Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve


I woke this morning feeling rather depressed for no particular reason. Melancholy. I'm glad 2015 is over, I want to move on.

My resolutions are simple. Get healthy, which I've already started, and polish up my book and submit for publication. I can't control what happens to my novel after that but at least I can get it to as good as I am capable of, send it out there, and never regret what could have been.

I went out for a short walk first thing, only 15 minutes around the block but at least it was something! My feet are fine but the back of my legs just below the knee are a bit sunburned, also the backs of my arms, from lying face-down on the beach. Jasmine also got a bit singed here and there. We tried so hard, but we are just so fair-skinned. The boys, with slightly more olive skin, were fine. Later in the morning I did 15 minutes of Dance so that brought up my 30.

I was worried it was going to be a difficult day for food. We had the option of going into the city for a party at Tim's office with a good view of the fireworks over Sydney harbour (they have one session of fireworks at 9:00 for kids then another at 12:00, we would have just stayed for the early one) but decided to spend the evening with family instead, our first year back in Sydney. I wasn't worried about dinner at Nick and Ping's house, I was sure I could negotiate whatever they served, but then there was also all the treats in the evening to moderate! Could I just have a small amount, or would that open the floodgates? At least I could take all the leftover Christmas stuff from here and get it out of my house.

Then Tim arranged for us to pop around to his dad's place at lunchtime. I didn't mind a visit, even though we would be seeing him in the evening anyway, but lunchtime?! Another meal to negotiate. And I thought it would probably be pizza ordered in. Of course I could take along my own prepared lunch, and eat it while smelling delicious pepperoni. I'm really trying not to make things too hard for myself. So I asked Tim to change the time of the visit to make it not during a meal.

For breakfast I had yoghurt with a mango. I'd planned eggs for today but the mango looked and smelled awesome and I wanted something light and fresh. No reason not to shuffle my meals around. I've been doing that a lot already. Lunch was healthy leftovers. In the afternoon we went to Tim's dad's place for a while. I took along some grapes and they had cake and biscuits, I didn't eat anything but had a cup of tea. When we got home I lay on the bed for a while resting then started thinking about how I was going to allow myself to have some treats later in the evening and I was looking forward to it and I remembered I had lots of treats in my Christmas stocking and I got up and did some eating! Three fun-size cheese and bacon flavour Cheetos and a marshmallow Santa. 415 calories in all. Not a win for Natalie vs temptation! But I have the comfort of knowing that all the Cheetos are gone now. I have chocolate left but it is not a trigger food for me, I can choose to have a little bit and stop. Anything chip-like and I eat until it's gone. I'm pretty amazed those Cheetos stayed in the stocking for nearly a week!

One result of my little binge was that I felt a bit sick after. It wasn't even that much food, those fun-size bags are pretty small. Enough to make me feel ill. Oh, but they were so tasty! Salty and crunchy and cheesy. Maybe it was the sickly marshmallow that upset my tummy. It's going to be a while before I have a "take it or leave it" attitude to chips like I do to most sweet foods. I'll get there. Eventually.

We went to dinner at Nick and Pings. We ate roast duck, which is one of my favourites but very fatty. And some garlic bread. I had two bites of chocolate but no other snacks, no dessert and no alcohol. In the end about 700 calories over my normal daily budget. I'm ok with that for NYE.

We all played a dance game, having so many people I was only in every 4th dance, probably another 15-20 mins exercise. We watched the early fireworks on TV then played with sparklers outside.
Then some Guitar Hero, which is a single person game so I didn't think it was very good for a party, boring for the rest of us, then it was 10:00 and I brought the kids home to bed. I'm tired. Tim stayed at his brother's to see in midnight (I'll be asleep by then), he'll get a lift home later.

I'll leave you with a photo I took this afternoon of my bedroom in the late afternoon sunlight. I think it looks pretty.
Happy New Year everyone, and I hope 2016 is wonderful for us all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015



This morning's delicious breakfast was a little bit of bacon, plus cucumber, tomato and some grapes. I get sick of things very quickly (especially eggs) so I plan to rotate three breakfast ideas. Eggs, probably omelette, with lots of veges. Yoghurt with fruit and/or muesli. And a small serve of meat, like bacon or leftover chicken, with salad. I can vary what goes with each, but I have a core plan. I like to plan!

We went to the beach today. The plan was to go quite early so we wouldn't be there in the heat of the day but of course it didn't work out like that at all. We didn't get out of the house until nearly 11:00. Jasmine needed a new swimming cossie as she'd grown out of her old one. The one shop near us didn't have anything left in her size (it's still the middle of summer, people! keep things in stock for a bit longer please!) so we drove 30 mins to the beach, round and round to find parking, parked 11:45, walked to the street of shops a block behind the coast. As we got out of the car I realised I needed the bathroom pretty soon, I've been drinking a lot more these last few days. So we were looking for a public toilet as well as a cossie. We found a nice cossie but still no toilet. Back and forth we walked. An hour had now passed since it started getting uncomfortable! By the time we finally found a public bathroom I was literally in tears. Not fun. I felt so much better after. Drinking so much can be a danger when you are out and about.

The Thai restaurant we were really looking forward to revisiting wasn't open for lunch, so we went to a steakhouse by the beach.
I ate my healthy stuff and left a lot of food on my plate, but did eat half my curly fries. I love curly fries! Luckily Aiden's food came out a bit late so he ate half of my fries while he was waiting, otherwise I might not have been able to resist eating them all. The kids had ice cream for dessert but I didn't have any.

Finally, at 2:00, we went down onto the sand. Not exactly an early start! The weather was lovely, not too hot, and we had lots of sunscreen on. I didn't go in the water, except toe-deep, I sat or lay on my towel while the kids and Tim played in the water. The life guard kept announcing dangerous conditions (a rip that could drag you out to sea) so everyone had to stay in a narrow area of water with patrols on jet-skis checking everyone was ok and herding them back. Despite that it was a lovely afternoon.

A bit over an hour was enough. I felt a bit over-sunned, and have burned the backs of my calves and the tops of my feet. I had sunscreen on and even covered my feet in sand for protection but they are so lily-white they couldn't take it. When we got home Tim collapsed on the bed while I began the process of rehydrating myself. Water and tea and vegetable broth and some grapes. I've counted the exercise as an hour of walking, actually my phone says I took over 8000 steps. And some of that on soft sand!

I had my scheduled dinner and ended up quite a few calories over my budget due to those damn curly fries! Stronger next time.

My plan for NYE tomorrow is to eat healthy all day and have a little something extra in the evening at our family party. Not too much, I have no intention of undoing all this good work.

