FitFriday XXVII, FatFriday XIV. Oranges, oranges, omega oils.

Dairy still low to none, but I’ve been craving citrus fruit so I’ve eaten myself into a couple of ulcers. Diet been generally quite good but sugar is going up so I’ll need to work on that. Workouts are going down proportionate to sugar going up, so I need to work on that too.

Been keeping the garden in order and going on more walks lately, though, so I’ve had that.

The best thing I ate all week was probably a hellmince stew.

The worst thing I ate all week, at least in health terms, was unfrozen blueberry ice cream.

Been a bit lazier due to lethargy, but seem to be fighting it just fine. Will need to recalibrate carbs and see how I do.

How has your week been, in health and fitness terms?

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How To… prepare an emergency kit.

We have already discussed how to prepare for specific emergencies, such as a medical emergency or a bout of depression. But what about those nondescript “it’s an emergencies” we all get? Neighbour having a baby, sister in hospital, house ruined by fire or flood, anything that suddenly calls you out.

Thankfully, there are some ways we can be prepared for this sort of incident also.

This is part III of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I and Part II at these links.

1: The bag.

You will need a bag you can easily grab and easily fill. Especially so if the contents can’t all be kept together and you need to pack in minutes. Choose a backpack or rucksack twice as big as it needs to be to carry everything you will take. This way you can also add more things without fretting.

2: The overnight items.

This is best composed of spares, so you can keep them all in the bag and don’t have to run about your house collecting commonly used items.

spare toothbrush, travel toothpaste and mouthwash

spare hairbrush and hairbands

spare towel

-spare t shirt, two pairs of spare underwear and socks

-a purse with change

-spare phone charger

-spare keys

3: The communication.

You need to guarantee you can contact anyone, even if your phone dies or is lost. If you’re called away suddenly you may not have the time to tell everyone where you’re going and why, so this is vital.

-spare phone

-spare charger and battery

-phonebook with essential contacts

It’s also wise to use a social network update to alert everyone. It’s far quicker to post “at Derby hospital if anyone needs me” than to send texts and call everyone. Plus, news spreads faster on social media.

4: The pets and children.

Have a petsitter or a babysitter you know you can contact at short notice, preferably one for days and one for nights. You never know what problem may arise and it will be very helpful to have a friend, childminder or relative who can collect or move in with your kids and pets at short notice.

Keep these numbers at the very front of your phonebook.

5: The entertainment.

We tend not to think of this in emergency situations, but after the initial rush, there is a lot of waiting. When you’re anxious or suddenly stressed, it may be hard to relax or distract yourself from the issue. But as time passes you will be waiting for quite a while and it’s best to do something to use up all that stress-based energy whilst you’re there.

-a book that’s easy and pleasant to read

-a portable games console

an mp3 player

-knitting or crochet

travel boardgame

6: The energy.

These sort of emergencies aren’t really convenient. They don’t strike when you’ve just had lunch, are rested and happy and have had time to digest. You may have been woken up at 2am, interrupted before breakfast or called out when you’ve just got home from work. You will need to keep something on you to get your energy up and keep you going. Everyone’s needs are different, but here are some suggestions for snacks you can keep almost indefinitely in a bag.

-sealed boiled candies

-energy bars

-canned caffeinated drinks

-bagged dried fruit and nuts

-caffeine pills

And those are the things you may want to keep as an emergency bag, in case anything serious happens.

What would you put in your emergency bag? Got any tips or hints for anyone making their own emergency bag?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Rich Risotto and Plum Tart.

Been a busy week for cooking. Risotto, mince stew, chicken, tarts, satay, bread, cupcakes…

Decided to write up the risotto, as I haven’t put  a risotto up before (I don’t think I have anyway), the plum tart and the walnut bread.

Risotto.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6.)

-300g rice

-3 parsnips

-6 medium carrots

-300g celeriac

-2 onions

-1 head garlic

-300ml double cream

-300ml red wine

-1tbsp sage leaves

-2tbsp salt

-1tbsp pepper

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-large pot

Recipe:

1: Peel and finely chop the onions, celeriac, parsnips and carrots.

2: Peel and crush the garlic cloves. Place all the vegetables in the pot.

3: Add the wine and set to simmer.

4: Salt, pepper, add the cream and stir well.

