Shaunas utrolige forvandling

I'm heading into my sixth Scottish winter and it's always a shock, that first Monday after the clocks go back and we leave work in the dark. Then I turn into a crotchety zombie until March, but I'll exercise like a mofo and get the endorphins buzzing. Perhaps also tape a photo of a tropical beach to the computer for backup.

I know there's a few Southern Hemisphere imports out there – I hope you were gathering up your Happy Funtime Memories over the summer like lunatic squirrels, ready to feast on during the bleak months ahead. But seriously, there is much to look forward to. Christmas parties, BBC period dramas; satsumas, clementines and other easy-to-peel citrus.

. . .

Dg-norway Are there any Norwegians in the house?

Today I received copies of the Norwegian edition of Dietgirl which came out this month. It's got Smarties on the cover! You cannae go wrong with that.

Vega, the publishing house, only got in touch in March and they've turned it into a real live book already! Hardcover with full colour photos too. Swanky.

Spare a thought for Carina Westberg, the translator. I can't imagine anything more tedious than having to translate cake and arse and scale and post-Drive-thru-remorse eleventeen billion times.

I don't understand a jot of Norwegian but that hasn't stopped me lovingly stroking the pages this evening and gawking at all the funny squiggles. And… Doktor G!

Doktor-g

Weight Watchers needs no translation apparently.

Ww

If you're Norwegian or you just happen to be fluent and fancy a read, please give me a shout!

Dietgirl out now in Norway

Dg-norwayToday I received copies of the Norwegian edition of Dietgirl which came out this month. It's got Smarties on the cover! You cannae go wrong with that.

Vega, the publishing house, only got in touch in March and they've turned it into a real live book already! Hardcover with full colour photos too. Swanky.

Spare a thought for Carina Westberg, the translator. I can't imagine anything more tedious than having to translate cake and arse and scale and post-Drive-thru-remorse eleventeen billion times.

I don't understand a jot of Norwegian but that hasn't stopped me lovingly stroking the pages this evening and gawking at all the funny squiggles. And… Doktor G!

Doktor-g

And Weight Watchers needs no translation, apparently.

Ww

Dietgirl on FatFighter.tv

I got a Weight Loss WooHoo! Today there's a wee interview with me on Sahar's Fat Fighter TV site – she's included me into her Weight Loss Wall of Fame! Check out that cheesy author photo.

Answering Sahar's questions made me think about my awkwardness with the Weight Loss Success Story tag. I guess because the word story implies a narrative with a neat resolution but the reality is a sprawling, never-ending Choose Your Own Adventure tale.

Weight loss is also a strange thing to congratulate somebody for. I'm more inclined to cheer about my Moonwalking or my kickboxing or writing a book. Especially because the feat of losing 175lb means you had to have 175lb extra pounds in the first place. Now that's an achievement in itself.

If you like a good Before and After be sure to check out the other Weight Loss WooHoo's on the site. Thanks for inviting me over, Sahar!

Dinners with Bloggers

I did some quality blognobbing while in New York. Meeting bloggers always turns out to be the highlight of my travels. Aye, even better than the food!

When I started blogging in 2000 people would gasp in horror if you mentioned meeting Internet Folk. Axe murderers! Unwashed nerds! But now everyone spews their guts online so it's cool.

Gareth has come to enjoy tagging along, too. We rock up to our destination and he says with infinite patience, "Any appointments? What stranger are we dining with this evening?"

Seems Brooklyn is where the bloggers are at; we spent half our time over there. On our second night we met up with Pamela in Park Slope. We've been blog buddies for yonks and finally met at BlogHer last year, so I was dead chuffed to see her again.

We started off with a spot of neighbourhood window shopping. I fell in love with a robot sculpture in a hipster boutique – it had a ye olde box camera for a body and flash bulbs for eyes. But it was $600, dammit. We also rummaged through vintage clothing shops, in which I realised I'd need to drop at least another twenty pounds for vintage clothing to be really viable. Then I decided I couldn't be arsed and would just have to stick to H&M.

Soon we were joined by Michael, Pamela's dashing Scottish husband. Pamela had planned a fine evening of venue-hopping for us. First we went to a groovy bar for a drink. We seated Gareth and Michael together so they could yap in their wacko accents while Pamela and I gossiped about blogs and other important matters. Then we had some oysters! My very first and quite tasty.

