Friday, 30 November 2007

Diet Post 9

Friday at last. This has been a loooong week.

Weight-wise I've been all over the place. I had a look at my weight history and milord and I weigh exactly what we did 4 weeks ago... with some wild yoyo-ing in between! My weight on Wednesday was 70.9kg, down a pound from the week before, so that's something I suppose. 71 is proving a very hard number to get away from! It's also a bit of a milestone for me as it's a third of the way to goal... so when I passed it a month ago I was so chuffed. I'm not so chuffed to still be there!

The silly season has started, with Christmas parties and absolutely everyone throwing dinners and drinks and barbeques. It's rained more days than not over the last fortnight so I'm not walking home after work. And I've lost the will to get to the gym regularly... only went once this week. Bleah.

I'm feeling run down too. It's probably a combination of too much food and alcohol and not enough exercise. I'm also suffering a bit with hayfever which tends to wake me up sneezing at 2am and then I can't get back to sleep for ages because my nose is running. I've started taking an antihistamine at bedtime, but then I wake up groggy and retaining water and the scale is mean to me!

It was mean to me today but I'm ignoring the reading because I felt like I was retaining water. You know that puffy, headachey, swollen feeling? Gotta be that... especially as I was good with my food and didn't drink any booze yesterday. I hope it's gone by tomorrow! I'm not updating my ticker until I'm sure I'm below 71kg.

On the up-side, my trousers and shorts are definitely looser these days. I was wearing shorts last night that a year ago would pop open if I bent over. I touched my toes as a test and they were fine ;-).

I have another low-fat no-carb (possibly vegetarian) recipe for you, and it's awesome! By the way, Weight Watchers reckons pumpkin is zero-points, which is great! I've lived on the stuff before and lost weight, so I believe it!

Roast butternut pumpkin and vegetable soup

Half a butternut pumpkin, seeds removed, unpeeled
1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves (don't peel them)
2 red capsicum, halved with seeds removed
2 large carrots, peeled and halved lengthways
2 zuccini, halved lengthways
2 onions, peeled and halved
olive oil spray
500ml stock
spices: salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice, ground coriander, cumin, lemon pepper
herbs: fresh oregano and rosemary

In a baking tray place all the vegetables with their cut sides down. Scatter the garlic cloves between them. Spray with olive oil spray. Season... I especially like Chinese 5-spice on my butternut. Sprinkle the herbs on top.

Bake for about an hour in a hot oven (I whack ours on max, but it's not a good oven, so maybe 180-200C) until the skin of the pumpkin blisters and you can slide a butter knife through the thickest part of it.

Allow to cool for a bit and then peel the garlic - it should almost ooze out of it's skin when you handle it... Plonk everything into a large saucepan. Add just enough stock to cover everything, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend to a smooth consistency and serve.

I don't serve bread with my soups because they are so hearty they don't need it. Without bread this soup is zero-points on Weight Watchers. If you ate it until you were full all day long you would lose weight! And it's filling and slightly sweet and nutty and yummy. Roasting the garlic in its skin stops it being overpowering so you can use loads - it actually goes kind of sweet.

When I made this I actually had the veggies in the tray that I was roasting a chicken in, so they picked up the juices and flavours of the roasted chicken. I also added all the roast chicken juices to the soup. If you do this then bear in mind that it will not be a zero-point meal anymore because there will be some chicken fat in there. But it's gorgeous!

Update: My Dad tried this recipe (Hi Dad!) and said the smaller veggies turned to charcoal, so maybe cook the butternut for half an hour on it's own then add the other veg! My oven is rubbish - I hate gas ovens - when we move I'm getting an electric oven with a gas hob.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Phantom Student

I never had much luck in school or uni with my classes or houses or teams. I guess the Sorting Hat had it in for me, because I always ended up in the team or house that failed in competition, and the class that caused the teachers enormous trouble. My house always came last. My team always scored nil. My class often had the headmaster come and tell us off. Teachers hated us.

Now, a little of this could possibly be my fault as I'm rubbish at team sports. But the performance of an entire segment of the school can't be my fault, can it?! And I was generally the nerdy teacher's pet. Actually, it's lucky I was such a nerd, because the distraction of my classmates was pretty huge!

Anyway, one such boisterous group I ended up in was my class for my computer course at college/uni after I finished school (it was a technikon, which is a kind of cross between the two - 3 years to qualify in IT with none of the deep theory or social life of uni. Uni students sneered at us but employers found us ready to work). There were 4 classes taking the course, but I ended up in the one that chatted and laughed and threw things and skipped class to drink beer on the beach. I was one of 5 girls in a group of 30 or so youngsters, and thoroughly enjoyed being one of the lads for my time there. Although I was still a nerd and came to most classes and did my homework and handed in my projects on time... I was very popular when people needed to copy notes (or code).

