All I want for summer are these…

All I want for summer are these...

I lust after these stunning shades….another perfect pair from my favourite salubrious brand Plumo.

The secret of sewing

I fantasise I am one of those fabulous bloggers who sews beautifully, knocking up kaftans, curtains, toys and cushions…I’m not. 

On my own personal austerity mission this year – I have, indeed, attempted to sew holes back together in jeans and school tights. How do you sew a hole back together in tights? How in hell do you do this? I literally just pull the two sides together, take a deep breath and start sewing – ending up with a small bump of cotton? It certainly works – but it doesn’t look good…but when you are four years old and you have cosy toes at school I guess this does’t actually matter, right?

Here check this out…Image…slick?

 

Non. My knees, methinks, are very pointy, all of my jeans have holes in this spot. I dream of knocking up window seat cushions ala liberty style. But will probably end up with more of this…

Image

 

So what is the art of sewing – my year at school was the last bastion of classrooms with sewing machines in. We sat week by week attempting our very own petticoats! Mine was in the most part done by fellow student, Karen Ashby – thanks Karen.

So should I have taken better note of my mum as she sat and sewed buttons and the like? Or am I, as I assume, a total finger donut who finds it impossible to thread a needle, sew in a straight line, hide beginnings and endings. Could I ever learn? 

On an another bright green note, check out this incredible lady, Laura Mvula and her very Green Garden….delightful. 

 

 

 

5:2 Diet

Correct me if I’m wrong but do you really need to buy a whole book based on the 5:2 diet? The principles are simple and the practise even easier. Here is your one-way ticket to feeling a whole shit load better in a simple and manageable way…

The 5:2 diet is basically eating normally for five days of the week and fasting for two. Fasting refers to restricting your calories to a limited intake of 500 for women and 600 for men.

Why?

The theory is that our bodies produce growth hormone IGF1, which, when we are young helps us grow. As adults this same hormone appears to cause aging and high levels of it are linked to cancer and diabetes among other illnesses.  According to some studies, fasting lowers IGF1 levels, slowing the growth of new cells, which in turn allows your body to repair existing cells. And, wonderfully, it also encourages fat to burn so that you can lose weight, but slowly. Other studies claim that fasting protects you from brain diseases such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers. Furthermore, experiments in mice have shown that fasting increased their lifespans.

However, none of this is proven, and therein lies the rub for many, so of course you have to look at this objectively and decide whether it would work for you personally.

It all seems waaay to good to be true, you can live longer, look leaner and feel younger: BRING IT ON! I hear you shout.

For some people eating very little, even if it is only twice a week can be truly hard, almost impossible, especially if you work in a very physical industry or you are just one of those weirdoes who get the shakes and need to eat, as soon as you feel hungry, or you start shouting LOUDLY at passers by. This, obviously isn’t for everyone, plus, none of the above research could be in anyway factual or right – so you could spend the next ten years denying yourself sarnies and victoria sponge for two days out of every seven…hmm.

BUT, there is no denying the fact that physically it makes you feel leaner and healthier, mentally it makes you feel ready for; anything, AND you get to be a normal person, i.e. share a meal with friends, drink wine on Fridays, for the rest of the week – it is a win-win situation.

So what do you actually eat?

This could cause anxiousness and palpitations amongst those of you who do not know what 500/600 calories look like; let me tell you it isn’t a whole lot,  but, remember: THAT IS THE POINT….don’t forget that now. But, the VERY NEXT day you can have cheese on toast and a pint of ale for breakfast – OK?

As a mama of trois, and counting, (just kidding) friends, well one anyway (Hi Reb) wonder how can you fast and feed your ever-demanding trio of offspring and hunk of man (unless he’s on this path with you) without stuffing your face with biscuits and leftover pasta? I feel like a preacher here, it takes just one teeny tiny thing: WILLPOWER…yes, my friends, or friend, willpower, a beautiful thing and one a lot of women find tricksy (unless they are, very, anal).

Up my fasting sleeve lies my super weapon: a cucumber…yes, I love cucumber and boy there are so few calories in cucumber you can eat them all day – is this helping you? Image

No. Ok.

it works like this, either eat your entire 500 calories in one clean sweep – for lunch or supper or just spread it out. For me its all about the cucumber, I have no breakfast, some crackers with marmite and, yup, cucumber, at lunch and then I splurge on my supper with my chou chou soup or a piece of fish simply baked in the oven with lemon juice, freshly sliced ginger and fresh chilli – eat this with a large cruncy salad or some steamed vegetables ands it is just the ticket before retreating to le boudoir to fantasise about breakfast: a pint of ale and cheese on toast.

