Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Numbers Going Up

No, I am not talking about weight (although I am certain that those numbers have gone up this week as well...)  I am talking about age. 

Yes, It is THAT day of the year.

Now, normally I love birthdays.  I spend the whole month of December telling everyone I am about to have one, how old I will be, and what fabulous plans I have for the day.  The beatuty of having a birthday on New Years Eve is that I don't have to plan a party to go to one, there are always choices.

But not this year....

I have been trying to work out what is different this year.  It is not one of the "big ones".  Just a regular late 30's birthday.  And I think in the last few days I have worked out what the problem is.  For the first time since becoming a "grown up" I have actually felt my age.  Physically.  Emotionally.  Spiritually.  In fact, I feel older than 37.  Much older.  This year has left it's mark on me. 

So no parties for me today.  The Mum's are coming over for lunch, but that's it.  We are spending tonight, the final evening of 2009, home alone together.  We just want the year to finish quietly and peacefully.

I have finalised my list of 10 goals for 2010 which I will talk about tomorrow.

Until then I would like to wish you all a very happy New Year.  I hope that 2010 sees all your hopes and dreams come true.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Friends, Good Food

This week has been a week of dinner with friends, which has been amazing.  And there is more to come on Friday. 

Last night was dinner with L & W who are only in town for a week.  L is one of my absolute best friends in the world.  We were 2 single gals together after our divorces, and spent a lot of time together.  She met W about 6 months or so before I met Ross.  We have both been amazingly lucky this time around and married incredible men.  W is in the military so they have been in Queensland for the last 4 years.  They are now on their way to WA for a 4 year stint, and are passing through lil' ole SA on their way through.

It was absolutely incredible to see them.  Dinner was Cheese & Mushroom Quiche.  It was delish.  I have made a quiche before, with a lot of help from Mum, but this was the first time I made it on my own.

After dinner we just talked and talked.  They had to leave eventually, and as always happens when they head off, I had a few tears.  But at least Perth is easier to get to than the top end, and I have other friends over there as well who I have wanted to visit for years.  The last time I was there was January 1995.  It is definitely time for another trip me thinks.

I am trying to just chill and relax for the remainder of my holidays, so the rest of today is just hanging out with Ross until I need to got for my run tonight. 


Monday, December 28, 2009

First run

Tonight I went for my first walk/run in approximately 8 months.  I was very nervous about it.  I have gained so much weight and I was worried about my knees holding up.  I was also concerned that I had absolutely no fitness left.

So we headed off.  Ross came with me.  We went to the parklands over the road.  It is usually quite crowded, but there are lots of sections, and ovals and parks.  We were lucky enough to find a section that was empty.  The plan was for a 30 minute walk and I decided I was going to attempt 2-3 running intervals, hopefully in the 30-45 second range.  Not alot, I know, but a start.

First interval, 39 seconds.  Pretty good.  I felt ok.  My legs fatigued before my lungs gave out, which I thought was a good sign.  Second interval, 46 seconds.  Third interval, 60 seconds.  By now I was feeling it.  After a few laps to recover I decided to try one last interval.  70 seconds.  Very impressive. :o)  Ok, so I wasnt running very fast.  More like a fast shuffle.  Ross was doing a fast walk/slow jog to keep up with me, so it was definitely slow, but who cares.  I an really happy with how I did.

When I got home I used our new Body Shop Massage Roller on my legs.  The backs of my legs and my calves feel a little tight, so I got Ross to give them a roll.  Felt great.

I am inpressed with my effort.  No pain in my knees or ankles.  And I enjoyed it.  Next run in Wednesday.  I am actually looking forward to it.


Week 1 Training Plans & More Cooking

Week 1 of my 8 week training plan is over.  I did okay.  I did all my walking sessions, although one was moved to a different day and slightly shorter than planned.  I did miss one cycling session.  It was 42 degrees so I figure that was okay.  The 2 sessions I did were great.  My AHR was high and I felt strong after.  One was in a wicked head wind, but it still felt good.  Today I do the first walk with jogging intervals.  I am extremely nervous about it.  I haven't decided if I will do it later this morning or wait until tonight.  Ross is going to come with me which will be nice.

