Sunday, September 30, 2012
Day 2 - General Rules
Day 3 - Superfoods
Day 4 - Chocolate
Inspired by Linds at Rocking Chair Reflections (and wanting to keep up my efforts to post more regularly) I decided that this year I would take part in The Nester's 31 Days and post on a chosen theme for each of the 31 days of October.
I found it surprisingly easy to pick a theme. While we were on holiday last year I read a book I'd picked up as a free Kindle offer, The Forever Young Diet and Lifestyle by James and Joan O'Keefe - I'm sure someone had recommended it, but can't remember who. I came home determined to eat more healthily. I wouldn't say my diet before that was awful - I have never been a junk food addict or had any major food issues, but I did eat without thinking much about whether what I ate was good or bad, and there probably weren't many days when my fruit and veg count made it beyond three or four. Somehow this particular book managed to motivate me to really change the way I ate. It made me focus on eating good stuff, and by filling up on good stuff I naturally ate less of the bad stuff.
When I started to improve my eating habits I was overweight and knew that I could do with losing 30lbs or so. The last time I weighed myself before I began eating healthily I weighed 13 stones (182lb - I wonder why the British always think of weight in stones and Americans in pounds?), which was, I think, the heaviest I have ever been. Despite this I never saw changing the way I ate as a "diet" in the weight loss sense - losing weight wasn't why I did it, and it didn't really cross my mind that I would get thinner just by changing what I ate without counting points (I've done Weight Watchers in the past) or consciously cutting down on quantity.
Losing weight was so far from my mind that it came as a genuine surprise to find that by the New Year every pair of jeans I had was literally falling off me and I was a size smaller all round. By the spring virtually none of the clothes I had been wearing he previous year fitted, and by the summer I had gone down another size. After being a size 16 for more years than I can remember I am now a size 12 (I think UK sizing is two sizes up from them US, so in American terms that would now put me at a size 8). It has been a very expensive year for clothes as I have literally had to replace everything (even underwear!), often more than once. I don't know how much weight I have lost as I have never been particularly hung up about weight and don't even possess a set of scales, but I guess it must be around 20 to 25lbs.
Once I started thinking about it I realised I have more than enough to say to be able to post about healthy eating for 31 days. I'm planning to talk about the changes I have made, the foods that are my superfoods, how I approach meals and snacks, and various other aspects of eating well. I hope that sharing what healthy eating means for me, both practically and in changing the way I think about food, may help inspire any readers who come along for the ride to eat better themselves, even just by making a few small changes. I also want to record the changes I've made and what has worked well for my own benefit. So here begins 31 DAYS OF HEALTHY EATING.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
When we got back from our holiday at the beginning of the month I found myself struggling to find books to read to Rose. She seems to have hit an in-between stage where we have read and re-read lots of the younger chapter books but she isn't ready to move on to the next level. Then I read about the TUAR Picture Book Challenge and Chari and Willa's blog Take Up and Read and bingo! I realised that picture books were the way to go.
Willa and I are hoping to do this every month for this school year.......and we cordially invite all of you to join us. We challenge all of you to choose TEN Picture Books a month....to read to the little ones in your life........or the big ones.......or even to yourself. :) In the first week of each month, both of us will post our TEN Picture Book choices on Take Up and Read. Please feel free to grab the Picture Book Challenge button shown at the top of this post to place on your own blog and link back to us.....with your TEN Picture Book choices
I never got round to posting a list but we did start reading. I asked Rose if she would like books about anything in particular and she wanted animals and countries. Our local library has been closed for a couple of weeks while they replaced the service desk with self-service machines for checking books in and out (end result = chaos if today's library visit was anything to go by), so I dug around on our shelves and did a little Amazon shopping. So here, retrospectively, is our list of 10 picture books for September:
- The Pear Tree: an Animal Counting Book (Meredith Hooper and Bee Willey) - we loved this one, which takes the 12 Days of Christmas rhyme format and applies to the life of a pear tree and the animals that live in and around it over the 12 months of the year.
- Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth (Eric Carle) - love this for the variety of animals and the sloth's wonderful monologue at the end
- The Story of the Creation (Jane Ray) - gorgeous illustrations with lots of animals!
