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.

Fasting again

For a day off, yesterday proved to be a really busy day. The vampires were out in the morning drawing blood for a cholesterol test. I spent too much money on new clothes and then I played taxi service for my hubby before joining him in the evening for dinner and raising money for charity. It was a good night with good friends and lots of laughter. The whole theme of the evening was Ye Olde English Night, with lots of old songs with changed lyrics to suit the occasion. There was a fining system where people had to pay fines for various misdemeanours or sometimes for being too good. Anyone who snitched on someone else also got fined and it became quite loud and hilarious.

Mondays, however, have been designated as fasting days and after a disastrous weekend, where I put on almost a Kilo in 2 days, I was quite desperate to get back to it. With a dinner booked for the evening, there was little point though, so today is the day. Being a vegan means that my two meals can be low calorie as long as I miss out the carbs, so I intend to make a huge batch of chilli today and can’t wait to scoff it.

Chilli made with different beans is one of my favourite dishes. It took me a long time to develope the taste for this Mexican dish. While a meat eater I always found it on the hot side and because there is no sweetness to it, I was not a great lover. Enter my husband, who loves chilli and it was necessary to like it. Thus over time I was converted and when I decided to become a vegan, I had to find a good substitute to the carnivore variety.

I really like this 5:2 fasting diet, because I don’t feel deprived. I do get tired and with gigs this week and working day and night, I am a little worried about how I will cope. Also because Of missing my fast day yesterday, I have to do my 2 fast days close together. Only one eating day between them, which could spell trouble. My poor hubby might be in for a rough time. I will try desperately not to snap his head off, whilst in the throws of tiredness, but can’t promise I will be completely sane. Bless him. Duck love, duck!!

It’s my favourite day. Sunday for me is the start of the weekend. It’s a lazy day in which I rest before the onslaught of a busy week. As I was lying in The jacuzzi I realised that I was thinking about what I was going to do next and it dawned on me that I do that a lot. I am always living in the next task, instead of being in the current moment. There is always a lot to do, but why waste time on the future when I could be enjoying such a wonderful treat now. So I stopped. I looked around me. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze, the Palm trees looked amazing against the sky, the water was warm and I was sharing precious time with my husband. Today I spent longer in the jacuzzi than I have since the summer, because I decided I didn’t need to rush to do something else. Result… More contentment.

Since getting out and drying off, I have still done everything I set my mind to do today. So nothing lost and everything gained.

My husband’s new publicity poster is photoshopped and completed. I have ironed sheets and put them on our bed. Nothing nicer than clean sheets, I have typed up another chapter of my book and now I am blogging while my husband cooks dinner. We have rung both Mums and caught up with their news so all is well with the world.

Today I was struck by a new idea for a book, so now I have 4 in my head. I can’t write fast enough, but I am very happy to be back writing. There is a wonderful release in putting words together. It allows me to be creative and I can express any emotion I am feeling without making it about me. The scary thing is, the more I write, the more ideas I have. I just hope that I am a good enough writer so people want to read more. That’s going to be the crux of the matter.

Watch this space…..

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.