Last night we had friends come over for dinner.  We always have a great time when R & M come over.  We pretty much just talk and talk and talk...  I tried a couple of new recipes as well.

I made Tomato Pasta Bake, which I thought was a little bit dry, but still yum.

I served it with a garden salad and warm Creamed Mushrooms, which I thought were delicious.

It is nearly the end of the year.  I am looking forward to this year finishing.  It has been a tough one.  I am in the process of setting my goals for the new year.  I don't do Resolutions as such, but I like to set some goals in place.  Since it is 2010 I am working on a list of 10 goals that I will share on January 1.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas Wrap Up

Ross & I have had a great Xmas.  It started Thursday night.  We decided to spend Xmas Eve over at Ross's Mum's house.  It has only been 2 months since his Dad passed so we did not want her waking up alone on Xmas morning.  We had a lovely evening together.  Xmas morning we woke early and I made pancakes for Ross & his Mum.  Ross went to pick up his Grandad (91 years old and still going strong) while Di & I made salads to take to lunch.  We did pressies when Ross & Grandad got back, and yes we got spoiled.  :o)

Off to lunch at my sisters.  My sister invited Ross's family to join ours for Xmas lunch which was so generous of her.  So for lunch there was us 4, my sister and her partner & 2 kids, my brother and his wife & 2 kids, and my Mum.  It was great.  We all brought food, and believe me, we did not go short!

Ross & I got home about 5pm and unpacked all the spoils of the day.  One of the best things was my Mum got us a whole heap of dried beans and legumes, and some cool containers to store them in.  I got out the label maker and put the beans straight into the containers.

I also got my very own rolling pin and wire cooling racks!  On my cookie weekend I borrowed them from my Mother in Law, so she decided I need my own. 

We were SO very full from lunch, so no dinner for us, but we did go for a walk.  Then we sat in front of the TV and both did some drawing.  I finished a drawing I have been working on for a while.  I can see so many problems with it, which is good because it means I can see where I am going wrong, but overall I am happy with it.  Six months ago I couldn't draw at all, so I am really pleased that this even resembles what it is meant to.

Today was a day of rest.  I pretty much did nothing, and I had a ball!  Dinner was something new again.  We decided to have kebabs and baby roast potatos.  I did the kebabs with tofu, mushroom, red & green capsicum and snow peas.  Then I put a mixture of sweet chilli sauce & hoi sin sauce on it and put it in the grill.  So delicious!

I also put the last of Xmas prawns onto skewers with the sauce mix and grilled them for Ross.  He loved it.

Tomorrow we have friends coming for dinner.  I have a bike ride planned for the morning, and other than cooking I am planning on another relaxing day.

I hope that everyone's Xmas was as relaxing as ours.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I just want to take a moment to wish everyone the happiest of holiday seasons.  Whatever you believe, whatever you celebrate, I truly hope it is joyous and filled with love, laughter, good food, and great friends.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Herb Garden and new Pets

Before we moved out of our old place last month, we had started a really nice garden.  It probably would have been starting to bear vegies now.  Of course, we lost all that when we moved out.  We do not have a yard here at the new place, so there is nowhere to have a garden.

However I did not want to lose everything, so yesterday we set up a herb garden.  The window in our kitchen gets quite a lot of light, so we decided to start an ice cream container herb garden.  We have chives, garlic chives, parsley, basil and coriander, which are the herbs I seem to use the most.  So far they are all quite small.

I am hoping to be able to use them fairly soon though.  :o)

The other thing we have been missing since moving here is having pets.  We have 3 cats.  They are currently living with my mother inlaw.  And being spoiled so badly I am not sure we will ever get them to behave again.  But they are happy.

So today we went and got some new pets.  5 fish! 

Their names are Billy Bob,

Billy Sue,

Billy John.

