Eight weeks of Club 20!
A brief reminder that my goals were:
1) Meditate daily to improve sleep
2) Cook from scratch at least once a week
3) Move (walk, dance, bike, skate) at least three times a week
Another week with zero meditation – I’m only halfheartedly cross with myself as I’m still sleeping better and that was the intention behind starting. And I still have my year’s subscription if I find I’m not sleeping or I need to nudge myself back into it. Or if, indeed, I find myself with time to simply learn to meditate!
However, on the cooking front I barbecued for friends twice, and made chicken fajitas (do they count?!) one evening after work too. So I’m pleased with that – and can’t quite believe the iconic bbq that I’ve loved for so long is in my garden and mine after sixteen years!!
And exercise – I have been walking with Mum, walking and jogging with the dogs (and throwing myself on the ground on occasion, I must figure out how to be less clumsy and more elegant) and swimming with Shaz and Wendy.
All of which I think works out to a very good week!
Approaching the half way mark, I’m starting to think about the goals I might have for the next round of club 20. Giving up fizzy drinks may be on that list…
This post first appeared on the Change your life in 20 weeks blog on 9th June, 2013.
Just a quick one today, to introduce you to Change Your Life in 20 Weeks – a project started by the fabulous Mimi, and taken up by a group of nine of us.
You can read more about the project over at the Club 20 blog, but a quick overview is that, in each round of 20 weeks, you pick three goals to achieve in those weeks.
I’m trying to form good habits, so I chose meditating daily, cooking a recipe from scratch at least once a week, and physical movement at least three times a week (which for me is walking, cycling, dancing and skating. I’ll never be a gym bunny. But it gives me a chance to use Bluebell more!)
And I’d really like to run a workshop before the end of the first round, in September.
If you’d like to join us you’re more than welcome – blog your challenges and progress and send us a link, and when the next round starts, we’ll add you to the group blog 🙂
(Oh – we’re all over there under our burlesque names. I’m Lotta.)
Leftover roast chicken from one accidental “chuck it and chance it” lunch (approx 1/2 chicken, but you can adapt to your own preferences)
Most of a pot of Elmlea single – you can use actual single cream, I just didn’t have any
Salt & pepper
a glug of olive oil
A random amount of sweetcorn – I like lots in mine, so it was at least equal to the chicken, but is up to you
Pastry, preferably readymade as it’s quicker. I use shortcrust, but this also works well as individual small pies with puff pastry lids
A couple of tablespoons of dried tarragon, or, much preferable, a decent handful of fresh, chopped
Two teaspoons of nutmeg
1 cup of cider. or wine. or apple juice if you’d prefer no alcohol
Pull all the chicken off the carcass and shred into small pieces. If using raw chicken, chop into small pieces.
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and add the chicken. Cook till no longer pink in the middle (if using raw pierces) or heated through (if using cooked chicken)
Pour in the cream, closely followed by the cider or apple juice.
Add the tarragon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.
Chuck in the sweetcorn, and when it’s all heated through, take off the heat and spoon into pie dish(es). I completely forgot to blind bake the bottom of the pie and it actually turned out ok!
Add the pastry lid and any decorations – I’m going “rustic charm” rather than “slightly wonky heart”… you can brush with beaten egg or milk, whichever is closest, for a shine.
Bake for half an hour or so at 180 degrees ish – till it’s all nicely golden brown.
When it’s finished, serve with chips or mash, and peas… or just on its own as a rather lovely work lunch.
*my apologies for the single photo – it was all eaten before I had a chance to photograph a slice!!
It’s January. Christmas and New Year seem but a distant memory, and most of us were paid early from the day jobs, or haven’t had much income from our own businesses due to the festive break, and there’s all the Christmas and New Year cash haemorrhaging that happens when you’re somehow not paying attention. (Or is that just me? One minute I’m in control of my finances and next, boom, I’m teetering on the edge of exceeding my overdraft…)
Image courtesy of dogwelder, via Photopin
In an attempt to avoid bankrupting myself in supermarkets, or giving yet more of my money to Ocado (who are great, and reasonable, and save me throwing unnecessary offers into my basket, but do have a minimum order which I can’t currently justify), I thought I’d try a Storecupboard Challenge.
