Wednesday, May 30, 2012
When I started back on my Spark eating programme proper again a couple of weeks ago I vowed I'd eat more fruit and vegetables and start drinking fruit teas.
I'm not your quintessential English woman in that I don't drink tea or coffee.
I've always just drank water, lots of it, straight from the tap or flavoured with a little fruit juice, hot or cold I'm not fussy. I also have a low calorie drinking chocolate before bed and sometimes through the winter days when it's cold.
I used to drink coffee now and again, especially when I was out but I went of it about six years ago after a bout of pneumonia.
When I recovered I tried drinking it again and developed a pretty bad headache which lasted two days and put me off big time... I've never drank it since!
Tea I apparently tried when I was very young, my mam said I tasted it with a little sip, declared I didn't like it, refused to drink it and have never had it since!
I've tried fruit teas on and off every now and again for a few years but never really got to grips with them but in March for our ruby wedding anniversary we went to a Chinese banquet.
After the meal was finished we were offered jasmine flower scented green tea.
It came in a little white teapot with a beautiful small handle-less beaker all decorated in the chinese syle with a blue bamboo pattern, it was so pretty it won me over.
I wasn't keen on tasting it, I'd never tried green tea before, but I decided to try it, half expecting not to like it but, wonder of wonders, I did like it...it was such a delicate taste and refreshing too.
The proprietor was delightful, he answered my questions, told me how to make it (only two minutes before you take the teabag out of the pot, don't squeeze it, it makes it bitter and it's even better to use loose tea as there's too much in a teabag), where to buy it...we're lucky we have a Chinese supermarket in town...and I've been drinking it ever since.
I bought myself a little two cup teapot and use it with a pretty cup from my tea service.
Since then I've added more teas to my reportoir.
I looked at the fruit teas in the supermarkets, there were so many to choose from so I bought a selection and surprise, surprise I like them all.
I'm not sure if your taste buds change as you get older but a year ago I just used to say I don't like tea. I know these aren't tea in the conventional sense but I have tried 'ordinary' tea again. I still don't like it but the green and fruit teas are now a regular feature at breakfast time.
I've also developed a taste for unusual combinations.
I've always eaten loads of fruit and vegetables.
I don't dislike red meat but could quite happily live without it. I eat it every now and again, mostly poultry but I do like fish and any sort of seafood and eat a lot of that.
It comes from being from a fishing family, we were brought up on fish, we did have meat but it was mostly fish.
I've found myself being drawn towards experimenting with flavours, instead of just a piece of baked fish (I like it in a foil parcel baked in the oven) I'll add a teaspoon of sweet chilli sauce or bbq sauce or even just a sprinkling of five spice or paprika to the parcels and I love it.
Another favourite is what I call fruit chilli bowl.
It's a big bowl of any combination of raw vegetables and fruits you want to use all tossed in a teaspoon of sweet chilli hot dipping sauce...so yummy!
So far I'm on track, exercising regularly and eating healthily with a steady weightloss so I'm pleased and happy too.
fruit chilli bowl...this one consists of kiwifruit, raw mange tout, cherry tomatoes, melon, red grapes and strawberries....yummy!
Monday, May 28, 2012
Another lovely day and another lovely outing...aren't we just sooo lucky?
Now I'm retired and in better health and DH is partially retired we can indulge our fancies and go when and where the mood takes us.
Well, the mood took us to Dalby Forest yesterday...
We drove up into the beautiful North Yorkshire forestry intending to visit the Snape area in Cropton Forest to walk and look for basking adders along the ancient tree lined rides where we thought it would be quiet and cool but...the last few winters have been very bad and taken their toll on the tracks, they aren't proper tarmacked roads just hard pressed earth and stone and last month's torrential downpours wreaked their vengeance too with the main tracks descending into deep unpassable potholes...so consequently the road was closed.
Still, onwards and upwards as they say, we reluctantly turned off and after some consideration decided on Dalby Forest instead.
This is a more commercial part of the forestry with visitor centres, camping and caravan fascilities, adventure playgrounds and areas for picnics and barbeques but if you know where to go you can still get away from most of the crowds.
We started off walking the perimeter of Stainsdale Lake.
It's quite small as lakes go but very beautiful and though people do visit it there isn't usually a lot there, seemingly they prefer the more town like busy areas which reflect their own familiar environment and not the peaceful look at nature type walks.
We walked the touristy side first along the gravelled path provided and then went 'off piste' so to speak into the forested area round the back edge.
The bank sides were fringed with golden yellow Kingcups or Marsh Marigolds to use their Sunday name and pretty delicate looking pale lilac Cuckoo Flower (Ladies Smock) stood proudly next to late flowering Violets and Greater Stitchwort (Daddy's shirt Buttons).
