Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday cooking and catch-up

I didn't do any shopping this week, determined to cook using stuff I already have on hand. I invited people over last Thursday for raclette so I still have plenty of cheese and bits and pieces leftover from that. Trying to think of something to do with the jar of courgette slices in oil sitting in the fridge, my eye fell on the large packet of chickpeas I got from the Turkish supermarket a while back and since I also remembered the remains of the curry paste in the fridge, I decided on chickpea curry.

I soaked the chickpeas overnight (400g, as I checked my WW book and saw a portion given as 100g dried for 4.5 pts) and after getting back from the pool this afternoon set them to boil. I also sliced the last of the potatoes from the other night and fried them up with a few dried tomatoes and some cheese. So that was lunch while the chickpeas were cooking. Later on I sliced a red onion, a yellow onion, five cloves of garlic as well as a just over an inch-long piece of ginger. That all went into some olive oil to fry off for a bit while I rummaged through the spice cupboard. I wasn't following any particular recipe, just had a quick flick through a few cookbooks for inspiration. I added some mustard seeds to the pan, followed by a small amount of ground cumin, some tumeric, a couple of curry leaves and the seeds from four cardamon pods, which I smushed up a bit with a pestle. Then in went three teaspoons of the curry paste and a few minutes later, a tin of tomatoes. I then added the chickpeas to the whole lot and five or six spoonfuls of the cooking water, as 400g of chickpeas is really quite a lot. I'm wondering if WW really intended that 100g dried is a portion or if it was just given as 100g is a convenient amount to list. I left it simmering and it was only about half an hour later, while talking to my sister, that I remembered that the whole point of the exercise had been to use up the courgette slices. So, back into the kitchen and in they went (minus as much of the oil as I could manage to leave in the jar). Just had a small bowlful and I have to say, it's very, very tasty. Looking forward to eating it over the course of the week. In fact, I've just gone back for a second small bowl and put the rest into Tupperware and it only fit into three containers - really two and a half so it looks like portionwise, I wasn't too far off after all. I'll spread it out by having the half portion with rice. In fact, if I were to eat them all with rice I'd have five portions - we'll see how the week goes.

I haven't really felt much like blogging this week. Haven't even really felt much like reading blogs this week, which is unusual but I'm just going with it. The visual journal idea has fallen by the wayside, too. I have gotten some stuff done though. I've been making a big effort to try to get things under control at work. I seem to have lost the ability to just keep everything on track, my head just hasn't been the same the last few months. I know grief can do strange things but it genuinely feels like I'm kind of broken. My memory is completely shot.

So, rather than waiting for myself to get back to normal, bearing in mind there's no guarantee that'll ever happen and that it doesn't seem to happening now, I spent some time a couple of weeks ago writing out lists of all the stuff I need to do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. There are a lot of tasks that I need to do which don't take a huge amount of time if I do them daily but build up to enourmous loads if they're ignored (or forgotten about!) for a few days. And other things that we don't necessarily get reminders about but which it is very important to take care of every few weeks.  So far, it's working out fairly well although it's bringing back to me just how much is involved in my job. There are so many little things that might only take a few minutes but of course a few minutes multiplied by twenty starts to build up into much larger chunks of time. And this is just all of the background stuff - my main tasks of dealing with what correspondence and other stuff that my boss and the staff I work for need still have to be done too. To my list of stuff, I've added clearing ten old emails every day. This is working out really well. I've completely cleared my sent items, except for stuff I need to still keep an eye on, which is about seven emails. And by the end of next week, I should have my inbox completely cleared. I do still have some very old emails that at some stage just got moved to a temporary folder - they've all been dealt with and just need to be moved to the appropriate place or deleted so once I've finished with my inbox I'll keep going with that and finally get them all dealt with, too. Honestly, I'm kind of thinking ahead to the end of the year and wanting to make sure that I leave everything in order when I move on.