Then we made a detour to Chez Pamela to say hello to her kidlets. I got to hold gorgeous baby Rory while three year old Calum impressed us with his toy crane-driving skills and jumping-off-coffee-table athleticism.

Next stop was dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious and so were the margaritas. I forgot that tequila makes me completely rat-arsed, until I heard myself laughing in that horrible loud BWWAARRR HAARR HARRR table-slapping kind of way.

SundaeBy the time we moved down the street for pudding, the jetlag and alcohol combo had taken hold. My legs and brain felt wild and wobbly and I clung to Doctor G to stay upright. He didn't realise I was pished; he just thought I'd gone choc-o-mental because Pamela had brought us to The Chocolate Room – a chocolate boutique and dessert café. Hubba hubba. What a concept!

Michael had a selection of chocolates while Pamela, Gareth and I all went for the chocolate brownie sundae. Oh lordy, it was so good. A fudgy brownie with a slightly crusty exterior, delicious vanilla ice cream, deeply-chocolately-without-being-sugary fudge sauce, all topped with a plop of whipped cream. Oh. Yeahhh. I took a photo for you all, but in my excitment I blinded it with flash. There's a more accurate portrait on the Chocolate Room website.

This was washed down with a fine glass of port, #2 on the list of Drinks That Make Me The Most Spannered. Gareth had a seriously hardcore Black Chocolate Stout from his beloved Brooklyn Brewery. It made Guinness look like tap water – inky, thick and reeking of Marmite and cocoa.

It was a great ol' night. Pamela is such a good egg; so lovely to talk to. I quizzed her and Michael about how they met; a grand trans-Atlantic tale of romance, complete with marriage proposal on a rainy Scottish hilltop. Swoon!

Finally we said our goodbyes and Dr G and I jumped on the train and rambled all the way back to Manhattan. Weren't they nice, wasn't that cool, how about that chocklit, bless the internets, why can't we just do this all day long instead of WORK and all that?

Crikey it's time for bed, I'll wind it up for now. Hope your week is going well, comrades!

Woohoo!

I got a Weight Loss WooHoo! Today there's a wee interview with me on Sahar's Fat Fighter TV site – she's included me into her Weight Loss Wall of Fame! Check out that cheesy author photo.

Answering Sahar's questions made me think about my awkwardness with the Weight Loss Success Story tag. I guess because the word story implies a narrative with a neat resolution but the reality is a sprawling, never-ending Choose Your Own Adventure tale.

Weight loss is also a strange thing to congratulate somebody for. I'm more inclined to cheer about my Moonwalking or my kickboxing or writing a book. Especially because the feat of losing 175lb means you had to have 175lb extra pounds in the first place. Now that's an achievement in itself.

If you like a good Before and After be sure to check out the other Weight Loss WooHoo's on the site. Thanks for inviting me over, Sahar!

Reassurance Soup

I had a good nose though Jamie Oliver’s latest cookbook in the supermarket last night and really liked the look of his Spring Vegetable and Bean Soup. So I took a shifty photo of the recipe with my phone.

I was riddled with guilt by the time we got to the dairy aisle because that’s a terrible copyright infringement and I really should have bought the book, because even taking into account the generally rubbish royalties for supermarket sales, my pennies could have contributed to Poppy Nectarine and Lulu Cherry’s school fees. I can’t remember the proper names of his kids but they’re edible ones.

Anyway Jamie old chap – if you somehow see this and think I’m a thieving git, I promise I will order your book come pay day. I do like your recipes. And I hope you do more TV shows like Jamie At Home, where it’s just you and lots of really great, simple food. I admire your crusades but I miss the cookin’.

SoupI am not even going to try and hide behind jokes today. Everything seems to be going a bit shit all at once. I am concentrating on doing little things that make me feel good and sturdy and capable. Fish suppers and Wispa bars are not longterm solutions.

So this arvo I did a weights DVD for the first time in a month. I untangled the mess of clothes and shoes in the bottom of the wardrobe. I purchased a truckload of birthday cards because everyone I bloody know seems to be born in the last week of October.

And then I made Jamie’s soup. Well sort of, because I only managed to photograph three quarters of the page. That will learn me for being a copyright bandit. The soup is dead wholesome and simple, and nestled in a plastic container for my lunch tomorrow it looks like Reassurance in a Box. Yum yum.