A rainbow of colours in the lush vegetation.
As we entered the tree covered canopy sunlight dappled the forest floor and gave welcome shade from the hot sun, it was green, dark and cool with the tall pines standing like proud sentinels to a new and magical kingdom.
A soughing breeze tripped gently through the trees ruffling the leaves of the canopy and riffling the lake's surface with it's beautiful rippled tree reflections.
Looking down we saw rainbow trout gracefully cruising past like little submarines in the deep edges, the sunlight glinted on them making the rainbow on their side appear and disappear as they glided along.
The forest was cool and shady, so quiet and peaceful with only the wind's whisper, the call of birds and the occasional creak and crack of our footfall along the trail to disturb it's slumber.
It was studded here and there with wood anemones, wood sorrel and bluebells, glistening jewels in a bed of green velvet.
Lichen and mosses adorned exposed tree roots and the undulating path felt soft and billowy, like walking on a huge luxurious feather pillow, where the moss mounds grew thick and verdant.
Climbing upwards we could see the lake glisteningly blue through the gently swaying tree branches with their spring green foliage and rough textured bark.
Tantalising glimpses appeared and disappeared along our way, the only thing to spoil it was a sharp burning smell from some far off barbeque...it didn't smell very appetising...lol...hope it tasted better!
Reaching the tops the tall dark pine trees grew sparser before they opened out into a beautiful valley vista spread before us in the warm sunshine.
Masses of yellow gorse and golden broom lined the distant slopes and seemingly miniature sheep gave a pretty white dotted effect against the far green valley sides.
Magical myriads of tiny Green Longhorn Fairy Moths danced in the sunlight's shafts around a sapling oak tree, flashing blue and green or silver and gold as the sunshine reflected on their irridescent wings.
We surprised a lone Roe Deer feeding along a little bank, he dashed off towards the shelter of the treeline edge flashing the heart shaped white patch on his rump, before turning back to warily watch us continue on our way.
We traversed the steep wooden steps that some kind forestry worker had built into the side of the slope to make descent easier, the edges surrounded by Ransoms (wild garlic) with it's pretty white umbellical flowers, the air was redolent with it's clean spicy smell.
Pretty little glades appeared, each bathed in sunlight from the shafts filtering down through the trees, warming the grove and making the garlic scent that assailed our senses stronger than ever.
Completing the circle we partook of a welcome and deliciously refreshing cold drink in the shade of an old handmade stone wall, each piece abutting it's neighbour in perfect symmetry without the need for mortar, then getting back in the car, which we'd parked under trees for shade, we reluctantly said a silent farewell to the timeless forestry before motoring back home in the now cooling air.
beautiful Stainsdale Lake
looking down on the lake through the wooded area
reflections on the wind ruffled water...can you see the rainbow trout?
violets and daddy's shirt buttons
golden yellow kingcups
pretty pale lilac ladies smock
view from the tops
Green Longhorn Fairy Moth
sunlit glade of Ransoms or Wild Garlic
a suprised roe deer heads for the hedge
Sunday, May 27, 2012
It was glorious weather yesterday, it's a bit too hot really but then that's the vagaries of the English weather and, of course, we're never satisfied...lol...
We went for a drive after tea when it was a little bit cooler.
Thornton-le-Dale in the Yorkshire Moors beckoned us and we walked the beck banks in the evening sunlight, I even dabbled my toes in the cool clear water!
Thornton-le-Dale is a very picturesque quintessential English village and almost certainly features on every tourist trip to the area...another reason to visit in the evening when all the sightseers have gone!
Famous for its chocolate box pretty thatched cottage alongside a trickling stream and bridge it's a magnet for photographers and so in true photographer fashion I took the picture!
This cottage features on many a souvenir box of chocolates or biscuit tin but it is certainly pretty and though it isn't lived in now the village council look after it and keep the thatch and garden in good condition...after all it's their main village income!
We strolled down the pathway next to the burbling beck, crossed the little bridge and wandered around the village. The houses on the other side of the beck have little private bridges across to them, they were dappled with sunlight under the beech trees and had a gate at the end which opened into pretty cottage gardens.
Tiny darting minnows around an inch long swam in nursery shoals alongside the banks until your shadow disturbed them and the were suddenly gone in a silver flash.
I found a big fat common green frog just sitting on the path near the water, he never moved a muscle as I took his photograph and was still sitting in the same spot as we went on.
Even though it was evening the insects were still out, myriads of tiny flies dancing in the shafts of golden light, vying with the sunlit dust motes as they hovered above the water and a big fat velvety backed bumble bee was drowsily sipping from a bright yellow dandelion flower.
The peace and tranquility was tangible, not a sound except the tricking of the water and a gentle breeze soughing through the trees.