These are kind of small steps but they are giving me back a measure of feeling in control. This weekend, for the first time in a long time, I didn't spend most of the time thinking that it really would be better if I could go into work for a couple of hours to clear some of the backlog and get ahead a bit. Yesterday, I got the washing done and then I met a friend in town to go to an exhibition of Alexander Calder's sculptures. I'm not much of a one for modern art and yet for the third time, I found myself heading for K20, the only art museum I've actually made it to in the five years I've lived here. Go figure. We also walked around the normal collection and saw some really lovely stuff (as well as some really, scratch-your-head-how-is-that-art kind of pieces. Cough, Joseph Beuys, cough.) I got to finally make a note of one piece which I really, really like, even if it is modern art and looks so simple a kid could have done it. It's called Gamma Gamma and is by Morris Louis. I did get given out to for standing too close to it though. Oops. The Mark Rothko pieces I've seen there before weren't on display but there were two huge pieces of just blocks of colour, which were actually knitted pieces over canvas. So simple but the sheer size and the depth of colour were amazing. They're the kind of pieces you could look at a photo of and think it's nothing special but when you're standing in front of them really are breathtaking. Can't remember now the name of the artist. It seems I'm destined to keep having to go back to check names of artists.

At least my BahnCard got me a discount and my friend told me about a special ArtCard you can buy which gives you admission to all of the museums and galleries for a full year. It costs around 55 euro and I'm going to get one and we've agreed that we will go together once a month. She made the point that a lot of the time what she uses it for is when she's arranged to meet someone and is ten or fifteen minutes early. She can go and wander around for the few minutes she's waiting - not enough time to justify paying in, but if you can get in, enough time to soak up a picture or two.

Otherwise, my take the stairs challenge is going pretty well. I didn't do much else this week in terms of movement though. I did two mornings of stretching and then my back was a bit sore so I didn't want to exacerbate it. I was wearing my older boots and orthotics as I'd had to leave in my good shoes to be fixed again. I got new soles just a few months ago and one of them started to come unstuck. It turns out that I'd worn almost through the insoles so there was no resistance or something like that. So now I have new leather insoles (32 euro) and they re-fixed the soles (free). I got them back on Friday morning and by Friday evening felt such an improvement that I walked home without any problems. So it seems like it wasn't the stretching doing my back in, it was just the old shoes. Must remember that because I know I've noticed it before. I walked home from town on Saturday as well and then this afternoon I went swimming. Just for half-an-hour but it really felt good. I love being in the water. Along with a nice conversation with my brother yesterday evening, staying in bed late reading this morning, keeping on top of the washing up and getting some cooking done, all in all it has been a very nice weekend. Hope everyone has been enjoying theirs, too.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Visual journal - 19th January 2014

Dinner - A Girl Called Jack's carrot, cumin and kidney bean balls with passata and lettuce in a wrap. Very good!

Made a giant pot of leek and potato soup - lunches taken care of for this week and a couple for the freezer

Take the stairs challenge

The lovely Sarah over at Live to List posted at the beginning of January that she was challenging herself to take the stairs in January and I decided to join in. I live on the fourth floor with no lift so I do those stairs every day anyway. But there are also stairs up from the underground station near me and when I moved here I was walking up them every day but since then have gotten used to taking the escalator instead.

Of course, I then started the year with a cold, which was particularly bad in terms of coughing and not being able to breath properly. So I gave myself a pass until I was better. And then promptly forgot all about it. Luckily she posted an update last week and so I was reminded and thought I was better enough that I'd better get on with it. And then that evening there were no stairs for me because I ended up walking home. But I wouldn't have done that either if I hadn't been thinking about moving (I'm not really far enough along that I'm calling it exercise yet, for now it's just movement). On Wednesday I did take the stairs, so that was once at the main train station and once at the underground near home. Thursday and Friday I walked up the stairs from the underground near home and on Thursday I even did two flights at work. I normally do take the lift at work, where I work on the fourth floor, as I'm so often carrying piles of stuff but this time I had just one small file with me after collecting a signature from someone on the second floor so I just walked. I'm keeping track of this on my food tracking blog, because I suspect that much like tracking food, if I don't write it down I'll keep forgetting to do it. But I'm pleased with my progress this week anyway.

