The Brownie Quest

There comes a point in any diet, when I need a chocolate brownie fix. Usually I have to resist because of either calories or the sugar interferes with the protein thing.

Well, now I am doing the 5:2 fasting diet and it’s such a relief to know that I can have an occasional brownie.

The next thing that causes an issue is that I am vegan and I have had some good vegan brownies, but I decided to hunt for the perfect vegan brownie and boy, did I find it. Luxurious, gooey and tastes of heaven.

The question I am always asked is “what do you eat?” And just lately I overheard the comment, “I couldn’t be a vegan, I’m too lazy.” Which got me puzzling as to what people think Vegans really eat. My response is, I eat what you eat. You have spaghetti bolognese and so do I, you have chilli, so do I, you have fajitas, me too. The only difference is that I substitute the meat with other proteins such as lentils and chickpeas. I love flavour and good food. Vegan is not only healthier and low fat, it’s cheaper and equally as versatile as meat. I don’t just eat vegetables, I need protein, as does everyone and I need as much variety as everyone else. There are some strange ingredients from time to time and vegan cheese really is quite disgusting. I also refuse to eat soya, but on the whole, there is nothing wierd or frightening about my food.

So back to the vegan brownie we go. The ingredients are basically the same. Eggs are substituted with baking powder, milk chocolate with plain chocolate and butter with sunflower oil. The result is not knowing the difference between a vegan brownie and a “normal” one. image
Then there’s the added luxuriant touch. Ice cream. Creamy, delicious and vanilla. Homemade in my machine, using coconut milk instead of cream. It’s all glorious and I am in heaven. The quest for the perfect brownie is satisfied.

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A busy weekend

My day off begins with sunshine, warmth and a smile. Today, I am going to find birthday presents for two people. One, a very close friend and two, my husband. I am not really a lover of shopping. I like to know what I am going for, find it after having a massive trying on session in one shop, buy it and come home, unless it’s clothes for me. Then I like to go to one shop, find it, try it on, pay for it and come home. There is nothing more tedious than traipsing around a myriad of shops in search of something that fits or looks right. I sound like a dream shopper for the man in tow, but believe me I’m not, because invariably I end up going everywhere to find one thing. I am so fussy about my clothes and if I buy something I don’t feel comfortable in, it stays in the wardrobe. Hence the tedious traipsing.

Today though, I have people to buy for and I know which shops I am hitting. The ideas for gifts aren’t definite. I am trying to remain open minded so it could all change by the end of the day.

The weekend was busy with gigs. I had a Valentine’s dinner dance on Friday and as usual, it was a night for romantic slushy songs. It’s the only night of the year I can sing so many slow songs and get away with it. Asking for requests usually brings “lady in red”, irrelevant that I am a woman singing about another woman. No one cares as long as it’s heard and danced to. Saturday though, made a Valentine’s change. Another friend has her birthday the day after her husbands, so they had a joint birthday party and asked me to sing. Very few slow songs that night. Instead they partied, ate, drank and danced the night away, culminating in my friends favourite song, “Raining men.” image

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They loved my mic stand and pretended to be either lead or backing singers. It made me smile. A great night had by all and Happy birthday guys. Hope the heads weren’t too sore the next day.

Unfortunately, my hubby and I couldn’t celebrate Valentine’s this year. Usually we go out the day before or after, but the day before I was working and the day after was a collapse day. That’s what happens when you work all day and most of the night for 48 hours. Oh well, next year it is.

Music and Memories

Oh my goodness. What a mare. I managed to log myself out of my blog and having never done that before, I couldn’t remember my login details. It’s taken me three days to sort it out, because getting back in is not obvious at all. Anyway, here I am once again.

Today is Saturday and the day for my radio show. It’s a chat show, where I invite local people to come and talk about themselves, their businesses and interests. I have featured authors, charities, complimentary health practitioners, singers, artists and many more interesting people. They each choose 3 songs that they love and it’s a fantastic way to learn about people.

One of the best things, is the varied choices of music. We had a large glut of the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, but mostly it shows just how wide our tastes are. Even in the pop field, there are so many genres and no two people have chosen the same 3 songs. Young people can choose old songs and older people choose new ones. Each tune carries a memory and the ones that stick are associated with happy times.

Although we have our favourite sad songs, it seems the ones that define our lives are the ones that call to mind our happiest memories. Teenage years feature really high, as does the “our song”, when we have met our life partner.

I truly love my show on a Saturday and meeting such an eclectic group of people and I love their differing tastes in music, because people’s choices fascinate me. Today I will be playing Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, which apart from being an all time great, is a personal favourite. It reminds me of my teenage years living in a huge farmhouse with my family. My brother would belt this out as loud as he could from his bedroom at the back and the house was so big, that no one in the front could hear it. Good memories of my brother in his Led Zeppelin phase. He even got a perm to look like Robert Plant and I liked it. I was young and always impressed by my big brother.

