Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years 2012

Woohoo! Happy New Year!! I'm already over 12 hours into 2012 and what have I done so far?

- Totally missed the start of it cause I was asleep. Boy do I know how to party!! I had half a glass of apple and pear cider, watched a lame movie with Iven (I liked it but he thought it was lame), ate Christmas chocolate till I felt a bit ill then went to bed with a good book. I did get a party invite but Iven's not much into partying and I didn't want him to see the new year in by himself ... and then I go and fall asleep and he saw it in by himself anyway. But he was kind enough to give me a re-enactment this morning which involved him making rowdy crowd noises, counting down and then exploding!

- I changed every calendar in my house. Best to start the year on the right note and that involves having some idea of what year and date it is. I like to do this just in case I'm involved in an accident and I'm taken to hospital and they ask me where I am and what date it is. My sense of direction is pretty poor so I'll probably get that one wrong (unless they're satisfied with a generic 'in the hospital' answer). At least if I get the date right I'll have a good chance of not having a hole drilled into my brain.

- I've cleaned up my lounge room. Dusted and vacuumed away all traces of that huge party Iven and I had last night so the boys don't get the wrong idea. (All right - the real reason is because I don't have my cleaning lady for a couple of weeks and the dog hair was building up at such a prodigious rate that I was being mistaken for Bonobo every time I did my stretches or yoga. And I'm pretty sure I may have a fur ball)

- I had my first coffee of 2012. Unfortunately we could only find McDonalds open at our local shopping centre but beggars can't be choosers.

- I made some flowers for all the birthday cakes that the new year will bring. This is so much fun. It reminds me of being back in kindy and cutting out shapes with Play-Doh. But these flowers taste way better than the Play-Doh ones used to.

And the finished product on a a cupcake - Pretty!!

- I've done my strength session. I can do two sets of 25 pushups now - FROM MY TOES. You might not be impressed but considering I could hardly do 10 in a row. I have very long arms and long levers don't make for strong levers. (it's a physics thing) Some boys may have compared my arms to a chimp's when I was a teenager and thus I feel a strong affinity to Bonobos. My planks have doubled in length and my power step ups are a thing of beauty (at least I'm not losing balance or wetting myself when I do them any more)

Did I make any New Year's Resolutions? Not really. I'll be just doing more of the same. Tweaking things here and there to make things work better for me. Have I planned much for the running year ahead? Again, not really. A lot will depend on how I'm feeling physically. In a general sense I want to run four times a week, strength train twice and throw in some yoga at least three times a week. With my running I'd like to get my mileage back up around the 50-55k per week but as far as events are concerned, I'm just going to see what takes my fancy as the year rolls on.

Has anyone made any major resolutions for 2012? And did anyone party harder than Ive and myself?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seeing Double

I don't know if it's traditional around where you live, but in Australia (except in South Australia because of antiquated trading laws) there's a little thing that happens the day after Christmas - the Boxing Day sales. It's for all of those who thought they hadn't shopped quite enough before Christmas or wanted to pick up a few extra things for themselves or even wanted to start on next year's Christmas list.

I am not a regular attendee at this ritual of materialistic gluttony. The crowds freak me out and there's usually nothing that I can think of to buy. But I do have to make at least one trip during the post-Christmas week to exchange gifts. This is a chore that I despise. It makes me feel like a nasty, ungrateful bi*@h but there's something I hate even worse than exchanging gifts - waste.

This year I had three things that I had to take back - two singlets and a book. The singlets had to go back because they didn't fit and the book went back because it wasn't something that I'd read. I'd hinted a few times to Iven about a book that I had really wanted. I'd refrained from buying it in the weeks leading up to Christmas because I was sure he'd gotten the hint. But Christmas came and went without the book so I knew what I'd be swapping the other book for.

So after the first day of the sales was over I braved the shopping centre. It was actually really quiet - no queues. I went to the book shop and exchanged books (and bought an extra because this is the one area in my life, apart from running, that I don't deny myself).

That evening I was telling Iven about my day and what I'd exchanged the book for and he looked very quizzical.

'Which book did you get' he demanded to know.

'The new Evanovich book. You know, the one I pointed out to you in the shops'

'But I gave you that for Christmas' He was really confused now. And he wasn't the only one.

'No you didn't. I got one book and that's the one I returned.'

He rushed out of the room and went into his wardrobe, fossicked around for a while and returned with ...

... the same Janet Evanovich book that he'd bought and wrapped and FORGOTTEN TO GIVE ME.

Doh!! Now I have to go back to the book store. I think the ladies there are going to enjoy this story.

And on a running note - I've had another good running week despite it being Christmas week. 10k on Christmas Day, 13k yesterday and a monster hour and a half speed session on Tuesday. I'll wrap it up with a 12k tomorrow. We're still not doing anything really long yet.

Tuesday's speed session was one of the toughest I've done. It was a public holiday so Coach Chris took the opportunity to have a longer set. We did a ladder - 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600, 2k, then working down again. And on top of longer reps we had one of our hottest mornings - 26C apparent temperature, with a humidity of 92%. It was not a morning for super-fast running - just surviving. And I did. Just!!