And very pleased at my weight loss - at my heaviest last April I had reached a point where stairs were starting to sometimes become a problem as my knees were hurting. Thankfully, the weight I regained between September and December didn't tip me back over into that 'knees hurt' weight but it was definitely one of the thoughts that helped to get me back to trying relatively quickly. I shouldn't have weighed myself until the end of the month but I was actually starting to worry a bit about whether I was even heading in the right direction because while I have done well with food planning the past week, there was also quite a bit of chocolate and the time while I was sick wasn't spectacular in terms of healthy eating either. So I was thrilled yesterday to step on the scales at see a THREE kilo weight loss. Only one more kilo to get rid of the regained weight. And an overall weight loss of 7 kilos since April. Taking the stairs might not seem like a huge deal but it's small things like that which can contribute the most, since they're daily occurrences.

The next thing I want to incorporate into my day is some stretching exercises in the mornings. I've intended something like this over and over so often but never done it. I even bought some weights last year and the only thing I've done with them since is stub my toe on them (and that more than once!). All just seems sort of overwhelming, when would I find the time, etc., etc. So, I decided to have a CD all lined up and ready to play and the idea is that when I get up first thing to go to the bathroom, I have to stop on the way back to the bedroom, press play and for the duration of the first song to some stretching exercises. I've chosen my Putumayo French Cafe CD (which I used to use as my housework music) as the first song is 3 minutes and 37 seconds long, which is about as much as I want to start with and it has a nice upbeat tempo and feel. We'll see how it goes. If I'm still inclined to head back to bed for another few minutes afterwards that's allowed but at least I'll have done 3:37 of movement.

Edited to add that really, one day what I want to do this full thing (and that part's just the warm-up!) - I have the record (yes, vinyl!) and the video (used to be my mum's but she was about as good as I am now about doing stuff like this) and it's just one of those things that has been in the back of my head for such a long time!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Visual journal - 18th January 2014

My favourite part of the market - potatoes! Now if they only sold roosters.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Visual journal - 17th January 2014

A glimpse at my diary (a paperblanks week at a glance one)  . Not much on this week. The numbers to the left of the day/date are where I am in my monthly cycle. When I first got my period, aged 12, my sister told me it was important that I keep track of the days and, apart from a few years when I was on the pill, I always have. Added to that in the last year or so I now also take my temperature every morning and write it on the right of the page. Very useful and interesting information to have, can highly recommend to any woman not doing this to start it.  In the space for notes, you can see my shopping list for tomorrow - just tried to cobble together a meal plan for the week and that's what I need to get. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Visual journal - 16th January 2014

Guess where I spent an hour and a half this afternoon?

And then, since I was near home slightly earlier than usual (no way was I going back in to work the way I felt when leaving the dentist, not just for the ten minutes left of the "official" day) I stopped into a shop near me to see what their sale was like and found these. Yes, I know that especially coming home from the dentist I should be rejecting all things chocolately but it's Cadbury's Fingers! And dark chocolate ones, too. This shop is the strangest place, mostly sells clothes and household stuff but also gets in random "international" foods from time to time. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Visual journal - 14th January 2014

As a result of the fiasco that was the privatisation of the Irish telecom company in 1999 and the subsequent sale of their mobile phone division to Vodafone, I automatically received some Vodafone shares in 2001. And since about 2002 have done absolutely nothing about that. With three house-moves since then, it's no wonder they lost track of me either. It was on the agenda for this year anyway but with the coming sale of the Verizon portion of Vodafone, I've pulled it forward and got the folder out this evening. Will be phoning tomorrow to see what they can do for me. At least I'm well-sorted enough now that I knew exactly where all this stuff was!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Visual journal - 13th January 2014

Today's lunch - lettuce, leftover chicken from last night, topped with Chutney No. 2 from 2009 in a wrap - delicious

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday night chit-chat and sealed pot update

Two photos this evening - some of the results of today's cooking. This is pumpkin soup and a smaller pot of leek and potato soup. I peeled all the potatoes I had, which were fairly old but turned out to be in far better condition than I thought and since I had more than anticipated I decided to strike while the iron was hot and use up the leek that has also been waiting a few weeks to be used. I have now used up every single fresh vegetable in the house, which kind of feels good.

