Losing It

Just a quick one tonight, to discuss the fact that I’ve lost ten pounds. Ten whole pounds. But I didn’t need them. I have plenty more to spare 😉 Because… looming up to holiday and that dreaded bikini time, of course, I am talking about weight and not money 😉

Don’t click off the page just yet! I am not one of these diet obsessed women or someone who puts on weight, gets depressed, moans about it and then comforts herself with chocolate 😉 No, I know that it is simple mathematics (my favourite kind of maths 🙂 ) and that if you put more into your mouth than you burn off from your body – then you gain the pounds!

More food + No movement = Over weight

I’m not saying it’s easy though. Most days, I feel I need chocolate and/or wine! But I have tried to get out of the habit of using these things as a treat. I have also started using an app called My fitness pal. It is great. You type in (or scan bar codes if you have a fancy iPhone!) what you eat and it tells you how many calories you  have eaten. Before this, you put in all your details and it tells you how many calories you (not the woman who is the same clothes size or height as you – but you personally) can eat in order to lose weight. You then put in exercise and gain some calories back. This is my favourite part because I am aware of what calories are in the foods I want, so I make sure I get off my ass for half an hour first!

1/2 hour of walking = a glass of white wine (perfect!)

My exercise mantra!
My exercise mantra!

So, I’m not a  saint  – I am just more aware of what I eat and burn off now! Some days, I’m over on my calories and I must admit, I had a 2 week break when I was off work at Easter. In those days, I tried to count what I ate, but I just wasn’t fast enough 😉 haha!

Good luck if you are trying to shift some pounds before our (one day of) Summer! Remember, you don’t have to lose pounds of money in the process – walking running, making your own meals etc – all free 😀

Happy calorie counting!

Oh and if all else fails……

cup cakes

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Celebrate this 23rd April!

Today is a day of celebration. It is:

St. George’s Day

William Shakespeare’s Birthday

World Book Night

And I think they all tie in nicely with us here in the UK. St. George’s Day means we should generally feel proud to be British today. Yes, people complain that there aren’t as many celebrations for that, as there are St. Patrick’s Day for example – well to those people I say, ‘Don’t complain – Do!’ Arrange something to celebrate if you feel you should. Me? I’ve just read a good work of fiction, in the British summer time, drinking a glass of Pimms and lemonade – very English and also ties in with World Book Night too 😉

So, that’s St. George’s Day taken care of. And I think you all know how I feel about books and I celebrate them very regularly anyway. (Take a look at A Book Lover’s Post in my ‘Love of Books’ section at the top, if you need reminding). That leaves Mr William Shakespeare to discuss. I am sitting here writing this drinking tea out of my Shakespeare quote mug, bought for me, funnily enough, by my friend from France. It has many quotes from his works that are well-known phrases today. It is amazing really, how much he has influenced our language. I know it is argued that many others helped him write his plays, so it is uncertain how much of the words are his own – but there is enough evidence to show he had a brilliant way with words, I think 🙂

Before I share with you some Shakespearian words of wisdom  – straight from my tea mug (nobody can say I don’t plan for these blog posts 😉 – I just want to exclaim my fascination with his actual birth date. Even though, his birth date is actually unknown – it is estimated that he was born on the 23rd since his baptism was the 26th April and this normally occurred 3 days after the birth. He then died on the 23rd April too.   I love how he died on his birthday, therefore. I just  think it made his life completely rounded off , complete, like one of his plays 🙂

Today he would have been 449 . Amazing really that we still study work of someone who was born centuries ago.  It is also the 397th anniversary of his death, as he died at the age of 52. They say his greatest achievement  was surviving his first year in the harsh, cruel Tudor period – where many new borns didn’t survive. I think some of his great words can challenge this achievement:

‘A fool’s paradise’ ‘Rhyme nor reason’ ‘A dish fit for the gods’ ‘The Queen’s English’ ‘It’s all Greek to me’ ‘in stitches’ ‘heart upon my sleeve’ ‘a green eyed monster’ ‘star crossed lovers’ ‘wild goose chase’ ‘all that glitters is not gold’ ‘fair play’ ‘make your hair stand on end’ ‘vanish into thin air’ ‘fancy free’ ‘love is blind’ ‘lie low’ ‘for ever and a day’ ‘in a pickle’

and my personal favourite, from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

‘The course of true love did never run smooth’

Too true Bill!