I've also done my two sessions of strength work and I swear my drop jumps are getting better. These exercises involve dropping off a height and immediately doing a standing long jump. I drop from the coffee table (thank goodness it's sturdy) and I'm now getting a third of the way along the piano instead of just the beginning. I'm jumping at least an octave further! Chopin would have been so proud of me.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Boxing Day Conversation

Just wanted to share a little of last night's round-the-table dinner conversation.

I'll pre-empt it by telling you a little about my Mother first. My Mother is a lady. She's a devout Christian lady who has never sworn and frowns upon smut. She tried incredibly hard to bring up her daughters to be ladies but we just didn't quite make the grade. I blame my years doing veterinary science. When you're surrounded by blood and faeces and pus, and you have your arm up a horse's ar#@ - ooops, I mean posterior - it's hard to be ladylike.

We were at Mum's last night having Christmas left-overs when the conversation turned to the lovely bagels that I'd baked. I happily took the accolades before telling all assembled that Sam did some of the bagel kneading whilst wearing his birthday suit.

Sam took offence to this. His mother (me) was wrong again (as I frequently am apparently. He thinks it's early onset dementia. I know I'm perfectly normal but God is paying me back for all the times I laughed at my forgetful Aunt).

Anyway I realised that I was wrong (but don't book that room in the nursing home yet, Sam. The fact that I remembered eventually is encouraging) He wasn't naked during the kneading phase - he was naked when we were rolling out the snakes.

Poor Mum couldn't help herself. She tried to suppress a smile but her ladylike smutty mind got the better of her. But when my sister said she was relieved to find out that he wasn't naked during the hole-making phase, Mum just had to laugh.

So once again I have to apologise to you Mum for corrupting you. First it was Words With Friends (remember the wanker and porn incident?) and now it's smutty dinner-time conversation. I'll try harder - I promise!

PS Photos have been removed from this post for the sake of common decency. But I have included a video of Sam juggling his balls. (Too crass? It's hard to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 is over. It always surprises me that it can be weeks and weeks of preparation. Hunting out just the right gifts. Fighting the crowds in the grocery store. Decorating the house (oops - sort of let the side down on that one but the upside is there's very little cleaning up to do). Baking and cleaning. And then it's all over in 24 hours.

My boys are so old now that it's the parents that wake up first and have to wait and wait for them to emerge. BUT that did allow me to get an early morning run in. It was a gorgeous morning, not too hot and so quiet. I left the house at 6:30 and saw one other runner, a few walkers and quite a few cyclists. It was really nice having that peaceful time to myself to get me centred before the day began in earnest.

10k later I was back home. My run had given me the inspiration to write on the last couple of gift cards and I'd decided to bake a batch of bagels for our lunch. I'd just gotten started with the bagels when my sons started to emerge from their rooms. It's such a far cry from the days when they'd wake us at ridiculous hours full of excitement.

Each boy was greeted with an enormous, sweaty hug and kiss from their Mum. They LOVED it! I told them about my bagel plan and told them that they all had to be involved. My bagels need 10 minutes of kneading - way too long for my puny, weak stick arms. I figured a bit of testosterone was required and luckily they all came to the party. And believe me, it was a party. There was a bit of brotherly love, juggling and some nudity - my house can be a circus at times.

Sam does have some pretty decent bagel-dough juggling skills. He was also the perpetrator of the public (luckily only to our family) nudity but I didn't pander to his exhibitionist tendencies and take footage of that. The nude episode was mercifully brief - which was co-incidentally was what covered the offending bits. He was a little disappointed that we seemed too comfortable with it.

Presents were exchanged between required dough resting. I scored an awesome rumble roller, lots of chocolate, a cake-decorating book and a tiny bit of alcohol (okay, it was a lot of alcohol for someone who rarely drinks but if I was an alcoholic it'd probably not seem that much).

My parents and sister were turning up for lunch at midday so there was a little bit of table dressing and food prep to do but it was all ready on time and at midday they arrived with two loaves of hot bread (my sister, Julie is a great cook), ham and salad. I provided the fresh prawns, another salad and the bagels and all of a sudden the table was overflowing.

It's compulsory to eat too much at Christmas isn't it? Problem was that this was just our light lunch. The main meal was in the evening. Some serious napping and digesting was in order to even face what lay ahead.

By five I had to head over to Mum's to get my contributions (pumpkin and sweet potato) into her oven to bake on time. The turkey was smelling divine and her table put mine to shame (probably because she spent days planning hers and assembling it and I just threw mine together an hour before they arrived.)

By about six everyone had arrived, a prayer of thanks was said and it was time to eat. I deliberately kept my plate fairly spartan because I wanted to keep enough room for dessert. It all tasted amazing but the piece de resistance every Christmas is Julie's ice cream. I must shamefully admit that I ate one and a half helpings. And even more shamefully I'll admit that I felt sick for the rest of the evening. We're just about to head over there now for Boxing Day left overs and the thing I'm looking forward to most? The ice cream of course. It's like frozen crack. Once you've had just a little bit, you're powerless to deny yourself. Damn you Julie!!

So my favourite parts of the day - definitely the run, the bagel making and the time spent with the family.

