Thursday, 14 May 2015

Sydney is "The Best!"

Princess and I have just spent 4 days together in Sydney, and she tells me it was "The Best!".

We needed to (1) attend a birthday party and (2) see an eye specialist, so we made it into a long fun weekend.

On Saturday morning we drove an uneventful 3 hours (hooray for cruise control and seatback media players) to get to my goddaughter's birthday party which was held at the Concordia German bowls/croquet club in Tempe. The food and wine was cheap and plentiful and there was lots of space for the kids to run around and kick a ball.

After the party we went to stay over with J&B and their son H who is the same age as Princess. Princess and H played nicely together, shared a bath and stayed up late talking while I caught up with J&B. It was a very pleasant evening.

On Sunday morning everyone was up at dawn, and after breakfast we all headed to Doll's Point on Botany Bay for some beach time. It is winter here, but with enough layers and some sunshine the kids were happy to build sandcastles and paddle. Another friend with an 18 month old boy who I hadn't yet met came to see us briefly too, and it was fun watching the little guy toddling along determined to get into the sea!

We had a nice lunch in the restaurant at Doll's Point and then H and Princess played in the rather awesome playground there for a couple of hours. Princess was having so much fun that we stayed on for an extra hour after H and his folks left, and then we went to B&A's house for the night.

B&A have 2 kids, D who is Princess' age and L (my goddaughter) who is now 3. They played well together, especially on their trampoline, and after squeezing all 3 of them in the quite small bath (!) Princess slept in D's room and they chatted until late.

On Monday we were up at dawn again, D went to school, A went to work and B and L had errands to run. Princess and I took a walk to the train station and caught a train into the center of Sydney. We got off at Town Hall and walked down the hill to Darling Harbour and the Chinese Gardens, which is a gorgeous oasis of ponds, waterfalls and pavilions in the middle of the city. Princess loved it, and I was able to allow her to disappear exploring as the whole place is walled in and safe for a sensible kid. Another old friend came to meet us there with her 18 month old daughter whom I had not yet met, and we had a cup of tea and then the kids fed the koi before we left.

Walking in the direction of the Aquarium I met up with other old friend, and we stopped at a seafood restaurant for lunch before Princess and I continued to the Aquarium.

Princess adored the Aquarium! I hadn't taken her there before for various reasons, so it was a new experience and she is definitely the right age to really enjoy it. We ogled at fishtanks, saw a reclusive platypus, glowing jellyfish, lots of seahorses, and of course the shark tunnels and the dugongs. We even saw fish :-)

When we finished at the Aquarium it was late afternoon and Princess was a bit weary, so we took a taxi back to the train station and caught a train back to B&A's. We stayed another night and the kids stayed up late yet again.

On Tuesday morning we were all exhausted, but B&A had to get to work and D and L had to get to school and daycare, so up everyone got at dawn again. Princess and I didn't have to rush off so we had a quiet morning after everyone left, and at 10 we headed out to do a little shopping and then to Princess' eye specialist.

Princess was born with strabismus, or a squint, in both eyes. She has had surgery twice to fix it, and now her eyes are 99% straight but she is still not using both eyes together. She also needs glasses for slight astigmatism. I thought I'd take her back to the specialist for a check up.

Princess didn't do all that well in the eye test, but part of me wonders if that isn't because she was just so very tired! The doctor gave me a new glasses prescription too, as she didn't agree with the script the local ophthalmologist gave us. There isn't anything we can do for the eyes working independently, unfortunately, but it isn't going to impact on Princess' life too much. She just won't be a great tennis player or be able to watch a 3D movie.

After the eye testing was finally over Princess and I got on the road back to Canberra. We stopped for burgers on the way and got home after dark, not long before bedtime.

It was lovely to be home in our own beds, and after 2 sleeps Princess and I are pretty much back to normal.

Sydney is certainly "The Best!"

Monday, 11 May 2015


At my new job I have the biggest desk I've had in years! We are annoyingly restricted to only one monitor for eco-bongo reasons so that gives me more room than usual I suppose, but it is still a huge space.

We are open plan, but have quite high dividing "walls" - I have to stand up to see the person opposite me.

From left to right:

  • A small hanging shelf bearing:
    1. A pink and white African violet. This gets a few comments, they are quite unusual in Australia.
    2. Hand sanitiser
    3. Handcream
    4. A box of tissues
    5. A tin of sugarfree mints

  • A water bottle and a glass, and my coffee mug (with a red poppy pattern)

  • Desk phone

  • A pad of paper and a pen

  • My iPhone

  • In front of me: A computer, monitor and keyboard and mouse. I have a set of bud earphones plugged in to the computer and a small pot of lip balm sitting of top of it. Also a postit note with my user id (but never my password!!!)

