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.

Posted in General Issues, Life

When Anxiety Attacks

I have re-written the first sentence of this blog about 15 times. I can’t say I’ve ever thought about writing about my anxiety before. I can’t say I’ve always had it. I can’t say I really cope with it.

Today, however, something small has set off a chain of panics in my head. The battle has begun.

 

Glass of Water Analogy

 

I read an analogy a while ago about stress but only now has it begun to really sum up my feelings.

Stress and anxiety are like holding a glass of water. Hold them and think about them for a short time and everything is fine. Think about them for a longer period of time and they begin to feel uncomfortable. And if you think about them all the time, the glass become immensely heavy, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything or moving forward.

What happens when we add more water?  What if you fill the glass to the top? Things tend to get shaky.  You have difficulty focusing and water spills out. Now you worry about the water that has spilled too. If someone is talking to you now you have difficulty paying attention and holding the glass still. You’ve also been taught that spilling is bad and you should be ashamed of your self for letting that water spill. So now you can’t focus, you feel shame and to top it off your arm really hurts.

You might just consider to put the damn glass down for a while.

How do I put the glass down?

 

This week/month a few extra problems have cropped up in addition to my usual worries.

 

Issue 1 – Flat Inspection

I came back to my apartment on Sunday night after a weekend with my parents to find a letter, stating that my Landlord’s agents will be inspecting my place on Wednesday. They haven’t given a reason why, just a note to say that if a cooker is included it must be in working order.

I’ve only been in the flat for 3 months, how would I have broken the cooker? Why wouldn’t I let someone know if I had? What are they looking for? I haven’t set up some sort of crack den to prejudice my lease, I don’t even have a goldfish because of a no pets rule.

The troops are called up, I can feel the tension between the world leaders in my head.

 

Issue 2 – Money

This is always an issue. I won’t bore you with details but I have just changed jobs and moved so money is tight and to top it off, my car insurance is due. Cue the £1,000 leaving my account halfway through the month. Pay day can’t come quick enough and even then I’m going to be in my overdraft.

This issue is well-known, it’s like the army have handed out the uniforms. It happens so often everyone knows the drill.

 

Issue 3 – Holiday

We’ve hit the summer and as all my friends jet off on holiday I stay in the same place. My mother is putting pressure on me to go on holiday. My colleagues have all booked August holidays and as I’m the only one without children I have to wait till September to take mine out of school holiday time.

With regards to who to go with, your guess is as good as mine. My friends and I finished University last June and so have all been working for a year now. I haven’t taken any time off since July 2016, my friends are in flexible jobs so they’ve had their 20 days + bank holidays. Where they have managed to save up enough money to book their foreign jaunts with their respective partners, I have changed jobs so my savings have gone on a new flat, furniture and a new car.

No one seems to understand that I haven’t got time, money or company to go on holiday with.

The men have been deployed, trained and are waiting for the signal.

 

The final drop

I was given some furniture on Monday and after two friends loaded it into my car it was too late to ask them to unload it at my apartment. It’s a chest of draws and side table. Last night I removed all the draws and the side table, putting them in my first floor flat. I realised that the actual chest is too much for me to handle on my own. I became annoyed by this. I have a friend coming over at the weekend specifically to help me but I Hate being dependant on other people (especially as this friend has a track record for cancelling on me). If he doesn’t turn up I have a chest of draws in my car until I can get someone to help.

Having tried and failed to lift the furniture I noticed it has gouged a chunk out of the boot of my car. I am in love with my car as a previous blog post shows. I could cry.

This little drop of annoyance has tipped me over the edge. First shots are fired and the battle commences.

 

Fixes

I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t have little anxiety moments like this. It probably developed in my early teens. My mother has issues with it so I assume it’s hereditary.

I’ve spent a difficult morning trying to balance doing my work, running to the loo to be sick and googling ways to handle anxiety attacks.

The world leaders are not helping. The war is raging on.

They all say the same thing. Diet, Exercise and Sleep.

  1. Diet – I’m trying. I eat pretty healthily with the occasional treat. What’s life if you don’t enjoy your food? I’m not going to eat muesli for every meal.
  2. Exercise – Gyms cost money. I’m lazy and categorically refuse to run. I’ve got no one to join a fun fitness class with.
  3. Sleep – My fitbit suggests I sleep around 6 to 7 hours and wake up twice during the night. How do you fix this when you have so much to wake up and worry about?

 

My stubborn and hugely inflated ego is refusing to let me go to a doctor or speak to a professional about this. Partly because I’m too proud and partly because I have a gun license (don’t judge me for the gun license, I come from a farm, we have guns and I rarely shoot anything other than clay disks). It is a million times harder to renew it when you have any history of mental health issues, even if you’ve been ‘cured’.

I’m going to try aromatherapy.

More specifically I’m going to spend my saturday afternoon laying on the sofa burning camomile and lavender oil whilst watching a hallmark romance film.