This unimaginatively titled challenge involves trying to cook from my fridge, freezer and storecupboards without adding to them during this month (essentially, until 28th January which is payday). I’m allowing myself trips to the uni shops for essentials (bread, milk, eggs, frozen veg). The intention is to both save money and release some space in my freezer for lovely things I’ll be making later in the year!
So far I have used up the remaining burgers (one beef, one beef with chili, one pork and apple – very nice too), some sweet potatoes, microwave rice and made a pork & cider casserole in the slow cooker, which is well on its way to doing three meals. My parents fed me on Saturday and I made chicken and tarragon spaghetti last night, with (almost)homemade rosemary and garlic rolls. And managed to make some cakes to take over to Mum & Dad’s on Saturday too!
Next up – watch this space!
*I’m also trying to get a bit more control over my finances full stop – but won’t bore you with the details!!
My final day in London was 26th October. I was rather tearful and overwhelmed, having been entirely unexpectedly presented with a lovely card, a vintage mannequin (they know me well) and THE BIGGEST KIT KAT IN THE WORLD (you think I’m joking… look at it!! Was very touched that my director had bid on it in a charity auction for me.)
You can see the mannequin, now named Delilah, in the background of an Ink Drops promo pic here…
and the KitKat here, all three kilos of it, and better photos coming soon. My plan is to photograph it properly and then take it home for Christmas so the kids can help me eat it. With a hammer. It would be a shame not to eat it!
Caroline helped me carry all my stuff to St Paul’s station, and then I hopped on a tube, hopped on a train for the final time and headed home to shower, collect Poppy and drive up to Nottingham. Rob had promised to have celebratory cocktails at the ready, though the fact that I didn’t get there till twenty to one in the morning scuppered my plans to drink lots, lol!
On Saturday we popped to town and accidentally helped break a Guiness World Record (for the most people doing a science experiment at the same time – slime and rockets, what’s not to love?!), experimented with Shakeaway and tried not to buy the whole of Lakeland, and then went home to celebrate some more by cooking ridiculous amounts of food…
Recipes and the beginnings of chicken & tarragon pie…
We might have cheated a tiny bit with the pastry but doing a good job of pretending to be proud, no?!
Finished pie!! It was AMAZING.
(yes, extra big pic, I was proud of the pie)
And I wanted to test my new spoons mould from Lakeland… with chocolate orange…
Never miss an opportunity to pose like an idiot, me…
And just in case you’re interested, this is what four chocolate spoons look like when I’ve accidentally eaten the one I was posing with. (I’m actually quite excited about the concept of doing these in marbled chocolate to go with dessert for dinner parties…) The chocolate orange stays softer once it’s been melted and mixed, so they were very
dangerously moreish pleasant when set.
It was gloriously relaxing and a lovely way to mark the end of my London adventures and start my new life… and I finished it by meeting Anna in Loughborough for dinner, and Dad unexpectedly joined us for a drink too, to break his journey.
All round lovely 😀
Smiled about cuddles with a pug puppy on the way home one night
Met lovely new people at the fabulous Sophia & Jon’s wedding (no photos, forgot my camera, but it was a gorgeous day)
Loved rehearsing for next weekend’s cabaret night with some of my favourite girls in the world
Took on a project for my Dad in exchange for which he will write off the money I still owe him for Poppy – aren’t parents brilliant?!
Met new, wonderfully like-minded people through Escape the City
Worked on business plans, proposals and prices in response to a few exciting conversations I’ve recently had
Got tickets to the Free Range Festival (run by Free Range Humans)
Tried to resist buying enormous feathered showgirl headpieces
Bounced ideas, plans and worries off my completely amazing friends and family
Entertained at home – I’d forgotten how much I love cooking for people and having friends over en masse
Rode my cousin’s new horse for the first time (she was fabulous. I am no longer riding fit!)