Good music equals happy memories.

Life’s rich tapestry

Once again, it’s been ages since I wrote anything.  It seems I have to be in the right place to write.  When life becomes too busy or difficult, it seems that I cannot put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.  I am now trying to remember why I started to write a blog and to reinstate the feelings that writing gave me.  I felt that this year was going to be the year for upward movement, but here I am at the beginning of February and nothing has progressed.  In order not to loose momentum, I am forcing myself to type up my book and edit where I think it needs it.  I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that if I wrote my book on my iPad, I could take it everywhere with me and add to it as I pleased.  The fun part about that decision is that I was writing it in a format that cannot be transferred to word on my laptop, hence, re typing the last 15 chapters. Luckily, I am a fast typer so it shouldn’t take too long.  Whilst doing this though, the story is not progressing and that makes me a little frustrated.

I have come to the conclusion that the reason I cannot find time to write, is there is not enough time in the day.  Even over the Christmas period when I had time off, the days still flew past with nothing achieved apart from cooking, cleaning and the laundry, so I am going to have a word with him upstairs and ask him to add a few hours. Do you think it will work?

So here I am again, making a deal with myself to write every day.  I may not be on a blog, but this or my book is going to be an added priority.  Surprising how cathartic just writing these few words has already been.

I must not loose my connection to myself.  I must follow my dream of finishing this book and getting it published.  The sequel is all in my head waiting to be let out.  I need to push forward and not let anything get in my way.  Is that easier said than done, I wonder?

 

Walk a mile in my shoes

Sometimes I am confused by human nature, but unfortunately I am never surprised.

I think that everyone has a tendency to be selfish, to think only of their needs and wants, but there are people who take it to the extreme.  Then there are those who do something unexpectedly wonderful for you and restore your faith in mankind.

We used to run our own company and employed a lot of people.  Sadly, because we were company owners, people saw us as rich and lucky.  Some were wonderful, but many stole from us, lied, used company property  for personal use that wasn’t allowed or made decisions they weren’t qualified to make.  The company was a good one and the job we did was rewarding in itself, but employing the type of people we had to, made us very cynical.  We became embittered and always stressed.  We eventually lived, expecting trouble and tarred everyone with the same brush.  We had no faith in humanity because of our experiences.

On the day we flew out to our new life in Spain, My husband lost his wallet in the airport.  It fell out of an unsecured pocket.  In it was credit and debit cards, €1000 in cash, his driving licence and basically everything we needed for our new lives.  I remember the colour of his face draining from normal to green at the second he realised his wallet was missing.  He ran back to search everywhere he had been, but to no avail.  We had been chatting to an airport cleaner when he made his discovery and as soon as he came back to us, he said, “Well, I’m never going to see that again.  I don’t know what we are going to do.”  The cleaner immediately grabbed his hand and took him to lost property.

He reached the counter but was told nothing had been handed in, just as he expected.  They gave him a form to fill out and whilst doing it, he was thinking about how we could rent a car without his licence and that certain things had been booked using his cards and he would have to present them.  We could get money but we needed that cash for payment of bills.  He was really worried.  Just at that moment, another member of staff approached and asked him if he had lost a wallet.  He said that he had and described it.  The man said he had it, it had just been handed in.  Ian was amazed, happy to at least get his cards and licence back.  He utterly stunned when he found that all the money was there too.  Nothing had been taken at all.  We were so thankful and asked if we could give the wonderful honest person, who had handed it in, some money to say thank you, but we were told it was against policy and they hadn’t left a name.

It was a lesson in humility for us.  We were so down on human nature, so suspicious of people and their actions, ready to believe the worst in people, yet here we were, the recipients of a strangers selfless actions.  It continues much the same today.  We are not so embittered as we once were, maybe still a little suspicious, but we have found some wonderful people around us.  Help has often come from unexpected places, and people, who were just acquaintances, have proved to be wonderful friends.  Equally, there are people that thought close friends, who have shown themselves to be incapable of true friendship.

As a member of this species, I travel on, observing and learning.  We all judge each other according to our own standards and find each other lacking in many areas, but are we qualified to judge other people?  One of my favourite phrases is “Walk a mile in my shoes.”  We all live such vastly different lives, experienced pain and happiness in individual ways, how can we truly comment on someone else’s lives?

 

 

 

Autumn memory

My little dog runs ahead of me as always.  She stops and looks back to see where I am, waits a while until I catch up with her and then off she trots again.  Her nose is to the ground as she scents for anything interesting and there is so many wonderful smells in a wood, in the autumn.

Again she stops and looks at me with her little Black and Tan face, Her white body finished off with a cropped brown tail.  Her tail was cropped as a puppy, before she ever came to me and as was the original fashion for a Jack Russell.  It was the perfect indicator for how she was feeling.