Near the beginning of our first year one of the lads decided it would be funny to turn in an exam in the name of a non-existent student. He picked up an extra exam paper on the way in to the exam, filled in some rather bad answers, and submitted it for marking under the name of "George Torsolopolous", who was the little brother of a friend. I suppose all he was really thinking was that the lecturer would find the answers really rubbish but know that the student wasn't in the class. What happened instead was that the phantom student had their marks posted in the exam results, and their name added to the class roll!

We found this hilarious! From that moment onward someone was nominated in every exam to fill in a paper for George. The poor guy's marks were never very good, and we had a quiet snigger every time a lecturer asked the class if George was around. They did find out eventually - after nearly a year I think, although it may have been longer.

The funniest thing about our phantom student though, was that the real George Torsolopolous actually did do that same computer course a year or two later. I hear he had a great deal of trouble convincing the lecturers to mark his papers!

PS. I've googled his name and got no hits, so maybe I've remembered it wrong. George, if you google yourself and find this, sorry mate!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Diet Post 8

Darn it, I've gone up a bit. 71.2kg today.

Not really a surprise, as last week we fell of the wagons thoroughly - both food and wine wagons that is. That means I am back where I was a week or two ago. However I really did enjoy the champagne, roast chicken, wine, bread, barbeques, beer and nibbles over the past while...

We are back on track though (how often do I say that!?) and are eating mainly fruit and salads this week. I made a lovely super-easy bean salad last night to bring to work, and it turned out great. I'm looking forward to having that for the rest of the week.

Recipe (makes 6 lunch servings):
1 tin chickpeas
1 tin 4-bean mix
1 tin lentils
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful cracked wheat
250 ml stock (I used chicken)

Heat the stock up in a saucepan until it is simmering. Add all the ingredients, stir and remove from heat. When cool, scoop from the saucepan with a slotted spoon, and add to a green salad... Yum. You could add other herbs and spices of course - I reckon a bit of fresh mint and corander leaves would be good. You probably won't need any salt because the stock and the beans are already salty.

Milord has a bit of a social week planned, but at the moment I don't. Hopefully I will stick to the salad plan and can be suitably smug when I lose weight by the end of the week! I advised him to eat only half of the portion served in the restaurants, and he looked at me like I'd grown extra eyebrows. We do love our food!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

A Tad Blue

Sigh. I'm feeling blue today...

You know, I've changed countries a couple of times now, and occasionally it has its hard moments. I often get asked "Don't you miss South Africa / the UK?" and my answer is always "No. But I do miss my friends and family there."

I've been in Australia almost 2 years, I have a loving boyfriend and a couple of close mates... but no one here has known me for very long. No one here has seen me through a breakup, job change, house move or even a bad cold. I don't have a history with anyone - all our stories are less than 2 years old. We don't say "Do you remember the time when - " because of course we do, it happened only the other day.

Last night Milord and I had dinner with a couple of his old friends. Their friendship goes back many years: they have been on long holidays together, been to each other's weddings, helped one another through relationships and divorces and job changes and house moves and children. They have history. After a few bottles of wine they began to reminisce about things, and I kept having to say "Wait, tell me the whole story, I wasn't there...". Eventually I merely sat quietly, unable to join in or even follow the flow of conversation. I stopped listening.

I finally wandered off for a glass of water and went into the lounge room and sat on the sofa in the dark... missing my people. I went all tired and emotional, and luckily after a while Milord noticed and took me home. I'm still a bit down today.

I'll be ok - I've been through this before. Eventually I will have been in my new country long enough to create a history, and I will be able to say "Remember when" to someone.

But I miss you guys so much right now.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Addams Family

20 minutes left to the day and I'm bored... maybe I should tell you a story.

Flashback:

It's the mid-90s and I'm 24 years old. It is early summer, I have been in the same programming job for a year or two and I have a steady boyfriend. I live on my own in Cape Town and life is pretty good.

Except - I was bored with my hair. Does anyone else have that? As you may know I have incredibly slow growing hair. This means that by the time I have grown it long I'm ready to cut it short again and so on. I think I'd recently gone from long to shoulder length to sort of short and floppy around the ears, and I was fed up with it all. I was visiting my mum for the weekend, and she mentioned that she'd just bought a set of hair clippers to use on her then boyfriend...

Now, this was the era of Sinead O'Connor shaving her head, and Demi Moore had just done so in GI Jane, and I think a couple of other celebs were working the buzz cut. It was coooool.

So I asked my mum to cut my hair off with the clippers. To a number 4. She laughed, poured a glass of wine and proceeded to do as I wanted. It was fab! I loved it... for about 2 weeks. Then I got bored with it - there is only so much you can do with 4mm long hair!