5: Once the cream and wine have combined and become more fluid, add the rice. Add the sage and keep an eye on it, stirring to make sure the rice doesn’t stick.

6: If it boils low, add a bit of very hot water and keep stirring until the rice is cooked.

7: Serve with pan-seared chicken.

Bread.

Ingredients:

-500g flour and raising agents

-3 eggs

-150ml milk

-1 cup walnuts

-1tbsp nutmeg

-1tsp cinnamon

-1/4tsp cloves

-water as needed

Utensils:

-mixing bowl

-greased loaf tin

Recipe:

1: Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly.

2: Incorporate the eggs and milk.

3: Add water whilst stirring until the mix is runny and fluffy.

4: Bake at 160C for 45min, or until a skewer comes out clean.

5: Remove from tin and cool upside down.

Tart.

Ingredients:

For the base:

-200g flour

-100g butter

-100g white chocolate

For the top:

-2 fresh peaches

-2 fresh plums

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl

-greased or nonstick tray

Recipe:

1: Chop the chocolate into crumbs.

2: Mash the flour, butter and chocolate together. Use to line the tray.

3: Slice the fruit. Arrange decoratively on base.

4: Bake at 160C until the fruit is soft but not too discoloured.

5: Serve with cinnamon-sugar cream.

Forgot to ask Jon to borrow his phone for the good pictures today, so will post them tomorrow!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

12 Swaps To Make Today.

There are so many things in everyone’s life that we need or want to change. Paint the kitchen, learn a language, lose 50lbs, change the car tyres, get certified as a chef, have children, etc. And a lot of these tasks are long, take hard work and commitment and feel quite daunting.

So here are 12 super easy, super simple things you can swap around in your life today, as in, actually this very day, without much time, effort or money involved. They will improve your health, finances and peace of mind massively, too!

1: Skip the snacks aisle.

Next time you’re in the supermarket, steer clear of the chocolatey, cereal bar and candy aisles and instead linger a little longer around the fruits and greens. Your body will thank you for something a little fresher and more nutrient dense.

2: Clean as you go.

When you’re  waiting for a pot to boil, wash anything you’ve recently used. When you’re making the bed, collect the laundry. When you’re choosing a DVD, put away the ones that are out. The house is so much tidier for just a few seconds’ work.

3: Get a charity box.

Keep it near the door and whenever you find something you aren’t using, drop it in. Then, when you’re next charity shopping or just in town, drop it off. Some charity shops, like the Salvation Army, have bag reward schemes where you get in-shop discounts for your donations, so ask about them.

4: Have tea or water.

Next time you’re ordering or making a hot drink, switch to tea. Next time you’re ordering or getting a cold drink, grab water. It’s healthier and cheaper and takes no extra effort.

5: Turn the TV off.

Try and keep the TV off for an hour or so a day when you would usually watch it. If you watch it whilst sewing, try the radio or music instead. If you watch it for its own sake, try reading or crafting. TV can overwhelm the mind and distract you, so a break is good.

6: Unwind.

Before you go to bed, try and spend some time relaxing, even if it’s just five minutes. Do a little yoga, stretch off, meditate, listen to music. Anything to let go of the day’s stress and ease your body and mind so you’re ready for sleep.

7: Take the stairs.

You won’t always be able to do this. Sometimes you need the quickness of an elevator. But whenever stairs are available, ask yourself if you could take them.

8: Set aside half an hour.

Try and make half an hour free to spend some time with your friends and family. Whether you’re on the phone to your grandma whilst you do the ironing, Skyping with your cousins or sitting to play board games with your friends, try and spend time with the people who matter.

9: Doll up.

Put on some lipstick, trim your hair, paint your nails or pick out something nice to wear. However small, do something to make yourself look good and feel good.

10: Put away the distractions.

Even if just for a few hours, put your phone down, turn off your laptop or TV, put away the kindle and games and try and focus on something or just enjoy the quiet for a few minutes.

11: Read 10 pages.

Reading is good for you. You can learn something, enrich your vocabulary, or, at the least you learn something valuable about the writer or society as a whole. And it doesn’t need to be too time consuming. Just keep a book, e-reader or notebook by the side of your bed and try and read ten pages of something of quality.

12: Doodle.