The marinated chicken with roasted veg. I added potatoes and onions to the pumpkin. It's really delicious - will definitely be making this recipe again. You can just see the pot with the stew in the background. I'm looking forward to dishing all of this up into Tupperware for the fridge and freezer. So, on to the chit-chat...

What are you:
Still Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Not too interested in reading at the moment - hard to concentrate with this cold.

Gilmore Girls

Listening to
Stew bubbling away on the cooker and occasional traffic going by outside.

Good day for cooking today. Chicken with roast veg. Stew is on the go. Pumpkin soup. Leek and potato soup. Leek and onion sauteed and ready to go into scrambled eggs for breakfast tomorrow.

Happy you accomplished this week
Made it through first week back at work, despite this cold. Got most of the ironing done, too. And am very pleased to have gotten lots of cooking done today. Also sent off forms for my supplemental insurance place, finally got a letter from my old school to send off to the pensions service and remembered to start chasing letters regarding charitable donations for my tax return. Also didn't do too badly on trying to post a photo every day for my visual journal.

Looking forward to next week
Hopefully getting a letter from my supplemental dental insurance place telling me they'll cover 450 of the cost of the partial crown before I actually have to go in to the dentist on Thursday.

Grateful for this week
Not everything being back to full swing after christmas so that I didn't have to cancel too much in the evenings ('cos of the cold). And once again, my mooncup - it just makes life so much easier.

Bonus question: if you could choose any time period to live in, which would you choose?
Tough one this as it's a thought that leads me down philosophical thinking pathways - would I be the same person I am today (impossible) and what would I be like. If I could be the person I am today, transplanted somewhere else, then I think I'd quite like the Regency Period (in London and so long as I was one of the rich, obviously). Or the 1960s (in America).

If you'd like to join in with Sunday night chit-chat, post your own answers to the questions above, along with a photo or quote or something from your week and then head over to Half-Dozen Daily to link up.

Sealed pot update
The sealed pot has been fed regularly this week, which I'm kind of pleased with. Except that having change to put in it almost every day means I've been spending every day. I need to set up a small envelope/account/pot somewhere with money in it to cover extra expenses when sick. Not talking so much about medicine or anything like that but more about being realistic that I am not going to be interested in cooking or any kind of food preparation not just when actually sick in bed but for at least a week when I'm better but not really back to full fitness yet. That means buying lunches, at the very least and it would be good to have some money stashed away for these situations rather than letting my budget be just completely thrown off.

If you'd like to catch up on the goings-on of those joining in with the sealed pot challenge, you can find them over at SFT's blog.

It's a cooking Sunday

I'm trying to take it easy in order to shake off this lingering cough. I did drag myself off the couch a short while ago to start the marinade for the chicken I want to cook. And that turned into doing all the dishes, peeling the carrots and chopping the pumpkins. So I'm all set and just sitting down now for some more rest and a nice yoghurt (going to break the horrible habit of never finishing the yoghurt that's in the fridge!)

I was going to do spicy dal and carrot soup, the chicken (with roasted sweet potatoes and parsnips that was posted on That Curious Love of Green the other day) as well as make some stew. Even remembered to take the beef pieces out of the freezer. But since I was only half planning and hadn't written anything down, didn't get to the market yesterday and, even when I did go to the supermarket, didn't have a proper list, I've had to make some changes.

I had just exactly enough carrots for the spicy dal soup. Not thinking that beef stew with just beef and some onion would be a bit boring and, more importantly, not at all helping me towards the more veg-filled healthy eating I'm trying to get back to. So, the carrots will go into the stew and I'll have to wait until next week to make that soup.

Okay, so how about the chicken? Well, since I did pass by the meat counters in the supermarket yesterday I remembered to buy some. It's French, so not local (and forgot to look it up before throwing out the packaging and am not going rooting in the bin now - the border is about 300 km away, so at least that much anyway) but at least it's definitely free-range, 80% grain-fed, organic chicken. Totally forgot about the sweet potatoes though - got too distracted with the lettuce situation I think. Looking for veg in a supermarket has just become such a strange and unusual situation for me. I'm not terribly fond of parsnips anyway so I was thinking of doing the sweet potato with some carrots but as we've already seen, I've had more ideas of what to use my carrots for than actual carrots so that would have been a bust. I did have two hokkaido pumpkins that I got before christmas though. And now I'm very glad I'm using them because although they looked perfect one had just started rotting in one small spot. By next week I probably would have had to throw out half of it, instead of a roughly one inch square.