I had a really unexpected phone conversation this afternoon. You'll remember just a few days ago I showed a photo of my cousin David's land near my grandfather's house, I don't think I mentioned that he actually bought it from my grandfather who had a bit of land there. Poppa gave us all the option and David was the only one interested. The land was valued and paid a reasonable price for, as far as I was concerned, and I haven't had a moments concern or resentment over the transaction. The sale was a couple of years ago. Well today I spoke to another cousin Jamie, who I didn't see at Christmas as he lives further away now, and apparently he is very upset about it! He feels like David got a bargain, David's father manipulated Poppa, and the rest of us have been cheated. He was trying to get me to join him in some kind of protest about it but I wouldn't (and apparently no-one else he has spoken to is bothered about it either). It was really strange because I had no idea there was any tension at all. And I hate any kind of confrontation, so I didn't want to be part of his protest but hated having to say so clearly and firmly! Jamie and I grew up practically next door so were close as children but I've rarely seen him the last 15 years. My goodness, without my mum to pass on the family gossip I just have no idea what is going on. It's a bit sad because I would have said we all get along really well with no problems. Maybe I just didn't know about them!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Avoiding temptation


I went for a walk this morning before breakfast, 30 minutes along the other side of the creek and back. Like on this side, there are houses on one side of the road but often the other side is bushland. (That dirt track isn't the road, by the way, it's a path leading down to the creek!)
I diverted into every little side street as I went, there were lots of short cul-de-sacs on the quite steep hill. The suburb name over there starts with a B, and so far every street I've traversed on a couple of visits starts with a B. Some town planners idea of a good time. Seems a bit confusing to me, if you are looking for a particular street and they all sound the same.

I got home and had breakfast, home-made Greek-style yoghurt with fresh mango. Delicious! I had that for dessert the other day, but it feels like a virtuous breakfast too. I don't know how to turn the photo right-side up.

My sister-in-law invited us out for lunch at Yum Cha. If you haven't had it, Yum Cha is authentic Chinese food they bring around endlessly on little trolleys and stamp your card for what you eat so you know how much to pay at the end. It can be a bit challenging if you are used to Westernised Chinese food, and also the waitresses might not speak a lot of English, but Ping is Chinese so she can translate everything and tell us what is in all the dishes. I love Yum Cha (some of it! not the chicken feet or beef tendons!) but I just couldn't see how I could negotiate it on day two of a new diet. Lots of dumplings and rice noodles and salt and who knows what in the sauces. Either I would be tempted to overeat or frustrated trying to pick out a few prawns and vegetables. So we declined. I won't avoid restaurants for the rest of my life but that was just a tricky one. One temptation conquered!

For a morning snack I made myself some vegetable broth. A variety of vegetables simmered for half an hour with a dash of chilli flakes, then strain the mushy vegetables out (and simmer them again with more water for another batch, still full of flavour). It makes a tasty and surprisingly filling snack, and counts as a drink as well. I'm not really sure how many calories it has. I don't eat the veges (too mushy), but the broth is full of flavour so something from the vegetables must permeate it. Well, vegetables don't have many calories anyway so I don't worry about it. I count it as 20 calories per mug, which my tracker suggests for commercial vegetable stock. But mine has no salt!

Jasmine did my Dance game for over an hour (so much fitter than me!) and I joined her for 15 minutes of that, getting in a bit of extra exercise. Then made a delicious salad with slices of lamb and cheese on top - I forgot to take a photo. All this healthy eating is time consuming!

Second temptation of the day was after lunch when the kids were eating treats from their Christmas stockings. I love Cheetos but they are a real trigger food for me. Not ready for that level of difficulty yet. I left the room and brushed my teeth.

In the afternoon we went to Putt Putt golf (mini golf) with Ping and family. It was an indoor course with the theme of having crashed a plane in a shanty town in the middle of Africa. Half a plane, crates everywhere, open market, shabby homes. Strange theme to chose, especially the dark "public toilet" room with gobs of ... um ... mud on the walls. But the course was challenging. I hit a hole in one on the first hole but it all went downhill from there. It was fun, and an hour of gentle activity that wasn't spent sitting on my well-padded behind.

I made satay chicken for dinner, mostly vegetables for me with cauliflower "rice" instead of real rice. Most of the calories were in the sauce! Yesterday was pretty easy but today I was hungry. I had my third temptation of the day after golf when the kids were having ice cream. There was nothing at the little café that I was willing to eat, so I waited until I got home, had half a banana, then waited for dinner. I am very full and satisfied after meals, but today I did get hungry between.

Still finishing my daily allotment of water, but I've done great with food and exercise. I tried to put myself out of reach of temptations instead of relying on will power, and it seemed to work.

Exercise is tiring


I weighed in to my Dietbet this morning, 84.5 kg (186 pounds). I need to lose 3.4 kg in four weeks, bringing me down to just over 81. I would love to be under 80.

Last time I measured my waist, a year or two or three ago, it was 101 cm. Today it was 106 cm. This confirms my belief that although I am not getting heavier, I am changing shape. My stomach is getting much bigger, and sagging down like it never has before. Well, not for much longer!

Becoming healthy in all aspects of my life didn't begin auspiciously. I tried to use my CPAP last night but it was awful. I'd always thought it was rather quiet, although Tim disagreed, but last night it sounded like an industrial air conditioner. Maybe because it was beside my ear instead of further away as I was used to. Whether from that or just the weirdness and restriction of having something strapped to my face, I couldn't get to sleep. This thing is supposed to help me get a good night's sleep - not keep me awake! I tossed and turned. After a couple of hours I drifted off - into a nightmare. Woke soon after all sweaty and yuck even though it was a cool night. Gave up on the CPAP and turned it off. Which makes the screen light up as it goes into its 5 minute cool-down mode. It's like being in a disco, the whole room was glowing. In Canberra I used to switch it off at the wall to bypass the bright screen, but here I can't reach the wall switch without moving the whole bedside table. I put a box of tissues over the top of the screen which helped. All in all it gives me no motivation to go back to using it. Maybe if I lose weight quickly I won't need it anyway?

And in the morning as I was making myself a cup of tea I dropped the lid of the sugar bowl and it smashed on the floor. I really liked that bowl.

And I can't find the dongle for my Fitbit which means I can't sync it with my computer to get all the stats stored, I can just see todays stats on the device itself. Also I can't work out how to see the nutritional information of the food I put in the tracker, only the calories. And it's rubbing my wrist already. I'm just not going well with devices at the moment! So I've gone back to tracking on my old app and not using the Fitbit.

Oh well, after the rocky start things got better. I made myself a vegetable omelette for breakfast which was both healthy and filling, and lasted me through the whole morning.
 (This is the only food I remembered to photograph.)

Did the shopping, a trolley full of fresh fruit and vegetables and meat. Had lunch of a leftover lamb chop and a salad, and added a bit of cheese when I was still unsatisfied. Afternoon snack was a nectarine and a few almonds. Dinner was bolognaise with zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of spaghetti. I was looking forward to that all afternoon, I certainly haven't stopped thinking about food all the time!