What were your favourite bits of the big day? And what food are you powerless to resist at Christmas?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kitchen Disaster.

One day till Christmas!!

Okay, I'll admit it. I've had a pretty good week. I finished work for the year - yay! I finished Christmas shopping - yay!! I survived the grocery shopping ... twice - yay and yay!! And I got to do a heap of baking, which put me in my happy place.

Tuesday was the last speed session before Christmas so I thought I'd bring along some goodies to share. And I put a teaser out on Facebook so people would be prepared. I made Chocolate cupcakes, fig, pecan and cinnamon cupcakes and some of Marlene's Kris Kringle cookies.

They all turned out pretty well. Luke and Becky, his girlfriend gave Marlene's cookies four thumbs up.

There was a sense of anticipation in the group as I drove up to running on Tuesday morning. Even before I left home I knew some people were looking forward to it.

I'll admit I felt a little like a wounded antelope in amongst a pack of hyenas - but in a good way. We did our session and then I was given an escort back to the car that HRH Queen Elizabeth would have been envious of. Seriously, there's nothing better than feeding hungry runners. You will NEVER get a better review of your cooking or more appreciation.

I managed to get rid of almost all of my baking and was facing the prospect of heading into Christmas Day with empty cake containers so yesterday I decided to break out the cupcake tins again. I had a new icing tip and I'd watched a tutorial on YouTube and now was my chance to try something different. I baked my chocolate no-fail cupcakes. After 30 minutes in the oven they were perfect so I went to take them out. And that's when disaster struck.

I swear I used my usual pot holder but this time I could feel the heat of the pan burning my fingers. So I did what any wuss with great self-preservation skills would do. I dropped the tin on the floor. Face down! And my tin has a teflon coating so all of the cakes fell out.

Hot chocolate cupcakes a very malleable apparently. They'll take on the shape of any surface that they're dropped or flung on. I managed to salvage a few at least so I could try the new icing technique. They had to fully cool so I went off to have a nap (damn, I love holidays and daily, guilt-free naps). When I got back to the kitchen a little while later (okay, it was 3 hours later but it was a really good nap) I found the cakes covered in ants.

Even that didn't stop me. I mixed up the butter cream, filled the piping bag, watched the tutorial, had a go, scraped it off, watched the tutorial again, had another go, scraped it off, watched the tutorial again then finally got it pretty close.

Despite all the disasters I got a couple looking really pretty. Pity I can't let anyone eat them. Except Coach Chris. Sorry, Chris but I did say I'd get back at you for that 'special' session. You thought it was going to be laxatives in the brownies - well you were wrong!

Happy Christmas to everyone. I hope you manage to have a Christmas free of kitchen disasters. But if you do have one - photograph it and put it on your blog!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Where's My Medal?

I want a medal for today's efforts. It's now three days till Christmas and every single person who's left their shopping till the last minute has decided to shop at my local shopping centre. You know, the one that I go to every week day. Where I can sit and have a peaceful early morning coffee and do the Sudoku and crossword in the paper without distraction. The place where I can blissfully stroll unimpeded ... Well, that place has become a hellhole of Dante-esque proportions.

The parking wasn't bad. And that is the only positive I'll say about today's experience. My first task was to do my weekly shopping. I grabbed a trolley pushed it into the store and almost ran over a lovely, grey-haired nana who'd pushed her trolley in and decided to stop in the entrance. Good one Nana! Keep that up and you won't make it to Christmas.

But Nana was only the start. My path was blocked in every direction - wayward toddlers, wayward husbands and wayward dementia patients who had absolutely no idea why they were there (or at least that's how they acted). I started to go one direction only to make a quick dodge and slide to avoid fatal contact. By my fourth aisle I was ready to throw down my gloves and challenge the next impediment to my forward progress. "Cleaning Aisle in five minutes. Bare fists. No weapons. Yes, that walking stick does count as a weapon." I thought the cleaning aisle would be best if there was any blood - I'm thoughtful that way.

I finally made it to the end of my list and got to a checkout. I lied at the beginning when I said that there was only one positive in this shopping adventure. There were plenty of checkouts open so I didn't have to wait long. I could finally escape into the rest of throbbing, seething centre. I made my way up to have my coffee with my parents. We got around to discussing Christmas Day plans and apparently I'm hosting Christmas Day lunch. Might have been nice to know this before I did my shopping. It looks as though I'm going to have to face it all again tomorrow!!

PS I deliberately ran this morning to fill me chock-full of lovely, peace-giving endorphins. I chose to do a route that I hadn't done for a while and thought was about 12k. Turns out it was 15k, hilly (how did I forget the hills??!!) and it was pretty warm and humid (95%). If I did have any post-run endorphins, they were not strong enough. But my post-nap calm is upon me now and the kids are safe to approach without fear.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Conjuring Up That Christmas Feeling


I have never felt less Christmassy in the week leading up to the big day. Don't get me wrong. I've decorated the house.

