Friday, May 27, 2016

Juice Fast - Day 5, The Turning Point

My new friend. The bag makes it easier to take out the discarded fibre.
Yesterday, Thursday, was the turning point. By Wednesday evening I'd had enough of smoothies, they weren't doing it for me and I was beginning to feel like I was liquidizing my salads for no good reason. Yesterday I tried juicing. I feel like I've found the elixir of life.

I had my usual coffee with oat milk for breakfast but, as on Wednesday, I didn't need another coffee at all during the day.

At 11.30 I gathered up a whole load of fruits and vegetables and trotted next door for a juicing lesson with Aviva Belfer. The smaller juicer that she was going to lend me was on the table and her big-mama juicer was set up on the side where it lives.

I showed her my produce and asked her to talk me through it. Aviva likes to make green juices and not include fruit because of the sugar content. I totally agree with this so we went ahead with her recipe. I'd much rather stick to vegetable juices and eat my fruit as pieces of fruit.

Aviva starts with a whole lemon, a knob of fresh ginger, a knob of fresh tumeric (I had never seen fresh tumeric before - I didn't even know it looked like orange ginger), cucumbers, celery, and beet leaves (hers were finished so we used my spinach leaves instead). I also had some parsley so we added that though it doesn't make enough juice to be worth it. Next time I'll save the parsley for a salad.

I tasted it and it was good but a bit too lemony for me. So we added a few carrots and it was perfect (although I think I'll still put in less lemon when I make my own). It was just the right amount sweet. It was fresh and light. It was delicious. And it still had some fibre in it even though it was juice.

The elixir of life.
I brought home the juicer and set it up in the kitchen. All I wanted was another vegetable juice but I wasn't hungry and it would have been silly so I drank water instead. When DD came home from school I ate her olive sandwich that she'd not eaten at school (1 hot dog roll with olives inside - it's what she likes usually).

When she went to a birthday party later I made my very own juice in my very own [borrowed] juicer. It had a chunk of lemon, fresh ginger, cucumbers, celery, spinach leaves, and carrots. I loved, loved, loved it!

Later I ate a banana and a bowl of melon. I drank an apple juice spritzer (half store bought apple juice and half soda water). I felt virtuous.

And this morning the scales showed another 31lb loss. So at the end of the original 5-day challenge I lost 5.4lbs and that's without even doing it religiously. I'm going to continue until the end of the full week although I will eat a light supper with my friend this evening.

I'm linking up to Reasons 2B Cheerful over at Mummy from the Heart, for obvious reasons.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Juice And Smoothy Fast - Days 3 & 4

Ingredients listed below
Tuesday morning, up with the lark a bit late at 7.30am. The scales were slightly disappointing after yesterday's spectacular start - I'd only lost 0.4lbs. Otoh, I did have two servings of barley and green beans on Monday which were definitely not juiced.

I started the day with my coffee and oat milk. Then, before getting going on the day's smoothy, I made a simple vegetable soup. There were two reasons for this. 1. The weather got cooler again and it was even raining. 2. I had some red onion, 2 potatoes, a wilting cauliflower, and too many carrots in the fridge and I cannot sit here and just watch them all die.

Day 3's smoothy consisted of: carrot, cucumber, celery including the light green leaves, spinach leaves, parsley, a small piece of fresh ginger, a banana and a small avocado. I have discovered the secret of smoothies. You need to put in some soluble fibre like banana or avocado, otherwise it comes out as juice and sludge. With a banana and avocado it came out smooth and creamy. Of course you can strain the juice and chuck the fibre if you only use insoluble fibre so that could be a way of juicing if you don't have a juicer.

It was ok. I enjoyed it because I was focused on the health aspect but it wasn't something you'd choose just for the taste. It wasn't offensive in any way. It was even quite pleasant after a while.

I didn't drink much of the smoothy this morning as it got very cold and rainy outside so I switched to a steaming bowl of cooked vegetables from the soup. The smoothy waited for later. Plenty of hours still left in the day.

My neighbour and friend, Aviva Belfer (remember my blog posts about Aviva?) offered to lend me her juicer for a few days so that I could see if it was something I'd like to invest in.

