Chirpy chirpy tweet tweet…beeeep…

Hot chocolate, Café Zéphyr, Paris

Day 3   – Imagine that…

…you are tucked up warmly in bed sipping a mug of steaming hot cocoa and a enjoying a good read.  The light fades dimly in the background casting soft shadows around the room, you yawn and snuggle down drifting into a deep sleep as the room is now plunged into total darkness.

English: Willow Warbler (trochilus) Whiteworks...Birdsong

Eight hours later you are woken gently from your dreams by a soft light bathing the room like sunshine on a fine summers morning, the rays becoming brighter and brighter as the air is filled with a chorus of gently trilling birds.  You wake refreshed and after a soft cat like stretch, fling off the covers and leap out of bed wide awake, eager to start another day.

English: Alarm clock 日本語: 目覚まし時計

Well not quite how it went just rewind to ….eight hours later you are woken abruptly to the sound of continuous chirping birds as well as the intermitent sound of two other beeping alarm clocks (that were on standby just in case) and realise you have failed to wake up at all this morning.  In fact hubby obviously woke first and judging by the empty side of the bed I presumed was already in the shower escaping the noise.

One by one I hit each of the alarms until silence at last….. aah much better until that is hubby appears back in the bedroom draped in a towel and whistling the same b***** dawn chorus.

Anyone want to buy a Lumie Bodyclock – good as new – one careful owner!

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Dawn chorus or a tweet too far…

the ongoing saga of the Lumie Bodyclock lamp…

 

Lumie Bodyclock

Day 1

– Saturday night and we lay watching the gradual sunset fade into darkness and we were asleep before we knew it with the lamp set for the birdsong and light to wake us at 7am on Sunday morning…can’t wait

Sunday morning – I awoke to a wonderful sunny glow lighting up our room – this is good I thought – and very realistic –  but absolute silence… I listened but no chirping whatsoever – not a dickybird!

I then realised it was 9am –  I had overslept and the sun was flooding the room with natural light not the fake sunrise I was expecting –  I had slept solidly for 9 hours and for once felt wide awake and raring to go – both the lamp and alarm had failed –  my better half had obviously read the Chinese instructions but it had inadvertently cured my sleep deprivation!

Day 2

-Once again tucked up in bed on Sunday night and once again we fell soundly asleep to the effects of the gradual sunset  I don’t remember anything until I awoke suddenly at 5.23am in the pitch black – nothing appeared to be happening with the lamp and acknowledging it was too early and too cold to get up promptly fell back to sleep.

6.23am something roused me – hurrah at last it was the sunrise beginning to stir and a few minutes later there is the bird song…and then there is more birdsong…and more birdsong and more birdsong – how can anyone snooze through that – obviously some people can as my better half is still fast asleep and snoring.

With a gentle nudge I ask ‘Can you switch it off?’    A half-hearted mumble mumble replied…so I head for the shower room out of the din.  Returning 15 minutes later to the bedroom the light is full on now and the room full of twittering and hubby still sound asleep and snoring with his head under the covers blocking out both light and noise!

Out come the instructions again…

Third night lucky…so do excuse me now while I go and get ready for bed!!

Resetting the bodyclock…

I am sitting here watching an all time favourite of the Good Life with Tom and Barbara – the one about the pigs.  I often fancied myself as Barbara living in her suburban home spending all day in the garden growing veg and tending her animals and doing it all whilst under the influence of that famous Peapod wine.  I especially liked their fun minimalist Christmas with newspaper hats and the knitted jumpers.

I spent most of the day being swept along by a hoard of Christmas shoppers in the Cheadle branch of John Lewis.  You can always tell the Cheadle branch by the number of Rolls Royces in the carpark!

I wasn’t Xmas shopping myself – just browsing –  and my reason for going was to check out the Lumie Bodyclock light as I am finding it extremely difficult to rouse myself on these dark wintry mornings.  I am not sure about you but each year as I get older it gets harder to wake up and get going.  The early morning traffic on the roads in the last week or two has been so bad I have found myself late for work so drastic action is called for – hence the light.

So to go back to the clock – we did buy one and having unwrapped it and read the instructions we are told that we can have sunset and sunrise which gently puts you to sleep and wakes you up, 5 different alarm sounds to choose from –  Big Ben or drums (I don’t think so) to birdsong or wind chimes (sounds better) or plain old beep (perhaps not).  So we will try out the birdsong although I suspect I might just sleep through it – I have never been aware of the birds chirping outside before.