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Posted in Family, Friends, General Issues, Life, Work

Am I too old for Birthdays?

Yesterday was my Birthday. I’m still in my 20’s but somehow I feel like I turned 75.

 

Work

Having a birthday on a Monday is never fun, people forget over the weekend so when they you see you in work the thought immediately pops into their head “Oh crap, I forgot”. We’re all guilty of forgetting but it’s still not a great feeling. There are 3 other people in my office, 2 remembered when I walked through the door, one was reminded later on. This was also the first year that I didn’t get a card or cake during the day.

Apart from the usual ” Happy Birthday… how old are you?… I remember being that age etc” No one mentioned it again. A delivery of flowers and a plant sparked little conversations of horticultural management but nothing more.

Leaving 30 minutes early was my gift.

 

Friends

My 3 best friends posted the usual collage of embarrassing photos on social media before I had left for work. Then they’re the friends that forget and post something at 11pm.

 

4 cards arrived.. when did social mediadog-in-party-hat_4460x4460.jpg posts replace cards? I remember being about 10 and the whole room was covered with brightly coloured pictures and love from family members you hardly saw but somehow always managed to remember your birthday. Now I have 6 cards in my flat, including one from my dog.

 

 

Pink Moth Orchid

Everyone has awkward moments on their birthday too right? This year my ex sent me a card (very kind of him), his family sent me a card (very nice of them) and as a joint gift they had a moth orchid delivered to me at work. This begs the question, has he mentioned that we’ve split up?? I know it happened less than two weeks ago but surely he told them. Or are they in denial?

 

I’d spent the weekend with my best friend so I’d opened 3 gifts with her and saved 2 for monday morning. I’m glad I did, they were the highlight of my day until my mum arrived.

 

Family

My mother has been at every one of my previous birthdays and my move 3 hours down the country was not going to stop her missing this one. She arrived at my flat at the same time I did.

I opened 5 gifts with my mum and I have the rest to open with both of my parents at the weekend (We’re a family that will buy 20 little gifts to a normal families 1 gift).tractor-485897_960_720.jpg

My dad is from a farming family so the excitement of silaging time and a new tractor meant he almost completely forgot the anniversary of my birth. We called him at 10:30pm. Tractors dominated our conversation.

 

My mum makes a real effort every year, I love her for that.

She’d cooked and we had a “Southern-style” dinner. Starting with crab cakes, followed by Gumbo, then Mississippi mud pie. Although, as I live thousands of miles from the Mississippi, she renamed it “River Wye Mud Pie”. Preacher cake and coffee to finish. It was beautiful.

We watched comedian Greg Davies and his Back Of My Mum’s Head Tour, this had us laughing so hard we were in pain. She then proceeded to sleep on my living room floor and left at 5:30am today.

 

All in all it wasn’t a bad day by any means. I had a great weekend, lovely gifts, left work early and go to spend time laughing with my mum. I just can’t help feeling I’ve hit the age where birthdays are just something that pass us by and fun has been sucked away.

Am I just tired or in need of birthday cake? Can I buy myself birthday cake? Is singing Happy Birthday to yourself as sad as it sounds in my head?

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

The Post Break-Up Binge

I wasn’t going to bore anyone with this but I think it’s important for me to get off my chest how much I miss… eating carbs.

To cut a long story short, I have been with the boyfriend for 17 months, we met at University where he was an older first year and I was about to graduate. We kept up a decent long distance thing for 13 months but for the past 2 it has become very clear that we’ve grown apart. I’ve grown up, he refuses to.

Thursday night saw a series of phone calls where things finally ended. I just felt relief. I realise how bad that may sound but I have had a few weeks to process it and gear myself up to actually saying something to him.

 

After the usual messages to friends to let them know (much to their relief as well I’m sure) and a call home to inform the parents, I went to bed late and set my alarm for an extra 30 minute lie in.

I deserved it.

Strangely I didn’t need it, I woke up at my usual time and was able to get up straight away without the daily bartering and mental preparation I go through to pull myself out of bed.

I just had the urge to clean.

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I live in a one-bedroom flat, cleaning doesn’t take too long. Whenever my now ex used to visit he would leave a trail of rubbish, dirt, tobacco and weed behind him. Weekends were always a difficult time for my OCD. The moment I dropped him at the train station a huge feeling of excitement would wash over me as I realised I could clean without him judging me. The flat would be disinfected, polished, sheets changed, floors mopped, washing up done etc. within an hour of me arriving home. BLISS

 

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So Friday morning, even though he hadn’t visited in at least 5 weeks I got up to clean. Texts from friends checking on me were replied to with a happy breezy comment whilst I sat on my neat and freshly wiped leather sofa with a well-deserved coffee.