One thing you can do, of course, is colour your hair. As I usually go blonde, and I was bored with this, I went black. Deep, solid, blue-black. In South Africa they sell a product called "Go-Black" aimed at the black people going grey, and I have never come across such a permanent product!

Oh yeah - did I mention that I usually go blonde? See, when you dye your hair blonde, you're not dying it as such, you're stripping colour out. So it doesn't matter if you slop over the hairline a little. Or get it on your ears. Or down your neck. And I thought that I should dye my eyebrows to match too of course. Never thinking how I should be verrry careful to keep the dye within the boundaries of my brows...

After I washed the black off, I discovered just how much facial, ear and neck hair I actually have! It's invisible, but man, I have oodles! I washed. And scrubbed. And exfoliated. And scrubbed. And finally I took a razor and shaved... my... face. And neck. And ears. And eyebrow edges.

Oh my.

It wasn't good. I had big black caterpillar eyebrows, and scarey very short very black hair. My co-workers named me "Wednesday" after the Christina Ricci character in the Addams Family movie.


After a week I brought home some hair lightener to get it off... Remember I said this stuff was permanent? It was permanent. I had to wait for it to grow out... and remember I said I have slow hair? Geeez.

Many months later, when I finally grew my hair into a decent style and all the black was gone, my boyfriend asked me very nicely not to do that again.


I agreed.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Searches

Search terms which brought people to my blog:


Wandering Saffa Chick: That's my name, don't wear it out.

Juice Fasting Holiday Sydney: Oh mate, you don't want to fast on your holiday! Sydney is all about amazing food and wine and restaurants and bars with views. Plus you might go all peculiar on your bridge climb...

Juicing, I'm tired, cranky: Yup, that happened to me too. It's normal. A good fix is to dash out and get an apple and carrot juice for a bit of a sugar lift. Or a herbal tea with honey.

Life: The Ongoing Education: True... but I'm pretty sure you are the blog author seeing who's blogrolled you so Hi! How you doing?

Flat chest humiliated: Oh no that's awful. I'm guessing you're very young if it bothers you though - hang in there honey it gets better! Boys will want to know you for your mind, shirts will fit, you won't have to wear bras or you can get padded ones to fake it, gravity will never make you droop, and running will never be painful. My bloke says he prefers tiny tits to big bad ones heading south, and I think most men might feel that way ;-).

Weight watchers points, biltong: Let me look it up for you... 6 points per 100g dearie. Steep but worth it - oh I miss decent biltong!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Teeth

Milord had his teeth whitened yesterday. Funny, I hadn't thought he really needed to - of course they'd discoloured a bit over time, and he likes coffee and red wine and used to smoke... so sure they weren't dazzling but they weren't ghastly either.

Not like some people I've known...

I went out with a chap years ago who had horrible teeth. Too many for his mouth so they bunched up and overlapped and stuck out, and they were stained and cracked too. The poor guy was not exactly eye candy anyway (it was a bad rebound alright!?) but these teeth were just the final straw. I have a thing about teeth... I like them clean and flossed and - well - straight! I've spent a fortune on my own teeth over the years, and I don't think there is any excuse for bad oral hygiene or snaggly teeth. You're never to old for braces - if Tom Cruise can do it, anyone can.

So there I was, dating Jaws, and dropping not-so-subtle hints that he should do something about his teeth, when he goes and has his back-hair zapped. Yes, he had a very hairy back, but that's not a big deal unless you're trying to apply suncream is it? But anyway he spent a huge amount of money removing something nobody ever saw - and wouldn't do anything about his teeth which everybody had to look at. I was not amused.

Needless to say, he didn't last long. Not just because he wasn't that attractive, but he was also boring and tight with money. Making your girlfriend pay her own way when she's out of work and you're earning big bucks is not endearing... We broke up on the second day of a 5 day trip to Florence - but that's another story! To this day the accent of Middlesbrough in Northern England makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up... shudder

But I digress...

I met Milord for lunch yesterday at the Sydney Fish Market, shortly after he'd been to the dentist. He complained of shooting pains in his teeth, but managed to eat lunch and have a glass or too of champagne (it was our montheversary) and went back to work. When we got home last night he really wasn't feeling ok - his teeth were aching and the shooting pains still struck every so often. I fed him painkillers and he went to bed. Poor baby - there's nothing as debilitating as tooth pain. It seems he grinds his teeth a bit so the enamel has worn away in places, and the bleach of the whitening process really stirred them up. He slept 12 hours and today says he feels much better.

His teeth are definitely whiter, but he's not sure it was worth it. It cost oodles too, which he didn't realise it would! As he said last night: "We could have bought a plasma telly for that amount of money!"