I took a green tea teabag to college with me as my students who are mature/returning students on this course, take turns to bring a light lunch for everyone. I didn't want to be tempted. As it happened, one student returned from a short maternity break with her 3-week old baby. Today's class was the end of year exam so I held the baby while his mother did her work. It was Godsend as obviously I couldn't eat while holding the baby.

Home for another bowl of vegetable soup and I found I was feeling a bit light-headed. So I had my second cup of coffee as well as a banana for dessert.

Teaching again in the afternoon, out with DD for a school event. Home at 7pm. I tried to finish my green smoothy but it was disgusting so I binned it. That's it, I'm done. I finished the evening with a homemade bread roll stuffed with salad and the rest of the vegetable soup. Yum. (In hindsight the smoothy going off was probably because of the avocado and banana - they don't keep well.)

I felt a bit bad because Phil Staples is now following me on twitter (though he might unfollow when he reads this). Yes, Phil Staples the actual co-star of Fat, Sick and Almost Dead! I am honoured and humbled Phil, but I just can't do these smoothies anymore.

Wednesday morning and I'd given 1lb back, I was up 1lb but that's still a 2.4lb loss since Sunday. Coffee and oat milk for breakfast. I took a bottle of V8 to school but found myself eating 4 slices of bread to help it go down. (No lunch duty on Wednesdays.) Oh well, I still got the vegetable nutrients. Home at 4.30pm and tea was a homemade bread roll stuffed with fresh spinach leaves and olives. And then I ate a banana, 2 dried figs, and some peanuts.

Another local fb friend messaged me with the offer to lend me a juicer, which was really nice of her.

Then we went shopping, then we came home, then I went to bed. I think the word fast might need to come out of the headings. This morning the scales were the same - unsurprisingly. But I'm back with the programme and have arranged to have a juicing lunch with Aviva.

Only one coffee drunk on Wednesday. You've got to celebrate the small things. :~)

I also want to point out that I'm on day 5 and I've not eaten any animal products, any crisps or other processed snacks, nor any sugary foods (there was probably some sugar in the bread I ate at school but that's all). I'm going to extend this project to the full week with a small break for actual food (vegan) on Friday night. I'm eating with a friend and it would be a bit rude and not pleasant for her if I just sit there with a juice while she eats.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Juice And Smoothy Fast - Day 2

In the teachers' room at school
The first thing I noticed about today (yesterday by the time you read this) was that I wasn't tired when the alarm clock went off. The next bit of excitement was seeing that the scales had gone down 3lbs since the morning before! I was psyched for the day.

I had my morning coffee with oat milk but didn't have time to juice before leaving for school. Instead I grabbed a litre bottle of V8 from the fridge and took that with me. I drank 3 cups at 10 o'clock break and 3 more at 12 o'clock break. Then I washed out the bottle and filled it with cold water for the rest of the school day.

At 1.40pm I was on lunch duty with the 5th Grade girls. Three tubs of food are delivered to the classroom along with salad vegetables, fruit for dessert, and a loaf of bread. The tubs contain a meat item, a grain, and a cooked vegetable. Today there was chicken breasts, barley, and green beans. I could see no reason not to eat the barley and beans. There was nothing added to them at all. It was pure, healthy, real food. So I ate two helpings of barley and green beans. Shoot me, I'm not sorry.

During the afternoon I drank the litre of water from the V8 bottle.

Back home at 5pm I didn't have a headache, I wasn't tired, but I was a bit bored and not for the lack of things to do. I was bored for the lack of things to put in my mouth. I craved a cup of coffee. Not for the caffeine, but because it's creamy and satisfying with oat milk and it would hit the spot. So I had one.

I also had half a grapefruit in the fridge from the day before which I hadn't enjoyed as a fruit smoothy. So I ate it as a piece of fruit along with some cubes of melon and a few cherries.

I had plans for a super supper smoothy. The real McCoy made with all the things they advise you to put into a green smoothy like leafy greens (I have fresh spinach and parsley), celery, fresh ginger, avocado, cucumber, and a carrot. I might have added a banana and and an apple for some sweetness. But I wasn't hungry so I went to bed with a good book instead.

