Posted in Friends, General Issues, Random Thoughts, Work

In her spare time, she enjoys…”

After the nightmare of my last discernment “The day I realised I was boring“, I was rudely reminded again this week when I finally had to write an ‘about me’ for my company’s website.

I’ve worked for this company before but stupidly I didn’t save my little bio. I did save the picture! – I don’t photograph well and photos always fall on the day that my acne flares up, I was very pleased with myself that I remembered to save it last time. It’s not particularly good but it’ll do.

Just the bio to update.

I got through the usual business stuff, my background, university, the things I’m good at and what I specialise in etc but then I got to the last line.

“She’s from a small town in the north of England and in her spare time she enjoys…”

Stuck

I have no idea

What hobbies do I have? None.

Well, none that make me sound interesting.

I sent the question out to my friends, the replies I received amused me but didn’t seem professional enough for the website.

“In her spare time she drinks.”

“She enjoys being asked to leave from supermarkets for laughing too loud in the greeting cards aisle”

“She enjoys pressing all the noisy toys in shops and then walking away”

“In her spare time she gets into embarrassing and weird situations that no normal person would have to deal with”

“She likes to sleep.”

All of these are true and all of them are things I enjoy in some way but none of them seem appropriate.

Since I’ve had to put something, I’ve gone with the generic “she enjoys cooking and painting”. I do enjoy painting and I’m not sure about cooking but since it fills most of my free time I’ll leave it in. The only issue is this makes me seem like a boring 80-year-old or a house wife in the 1950s. I’ve promised our website designer something a little more exciting but I’m failing to find inspiration. I’m back to the hobby search.

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Posted in Friends, General Issues, Life

The day I realised I was boring

It’s not a great thing to admit but I really am boring.

I’ve been living in a new town, 100 miles from my closest friends, since May and I still haven’t found a hobby or anyone to befriend.

I hate the jokey phone calls from my mother when she offers to buy me a children’s book on how to make friends.

I tried Patook and Borrowmydoggy to try to find company but neither have worked, I still haven’t met anyone, human or fluffy.

 

Why is it so difficult to make friends outside of University and school? I know all my other chums have managed to do it but some have moved back home so are around old friends and the others all work in professions where there are lots of people our age. Although I love my job, 3 colleagues and their families, I really would like it if they hired someone 20 years younger.

 

I’m in desperate need of some ideas.

Yes, I have tried googling it.

 

The Options

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This list is not helpful but it keeps popping up.

  • I cook and clean every weekend but that’s not particularly fulfilling at the moment.

 

  • I already draw, paint, craft as much as I can but all too often I empty the craft draw out and sit staring at all the lovely bits and pieces without a single clue what to make.

 

  • I don’t want a hobby that involves technology, I’m fed up of using my laptop and phone for work and entertainment. It needs a break.

 

  • I don’t have time to volunteer right now.

 

  • Exercise is not my friend and having a life that is revolving around health and dieting is really bringing me down.

 

  • I can already sew and I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a sewing machine that won’t be used.

 

  • I’m not particularly open to going to a new crafty workshop because those things COST.

I’m stubborn and lost.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Posted in Food, General Issues, Life

My Little New Year Nightmare

“Happy New Year”… I’m saying it to everyone and typing it on letters but for me my new year started with a bump.

I’ve spent a truly lovely Christmas at home this year. 3 hours away from my flat and work, I had a really quiet and chilled holiday season with my parents and dogs.

Leaving a week before the big day with a little bonus from work and everything tied up before I left, I drove home in my pjs at 6am with a car full of presents and a mouth full of mince-pies. All my anxiety faded and although slightly empty and looking for something new to worry about, I was blissfully happy.

That rapidly changed on Tuesday this week.

 

Arriving back at my flat I knew I had to make at least 4 trips from my car to the first floor carrying many bags full of all the things you acquire over christmas – not fun.

