Saturday, 24 May 2014

Sorting Out My Diet

One thing that has been bothering me for quite some time is the way I eat.

Food and I have had a strange relationship throughout my life. I know what choices I should make, but I never seem to be able to stick with those choices. I've realised lots of things about myself since I've been living on my own, and have recently made a concerted effort to try to eat better, but food still consumes my thoughts.

Things were obviously easier when I lived at home. Mutti would cook every night, and even prepare my lunches for me for work (I know, spoiled or what). But, now I'm on my own, I lack motivation.

Part of the problem is that I have absolutely no enthusiasm for cooking. None at all. And cooking for one? Pretty much the most boring and depressing thing. I don't enjoy it, I don't like the time it takes and the mess it leaves.

I'm not remotely overweight, so that's not a problem. I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, that I actually eat fairly well. I don't drink coffee or fizzy drinks (US translation: soda). I don't drink a lot of alcohol, I don't eat crisps (US translation: chips), or a whole load of chocolate or cake. In the UK, we don't have the same culture of eating out; I go to a restaurant less than once a month. Let me take you through a typical day:

A bowl of Alpen with semi-skimmed milk

Cereal bar

Sandwich on seeded or granary bread... usually cheese and pickle.
At least one piece of fruit, sometimes two or three (grapes, banana, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes)
Sometimes something else if I don't have enough fruit, such as a piece of Soreen, a pack of oatcakes or a hot cross bun. Occasionally a chocolate biscuit.

And usually at work I will have at least two cups of tea, and a litre of squash. To be honest there is very little variation in this part of my diet.

The problem, is dinner.

I don't really like mentioning work on this blog as I try to remain fairly anonymous, but I have a job that keeps me reasonably active (a lot of walking, some heavy lifting) and when I get home I am TIRED. And then I usually have a lot of paperwork to do in the evenings. I don't have the time or inclination to cook for a long time, so my dinners are usually one of the following:

Beans on toast
Jacket potato
Soup from a can
Frozen ready meal

I'm also guilty of a) not eating dinner, b) eating five doughnuts, and c) eating a pack of chocolate bourbons. And I just told you I don't eat a lot of chocolate or cake!

So my questions for you are: How do you find the motivation to cook in the evening? Do you have any tips on cooking for one? Do you have any simple and quick recipes I could try?

Friday, 9 May 2014

That Time I Went to the Netherlands

Almost Wordless Wednesday Friday...

I can now take my total of European countries visited up to nine (not counting the one I live in and the other countries that are part of my country... weird). May I just say, the Netherlands are beautiful, and I now totally judge the Dutch people I know who choose to live in the UK. Even though I was technically working, I still had a (mostly) good time.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Build It... And They Will Come

I posted last summer about how I loved the RSPB's Homes for Nature initiative... I think this is such a good idea. All of us have the ability to create a little room for nature in our lives. I have literally been obsessed with nature and wildlife and animals my whole life, and I knew I desperately wanted that in my own garden.

When I first bought this house there was just lawn and a couple of small trees. Since then I have created a flower bed against the back fence, planted a range of flowers, added pots to the patio, and installed a bird feeder and bird table. I have a bird box and bug box but sadly these have been living inside whilst I wait for the energy and ability to put them outside (as in, until Vati comes round and attaches them to the brick of my garage - no way I am doing that). But still, the quantity of wildlife that visits me is very, very small. It's not helped by the fact that my neighbours do nothing to encourage wildlife, and they either have decking or plain lawn.

I seem to be the sort of crazy lady that spends her evenings wandering around, looking for bugs. I have found at least three species of caterpillar, and recently I have seen an increase in ladybirds! FYI, these are known elsewhere in the world as ladybugs. I have no idea why we Brits call them ladybirds, but we do. I also found a crazily beautiful beetle on my (slightly dead) French lavender plant. It was an iridescent pale green and silver striped little thing. I have been unable to identify it online or in my books, and by the time I had my camera charged it had gone. Boo.

(spot the cat)

I never actually mentioned that last year I completed a little project... building a 'pond'. I said I'd bought a plastic storage box, but never mentioned it again! I chose a nice little spot at the back of the garden and dug a hole for it to go in. This actually took a long time because of the sheer amount of stones and bricks that are in the soil. I had to shift the hole a few inches because I just could not remove one such brick and could not sink the 'pond' deep enough to be floor-level. Once done, I tried to fill it with rainwater but did have to add some tap water too. I bought two small pond plants from a local discount garden centre, and added in some bricks to act as steps (to prevent drowning). Within a few days I had insect larvae in it!