  • A postit note pad, with a shopping list in progress on it.

  • A digital photo frame, which changes the picture every hour (currently showing King and Princess playing with toy golf clubs in a park). This turns itself off overnight and on weekends, good for the eco-bongos too!

  • Another small hanging shelf bearing:
    1. A box of teabags (being a government department we have to bring in our own tea, coffee, milk etc)
    2. A tube of Nespresso pods (although they do supply a Nespresso machine!)
    3. A fruit fly trap in a white coffee mug. I have seen no flies in the last 2 days!
    4. A blue plastic mesh bowl containing apples and bananas

  • Some detritus - an apple core and tissues - waiting to be taken to the kitchen bin. We have no rubbish bins at our desks.

  • A set of drawers containing handbag, flat shoes and muesli bars

  • Under my desk is a backpack with my gym kit

What does your desk look like?

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Fruit Flies!

My new office has a fruit fly problem.

After a couple of days of having oodles of the little buggers turn up every time I ate something fruity at my desk I googled for a solution, and this has definitely worked for me:

Take a mug (or a used takeaway coffee cup or whatever. Not something glass unless you want to see dead flies... well, maybe you do!). Pour in an inch of vinegar or fruit juice (I am currently using cider vinegar. It just has to smell sweet and fermenty). Squirt in a little dishwashing liquid and stir. Fashion an inverted cone from paper and make a small hole at the bottom. Tape this over the top of your container.

The flies are attracted to the smell of the juice and enter through the hole in the cone (and will find it hard to find their way out again). If they land on the liquid then the soap will have reduced the surface tension so that they fall in and drown.

I went from 20 flies arriving per snack to perhaps one (sometimes none) within 2 weeks.

Pro tip: if you have something the flies adore (like a banana peel), leave it next to your fly trap for half an hour before throwing it away. The flies will hone in on the trap once they are in the area.

Friday, 8 May 2015

IsoWhey Verdict

IsoWhey verdict after 4 days: Fail.

I seem to have lost no weight at all, and I've been very well behaved except for some wine on Wednesday. I far prefer WeightWatchers where I always lose weight if I stick to my points and I can eat real food rather than sweet shakes and bars.

If you love sugar and starchy carbs and are very overweight then this will probably work for you, but if you are already on a low-starch high-protein diet and are only a bit overweight then it probably won't do much.

PS. I know 4 days is a short time for a trial, but I also know that on WeightWatchers I would have lost at least half a kilo in 4 days. I was expecting better than that from IsoWhey.

PPS. After a bit of Google research I have found info that indicates that ingesting protein as a liquid does not make you feel full, which is why I was struggling so much when I replaced 5 points of chicken for lunch with 5 points of shake. Our bodies do not register liquid calories and still want solid food. The body building folk use protein shakes to bulk up! So be careful...

Thursday, 7 May 2015

IsoWhey Day 4

This morning the scale said I was back down to my weight from day 2, so yesterday was just bloating. I did eat a few rather salty things again yesterday, and I cracked and had half a bottle of wine last night too (I made it to 8pm but the scent of Milord's glass of wine eventually broke me. I have no willpower!) so perhaps if I avoid all salt and alcohol today I will actually see a loss tomorrow? We shall see.

Really, I'd just like to fit comfortably into my jeans for the weekend, when Princess and I are driving 3 hours to Sydney and staying with friends for a few days. Princess needs to see her Sydney eye specialist again next Tuesday, and the timing coincides with a party this Saturday for my goddaughter and her mum, so Girlie Trip here we come! I'm really looking forward to catching up with friends after so long, and doing a few touristy things with my daughter. 5 is such a lovely age.

Anyway, regarding the IsoWhey, this is probably my last day on it unless I see more than a half kilo loss tomorrow. I far prefer Weightwatchers.


7am: Coffee shot with skimmed milk at home (2pt)
Breakfast: Chocolate IsoWhey bar, eaten slowly between 8:30 and 9:30 (6pt)
11am: Banana (2pt) and carrot sticks
Lunch: Light salad, carrot sticks and celery sticks
3pm: IsoWhey Vanilla shake with skimmed milk (5pt)
Dinner: TBA but I have 11 points over (Mom is doing a grocery shop today. I never know what I'm going to be cooking on shopping day until I get home!)