- Noah's Ark (Jerry Pinkney)
- I Love Guinea Pigs (Dick King Smith and Anita Jeram) - one of an excellent series of Read and Wonder books published by Walker Books in the 1990s, good enough that a number of them have republished as "Nature Storybooks"
- All Pigs Are Beautiful (Dick King Smith) - another of the same series
- The Doll's House Fairy (Jane Ray) - an old favourite
- The Mushroom Hunt (Simon Frazer and Penny Dale) - yet another Read and Wonder book
- J is for Jamaica (Benjamin Zephaniah) - this is one of a series of World Alphabet books published by Frances Lincoln (one of my favourite picture book publishers).
- M is for Maple: a Canadian Alphabet (Mike Ulmer and Melanie Rose Popp) - Rose asked for a book about Canada, but this one rather went over her head
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
By the time we got to Messina we were feeling all shore-tripped out. Tevye and I both went for a stroll round, taking it in turns so that the girls could stay on the trip. There isn't much to see in Messina, which was more or less flattened in the early 20th century by an earthquake and then suffered again from bombing during the 2nd World War. The highlight is the cathedral with its rather spectacular bell tower that "chimes" every day at noon. Tevye went earlier in the day so I was the lucky person who arrived in the square just as the bell started its performance.
A close up of the lion at the top of the tower.
This "devotional machine" called La Vara is pulled through the streets of the city on the Feast of the Assumption every August. YouTube has various videos of La Vara in action - the sun with Cherubs round it rotates and Mary (at the top) rises up to heaven. When we were there it was in the square in front of the cathedral, but whether it stays there for the whole year I don't know.
Also part of the Assumption festival celebrations are these two giants, Mata and Grifone, the legendary founders of the city.
The bell tower from the other side, showing its astronomical clock. The building to the right is the Duomo (cathedral).
Also in the square near to the bell tower is the Orion fountain. I'm not sure what this legendary animal was meant to be, but to me it looked like a hippogriff!
This statue of the Madonna blessing the city and its people towers over the harbour entrance.
Monday, September 24, 2012
The weather ... "Wet and windy with gales and some very heavy downpours" (BBC Weather)
I am wearing ... Grey trousers, black v-neck sweater, black cardigan (need an extra layer!), pink handknitted socks (my favourite pair, need something to brighten up a grey day) and black boots
I am reading ... just finished To Romania With Love by Tessa Dunlop. Not sure what to start next.
I am creating ... Bedford sweater for Marie. On a knitting roll this weekend and have done about 8 inches of the body (knitted in the round, bottom up) since Friday. It is a quick and easy but effective twisted stitch pattern
I am listening ... the sounds of the girls getting up, which is what I should be doing!
I am watching ... Downton Abbey and The Great British Bake Off. I horrified addicted friends at work by saying I had never watched Bake Off. I watched. They are right, it is addictive. Tension, blood (ewww!!!) and an array of yummy desserts.
I am enjoying ... taking soup to work for lunch instead of salad.
Learning notes ... Rose's teachers seem to be working a new system this year. Her class does literacy, phonics and numeracy daily, but they are doing other subjects in weekly blocks. The first full week of term their topic was geography (life in other countries), and last week it was science (healthy eating). I wonder what it will be this week?
On the menu ...
Monday: chicken stir fry
Tuesday: chicken steaks and chips
Wednesday: cauliflower cheese and potato wedges
Thursday: honey mustard chicken pasta
Friday: veggie chilli, crusty bread
Saturday: baked potatoes?
Sunday: roast lamb, roast potatoes and parsnips, other veggies
On the calendar ...
Monday: need to go clothes shopping on the way home from work. Got out winter clothes at the weekend and I am short of clothes that fit!
Tuesday: ballet for Rose; emergency orthodontist's appointment for Marie whose braces broke yesterday.
Wednesday: Yom Kippur, so Tevye will be at the synagogue all day; after school recorder class for Rose; work for Helen; band for me - think the logistics all work out with Tevye not around, but I'm not entirely certain!
Thursday: swimming for Rose; work for Helen; maybe orchestra for me?
Friday: evening with neighbours - we were all away at the same time (us cruising, one set of neighbours in Spain and the other doing Disney in Florida with their nephews), so we are going to have a catch up evening to see each other's photos and drink wine
A quiet weekend?
A picture from last week ...