The kids at school complain; ‘Why do we have to learn this old language?!’ I tell them, that to understand it (and they don’t need to understand it all), they need good analytical and communication skills. It is also interesting, yet they may not think that until years later. You must admit that you use a lot of the above phrases, or at least have heard of them.  Meaning, his words are still relevant today in their modern context.

Here’s to William Shakespeare, much-loved Bard and playwright  – then, now and forever 🙂

p.s – I guiltily admit that I have never been to Shakespeare’s birth place, but I am going in a few weeks and I’m very excited 😀

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Stan the super student!

Stan realised that humans think far too much about things!
Stan realised that humans think far too much about things!

In addition to being a teaching assistant, I’ve started some tutoring on the side. Today, Stan the dog joined my boyfriend’s brother Steven and I for a bit of ‘Verb, Noun and Adjective bingo’. He sat at the table and looked at the cards I held up. He even licked the one that said ‘lick’ for the verb example and jumped away when I held up a ‘fish tank’ example! So I think, he knew exactly what we were on about 😉 But he probably also thought;

‘Why do these humans make everything so complicated? Walks, games and treats… are all anyone needs.’ 😉

But if you have any dogs that need tutoring in the language of human, then let me know 😉

And take a look at what else Stan has been up to on his own blog (he really is an intelligent creature 😉 ) http://tinaholmes.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/sorting-stuff-out/

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We’re all Judges…

 

The religious among us may say that God is their judge. I’m not religious (I know, I always say this!) but for some reason, that was the first example that came to mind. God is an all-seeing, all-knowing being (if you do believe) who looks down on us all. Surely, that isn’t judging though? Do we not mainly judge other people or things when we don’t know about them/it? Ignorance causes judgement.

I am going to surprise you, though, and tell you that I am all for judgement. I think that everyone judges. It is human nature to make snap-judgements and I think we make them unconsciously. Judgemental people are thosewho aren’t willing to change their original prejudices when they know the full story.

Definition: Judge (verb):

‘Form an opinion or conclusion about.’

It doesn’t seem so bad when you read the definition, does it? We do it all the time, we form opinions and conclusions about things; therefore making judgements. Like I said above, if you are willing to change your original judgements when you know more, what’s the problem? For instance, you see a girl walking down the street. You can only see her from theback. She has long, blonde hair and wearing a pink dress with heels. Do you make a snap judgement of what that girl is like? Of course you do! I am not saying that the stereotypes are correct or that we should think these things – but we do. It is human nature. Think, then, if the girl  turns around and she has a tattooed face, piercings and dons a scowl. Does your opinion/conclusion change? You have judged again. But then, you may get talking to this girl and realise she speaks three langauges; is friendly to strangers; has a degree in finance; loves the Spice Girls. Your opinion changes again but you know the person a little more then. I think judgement is healthy as it makes us think about people and human behiour – and let’s face it, it can be a lot of fun 😉

Last week, I was waiting for the shops to open and saw some shop workers walking in two minutes before the shop opened. Shock horror, I judged. I thought, ‘How irresponisble to be so late for work!’ Am I a bitch? No. Am I unreasonable? Yes a little- because, let’s face it, a whole mulititude of things could have happebed for thatworker to be late. I didn’t know anything about them. My point is: it doesn’tmatter. I am thinking about how peolple behave and I am secretly judging but noboday got hurt and if I actually spoke to that person later that day and found out the reason they were so late – I would have admitted to myself that I was wrong (not that the worker would give a damn what I thought!). It’s like when I go walking in the early afternoon and see people’s curtains closed (or this weekend, I actually saw a woman getting the post in her dressing-gown) and I instantly judge that they are lazy, sleeping in kind of people. I’m out walking – why aren’t they?! But they could have been on a night shift, had an emergency in the night or be ill. I thought about all that after  and realised that we do make these snap, instant judgements automatically. Go on, I know you do 😉