Nativity Scene To Remind Us All of The True Meaning Of Christmas

Festive Door Mat (Hmm, maybe a little red nail polish for those toes might be in order)

Underwhelmed? Yes, that is the extent of the Christmas decorations this year. I was going for a minimalist look. Less is more. Understated elegance (okay, I'll agree that the door mat is hardly elegant) And I was also going for a look that could be taken down in about 5 minutes once Christmas is over - or even on Christmas night. I think I've achieved what I was aiming for.

I've also completed my Christmas gift shopping. I did hit an all-time low this year. In years past I would start shopping in about August. I'd scour catalogues looking for things that the kids would like and hide them away where they couldn't be found (or where I thought they couldn't be found - apparently the floor of my wardrobe wasn't that hard to work out, especially cause I used it year after year.)

This year I left it till there was about 14 days to go. I asked the kids what they wanted - no surprises. And (this is my most shameful admission) I sent Luke off to find his own present and when he found it I just transferred money into his account. BUT in my own defence we spent a good few hours looking through the shops one day trying to find him a jacket that would actually fit his long, skinny frame. He's also going to have to go back to the shop on Wednesday to pick it up. I will, however, wrap it for him but I'm starting to think that would be almost farcical.

I think the reason for my lack of Christmas spirit is because I'm STILL working. In years past I would finish when school finished or even a week before. This would give me time to bake and there's nothing better to put you in the Christmas mood than to have the kitchen smelling of cinnamon and nutmeg and chocolate. But I stupidly agreed to do a few rhythmic costumes - which turned out to be 12, not the few I was anticipating.

I spent a few hours Saturday working and then almost all day Sunday but I've now only got one leotard to finish. Woohoo!! Or should I say a more festive - HO HO HO.

This is what I got done this week - a massive effort.

But leotards are going on the back burner today and I'm going to conjure up the spirit of Christmas in my kitchen and then I'll get to get into the spirit of giving tomorrow at speed session.

What's your best way of getting into the spirit? And your favourite Christmas recipe?

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Pair of Short Shorts.

No, I don't mean these sort of short shorts.

And I really don't mean these beauties.

I'm talking more about short stories.

My first comes from my Mum. She's given me one of the secrets to a long marriage this week. She and Dad have been married for 50 years now and they're marriage has endured some fairly cyclonic weather. BUT they're still together and she's shared one of her secrets with me and I'm, in turn, sharing it with you all.

Getting old and the deteriorations that come with old age can really save your marriage. Eyesight going? Your partner may appear to never age. Getting forgetful? You will always have a new story to share with your partner and their stories will always be fresh to you (although on the downside they will NEVER tell you their plans any more). Going deaf? (this had the most relevance to Mum and Dad because Dad has industrial deafness). You can get all your frustrations off your chest in front of him as long as you don't yell and he can't lip-read.

Dad's just gotten himself some new hearing aids and he's actually wearing these ones. All of a sudden he's not saying 'Huh?' all the time and poor Mum's having to watch her tongue. No more muttering behind his back!

I saw a rat yesterday. No, it wasn't the dessicated corpse of the one I was smelling a few weeks ago in my work room. It was a living, breathing, dirty, smelly rat and it was in the garden outside my workroom. Of course I yelled for Bubbles, our rat-hunting foxie who doesn't know she's a rat-hunting foxie. I put her in the garden and got her all excited (although I'm pretty sure she didn't know why she was supposed to be excited but last time I'd put her somewhere it had ended with a feast of cake and icing). She seemed to pick up a scent but the scent just led her round and round in circles without finding her quarry.

Later on I was mulling over the rat incident. And I was secretly blaming Iven for the presence of vermin in our house. At this point I must say that everything ends up being Iven's fault. Tissue in the wash - Iven's fault. Dog pooed in the kitchen - Iven's fault. Car having engine problems - Iven's fault. Poor Iven. He has no idea how many times he's been mentally blamed for the problems of the world.

My logic for it being Iven's fault was simple. We have chickens because Iven really wanted chickens. Chickens have chicken feed and compost scraps which bring in the rats. Soon we will have snakes that are looking for the rats and that too will be Iven's fault.

While I was mulling over this, I was picking through the cherries that were sitting on the bench - eating the good ones and throwing the bad ones out ... the window ... the window that is directly above the garden that I saw the rat in. The window that I throw lots of scraps out of. And at that moment I had an epiphany! It wasn't a filthy dirty vermin after all. It was MY pet rat and I'm calling him Peaches (cause I've probably thrown one of them into the garden too).

Who gets the blame for all of the bad stuff that happens at your house?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Looking On The Bright Side.

Yesterday I had a shocker. So soon after having such a great speed session, I had the worst that I've had in a long time. Yep, it was warmer than it had been last week but not that warm. And I'd done a pretty good run the day before - 11k at 5:30 pace. There was really no reason I could think of as to why I was running so badly.

The set was longer reps than we've been doing. It was 1000m, 500m recovery, 1500m, 500m recovery, 2000m, 500m recovery, 1000m. The first k felt okay - 4:42. The 1500m felt okay too but my pace was off - 7:35 when I was trying for around 6:50-7:00. The 2000m felt awful and my legs didn't want to go - 10:45. What the?!! And the last 1k rep was 5:15. Running back to the car park was so hard and I was starting to feel nauseated but that was from the effort and heat wasn't it?