Meanwhile I had posted these reports on the Fat, Sick and Almost Dead facebook page and got a reply. I'd like to think it was from Joe Cross himself but he probably has employees to do this sort of thing. He/they sent me Joe's (can I call you Joe?) article on juicing vs smoothies and it's made all the difference.

The bottom line is that as I don't have any life-threatening or life-limiting diseases [yet], I don't need the intensive exclusively juice-fast that gets you flooded with quickly absorbed vitamins and other nutrients. And there really isn't much point in liquidizing my salads when I'd find eating a big salad very satisfying. So another option is to juice once a day for a big glass of intense nutrients with more vegetables than you would eat without an oily dressing and too much salt. And then have another salad meal during the day. And a bowl of fruit. Or possibly a bowl of porridge with fruit which I happen to love. It's a sort of eating-fast. Or perhaps this is phase two of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along juicing diet?

On the other hand, juicing is a quick way to lose weight for a limited time if you need the quick jumpstart for motivation (or because you are morbidly obese). So I might continue the juicing for the full five days by straining my smoothies through a sieve (except for those with avocado and banana because they're not pulpy but creamy). Let's call this phase one.

I'm thinking of buying a juicer tomorrow. Or a nutribullet type blender. I just can't decide which way to go.

In other news, I could hardly wait to go to bed so that I could get up and weigh myself in the morning.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Smoothy Fast - Day 1

Here's the plan in case you missed it yesterday. Sunday 22nd May 2016. I woke up raring to get started on my smoothy fast, Then I remembered a few things:

1. If I didn't have a cup of coffee I'd wind up with a splitting headache later in day.
2. I didn't have time to make a smoothy before leaving for work.
3. One lady in the film said that after her first juice she had to spend quite a long time in the loo. I had two classes to teach back to back followed by two student tutorials. I couldn't risk it.

So I drank my coffee with oat milk, as usual, and went to work. By mid morning I was starving. I started to worry that only drinking smoothies was not going to satisfy me. But actually the hunger passed before I even got home.

I came home at 1.15pm and foraged around the kitchen for ingredients for my first smoothy. This is what I found:

I got out the old, and rather weak looking blender, and gave it a wash as it'd not been used in a while. I put in a cup of water and added all the fruit and vegetables cut into smallish pieces.

It was delicious. Maybe slightly too tangy and I should put in less lemon next time, but basically delicious. I drank one glass of it and was full. Seriously. I was full. The remaining half went in the fridge for later.

By 3.15pm I wasn't hungry but I had my usual mid-afternoon slump when I feel like taking a nap. I guess it takes more than one smoothy to start feeling invigorated, LOL. I couldn't take a nap as I had to go out so I ploughed through the fatigue and survived. Still not feeling hungry but I could have done with another coffee round about now. However, I also want to wean myself off the coffee addiction so I didn't. I hoped I wasn't getting a headache.

I added a cup of water to this. 
4.30pm and time for a snack. By this time I'd been shopping and was able to make a fruit smoothy with melon, grapefruit, blueberries and some fresh ginger. Ginger is supposed to be very good for you doncha know. I had the idea of half a cup of smoothy topped up with soda water to make a shpritzer. It wasn't good. I finished the second glass without the soda and it was better. Not great but better. Like drinking juice with a load of sludge in it. No headache yet.

6.30pm Headache starting. I needed a coffee with oat milk. So I had one.

7.30pm and time for supper. The other half of my green smoothy was in the fridge waiting. I drank it. It took me a long time to get through it - an hour in fact. I didn't really want it. This regime is not exciting. I thought about taking a salad to school for lunch tomorrow instead of liquidizing it into a smoothy. I would add some olive oil to dress it and probably some salt and pepper. I also thought about buying a stronger blender.

I can't believe I made fresh bread rolls and they're sitting on the side cooling at this minute. Love is.... making bread rolls for your daughter's packed lunch because that's what she likes, when you yourself are on a smoothy fast. #Torture.

9.45pm A cup of herbal tea. I can honestly say that I have not felt hungry at all. I was bored and tempted to nibble on forbidden unfruits, but not hungry. Otoh, I have a definite headache. And so to bed.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Juice And Smoothy Fast - Why I'm Doing This

I've been trying to be vegan for years now. It all started when I realized that cows and chickens have the same miserable lives and eat as much grain that could have been fed to people starving in Africa, whether they are destined for the meat industry or for dairy and eggs. And the same drugs, hormones and/or antibiotics, are given to both so you eat them too even in milk and eggs.