First impressions are important, as they say. I agree. I am always conscious how I come across to someone on the first meeting. If someone says something highly sarcastic or rude to me on a first mneeting, I know I will take a dislike and form certain judgements. That doesn’t mean, I won’t talk to them again and give them the benefit of the doubt. And I would happily change my opinion a few weeks later and think, ‘I was wrong about them, they are actually really nice.’ And I am sure that people do the same with me. Though, I like to think people rarely think I am rude – as I normally plaster a grin on my face…. so they may judge me as being clinically insanse or annoyingly positive! That’s ok, I can get then to change that conclusion 😉

There was a Sex and the City episode that relates to this. Carrie once wrote:

‘I think it’s pretty much agreed that it goes open-minded good, judgemental bad.
But are we being too quick to judge judgement? Perhaps judgement is not so much
a snap decision as an early warning and detection device. If it is instantly
clear that a person, a place, or even a profession is not for you, is it better
to ignore your better judgement and read between the lines? Or, should you judge a book by it’s
cover?’

You all know I like to think of myself as a ‘Carrie’ at times! I believe this and sometimes our first judgements can be spot on.  We have to figure out if we sitck with it or not. Being a huge book lover, though, I always think you should give the text a chance even if the cover is terrible 😉 But do think about this………. and don’t judge people who judge 🙂

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Numbers 3: Inifinity

Thought I should share my views on the third and final book in Rachel Ward’s trilogy Numbers. Numbers 3: Infinity did the trilogy justice and did a great job in tying up the stories. It was action packed and I must admit, I read it in the space of 4-5 hours in just 2 sittings (would have been one if sleep and eating easter eggs hadn’t got in the way!)

This book, like book 2, has Adam and Sarah as the protagonists. Adam is now famous, like his mother Jem was in book 1, for seeing the death-date numbers in people’s eyes and saving them from the ‘chaos’ in book 2. He is living with Sarah, her daughter Mia (the result of incest from book 1) and Sarah’s two brothers sort of on the run. Or definitely, in the rough as the ‘chaos’ destroyed most homes. The government want Adam’s help in order to look at people’s numbers so they know when people are going to die i.e. where not to waste the country’s precious resources. Nice.

We have Saul in this book; a baddie. Something we haven’t really experienced in the books yet. The drama has originally come from circumstance and results  of the predicted numbers. This book still has all that, but it has this extra villain to add to the mix. Saul is working for the government and after impatiently realising Adam won’t come nicely, he forces him (and Mia and Sarah) to go with him. To a prison like place in the hillside. But it isn’t just Adam that Saul is interested in…… and it isn’t just Adam that has an interesting gift. We discover that Saul can ‘steal’ people’s numbers in order to live forever. We also know that Mia, whether intentionally or not, can do this. She took Nan’s number in the ‘chaos’ and survived instead. Mia didn’t just inherit Nan’s number though, she can also see people’s auras and colours, just like Nan did. So there is some special gifts floating about – but will they be used for good or evil?

Without giving anymore away, we learn in this book that the numbers aren’t as factual as numbers should be. It isn’t as clear-cut. Adam thought he know how it all worked but now people’s lives are at risk. Can he keep his little, dysfunctional family alive? And can they escape the number-sucking grip of Saul?

I truly recommend these books: to adults and teenagaers alike. They are a fantastic and dramatic read. It has as many twists and turns as there are numbers on this world. I don’t think I have ever been fascinated by something that was dominated by numbers  – as we all know, I am more of a words kind of girl 😉

So, One, two and three: read them all!

Happy reading this weekend!

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One plus one equals two….

The One…….

The one who….. makes you laugh.
The one who… hugs you.
The one who… kisses you.