Nope - lucky me I'd caught a tummy bug. I went up and had breakfast with Jenny like we always do after the Tuesday session and those eggs and coffee just did not sit well. But I managed to make it home before the volcano erupted. By lunchtime I was feeling a little better so I tried some dry toast and tea. It ended up in the same place as my breakfast.

But as awful as I felt I was relieved that there was a good reason for me running so badly. After all, that's what everything relates back to, doesn't it. And on a positive note, that extra weight that I'd mentioned in the last post has disappeared plus more so I'm heading into Christmas with a weight deficit.

I've found that blog-writing has done something strange to me. I'm actually looking for the positive sides of not so positive situations which is making me a happier person. Case in point - on Monday I went to have coffee with one of my oldest (in duration not in actual age) friends. I brought her Christmas present with me and decided to take a couple of the cupcakes that I'd made on Sunday for her and her receptionist.

I carry the cupcakes in takeaway containers and never put a lid on - I don't want to mess the icing up and, because my seat covers are a bit furry, I never have much trouble with the containers moving around much. But this time I had Chris's present as well and put my cupcakes on the nice shiny wrapping. So you can guess what happened when I turned a sharp corner.

Years ago I would have gotten upset that my beautiful cupcakes had been mashed but because I'm looking more on the bright side, I just couldn't help but laugh. And I laughed all the way to Chris's. I must have looked like a half-crazed loonie - driving along, bursting into random fits of giggles.

And when I got to the coffee shop (a bit late, sorry Chris) I took photos of the mashed cakes and the icing that was everywhere. I took the cakes up and presented them to Chris and showed her the 'before' shot so she and receptionist, Jane could have a laugh too.


Maybe I should have slowed more before I took the corner - but at least the dog enjoyed it.

So here's a little challenge - the next couple of weeks can sometimes be the most stressful in the year. There will be things that happen which threaten your equilibrium. I'd like to hear from anyone who manages to put a positive spin on an awkward situation or who's been able to laugh when they could have done the opposite. You'll be surprised at how good you'll feel.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finding My Way Out of The Maze

What a week! It's hard to know where to start but this week has felt like the tide has turned. It's like I've been walking through a maze for years and I've finally found the exit. I have had such a dramatic turn around in my health - not that I was sick per se, I just felt tired all the time. I felt tired when I woke up. Tired after I exercised. Tried after I had lunch (and sometimes I had a little lie down in my workroom). By late afternoon I had picked up but after dinner I was tired again and when it came to bed time I found it hard to sleep and woke up a few times during the night.

It didn't seem to matter if I exercised or not. I had a week off after the Melbourne half and felt just as bad the following week. So I didn't give up exercising. But adding the strength training to my schedule plus (and I think this has helped the most) changing my diet to increase my protein intake seems to have made me a new woman. I am sleeping better. I'm running better. I'm not dragging through the day. I haven't felt the need to nap in my workroom for a few weeks. And I'm feeling so positive about next year. The only thing I'm not totally thrilled with is that I've put on a little weight but I have to remind myself that the whole purpose of what I'm doing is to increase muscle and you can't do that without gaining weight.

After Melbourne I'd almost decided to take a year off racing. Not that I really count any of the events I ran in this year as races. I felt like a participant not a competitor. I ran two 5ks, one ten k and 3 half marathons. I wanted to do more but my body just kept holding me back and I can't tell you how frustrating that was. Most frustrating, though, was after races with the group when everyone was sharing their triumphs and I just didn't want to tell them my time. And knowing I'm training as hard and as much as I can without making any improvements was doing my head in if I thought about it too much.

So it's nice to know that I'm still going to get a lot of enjoyment out of my running and if this improvement continues, who knows what's ahead in 2012?!

Feeling so good wasn't the only thing that's made me feel so happy this week. It's been a series of surprises. I received flowers from the girl I'd made cakes for. I NEVER get flowers so that made me feel so important.

Then I got a phone call from my phone provider telling me that I'd been a really good customer (ie paid my bills?) and would I like the new iPhone 4S for free? Hell, yeah!

I found out that I won a blogger give-away. And I got all bar one on my Christmas to-buy-for list ticked off. In JUST ONE WEEK.

I finished three leotards and got a fourth well under way.

And today I filled my pantry with these yummy little morsels.

Triple Choc Chip Cookies

Hearts Of Gold Cupcakes (Caramel mud cake with a centre of gooey caramel)

I must say the new iPhone's camera is way superior to the last one's. (Note how well I stacked the dish drainer in the background. It takes superior talent and years of practice to fit that much stuff in the drainer without having a disaster.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Tale Of Twin Sisters

Stranger than anything that a soap-opera writer could come up with - because it's true.

There were once twin sisters. They loved each other deeply and did everything together. Unfortunately, they fell in love with the same man. He was exotic, handsome foreigner with no place to stay so they invited him to share their home. He moved in and was soon making moves on both of the girls and both were incapable of resisting his charms.

One night, one of the sisters admitted tearfully that she loved the handsome stranger. This made the other sister break down and regretfully admit that she felt the same. It was a quandary as he loved both of the girls equally and none could bare to be the one to walk away. The twins decided that their love for each other was strong enough to stop any jealousy and that the only thing they could do would be to share him.