We stood on the little Beck Isle bridge feeling the breeze across our necks as we watched the wind ruffle the surface of the water, listening to the murmer as it tumbled over a tiny waterfall below.
A squirrel ran lightly along a big branch above us, then winding his way around the tree's trunk he vanished into the new spring green leaves of the canopy.
Underneath the tree the banks were yellow with crosswort, basking in the sunshine showing off it's goldy-green glow, crossed leaves and tiny yellow flowers...so pretty even if it is a weed!
The drive back was pleasant with the car windows wound down and the wind ruffling our hair, we stopped at a little country pub for a quiet drink before continuing home watching the shadows lengthen through the pinky-red rays of the setting sun.
bumblebee on dandelion
pretty thatched cottage
private bridge to one of the cottages
Monday, May 21, 2012
Well, it's the end of the first week of my new healthy eating and exercise regime to lose weight and I'm absolutely thrilled to bits...I lost four pounds! YAY!!!
I can't say it's been easy, the first couple of days were quite trying, I really had to keep watch on all my movements as I was reaching for things when I shouldn't have been (my hand had a mind of it's own...lol...but my own mind was stronger!) though after a few weeks of total non committment I suppose that was inevitable but now I've got myself back into my routine again I'm feeling very positive and motivated to keep going.
My pretty notebook is a joy to open with it's feint images of snowdrops on every page and is filling up nicely with my eating programme, exercise programme and meal plans...I also have a quote of the day.
The little gold stars and cartoon bee stickers look great adorning the pages and the wall calendar and I've made a start on the wall chart for my losses graph which I hope to get finished and add my four pounds to this afternoon.
So, on a completely different note, our weather has been atrocious for weeks and yesterday it stopped raining. It was still cold and windy so DH decided we'd visit a garden centre or two.
We set off with different ideas of requirements in our heads but I really only wanted to look, DH wanted to buy...veggies mainly and compost for his potato sacks.
We visted a large commercial run garden centre on the outskirts of a nearby town first.
It was lovely walking in to the warm, humid greenhouses after the stingingly cold air of the car park.
DH headed straight for the veg section and was happily rooting through tomato, cucumber, marrow and courgette plants which spurred me into buying mode...lol...as I realised I wanted tumbling tomatoes for my hanging baskets.
DH grows the big ones you need to cane up but I like mine small and sweet tumbling from hanging baskets so I can eat them when I'm gardening...not many of mine make it into the house...lol...they're so delicious warm from the sun just picked from the vine and rubbed on my t shirt...oooh, I wish they were ready now!
I also chose a few bedding plants for my patio tubs as I lost some of what I'd grown from seed in a cold snap when the greenhouse door was mistakenly left open, mainly trailing lobelia and a few marigolds.
DH bought three different kinds of tomatoes, cabbage and cauliflower. I wanted him to try a new variety of black cabbage but couldn't persuade him.
As he was paying I wandered off with my camera.
I was astounded at the range of colourful equipment there is these days, you can get tools, even wheelbarrows, in pinks, purple and turquoise and the range of pots and containers are very diverse shapes and colourful too.
There were loads of garden ornaments, I especially liked the stone owls, the blurb said they were hand carved by craftsmen before being polished and are made from natural granite cobbles!
Next we drove on to another nearby smaller family run garden centre which I like to visit as it usually has what I call a 'poorly' plant section which I love.
You can buy a full grown plant for as little as twenty five pence ( a quarter in your money) and I love making them better!
What a surprise though, they'd extended, rebuilt and modernised and it was now as large as the big one we'd just left...they still had a 'poorly' section though!
DH bought bags of compost and I emerged with two 'poorly' plants which cost me the grand total of only fifty pence.
I bought a very dejected looking Mimosa Puddica or Sensative plant and a brown budded and broken leaved Kalanchoe succulent or Flaming Katie which should be a nice shade of baby pink.
I'd bought a 'poorly' orange one three weeks ago which is thriving now and absolutely covered in blooms. I hope to restore this pink one the same.
I took a couple of pictures of them this morning after they'd been primped, dead headed and had old foliage removed and their pots submerged and left to soak in water for a couple of hours.
You can see from the pictures the Sensative plant is already perky and green, it now closes it's leaves when you touch them which it didn't do yesterday and the pink Flaming Katie is flowering well. The buds are a beigey brown colour before the flowers open which is why people pass them by as they think they're dying.
We spent yesterday evening in the garden...plenty of exercise!
DH planted out his veggies in serried ranks across the bare brown earth, labels hung on little bits of stick at both ends of each row, kneeling on a wooden board so's not to flatten the earth he'd just dug and kept company by our friendly little robin looking for worms and other titbits.