The one who… understands you.
The one who… is patient with you.
The one who… thinks you are funny.

The one who…. debates with you.
The one who… has the same interest or passion.
The one who…flirts with you.
The one who….needs you.

Why must one person complete us? Does it take one person to complete another? The whole concept of just one person providing all social and emotional needs for the rest of our lives is not only highly unachievable, yet also very unrealistic. People go on about searching for ‘the one’ and may end up being married three times. Does that mean the first two weren’t important? We connect with people at certain times of our life and each one can be  ‘the one’ for you at that given time. I’m not saying that the above phrases mean that we should all be romantically involved with many people who can give us all of these qualities – but I just mean it is OK if other people meet these needs in addition to a romantic partner.

 I like to think of myself as romantic but maybe I am a short-term romantic. An in the moment romantic. I like to do nice things for my boyfriend, celebrate certain dates, spoil him sometimes etc. But all this  ‘we are destined to be together forever and ever…’ well I am not sure. Some people need to believe that in order to feel secure in the relationship. I hope that we will be together forever but I only want us to be if we are happy. Nobody can see into the future, so no point in worrying about our romantic, future destinies. We don’t need to have met ‘the one for life’ in order to be happy in the present.

‘I don’t want to be your other half,
I believe that one and one make two…’

Alanis Morrisette seems to have  hit the nail on the head, saying that as an individual we are complete and once we find a partner; there are two of us! It is quite simple mathematics really! I think we need many ‘ones’ in our lives…..made up of romantic partners (only one at a time though – I’m not saying bigamy is OK 😉 ), family and friends.

Don’t put pressure on yourself or your relationships… enjoy them all and live life to the full 😉

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In a Class of our own….

Gone are the days of referring to people in terms of ‘Lower/Working Class,’ ‘Middle Class,’ ‘Upper Middle Class,’ and ‘Upper Class.’ Well almost. We revisit  these days when we watch Downtown Abbey 😉 Was it just a way to  segregate people? It certainly clearly highlighted who had money (and along with it, importance and respect and reputation a lot of the time). I’m not a sociologist and I’m not going to look into this deeply but for me it just divided the country into rich and poor – with some people working hard to get rich and some falling into the upper sections by a decent inheritance.  Yet, it also meant that people had to behave in certain ways i.e. not marrying out of their class. Surely in this way, the classes are stupid.

Which is why it makes sense to have it all shaken up for our modern society. You must have heard that there are now 7  social classes in Britain into which we all fit (with ‘working’ and ‘middle’ classes still mentioned). The BBC, with the help of sociologists, have analysed our society and come up with these 7 new classes:

  • Precariat (Precarious Proletariat)  – I find it amusing that the lowest class have the fanciest name and people with little education won’t understand what it means 😉
  • Emergent Service Workers
  • Traditional Working Class
  • New Affluent Workers
  • Technical Middle Class
  • Established Middle Class
  • Elite

Or to put into pictures with a little more info………

Hope you can just about read that……… do you think this represents our society?!

I’m not sure it is accurate. Apparently, they used 161,000 to do the research on but who were these people that they asked the questions to? I have to laugh because using their social class calculator (I’ll add a link to it at the bottom) I am Established Middle Class! I am a teaching assistant living in a dodgy part of my small, not particularly affluent, town. Yet, the calculator doesn’t ask this. Yes, I am University educated (which the calculator also doesn’t ask)and own a house. The test seems to mainly focus on your interests (so really a personality quiz – because can you not be poor in terms of money but still listen to Classical FM?)  and your associations. So yes, I may be a prostitute but because my friends are lawyers, accountants and teachers then I am Middle Class. Erm…..

