Sunday, 27 July 2014

Do you treat your body worse than you treat your car?

I'm related to a mechanic* and he often rolled his eyes at how badly I treated my car. No oil, no services, not checking the tyres... I even ran out of petrol once or twice. I've gotten slightly better with age and more money. I do get regular services and get nagging issues checked out but I'm still not brilliant at keeping up with the basics.

Still, I was thinking the other day that I'm probably even worse at looking after my body than I am at looking after my car.

I have a theory that people tend to focus on one or two aspects of their lives to the exclusion of the others.

There are lots of different ways you can slice and dice the concept of wellbeing but the main division I see is between body and mind. I know lots of people (myself included) who are prone to treat their bodies worse than they treat their cars - not giving them proper fuel, regular maintance, grinding their gears (okay, the metaphor is getting laboured here...). 

Still, why do we do this? Why do we focus on our careers and sedentary things using our minds while our bodies seize up and rust away (metaphorically speaking...).     

I've put on about eight pounds (or four kilos) in the last year. It's gradually crept up with more indulgence in 'treats', more takeaways or pre-prepared food and less movement. I bit the bullet (another metaphor... I'll stop commenting on this now) last week did an assessment at the gym. Owch! The results were not good.

So, the worm has turned and so far I've had a good week on My Fitness Pal with diet and exercise. I need to keep doing this for a couple of months at least to get back to where I was a year ago. Then see how I go from there. 

I need to remember that I am a whole person: body, mind and spirit. I need to make sure I take time and energy to look after all three. I'm committed to making a change - let's see if I can actually learn this lesson this time!

What about you - how are you doing with your car and/ or your body?

* The picture is not my relative!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

What to snap up in the summer sales?

House of Fraser Summer Sale

House of Fraser Summer Sale by eleanorbirdy featuring a sally hansen nail polish

I've been poodling about the House of Fraser website for ages, putting sale items in my bag, but not actually buying them. There's something about high summer that makes me disinclined to shop. Is it the knowledge that all this heat has to wane at some point soon? Or the feeling that really I should be spending this month outside enjoying the weather, instead of thinking about clothes? Or just that I like these things but I don't love them?

Lemon yellow is really fashionable at the moment and it does actually suit me. I have tried and failed to pick up a pastel yellow nail polish.  The one I got (Rimmel 60 seconds) got lots of compliments but it's more a custard yellow and not at all what I was looking for.

I do kind of need another pair of cropped trousers for work. I only have one pair in black and they're a lot more comfortable than skirts in the heat. 

I also do need another pair of jeans. I just took a pair of scissors to one of my pairs today to turn them into crops but all my pairs are a bit faded and sad-looking. 

Comfy flat shoes for weekend and walking to work are always useful and I just like those turquoise wedges. I'm not sure if the pink shoes are a bit matronly?

How are you doing with the summer sales? (Or winter sales if you're on the other side of the world) Taking advantage or leaving them alone? 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Brushing on eyebrows

I was brushing on my eyebrows the other day when a couple of memories assailed me. I thought I'd share...

The first memory comes from when I was 12. It was the final year at  my small rural primary school. I was enjoying being a big fish before I would be dropped in the big pond of the tough local high school.

Mum had bought tickets to the outdoor summer Shakespeare at the University. She wondered if I'd look too grown-up in an outfit of a stone-wash jeans and a white shirt under a hot pink sweatshirt with my grandmother's diamante brooch at the neck.  She even allowed me a touch of matching pink lipstick.

That was one of those moments of transition - from girl to woman. It was also a typical moment of caring and generosity from my mum as she trusted me with the precious old brooch. We enjoyed a night out together doing something that many 12 year olds wouldn't get to do or wouldn't enjoy. I would later study Shakespeare at that University.

The second half of the memory trail leads me to much later, when mum was quite sick with cancer. It was her birthday and we'd organised a big do with all her friends coming, gold and white balloons and a cake with apricot roses on it. For weeks previously she had been unable to stand or walk for long so we weren't sure how she'd cope with the demands of the event.