(Also, pour moi, I do not, and cannot and WILL not measure the milk in my tea or cafe as part of the 500 calories. She’s cheating, you mutter, yes, well, maybe – but it is the only way to get through this, trust me: with plenty of cups of the old rosie lea.)

Fresh chilli, ginger, salt, pepper and lemon juice is my hot tip, these are your new best friends Image(and salad and vegetables of course): use these in abundance to flavour any soup or salad and you’ll wonder why you ever used olive oil or butter in the first place, until the next day that is…

One last thing, I am no doctor, please do this of your own free will and don’t blame me if you suddenly feel a zillion times better and can, finally, get those skinny jeans over your arse…

Keep Smooching

With Valentines left behind in Februarys greying thighs, we must continue to flounce our love. Ruffle his, or her, feathers, nurture your honey with a whole bucket of squishy, treacle-drenched, smooching.

Snog them, smooch ’em, kiss their toes, okay, well maybe not their toes, but the tips of their fingers, their lips, neck and cheeks – all cheeks.

According to research, kissing promotes an array of health benefits, including relieving stress, burning calories, boosting immunity and even removing plaque…yikes – that must include some serious tongue waggling.

Image

“Both of us were transfixed by this one moment – this moment when the earth just, literally, stopped…as our lips finally touched and we could not move apart, never let go, on that simple street corner, the sun rising behind us, this time defining connection of lust and love and absolute wholeness.”

Maybe not all kisses are like that but the simple ones: hello, goodbye, are you ok?, it’s going to be ok. These are almost more important in defining your union. Endorphins are released each time you touch and kiss, and you are present in that simple physical moment, whether it is with a babies perfect peachy bottom or your grannies crinkled cheek.

You may seek to impress like Maddona and Britney, or make a statement like the Chilean students who, last year, made kissing their statement in protests against the government over education, or get swept up in emotion like Gary Neville from Manchester United who snogged team mate Paul Scholes. But whatever, however, whoever – you must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss…..mmmmmmmwwwwaaaaaahhhhhhh.

Soup de jour – chou, chou

The Time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things.
Of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax – and cabbages – and kings…

IMG_4200

Ahh, yes, cabbage. Man, oh man, is cabbage the humble British vegetable, often unloved, regularly unwanted, but not here my friends, not any more.

Cabbage is a treasure trove of a staple, it lasts for ages in the fridge and is peanuts to boot. This little beauty was grown on Salisbury Hill, just outside Bath, by my buddy Mikey Mike – the vegetable king – it is fresh, crisp and ripe for scoffing.

Soup is a staple in my house and this one I make religiously; simple vegetable soup with fresh cabbage thrown in at the last. This number, also known as the cabbage soup diet, will have some folks despair at how they ate bowlfuls; day in, day out for weeks, in a desperate bid to loose weight. That it will do for you, oh yes! But it will also make you utterly sick of a very hearty, yet prudent soup.

For me, and I fast twice a week, this prince of a soup always comes up trumps. It is less than 80 kcal a bowl and it hits the spot when your hungry and it is freezy windy outside the front door.

Method
One tin of tomatoes
One small onion, or a handful of shallots
Two to three cloves of fat juicy garlic crushed
Two or three stalks of celery sliced finely
(any other vegetables will do here: courgette, peas, spinach, leek…if you insist etc)
A tiny dot of olive oil.
Cabbage fresh & shredded
One litre of bouillon or other stock
S&P
Good handful of fresh parsley (if you’ve got some)

Gently sweat your onions, garlic and the celery in your dot of olive oil. Add the tomatoes and the stock and gently simmer for 15-20 minutes. Tomatoes always taste their best if they are given plenty of time and are cooked over a low heat – they will transform into the delectable fruit they truly, truly are.

When you are ready to eat – season well with a good crunching of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper – add the cabbage at the last minute, allow it to wilt for a minute or two. If you have some fresh parsley throw that in too. Serve and enjoy this hearty, healthy, nutritious and warming soup.

To make this more of a meal for children add some chick peas or other legumes or even some stellini – tiny star shaped pasta. Serve it with a stack of home-made bread and butter….hm hmmmmm.