And sharing worked fine for a while. They were all living happily until one of the girls became unwell. She realised that she wasn't able to procreate and this made the most fierce jealousy rise in her breast. All of a sudden she couldn't bear the sight of her twin and did anything to make her look bad in the sight of the man. And in an ultimate act of desperation, she faked a pregnancy then stole her sister's offspring.


Actually it's not really a story about people. This melodrama has been played out in my backyard in the chook pen. I've mentioned before about the tall, handsome (to some eyes) stranger.

Personally I don't see the attraction - but I'm not a chook. He has become a permanent fixture in the chicken run and the girls seem very happy to share their food with him.

One of the chickens started laying weird eggs. I suspected that she had a calcium deficiency.

But not long afterwards she began to kick the other hen's good eggs out of the nest so we were getting one weak egg that was sometimes broken and the other egg was being smashed on the ground. A bit of layer's feed has fixed the calcium problem but now our jealous, calcium deficient hen has become clucky.

She won't leave her nest unless I force her out. And she won't let the other hen roost. The other day I decided that the best way to fix her would be to block her out of the hen house. She was not happy - and neither was her fine-feathered friend who had nowhere to lay her egg. But I guess laying an egg is a little like going to the toilet - when you've got to go, you've got to go! She found an alternative - an old cement laundry tub that is now a planter. She layed her egg only to have her nest immediately overtaken by the clucky hen. She claimed the egg as her own and set about trying to incubate it. Talk about delusional! I'm thinking we might have to add anti-psychotic drugs to her water.

Does anyone else have weird pets?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feeling Strong

Today I had the best speed session that I've had since September last year. And that's without exaggeration. I document all my speed sessions - keep a record of the session, my lap times, my heart rate and even the weather. (Okay , so it might make me look a little obsessive-compulsive but I'm now at an age where I don't really care what other people think)

We've done this session at least once a month over the last couple of months. It's 1k reps with a 100m walk recovery. I personally think 100m isn't quite long enough so I compensate by walking really slow. At the beginning of October I did the session with my first rep starting at 4:37 and my 5th rep being 5:10. So much for keeping it consistent.

Two weeks after that we did it again and I started out slower (having learnt from the nasty experience before). I started with a 4:56 then it was 4:44, 4:54, 4:58. And the final rep I only made it to the 500m mark before having to walk. My other runs were going pretty badly too BUT I had a plan of action (which I mentioned a few weeks back) to work on my strength and to increase my protein intake.

So fast-forward five weeks. I felt like I was taking it easy on the first rep - but I always feel like I'm taking it easy. I thought about my running form. About having a faster cadence and to try to keep my bodyweight over my landing leg. I lapped my watch at 4:37. Not too bad, but probably a little fast and I would be paying for it later. For the second rep I concentrated on the same things as the first while playing the last song I'd heard on my car radio over and over in an endless loop (Don't know the name of the song but the only words I know from it are 'you'd better run, better run, outrun my gun') Time for the second rep was 4:38.

Now I knew that I was definitely going to pay for my foolhardy ways. The next rep was going to really hurt! But I kept my legs ticking over and pushing and lap 3 finished in 4:41. I did two more reps - 4:49 and 4:48 - and they felt hard but I did not feel at any time that I was going to die! (Which may or may not have happened the last few time I did this session)

And this is coming just a day after a 10k run where my average pace was 5:21/k. Lately I've been running around the 5:40-5:50 mark and, admittedly it was a little cooler, but I know I'm feeling stronger and way less tired just generally. So am I happy - hell, yes!

But on a less happy note - we had a little visit from our neighbour the other day. I think most neighbourhoods has one of these people - an older lady who rarely leaves the street, knows exactly what's going on and is happy to let you know when your noises are bothering her (I still think she hasn't forgiven Sam for all those morning trumpet practices of The Last Post when he was 12). She stopped Iven and I as we were trying to make a quick get-away in the car to let us know that she wasn't happy with our recent installation of a garage door because she couldn't tell if we were home or not.

She leant into the window and it was then that I noticed that the most strategic of her buttons had come undone AND she wasn't wearing a bra under her dress. Poor Iven! He had the best view. He swears he didn't look but I'm sure he got a quick peak before he realised he had to look away. I don't think he'll ever be able to look her in the face again.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

52 Cupcakes and a Leotard.

My last two days have had a small degree of insanity thrown in. A few months ago a running friend asked me to do the cakes for her 30th birthday party. She was flattering about my cake-making ability and my ego ended up getting in the way of common sense and I agreed. Fifty cupcakes and a big cake. All caramel mud. Yep, no worries.

It's no worries when you agree to it six weeks out. But as time gets closer the worries start to happen. What if the cakes flop. What if the weather's really bad and the icing flops? And what the hell am I going to do with the big cake? Decorating cupcakes are a breeze now but big cakes are another story.

Anna was having a disco party theme and really wanted peace signs on the cakes. At times like this I wished I live in the States. I could get some sent over but no one outlet had enough and then their was the time issue - would they get through Customs in time? Anna was on the hunt too and she found some Edible Images that were appropriate. They're little discs of printed rice paper and she picked some with disco balls on them and others with silhouetted disco dancers. A few days ago I decided to have a trial run with them and it was a disaster! The rice paper had been affected by our humidity and they had turned to mush. We needed a plan B.