As I have discussed, crafting is good for you. So even if you aren’t big on art or don’t think you’re talented, try and sketch a little here and there. It can help you refocus, relax or just get your head around something.

And those are twelve things you could change today, without much or any effort, and see your life change a little bit for the better.

What other ways can you think of that you could improve your life easily?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Let’s Have A Serious Discussion.

There is a lot of debate on the subject of serious conversation in relationships and how good or bad it can be. So I am weighing in with this revelation: serious discussion is not kryptonite to romance.

There is a social rule that says that when in polite society you don’t discuss religion, politics or air your dirty laundry. And for some reason we have decided that every romantic relationship, from teenage dates, to courtship, to marriage, is the most extreme form of polite society. That you will never get the attention, sex, affection or commitment you desire if you speak about such terrible matters with each other. Keep your opinion on abortion between friends and your religion for your family, but your husband doesn’t need to know. Talk about foreign policy with your brothers and your emotional hangups with your best friend, but don’t let your girlfriend hear a word.

Of course, this is all well and good if you’re starting out in a relationship with a lot of interest in the other person, a specific goal in mind and don’t want to ruin it by having a huge argument about welfare programs a week into knowing them. You want this to work and, of course, until you’ve got to know each other a little, you don’t actually know whether their religion would be a dealbreaker to either of you or whether you are happy to live with their diagnosed mental disorder forever.

But it seems that people hold onto this approach far beyond it’s usefulness. It’s the standard idea that if something has worked for a week or a month, it will still work. And, of course, far more relationships make it into the third month when you see each other once a week, hang out like teenagers and never meet the other’s family or learn their ideologies. So your head does the math and says “Well, it seems we are more successful at keeping people around when we just don’t talk about anything serious.” And you keep doing that. Which is fine if all you want is to go along for the ride and then to step aside when a better prospect moves in.

But if you want something specific or lasting, that approach just isn’t conductive. Your two hundred exes don’t make you a relationship expert who is doing the right thing. They either make you someone who only wants sex and/or brief companionship or someone who is going about romance and relationships all wrong.

Instead, what you should do once you’ve built that basic layer of trust and familiarity is build intimacy. And intimacy is built by showing your emotions and expressing your thoughts, not by keeping up a facade indefinitely. Frank, friendly debate is good for that. It allows you to deal with charged topics in an amoral setting, to discuss things that matter to you without worrying that this discussion will harm the relationship.

Of course, in the modern world where we’ve come to believe everything is a debate platform, it’s also important not to let your discussions turn into cold political shows for any possible onlookers. When you start a debate on abortion in a restaurant, be certain your partner will be more defensive of their point and appearance than loving towards you. This sort of discussion isn’t exactly organic, but it does flow naturally when in a private setting where both of you feel at ease being honest and appreciative. You don’t want them to be on the defensive. You’re not trying to convert or convince each other. You’re just talking in a relaxed, private setting, to get to know each other. In such a setting, not only will the debate become deeper and more varied, but you will learn a lot more about the other person. And learning about someone in a private setting is good for bonding. Even if what you learn isn’t all good, the little details and those shreds of humanity that you pick up on can make you realize whether they, the relationship or your perspective are more important to you.

Not only is it possible to love someone passionately and disagree with their stance on the housing crisis at once, it can also be a source of romance to have that debate, to tickle each other’s brains and establish that playful push and pull that makes you close. If you can create playfulness and intimacy around serious disagreements and still love someone despite believing them to be objectively wrong, it’s also arguably a sign that you’re going to last a long time. After all, if you are able to discuss all sorts of things, find no dealbreakers and understand that everything is less important than you two as a unit, then something is going right. And the longer the relationship is and the more you talk, the more comes to the surface. Meaning being ten years into an honest relationship where you see each other daily puts you on better ground for knowing where it’s headed than being ten years into an uncommunicative relationship where you see each other weekly. If after ten years of talking the butterflies are still there, that is important. If after ten months of never talking the butterflies are still there, that is meaningless.

So whether your relationship started as one of tens of ignorant romantic partnerships or arose from one of tens of close friendships, if you want it to last, a discussion on Faust wont do anything that another two months wouldn’t do anyway.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a “downer” kit.