Billy Joe,

and Billy Ray 

We will get more in a few weeks, but they guy at the aquarium centre said to start with just 5 while we get the tank set up.  I love fish.  And I am so glad to have pets again.  :o)


Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Cooking

Mum came over for dinner tonight.,  So out came the recipe books so I could make something flashy for her.  She loves vegetarian food, so I was hoping to dazzle.

We had Mushroom Strudel

And Roast Baby Potatoes with Parsley

Followed by my Chocolate Hazelnut tart with icecream and strawberries...

What an absolutely delicious meal!  Everything went down a treat and Mum was suitably impressed.


Friendship Cards

This year, instead of Xmas cards, Ross & I decided to send out Cards of Friendship to our closest friends.  2009 has been a year filled with challenges for us, including (but not limited to) severe illness, loss of jobs, being forced to move, mental illness, death of a family member, death of several friends, to name but a few...

The many and varied events of the year have made us both take a good long hard look at our lives, our friendships, and the things that are important to us.  What has come through all of this is that our lives were too complicated, and we need to step back and make things easier on ourselves.

While I love Christmas, I hate how commercial it has become.  Christmas cards are a waste.  They are expensive and they tend to end up in the bin by January 1.  You feel obliged to send them to everyone you have ever known, even if the last contact you had with some of these people was last years Xmas card.  Australia Post makes a fortune on your postage requirements, and the card companies are rubbing their hands together with glee and the money rolling in...  I did not want to be a part of that.

However I did want to take the time to thank those people who have been there for us and stood by us through everything that has happened.  So we decided to send out Friendship Cards.  I have been making my own cards for a while using my photos, so this morning I made up a whole pile of them and I will send them out this week.  I am hoping they won't end up in the bin...  :o)

I hope that this little gesture from us to our friends will show them that we are grateful to thave them in our lives, and will bring a smile to their faces.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Relay for Life 2010

For the last 5 year I have captained a team in the SA Cancer Council’s annual Relay for Life. It is often quite a lot of work to get the team organised, get all the fundraising done and money banked, get costumes, team banners, theme related stuff organised, do a walking chart for the event itself, make sure everyone has everything…

After last years event I said – no more. I needed a break. Then the events of this year began to unfold and there was absolutely no way I could have even imagined captaining another team. A friend of mine was going to pick up the reigns and take over, but his year has been chaotic as mine, so ended up not having the time to do anything either.

For the last week or so I have been thinking a lot about it. I love Relay. Despite the work in the lead up, the event itself is absolutely awesome. I called S and asked if he was still going to captain a team. No, but he would help if I did.

We have been the Pink Angels for the last 4 years, but the costumes are in storage and are in need of repair. So a change of name and theme was needed.

Chaos Inc was born.

The event is the last weekend in March and I am hoping to be able to run a few laps. Last year, just walking, I walked 26.4kms. This year I am aiming for 30kms over the 19 hours. The Cancer Council has now set up online registrations and fundraising as well, which makes the whole process so much easier.

Our team goal is to raise $1000. Even though I don’t actually have a full team yet… I am sure I will get enough people though. If anyone reading this would like to sponsor Chaos Inc, please go to our fundraising page here.

Now that the team is registered I am excited and can’t wait.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back to Training

A few weeks ago I attempted to start the training program from Nicole Cooke's Cycle for Life book.  Due to Xmas festivities and illness, that went kaplooey.  I had made a decision to restart come January 4 2010, and to also incorporate a program to start running, doing the cycling and running on alternate days.

As I was riding to work this morning - in the lovely rain that we so desperately need - I wondered why I was waiting two and a half weeks to start this, when I could start now.  I have no festivities after work at all next week, then I have a whole week off.  Let's get this show on the road!

So I have worked out a training plan (will post spreadsheets in the sidebar at some point) that gives me 2 clear goals.