So I have one pumpkin to use with the chicken and have just put the other on as soup. Just the pumpkin chopped, enough water to cover it well, salt, pepper, cumin, some tumeric and a sprinkle of ginger as well.

The beef hasn't defrosted yet so I'll wait till this evening to make the stew but the carrots are ready and waiting in a bowl of cold water.

And the chicken in marinating is the fridge. Not at all bad for a quick burst of movement brought on by just getting up to do that one thing!

Visual journal - 12th January 2014

I didn't get moving out of the house yesterday in time to get to the market and had forgotten that one of the things I had promised myself for this week was to get some salad to go with the leftover chicken I'm planning on having in wraps for some lunches next week. So I tried to convince myself to get some in the supermarket and realised how spoiled I have become with fresh salad direct from the farmer. Oak leaf lettuce that looked nice from a distant looked horribly dry and unappealing up close. And although I looked at the bags of washed and cut stuff, bloated with whatever gas it is they use (is it CO2?) - doesn't matter that it may not be harmful, it disturbs me somehow - I just couldn't find them appetising. Then, in a second supermarket, I found this.

It's from Belgium, sold by the BelOrta co-operative and also marked Flandria (Flanders) - a quick google shows me that we're talking about just over 200km, which is about 125 miles, so even though it wouldn't fit in a local, 100-mile-diet, it's not too far off from it. It's not organic but does say "responsibly grown" on the packet and the website for the co-op auction is interesting. The packaging is that funny mix of Dutch/French/German/English that sometimes happens here with companies selling to multiple markets. The other lettuce in the second supermarket didn't look any more appealing but look at this one:

Still growing - roots still attached, with soil around them. So even though this lettuce (it's actuallt three different plants) has been grown in a pot far too small, it seems like a pretty clever way to get slightly fresher salad transported. Will be interested to see how it tastes. I really should try to grow some cut and come again lettuces in pots inside, I think. Haven't managed to grow a proper lettuce yet but it has to work sometime!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Visual journal - 11th January 2014

Things like this are the reason I have too much stuff - 4 Partylite votive candles that I set on this lovely glass saucer/candle holder, not realising that they become completely fluid when burning (they're supposed to). Managed to catch it just before it completely ruined my table but that's at least four years ago. I haven't made candles for years and although I vaguely thought I'd use these to melt down and make new ones out of, they've just been sitting in a drawer taking up space. Went to a Partylite party this afternoon and brought this along to give to the candle lady - she can use it as an example of what not to do. And now I get my nice glass saucer back to use for the type of pillar candle that doesn't become completely fluid when burning.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Visual journal - 10th January 2014

Managed to get a short walk in at lunch today so headed towards the river (that's the Rhine, for those who didn't already know). The water level is a bit high but nowhere near flooding yet, unlike some of the pictures I've seen of Dublin this week. I have seen this river with the water well up over the tarmac in the foreground and with most of the trees in the background under water, though.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Visual journal - 9th January 2014

My giant door stop for the kitchen door that won't stay open without one. If I had more doors that I wanted to keep open, I suspect I'd have a big collection of door stops by now - I've seen some really lovely ones over the last couple of years.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Visual journal - 7th January 2014

Slippers - a frivolous purchase last year, still love these slippers

Monday, January 06, 2014

Visual journal - 6th January 2014

Had a very rushed lunchbreak today so just had to very quickly snap this and had no chance for even a second try. These magnolia trees are near where I work and in the two weeks since I was last there have started budding in earnest - it has been an extraordinarily mild winter so far, with just a few freezing days.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunday night chit-chat and sealed pot challenge update

Haven't done one of these for a while so I thought I'd maybe get back into the habit now that tomorrow will see me back to a 'normal' working week again.

