Monday, 31 March 2014

My Body is a Temple....

I am writing this slightly out-of-character post for Debs my personal trainer.
Last year I was fed up trying and failing to diet and exercise and David was feeling unhealthy due to long hours spent at his computer.
 I battle with Fybromyalgia ( I won't say more about it now except that I daren't face an ordinary aerobics class and to add this link ), so we turned to somebody who would come to our house and help us with her knowledge and teach me skills that I am sadly lacking!
Debs has given us unfailing cheerful support and I am now accepting her challenge to follow this especially healthy, three week eating plan. When I first saw what I would have to cut out last summer I was horrified and said " No- Never" but I have gradually been changing my eating habits and so am now ready.
Debs said to me- " Go on Jane, you can do it- just use your imagination"

I have shopped for a veritable rainbow of vegetables-

And filled the kitchen window with herbs.

I have decided to list my most tasty meals and recipes in case they are of use to anybody and as record of this challenge.
The only carbs allowed are the vegetables (no starchy or sweet ones either), eggs, meats and fish and the healthy oils but no dairy, no sugar, spices or alcohol, no tea or coffee and only apples, oranges, lemons and limes for the first week. It's very basic but all good ingredients.
Breakfast is difficult but this was very tasty-

Mash one hard boiled egg with a little hummus, fill Little Gem lettuce leaves and scatter with seeds

I made enough lunch for David and I -

Tuna, with kidney beans, and chopped tomatoes, spring onions, celery and parsley

I added a salad dressing of lemon juice and olive oil and lots of herbs

The second day I had a simple breakfast

 I don't usually peel apples but this was a rather ancient Russet 

I'm always happy to eat an omelette for lunch but I do miss the cheese!

Spring onion, tomato, red pepper and a little ham

Served on a bed of watercress salad

For a treat I bought myself  some Quail's eggs. I love their delicate, nutty, creamy taste!

All they need is a touch of celery salt.

Lunch was Avocado and Butternut Squash dip with salad  and the last of the quail's eggs.

I'm now onto my second week and a few extra foods have been added. Most importantly bananas and nuts!

The above are my little biscuits. They are like oatcakes and made with seeds ground into a rough flour, some ground almond, salt, and enough olive oil and water to mix to a paste. I scoop little blobs of this on a baking tray and cook for about 20 mins. They are very tasty, and one with a hard boiled egg is a lovely breakfast, so I have to be careful not to eat more than a couple a day!

One successful meal was my experiment with baked mushrooms. I usually love them stuffed with cheese and breadcrumbs but today I used tomatoes, spring onions, herbs and seeds.

I served it with thin steaks and a green salad- yummy!

 A roast chicken is a wondrous thing. This one was pot roasted on a bed of parsnips and leeks, with lemon juice and a little olive oil. I love pot roasting, it makes the chicken very moist and flavoursome. I brushed squash and carrots with olive oil and baked them for us and made proper roast potatoes for Sam.

To use the cliche, I didn't feel like I was dieting...

 I love my smaller blue/white plate, it always looks as if I have a mountain of food!

Debs suggested this next recipe which I have adapted. She mentioned that she ate banana and eggs- ' like a pancake'. The one below if made from half a mashed banana, dsrtsp. of ground almonds, tsp. of nut butter, a slosh of orange juice and one large egg. I wouldn't eat this for breakfast everyday but it was delicious, a cross between a pancake and an omelette.

It got a little stuck to the pan...
I have finished the three weeks now and even lost a few pounds. I  prefer having a wider choice of foods but it was a good 'kick start' into a healthier way of eating and I'm glad I took Deb's challenge.

Against all expectations, I have even learned to enjoy my fruit tea every morning!

