Wednesday, 27 January 2010

New Location

The blog has moved over to Wordpress. You can keep up with it at:

Taking Back the Weekend

Although the weekend is technically defined as the period between Friday night and Monday morning, for me, it's really all about Saturday. It's a day that's entirely my own. No part of it is spent at work (unlike Fridays) and let's face it, when you have to get up in time for church, Sundays never really feel like a day off.  So, why, on a day that's entirely mine, do I spend so much time doing things I'd rather not be doing?

As much as I hate to admit it, my Saturdays too often fall short of my restful ideal. Instead of spending my time doing the things I love, I'm catching up on the housework I neglected during the week (or feeling guilty about not catching up!) Instead of spending my time with the people I care about, I'm meeting up with the cashier at Tesco. Well, no more! I'm taking back the weekend!

This is my own personal project for the year. The goal: to reclaim my free time. The method: take an idea and put it to the test - keep it up if it works and axe it if it doesn't. I'll be combining my own ideas with those from various websites, blogs, books, family members and friends. I'll also be posting on my adventures (and misadventures!) Here's to the weekend!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Secret Recipes

Baking is something I've always enjoyed doing, and some of my earliest memories are of helping my mother in the kitchen. I willingly helped her stir the batter and roll the cookie dough, although I harboured resentment when my clean up duties extended beyond licking the beaters clean. She really did keep us well supplied with home baked goodies - so much so that "store-bought cookies" were a novelty (my favourite were the Fudgee-Os that we got at Aunt Merlene's). There are staple recipes that Mom has been making for as long as I can remember, but some of my favourites are ones she's received comparatively recently from people who didn't believe in secret recipes.

Secret recipes are all over the place. The 11 herbs and spices that go into KFC's Original Recipe Chicken remain a mystery, and thank goodness no one knows what they put in Coca Cola. To be sure, in the realm of food retail, secret recipes are a huge asset, but they're not for me. If I've made something that another person has enjoyed, and she asks for the recipe, I have no problem in giving it to her. What's the point of not letting her enjoy it whenever or wherever she likes? Refusing to share the recipe doesn't improve the quality of the food and is of no benefit to me.

Why not share the secret?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Abstainer vs. Moderator

Happy New Year everyone! That seems like an odd greeting to me, but as this is my first post of 2010, I'll let it pass.

I'm not sure how many of you have heard of, but it's a "blog about getting and staying organized". To be honest, I can't remember how I discovered the site. Anyway, today's post got me thinking, and I've come to the conclusion that, as much as my mind balks against it, I'm an abstainer. It's much easier for me to avoid a temptation entirely than to try to exert some sort of control over it. I often find myself wishing that I was better at moderating things, as the self-control it requires appears to make it the nobler trait.

I think the following story aptly illustrates my point...

Every year, David's grandmother gives the grandchildren a Terry's Chocolate Orange. There are various flavours that the grandchildren can choose from, but it's some form of chocolate orange. When David and I were dating, and I started spending Christmas in Scotland, Granny Anderson kindly included me in the tradition. Now, I make no secret of the fact that I like chocolate....a lot. Things like potato chips and sausage rolls, which are equally unhealthy, aren't a big issue for me, but chocolate is another matter entirely.

This particular Christmas Day, I decided to have a segment or two of the orange after opening presents. After lunch, I helped myself to a couple more segments. During the course of the afternoon, a couple more. By the end of the day, through a series of indulgences, each moderate in and of itself, I had worked my way through all 20 segments. Only after the fact did I look at the calorie information on the box. I'm not sure which made me feel worse: the amount of chocolate sitting in my stomach, or the fact that, at 47 calories a segment, I had consumed 940 calories (47% of my daily requirement). David later summed up my view on the matter as "I'm going to consume 940 calories anyway, so rather than doing it over several days or weeks, I might as well do it all at once".

So, going on the above, I'm clearly not a moderator. It would have been easier for me to put the chocolate orange on the snack shelf in the kitchen and leave it there, than to open it and slowly work my way through it.