I want to be able to ride 50kms again.  I don't care how long it takes, I just want the endurance to do it.  I have based my training loosely around the one set out by Nicole Cooke, but modified it so I will get to where I want to be.  I am not starting from zero fitness level here.  I can comfortably do 10kms in half an hour.  I can still ride over 25 kms in a day.  So it is just a matter of building on that.  For the most part my cycling will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

I am using the word running instread of jogging (although it will probably be more of a shuffle) because running is what I want to ultimately do, so I am going to start using the word.  My first goal is to be able to run 1km without a break.  Yes, this may seem like a small goal, but I can not run at all right now, so I figure 8 weeks to get me there should be do-able.  I need to be careful.  I am still carrying SO much extra weight and I do not want to risk injuring myself, so I am starting small.  For the most part I will be walking/running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Fridays will be my day off.  I am also going to try and put some swimming and yoga DVD's in there as well, just to round out what I am doing. 

I do have a major fitness goal in mind that will take quite a long time to prepare for.  It is not something I am prepared to share right now.  But let's just say that this is the first step towards this larger goal.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Walking Tall

I walked to work today.  It's not that far, about 3kms.  But I didn't sleep well as my back has been giving me grief (seeing the Chiropractor tonight - yay!) so I was sluggish this morning.  Since Ross is picking me up to go to the Chiropractor, I had to walk.

I headed off, running a bit late, kinda clomping down the street, feeling sorry for myself for no particular reason other than I didn't feel like walking.  After about 200 metres I realised this was going to be a looooong walk if I didn't do something about it.

So I threw my shoulders back, put my head up, and walked tall.  The weird thing, in less than 50m I was no longer tired and sluggish, and I had a GREAT walk!

There must be something to this.  I just finished reading 'Born to Run' and there is a whole chapter in there about our breathing in relation to posture and running technique.  I found it really interesting but didn't see the relevance to enjoyment until I actually tried it.  As soon as I stood tall and opened up my airways, I enjoyed my walk.

Try it.  You'll see.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Baking

Another day of baking.  The smells in my house are simply divine.  I only did 2 lots of cookies today, but they were a bit more complicated.

I started with Almond Biscotti

Then made Chocolate Shortbread which were deliciously iced.

There are so many cookies in my freezer, we will defintely not be running out in a hurry.  The weird thing about this whole cooking thing, is that I am not a huge biscuit fan.  Maybe that is why I have been able to nake so many and not eat them.  Ross is loving them though.  In saying that, I have loved all of these, but I am happy with just one here and there.

So now I have found another aspect of cooking that I love.  This is awesome!


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baking Day

Today was baking day.  Well, actually this weekend is baking weekend, today was day 1.  I got all the ingredients out and put them on the freezer so they would be handy.

I started with Honey Oat cookies. 

Next up was Fudgey Macadamia Cookies.

Finishing up the day with Mega Choc Chunk Cookies - the best choc chip cookies ever made!

Two more recipes tomorrow.  I can't wait!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Tonight was another quick and easy dinner. Thanks to Caleb & Elizabeth I made the easiest and yummiest Nachos ever! I got the recipe several weeks ago, but hadn't got around to trying it until tonight. I made a few little changes to the original recipe, just to tweak it to my tastes. But it really was delicious. I say that a lot, I am aware of that, but it's just how it is.

Add a beautiful Clare Valley Shiraz, candle light, and my wonderful hubby, and this quick dinner was fabulous!

You can find the recipe here.

For the first time I used red kidney beans that were NOT from a can. I used the beans I bought at Gaganis last week and soaked them overnight. I actually preferred them like this. I like the flavour of kidney beans in a can, but have always struggled with the texture. I just find it a bit 'wrong'. But when you prepare your own beans the texture is completely different. And the flavour is a bit richer too. I will definitely keep a supply of the dry beans from now on.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recipe Link

Hi Everyone!

I have set up a recipe link where I will put the recipes of all the meals I post. Saves you all asking for them. :o) You can find all the recipes I have put up so far here.

I have put the link in the side bar so you can check in any time. I will try and have each recipe up within a few hours of posting the pictures.

