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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cooking for the Soul: Easy Peasy Gourmet Summer Salad

After 11 hours on trains (ie. lots and lots of sitting) and eating out constantly, I was never more happy to eat salad with dinner again. I really love salad, but dressings are always an issue. I want a healthy one and I don't want to pay lots for something I try and don't like and it ends up sitting in the fridge unused.

So I make my own. In a small bowl with a whisk. Nothing fancy.

Olive oil and balsamic is a simple classic. Just drizzle a little of each right over each. But for something a bit more complex (but still really easy to make), try this:

-juice from half a lemon
-one clove of garlic, minced
-twice as much extra virgin olive oil as you have juice
-pinch of sea salt
-a little ground pepper
-half a teaspoon of grainy or dijon mustard.

1. Soak the minced garlic in the lemon juice to ease the sharpness of the raw garlic. I do this at the beginning of when I cook dinner, and then toss the rest of the dressing together before serving.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
3. Whisk. The mustard will bind it together so if you don't serve it right away, it shouldn't separate too much.

For the salad I place a large handful of greens on my plate. Top with sliced bell peppers (I love red, yellow or orange for this), very thinly sliced red onion, sliced strawberries. Drizzle the dressing over top and then sprinkle some nice shredded cheese on top (I like gruyere or parmesan).

Presto! You're done.

It's light, tasty and healthy. And the best part is you can add, omit or adjust things as you please. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


At 10pm, it's only now just dusk here. And cooler. Have I mentioned the amazing summer weather we're having? It's currently 20 degrees celsius. It is moments like this that I am grateful that the front of our flat faces North and that it stays rather cool in the summer. It wrecks havoc on our heating bill in the winter, but at least we don't need a fan, especially when there is a cool breeze is wafting through, like right now.

My family is here. My parents arrived this afternoon via Amsterdam and after settling into their hotel, came on over to the falt. K was sleeping finally after fighting taking her nap. But we play that game enough and I know she needs the sleep, as evidenced by her being so passed out, she didn't hear my parents and I enter her room to wake her up early so she had time to acclimate to the new-ish presences before we went for dinner.

I'm not sure I can adequately express how much it means to have hugged my parents again. To hold them tight and feel their familiar embraces. Tomorrow I get to see my brother and his girlfriend and do it again. It's both surreal and wonderful.

There are lots of adventures to be had over the next week and a half, and I'm very much looking forward to them.

 Summer haze in the park

Monday, May 21, 2012

Impending Visits and Other Things

The cool, slightly storming weather has disappeared and we have been suddenly graced with warmer dry weather. The timing couldn't be better as my family arrives here on Thursday! I'm very much looking forward to the visit and all the fun we will have. On the list of things to do/places to go are a trip to the Highlands and the Isle of Skye this coming weekend, and some shopping with the girls. My brother and his girlfriend are in Ireland right now and having a good time as noted by the facebook updates when they have a wi-fi signal.

In other news, hubby was away last week and it was a very, very long week. K was good though, but the days were long. By the end of them, I was exhausted and it took a while to decompress, so I ended up going to be later than I really should have. Then of course she decided to wake up earlier than usual…

Like I said, a long but good week. We spent a quiet weekend when he got home catching up and enjoying the dry weather.

Today is warming up to 16 degrees celsius and it's been sunny on and off. So we got out today to enjoy it, camera slung over my shoulder and jackets unzipped (and then later off).

She was in the middle of spinning in circles…

Bluebells grow all over the UK, including in people's gardens…

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Photo of the Day: Fresh Rain

If there's something that spring brings lots of here, it's heavy showers. The weather flits back and forth in a rather fickle way between dry and slightly sunny to torrential downpour and back again in 2-3 minutes easy.

The beauty about being out for a walk after said downpour is that everything is bathed in water after, and it's hard to be annoyed too long since all this rain is what makes the landscape around us so very green.

Looking at this particular image, that curled C of gathered water reminder me of a big fat caterpillar! Or maybe an accordian. Nah, I'm leaning towards the caterpillar.

Monday, May 14, 2012

When the Cat's Away…

Hubby is currently on route to Geneva for a few days to give a talk at a workshop, so it's just K and I and whatever mischief we can get into.

Well, not exactly. The spring storms have hit and for the next few days, it's not looking so nice. But I'm hoping that means we'll get a break the following week when my family converges on Glasgow for a visit! It's been over a year since we seen them and while I love Skype dearly, it's not quite the same. I was looking at the passport photo of K yesterday and it just shocked me to see how much she's changed since it was taken! Though my family has "chatted" with her over Skype, I really do think they will be shocked to see how big she's gotten. She truly is a small person in her own right, with attitude and opinions and everything. It truly boggles the mind to think of sometimes.

So five days with Baby-Girl on my own. I've actually finally gotten the hang of it and the last time R was away, we were just fine and had a good time. I know this time will be the same. K is over the cold she had the week before, which will make things easier since she's back to napping properly and isn't entirely miserable with her congestion.

Looking at my list this week, some is usual, others are a little different:

-picking a few things up from the shops
-trip to the library to get new books for K
-call Letting Agent to get an engineer in to check the fan inside the oven (it rattles so badly I think it'll fly apart!)
-make an appointment with the small business accountants
-finish the last bits of my business plan and financials
-at least one day with my camera,
-fiddle with business card design (opting for some super basic, inexpensive ones since I can't do much more at the time)
-Playgroup on Friday

And somewhere in there is all the reading and writing I do. Have I mentioned I'm on my own this week?