I pulled up on the double yellow lines outside my front door to empty the car into the hallway before parking it in the residents car park. A small nagging doubt had appeared in my head a few days earlier and I half expected to come home to some sort of disaster, whether that was a burglary, fire, even squatters who had taken residence. I was wrong, but what I did walk in to wasn’t great either.

The lights didn’t turn on… strange.

My wi-fi box wasn’t working… really strange.

The smell in the kitchen was… worse than strange.

At some recent point during my absence the electricity had cut off. That’s not a problem for the lights or wi-fi, it’s a problem for the fridge-freezer.

I have a habit of stocking my food to the point that I won’t need to shop for weeks.

I was heart-broken to open the freezer door and see the leaking bags of soup and frankly disgusting looking ice cream floating in draws full of red liquid seeping from various defrosted meats.

Opening the fridge I immediately shut it as the smell hit me. Something was clearly off.

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I sank to the floor and pondered the decision in front of me. Collapse on the sofa and cry or deal with it.

I’m a strong independent adult (sort of).

I dealt with it.

 

I switched the electricity  back on and emptied out the freezer, throwing away the things that clearly couldn’t be saved and sorting through the stuff at the back that still felt cold.

I managed to salvage a few little parcels of mince and toss them into my wok along with a couple of fresh onions, garlic cloves and a can of tomatoes. Voila, 3 tubs of a base dish for spaghetti or chilli.

Now, I’m a slight sausage addict and I had bought two large packs from the butchers before coming back so I wasn’t too worried about the one’s I was throwing away. I was able to save a small tray full by throwing them into the oven to cook, then cool and wrap in foil.

 

I cleaned each draw from the freezer thoroughly (using a kettle for hot water as mine didn’t want to warm up) and took a deep breath before opening the fridge.

Apart from some butter and mayo nothing in the fridge needed to be there, I still pulled out each shelf and pot of jam to give them a good clean. I was just about satisfied until I spotted it. In the door was a cracked egg that had dripped from the top shelf onto those below – that was the smell.

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Apart from the heart wrenching feeling I had throwing away my once frozen homemade roast beef and water filled ice lollies, I am grateful for the experience.

I am not happy about having to replace large amounts of my favourite food, I am not happy that I need a little tub of baking soda in my fridge to get rid of any residual smell

but

I am happy with myself.

I’m proud that I didn’t curl up in a ball and cry, that even though I felt so anxious, alone and defeated I managed to cope for the 4 hours it took to clean and still had the energy to unpack and cook a meal.

Something like this may not be difficult for a ‘normal’ person to deal with but it was for me.

It may have not been the best start to the new year but I’ve proved that I am able to deal with whatever this year throws at me.

Staying strong.

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Posted in Food, General Issues, Life

Lemon-aid! What else can I cure with lemons?

I’ve been thinking… I do a lot of thinking. Weekends are the worst, I spend my time over thinking. Anxiety/depression/general grumpiness sets in.

5:30pm on Friday night I walked in to my little flat, locked the door behind me and didn’t leave until 8:30am Monday morning.

As usual, I tried to break up my weekend with baking.

 

In the past I have made Lemon Creme Brulee and last week Lemon Drizzle Cake.

I tried to avoid a lemon flavoured desert this weekend. Instead opting for an apple crumble… Of course I still needed the lemon juice to stop the apples from turning brown.

Simple recipe for those who care:

4oz plain flour

2oz sugar

2oz butter

Mix with hands using a rubbing motion to create a breadcrumb texture

Peel and slice 3 apples putting them into the lemon juice to stop them browning

Empty apples into baking tin

Tip the crumble on top.

25 minutes at 200 degrees

Add custard/cream/ice cream and forget all your problems.

To add to my buttery crumble I of course had a glass or two of lemonade. Not the cheap fizzy stuff from the supermarket but the still, tart, refreshing, homemade type.

Last weekend I bought 3 bottles – lemonade with citrus, lemonade with elderflower and their original lemonade… two of these bottles are now empty. This stuff is pure bliss. Thank you Hullabaloos for cheering up my afternoons.