This weekend is a baking weekend, so prepare for lots of cookie recipes from the Betty Crocker Cookie Recipe book I picked up from the library yesterday!


Five Rules for Life

About a month ago I shared with you my Five Rules for Life. I am very excited that my 5 Rules are featured on the Five Rules for Life Blog at the moment! There are many other great contributions on this blog, and it makes you really think about the things that are important to you. I urge you all to check it out.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Cycling Challenge – Week One

Hmmm… Well, what can I say. Tuesday I went for my planned ride and felt great. I did 10.37kms in the 35 minute ride. I had the gears cranked up so I focused on resistance rather than speed. My AHR was 77% of my max.

Thursday I was unwell. Not too sick to work, but too sick to be pushing it on a bike with no available toilets nearby. If you get my drift….

Then the weekend was just insane with birthday festivities, and Xmas parties.

This week I have Xmas functions every evening.

So I believe that starting this challenge in December was perhaps not the wisest thing to do. However, next week is looking reasonable clear, so I will start week 1 again next Monday and see how things go.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna

Another new recipe. That is 2 this week. I made a spinach & mushroom lasagna. It was great, although it took a long time to cook. I made the sauce from scratch, something I had never done before, and it took over an hour to reduce enough. It was worth it though. We had friends over for dinner who seemed to like it too, which was good. I am always nervous when other people try my food.

I served it with a garden salad and some sweet potato wedges that I got out of my Vegie Food book. I didn't actually like the wedges. They were way too oily. I will try them again, but with a lot less oil.

Despite how long this took to prepare, I actually really enjoyed it. I spent half the afternoon in the kitchen, chopping, and stirring, and measuring, and tasting. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.

Shopping Day

This morning we went back to Gaganis Bros Warehouse. We made a tip there last weekend with Mum, but just had to go back when we had more time. I only needed some red kidney beans for a chili I want to make, but I thought we could spend some more time looking through the kitchenware side. Oh if only I had an endless supply of money and a massive kitchen in which to store everything...

I finally bought myself a little garlic press, which is going to make things so much easier, as I seem to be making quite a few recipes with garlic lately. We bought more wine glasses and a few other bits and pieces. But my favourite things are...

A mortar & pestle. I love them and have always wanted one. But as I never really cooked before I never saw the need. But now I am sure I can make use of one.

And a red baking tray. I am making a spinach lasagna tonight and while I do have a dish I can use, the red one is so much better!

We got home and decided to sit down to a cup of herbal tea...

And some delicious chocolate that we got from Bracegirdles last night. Anyone who lives in Adelaide who has not yet visited this amazing house of chocolate, needs to get there asap.

The is Fairy Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Mint Smash. Yummo.

Tonight we have friends coming over for Ross birthday (although is birthday was actually yesterday). I am looking forward to trying new recipes again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fun Cooking Challenge

I have decided to set myself a fun little challenge to cook 1 new recipe a week, every week, for 3 months. That comes to 13 new recipes over the next few months. Since it is the first week in December, I am starting now.

Tonight I made Texan Tacos. Although I didn't have taco shells, so I made them like burritos using tortilla wraps. They were delicious. The taco part was made with Sanitarium Casserole Mince, which is 'minced wheat gluten in gravy', with onion and red kidney beans. I really like red kidney beans, but I hate the texture. So I used my Tupperware happy chopper and chopped them up. Mixed in with taco seasoning and a can of chopped tomato's, and you have vegetarian taco filling.

We started with lettuce, piled on the taco mix, then topped it with tomato's, cheese, avocado and taco sauce.

They were absolutely divine. Incredibly filling, but not heavy like burritos normally feel to me. This is yet another thing that will definitely be made in our house again.

Now to find a new recipe for next week. This is fun!


Supplement Update

I went to the chemist and got some Iron supplements. I got something I haven't seen before called 'Bio Iron' by Blackmores. It is meant to give you the iron you need without the constipation. Dose is 1 tablet 3 times a day. I'll start with 1 a day and see how I go.