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Still Sunny

I am still here, and life is still good! I really must get back into the blogging habit - I have plenty of time to do it...

My new job is great, even though I have gone backward in terms of technology and methodologies (it is a legacy system). Good money, great working environment and friendly people. Sadly, I'm in a state of limbo because they are finishing off a major release and the bugs are too ephemeral for me to help out much, so I spend a lot of time picking unimportant bugs out of the backlog and investigating them. It's pretty mindless, and they say we won't start new development until JULY!!!

I think I was hired to justify the budget going into the new financial year (I'm working for a government department) - just a bum in a seat. Oh well, I'm being paid a lot to do nothing!

Since I last wrote Milord had a birthday, we had a wedding anniversary and Easter. Lots of dinners and wine, lovely.

Which means I have put back on all the weight I lost coming up to my birthday. I'm trying to shake it off. I am closer to my gym at this job, so I am getting back into my 2 or 3 times a week workout routine.

I also decided to give a crash diet an attempt, instead of my usual Weightwatchers. "They" say that they lose like half a kilo a day on the protein shake diets, so that would be awesome, right? I should lose a dress size in a week! So, here I review Optifast and IsoWhey.

If you have arrived here to compare WW to IsoWhey, I used the old points for fruit to keep it fair. So that's 2 for a banana and 1 for an apple.
Optifast and Isowhey bars are both about 6 points. The IsoWhey shakes are 3 points before you add milk.
My WW points allowance is 26.

Last week I tried swapping out my breakfast for Optifast bars. These were disgusting - incredibly sweet and dense - and I was hungry again within a couple of hours! I thought the whole point of the protein meal-replacements was that you wouldn't be hungry until the next mealtime? The Optifast bars were so nasty that I didn't even try the shakes!

This week I'm trying IsoWhey products.

  • On Monday I had coffee at home (espresso shot with skimmed milk, 2 pt), then I had a shake with skimmed milk (5pt) for breakfast at 8:30am (coffee-flavor, quite nice) and I was tummy-growling hungry by 9:30am.
    I had a banana (2pt) and stuck it out until 1pm when I had a light salad and the berry-flavor protein bar (6pt. very nice, like an oversize normal muesli bar) and that kept me going until about 4pm when I ate 2 apples (2pt).
    I was bite-your-head-off hangry by the time I got home! Dinner was a lamb shank (9pt yum) and vegetables.
    Using the Weightwatchers points calculator I had used my normal points allowance of 26.

  • On Tuesday I had coffee at home (2pt), then half the chocolate protein bar (nice) at 8:30 and the other half at 9:30 (6pt).
    At 11am I was very hungry and I had a banana (2pt) and some carrot sticks. At 1pm I had a light salad and a soup made from the lamb shank sauce (2pt yum!).
    At 4pm I had the strawberry protein shake (5pt not bad) and an apple and I wasn't hangry when I got home.
    Dinner was a small portion of roast chicken (5pt) and lots of spicy roasted butternut pumpkin and peas (3pt).
    Again I used my normal points allowance.

  • Today: Coffee, berry protein bar, banana, carrot sticks.
    I am currently eating the light salad and will shortly go and heat up my lamb shank sauce soup.
    I will have a shake and an apple late afternoon and dinner will be a slice of two of roast lamb with veggies.
    This will take me to my normal points allowance.
    Edited to add: the banana shake is vile!

Verdict so far:
  1. I haven't seen any dramatic weight loss (the scale actually told me I'd gained half a kilo since Monday! I hope it is just the salty soups and veggies making me bloat).

  2. According to my Weightwatchers calculator I would have been consuming the same "points" anyway.

  3. I am WAY hungrier on these protein bars and shakes than I normally am when I eat eggs or chicken for breakfast and lunch.

  4. I seem to have less energy, but I'm not sure about this - it could be normal don't-feel-like-gymitis!

So, I am not very impressed yet. Weightwatchers would have had me eating the same amount of calories/nutrients/protein but in a far more satisfying way.

I wonder if this only works for the seriously overweight who normally overeat on mostly carbs? I am overweight by "only" 10kg and I normally eat a high-protein low-carb diet, so perhaps that's why I feel so hungry. I'm actually taking in less protein and more carbs with the shakes and bars!

If I don't see more than a half kilo loss on the scale on Friday (which sticking to Weightwatchers would have given me) then I'll have to call these protein crash diets a real dud. I'll let you know!