REASSURANCE SOUP

Source: Boldly pilfered from JO’s Ministry of Food

3 carrots
3 sticks of celery
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil
400g (14oz) tin of cannellini beans
200g (7oz) cauliflower
200g broccoli
200g spinach (I used baby spinach leaves)
2 large ripe tomatoes (I used two handfuls of cherry toms)
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper (I added this. Because it makes you feel alive!)
1.8 litres hot chicken or vegetable stock
(JO uses 2 stock cubes; I used Marigold vegetable stock powder)

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a big pot over medium heat.
  2. Chop up the celery, carrots, onions and garlic.
  3. Chuck the above veggies in the pot. Cook for around 12 minutes until the carrots have softened but still holding their shape.
  4. Meanwhile drain the cannellini beans. Break up the cauli and broccoli into small florets. Quarter the tomatoes.
  5. Add those veggies to the pan along with the hot stock. Stir together.
  6. This is where I added a few good shakes of cayenne pepper.
  7. Bring to the boil the simmer for 10 minutes until the veggies are tender. This was more like 20 on my crappy stove.
  8. When ready to serve, add the spinach to the pot and cook a further 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
  9. Season with S&P.

JO says you can blend half the soup if you like it less chunky, but that would mean more washing up! He also suggests drizzling it with some extra virgin olive oil, which I’d never tried before but it was bloody delicious. This is the second JO soup I’ve made this month and they both had spinach chucked in at the end – that iron-y flavour is dead tasty.

Frozen

Orange belt, baby! I went back to kickboxing on Monday and finally got my orange belt!

I think we're supposed to wear them in class but I don't fancy it. It's thick and bulky and  I'm already toting enough stuff around my middle, quite naturally. I'll just put it on a shelf and admire it. It will come in dandy if I ever need to tie a damsel to a train track.

. . .

It has been a freaky week. I was going to write about my small tale of woe earlier, but I always feel like a right old goose when I express discontent en blog because someone always emails to say that my tale of woe is nuthin, because their cat only has one leg and their house is on fire, as they speak. Normally I can smile and say, I bow down to your superior misery, but last week I decided to be pathetic and hide offline.

Anyway! Here is the middle class pickle that Dr G and I have found ourselves in.

  • After years of dithering and wallpapering, we were finally putting our flat on the market last week.
  • And we were also juuust about to put in an offer on a nice little house.
  • But alas, that very same day… the bank which held our deposit decided to bloody COLLAPSE.

Dr G and I are dawdling, overly-cautious individuals who put in a lot of time, consultation and head-scratching before choosing a loaf of bread, let alone choosing somewhere to save our pennies. But alas, we did not see this coming in time. Holy shit people, a collapsing bank.

Last Tuesday was rather scary; a day of barely breathing and wondering if you would ever see your little pile of moula again. It is not a big pile of moula but it's our pile of moula and we have put years of effort and tightwaddery into it. So it makes your guts churn to see the balance on the screen but knowing it's frozen and untouchable.

Now everything is limbo. Without our deposit of course means we can't buy or sell nuthin'. We are way under the government savings protection limit so we should be covered, but don't know when/how that will happen. Some reports say six months, others say a year. The governments are still nutting it out so all we can do is wait for news.

It's amusing on one level, because Dr G and I were so shitscared about taking the plunge into proper home ownership (we currently have a quarter of a flat). When we finally summon the nerve to do it — estate agents, solicitors; actually looking at houses in person instead of just going "meh" at pictures on the internet — it all goes tits up. We'd even gone so far to buy a new rubbish bin, since the old one was mouldy and revolting, to add a touch of class to the flat.

It is truly out my hands right now so I'm trying to put the issue into a box labelled "Money Shit" and stick it on a shelf up the back of my brain. I have lots of other boxes to deal with so I don't think it would be good use of energy and effort to wallow.

In the meantime Dr G and I will stay tuned to see if we get our savings back or a truckload of Icelandic cod and Bjork's back catalogue. And I will try not to think about that wee house that I stupidly allowed myself to slightly fall for. Maybe there's another one out there for us. Maybe it will even have a LAUNDRY!

. . .

Back to the kickboxing – remind me not to take four weeks off ever again. My butt and hamstrings are so sore from Monday's class, I'm waddling like a cowboy. I really need to get some sort of Butt and Hamstring Toughening Program sorted.