 

Lemon Cures

Not only is my boredom cured by lemons and grumpiness by lemonade, I have discovered new and interesting things that are cured by the sour elixir.

On Wednesday last week I woke up in th middle of the night scratching my head, I thought that was a little strange but it was 3am and there was nothing I could do. I went back to sleep, only to wake up at 6am with blood under my nails.

After 6 years of using dry shampoo (at least once a week) I’ve suddenly become allergic to it.

How to cure my burning scalp and resulting dandruff from that night of tearing my head to pieces?    Lemon juice

On Saturday afternoon I poured a watered down lemon juice over my head and washed with my normal tea tree based shampoo. Instantly the itchiness stopped.

I have to say that although my head was still slightly scratchy, it was significantly reduced. I tried it again this morning and it seems to have cured it.

 

What else can I cure with lemons?

I’ve read that lemon in water helps with digestion, skin and weight-loss… I can’t believe that. If that was true surely everyone would use it.

I might still try it though…

 

 

Posted in Food, General Issues, Life

The laziest cake I’ve ever made

As 11am rolled around on Saturday morning I sat staring at my TV wondering why I dislike weekends so much. It’s not hard to understand – I’m alone and bored, I crave some social interaction or at least the structure that a weekday offers.

All too often I spend a weekend, or more commonly a Saturday, curled into a ball of sadness and anxiety watching repeated episodes of old TV shows wishing I’d made some sort of plan.

This weekend was no exception.

With a grey sky and lack of company or incentive to venture out of my little flat, I trawled through Netflix and found an interesting set of documentaries on castles in the UK (I used to live in a castle as a part of a previous job). It immediately drew me in and by mid afternoon I was 4 episodes in and struggling to tear myself from the leather-sofa-duvet-cocoon I was submerged in. Things changed after the all-too-common Saturday guilt trip phone call from my mother.

“You’ve stayed in again? You really need to get out of that flat and do something”.

I’ve come to the realisation that I need to stop this cocconing and break the habit. My usual reflex when something has upset/stressed me is to clean. Last Sunday as the weekend drew to a close, I realised I’d cleaned my flat at least 8 times over the two days and decided that cooking was going to be another release. Or at least a way of making a mess to clean and give me something to do.

Last week I was craving curry and the packet of spices and coconut milk in my cupboard were the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately a voice in my head insisted on naan bread and it wouldn’t shut up. After googling “shops open after 4pm on Sundays” and finding nothing I convinced myself they wouldn’t be difficult to make. I was wrong, the kitchen and I were covered in the stickiest substance I’ve ever dealt with, it was like soft white tar, but it gave me something to do and definitely something to clean.

In the end they turned out pretty well and if anyone has a better recipe than the one I worked from, I’d be very grateful to hear it.

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This Saturday my brain decided upon cake. For some strange reason I had bought 5 lemons (I didn’t need lemons at all, I have 2 in my fruit bowl and a whole bottle of lemon juice in my cupboard) so clearly it had to be a lemon cake.

 

But not just any lemon cake…

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Lemon Drizzle cake.

 

Now, I’m pretty lazy and stubborn so I stick with the easiest option.

A quick inspection of my kitchen revealed a small bag of flour, milk, eggs and sugar… and a 25p supermarket packet cake mix.

Decision made. Adding a medium egg and 6 tablespoons of water to pre-mixed ingredients is always the best option.

I made up a recipe based on some random website searches.

Empty the cake mix into a bowl, add an egg and enough water to get a gloopy batter

Zest (and swear after accidentally and painfully zesting knuckles) 2 lemons into the bowl

Add a squirt of lemon juice for good measure

Mix, covering the kitchen with flour becuase you’ve turned the mixer up too high

Pour into a butter lined loaf tin and throw in the oven at 190 degrees (UK oven) for 20 minutes

Simple.

The drizzle was completely made up since all of the recipes I found included caster sugar (I don’t have any and didn’t check before I started baking).