No photo today though, just a quote from the comments on SFT's post today that I really liked:

Follow your head and your heart won't understand, follow your heart and your head will work it out

What are you:
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - one of my birthday presents. Bit slow-going but good so far.

Gilmore Girls - blast from the past. Also watched Tootsie earlier today - love that film.

Listening to
Nothing much - just the Gilmore Girls.

Nothing today - still dosed with a cold so taking it easy.

Happy you accomplished this week
I iced my very first cake. Also managed to do pretty well on cooking the food that I have on hand. And kept on top of the washing-up, even today when I had already told myself that I didn't need to do it if I didn't feel up to it.

Looking forward to next week
Hopefully getting better!

Grateful for this week
A warm place to be sick in peace and quiet, with enough food in the house to get by on. And a good internet connection - what did we do before it?

Bonus question: Do you enjoy any winter sports?
Eh, no. Don't really enjoy any sports to be completely honest. A nice walk or a quick swim is about it as far as my enjoyment goes. And while a brisk walk when it's chilly out but you're wrapped up warm is lovely, I'm very bad as far as balance and keeping it goes so I don't really like walking when it's icy or slippy.

If you want to join in with Sunday night chit-chat, post away and then head over to Half-Daily Dozen to link up.

Sealed pot update
Not doing too badly with my pots this week. I've had quite a few 50c pieces to go into my phone-box one, have made start on my 5 euro one and cleared my purse of all other change several times to go into the main pot.
The sealed pot challenge is hosted by SFT - head over there if you'd like to see how others are doing with their pots this week.

Visual journal - 5th January 2014

Some older photos today - my very first homemade christmas cake
Ready to go into the oven
Ready-rolled marzipan ready to go
Marzipan-covered cake - instead of the traditional apricot jam glaze to stick the marzipan to the cake with, I used some of my own strawberry jam to finish up a pot I had already open
Forgot to take a photo before covering it with cling film and need lots of work on my decorating skills but I do think it looks like a real cake. Friends that I did this for are only coming home this evening so haven't heard yet whether it tastes nice or not.

BBC Big Read - only ten years behind the times

Browsing through some of the comments on SFT's sealed pot challenge I came across In My Playroom and one of the pages on this blog is for the BBC Big Read Top 200 books. I googled that and it seems to come from a survey they did in 2003 to find the UK's best-loved books (see here). We all know I can't resist a good book list, so I decided I'd copy that one too and maybe try and incorporate some of these books into my reading this year, too. I might choose a couple of books from the Rory Gilmore list, too. 

Red = read, not likely to re-read
Blue = previously read, would re-read
Black = never read
Green = never read but already on unread shelf to read soon

  1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
  2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
  4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
  5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
  9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
  10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
  11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
  12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
  14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
  15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
  21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
  23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
  24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
  25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
  27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
  29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
  31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
  34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
  35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
  36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
  38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  39. Dune, Frank Herbert
  40. Emma, Jane Austen
  41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
  42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
  43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
  44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
  46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
  47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
  51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
  53. The Stand, Stephen King
  54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
  57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
  58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
  59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
  63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
  65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  67. The Magus, John Fowles
  68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
  71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
  72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
  74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
  75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
  76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
  78. Ulysses, James Joyce
  79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
  80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
  81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
  82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
  83. Holes, Louis Sachar
  84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
  85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
  87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
  90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
  91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
  93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  95. Katherine, Anya Seton
  96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
  99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
  100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie 
  101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
  102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
  103. The Beach, Alex Garland
  104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
  105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
  106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
  107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
  108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
  109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
  110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
  111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
  112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
  113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
  114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
  115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
  116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
  117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
  118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  119. Shogun, James Clavell
  120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
  121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
  122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
  123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy (although only the first part)
  124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
  125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
  126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
  127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
  128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
  129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
  130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
  131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
  132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
  133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
  134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
  135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
  136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
  137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
  138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
  139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
  140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
  141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
  142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
  143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
  144. It, Stephen King
  145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
  146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
  147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
  148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
  149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
  150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
  151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
  152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
  153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
  154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
  155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
  156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
  157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
  158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
  159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
  160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
  161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
  162. River God, Wilbur Smith
  163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
  164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
  165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
  166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
  167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
  168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
  169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
  170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
  171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
  172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
  173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
  175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
  176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
  177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
  178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
  180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
  182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
  183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
  184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
  185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
  186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
  187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
  188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
  189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
  191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
  192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
  193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
  194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
  195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
  196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
  197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
  198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
  199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrew

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Visual journal - 4th January 2014

Since the start of the break (21st December) I have been doing really well when it comes to dishes. The dishes from one meal are done at the latest when the next meal is being prepared. I need to keep this up once I'm back in work next week!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Visual journal - 3rd January 2014

This gorgeous chestnut (horse chestnut, I think, rather than sweet) tree stands nearly opposite my apartment. There's a seat around the trunk and I sat there to take this photo. I never realised how narrow that building was at the end before, it's nice to get a different viewpoint sometimes, feeling very "o, captain my captain" now. 

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Visual journal - 2nd January 2014

Lemon, ginger and honey - best drink for a cold and the sore throat that is slowly coming on to join the bad cough

A place to start

Everybody needs one and so this morning (on the way back from the doctor, I've started the new year off in style with a horrible cold!) I stopped at the chemist's and got myself back up on the scales. I didn't bother in December with so much going on as well as the knowledge that it probably wouldn't be anything good. But, for the past week or so I have been making an effort to get back to some form of reasonable eating habits (although there have still been a packet or three of crisps in the mixture as well as some chocolate). And when I was in Frankfurt I did manage to get two really nice long walks in. Would have had another yesterday but it was grey and drizzly and I already felt like I might be coming down with something so I just had a short outing round the block to get some fresh air. Rather than putting it off until the end of January, after I will have supposedly been back to good habits for a full month, I thought it was better to just find out now where I stand and go from there.

And, it's not too bad. Still up but only just over half a kilo (a bit over 1 lb) since the last time I weighed myself at the beginning of November. Given that I gained nearly 4 lbs in September and almost the same again in October, it could have gone differently. I'm still struggling quite a lot not to overeat on junk food but while I can allow it for a certain amount of time following the kind of drama that went on in September, I've been very conscious that I need to get it back under control pretty sharpish. Things had been going so well that my unvoiced goal of having lost 10 kilos by February was looking like a distinct, even a fairly easily achievable possibility. That's not very likely to happen now.

Have to focus on the positive though. As they used to say some weeks in Weight Watchers if there was no movement, "don't think of it as no loss, think of it as no gain, that's good!" So, overall, from my heaviest, or at least the starting weight I was at in April, I'm still down 3.7 kilos or 8.16 lbs.

I'm going to continue with eating properly, cooking healthy food and trying to bring lunches to work every day when I go back next week. That'll be in combination with the 5:2 plan, when I'll fast on, probably, Thursdays and either Saturday or Sunday each week. I'll have to wait a bit to see how this cold plays out before I try any more exercise. It's gone straight to my lungs so breathing hurts a little bit and I have absolutely no inclination to do anything to make me breath any heavier. I did buy lots of lemons and a huge piece of ginger though and along with the big pot of honey I got just before christmas as well as numerous naps and taking it easy, hopefully it won't hang around very long.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Visual journal - 1st January 2014

For the past couple of months Laurie, over at slowlysheturned has been posting a visual journal - "posting two photos per day, one representing my activities or feelings that day, and one with some detail of my home, yard, or nearby walks". For no particular reason I decided that I wanted to try and post every day in January and so I'm robbing her idea. Although I will probably only post one photo a day and they might sometimes be old photos. These posts will be in addition to whatever else I feel like wittering on about.

So just to get the ball rolling on this one, here's a photo from the train this evening.

I had a seat in a Ruhebereich or quiet area. No mobiles allowed and you're supposed to generally keep quiet. I really like this and love getting a seat in a quiet area. Some people try to ignore it but more than one phone call will usually draw comments from several other passengers and requests to switch the phone off or move to a different carriage. Most people who are there, are there on purpose.