Holiday Hangover

On Saturday night we went to a beer festival. It was all for charity, as they reminded us in the programme:

Save
(the next bit of that sentence was "…of Dunfermline Rugby Club.")

You get a glass on arrival then you get stuck right in to your choice of 77 different ales. I reckon the best strategy is to go for the one’s with the funniest names, such as Enter the Flagon, Sheepshagger’s Gold, Old Fecker and Laughing Gravy.

Only problem is I can’t stand beer in any strength or shade, so I sampled the ciders instead. I’m not much good with cider either but the words of the programme haunted me:

"I know this is difficult but please keep fighting those drinks down, as every pint is more money for the lifesaving work of The Anthony Nolan Trust…"

ShitfacedSo in this photie I am absolutely shitfaced from a wimpy pair of pints, right before the dancing began and I knocked Gareth’s glass of Farmer’s Pale Ale all over his head with my stylish moves.

No alcohol-related hangover on Sunday, just one of those reality hangovers. I did really well in New York with my food – the now tried-and-true tactic of being choosy then savouring the goods. But when we got home it was a week of back to school blues – we both picked up rotten colds so moped around having a Who’s The Most Unwell contest with multiple takeaways and minimal vegetables. On Friday I ate cake for breakfast on the premise that I’d forgotten to bring a spoon to work for my yogurt and muesli… ignoring the seventy spoons in the office kitchen… hmm hmm.

I made a Comeback Curry last night – packed with spinach, butternut squash and black beans – with the aim of starting the new week as I mean to go on. I’m still barking and snottery so had to bail on kickboxing tonight, but I’m determined to have a healthier week. It’s taken a long, long time to accept that this maintenance lark means that you will go through unsettled periods. The only way to prevent them would be to live like a robot – never going anywhere or doing anything or interacting with the humans. That doesn’t sound very good, so I’ll dust off the dumbells and veggies and get back to it.

Friday Link Feast #2

Watermelon I've been stockpiling links for weeks so let's get 'em oot!

  • The Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon
    Now how's this for a hardcore day out in the Scottish countryside?

    – Swim 1.5 kilometres across the murky depths of Loch Tay

    – Run 15 miles over seven Munros [a Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3000 ft]

    – Kayak 7 miles back down Loch Tay

    – Cycle 34 miles around Loch Tay

    – Slice a watermelon in half with a sword then eat it to stop the clock

    The Quadrathlon was featured on BBC Scotland's Adventure Show recently and my jaw gaped the whole time. I did two of those Munros and it took me all bloody day, but 200 mad bastards ran over seven plus all that swimming, kayaking and cycling and they were done before sunset.

    It's not entirely serious though – there's stops along the way for cakes, hot chocolate and even fish and chips!

  • Finding a Bra that Fits – Corinna talks about the importance of good scaffolding.
  • The Arm Bra. Lord help us.
  • What Would Buffy Do? – "In the grand scheme of things, those few days where you're unable to exercise MEAN NOTHING. Rest. Feel better. Stay positive. You don't have to put yourself at a big success/failure crossroads every time something comes up." I love Skwigg.
  • The Cherry Slice Experiment – Cherry Ripes are an Australian sweet that I never ate during 24 years of Australian residency but developed a pathetic longing-for once I moved away. Fab food blog Where's The Beef tries a homemade version, four ways!
  • Bros_2 Drop the Boy – This has nothing at all to do with health & fitness but Keris brought it to my attention that Matt and Luke Goss of Bros fame turned 40 this week. FORTY! How could they be forty already? I can't answer that.

    Many happy returns, fellas. You're a man. Yes you am.

Guest Post on DietsInReview.com

DIR Logo Baby it's gettin' cold outside. If you're finding it harder to get motivated to exercise, I've written a guest post today on DietsInReview.com called Tips for Exercising in Winter.

DietsInReview.com is a leading weight loss resource online. You're likely to find a review for every weight loss method imaginable – about 500 right now. In just a couple of days, the site is relaunching with a brand new design. You'll get even greater access to the hundreds of healthy recipes, the Diet Blog updated several times each day by fitness and nutrition experts with news, advice and education you can use to live a healthier life and even more interaction with other visitors by submitting your own reviews and ratings. Plus, they'll have an new video channel where you can watch videos related to dieting, weight loss and living healthy.

» Check out my Tips for Exercising in Winter.