I went to get some Iodine but they don't sell it on its own anymore. So I got Betadine, which contains Iodine, and will see how I go with that.



The last week or so I have been feeling quite tired. Last night I sat down to go over what has been going on to see if I can come up with a solution. I jumped on the Net (my source of all things information-related) and did a look up of fatigue relating to a vegetarian diet, just in case I am missing something. Here is what I came up with.

Sleep - I have been getting a reasonable amount of sleep, for me. Anything over 6 hours with 3 hours uninterrupted sleep (I have lots of night time toilet stops) is good for me. I have actually been getting about 8 hours with a couple of 3 hour stretches, so that is good.

Vitamin D - I am confident my Vit D levels are returning to normal. I have been taking my supplements (due again next week) and have been getting actual sun on my skin without sunscreen (in moderation) and without long sleeves.

Protein - This could be a problem. I do not think I have been getting enough protein in the last couple of weeks. So I need to increase my intake of eggs and legumes. On days when I don't have these I need to have a protein bar or shake. While this is not my preferred source of protein, it will do in a pinch. It is grocery shopping this weekend, so I will stock up on eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes, and I will then make sure I cook them as often as possible!

Iron - I have always struggled with borderline low iron levels, ever since I stopped eating red meat coming up on 20 years ago. I never actually made a decision to stop eating red meat, it's more that I was quite ill for a couple of years with Glandular Fever and after I recovered meat made me feel sick, so I stopped eating it except in very small amounts. Over the years I have trialled every iron supplement there is, including kids doses, and they all result in the same thing - constipation. :o( But.... I think I will try again. I figure if I take half a dose every second day it will have some impact on my iron levels, and hopefully have no impact on the *other issue*.

Iodine - This is a tricky one, but one I know I can self test on, as I have had a naturopath do it before. Just get some iodine and put it on your skin in an area where the skin is soft (crook of the elbow or sole of the feet is best). If in a couple of hours there is no stain from the iodine you are low (as your body has sucked it all in). If the iodine is still evident your levels are okay. The good news is if you are low you can continue to put iodine on the skin to absorb it that way.

B12 - I need to start taking my supplements again. Along with my multi vitamin. I have put a reminder in my phone and I am taking todays dose mow.

I have also decided that after the end of my 3 month trial if I decide to become a vegetarian, I will go to the doctors and have everything checked, just to make sure I am doing okay.

On to slightly other, but related news, Ross & I have enrolled in an exotic vegetarian cooking class next year. It is a 4 week class and you learn vegetarian recipes from all over the world. I am really looking forward to it!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cycle for Life - 8 Week Training Plan

I have noticed recently that my fitness level has dropped dramatically this year. I guess it is understandable. I really haven't been focused at all on my fitness or my cycling. At the beginning of November I got Nicole Cooke's book - Cycle for Life. I have decided that now is the time to make a start on the training programs within.

It actually embarrasses me to admit that I need to start on the beginners one, my fitness has dropped so much. The aim of the first 8 week Training Plan is to get your cycling up to a solid 4 hours a week. I am starting this week, and Tuesday (today) is the first session. I am not including commuting in the 4 hours a week I am working towards. Using my bike as transport is still just that - transport. This is dedicated cycling hours.

Today's session is 35 minutes constant cycling in the "Green Zone". The green zone is with your HR between 60-75% of your max. The hard part is finding places to ride where I can do a constant 35 minutes, as there are traffic lights absolutely everywhere near my home and work. In the 3km commute to work I go through 4 sets of lights, and I use back streets for the last km to avoid more. However between work and home is the park lands. There is a bike path through them and there is a stretch of about 4kms where you do not need to stop and cross roads. I am going to loop that section. Yes, it will be a little boring, but it is the best I can do right now.

The first week consists of 2 x 35 minutes Green Zone sessions and 1 x 45 minute Green Zone session. looks relatively easy on paper, but it has been a long time since I did cycling without breaks for lights. I'll report in at the end of the week. Wish me luck!