I read the books exposing the food and advertising industries with information about how they control what we eat and even how we are educated to eat. I read about how processed food is saturated with sugar and salt so that we eventually become addicted to it despite careering headlong into type 2 diabetes, heart failure, and strokes. I read about how the international food fairs are all about chemical additives and nothing to do with real food, and how they are shrouded in secrecy.

I read about the pink slime and fat collected from the abattoir floor that goes to make salami and sausages. (It comes out white after they have washed it with ammonia so they have to add red dye to make it look like meat again.) I read about the legal amount of puss from a cow's udder that is permitted in each litre of milk. And I read about how the male chicks in the egg industry are thrown straight into the crusher. (Why don't they send them to the shnitzel and nugget farms?)

And all the time, along with the rest of the developed world, I have been getting fatter and fatter.

In one binge viewing I watched the two most thorough arguments for veganism - Forks over Knives which is no longer available on You Tube, and 101 Reasons to be Vegan which is. After watching I couldn't wait another day and went vegan overnight.

I lasted 12 days because it was the week before Pesach (Passover) when there's very little you can eat anyway and I was staying with my mother and sister in London so I wasn't even in charge of my own kitchen. It was a silly time to start so I gave up and vowed to start again on my return home after the festival. I didn't. But I felt extremely guilty about it.

Trying to get myself motivated to go back to healthy eating, I watched Fat, Sick, and Almost Dead. It's the story of Joe Cross' 60 day juice fast and how Phil Staples and others have also done it and changed their lives. Not only did they lose weight but there were numerous health benefits as well.

I am not sick, yet. I'm very overweight, I'm addicted to carbohydrates, I'm unfit, I'm always tired, and I might be pre-diabetic (my father had it and I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant) but I was too depressed about it to go for the blood tests.

The juice fast looked like something I could enjoy doing and I need a quick jumpstart to get to me motivated. However I'm not 100% on board with juicing because you don't get the fibre which is important for your intestines. And you probably don't get to feel very full, which is important to me if I'm going to stick to it.

So I started my Smoothy fast today. I'm committed to 5 days of fruit and vegetable smoothies, one coffee with oat milk in the morning, and lots of water. Tomorrow I'll tell you how it went today.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - The Difference A Day Makes

Its pool season! We need to work on our style. 
Last Saturday night I was living in the oven with a broken fridge and no shower. Well not literally living in the oven but it felt like that. We had a sharav heatwave with temperatures reaching 100 degrees F. on both Sunday and Monday. There were wildfires around the country, hundreds of people were treated for heat related sickness, and schools cancelled all outdoor activities. My fridge broke down, possibly in solidarity with the sharav, and the shower hose burst while I was in the shower with shampoo in my hair. Why universe? What did I do?

However, within a day it was all sorted with the help of lovely neighbours, a great mechanic, and facebook. So here are my reasons to be cheerful:

Wonderful friends and neighbours. Within an hour of posting about my fridge on fb one neighbour replied offering space in her fridge and freezer for our wilting food. Another friend phoned to offer the use of a small fridge which they could bring round. And another friend happened to have posted on facebook a recommendation for a great fridge mechanic in Jerusalem.

The irony is that the fridge mechanic, who is indeed a great fridge mechanic, told me he would never go on fb because he has no need for the whole world and his brother to know every time he sneezes and what he had for breakfast. I've given up trying to explain.

I went down to my neighbour below and asked if they had room for my new tub of ice-cream (too much to finish in one evening even for my DD) and a multi-pack of Actimel. Everything else was frozen vegetables that had already defrosted and fruit and veg in the fridge that could take its chances. They asked me what flavour the ice-cream was and as vanilla didn't seem to be a problem I took it down.

While I was at the neighbours downstairs (see reason 2 above) I mentioned the shower. They just happened to have a spare shower chord which they gave me. So the shower was fixed by me in a jiffy.