Aiden gave me a new dancing game for Christmas and I tried it this afternoon. It was exhausting! I wanted to quit after one song but I pushed on and did one more and one more until I got to half an hour. It was kind of embarrassing how little I was able to do, how unfit I am. Hard exercise tends to make me feel depressed afterward, I wanted to give up on the whole thing. But I had a shower and made dinner and got through it, and feel ok now.

I did really well on food and water and exercise so I guess I can work on the sleep and mental health aspects later.

Saturday, December 26, 2015



Today has flown by so fast! Every time I looked up, another few hours had gone by. I had a lazy day at home. Aiden tried out his new bike. He had completely outgrown his old one, this one fits him just right.
I had allowed myself today to eat a few treats left over from Christmas but really didn't have much. A bit of chocolate in the afternoon and dessert (Toblerone cheesecake, worth the calories!) after dinner. I felt no urge to binge on anything. I was tired, but not in a bad way. A natural consequence of a busy few days.

I spent some time preparing for my return to healthy living tomorrow. I'm feeling quietly confident. I've made a shopping list for tomorrow, packed with healthy food. My Fitbit is charged - it tends to rub on my wrist but I'm going to try alternating arms. My CPAP is washed and ready on my bedside table. I was given a new Dance game for the Xbox for Christmas, I'll try that out tomorrow. I've joined a 4-week DietBet that starts tomorrow so I'll weigh-in in the morning; I'll need to lose about 3.5 kg. I'm as ready as I can be!

I'll be following something similar to a Mediterranean diet, what I consider a sensible diet; low in processed food and high in fresh fruit and vegetables, moderate protein and fat, fairly low carb (at least low in processed carbs). I will be counting calories and tracking with the Fitbit app that syncs with my Charge HR. And drinking lots of water. I'm ready!

Merry Christmas


As usual, I had a lovely time over Christmas but I'm exhausted and kind of glad it's over!

The presents were ready under the tree the night before, with cake for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph.
In the morning we opened our presents and had breakfast then it was time to get on with cooking the turkey. Family arrived with their lunch contributions and we all sat down around 12:30 I think. A few of people had lunch with the other side of their family, we were 12 in number and all fit comfortably around our new table.
More present opening, then we kicked everyone out so we could go to my grandfather's for dinner, about an hour drive away. It was strange and sad without my mum or aunty Bev with us this year, and I had a nasty jolt when I saw my mum's car parked there but of course my brother drives it now. But it was nice to see the rest of my family, who I generally only see at Christmas and weddings and funerals. We will see them a bit more often now we live in the same city.

Poppa (grandad) has lived out in the country for the past 30 years, but in the last two years Sydney has expanded and enveloped him. The roads used to be rutted with no curb and houses far apart. Now there are footpaths and houses lined up side by side, Poppa's shabby little house has a high fence around with tall houses peeking over instead of looking out on open countryside. Really strange.

After dinner we walked a couple of (very new) blocks to where my cousin has bought a block of land. So far he has a rather attractive fence which he spent four months building himself, and nothing else! He backs onto a nature reserve with a creek so he will still have a bit of the country feel.

Then home again, and to bed.

The next morning more cleaning and cooking. I was expecting 17 for lunch, and when Tim's aunt arrived she mentioned that she had invited some more relatives we rarely see, so it was going to be 21! We had the leftovers from Christmas plus Tim did his magic with the BBQ and I cooked some fish for those on Lent. The guests spilled outside into the courtyard and down to the games table, but we fit them all in somehow.

After lunch we left the toddlers with a few adults and the rest of us went to see the new Star Wars movie, which we all enjoyed very much. "The force" had given us all Star Wars related clothing for Christmas, so Jasmine and I wore appropriate T-shirts but were outshone by the boys. Aiden was the new character Kylo Ren and Tim was Darth Vader - in full costume! That was fun. I was in too much of a rush to take a photo, but other people did so I'll get one from somewhere. Back home, found a few people were staying on to dinner. Of course they said they could just eat leftovers or toast, don't go to any trouble, but we'd eaten most of the leftovers already and that would be a lot of toast! I cooked roast lamb. Finally everyone left around 9:30 and I had a nice soak in the bath before collapsing into bed.

So, all in all, had a great time, but very tiring.

I don't really eat a lot at family gatherings, too busy and happy. I am a secret comfort eater, my binges are alone in front of the TV. At dinner I see other people's plates piled high with everything offered, I have a much smaller amount of my favourites with lots of free space on the plate. I do have dessert, but even then don't overeat. I wish I could be like that all the time.

I'm not waiting until Jan 1, but I am giving myself today to eat some of the leftover desserts and chocolates I was given as presents. Then I'm clearing out the fridge. 2016 is going to be my year to achieve some goals!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Eve


Merry Christmas for tomorrow!

The past two days have been full of present wrapping and baking and last minute shopping and cleaning. Very busy and tiring and fun. One thing both Tim and I have noticed is that other shoppers really don't look like they are enjoying themselves. Hassled mothers with bored children, dads who have no idea where the spice aisle is (I was able to help with that one). It can be tiring and frustrating, but overall I enjoy the whole process. Especially present wrapping. I can't believe some people pay someone to do that for them - or at least get the department store to do it for free. It is one of my favourite bits. Come and clean my house for me and I'll happily do all your wrapping, even the weirdly shaped difficult things.

Any attempt to eat healthily has gone out the window for the next few days, but I have plans for 2016 in many areas of my life, will talk about that in a week or so. Probably not particularly exciting, much the same as every other year really, but it's a good time to gird up the loins.

I'm off to cook the gingerbread reindeer. I'll leave one or two out for Santa. Poor guy, how is he supposed to trim down when everyone gives him cookies. How many million households?

I hope everyone has a lovely festive season with family all around.

Monday, December 21, 2015



Our new table arrived today! I was very worried about whether I would still like it, considering I had doubts the moment we walked out of the store, but it's great. Fits the space well and looks good.

The chairs alternate light blue and mid-blue (we thought that would be interesting). In the first picture they look green and in the second really bright colours! Actually they are somewhere in between the two. Smoky blue. They are really comfortable to sit in. And wipe clean. Our old table was four seater, this one is eight before we even extend it! We kept our old chairs for when we need them, but they took the old table away. We are all really happy with it.

And Tim picked up Aiden's wardrobe (flatpacked) from the hardware store. We still need to put it together. Looks like the house really will be ready for Christmas! It's really nice seeing it emerge from chaos into order (gradually) room by room. It's taking a while, but it's happening.

Pouring rain all day. I loved the cool change.

Carols in the park


Yesterday we did some unpacking in the morning and played World of Warcraft, then we had some visitors in the afternoon who we hadn't seen for ages. They moved from Canberra to Sydney about a year before we did. It was great to catch up. They rented for a year then bought a house recently, so we mainly talked about the housing market! They brought two big containers of home-made fudge with them to share. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) it wasn't great. The kids had some, Tim and I had one small piece each. They insisted we keep some (they wanted us to keep all) so to be polite I kept some then later shared with other people and tossed the rest out. Life is too short to waste on mediocre fudge, but I think we managed it without hurting any feelings.