As with all dogs, she would drop it down if she was unhappy but it would not reach between her legs as it was too short.  When I first met my husband, he had a boat on the Norfolk broads and we always took her with us.  At first, she was unsure and her tail was as down as she could get it.  Then she discovered she could walk right around the boat using the gunnels and her tail raised a little until it was stuck out in line with her back.  Finally she realised that when we were cruising along, she could run round and round, bark at the ducks and swans, and become the mascot of the boat, as people looked, pointed, giggled at her and gave her lots of fuss when we moored up.  She loved the boat and her tail raised straight up in the air as soon as we got on it.

For all that she loves the boat, she hates water and will do anything to avoid it.  Our favourite time is our walks on land.  So here we are, on a cold, sunny autumn day.  I kick my way through coloured fallen leaves and she sniffs out the squirrels and rabbits that are prolific here.  Most of the trees are bare now  and looking at the ground, I see many forms of fungus.  There are toadstools as well as huge field mushrooms growing in and on the tree humus. It’s a perfect place for them.  I am also genuinely delighted to see a fairy ring.

Ok, I know I am a little old to believe in such things, but it really looks like one.  There, just over there, is a group of toadstools with the red caps and white spots, just like in all the fairy tale illustrations I have seen.  I don’t need a great imagination to conjor up fairies and pixies sitting atop each stool and talking about whatever it is that they talk about.

I stop for a while and have a closer look until Penny runs back and gives me a nudge.  I can almost hear her thoughts.  “Will you hurry up.  There is too much to sniff out and we can’t hang around here.”  So I follow and she runs off again, always stopping and looking back to see where I am.  Never going out of sight, no matter what wonder lay ahead.  She never leaves me.  We can walk for miles and she never tires, unlike me.  She doesn’t care if it’s hot or cold, along as it’s not raining.  She doesn’t run away to chase rabbits, to sniff them is enough.  Her need is to stay close to me.  She is my loyal little friend, my protector and companion.  Her love is honest, unconditional and delightful.

When it’s time to leave, I call her.  She stops and looks at me.  She turns back wanting to pursue her trail but I turn and walk the other way.  There is no need to worry as within seconds she bounds past me, ready to lead the way again.  The pattern continues.  Run ahead a while, stop, look back, wait for me, then run on, until we reach the car.

It’s nothing spectacular, just friendship, Autumn and a walk, but it’s a lovely memory of a lovely time.

 

Energy sapping heat.

The heat saps my energy and I feel the trickles of sweat down my back.  Wearing make up becomes impossible in the summer as moisture forms beads under my fringe and they merge into rivulets to drip from the end my nose.  My top lip glistens and I purse my lips to catch the salty taste on my tongue.

I have a constant need to replace the water my body is fixated on losing in it’s efforts to keep me cool.  My whole body is  sticky and feels unclean.  The dust that hung in the air is now attracted to the magnetic force of sweat and my hair, normally full of styling products hangs limply, unable to withstand the onslaught of  humidity.

With a rise in temperature comes a rise in temper.  Hauling bottles of water upstairs to the kitchen leaves me breathless and irritated.  Why don’t they bundle them into four’s instead of sixes.  I struggle to heave the weight of water in each hand, but I also need the balance.  It’s a difficult choice between two trips or too heavy.  My hands are so slippy that it’s difficult to keep hold of the thin cardboard strip that supports the weight of  24 litres.

My brain feels as though it has swelled beyond the capacity of my skull under the oven temperature of the sun and the pressure is making my eyes want to pop out of their sockets.  Each beat of my heart sends a throb of blood filled pain to my brow causing me to frown.  My breathing becomes shallow as I tense against the agony of a heat induced headache.

I drop one lot of bottles as I fumble for my keys, but they are in the pocket on the other side so I drop the other hands burden.  I try and spear the lock but the bunch slips from my greasy fingers and hits the floor.  The sun belts it’s unrelenting force against my back as I bend to retrieve them.  Come on, come on, I urge them, just work.  I need cool now.

This time I manage to open the door but heat hits me from the inside of the house as well.  I grab the bottles of water and deposit them somewhere on the floor between the living room and kitchen, and stride straight to the bedroom shedding clothes as I go.  It’s little cooler without my thin layer but my anticipation of what’s to come spurs me on.  I grab and don my bikini, pick up my towel, slip my feet into my flip flops and head back out into the belting heat.

Cool blue water beckons me like a smooth talking lover and I kick off my footwear, drop the towel and lower myself down into the refreshing blue depths of the pool.  As the water washes over my body and my blood temperature descends to normal, the little elephants that were stampeding through my head begin to slow under its caress.

I tip my head back into cool peaceful tranquility and float with closed eyes.  I feel the corners of my mouth turn upwards as my smile returns and just in that moment reflect on the pleasure of living in a hot country.