Just to explain. When you don't have a car, the 10 minute walk down the mountain to buy a new shower hose is not an enormous problem. However, the 15 minute walk back up in 100 degrees heat is not pleasant. And you have to either find that half hour on a work day, or drag your 7yo on the hike after her long day at school, or spend about 10 quid on taxis to buy a hose that costs about 5 quid. This explanation is just in case you don't get how grateful I am to my downstairs neighbours.

The great fridge mechanic agreed to come the next day - Sunday. He fixed my 24 year old fridge with a thorough manual defrost, including removing all the internal freezer panels to expose a blocked and rather filthy freezer element. How half a frozen Mars Bar even got through the freezer floor is a mystery to me. I should have looked for a due date on the wrapper - there's no telling how many years it's been there.

Instead of paying about 2,500nis (about 500GBP) for a new fridge. I spent 320nis on getting it fixed and probably chucked out about 100nis of defrosted frozen vegetables. I also ordered an 80nis pizza for supper on Sunday night because making supper was one thing too much to deal with. So all in all 500nis plus 30nis for the shower hose (about 100GBP).

Pool season has begun! We went for testing for group swimming lessons on Sunday but the tester didn't turn up, even though I'd spoken to him on the phone earlier that day. We didn't mind - an hour in the pool was just the ticket during the sharav and you don't pay when you come for testing.

So we returned to the pool on Wednesday and were tested while we got another free hour in the pool. Swimming lessons will start next week. Hooray!

I'm linking up with R2BC with Mich on Mummy from the Heart.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

An Ups And Downs Weekend

Yesterday I killed two birds with one stone and was very pleased with myself. So far today my 24 year old fridge-freezer has broken, the shower chord split open, and DD broke her plastic hula hoop skipper.

I can't decide if I'm more annoyed about the money or the hassle. Today it is 34 degrees C., tomorrow it is expected to be 36 degrees, and 37 degrees forecast for Monday. (or 38 degrees on both Sunday and Monday, depending on where you look. FYI - that's over 100 degrees F.) So on some of the hottest days of the year I am without a fridge or a shower. I have limited time in between work obligations to deal with all this. Much of what I bought in my weekly shop yesterday will be thrown out as will some food in my freezer (which is thankfully quite sparsely stocked atm).

It all started with the sofa and the spare mattresses. The mattresses were just in the way wherever I put them. However, they're useful to keep for when you have more guests than beds - this happens about once every three years.

The sofa was driving me crazy. I inherited this sofa about 13 years ago. It is a very good quality hand-made piece of furniture. The lady who gave it to me realized that she needed a bigger sofa to fit the enormous size of her living room after only owning it for about a year in an underused holiday apartment. In truth, the sofa has always been a bit big for my more modestly sized living room but it was free and it's a good sofa. The cream material needed cleaning and I could take off the zipped covers to have this done. I actually have spare covers that came with the sofa. However, I hate the down filled cushions. I'm forever having to plump them. They seem to have a life of their own as sofa-winoes who are constantly in need of propping up. And they slide forward so that they are are always slightly overflowing from the sofa frame.

Grubby and unkempt but on a good frame
In a move of genius I removed those offending cushions and tried out the spare mattresses in their place. It was a perfect fit. I temporarily covered the mattresses with a fitted sheet but I will cover them properly, eventually. It is infinitely more comfortable and the sofa looks like it has at last got a grip on itself.

A perfect fit!

Infinitely more comfortable and with an air of discipline

That was yesterday. A good day.

Today the fridge-freezer broke. The shower hose broke while I was in it with shampoo all over my hair. DD came upstairs in tears as she'd broken her hula hoop skipper. I put my home made bread rolls back in the oven for a while as they were a bit too doughy in the middle and left them too long. I'm hoping the crunchy crust is still only crust deep.

On the other hand, whilst googling new fridges, I found a recommendation for a fridge mechanic in Jerusalem so maybe my fridge can be fixed. Maybe I can rush out to buy a new shower chord tomorrow after the post office, meetings at college, hopefully seeing the fridge mechanic, and taking DD for her swimming lesson tryouts.

It's been one of those weekends. Ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad. A microcosm of life I suppose.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - 68 Today!