In the evening we went to Christmas Carols at the local park. I was really apprehensive about this as it was a stinking hot day, and also the only other time I'd been to that park there had been a million flies, and we all know how I feel about them. But it turned out really nice.

The sun was heading below the trees so we were in the shade, and the temperature was ok at that time of day. There weren't many flies - probably hanging around the sausage sizzle. We had a nice picnic that I had prepared and sat with other family members who we'd arranged to meet. The singing and band from a local church wasn't great and we talked rather than singing along, but it was good to sit in the park and enjoy the festivities.

(I don't know any of these people, it was just a random photo towards the stage area.)

Jasmine and little Emma got their faces painted and Aiden got a pretend tattoo (and also two huge mosquito bites).

Today we went into the city. There were a couple of items people had asked for for Christmas that I couldn't get anywhere else. So we took a child each and did some shopping - the huge department store was pretty awesome - then met up for lunch. We got lucky with the weather, it wasn't as hot as the day before and the rain held off until we were back on the train going home. We came home and collapsed, Tim and I both having a nap. Only a few sleeps until Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

And.... more shopping


Family Christmas shopping day. We bought things for extended family and also a couple of things for each other that we wanted direct input on (I can't give examples because I immediately wiped my memory of the perfect sea-green handbag I helped choose).

Tim's cousin Matt was playing guitar and singing on the stage at the rooftop restaurant area. It is crowded at night but not so much in the middle of a hot day, but there were a few people. We had our lunch and listened a bit while taking a break. He has a nice voice, at the moment he has actually left work to try to make a career of singing. It's a tough field to break in to. But I guess right now - with a wife who is working but no kids to support yet - is the best time for him to try.

Can I just interject for a moment here that I hate Windows 10. Since we downloaded it everything has been not just different, but difficult and wrong. Such a pain. Can't do anything I want to do. I suppose I'll get used to it in time. It only took me about 30 minutes to upload that photo from my phone, this time.

I was pondering this morning the concept of "wasting time". Some people think time is wasted if there is nothing tangible to show for it. I like to spend some of my time on mindless relaxation, like playing games on my phone. Is it wasted time if I enjoyed it? I don't think so. Sure if I cut out fiddling with my virtual farm, playing World of Warcraft, watching TV, I would have many hours more "productive" time each day. But would life be as pleasurable?

Tim has a friend who spends months of each year travelling. He only works enough to fund his next trip overseas. He has no settled home or long term relationships (as far as I know, I haven't seen him except on Facebook for a while). Are his safaris to Africa and travels through Asia wasted time because he has no home, no assets, no wife or children? I admit that what seemed like an awesome lifestyle (but not for me) in his 20s no longer seems quite so practical now that he must be approaching or over 40. But it's how he wants to live, and I wouldn't say he's wasting his life just because he's buying experiences instead of physical things. As long as he can afford a virtual reality headset when he's old and too frail to travel, he can settle down happily in cheap rental accommodation and relive his memories through brain stimulation or whatever they have then.

Other people would say spending your days in a stressful mind-numbing 9-5 (or 8-6) job is wasting your life. Why hate your days just to earn enough money to buy stuff you have no time to enjoy?

I think the only time you waste is the parts that are neither fun, nor productive. A boring but valuable task is fine if you get it done. An enjoyable interlude is fine even if it doesn't result in anything (other than relaxation!) Earning money for yourself, helping other people, making connections with family and friends, playing games, exercising your body, expanding your mind, relaxing, all good. It's those days when you sit at home feeling lonely and miserable (hopefully rare in our lives) that are the wasted ones.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

More shopping


I did a huge Christmas food shop this morning, everything that didn't need to be bought last minute (like fresh fruit and the turkey). Also a few more presents. And went to a beauty salon called "Bliss" but I'm telling you it's not blissful to have the hair ripped out from under your arms. Ouchies. Then played some World of Warcraft with the family and had a long nap in front of the TV.

The furniture store called a couple of days ago and our new kitchen table will be delivered next Tuesday. So we get it before Christmas, yay! I am still really paranoid about whether I like it. I'm sort of used to the small table there now, I think the new one will look huge! The other store called today and Aiden's wardrobe is available too. It's a flatpack and I don't know if it will fit in the car, maybe we'll need to get it delivered or hire one of their trailers - um no we don't have a towbar so I don't think we can? But it looks like we'll have everything before Christmas so that is good. The table in particular is very important so I'm happy we'll have it in time.

I bought lots of treats when shopping, mostly for Christmas but some for now. I'll try not to go overboard, but I guess I've slackened the reins. There's a mixed metaphor for you. I'm still cooking proper meals, but adding less-healthy snacks.

Planning Christmas


Tim drove Jasmine back to Canberra so she could attend the Yr 6 graduation dinner at her old school with her friends. When we originally planned it I thought the kids would still have school here but it actually finished a day earlier in NSW, so Aiden and I could have gone and met up with some people without him missing any school here. But he didn't want to and I didn't either really. I've had enough of those long drives for the moment. They drove all the way home after, getting here after midnight (I'm writing this next morning).

I spent part the time planning my Christmas/Boxing Day menu out properly and writing shopping lists for the days leading up to it. I'm hosting Christmas lunch and Boxing Day lunch for around 17, and taking a dessert to Christmas Dinner in the evening. I still need to make my timing list, I find this invaluable for complicated cooking. What to cook in advance, then on the day when to put the turkey in, when to start the potatoes etc. Makes sure nothing is forgotten. It takes a lot of stress out of the day if I can just look at my list and see 11:55 slice the baguettes.

Aiden made paper aeroplanes and chattered away, and in the evening we watched TV together and got to bed in good time.

My mornings are so early. I don't them to be, and they don't need to be. I wake most mornings around 5am, it is still dark and quiet. I try to get back to sleep for a while, give up after an hour and get up once it's light, sit reading or playing with my phone and feeling braindead until everyone else wakes up and I can go and have a shower - I don't want to wake the rest of the house earlier. Sometimes I crawl back into bed at some point but very rarely get back to sleep. I generally feel too exhausted to go for a walk then or do anything else. Why am I waking up so early! It certainly isn't because I've had enough sleep!

We are all saving Star Wars for Boxing Day, looking forward to it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas shopping


I wish I was wearing my Fitbit today, I would love to know how many steps I took! I was Christmas shopping for nearly five hours, walking around a huge shopping centre. My feet and legs were so sore and tired by the end. My feet invented new swear words! I bought a few things, not as many as I'd hoped, but also a couple of new pretty shirts for myself. I like to have something new to wear on Christmas Day and maybe Boxing Day too. I don't like shopping for clothes but it is my personal tradition and it makes me find something to fit the shape I am, not wait until that magical day in the future when I'm thin. I managed to find a couple I'm reasonably happy with.