Juice of the 2 zested lemons went into a measuring jug and into the microwave for 45 seconds to warm up

6 table spoons of sugar stirred into the juice till it dissolved.

I’ve heard that poking holes in the cake helps the drizzle to absorb so I did.

Then after pouring a large amount of drizzle on my hot cake I realised I had made a little too much so as the cake cooled I sat back on the sofa drinking the drizzle. I don’t recommend this if you’re supposed to be controlling your blood sugar levels like I am. I was bouncing off the walls for hours… but it was delicious and so worth it.

The end product was a beautiful cake, a few hours of complete hyper behaviour till the sugar wore off and a feeling of accomplishment.

 

On Sunday I ended up at a food festival with a friend buying sauces, alcohol and lemonade… I think I’ve got a problem with lemons.

Posted in Family, Food, General Issues, Life

Preparing For My First Dinner Party

This may not sound much but I’ve never cooked for anyone before.

Leaving home at 18 obviously meant learning to cook for myself, I was not the type of student to live off pot-noodle, but that doesn’t mean I had to learn to cook for anyone else.

 

The Challenge

My mother’s birthday.

I have volunteered to do this. I’m not sure what I was thinking.

Luckily, my mother, knowing how I hated cooking has not invited any of her friends so it’s only my mum and dad that I have to feed. This may sound easy. It’s not.

My mum is a seasoned cook, she’s been experimenting with food since she was 16 and now for her 52nd birthday she’s going to enjoy watching me struggle.

Just a side note, to make things more interesting, my dad is picky. He likes beef or chicken, anything else he’ll refuse to eat. Also, there’s got to be chips. Every meal should have chips in his world.

 

The Theme

All our birthdays, meals and presents, have always run along with a loose theme. My mother’s this year

“Tropical Island”

I realise tropical island suggests a lot of fish, but as my dad doesn’t really like fish I will adapt.pexels-photo-139259

The Menu

 

Appetisers

Cheese & Pineapple on Sticks

Watermelon and Feta Salad

 

I know these sound like a 70’s party buffet and not particularly exciting but they will keep my parents happy whilst I’m cooking and my mum absolutely loves both. Fruit and cheese is a little bit tropical right? At least the Pineapple should be.

 

Starter

Chilli Salmon

Spiced Prawns

Skinny fries

Roast Peppers

Roast Tomatoes

 

I’m only cooking one large salmon piece and cutting it roughly into 4. My dad will try it because he likes sweet chilli but won’t eat more than a mouthful. The skinny fries will appease him.

My aim is to serve the skinny fries and curried prawns in little wire baskets, with the salmon, tomatoes and peppers being cooked in tin foil parcels so I’ll just rip them open and put on a large serving plate. Very relaxed (trying for an informal Caribbean feeling)

 

Main Course

Jerk Chicken

Rice and Peas

Sweet Potato Wedges

 

Keeping it simple, easy to cook and easy to serve.

 

Desert

‘Watermelon Shots’

Pineapple with Mint and Sugar

Birthday Cake (Jamaican Ginger Cake)

 

The watermelon shots are not made of watermelon. This was just a fun looking thing on Pinterest and I thought I’d try to recreate the look as my mum will love it. I’m going for a lime jelly base, a strawberry moose top and chocolate chips.

Pineapple is literally covered with sugar and chopped mint. Birthday cake will be easy, I’m buying it.

 

The Struggle

I’m going home to cook this. Home is 3 hours away. I’m going on friday evening and this food will be Saturday afternoon.

It may not sound too difficult but when you realise that I have to go to work on Friday and I will be going straight home from work, keeping things chilled for a day in the office and a 3 hour drive is going to be hard work.

 

The Plan

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Appetiser – Will buy the components Thursday night and assemble on Saturday

Starter and Main – Will take the chicken and salmon from the freezer Friday morning and they can slowly defrost in the office fridge during the day and should be ok for me to cook 30 hours later. I’ll buy/take out of my dads greenhouse the tomatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes. Rice and peas will be cooked Saturday. As for the skinny fries and prawns, I’ll buy at home and cook from frozen – one of the best phrases in the english language!