I fiddled about after he went to bed... painted my nails, watched a bit of tv, had a long bath and read my book with a bottle of wine... oops. Not supposed to drink during the week! Then I got the munchies and ate a whole jar of olives.

I'm not too bothered though, as my weight has come down a little this week - 70.6kg today! Woohoo! That's the first time I've broken 71 since March. I'm substituting juice for breakfast and dinner, have fruit for mid-meal snacks, but have a decent lunch. Seems to be working! Now I just have to hold it together over the weekend...

Monday, 5 November 2007

Port Douglas

It appears I have forgotten to blog about Port Douglas. I was fiddling with my photos and never quite got around to it!

So, Kat and Paul had spent a couple of days in the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains, and came back to Sydney on the evening of Thursday 11th October. On the Friday they did the Harbour Bridge climb and some other sightseeing, then met me in the bar of the Shangri La hotel overlooking the city and harbour after work. The bar is on the 36th floor and the view is amazing! After a couple of cocktails there Milord joined us and we went to dinner at Cafe Sydney, my favourite restaurant in town. It's on the 5th floor of the old customs house, and we sat outside on the balcony - this was the view from our table:


On Saturday Kat and Paul went sightseeing in town while Milord and I caught up on paperwork, then we all went for lunch in Watsons Bay - a very pretty beach looking back at the city. We had lunch at Doyles, a famous seafood restaurant right on the beach. Milord and I shared the seafood paella which was awesome! Several bottles of wine and a pub crawl later we caught a ferry home at sunset, then went out to dinner with other friends as well... I didn't last very long that evening, but Milord carried on until 2 in the morning and was not very well the next day!


We flew to Cairns on Sunday afternoon, picked up a hire car and drove an hour north to Port Douglas. Kat had chosen a very nice self catering apartment within 10 minutes walk of everything including shops, beach and marina. We dropped our bags and went exploring - ending up in a very nice restaurant for dinner, then had an early night as we would be starting early the next day.

On Monday we did a safari in the Daintree Rainforest with one other couple. We saw lizards and ferns and cycads and aerial plants... it rained all over us several times too - guess that's why they call it a rainforest! We were on the go from 7am to 5pm, with a stop for morning tea and a very nice lunch. We also went for a ride on a "crocodile boat" along the Daintree River, but didn't see any crocs among the mangroves. Apparently that means they're off lurking in the sea... nice. We walked on the beach at Cape Tribulation, and also took a walk to a high waterfall through some lovely ferns and trees. Turns out the bugs in the forest like me just as much as their town counterparts - next time I'll cover myself in repellent!


On Tuesday we went on a 4-story boat cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. The boat goes to a permanent platform which has underwater viewing rooms, semi submersable trips and lots of safe snorkeling. Rob and I didn't see much of this, as we'd signed up for 2 dives so spent most of the day on the dive boeat instead! It was pretty good diving - probably our best in Oz so far - but not a patch on the Red Sea. Kat and Paul looked at the fishies while staying dry, and we met up for the trip back to land again in the afternoon.


Wednesday Kat and Paul snuck out of the apartment early to walk on the beach and lie by the pool. We didn't realise and spent hours whispering and tiptoeing around waiting for them to wake up! We only realised what they'd done once we had crept out leaving a note in search of breakfast and found them by the pool! We'd made plans to visit an old mate of Milord's, Adrian, for the afternoon and night, so after leaving Kat and Paul by the pool and a lovely brunch on the beach Adrian picked us up and took us back to his place in nearby Wonga Beach.

It was a very interesting afternoon. Adrian has sort of dropped out of the rat race and is a hippy handyman. He has built his own beach house using construction site cast offs and pieces from Thailand and Bali... very funky. While we sat on cushions in the garden various friends and neighbours dropped by, and it turned into an impromptu party. I wandered off to bed around midnight, and Milord wasn't far behind... Thursday was a slow start, and then Adrian drove us back to Port Douglas and the three of us went for brunch overlooking the marina. Kat and Paul had gone off to the Kuranda Sky Rail, so Milord and I spent the rest of the day by the pool, resting.


Thursday night was our last night and we booked into Nautilus - a swanky restaurant tucked away in a grove of coconut palms and open to the elements. That was actually kind of annoying, as the only light was candles and they kept blowing out! The food and wine were superb though. We were the last diners to leave.


I really enjoyed Port Douglas, and I will definitely go back. They say it's too hot and too wet in summer, but it is an excellent winter/spring destination.

We flew home on Friday, and had a quiet night in. Milord cooked us his famous lamb curry and we copied photos from cameras and burned them to dvd. Kat and Paul picked up a hire car on Saturday morning and headed south for the next week, all the way to Melbourne. Sounds like a fab trip and I look forward to hearing all about it!