I have mostly finished buying presents for the children, but have nothing yet for Tim! And let me tell you, that is just as important! I heard on the news tonight that we are officially into "last minute Christmas shopping". Arg!

I didn't do so well with food, buying greasy food-court Chinese. It was interesting to see that the longest queues for food were at the KFC! I was thinking to myself, with all this choice why would you go for KFC? Then I had my Chinese and found out why. Not very nice. None of the food seemed healthy or appealing, but later as I made my way around the huge complex I found another area with both fresh food (butchers, greengrocers etc) and more interesting lunch options. I'll have to make sure I'm at that end at lunchtime next time I go there. I didn't end up having lunch with my sister-in-law, at lunchtime I wasn't near her and was already too tired to take all the extra steps. But I missed out on a better lunch because I'm sure she knows the complex well.

My legs are seriously aching, I think I'll need to soak in a bath before bed.

It was the kids' last day of school before six weeks holiday, and Tim is also taking a couple of weeks off from tomorrow. Holidays! We aren't going anywhere, but preparing for Christmas and finishing (hopefully) the unpacking and just relaxing in our new house. I'm sure we can fit in a trip or two to the beach. Tim and the kids all seem really tired and run down, they need a nice break.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Waste management


Tired and cranky day today. I just felt a bit out of sync with the world. But I got through it ok.

I took the car load of junk to the waste management centre, it's only about 10 minutes drive away from here. It wasn't stinky at all like I'd feared, at least not the bit where I was. The non-recyclable stuff went over a low fence and down into a bus-size skip bin on a level below so that bit was easy, and it was also right next to where they told me to park the car. But the cardboard went into a tall skip with the rim above eye-height on me, across the carpark! I trotted back and forth from the car and heaved it all in over my head. It was kind of fun actually. Different, a bit challenging, but not too hard.

Only one more day of school for my kids then six weeks of summer holidays, so I need to enjoy my last day of freedom for a while tomorrow! Actually I plan to go Christmas shopping all day, maybe have lunch with my sister-in-law. That will be nice.

The next 20 years


The end of the year seems a good time to think about this stuff, particularly as we are settled in a new place and expecting to be here for many years - something we've had uncertainty about for the past several years now.

So, what am I going to do with myself for the next 20 years? I am 45 now, so I still have a good 20 years before "retirement" from whatever I'm doing (and I don't intend to just nail myself into a coffin after that, but I might feel less guilty about not working). Obviously being a good wife and mother are and will always be important, but I have plenty of hours in the day to do something that gives me a sense of accomplishment and maybe earns a bit of money.

I have a couple of barriers to full time work, firstly I only intend to work during school hours, and secondly I have quite serious RSI issues that mean I can only do desk work for around three hours a day. I have tried five hours a day part-time computer work and the pain was coming back in a major way. With plenty of breaks and stretches I can comfortably do about three hours a day at a desk, plus I suppose other work not at a desk - but all the kinds of work I like are at a desk. For a while, when I had to leave my full time job due to the RSI pain 15 years ago, I thought about other types of work away from a desk and I even started a landscaping course. I was quite fun but working outside in all weather isn't really me. You many have noticed I like my home comforts! I am smart and shy, being alone at a desk suits me.

Playing computer games (and iPhone) of course also counts towards time I can spend at a desk, I have to be very careful. This weekend when we played quite a lot I could feel the burning and stiffness start in my shoulders and right hand.

Work I have done successfully since then, apart from raising two children, is writing and editing. As I said, five hours a day part time was too much, and I think it would be very hard to find an employer who would hire someone for less hours than that, so that leaves my freelance editing business. I managed to get enough work to fill my limited hours, and it was quite interesting work I think I was good at, but it didn't pay very well and often at the end of the month I would wonder if it was worth doing. I think I would have to charge quite a bit more to make it worthwhile financially, and that is tricky because the clients I want - fiction authors - often don't have a lot of money to spend on editing. Only the boring government work pays well, and that requires more hours than I can give.

What I really want to do, what I've always wanted to do my whole life, is be an author. Over the past couple of years I did finally write the first draft of an entire novel, which I am very proud of. But it still needs a lot of work before offering it to a publisher and in 2015 I barely looked at it. A lot has gone on this year in my life and I've used that as an excuse. Can I justify being an "author" at home and not earning any money if I'm not actually writing? Obviously I need to get writing again! How long do I give myself to do this before I put it to one side and find other work? 2016 to make significant progress, get it polished and offered to publishers?

I think that is the answer for now. In 2016 I will write and polish and really try to make a go of being an author. A couple of hours a day at home or in a café or library.

Still creek?


I went for a little walk this morning, around 20 mins. My plan is to gradually explore the surrounding streets, maybe print out a map and mark off where I've been. It will go a bit quicker if I walk more than once a week! We're near the bottom of a hill here so whichever way I go it's uphill on the way out and downhill on the way home. Within a grid of straight main roads, the smaller roads are all little twisty dead-end streets which are nice to walk around. Today I walked across our road and looked at the little creek directly opposite (there are no houses on the other side of our road).

Looking back at our house:

The start of the little creek (I wonder what it is called? It might be "Still Creek" but I'm not sure, for some reason I found it very hard to find out on the internet - maybe it's just a stormwater drain!), it comes out from underground right opposite our house:

I went beyond the creek to the streets on the other side and went up the hill and around. I don't mind hills at all (although I felt it in my calves later in the day!) but I do mind the heat (too hot already at 7:15am) and the flies. Bothersome. Oh well, at least for once I didn't walk on garbage collection day! One thing I noticed was that every street I went on or past started with a B. I wonder if there are other enclaves around here where the town planners chose another letter?

Here is another photo of my kookaburras, Dash and Dobby. The other two the kids called Spike and Hiccup. I can't tell any of them apart yet so I address them randomly by whichever name I feel like.

And here is Boris again:
I did the grocery shopping in the morning and in the afternoon I loaded up the car with stuff to go to the local tip/recycling centre (which I'll do tomorrow). Some boxes are not suitable for passing on as moving boxes and we also have packing materials like Styrofoam and other bits and pieces that we need to get rid of. I think it was seven trips up and down our short but very steep driveway. No wonder my calves are sore! When we have a bigger pile of clean packing boxes I'll advertise them again.

I have a confession to make. I haven't used my CPAP (face mask, or rather nose pillows, for sleep apnoea) for months. I got sick of tidying it away every second day when we had regular open houses to sell our Canberra house, and then it was packed, and when we moved it was still packed, and then we had some really hot nights. Have you tried to sleep in summer with plastic strapped to your face? Also sometimes I feel it causes as many problems as it solves. It might help while I'm actually asleep, but I have so much trouble getting to sleep while I'm using it. I'm tethered (by the nose) to a machine that makes my face sweat. Nevertheless, it might be better for me to get four hours of restful sleep than six or seven of interrupted sleep where I wake 15 times an hour. I'm certainly not getting enough sleep. Dark circles under my eyes are not improving my looks.