Everyone gets a little down from time to time. Maybe you had a bad day, maybe you’re hormonal, maybe something serious happened or maybe you’re just born that way. And when you feel like that, there are things you want and need to help you feel better. As someone who lives with these feelings every few weeks and depressive bouts every month or so, I have more of less perfected the art of the “downer” kit. So here is how I make it.

This is part II of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. For part I, the household first aid kit, click here.

1: The container.

This is more important than it seems. You will need a moderately sized container, about as big as a large makeup bag or tiny backpack.

But it also has to have at least five compartments, if not more, be soft to touch, easy to open and in a soft, engaging colour like a pastel pink, yellow or green, bright white or something metallic. The reason for the compartments is so that it doesn’t need sorting, because the last thing you need is to dig through piles of things you don’t want looking for the one single thing you do want. The reason for the softness and easy-open is because when you are depressed your hormones are everywhere, which can cause crying (blurred vision and headaches) and wobbly hands (not best combined with fiddly clasps or sharp edges). And the reason for the colour is because you want something you can look at without hurting your eyes if you have a headache and that inspires energy and joy when you look at it.

2: Diet.

Far more important than you would guess. When you’re down you obviously crave certain comfort foods, but you also need to boost your micronutrients. Try keeping a balance of healthy snacks (dark chocolate, mixed nuts, Nakd bars, etc), healthy comfort food recipe alternatives (mac and cheese, pizza, meatloaf, spagbol, etc) and supplements known to help with depression (omega 3, vitamin B complex, St John’s Wort, evening primrose oil) in your bag at all times.

3: Exercise.

Keeping active helps you elevate your mood and distract yourself from depression. But fighting the lethargy can be hard. Make sure to keep some light weights and hand grips for armchair exercise and a yoga video to watch, to help encourage you to do five or ten minutes here and there.

4: Soothing.

Sometimes you’re feeling very shaky and just need to calm down. No appetite, no energy, no drive at all. You’re not exactly miserable at this point. You just look it and feel very tired or anxious. For these times, you need a soothing set. Keep at least two CD mixes or mp3 playlists with the most calming and happy songs you can find or tolerate when depressed. Have some sunglasses in case you need to go outside and even a sleep mask for when you’re home. Keep a bath salt mix in case the urge to soak in the tub strikes you, but the idea of mixing one is overwhelming. An inflatable neck pillow and a small hot water bottle may also help relax you.

5: Mood elevation.

For when you’re on your way up and need something to help you along or when you’ve just got out of rock bottom and need some distraction, keep some entertaining, exciting things around. A short book of jokes, a comedy or action film or some more invigorating music will help.

6: Human contact.

When you’re depressed, depending on why you’re down and how you deal with it, at some point you may not want to be alone. Try and keep a phonebook with names, house, work and mobile numbers and good contact hours for everyone who could help you in your time of need. This is very useful if you ever feel alone, panicked or paranoid and aren’t sure who to call.

Also, if these bouts are regular, try and have someone as your designated “depression monitor”, to call when you’re scared of hitting rock bottom or finding it hard to get out of bed. This should be someone who can just be there for you, encourage you and perhaps drive you to a new and interesting place to help kick you out of the smaller slumps.

7: Pamper.

Finally, you want to have things to treat yourself with. Massage oils, makeup, a hair styling set, a manicure set and some of your favourite childhood sweets would all be good for this area. Anything small and hard to get your hands on when you don’t even want to leave the house.

And that is what to put into a kit to fight depression, whether you’re just feeling a little down because of the weather or so bad you can’t face the thought of leaving bed.

What would you put into your “downer” kit?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Blueberry Banana Pudding.

We’ve had other things, but for some reason I haven’t noted any of the stir-fries down, so they’re lost.

Here is a recipe for a protein-packed, carby pudding that lets me break my limits for carbs and dairy before lunch. :p

Blueberry Banana Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

-1 cup plain flour

-1 cup skimmed milk powder

-300g extra heavy cream

-4 eggs

-4 bananas

-1/2 cup blueberries

Utensils:

-mixing bowl and fork

-knife

-greased or nonstick baking tray

Recipe:

1: Mix the dry ingredients.

2: Incorporate the eggs and cream.

3: Slice the bananas.

4: Lightly fold in the fruit.

5: Pour the mix into the tray.

6: Bake at 200C until it rises and is brown at the sides.

7: Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Blueberry Banana Pudding Recipe 2