On a completely random note, K loves singing along to things and while she can't say the words really at all, it is terribly cute and makes me smile constantly. It's a nice break from the part of the terrible twos that is possibly the worst: The Hitting Phase. Yes, it is in full swing and man can she hit hard! :( We're doing our best to be consistent in not letting her and trying to get her to channel her frustration in better ways, but man it is ever hard! There are some moments I get rather upset because she thinks it's funny, and in those moments I just sigh and know she'll understand in time. These things don't click in their minds right away. Empathy is a complex skill to develop, and while she shows it in some ways, we know the rest will come in time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What's 12 Kilograms?

Skip the hand weights and carry a toddler around. 

That's my advice for crazy good arm muscles. Said muscles I noticed last night and went, "huh!'" I don't mind carrying her (sans stroller of course), though she is quite capable of walking on her own for quite a ways, but more often then not she moves to stand in front of me and make me stop, throws her hands up in the hair and grins at me.

How can I say no to that grin? Especially when that grin is followed by snuggling into me with her head on my shoulder. I just soak up her smell and hold her tight, knowing all is well.

Small things.

On a final note… this is my 500th post!

Monday, May 07, 2012


First off, thanks for all your comments about my weight loss. Truly, I'm still wrapping my mind around the change in my body, but now when I look at clothes in a shop, I actually can look at a smaller size and say that yes it really could fit me. Mind boggling I tell you! But on to my story for the day…

When the sun shows up here in Scotland, you better make the best of it, because it doesn't stick around for long. We do get small stretches of nice weather, but nice can be defined as 'not raining too hard' or 'not as cold'. Everything is relative and I've more or less given up on having an actual season called summer. Case in point, last year, the hottest it got was 21 degrees Celsius… in August.

But meanwhile, when I saw that this weekend (a long weekend here as today is a bank holiday), had two days of sunshine-like weather, we jumped at the chance to get out of the city a bit.

A short twenty minute train ride from our nearest rail station took us north-west of Glasgow to a place called Dumbarton. It's a small town and fairly industrial. It sits (as many places do in the area) on the River Clyde and is not too far away from where the the Clyde empties into the Firth of Clyde. The river is fairly noticeably tidal and you can see the kelp on the shores and smell the salt in the air.

I'm a coastal gal. I need my ocean!

So, yesterday we set off with snacks and water and a hope that the mild weather would cooperate with us. Not only did it cooperate, the sun came out and bathed us in warmth long enough to prove it existed, as is now noticeable by my slightly red face this morning.

We explored Dumbarton Castle, which is on Dumbarton Rock, an extinct volcano. The fortress (it has had many incarnations over the centuries), get this, has a recorded history of…

…1500 years!

Think about that for a second.

Don't worry, I can't truly wrap my mind around that either.

But it's quite high up and has over 500 steps to reach the different batteries and sections. At the very top you can see for kilometers both ways along the river and also see Ben Lomond, a high peak over at nearby Loch Lomand (about 30 minutes from the station we started at).

I think I needed this trip more than I realized, and also the sun too. I needed a change of pace and scenery to shake me out of the 'blahness' that hit me over the last few days.

£8.80 in return train fare.

172 photos uploaded from one of my 2GB memory cards.

3 hours of fun and sun.

A reminder that every once n a while you have to go out of your way to shake things up.

I have so many photos I can share, but here are a few to start.

View looking west towards the ocean and the Inner Hebrides.

Holding in my top so my clothes don't look nearly so baggy on me!

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Amazing, Incredible Shrink-O-Ray

So, every time I got to write a post, my mind goes blank. It's not that I haven't had anything to write, but that I most often have the posts form in my head when I'm out and about with Kio and then by the time I sit down to write I suddenly feel uninspired. I've got a fair bit that I'll be writing about in the next bit, but for today I wanted to share some news on the health front.

Last summer I decided that in order to help myself lose weight and find that healthier trimmer me that I know has been in there somewhere (I saw her the year of my wedding), I needed a goal. So I decided to train for a 10Km run that was happening on my birthday in Sept of 2011. It gave me 2 months to train and I was already back into running at that point.

Things were going really well and I was able to run over 3km straight. My goal was to run a total of 5km and walk the rest, hopefully doing the 10km in under 90 minutes.

Then I sprained my ankle. Damn! It wasn't too bad, but then again I was I couldn't walk much for 2 weeks and I was also trying to keep up with a toddler. Four weeks later, I rolled my already weak ankle right outside the hospital and ended up in a tension sock for a bit. I was out of commission.

But overall I was fairly healthy and we had been eating alright. Christmas wasn't a huge jump in weight considering there were no events for us to attend and it was a quiet meal, just the three of us.

Fast forward to April 26th, when I decided to jump on the scale after a couple of weeks had passed since I recorded my lowest weight since after I got married.

Weight Loss Stats:

Total lbs lost since July 2011: 8.8 kgs (19.4lbs)

BMI change: 29.4 (obese) to 25.95 (25 is the boundary into the 'normal' zone)

Waist shrinkage: 5.5 inches

Hip shrinkage: 7 inches

UK Clothing sizes are different than North American. I thought they were two sizes different, but it turns out they are only one. Am I complaining that I've lost 2 sizes? Nope!

I'm not hung up on numbers at all. I know what a healthy body weight/shape is for me and the max I can weigh without my fibro bugging me,

And it has been bothering me lately. I was aching even at the point that I weighed myself. However, it has passed and I'm more or less good right now.

All I need to to is really focus on some strength training and make sure my muscles are all strong, and we'll have this whole thing made!

The biggest surprise (aside from the weight change) was trying on clothes at the GAP (shapes I can actually wear thank you) and realizing just how much my body has changed for the better.

I actually got a little teary. No joke.

Though, on the flip side, losing weight is really expensive… on my wardrobe. My clothes hang off me…