I guess being aware of the fact that I'm an abstainer means that I can work within the constraints of my nature. I can, and indeed do, put snacks on a top shelf in the kitchen because I can't reach it without going through the bother of digging out the step stool.

So, to echo the question in the Unclutterer blog, which one are you?

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Rest of October so far...

Here are some of the things I've been up to...

There's a car boot sale that takes place on Sunday mornings in Errol. Dave and I got up early one Sunday morning to go along and while we were driving out I remembered that I had a camera in my bag so you're just seeing the outskirts of the place. Sorry.

A couple of weeks ago there was a coffee house at the Gate and Dave did a set. Here's one of the covers he did.

My hand mixer had been on the blink for a few months. The only way to switch it off was to turn it off at the wall, and the gauge for controlling the speeds was broken so you had to maintain pressure on the gauge to keep the speed you wanted. I was thinking about getting a new one and then decided that since the warranty was lapsed anyway, I might as well try to fix it myself first. So I took it apart, gave it a good clean and put it all back together (with no parts left over!) And it actually works properly now! It took me about 1.5 hours but I was pretty pleased with my venture into kitchen tools DIY.

Mixer being taken apart and cleaned.

Mixer put back together.

The cake I made the next day with my mixer.

Monday, 5 October 2009

River Ness 5K Cont'd

As promised, here's more about the weekend.

Karen (one of the girls I work with) picked me up on Saturday afternoon and we headed up to Inverness. On the way, we stopped off in Dalwhinnie for a snack break. While we were sitting in the car, I noticed the sign "Dalwhinnie: Twinned with Las Vegas". The two places couldn't be more dissimilar. Dalwhinnie is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere that basically consists of a small pub-hotel and a petrol station. I'm not sure how decisions are made on which places to twin, but this twinning seemed particularly ironic.

We got to Inverness just before 4pm and unfortunately missed the final boat tour of Loch Ness for the day. So instead, we just drove along the loch and checked out some of the local tourist shops. People come to Inverness from all over the world for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon so there were lots of interesting people to meet.

Saturday night we loaded up on pasta at Bella Italia and then headed back to the B&B for an early night.

Sunday morning the plan was to drop me off at the starting point for the 5k (my race started first) and then for the rest of them to head to the 10K starting point. Unfortunately, we lost our bearings and were heading to the wrong starting point. Finally got ourselves sorted out (the GPS feature on my phone, which I hardly ever use came in handy at more than one point that weekend).

The race itself went well. There was a bit of an incline for the last kilometer and I hadn't really done any training on inclines so I was getting pretty tired by that point. I kept thinking of what Thom used to tell me when we ran for the bus nearly every day of high school - "Don't think about being tired, just put one foot in front of the other". It was good advice, Thom. When I made the turn into the stadium there was one of the running marshalls telling us it was just 100m to the finish line. There were lots of people along the sides of the track cheering you on so it did give a bit of a second wind. There was a company there taking pictures of everyone as they crossed the finish line. Click here for a link
Just after the finish line you get your medal, T-shirt, banana, water, and goody bag.

After I finished my race, I went around checking out all the different stalls in the stadium. There were tents where you could get food, check out the charities that were being supported by the runners, buy really expensive running gear, and listen to different bands. There was even a historic re-enactment group there that gave the crowd a scare when they unexpectedly fired off one of their guns while rehearsing. I then headed back to the side of the track and watched everyone else come in. I got talking to the lady beside me. Her name was Melinda and she was from Santa Barbara, California. Her husband was doing his first marathon and they'd combined that with a vacation in Scotland.

The trip back to Dundee was pretty uneventful except for the deer that dashed across the road in front of us. Thankfully, it was far enough away that we didn't hit it.

Here's a link to the rest of the pictures from the weekend:

River Ness 5K

Sunday, 4 October 2009

River Ness 5K

I just arrived back from Inverness. It was a good trip but I'm glad to be back. I managed to run the whole distance and completed it in 31min 2sec. After doing this one, I think I'd be open to trying a 10k at some point next year.

I took pictures while I was there, but it feels a bit late to post them now. I'll do my best to get them up this week, along with a few more details of the weekend.