Rose taking a picture of me taking a picture of her taking a picture of me! The cute panda phone case is Marie's. Photo taken while we were at a Chinese restaurant for lunch yesterday, celebrating my mother's 85th birthday.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
The day after Dubrovnik was spent on the Greek island of Kefalonia, best known as the location of Louis de Berniere's book Captain Corelli's Mandolin. By this time we were all more than ready for a break from walking and decided just to grab a taxi to the beach. Swimming in the Ionian sea was sheer bliss - except for Rose who is currently dead set against swimming, or even paddling, in the sea. She dug happily in the sand for a while, managed to get slightly wet getting water to add to the sand, and then sulked over the combination of wetness and sand until it was time to leave (life can be hard when you are six!). Not many pictures from Kefalonia, as all we saw was the beach and the view from the ship.
The busy (expensive) end of the beach
The quieter (free) end of the beach
Town (Argostoli, the main port of Kefalonia)
Friday, September 21, 2012
I have been intending for a long time to say more about my job as an archivist, so here are seven archive related quick takes.
1. For the last two weeks since my predecessor in this post retired I have been settling into what will be my long term job - three days a week as a fully fledged (albeit technically not quite qualified!) archivist. The two days a week I had been doing were to give me a chance to get to grips with the job and to learn more about our holdings. Now I'm having to pick up a bigger workload and more responsibility.
2. My job has three main aspects - supervising and advising researchers in the search room (usually two or three mornings a week), dealing with remote enquiries (so far this is averaging about 30 minutes a day but can be more), and cataloging collections (the rest of the time, including times when I am in the search room but it is quiet).
3. Various other less predictable tasks crop up, ranging from giving talks (I think my boss has booked me in for three in next year's diary so far) to helping with palaeography and Latin translations.
4. About 60% of the enquiries we deal with and visits we receive are from genealogists.
5. After starting with cataloguing some small collections fir experience I am now working on Methodist Church records. I have several boxes from our backlog to catalogue and several more to reorganise. I am trying to set up a structure for them that will be a bit more logical than the one we have now (which is in fact, no structure at all!).
6. I spent much of this morning trying to put together a list of all the Methodist churches and chapels that have existed in the county over the last couple of centuries. So far I'm up to 130 and still going, though I think in some cases the same church may have been known by different names. Unravelling them all is going to be a challenge.
7. I have learned that nothing is ever simple, that any job I start will end up taking several times longer than I expect and that it will almost certainly lead to other, unexpected jobs. This is a function of having an awful lot of stuff that has been accumulated over 100 years.
Monday, September 17, 2012
The weather ... alternating between early autumn and late summer. Hard to know what to wear and I have found myself alternately boiling and freezing. This week's forecast looks to be consistently cooler, with temps in the 50s.
I am wearing ... dark grey trousers, light grey v-neck sweater, black and silver scarf, black boots
I am reading ... picture books to Rose, inspired by the TUAR Picture Book Challenge. More about that later.
I am creating ... socks for Mum. On to the heel of the second sock now, so should finish them before her birthday on Friday.
I am listening ... Tevye's electric shaver, which sounds like a demented wasp.
I am watching ... the new series of Downton Abbey which started last night. All the ingredients Downton fans have come to know and love - a be-stubbled Bates languishing in gaol, the difficulty of how to treat the chauffeur when he returns married to a daughter of the house, wedding clothes, Maggie Smith's withering put-downs as the Dowager Lady Grantham.
I am enjoying ... Downton Abbey!
Learning Notes ... Helen has decided on topics for her English Language and Media Studies coursework. For English she is looking at the effect of the character constraints of Twitter on the use of language; for media she is analysing the extent to which teen dramas conform to stereotypical views of teenagers, and whether this differs between the UK and the US.
On the menu ...
Monday: baked potatoes and turkey chilli
Tuesday: fish and chips
Wednesday: lamb steaks, butternut and potato mash
Thursday: honey mustard chicken pasta
Saturday: burgers with salad
Sunday: eating out at a Chinese buffet recommended by Helen (she went there for a friend's birthday last week)
On the calendar ...
Monday: Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) so Tevye taking the day off work
Tuesday: Ditto (Rosh Hashanah lasts two days). Back to ballet for Rose.
Wednesday: An early start for me as we have an 8am staff meeting at week, then band in the evening. Helen working.
Thursday: swimming for Rose, work for Helen. Not sure about orchestra for me. I'm not at all sure I will enjoy the Bruckner, based on last week's rehearsal, so I may skip out on orchestra this term, especially as there is lots of musical busy-ness with the band in the run up to Christmas.