Monday, 17 March 2014

A bit of self-indulgence

I spent a happy weekend at David's in Somerset. Spring has sprung

This is the garden of the empty house across the lane- irresistible!

 and as a treat to myself for spring cleaning his garden, I picked this lovely posy-

Wandering around a garden snipping a bloom here and there, makes me unbelievably happy. I think David is a little bemused by my ecstatic response to a bundle of flowers. As he admits- " it doesn't quite do it for me"- darling man!

Whereas I can gaze and gaze again and feel I can never get enough of the delicacy, colour and perfume.

My room is lit up by their beauty and looking at flowers is one of the best ways of praying I know.
I did also pick a little bunch of violets and primroses, found nestling in a corner of the garden...

I do wish you could have shared with me their wonderful scent in the Spring sunshine.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Vintage Bazaar Fair on a sunny Saturday

I had the day to myself, the sun was shining, so I took myself off on a jaunt. I'm so glad that I did, the hall at Devizes was filled with stalls, full of hidden treasures and glowing with colour- the perfect place for a person like me to be! (
 I wandered around and even bought myself a few little treats...

I was drawn to the stall of Stephen and Judy  They managed that rare feat, their stock is a mixture of all colours and yet together it made a balanced and pleasing collection. I was most impressed, because I know how difficult that it to achieve!
Well as you might guess, I got tempted... the three pretty crocus coffee cups are now on my dresser waiting for a christening at my next dinner party. I have rare and beautiful Art Deco coffee set but having only four cups, I have been looking for some cups that will form a pleasing addition.

Donna admiring their stall
I was happy to see my friend Anne Marie peeping out from behind the bunting of her pretty stall

Skybluevintage blog

Part of the fun of these fairs is catching up with friends and meeting people whose blogs I have been reading.
I was very taken with the elegance of the Faded Rose Vintage stall

and even persuaded Sarah of Blue Zinnia Vintage to let me take her picture!

As always, I was drawn to the beautiful things on Teresa's stall It was a perfect treasure trove

I love the fact that although all the stall are selling vintage things, they have their own very different character:

Brilliantly quirky!

Delicate and

So cheerful!

There were many stalls selling mouthwateringly beautiful fabric and clothes. I floated about entranced by the colours.

This dress had such pretty detail-

Then I found this lovely stall...

And now own a necklace of beautiful green glass beads.
It was a busy fair, with people everywhere smiling, chatting. measuring and buying-

Finally, I dragged myself away, with one extra pretty thing...

A gift from Judy (All Things Vintage and Beautiful)- What a nice end to the visit!
My apologies to the people I haven't mentioned, or the photos I haven't 'tagged'. I had so many pieces of paper, I seem to have mislaid a few...

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Lucca, a quintessentially Italian city

As promised in my last post, here are a few of Sam's photographs from our week in Lucca.
They were taken with his beloved digital camera (paid for by the sale of his work during Art Week last October) and his other Canon, which uses good old fashioned film! He has just started developing his own photos and we are waiting, in great anticipation, for the results of his black and white experiments.

The first is taken at the end of a sunny afternoon, from the tree-topped tower in Lucca

Digital, Canon 7D

This shows detail of the Duomo in Florence.

Digital Canon 7D

I love the simplicity and balance of lines, taken just before sunset, in Lucca

Canon AE-1 Film Kodak Ektar 100

Sam is passionate about street photography, capturing candid shots of people going about their lives, unaware of the photographer. I think its his greatest strength and I like how he has picked out the colour orange in this one.

Canon  7D Digital

We were both really pleased to come upon a pavement artist in Lucca,  he has captured the curve of her body mirrored in her painting.

Canon AE-1 Film Fuji Suprema xtra 800

Whilst I was in the Uffizi Gallery, Sam found a colourful procession- such good fortune! 

Canon 7D Digital

However, my favourite of all is this one of three men on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Canon 7D Digital
I'm so happy he let me share these and am very proud of my artistic son.

P.s. Sadly I have had to 'shrink' them for the blog, they look even more exciting full size!  all film/camera information had to be spelled out for me by Sam!