She got dressed for the party, her white shirt and orange cotton cardigan  hanging loose on her. I did her makeup, colouring her in with the colours of health and youth. I brushed on eyebrows and we chose an orange-red lipstick to tone in with her cardigan.

She managed to stay up for the whole party, chatting busily to all her guests, cutting the cake, enjoying the toasts. I told her how proud I was of her and a few people wiped away a tear. The photo of her happily holding up a cup of tea in a toast was the final photo in the montage at her funeral a couple of months later.

I don't know what this goes to show, other than that fact that three years later I still miss her a lot and think of her often. Little things trigger memories, bitter-sweet.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Eats, laughs and reads...

Sorry for the long radio silence - I've had a nasty cold/ cough thing that's taken about ten days to shift. So, what's the news?

Twitter gets me food!

While I was sick, I was on Twitter a fair bit. I saw a local independent cafe (BearPit Social) tweeting about their juices and joked about them delivering as I was sick in bed. A bit of banter later and they actually send someone over on a bike with a delicious green juice and a vegan salad. I didn't have enough cash for both but they bought them anyway and said I could pay them back. Awesome customer service!  

 The Bear Pit is a massively ill-conceived underpass area surrounded by traffic. It has been the type of place colonised by homeless people where you wouldn't walk after dark, but efforts are being made to bring it back to life. Good on the Bearpit Social Cafe - I wish them well!

New Author - Brandon Sanderson

Also while I was sick, I finished the first book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy 'The Final Empire'. I'm now about 3/4 of the way through the second book called 'The Well of Acension'. The Mistborn trilogy is in the high fantasy genre where quite a few novels are derivative drivel but these ones are pretty good.

They have a nice original premise, they're well written with some interesting (if not quite fully rounded) characters. I think Patrick Rothfuss and Lois McMaster Bujold are much better than Brandon Sanderson. George RR Martin comes second, but Sanderson comes in a respectable third along with authors like Robin Hobb.

Comedy gold

The Bristol Comedy Garden came around again and we had tickets to see Ardal O'Hanlon, Nina Conti and Stewart Francis with MC Craig Campbell. Ardal is best known for his role as Dougal in the brilliant BBC comedy show 'Father Ted' (if you haven't seen it, get hold of a box set and prepare for hours of fun!). His stand up is pretty similar to the endearing, bumbling character he played. Flawlessly confident and skilled, great timing and charm for days. Lovely stuff.

Craig Campbell was also a highlight - he's a Candian living in Devon. Very high energy, a bit crude and shouty but obviously good humoured. He was really funny and his rant about how we should value the NHS had the whole tent of several hundred people howling their approval.

Easy food for parties 

We had a really fun blind wine tasting do at a friend's house last night. We tried six carefully chosen wines and guessed at the variety, country, vintage etc. I'm proud that I got three of the varieties right.

Anyway, I got back from work about six and was due there at seven, so what to take for food? My easy-peasy canapes, that's what.

1. Slice a baguette (or French bread) into rounds. Lay on a baking tray and put in the oven for a few minutes. Watch them closely so they get toasted and just golden brown but not too dry.

2. Slather a generous helping of something gooey on them i.e. cream cheese, hummus, chutney, pesto etc.

3. Heap a generous helping of something toothsome on top i.e. salmon on the cream cheese, roasted pepper on the hummus, rare roast beef on the chutney, brie on the pesto.

3. Season and garnish - a little sprinkle of something on top makes all the difference - chives, parsley, a tiny lemon wedge, cracked pepper.

4. Devour! (preferably with little plates or at least nakins as they can be a bit crumby)

These are fine to prepare while early guests are arriving as you can easily give them something to do. I took the toasted bread and the rest of the ingredients with me and assembled at the venue because it was easier than trying to transport the finished product.

So, that's my news. Did you miss me? What have you been up to?