Friday: my mother's 85th birthday.
Saturday: work for Helen.
Sunday: going out for lunch to celebrate Mum's birthday.
A picture from last week:
On Saturday Marie and I took Rose to play at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. Lots of memories of meeting up with homeschooling friends here! Here is Rose making music.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
I had been looking forward to visiting the Old City of Dubrovnik, but although it is a lovely place I found it slightly disappointing. Partly because it was very hot and we were all exhausted after doing a LOT of walking in Venice the day before, and partly because it was smaller and more crowded than I expected. August, it seems, is not the best time to visit.
The bell tower, with a bit of Sponza's Palace to the right and the Ploce Gate to the left.
Orlando's column in front of the cathedral. Built in 1419 as a symbol of liberty and independence.
A view down the main street, Stradun, looking towards the Pile Gate. The Old City is really quite tiny, with tiny, steep side streets running from the Stradun up to the walls.
Steps up the city wall next to the Pile Gate. A walk round the city walls is recommended and supposed to have superb views, but it was far too hot and we were much to tired to contemplate it.
Dubrovnik was besieged during the Croatian War of Independence and it is hard to believe that this beautifully kept city was heavily shelled only 20 years ago, with a significant proportion of its buildings sustaining damage. The Croats have done an excellent job of restoration.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
This was my third visit to Venice - I went with Tevye before Helen was born, and we took Helen and Marie for a day trip during a holiday in Italy when they were 8 and 5. Amazing place, and one I would love to visit many more times.
We splurged and rode on a gondola. Four out of five of us loved it. The fifth, smallest member of the party was in a mood and was determinedly not impressed.
Then we headed onto the side "streets". This was the beautiful part of the ride, gliding silently along quiet, narrow canals.
When in Italy, eat ice cream.
When we left the port we sailed past the city, giving us the most magnificent panoramic view. This picture of St Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace was taken from the ship (iPhone from a distance, so not the greatest quality).
Friday, September 14, 2012
1. A local radio station has a slot on Friday mornings where people can phone or text in a description of their weekend in three words. This would be mine:
2. On my way to work I drive across a hump-backed bridge over the canal. As there is only room for one car and it isn't possible to see if anything is coming the other way until nearly at the top it has to be approached very slowly and cautiously. This morning I got there slightly ahead of a car coming in the opposite direction and had virtually stopped while I made sure the other car was going to wait for me. Just as I was about to move on a muntjac deer appeared from a hedge on the other side of the bride and ran down the road across the bridge, leaving myself and the other driver doing a double-take. Apparently deer cannot read roadsigns!
3. I am home (almost) alone. Tevye, Helen and Marie are all out, and Rose is tucked up in bed. I am enjoying peace and quiet and a glass of red wine.
4. I think I fall on the cusp between introvert and extrovert, using the Myers-Briggs style definition of an extrovert being someone who gains energy from being with others and an introvert someone who needs alone time to energise. When life is busy and I spend a lot of time with people I need quiet time to recharge; when it is quiet and I get plenty of time alone, being with others make me buzz.
5. Shamelessly pinching one of Tevye's Facebook updates:
"We were discussing school at bedtime and Rose said that geography was her favourite subject cos she likes countries. So I asked what her favourite country was. After much thought, and silently trying to mouth various words, she suddenly announced with great flourish and triumph ... Bosnia and Herzegovina."
That child does love words!
6. Knitting update ... I'm currently on a rather boring pair of navy blue socks, which I need to finish in time for my mother's birthday next Friday (I've just started the second sock, so it is possible but challenging). Once they are done I will be making a Bedford sweater for Marie at her request, using Cascade 220 Superwash in brown. I ordered some from Nutty Knitting Supplies last week and it arrived within 24 hours. Excellent service!
7. I like the look of the new iPhone 5. I'm not fussed about having 4G, but a larger screen, a faster processor, and longer battery life are tempting. Not that I can be tempted yet as I still have 9 months to run on my contract for my iPhone 4.
Visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
After two more sea days our second port was the Croatian island of Korcula and its pretty little walled city, also called Korcula.
The main gate into the old city.
Part of the fortifications from outside
Korcula claims to be the birthplace of the medieval explorer Marco Polo who is commemorated in shops, restaurants and a museum. This giant's chair outside the Marco Polo shop had a note asking for donations to charity.