Saw two burlesque shows (Proud Cabaret and An Evening of Burlesque)
Went to a tea party held by a dear friend and a hen party for someone I’d never met (both were fabulous)
Got Poppy through her MOT and service on time for the first time since owning her
(technically in October, on the 1st) Quit my day job! (for another one, which I think is much more aligned with my skills and what I want out of life. And isn’t in London.)
So yes. Despite illness and a lot of emotional wrangling, September was pretty amazing. Let’s see if October lives up to it, shall we?!
Now, I’m not usually one for diets, as I love my figure. However, I have a bridesmaid’s dress to get into in July, and several things between now and then that require more stamina and fitness than I currently have. I’ve been wanting to improve my fitness for a while, so hoping that by doing that I’ll automatically shift a few pounds (ok, quite a lot of pounds) and look amazing in the dress almost by accident.
But seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve actively tried to be healthy about eating – I use the excuse (and it is an excuse) of working in London and being busy and blah blah blah… yes, I’m out of the house for 14 hours a day and yes, I often can’t be bothered to cook when I get in because I’m exhausted. I also have issues with portion size – if it’s normal time, I eat normal portions. If I get home from work late, by the time I’ve cooked I’m so hungry I just inhale the food without even really tasting it, and I eat far too much because I’m so hungry I don’t wait to find out if I’m full or not.
I also snack too much at work – which would be fine if it was on healthy stuff, but actually the amount of chocolate my floor gets through is frightening!
So. It’s freezing cold but once I’m out there I’m usually fine, so I’ve set myself the following targets:
- Walk, run (not yet… I’m building up to this) or rollerskate for at least 30 mins at a brisk pace, 2-3 times a week
- Use the bloody iJoyRide – it sits in my living room and it requires just fifteen minutes for one setting. It tones your legs and stomach, and your arms too if you’re not reading a book in the process. There is NO EXCUSE for me not to be using this, especially not given how long I wanted one for.
- Cut down on the chocolate and the Pepsi Max. If I could make myself come off the caffeinated fizzy drinks altogether I would – I think I’d notice an instant reduction in waistline from the lack of bloating! I’m not suggesting cutting chocolate out as I know from bitter experience that just makes me crave it.
- Stretch. I used to be a dancer, ergo I used to be really flexible. I’m not entirely sure when that stopped being the case, but I’m determined to get it back.
- Use the slow cooker. I bought one for a reason – with planning, there’s no reason why dinner can’t be ready ten minutes (twenty at the most) after walking through the door – this is much healthier than trying to cook at 9pm and getting stressed because I’m overtired, or grabbing fast food on the way home because I’m anticipating cooking and can’t be bothered.
- Cook properly whenever possible. As I (re)discovered over New Year, I actually really like cooking – I just need time and space to do it properly. So when I have a weekend off (i.e. not dashing madly around the countryside visiting people or doing stuff) – I’m going to cook!
I think all of these are achievable, although if any of you lovely lot who follow me on Twitter are reading this, I’d massively appreciate the odd guilt-trip or poke to make sure I am in fact doing it. I can be very faddy, and will do something for a couple of days then crack and open the Maltesers. (Mmmmm. Maltesers. You see the problem I have?!)
I won’t check in on a particular day of the week, but I will try and post regular updates, for myself as much as anything else. My targets and incentives are my USA trip (9 February – I need to stop procrastinating!); my 26th birthday (21 February – ditto); a canal boat trip in May (I need to leap on and off of boats. That’s not even slightly going to happen at the moment) and Julia’s wedding in July. She and her bridesmaids are pretty much all a size 8, and I’m never going to match that (nor would I want to, I’d look really weird) but I’d like to have pin up curves rather than squidgy bits by then if at all possible!
So we’ll see how I do!