I finally met one of our neighbours this afternoon, as he was watering his front lawn. He and his wife had the really noisy party on Saturday, which I did not mention, he is retired I think but I guess that doesn't mean he's forgotten how to party! They have a elderly friendly Labrador dog who I have patted through the fence before. He told me they were the first house on the street so they've been here for a while. I'm glad to have finally met one neighbour.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

World of Warcraft


In between sessions of unpacking (which didn't progress as far as I'd hoped, there is always more left than I thought) we played World of Warcraft. We have enough computers and devices that we can all now play together as a team. Tim and I have often played as a team of two, but now the kids have joined us! World of Warcraft is a computer game, an mmo (massively multiplayer online) which means people all around the world are playing at the same time and you can see their characters and interact with them while you are fighting the bad guys (fantasy world, trolls and dragons etc, something like watching a Lord of the Rings movie where you are the hero). Most of the game is set up for one person but there are challenging parts where a team of five is optimal so we nearly have that with just us. Of course these early levels are very easy but remember we're playing with a nine year old boy who likes to have his character run off ahead. I have chosen a character who can magically heal people so I'm trying to keep my family safe. It was a lot of fun.


This area has been very quiet so far, until last night. Our neighbours had a party and the music was so loud! In our house with all our windows closed it was like being inside a nightclub, I hate to think what it was like over there next to the speakers. I guess they were in the backyard. Aiden's room is closest and he couldn't sleep. I went to bed late because I knew there was no point trying. The noise stopped around midnight. If I didn't have children I wouldn't have cared, but there are lots of kids in this street who wouldn't have been able to sleep. Tim could have gone over there to talk to them but we decided not to. It was just a party, a rare event, on a Saturday night before Christmas. If you can't party then, when can you? But it was just so loud!

Today was much like yesterday, unpacking alternating with World of Warcraft. Then dinner at my brother-in-law's. A very nice weekend.

Friday, December 11, 2015



I enjoyed my fruit salad so much yesterday that when I did the shopping today I bought lots more fruit, including watermelon and pineapple, and made a huge fruit salad which I shared with the kids when they got home from school. So yummy! I saved a bowl-full for Tim although that took some will power.

Another stinking hot day. Luckily I felt a lot better today. Twice in this past week I've included yoghurt (home made, unsweetened Greek-style) in my breakfast and although I'm not keen on cold and slimy first thing in the morning I've noticed it dramatically helps my abdominal discomfort throughout the day. As in, I hardly have any discomfort at all. Or maybe none! I can't say I've noticed any pain today. Every other day this week I've struggled. So I guess I'll have to keep eating the yoghurt. It's pretty nice with some fruit or muesli.

We probably should spend a lot of the weekend Christmas shopping but Tim is determined to get this house in order and finish a lot of the unpacking, and I can't say I disagree with him. It will be so nice not to be surrounded by boxes, and not know where things are. We unpacked a lot in the first two weeks then just kind of stopped as we got busy with other things. I couldn't always unpack alone during the week because we hadn't yet decided the final placement of the furniture. But we should be good to go full steam ahead this weekend.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fruit salad


I still wasn't feeling great this morning, but a bit better, and I decided a nice walk might be just the thing so I forced myself to get out into the fresh air and mild sunshine. I was wrong. By the time I got to the library my head was worse than ever. I'd planned to buy something for lunch while I was out but I couldn't imagine anything I wanted to eat ... except fruit. I suddenly decided I could eat a fruit salad. I wasn't prepared to carry a whole pineapple or chunk of watermelon home, but I bought a mango and some strawberries and when I got home (sweaty and exhausted) I cut them up with a nectarine and ate it all and it was delicious. And didn't further upset my tummy. Fruit is so lovely, but sometimes I forget.

Not a great day


Well it's that time of the month and even my feet are swollen up, my shoes are uncomfortably tight! I've never had that happen before, or not so I noticed. I had to dig out some old shoes that had had some of the life worn out of them. I can't go barefoot, the sore on the sole of my foot makes it quite painful to walk without padding underneath. I'm also headachy, have distressed digestion, the whole deal. I don't feel particularly moody, but we'll see if something happens to set me off!

We've been having dramatically variable weather here ever since we moved. Every week swings up and down and back up again. Today was one of the stinking hot days, with a storm in the evening. I haven't got used to the humidity here yet, Canberra was very dry. Here fruit goes bad more quickly, the bin needs to be emptied daily or it stinks, and I break into a sweat every time I move.

My hunger was weird, I ate a lot during some periods of the day, good food and bad, large portions of whatever I could get my hands on. Other times I felt nauseous and couldn't eat at all. I had two bites of dinner then had to go and lie down.

My daughter is the one with the social life at the moment. Her school has lots of end-of-year activities going on, it's the end of Primary School so I guess that is a big deal. A disco, movie day, dinner and dancing, presentation night tonight. And then the day after school finishes here Tim is driving her back to Canberra so she can attend the  graduation celebration at her old school!

I didn't do much today except organise and back up some photos online, and read. I have the horrible feeling I've wasted yet another day of my life just sitting around at home, not even doing anything to make that home a nicer place to be. Then I move my head and the pain stabs back in and I think sitting around is the best thing for me today. Maybe it's not PMS. I don't usually feel like I have a nail stuck in my left eyebrow for that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Biggest Loser


I spent some time Christmas shopping today. I got a few things but was really tired and headachy and came home at lunchtime and had a nap instead of pushing on. I only have another week before the kids will be finished school and it won't be so easy to shop without them. Aiden's main present is going to be a bike (which he knows, he will help choose it), he has really outgrown his old one; not sure about Jasmine. She doesn't need a new bike even though she rides to school and has grown - she has just taken over mine! I never ride it anyway. It was actually never ridden at all, our old bikes were stolen a couple of years ago and the insurance company sent new ones and I don't think I ever even sat on it. I'll have to think of something good, if Aiden is getting a "big ticket" item like a bike then she has to as well or they will both be horrified by the unfairness.

I can't remember the details but I read something recently about children learning about fairness, it is partly innate and partly cultural. They start off knowing it's unfair if they get less than the other person. (Monkeys know that too, and will get very upset about it.) But only in some cultures do children decide it's also unfair if they get MORE, and they have to be around nine before they learn that. Aiden was quite worried the other day when we got a treat for just the two of us, until I reminded him that I'd given Jasmine an equivalent amount of money to buy a snack (it wasn't deliberate on my part, just worked out that way).

