. I just don't feel great. I've been trying to come up with more descriptive words but that sums it up. I don't feel quite right.

Despite most people, most medical people anyway, assuring everyone that food doesn't make any difference to UC, I can't quite believe it. How? How is that possible?

Even though I believe that food can and does affect the disease, I have to hold my hands up and say that my diet is worse than atrocious. I'm actually ashamed of how badly I eat, when I eat, what I eat and if I eat. And I feel that I really suffer for it. Food hurts.

I have been contemplating an elimination diet where I go right back to the basics and start to reintroduce foods one by one until I see what makes a difference and what doesn't. I'm not sure if I've got the willpower for this, if I'm honest. Yet, should it work, my energy levels will increase, my bloating might disappear, my skin could improve and I just might start to feel AWESOME!

Surely there has to be some sort of sacrifice to get some potentially amazing benefits.

I'll let you know.


Sunday, 29 September 2013

Christmas is Coming...

Okay, okay - I know that there are 86 days until Christmas but I have to secretly admit to loving every single drop of festive content that I find slowly creeping into the shops and onto the TV. Too soon, some may say, but anything that brings happiness and joy can start as early as possible in my book!

And speaking of books, I got a lovely thing through the letterbox the other day. Now, anything that comes through the letterbox that's neither junk mail nor a bill is exciting in and of itself. But this item was from over the pond and contained a very exciting gift - a beautiful handkerchief and bookmark that go along with the newest of Sabrina Jeffries' books. How wonderful!

There's something about a handkerchief that is just so pleasing. It's the same as having long painted nails, clickety high heel shoes or jangly bracelets - having them just makes you feel grown up and supremely glamorous (unless you're using one in the midst of a terrible cold, of course!).

Anyway, this was supposed to be about Christmas and so I have an interesting fact regarding robins and Christmastime that I heard on the telly the other day and I felt the need to share.

Why do we associate the robin with Christmas?

It's because when Christmas cards were first delivered they were done so by postmen who wore red liveried jackets. These posties were known as robin red breasts. Then, liking a bit of humour, people started putting pictures of robins (the bird) on their Christmas cards to show how they would be delivered and the tradition has stuck.

As an aside, day 1 of the challenge is going well. I'm not planning to eat anything less or indulge in less of the good stuff in life (hence the acceptance of my curves) but any exercise I add on top of my usual routines can never be a bad thing! Bring it on!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Erm, 87 day challenge?

It's been a busy and stressful old week. But...I have to admit to a certain amount of pride in myself because I did not break down. I felt like there were plenty of chances and I was teetering on the edge at points, but did I fall over? No I did not! Yay!

Ironically, at the end of the week I had a checkup with my doctor regarding my depression and the medication that I'm currently on. I was pushed up to the highest dose of said drugs a little over a month ago as I was beginning to worry that the drugs were starting to lose their potency. More pills didn't seem to make much of a difference but when I managed to get through this week - I was happy to tell the doctor that I felt so much better.

And then, like an annoying game of snakes and ladders, downward I went again. It's so frustrating and makes me so sad, not just for me but for those that I love and love me back. It's like someone teases me with happiness only to wrench it out from beneath my feet when I'm just starting to get my balance.

Sadly, I really think that I can pin all of this on one little thing - work. The big event is over and I survived but I suppose it's very naive of me to have expected some sort of thanks. Nope - not a bean of thanks was given. It's this kind of little thing that cements that the corporate world just isn't meant for me. Sadly, instead of an angel and devil on my shoulders - I've got my heart and health on one side and my responsibilities on the other.

Anyway, this minor set back is why I am now gearing up for my 87 day challenge rather than a 90 day one!

It's primarily a health challenge but it incorporates both physical fitness and mental fitness (the second being a term that I really enjoy saying for some reason!).

And why is this challenge limited to 87 days?

Because that's how long it is until CHRISTMAS!

I love, love, love Christmas but it also just happens to be a decent distance away to set myself a fitness goal.

So, in the 90 87 days until Christmas I want to achieve the following:

* Tone up so I'm comfortable in my own skin
* Own my curves
* Get a physical and mental fitness plan that I'm sticking to and loving

So that is where I'm aiming.

And going back to work, no - not one person thanked either myself or my team for our (even if I do say so myself) fantabulous event last week. However, upon hearing this, my sister gave me this:




A bunch of flowers to congratulate me. And, they mean so much more than anything else anyone at work could have given me.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The last binge now it's time to undo...

Practically every single Sunday I make a vow to myself that this next week will be the start of something good. I will make the changes that I need to make to allow myself to be happy. Every single time I mean it and I plan to follow through. Yet, every single time something happens during the week that knocks me down and while I always get back up, it means that each and every Sunday I plan to start again the next day.

My mum is always telling me that I'm too hard on myself and that I'm my own worst enemy. Perhaps I am putting too much pressure on myself to succeed. Changing my life in one massive swoop rather than doing it bit by bit and making it stick.

As with any end, I went out in style. And when I say style, I mean an absolutely disgusting binge that made me feel equal measures of shame and nausea.

I know that with my bowel disease, I need to make sure that I am eating good and nutritious foods. Yet I seem to be making poor choices more and more often. I'll be honest and say that my bad diet is also risking my healthy weight that took me a long while to get down to. I definitely don't want to go backwards. Or upwards as the case may be.

Not only that but my sister sent me this link that shows the relationship between anxiety/depression and your gut health. You can read it here if you're interested.

The long and the short of it is that if I improve my diet - every single part of me will benefit. When you think about it, that's not a lot of outlay for some major enhancements in my life. Especially when the enhancements are on things that are causing me some major stresses in my life.

The next thing that happened is that my mum emailed me with a link to a book.

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, Meghan Telpner's 'Undiet: Eat Your Way to Vibrant Health'.


Almost from the first I fell in love with this book and with Meghan. Her whole philosophy is one that I can really get behind.

She's not about counting calories or monitoring what you eat - she just wants you to eat cleanly. One of the best parts of this book is, for me, not actually the bits about eating. The bits about how happiness and health go hand in hand have really spoken to me. I'd be the first to admit that I'm not doing a job that I love. In fact, if I had to point out one of the major stress points in my life - my job wins hand down. It's well paid and while I like the income, it really isn't worth all the drama and ill-health that it causes me. I think that I'm just not cut out to be in the corporate world.

But more about that another day.

This book is definitely not a diet.

Basically, if I was looking for a sign, this is it. All these things - the universe must be telling me to get off my behind and get things done. And if it's not the universe that's telling me - I should still really get up and gain control. I'm such a control freak in every other aspect of my life - why not the one that matters most?

My first week's challenge is to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. A lot of people suggest this as a healthy way to, ahem, flush your system and I certainly don't get enough to do so despite practically living in the toilet. (Sorry, bowel disease definitely leads to over sharing when it comes to toilet talk!) So, rather than just get started, I had to make it fun! So I bought myself this:



How lovely! Keeps all my water in an easy to measure container while also reminding me to SMILE! Plus it's made of something other than plastic which is apparently bad news for bowel watchers like me!

Mr Happy - makes flushing fun!

Anyway, I've still to finish the book but already I hope to make some big changes on the back of it.

This time I mean it and this time I plan to follow through.

Which, in view of the recent content of this post, is a little gross.

Oh well!


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