I know, I know. It's a work in progress round there. And it needs topping up.

I had to wait a while, but Lo! I finally have evidence of nature making its home in my garden.

And it makes me so happy!!! Hopefully it's the start of many more visits! The past few days I haven't seen anything exotic, but Mr Blackbird is a frequent guest, and I have seen two sparrows, about five starlings and a couple of wood pigeons.

What has been making you happy recently?

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Day in the Life

I've seen a couple of other people do this, and thought it would be fun! This is a day in the life from Tuesday 29th April, 2014!

6.25 - Day begins with the cat meowing and meowing and meowing at me because she wants her BREAKFAST!!! My alarm hasn't gone off yet so I shut her out of the bedroom and go back to sleep.

6.45 - First alarm goes off. Snooze. Shortly after, my second alarm goes off. Snooze. Repeatedly snooze both alarms until I feel half human. Think about what I need to do at work today. Think about all the things I haven't done to be prepared for work today.

7.30 - Eventually manage to get myself out of bed, feed the cat, have breakfast (Alpen), shower, hair, makeup etc.

8.20 - Leave for work. Listen to the Wicked soundtrack in the car. Get to work. Nothing particularly exciting happens here. It's cold and drizzly for most of the day. I sing Wicked songs at work.

5.40 - Get home from work. How am I home this early?!? Give the cat her dinner and spend a bit of time with her, relaxing from the day at work. Make a list for food shopping.

6.30 - Leave the house to go to the Homebase store across town. I am on the hunt for plant pots for strawberries and for the wildflowers I am planning to grow. After Homebase I decide to go to the Tesco store across the road, rather than my local one. Am literally amazed that in this part of town you are not required to put a pound coin in to get a trolley (US translation: cart). Realise that I have left all my vouchers, coupons and 'bags for life' at home. Waaa!!!

8.05 - Return home. Unpack shopping and immediately WhatsApp friends to show that I finally have food in the house and no longer have to exist solely on chocolate bourbons. It is still light enough for me to quickly plant my strawberry plants in their new pot, water the plants and even put a bit of feed in for them.

(You may not find this impressive, but for me it is everything I need to get through the week... cereal, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurts, wholewheat pasta and a little fruit and veg etc... FYI there is also stuff in the freezer and other cupboards and fruit bowl!)

8.45 - Finally time to have dinner. Tonight, omlette! Realise have forgotten how to make omlette, then remember. Also realise it has been EIGHT HOURS since I last had a cup of tea. Remedy this immediately.

9.15 - Spend 15 minutes on Facebook, reading blogs and news.

9.30 - A friend is coming round tomorrow night so I need to tidy up - time to do a few days worth of washing up and clean the kitchen, fold up laundry etc. Sort out lunch for the next day.

10.10 - How did it get this late already!! Get ready for bed. Think about all the things I meant to do today that I haven't done. Think about all the things I need to do for work tomorrow that I haven't done. Mentally plan the day (which of course won't happen the way I want it to).

10.30 - In bed. Decide to read for half an hour. Cat decides to go on a mad one and run around the house, randomly attacking bits of carpet and banisters that offend her.

11.30 - Cat is finally tired enough to assume her normal sleeping position at the end of my bed. I am still reading. Woops. Must. Sleep. Now.

What's your day been like?

Friday, 2 May 2014

Bring Back the Sun!

I don't know about you guys, but over here it has been f-f-f-freeeeeeezing this week! As I type I am bundled up with slippers and hoody (complete with hood up!), and obviously drinking tea to warm my hands. Just before Easter weekend it was so warm! I spent a lot of time sitting outside and reading and just massively enjoying chilling out. Today's post is brought to you by the need to relive those glorious few days.

Mutti has a beehive for lone bees. Can you see it? It was busy all day going in and out.

Louis loves having his teeth brushed!! I've never known a dog so excited. This day I used it as a reward after brushing several guinea pigs worth of fur out of him (leaving it out for the birds for their nests, obviously. My parents are sooo lucky to have such a range of wildlife visit them).

A blackbird nest fell out of the tree. I think it was empty... there were no shells or anything around the area. Such a clever piece of engineering by nature.

I feel like at this time of year my soul is just aching for sunshine and warmth. I am really fostering a love of pottering around in the garden, and the longing for summer days is just taking over me! I look forward to more peaceful days like these ... time to feed my soul with words and nature and quiet (and tea).

What are you looking forward to?