It was the Biggest Loser finale tonight. Some years many contestants have lost up to half their body weight and ended up looking very trim and healthy. This year only the winner (male) and two of the women ended up lighter than me. Even taking into account that I am short, many contestants still looked very overweight. Of course that is still better than the hugely obese they were before. Are they picking bigger contestants to start with, who can't possibly lose all their weight in six months or so (three months in the house then three at home before finale), or have they stepped back from the super-extreme exercise and dieting to a more moderate regimen?

Still headachy, early bedtime for me.

Monday, December 7, 2015



I weighed myself this morning and was very surprised to see 84.1kg. I rechecked and got 84.3kg twice in a row so I'll go with that. That's a kg less than last week! I have been trying to eat less junk food but I've by no means been a paragon of healthiness so I was expecting to be about the same. Could be just a fluctuation, but it's nice to think I've lost a little through eating a bit better than I was.

We're having an ongoing problem with Jasmine's hair which I wasn't going to mention but it's just getting frustrating! When she had the big knot cut out, the hairdresser found head lice. I hadn't seen any in all my hours of brushing, and she didn't see any the first day of detangling, so they must have all been in the knot. Anyway, the hairdresser treated her hair and gave me the stuff to use a week later to get any that were hatched since then. But two days later Jas said her head was itchy and sure enough there were still head lice. I used the stuff the hairdresser gave me and did all the combing and washing her sheets and pillow and clothes (again). No one else in the family seemed to have head lice, although just thinking about it makes us all feel itchy! Two days later, itchy head, more lice. Maybe that brand of stuff wasn't working well, we bought another brand I'd used in the past. Re-did her hair, linen etc. Two days later, this morning, itchy head. Checked again, MORE head lice! Little tiny ones, presumably newly hatched. Arg! Did the whole routine for the fourth time is less than a week. Maybe she's picking it up from one of her friends? Or is her hair so fine the combs (two different ones, one metal one plastic) aren't getting the eggs out? We've never had a problem like this before. I checked her again when she got home from school and she seems to be louse-free now, fingers crossed!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Family Day


Our tree is up! We've gone with purple and silver this year, with a splash of gold to bling it up. Over the years we've gathered a variety of colours and some years we put them all on, other years we have a colour theme.

My brother Darren came to visit today. He said "late morning" but I knew not to expect any particular time, and indeed wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't make it at all. So we went ahead with our day, put up the tree, did a bit of cleaning. Aiden had been hoarding some packing materials and waiting very patiently; Tim helped him hammer in some nails to make a... well... some bits of wood nailed together.

Darren arrived at 2:30. He admired the house and I fed him a late lunch (we'd had ours) and he played with the kids. For those of you new to the blog, I'm not very close to my brother. He has obsessive compulsive disorder and is also a hoarder, and was very hard to live with back when we were kids. Of course it's even harder being him. I don't like going to his house because of the hoarding and the filth, but he is welcome to visit here which of course is much easier now we live in the same city. He is fond of my kids and very good at telling weird stories, a skill he inherited from our dad. Like about the competition for the naughtiest child, or about a goat called Norbert who is made out of cheese.

I spent much of the afternoon cooking, and in the evening Tim's family came over for dinner in our new Sunday tradition. Ten people in all. We don't have our new table yet so we put our small dining and kitchen tables together.

In the past, family dinners that included us were rare because we lived further away, and they therefore became a sort of party, with plenty of junk food. But if we're sharing dinner every week, alternating with my sister-in-law, we need to tone down the excess calories. I tried to keep it relatively healthy, with a pre-dinner nibble of vegetable crudités and hommos dip, then roast lamb with lots of vegetables and cauliflower "rice" (and gravy!), then finished with ice cream with raspberries and honeycomb. We did still have alcohol and fizzy drink, brought by other people. I feel like there is no need to start with chips and lollies or have supper an hour after a big meal. Food is part of the equation, but we're really there to enjoy each other's company.

Most people left around 9 (which is still a bit late for all the kids with school the next day), Darren told them a bedtime story then played computer games a bit before he left. It was a good day. I was exhausted by the end of it!

And we still didn't get much unpacking done. I'd love to have it all done by Christmas, but that is less than three weeks away now so I don't know if it will be!

Saturday, December 5, 2015



We spent a lot of the day at a birthday picnic/BBQ for a two year old family member. It was a lovely location, a big park next to where the Sydney Olympics were held. Rolling hills and trees and water and bike paths.

Good: Almost no flies! So I didn't mind eating outside.
Bad: We weren't served lunch until 2:30pm.
Good: I know these people and their sense of time (or lack thereof)! So I wisely made sure I ate a significant amount before we left home, and got through until official lunch with only a very few Doritos, instead of standing over the food table shovelling chips and lollies down my throat.
Bad: The only drinks on offer were fizzy soft drinks - and warm! But it was that or water straight from the tap in the public toilets (without a cup). So I had half a can of lemonade, wishing for cool water.
Good: I sat in the shade chatting, and didn't get burned.
Bad: Jasmine got a bit sunburnt running around, despite sunscreen and a hat.
Good: The kids got to run around!
Bad: I was hoping to get a lot more done at home today with Tim to help me unpack.
Good: We had a lovely day with family.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bird Wars


Kookaburras on the roof.

I decided I'm not going to feed the magpies any more. The butcher bill is getting a bit expensive! I was excited at first because they would take food from my hand, but actually I don't like magpies very much, they are common and can be aggressive and just not glamorous enough! And they poo all over everything, they seem to be the worst culprits by far. This morning the two adults and noisy adolescent came and stared at me through the kitchen window for a long time, I went out and shooed them off every time they got on the table. I don't mind them sitting on the chair backs so much although it can still get messy. Eventually they gave up, for the moment.

Last night one of the three kookaburras acted differently to usual. He'd take a piece of meat and fly away, but moments later be back for another one. He made nine trips in all, until it ran out I guess. Usually they just eat their fill and leave. This morning there were FOUR kookaburras! So I'm thinking he has a girlfriend and was showing what a great provider he is and/or teaching her to trust the nice lady who feeds them. (I assign gender randomly, they all look the same to me.) The four came and chatted to each other and had a nice breakfast, then sat up on the roof. And one magpie snuck in (walking, not flying) and took the last piece of meat. Oh, there was a fuss! He was chased under the table and verbally abused. They are similar size but kookaburras have a wicked beak for spear-fishing and I think the magpie dad was very intimidated. He's a deadbeat dad anyway, he's often skulking around without his family and the poor mother looks harassed with her feathers all messy. No time to herself with a cranky child to feed!

I did a huge grocery shop today, how could I fill a whole trolley just for the weekend?? I guess I am feeding ten people on Sunday night. But still. At least a lot of it was fruit and veges!