Lumie Bodyclock

The Lumie Bodyclock Go 75

It also boasts a snooze feature – definitely a must in my case –  I am no lark and will put off that moment when my body has to be forced out of bed and into the shower. I always set my alarm 15 mins early so I can fit in 3 five-minute snoozes, a bit like the traffic light system wait, get ready…go.

Lumie Bodyclock

I will keep you posted on how well we do getting up in the mornings from now on…or not!

 

And continuing the cushion saga – in and amongst I bought two feather cushion pads as they did have the right size and decided I will, for now, reuse the knitted cushion covers from the cottage as I wasn’t inspired enough by the cushions on display in John Lewis either.

I did see the most beautiful soft woollen throw in muted colours just right for our bedroom but at £180 I had to leave it behind!

How did your Saturday go?  Have you started the Xmas shopping yet?

Easy steps to organised cooking…

Believe it or not there is a term that incorporates organising with cooking.  If you saw the state of my kitchen at times after a baking session you would not think this possible.  The term I refer to is ‘Mise en place’ – quite simply it is French for ‘put in place’ a trained chef would refer to it as prepping.  

I like to call it Blue Peter cooking if you can remember that far back (and no you do not need any empty Fairy liquid bottles).  Every ingredient is pre weighed or prepared and then placed into something like a glass Pyrex bowl.  If you want to refresh your memory just take a look at this brilliant clip (wait for the trailer to finish) and note the bowls of ingredients all ready to go.  I think I might even make those cute mini Dalek cakes!

Having quite a tiny kitchen I adopted this method a while ago and it has much improved the way I keep myself and the kitchen organised whilst cooking and baking. 

Firstly I read through the recipe and collect all the ingredients together. 

mise en place 4

Then I weigh and pre-prepare everything and place into little bowls such as these cuties I found recently in Waitrose…

Pyrex Bowls

Now you might think that this method increases the washing up load with all those little bowls (and you would be right to some extent) however, I find that having one ingredient per bowl isn’t necessary as you can generally combine many of the ingredients. 

For instance when making a cake all the dry ingredients can be put together,

Mise en place 5

or with something like Nutloaf I combine the nuts and breadcrumbs and similarly with veg soup I would combine any veg added at the same stage of cooking.

mise en place 3

 

…then have a good clean up before launching into the mixing and cooking.

 

I don’t weigh out the olive oil for cooking but I do get the bottle out of the cupboard and have it ready together with all the utensils I am going to need.  Before I begin I would also check I have the right baking dish and prepare that too.

The bonus of this method is you don’t come across those little surprises halfway through a recipe when you discover that the only egg you thought you had has been eaten for breakfast that morning and too late to abandon the recipe you end up dashing to the local shop or next door.

The tendency is always to rush into the mixing and cooking but I find organising myself this way I avoid burning one thing in the pan whilst I am hurriedly preparing something else or forgetting an ingredient altogether.  I can remember many times trying to add that pinch of salt or herbs to a rolled up ball of pastry having forgotten to include it when it was just at the crumb stage!  

I noticed that the ‘forgotten’ ingredient happened quite regularly on the Bake Off – and who, I would like to know, does all their clearing up?

Every step you take…

Sorry for the break in transmission I just had to put my blog ‘categories’ into some kind of order before moving on – I felt they were getting out of control.  When I started my blog I really hadn’t thought about categories or paid much attention to them and then soon realised that some of my headings crossed over making it hard to choose which one to assign a mixed post to.

It is so easy to forget just where I have got to when I have a break from blogging for more than a day or so but I will start with a progress report on my Healthy Eating plan.
On September 3rd, first thing in the morning, I weighed myself and also took a note of my muscle, fat and water content that my scales measure (posh scales reduced from £59.99 to £11.99 a bargain from TK MAX 3 years ago).  I also took a waist measurement (which I won’t go into publicly!!) as this is my worst area and the one that I am hoping will trim down.  It is thirty something inches (which is as revealing as I will go) and I want to get it to 28″ even 30″ would be a massive breakthrough.  I will be posting the results in a later post.

On Thursday morning I took advantage of the free Flora Cholesterol test at my local Sainsbury’s in town (they are running it for the two weeks if you are interested).  I booked in for 8.30am so I could do a fasting test (which is more accurate) before work and then have breakfast afterwards.  I will also post the results from this later.