Plan B was just to colour the icing really bright. But before any decorating could happen I needed to bake some cakes. It took 6 batches of caramel mud cake and my oven blazing for 3 hours to get them all done but I managed it without any disasters. Then the cakes had to survive night-time kitchen raids from hungry boys before I set about decorating them. I was relieved to still count 52 cakes the next morning.

I started early on Friday. Made caramel buttercream and dirty-iced the big cake. Then I rolled out the plastic icing and prayed I would get it over the cake in one piece. Success! I just had to smooth down the sides and trim off the edges and it looked good.

Next was making a double batch of fluffy frosting. I've had some problems with this over the last couple of weeks but again it all went beautifully. But the colouring was actually more challenging than I thought it would be. The violet paste I had was not the pretty purple that I had imagined in my head and I had to use so much yellow colouring that it softened the fluffy frosting so when I piped it I was afraid it would just go limp over the cakes. But I told myself that it would be good enough (I'm such a perfectionist that I worry over every perceived flaw) and it was a good time to go get a coffee.

And that's when the real fun began. Someone (and I'm mentioning no names, Luke) had left my car cabin light on all night and the battery was totally flat. I stomped back upstairs in a coffee rage and hit Luke over the back of his head then realised that Josh's car was there. He let me borrow it (he was half asleep when I asked and probably didn't know what he was agreeing to). I jumped into the car and got half way up the street before his really loud music almost shot me through the roof. If I wasn't already strung out, I was now. I almost got to the shopping centre when I noticed that his empty fuel gauge light was on. Great! How long had it been on? Had he been driving around with it on for a while? Was I going to get home? My personal stress level gauge was flashing red. I finally got my coffee and sat down with a sigh and then the girl in the seat next to me picked up her piano accordion and started playing - badly. Who does this in the food court of a shopping centre?!! And why did she wait until I was in desperate need of some peace?

Happily I made it home without any problems and my piano accordion-playing friend also survived despite my better judgement. The rest of the cake icing went smoothly and my day finished with a visit from my friend Karen, who was picking up the cakes, a chat with Coach Chris and a 2 hour coffee with another friend Natalie. I also got my car battery changed. But I got no sewing work done at all so my leotard count for this week is a measly one.

I'm relieved to have my second big cupcake order done and it's reinforced that I'd never really want to do it as a career. I'm just too much of a stress-head.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

After a crying jag on Tuesday I'm feeling a lot better. It's funny the way you can start crying for one reason and then all the negatives that have EVER happened in your life get included. I'm so grateful that I only had one client on Tuesday cause those red eyes were not pretty. But I am glad I got it out of my system. It was really cathartic. (I will point out that I'm not a big crier. The last time I had a good cry for a legitimate reason, not just an Australian getting a medal at the Olympics, was probably when I lost my Grandma about 10 years ago)

So it's back to business as usual but things haven't been quite usual in my workroom. Something has died in the little storeroom which is at the back. And with the weather the way it's been (hot, humid and horrible) decomposition was well underway on Tuesday when I walked in. UGGH! I'm pretty sure the something that died was a rat (Iven put some rat baits down about a week ago) but locating and disposing of the corpse was an impossible task. Impossible because the storeroom is full of stuff (because it's a storeroom, duh!) and because, even if I found it, I wouldn't want to touch it.

I did have a cursory look around. And the buzzing flies gave me the hint that I was in the right vicinity. I actually have a sneaking suspicion that my little rat friend has made our Christmas tree his last resting place. He had a penchant for the Christmas tree a couple of years back and made a nice little nest in the box, probably raised his family there and felt the loneliness of the empty-nest syndrome when they left for greener pastures.

Our Christmas tree has not been used since. There was not enough pine-scented freshener in the world that could cover the smell that our unwanted house guests left. Next time there's a council clean up our tree will go on the top of the pile and I pity the scavengers that decide they'd like a new tree from our pile.

I considered sending Bubbles in to take a look too. Bubbles has a good amount of fox terrier in her and foxies are used as ratters so maybe her primitive instincts would come to the fore. But apparently Bubbles sees herself more as a girl than a vicious killing machine that rodents fear. She took one whiff and ran out of the room - the room that I had to spend the rest of the day working in.

Luckily the vile, stinking weather has done a good job along with the maggots that I'm sure are crawling around the Christmas tree, and the stench is starting to dissipate. I never thought I'd be so grateful to the process of decomposition and fly larvae. And really if you think about it we could probably still use the Christmas tree - spray paint all those juicy maggots silver and they could give the illusion of icicles. Just a thought.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Just feeling a bit sad today. Sam and Hannah have broken up and I'm feeling a little like I've broken up too. Hannah has been accepted into Medicine down in Sydney (a four year course) and because of a host of different factors they've decided to split.

Hannah has been coming around for more than three years now. When she came over the first time, I couldn't believe how quiet and shy she was. But over time she's relaxed and grown to be like one of the family and I guess that's why I'm feeling it. It was so nice to have a girl around the house to help dilute the testosterone - especially one that would laugh with me at the boys and their strange male ways.