I haven't been feeling great physically the past few days. My diverticulitis is a bit worse again - if that is what the pelvic pain is, my doctor seemed to rule everything else out after the blood test and ultrasound showed nothing, I need to find a new doctor now we've moved and get a colonoscopy to confirm, urg - and also my sciatica with shooting pains down my left hip. And the wart on the sole of my foot that makes it hurt to walk. Today with the pelvic pain it was uncomfortable even standing for any period of time. Sigh. Well I've started increasing my fruit and veges to get more fibre (recommended for diverticulitis) but I'm not sure how much weight I'll lose over Christmas! And I've realised it isn't practical to join the gym now as the kids get six weeks summer holiday after their final two weeks of school and I wouldn't be able to go. My old gym had classes for kids for a while but then stopped, and I think most gyms won't let people under 16 in the doors except to the crèche which my kids are bit old for - and anyway they don't have crèche during school holidays. At least my old gym didn't. Who came up with that brilliant decision? Like we don't need childcare somehow during holidays? We need it more! So anyway I'll need an alternative for the next couple of months until school goes back. Walking in the morning before it gets too hot, dancing in the lounge room maybe. I know I have to push through this discomfort, but also need to find a local doctor and get it sorted out. Except there is no cure if it is diverticulitis (except surgery in really severe cases), the treatment is to avoid a Western-style diet and get lots of fibre.

Honestly, it seems like every time I turn around something is telling me to eat less junk food and more plant food. Will the universe shut up already? Do you really think it's worth changing my whole diet and sedentary lifestyle just to avoid diabetes and get rid of sleep apnoea and pelvic pain and look better and not die young and fat? Hmm. Maybe you've got something there.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Six degrees of separation


There was a movie some years ago called Six Degrees of Separation which suggested that we are connected to everyone in the world in six or less links. I don't know if that is true, but I had a "small world" moment today on a much more local level. I put an ad online for free packing boxes for the 60 or so we had in the garage, the woman who picked them up this afternoon lived about 20 minutes drive away so not really that close. We chatted while loading up her car with the boxes, and it turns out she is best friends with my husband's aunt! Quite random. We have different surnames, it came up when talking about the school the aunt teaches at.

It was lovely and cool today despite being the third day of an Australian summer, and I went for a leisurely walk up to the library and back. I'm going to have to join the gym though, it's just going to be too hot for me over summer.

One book I borrowed was about the DASH diet, which I have investigated before when my husband first got high blood pressure as it was specifically designed to combat hypertension, but is also generally considered to be good overall diet. Since I have so much trouble looking after myself, maybe it will be easier if I'm doing it for his health? This is an updated version, published 2014. Essentially it seems to be a plant-based diet. Not actually vegetarian, but with fruit and vegetables and pulses etc as the main part of every meal, garnished with a small amount of meat and fat. Very little processed food. Keen on a wide variety of different coloured plant foods. It seems very sensible to me, but I don't know if we could stick to it! We are very much carnivores here, meat is the centre of every meal. Even if we don't cut down on meat too much it wouldn't hurt us to eat a lot more vegetables, and Tim would be very happy to do so. He likes the damn things. I've had a lifetime of struggling to find ones I like and trying to work out how to cook them.

The tree-trimmers came and cut off that branch that was broken. A truck came with five men! This was their last job of the day and a very easy one. Nothing over head-height, so no ladder required. Chainsaw and slice slice slice, broken bit cut off and a few more bits reshaped. Branches picked up, a few seconds with a leaf blower and done. Amazing what you can do with the right tools and experience. It would have been a couple of hours with a small blunt saw and my puny muscles!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Housework day


I was home all day today, dealing with this and that. Ever since we got our new internet set up here, we've been able to receive emails but not send them except by an inconvenient roundabout method from the provider's website. I spent two hours on the phone with them this morning and finally got that fixed. Then there was the tree out the front, at the end of last week a big branch split from the trunk but wasn't quite separated, it was draped across the sidewalk and blocking our mailbox and people walking past. Today someone came out and gave me a quote to get that dealt with, and they are coming back tomorrow. Even if I knew where our gardening tools were, we don't have a chainsaw or anything hefty enough to deal with issue.

I also had to wait most of the day for a delivery. As well as the dining table (which I called about today and we expect to get a couple of days before Christmas!!! I hope!!!) we bought a couple of other items of furniture, like a wardrobe for Aiden as his room doesn't have one. I ordered a bright red flat-packed kid's wardrobe from the local hardware store, hopefully that will come soon. He doesn't have anywhere to hang the few items that need hanging, like his school shirts. But anyway, today was a "lamp table" for the lounge. It is going to be our recharging port, at night all recharging technology sits on that table, plugged in nearby. I wanted to make sure everything was out of the bedrooms, and also kept where it wouldn't get lost. Now it all has a specific place to live. And a drawer to put spare bits in. But that didn't come until mid-afternoon so I couldn't leave the house most of the day.

Aside from that it was housework day. Urg. What fun. I don't have a specific day of the week for housework, and of course some things need to be done every day, but sometimes when I don't have anything scheduled outside the house and I can see the laundry piling up or whatever, I just say to myself "today is housework day" and get it done. Well, some of it anyway.

Despite any grumbling I do here, I am actually very happy at the moment and content with my new house. Especially on a lovely cooler day like today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015



Quick hair update, another hour of work by the hairdresser (actually three clustered around her at one point!) and Jasmine's hair is smooth and knot-free, and shoulder length. And properly washed. So everyone concerned is very happy. And that salon has won a family of customers for as long as we live here. I'll have to put a nice review on their website, they took so much care.

What did I do today? Not a lot. It was another scorcher. We had a big stack of advertising catalogues put in our mailbox and I went through them looking for Christmas present ideas. We have barely thought about Christmas yet, so busy with moving. But it's time to get on with that! Need ideas for everyone including myself, and keep a few ideas in reserve because Tim's dad will ring on Christmas Eve from the shops to ask what we all want! Things for the house are high on the list for me this year, and I always appreciate books and CDs. The kids are always easy, but thinking of something for Tim will be the hardest.

I am also hosting lunch for Tim's side of the family, and taking dessert to my grandad's for dinner (it will be so strange and sad for everyone without my mum or Aunty Bev there for the first time - and Aunty Bev usually did most of the cooking work). I have started going through cookbooks and magazines for ideas. I will be cooking a turkey at lunch, and everyone contributes, but I'd love to find some new things to make. I do usually make gingerbread reindeer. And we have a tradition stolen from the cooking show Masterchef where a key ingredient is nominated and everyone makes a dish using that, and then we vote for the best. Some years that has meant a lot of similar things which hasn't worked well, and last year most people didn't bother. But it seems to be up and running again with the ingredient of lime which is very versatile and can be used for savoury or sweet dishes or even drinks. I think the very first year was the best when we used lemon. Actually the tradition started the year before that when we didn't co-ordinate dessert very well and had about five trifles. For those not of English backgrounds, trifle is a dessert made of layers of cake soaked in alcohol, cream, jelly (jello) and fruit. I don't like it much, so that wasn't a good year for me! Tim's mother was English, and his whole family loves trifle. Anyway, I need to start thinking about a lime showstopper!