I found this Bamboo Serving Platter for £15.99 in Wilkinson’s Classic White tableware range and thought it would go very well with my collection of white china for parties.  As it is quite large I have now discovered that it is wider than my cupboard is deep!

So it stayed on my table for a while waiting for a home but when I went and bought the extra fruit for my healthier snacks hey presto!…  it makes a great fruit bowl!!

I have been working on breakfast this week too – I usually take some supplements in the morning.  I have to take Vitamin D as a recent blood test revealed I was very low – I also take a pro-biotic and an oil capsule and at the moment I am using up a bottle of Ginko Biloba before it goes out of date though I can’t say that I have noticed any difference whilst taking this but can’t see them go to waste – supplements are so expensive these days.  In the small container is 25ml of Aloe Vera juice (good for digestion) – and a glass of water to wash the tablets down.

As I mentioned in my last post I am switching the Sainsburys 2% fat natural yoghurt (which I prefer) for the Yeo Valley 0% fat natural yoghurt which I used to eat until they changed the packaging and for some reason it seemed to have a different texture – slightly more slimy than creamy.

So this is breakfast – I whizzed some apricots in the food processor into a puree to have with the yoghurt and weighed out the cereal which is Rude Health mixed flakes in this case, though I also like the Weetabix Oatibix Flakes (shame they don’t do organic).  I often add a bit of wheat free museli in with the flakes and I top them with a dessert spoonful of Flaxseeds and some organic soya milk.

I have been getting a list of snacks together and going by Ian Marber’s book ‘How not to get fat’ you should always eat a complex carbohydrate with a protein.  These are my favourites –

  • Banana with a few Almonds
  • Apple and a few Walnuts / Brazil nuts
  • Apple with a small piece of hard cheese
  • Chopped egg with a small amount of Mayonnaise with Salad Cress on 2 Oatcakes
  • Goats Cheese on a slice of cooked Beetroot on 2 Oatcakes
  • Edam and grated Carrot in a small wholemeal Pitta
  • Cooked Lentils mixed with chopped Tomatoes and Rocket on Oatcakes

So I feel I have dealt with breakfast and snacks and I will begin to put these into practice during next week.  Whilst I am making progress on this aspect I am going to move on and look at how I can introduce more exercise into my daily life as well as more quality sleep.

For every 10,000 steps we take we burn 400 calories.

A small hot Chocolate from Costa has about 121 Calories – so I would need to walk about 2,500 steps to burn this off.  I am not even sure how far that is but I am sure I am not going to be doing many steps sat at my desk!  So I need to think of ways to incorporate more steps which might even include less blogging.  I am of course looking to become healthier as well as a little lighter and I like the fact that I can do both at once.

Lose weight while you sleep – The Dream Diet?

There has been an increasing amount of research suggesting that good sleep and weight loss are connected or rather poor and lack of sleep leading to weight gain due to a disruption of two hormones – (just try Googling it for an explanation)

I have poor sleep since having my Thyroid removed – I wake at around 4am each morning needing to go to the loo and then cannot get back to sleep.  I should drink my cocoa earlier in the evening but always forget (I cannot break away from my cocoa drink at night – it is my Enid Blyton comfort drink before bedtime!)

I should also try to get to bed at a reasonable time and that is why I am going to set myself up to do shorter 5-10 minute posts each evening instead of these essays I seem to keep producing.  Again the health benefits can only do me good.
I am grateful for all your ideas so far and look forward to any comments you might have on exercise and sleep.

Before beginning plan carefully…

“Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.” – A. A. Milne

Now I have identified some of the main problems that are keeping me from both losing pounds and gaining £’s I am trying to organise my thoughts to put my plans into some kind of order.

Firstly, I would like to say thank you for all the comments you have left on my post – Think, think, think…with such great ideas – I have taken them all on board because this is going to be a change for life not just for the Christmas as they say.  I don’t want to be coming back to starting over again at some future date.  It is not another diet or budget but a lifestyle I am trying to create that will become as normal to me as having a shower each day.

I decided first of all I must prepare myself for the changes I want to put in place so that I have more of a chance of continuing and don’t stumble at the first hurdle.  What do I mean by prepare myself?  Well there is no point in me wanting to take healthy snacks to work if my cupboards are full of biscuits and crisps.  There is no point in me trying to save money if I have no idea how much I am spending casually each week on daily expenses and so on…

As my health is probably more important to me than my wealth I am going to begin with the losing pounds (although some of the changes I make will indeed apply to both and some of them will have a knock on effect such as taking a healthy packed lunch will probably save me money).