You can see the street to the right of this church dropping down steeply as the city slopes down towards the sea.
Korcula was the only port stop where we had to go on shore by tender. Disembarking was a major logistical exercise, with inevitable queues for the boats. Worth it, though!
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
... this glorious British summer. Not glorious weather, which for much of the summer has done its damp and miserable worst - though it did stop raining for most of the Olympics - but other than that, what a time we have had! The diamond jubilee celebrations, the Olympics, the Paralympics ... the whole wonderful series ended with the closing ceremony of the Paralympics on Sunday and the athletes' parade through London yesterday, and there was even the Last Night of the Proms on Saturday thrown in for good measure.
As the summer comes to an end it feels as though the whole country has a deeper, happier, more confident sense of what it means to be British in the 21st century than it did just a few months ago. The British, and in particular the English, tend to be reluctant to indulge in displays of patriotism. We aren't great at either flying the flag or expressing what this country means to us. A combination of self-deprecation and cynicism makes it easy for us to underestimate all the good stuff that goes with living in Britain. This summer has changed that. We celebrated the Queen's sixty years as head of state, and in doing so looked at our nation a little closer and stood a bit taller. We put on a truly GREAT Olympic games. Then we topped that with undoubtedly the best Paralympics ever. Beforehand we thought of the coming Olympics with a mix of excitement and nerves, hoping for the best but half-expecting it all to go pear-shaped. But it didn't. It turned out to be a glorious sporting party, just what we needed to lift the national mood and distract us from the economic gloom. Suddenly we feel that Britain really is Great Britain again. It feels as though we have collectively won a gold medal, one that we hoped for but didn't really expect to achieve.
I didn't go to any of the Olympic or Paralympic events but even so I felt the buzz, both from the television coverage and from the second hand experiences of friends who got tickets. From what I hear everything went remarkably smoothly, with a friendly atmosphere fostered by the 70,000 volunteers who acted as games makers. The noise in the stadiums was deafening (Rose, who is sensitive to loud noise, would most definitely not have coped!). The whole thing just worked.
As for the sport, it was extraordinary to see the medals racking up for Team GB. I am old enough to remember the days when the Olympics meant an endless series of glorious, or less than glorious, defeats for British athletes. In those days gold medals were few and far between - at Atlanta in 1996 we won just one! At Beijing we managed 19 and in London an astonishing 29, finishing 3rd in the medal table behind the US and China. Extraordinary! The last time that happened was in 1920. By the time the Olympics ended we had a whole string of new sporting heros. If I had to pick a favourite moment I think it would be Mo Farah winning his second gold of the games and celebrating with the amazing Usain Bolt.
Then there were the Paralympics. I missed the early stages as we were still away and didn't manage to catch as much as I would have liked as last week was busy, but what I did see was wonderful. Again, friends who went said the atmosphere was simply amazing. And inspirational, watching the athletes who had to compete not just against each other but against their own disabilities. By the end of the games we had been given a whole new language of sport - blade runners, goalball, wheelchair tennis - and yet more new heros.
And now it is all over, though with a postscript last night as Andy Murray became the first British man to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament since 1936 with his victory in New York. One of the catchwords of the Olympics was legacy. Quite how that will eventually play out I don't know, but for now I have been left with the sense that something, somehow, is better than it was before.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Sunday, September 09, 2012
After two sea days cruising from Southampton past France, across the Bay of Biscay, down the coast of Portugal and into the Mediterranean, our first port of call was Malaga.
The 11th century Moorish fortress, the Alcazaba.
The bull ring. A very impressive structure, though I can't get my head round the concept of bullfighting as entertainment. Neither could Rose when we tried to explain it to her.
The view from our carriage down a tree shaded avenue.
Saturday, September 08, 2012
I think a month may be the longest I have ever gone without posting. My excuse is that a couple of posts never made it past the half-written stage, and then we were away for the second half of August on a very, very big boat.
All five of us had a wonderful time - there really was something for everyone. It was more a floating village than a floating hotel.
We got back last Sunday and over the next few days drifted back to school and work. I started straight in on Monday, Tevye went back to work on Tuesday, Marie started school on Wednesday and Helen and Rose on Thursday.
For the fist time in many months I dug out my camera rather than relying on my iPhone for photos, so over the next week or so I'll be posting pictures from our travels - seven ports in four countries (Spain, Croatia, Italy and Greece).