 

 

pexels-photo-57799Friday then saw an extremely productive day at work, though I’ve not told my colleagues what happened yet. In the evening I packed an overnight bag for the weekend and relaxed with a funny Ryan Reynolds film, perfectly cooked steak followed by a bowl of ice cream. Yes, I didn’t even eat it out of the tub!

 

Is this the easiest break-up I’ve ever had? I think so.

 

Sunday was a little more difficult. I should have seen him but obviously now didn’t have to. A great night out with my best friend and night in a hotel gave me, at best, 4 hours sleep, followed by “continental breakfast” (always disappointing when sausages are on offer) and a 3 hour train journey home.

I walked in and cracked.

 

I had put wet laundry on an airer before I left so whilst I put everything away and unpacked my bag a pan full of pasta bubbled away.

My almost carb free diet was ruined. I needed filling comfort food to help me relax before Monday morning comes around.

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I haven’t cried about this, I’ve hardly even felt sad but my hunger for pasta, potatoes and bread has increased. They have left a much larger hole in my life.

 

Sunday evening was more productive. After I ate a glorious bowl of squishy yellow goodness I convinced myself I needed to get up and do something so I could help the digestion.

More cleaning. I put everything away down to the last hair grip. As I came to the final hurdle – the washing up – I crashed and went back to the comfort of the sofa and an episode of The Office (US).

 

I instantly regretted not washing up when I awoke today. One of my best friends has offered to come over and cook for me tonight while I lounge on the sofa with a glass of wine – his words!

So obviously I can’t expect him to wash up before he starts.

It’s my choice what he cooks for dinner… Can I have a meal that is solely made from carbs?

 

Posted in Clothes, Fat, General Issues

Jeans and a nice top

If there is one phrase I cannot stand it’s the answer to that immortal question

“What are you wearing tonight?”

“Jeans and a nice top”

What person feels that this is an adequate answer?

What constitutes “nice”?

 

I’m going to a concert on Saturday night, not a big pop/rock thing, it’s an acapella band in a theatre. It doesn’t matter how big or small this concert is, I am still over excited and I’ve been looking forward to it since I bagged front row seats back in January.

It’s the 3rd (or 4th) time I will have seen the band and I love them. Each time I get more and more excited and when it comes to the meet-and-greet after I become a shy little school girl, too embarrassed to ask for a picture.

The trouble arises when I asked the bff what she’s wearing. Jeans and a nice top.

No. I refuse to accept that answer. I want specifics.

The last concert of this kind we ended up in matching outfits with the only difference being shoes. We need to coordinate before Saturday arrives.

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Do I wear jeans and a nice top? Do I wear a skirt? Would I look too formal in a dress?

These are all important questions, not helped by the fact that we’ll be going on to a bar or club afterwards.

 

As usual, I’ve googled it. Strangely enough, jeans and a nice top didn’t appear, at least not in those specific words.

I don’t want to wear a band t-shirt and the world will not be subjected to my body in something figure-hugging.

I’ve tried in vein to search through my favourite clothes websites and nothing screams “WEAR ME!” so I will resort to going to an actual shop – not happy about this.

 

Jeans and a nice top will not cut it. These photos are going to be plastered all over social media and my lounge wall. No one is ever going to say “I like what you wore to that concert”. Jeans and a nice top do not warrant any compliment. They are the beige boring sheet of the outfit world.

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Posted in Clothes, Fat, General Issues, Thighs

Embrasing The Wide-Leg Trouser

Anyone else got that impulsive friend who decides on a Friday afternoon “Hey, let’s do something this weekend”? They have no regard for the fact it takes a small army of people to help me decide what I’m going to wear.

This weekend, my annoying but lovely friend and I are off for a chilled day in Oxford. Cue weather checks to rule out outfits.

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As my beautiful boss has told me he’ll cover the office for most of the afternoon so I can go home early, I have a little extra time to plan. A quick search of ‘relaxed nice outfits’ (I know, so inventive), has not helped.

I, as usual, have a few issues with outfit planning.

396H

My friend is a guy who regularly dresses in the salmon-shorts-white-polo or designer jeans-hoodie combo – as you can imagine he’s at the slightly posher end of the spectrum so his outfits are relatively easy to sort.

As he’s got this posh side, we regularly end up in some of the most expensive places around…other times he’s obsessed with a McDonald’s. Other fast food chains are available.

This makes outfit planning difficult. My sizeable thighs do not help. I’ve come to the realisation that even though they make up 90% of my wardrobe, skinny jeans are not my friend. They’re too warm, too restrictive and make my legs look very short and fat.

My only inspiration right now are the girls that confidently wear the wide legged trouser and a cute vest whilst strutting through the streets with a floppy hat, massive sunglasses and an oversized handbag.

I can guarantee I won’t look that good but they remind me of my pjs so at least I’ll feel that good.

Huge problems arise when I think of the average length of leg, I am never average. I’ve got to spend my Friday night shopping for the perfect length or at lease a pair I love to give myself enough time to alter them tomorrow. The pressure is on!!