My first task will be to examine one aspect at a time identifying existing habits and systems and then simplify them or maybe modifying them and doing one thing only at once before moving on to the next (the baby steps concept).   For instance, I have been taking an apple to work each day now for the last two weeks and I make sure I eat it at eleven o’clock each day.  This is a low calorie food and has some healthy aspects and is better than a biscuit or cake.  It has quickly become quite habit forming – even I have been surprised – and this could be mainly because it has been my sole focus for the last couple of weeks as I wanted to test out how easy it might be (or not) to change one little thing.

After reading quite a lot over the years on goal setting I believe the ‘Begin with the end in mind’ system to have some credibility.  So I want to lose half a stone (7lbs) by the end of the year and this exercise is as much about eating healthily and exercising as it is losing weight  So I have 4 months and my goals look like this.

September – lose 1lb (to allow for building up my new healthy eating habits)

October – lose 2lbs

November – lose 2lbs

December – lose 2lbs

So by December 31st I will weigh 8st 12lbs my optimum weight for my height and hopefully a waist measurement considerably smaller by at least 3″.

Two pounds each month or half a pound each week.  This shouldn’t be too difficult to accomplish and my thoughts are to try a combination of tactics.

  1. Calorific value – having more awareness of the calories in anything that is not a vegetable or fruit
  2. Exchanging foods – buying the lower fat therefore lower calorie alternative as well as exchanging an unhealthy food for an healthier option
  3. Portion size – being more aware of portion size and maybe buying a slightly smaller plate.

So for instance if I am tempted into eating a biscuit then I should only buy the lower calorie ones (I think Fig rolls – one of my favourite fall into this category as do Garibaldi).  I should revert back to buying the 0% fat yoghurt rather than the creamier 2% that I prefer.  If I add in a little pureed raspberries from the freezer I won’t even taste the difference.

Yesterday as another experiment I weighed my yoghurt and oat flakes cereal just to get an idea of what a reasonable serving actually looked like.  Fourty-five gram of yoghurt was about three dessertspoonfuls and 100gram of cereal just filled a ramekin pot – by sticking to these amounts each day I will be able to see if this makes any difference over time.  Of course if I begin to feel hungry before mid morning I will review this.

So one of the areas I am focusing on at the moment is snacks – both at home and at work and I will apply the 3 points mentioned above to this.

Now if you are still with me so far let me introduce my two new snack pots for work…

 they are actually quite small about 3″ square and just the right size for a few nuts or a couple of oatcakes and a small cube of cheese or some chopped fruit.  One for the morning and one for the afternoon.  I will make a snack plan so I can buy the foods in advance and then there will be no excuse and I will prepare them each evening starting on Sunday night.

So there you have it I intend, but can’t promise, to post a little 5 minute piece each day charting my progress on the task in hand and also establishing the plans for putting my subsequent changes in place.

Any comments, advice and ideas gratefully welcomed.

Health

My little Treasure Trove…

When we were up in Scotland at our cottage over the bank holiday I went to all my favourite places in our nearby (only) town.  They are predominantly independent shops that have been there since my hubby was a wee lad.

In the stationers Moodys I bought old fashioned Cash books – I use these for my day to day shopping and tracking expenses…

and Sweet cases ready for Christmas when I hope to make some more chocolates for presents.  They have some pretty coloured ‘Christmassey’ foil ones and some stylish plain black paper ones.

From the hardware store Reids I found these clear Christmas craft stamps in the sale and thought I could probably use them to make some cards or gift tags – reduced from £11.50 to £4.  Too much of a bargain to pass over.

On the way back home we called at the Tebay motorway services and I found a book on Places for Afternoon Tea – just right for a stocking filler for mum or part of a food hamper for my little sis for Christmas.

I also found these grow your own Cosmos pouches which I thought would be lovely for my two friends birthdays in October.

And this beautiful paper which is quite thick like handmade –  I thought I would use it to make little present bags.

We also called at Tesco where I bought one of their cards for a £1  – I have so many September birthdays at work and I know I won’t get to make any cards at the moment. The special ‘This is a hug…’ card is for my colleague and best mate at work who goes in to have her mastectomy on Wednesday morning.All in all I arrived back home with a nice little treasure trove and felt extremely pleased with myself.

Is anyone else thinking about Christmas yet?  I generally use this period to gather bits and pieces together as I see them but try not to think about it too much until much nearer the time otherwise it would spoil being able to fully enjoy the Autumn season.