The State of Israel is 68 years old. A fantastic achievment considering we have been at war and and under attack, both physically and verbally, for most of those 68 years. However, Israel has much to be proud of. The short videos below show some of the inventions and innovations that Israel has given to the world.

Obviously we get a day off. The national pastime on Independence Day - Yom Ha'atzmaut has become barbecue picnics. Since we have gone vegetarian we had pizza and ice-cream instead.

There was an article in the Times Of  Israel celebrating 68 extraordinary women in Israel today. The thing about living in a small country is that I know three of them personally, another two by sight, five of them are among my facebook friends and I've heard of at least 10 of them. That never happened when I lived in London.

And this one makes me cry with pride.

Happy Birthday Israel! xxxx

I'm joining the R2BC linky at Mummy from the Heart.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Reasons 2B Cheerful - Happily Plodding Through Life

Still a bit deflated by the emotions of Holocaust Day yesterday, I couldn't think of any great reasons to be cheerful. Then I started to think about the little things in life that grow and evolve. Sometimes it's hard not to see life as one long continuous slog but if you focus on the small changes that make big differences in the long run, you can see that it's actually a work in progress. Slow but reassuringly sure. 

Beautiful sunsets

Keeping up with DD's homework (although not mine atm). She seems to be getting more as the school year enters it's penultimate month. One difficult factor is workbooks that have arrived home with instructions to finish the book. I understand that they ran out of time but then stop giving regular homework as well. Anyway, with much nagging, shouting, and bribing, We are slowly getting it done even as bedtime is necessarily getting later and later.  

Discovering that cornflakes taste just as good with oatmilk. I am trying to cut way down on consuming animal products. DD has already declared that she won't eat meat, chicken or fish and though I was ok with fish, it makes life a lot easier for me as I don't have to prepare these things. She's now decided that she's off cheese except for cottage and babybel goudas, we don't use milk except for in cereal, and she only eats mashed hard boiled eggs and eggy-bread. So now I can cut out cows milk from our shopping list and from our lives. (Btw - I still buy regular cakes and biscuits for DD as well as cottage cheese, babybels and eggs).  

It's Friday.

Tomorrow we are going to the Bat Mitzva of my friend's daughter, M. M, along with her twin brother, changed my life. When the twins were born I saw that being a single mother was ok. There was not a great hole in their lives because they didn't have a father. My friend and her babies were, and still are, a family. I was able to see past any lingering douts I had about doing IVF alone and I made my first appointment with the hospital. The rest, as they say, is history. I thank God everyday but I also remember that my friend and her twins had a big influence on my decision 

I particularly wanted to take part in R2BC this week as Mich at Mummy from the Heart is hosting the linky again this month. Mich started this series five years ago and it's probably the longest running meme in the blogosphere. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lagom Is Just Enough

Nah, this isn't it. Some people don't get it. Or they're just not ready for lagom.
OK, Ive found it! It's May 3rd and Ive finally decided on my word for 2016. You'll remember that I wasn't going to have a word because for the past two years my word was "discipline" and I never managed it. Totally forgetting about the previous two years, I chose "discipline" as my word for 2016. Then, out of interest, I went back to check up on last year and saw that I'm obviously barking up the completely wrong tree.

My word for 2016, and possibly for life, is "lagom". I first heard this word from Gemma and Kate who are both lucky enough to be IKEA ambassadors for the Lagom Project and get to choose items to lagom their homes. Quite clever of IKEA if you think about it. We'll give you a modest amount of money to spend in our stores for quite a lot of publicity. It had to be a modest amount because lagom means just enough.

Anyway, I am not an IKEA anything but I have been thinking about this lagom concept for a while. And I like it. It takes the pressure off. It's a much more pleasant way to live. Less is more rather than more is better.

I read today that Finnish school children score near the top of the world ranking for school education. There are a few sensationalist reports about how they do it which contradict everything we in the developed world believe. They have the shortest school days, start school at age 7, no homework until secondary school and then very little, and only nine years of compulsary education. This blog post explains the Finnish school system.

However, the national philosophy of lagom (although it is a Swedish word) explains why they do so well in the international PISA tests. You can read the real reason why here.