Desert – Will buy the cake and parts of the shots, make the jelly friday night before I go to bed and the moose 5 minutes before serving.

 

The Decoration

I have no idea… I’m hoping something along these lines

 

I feel like I shouldn’t have offered to do this but I know my previous idea (country themed birthday, picnic on the tailgate of a truck) was shot down by my grumpy father and he’s not going to help with anything anyway.

My mum makes such an effort for my birthday, she was the best thing about it this year (my depressing birthday blog shows that). I have to return the effort.

Posted in Fat, Food, General Issues, Life, Weight-loss

Waiting for the weight-loss

So after weeks of general complaining and trying a number of ‘quick fixes’ I can honestly say… I’m still fat.

Has anyone had a positive result from a quick fix diet?

I’ve caught myself googling “why am I still fat?” on too many occasions now.

Way back, during the week I decided to “change” I was weighed by a nurse so I had a pretty good base weight to go on. This weekend I finally unpacked my scales that I’d intentionally left in a storage box when I moved in May.

I placed my scales in the bathroom and whilst my Sunday evening bath was running I weighed myself. I’ve always told myself it’s better to weigh myself in as little as possible because jeans are obviously the heaviest thing known to man and it is their fault the scales say I’m obese.

My heart sunk as the stupid little dial showed that I have put on 4kg. That’s 8 pounds!

How!?

I’ve been cutting down portion sizes, changed my sugary morning cereal for low-fat smoothies, made sure I ate as few carbs as possible and I’m eating salad. Salad!

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Incredibly I thought I’d been losing weight, I’d been feeling better. Well up until last week when I had a week free of morning smoothies. I noticed a significant drop in energy levels when I don’t have my bananas and berries.

 

I asked my friends what they thought. Not the ‘nice friends’ but the brutally honest best friends that have similar problems. I received 5 common answers.

 

1. “It’s just water retention”pexels-photo-113734.jpeg

Retaining water has been an issue since I was about 10, I wasn’t sure why but I always knew if my shorts wouldn’t button up I should go to the loo and 9/10 it worked.

Now I know it’s more my fault. I don’t drink enough.

I have my morning smoothie, (sometimes with a coffee), then maybe 4 or 5 cups of tea whilst I’m at work. I go home to a glass of juice (or wine).

I don’t really enjoy water and I can’t spend any more time going to the bathroom. I’ve already wondered if I should move my desk in there.

 

2. “I blame the pill”

Yes, it’s a well googled fact, the pill increases your appetite and makes it harder to lose weight. I think it’s also makes the water retention worse.

I’d like to blame the pill but as I’m not going to stop taking it, I’ve got to find a way around it.

 

3. “You don’t exercise enough”

Yes, I know I don’t. I’m working on it. Next.

 

4. “You’re not calorie counting”

No, I don’t want to spend my life having a breakdown because I’m 3 calories over my daily intake.

pexels-photo-944361.jpegI refuse to be one of those people who read the label before they eat.

I eat low-fat yoghurt in my smoothies, I have cut the majority of carbs out of my diet and I eat salads with low fat or no dressing. I’m not going to starve myself of everything I love. I’ve already given up bread which has left a huge hole in my life.

 

5. “Your Expectations Are Unrealistic”

This sounds more likely.

I have never really tried to lose weight properly so I’m not really sure how fast it’s supposed to happen. Watching the tv weight loss reality shows does not give me a good comparison. They have specialist trainers, diet experts and coaches to slap the cake out of their hands. Plus they’re on tv for some family/life saving/personal mission with a purpose. My aim is to fit back into some old clothes so I don’t have the stress of buying more.

Trying to combine a weight-loss regime with a love of food and lack of motivation to exercise is not easy.

It’s not possible.

If I read one more article on how I shouldn’t be dieting but I should be changing my lifestyle I will scream.