Then he planted up his tomatoes into large terracotta tubs ready to bring outside when the weather gets better, if it doesn't they'll stay in the greenhouse, while I potted on my lobelias and marigolds into next size pots as it's still too cold to plant them outside yet. They'll be hardened off over the next couple of weeks, put outside during the day and taken back in each night until the weather warms up.
Then this morning I've planted up four hanging baskets with with my 'Tumbling Tom' tomatoes, two red varieties in willow woven baskets and two yellow ones in the modern green metal ones.
I wanted black tomatoes too but they hadn't got any so I'll look on the market stalls when I go to town on Saturday.
I've hung the baskets up in the greenhouse for now but when it's warmer two will hang from the central support on the rose arch and two from brackets near the kitchen window.
A few pictures for you:
Colourful metal watering cans
entering one of the big, warm greenhouses
snazzy bright pots
Easter Island head planter
terracotta cat planters...they look surprised at the hole in their middles!
even more veggies
perked up Sensative plant
primped Flaming Katie
watered Flaming Katie
rewarded with masses of blooms
Monday, May 14, 2012
Today I've decided enough is enough!
Today is the day I change things!
Today is the first day of the rest of my life!
Today I pledge that I WILL lose all the excess weight my body doesn't require!
Today I begin the journey...the journey which WILL transform me!
It will be a long hard journey but I CAN DO IT!!
I've been thinking about my life over the past week or so, re-reading some of my past blogs and finding motivation from other Sparker's blogs too.
I know from past experience you have to be in the right frame of mind to lose weight and up until today I just wasn't.
I've been on and off my programme (I'm NOT on a diet, I'm on a healthy eating programme!) partly through ill health and medication, partly through lack of willpower and partly just me being not bothered.
Over the last few years I've lost ninety pounds, all in fits and starts, but due mostly to the factors above I am currently at a weight loss of twenty four pounds.
I knew I'd been steadily putting weight on again but it was a bit of a shock to discover how much. At first I was cross with myself as even when I'm not on the programme properly I still eat healthily, maybe just too much, but then I thought 'what's the point, it won't take away what I've regained'...so today I begin the journey back to health and fitness.
I want to feel fitter.
I want to eat better.
I want to look better.
I want to be able to go into clothes stores in the 'normal' size section, not the 'outsize' one.
I want to extend my life expectancy.
I want to be rid of these little niggly aches and pains I get.
I want to be slim!!
Yesterday I read an article by a well known tv personality we have over here, she's lost over seven stones by having a gastric band fitted. She looks wonderful but her remarks made me think about what other people think when they see us. She said after she'd lost weight a 'friend' said she didn't look ugly anymore, it had upset her at first but then she went on to say she'd never thought of herself as ugly though now she could see she had been.
Fat and ugly were the actual words she used and she justified it by saying she used to be a 'fat bird' so she was entitled to say that now. I'd sort of admired her up until that point, she might have been fat but she certainly wasn't ugly.
It reminded me of an experience I had last year when a nasty woman made derogatory remarks about me across the street, a woman I'd never seen before who upset me a lot.
My upset eventually turned to anger so I turned her into a new weightloss tool, using the experience to spur me on when I felt like straying from my programme.
I re-read that blog again this morning and all the old feelings came flooding back with a vengeance giving me a new tool again and the incentive to prove her wrong even though I'll probably never ever set eyes on her again...I wouldn't want to anyway, I'd probably be unable to restrain myself from decking her one and get arrested...lol...
My health problems have, at times, been major and a couple I'll have for the rest of my life but after two hospital visits this last week I'm off most of my medication, I've been given the green light, I don't have to go to hospital check-ups any more and I know my major problems are finally behind me.
I feel well, I look well and even though I may get the odd ill health flare-ups now and again I've learnt from the experience and I know I can cope with them so I've no more excuses left...JUST GET ON WITH IT GIRL!
I CAN DO IT!
Over the week-end, after filching the idea from a good Spark friend, I've made myself a visual calendar, chosen reward stickers and gold stars and bought a large pretty notebook which I'm going to use to record my daily progress, food plan and exercise regime.
I'm also going to make a large wall graph too showing my weekly progress.
I'm going to make it like one of those charts you see in company offices where the line keeps going upwards (hopefully there'll be very few gains to create the mountain peak look!).
I'm going to use Spark properly too not just as a tool to chat to my friends which is what it's become just lately but to take advantage of the wonderful place it is.
Spark is brilliant full of good advice, great ideas and great friendship.
Everyone is aiming for a similar goal and I for one am going to use it to my advantage.
I feel ready.
I feel motivated.
I'm off on a journey...so bye for now!
I'll be logging in daily, weighing in weekly, reading ALL the articles, trying new recipes, exercising and (definitely) losing some weight!!
My visual aids
Fridge magnet to remind me not to pick!
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