I don't know why I didn't think of it before as much of the way I live and what I'm interested in is lagom oriented. I watch You Tube videos about tiny houses (although I would need a separate bedroom rather than a loft above the kitchen accessed by a ladder; and a fully plumbed bathroom preferably off the bedroom rather than off the kitchen). I read about minimalism and decluttering is my favourite sport.

Granted, much of this is a result of enforced frugality over the past few years but it's also a choice to work fewer hours and earn less in order to be able to stop and smell the roses.

My idea of hell would be to own several homes around the world. It's hard enough keeping one home running efficiently. If I had that much money I'd rather stay in hotels or rent chalets, cottages, or villas when needed.

I once had a friend who lived in a large house with an eat-in kitchen that had a breakfast bar as well as a dining table. Across the hall was a formal dining room and the den also had a table and chairs in the corner. One year they built on a big conservatory with seating at one end and a dining area at the other. "How do you decide where to eat each day?" I asked her this as we packed a picnic to take down to the summer house where we ate on a little table by the water feature. The excess of space bemused me even before I knew what effort it takes to keep a place clean, heated, and in good repair.

The annual scramble for swimming lessons started today on facebook, Actually I started it as I usually arrange a date for testing for the swimming groups and announce it on facebook. A number of families have opted for year round private lessons this year as the groups go quite slowly. In my lagom way, and as we are not big beach lovers, I'm happy with small improvements each year and for the meantime we'll stick with the group lessons in the summer courses.

My short term wish list is proper shower doors, a headboard for my bed, and new cushions for my sofa. I don't need or want a new bed or a new sofa.

I don't yearn to travel down the Amazon, across Canada, or up Mount Kilimaneverest. I'd like ten days on Lake Como (or Lucerne, Geneva, Logano, Garda, I'm not picky). I'd as soon sit on the beach in Eilat (just four hours drive away) as in Phuket. Why go to New Zealand when they have the same sort of spectacular scenery in Scandinavia? If I had the time and money to spend on three weeks of travel I'd like to tour Ireland or Scotland. If you offered me the time and money to do both I'd probably ask for a rain check on one of them. Who wants to be away from home for more than three weeks?

Now if only I could apply lagom to my eating habits life would be perfect.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Earth Mother Bakes Bread

These have sliced olives in the dough.
I've suddenly got into making bread. It takes about 5 minutes or less to make the dough and another 5 minutes to shape it before 30 minutes in a hot oven. You do need to allow for waiting time (about 3 hours for the first rising and another 20 minutes after its shaped). So if you have 10 minutes to spare over a 4 hour period it's so worth it.

DD only wants my homemade rolls now. She likes them with olives inside.

There are advantages to making your own bread:

1. It's cheaper. It costs less than 2GBP to buy the flour and instant dried yeast which yield about 24 rolls or three large loaves. I didn't factor in the teaspoon of salt per loaf and any other spices you want to add. I usually add some za'atar to the dough because we like our food savoury. And I didn't work out the cost of having the oven on for 50 minutes or the water used. Nor the cost of the washing up liquid. However, artisan bread in this country is about 3GBP per loaf so I still think it's cheaper.

2. You know exactly what's in your bread. No sugar or preservatives, food colouring or molasses for brown bread, or any other chemicals. Seriously take a look at the ingredients of a shop bought loaf - it's a list of about 15 items.

3. If you make rolls you eat less. Going back for another slice of bread and another seems less greedy than eating a third or fourth roll. Especially as there are only eight in a batch and I need to keep some for DD's lunchbox each day. I'm into making bread but I'm not going to do it every day!

4. It tastes better than shop bought unless you are buying designer bread from a small bakery.

5. You can also use this recipe for pizza bases.

Two rolls became one pizza blanca.


Mix 3 cups of flour, 1tspn of instant dried yeast, 1 tspn of salt and any other herbs or spices, in a mixing bowl.
Add 2 cups of warm water and mix with the handle of a spoon or fork until you have a cohesive dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm(ish) place for about 3 hours.
Divide into rolls or turn the whole batch onto a baking sheet for one loaf. You can use baking paper under the dough or lightly brush the tray with olive oil.
Wait 20 minutes for the dough to rise again while the oven heats up to about 180-200 degrees.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Wait at least five minutes before eating.

These came out the oven tonight. They have 1cup wholewheat flour/2cups white.