We had a laugh today actually at a family dinner (no it wasn’t a banquet with candlesticks, I’m not quite Elite 😉 ). My boyfriend, sister, her boyfriend and my uncle all came out as Established Middle Class also. My Mum and Gran came out as Traditional Working Class ( my  Gran doesn’t have much of an income because she is retired – another thing the calculator doesn’t take into consideration!) My Mum works part-time (by choice) but has some savings, yet doesn’t like the theatre or social networking, which is why she wasn’t any higher. My Dad, hilariously, came out as New Affluent Worker, yet he has the same joint income as my Mum, has the same savings and knows the same people. But because he likes the theatre and watches sport, then he is a class above. Crazy?! Just a tad…. but it did entertain us today; joking that the working class members of the family should wash up etc 😉

So yep, 7 classes, I think it sums up one thing… that we are a more complicated society than decades ago and I think people mix more.So what good does it do to have these classes? Gives us a laugh and gives sociologists and the BBC something to do I guess…. 😉

I am now off  to listen to Classical FM and watch the ballet 😉

So…….Which class do you belong to? Let me know, I’d love to know how other people do!    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973

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Happy Feast-er Part 2

Along with all the lovely food and drink that we buy at Easter, people seem to have wanted to get involved with baking this year in order to make even more yummy Easter treats. And I’m not just talking about cakes. But chocolate, Creme egg Brownies. They seem to be all the craze this Easter so I just had to make my blog post a two parter and share it with you. The recipe and the photos that is – not the brownies themselves I’m afraid 😉

I think they have been popular because they combine our favourite things about chocolate and indulgence. They are typically Eastery because they have the Creme egg in but are also gooey and chocolatey and comforting. Perfect for the cold Easter we have had. They will also go amazingly well with ice-cream as a dessert (loved by adults and kids alike). And of course they aren’t just for Easter but can be made purposefully as a yummy treat. I was going to say they are great to ‘use’ up ‘left-over’ Creme eggs, but that is crazy! Left over? Use up? I bought a six-pack especially for the occasion!

egg brownie 5
I saw this on a friend’s Facebook… I like the choppiness of these ones!

My boyfriend and I made some this morning – it was nice to bake together really. I think it was the first time we had done that actually. Spilt sugar, lack of electric whisk and a messy kitchen aside…. it was a pleasant experience with a delicious looking outcome. I feel a fraud really because I haven’t tried one yet. But like lots of others, I saw previous pics and just had to make them – so you don’t need my word of mouth dribbling with saliva. You’ll probably want to make them anyway.

Here’s the recipe:

AMAZING CADBURY’S CREME EGG BROWNIES! (This was the title that I found on Facebook. I can’t argue with the excitable enthusiasm, capitalisation or exclamation mark…)

  •  185g unsalted butter
  • 185g best dark chocolate
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 275g  caster sugar
  •  6 Cadbury’s Crème eggs cut in half. (we put them in the freezer for a couple of hours – which apparently makes them easier to cut.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 160C (Gas mark 5)  and grease a 20 cm square baking tin. (we lined with baking paper)
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate together either in the microwave or in a bowl over boiling water.
  3.  Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes. (or 20 if you don’t have an electric whisk – but we figured it was burning off the looming calories!)You will know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume.
  4. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, and then gently fold together.
  5. Hold a sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and sift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly.
  6. Gently fold in to the mixture.
  7. Pour into the baking tin and cook for 15 minutes then take out of the over and gently press the Cadbury’s Creme egg halves into the mix, spacing them apart evenly.
  8. Put back in the over for another 5-10 minutes.
  9.  Leave to cool before removing from tin and cutting into squares.
Our version - it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time :D
Our version – it made 6. Two are waiting to be eaten with ice-cream this tea time 😀
This was a version another friend made….
egg brownies
These are neat ones made by my boyfriend’s brother and girlfriend…..
egg brownnie 3
My sister made these. I did make fun because I thought they looked odd – but now I look again, I like how they have all the little eggs in. (She used caramel ones too).

So yes, I’ve acquired an unhealthy obsession with Creme egg brownies (and other people’s Facebook pics!) Luckily I haven’t eaten all these… or I wouldn’t be here to tell the sickly tale! But some baking inspiration for you all 😀

Keep feasting… 😉

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