But as much as I'd like to - I don't have control over the situation so I have to just get on with things. As does Sam. He started his Physiotherapy course yesterday and has a lot of work ahead. It's so exciting for him - this is what he's always wanted to do. It was his first choice of course when he left high school but he didn't quite get the marks to get in. So he's had to do things the long way round but has showed such determination and tenacity to get what he wanted. I'm just so proud of him.

The weather has been vile here for the last week. And today was the most vile of all. The temperature didn't drop below 25C /77F last night and when it came time for speed session it was a very unpleasant 27C / 80F with a humidity of 92%. Coach Chris showed compassion and gave us equal recovery to repetition but by midway I found I was walking some of the recovery. But I figure we should get extra brownie points for just showing up on a day like today. Thank goodness there's a cool change forecast for Thursday.

And on the work front I've gotten quite busy - ridiculous at this time of the year! All of my rhythmic girls have decided to get sorted out early and all of a sudden I have a pile of designs on my workroom table. It's actually quite a fun thing to do when there's not the pressure of other work and I've finished 2 in the last week

Both still have to be blinged up but I'm pretty pleased with how they've turned out.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Is There Something Wrong With Me?

There's a lot of happy on my face today. It's a tired kind of happy and it's all because of my run. As all you regular readers out there know, I've been having some injury issues for 3+ months now. I haven't had to stop running but my running has been uncomfortable and post-run it's been quite painful at times. I've been doing all the right stuff - massage, physio, active release, stretching, strengthening and, recently, a plyometric program designed by #1 son Sam. After today's run where there was minimal pain and, more importantly, minimal post-run pain he has been elevated to #1 in more than just birth order - that is until he leaves his undies on the floor or a sink full of dishes and it'll be back to status quo.

I wrote last week about how I psychologically screw with my husband's head. (I'm betting some of you thought that last Saturday's post had something to do with the happy on my face - well the guilty parties can wash their minds out with soap) I realised that I do it to my animals too. I'm guessing there's not too many sick and twisted 'animal-lovers' out there who do what I do.

For dinner last night I decided to have a chicken salad and microwaved potato in the jacket. I had a cooked chicken in the fridge but there wasn't much left so I picked the carcass clean. Then what did I do with the bones? I did what every vet recommends that you shouldn't. I gave them to the dogs. But I didn't just give them to the dogs. I tossed them out the window so the dogs would have to race outside to have what amounted to an easter egg hunt. And I did it in full view of our chickens. No wonder we've been getting a regular supply of eggs - they know their fates if they don't perform.

My cooked chicken came with stuffing which never gets eaten by the family. Stuffing is basically 100% carbs and if I give that to Nelson he ends up with the most vile and prolific flatulence. So where did the stuffing end up? I gave it to the chickens. And took a lot of pleasure in watching them stuff themselves. I'm sick I tell you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wednesday Workout

I love Wednesdays. It's one of the few days of the week where I can turn the alarm off and wake when I want to wake. I'm generally still in a good mood from my Tuesday speed session and I'm starting to plan where I'll go on my Thursday run.

But just because I'm not running doesn't mean that I'm lazy. Wednesday has become a strength work-out day and I'm really starting to love those sessions. Sam has changed my program up so today was the first time doing a lot of the exercises. Man, I can be a bit gumby until my muscles have learnt what they're supposed to do. My favourite today were dropping off the coffee table into a semi-squat and straight away into a long jump. I land like an elephant and I'm wondering how long our floor boards will cope.

It's gotten SO hot lately. I had been doing this workout in my pyjamas but until they bring out technical pyjamas I've had to change this habit. Because it's so hot, the more skin exposed to the air the better so today's ensemble was a fetching pair of shorty shorts (okay they were my pyjama bottoms but they were due for a wash) and a crop top. Unfortunately I didn't put the crop top on till I'd remembered that I'd be sweating up a storm and the getting on of the top was a workout in itself. I managed to get it bunched up around my sweaty shoulders and had to do this contortionist act to roll it down. And in the rolling-down process I managed to tangle up a sensitive part of my anatomy in the elastic. I didn't realise that I'd hurt it though until I hit the shower. It reminded me of the times when I was breastfeeding my teething babies. Ouch!

Having a shower this morning was not the normal uncomplicated event it normally is wherein you turn on the taps, adjust the temperature and hop in. I turned on the cold tap and nothing happened. But being a modern, capable woman I did not ring my husband in a flood of tears and insist that he come home and fix it. I decided to investigate myself. Still in my workout/sleeping clothes I took my sweaty self down the front stairs in search of a burst pipe. There was no puddles/pools/lakes of water to be seen which was a good sign so my next step was to check the water mains. Before I got close I could see what the problem was. My neighbour had plumbers in and they'd turned off our water instead of his. They quickly turned mine back on and I even got a hug out of them - pity it was from the old one who was missing half his front teeth. Why couldn't he have a young, muscle-bound side-kick who has to do all the dirty, sweaty work?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Today's Horoscope

There are few things out of bounds in my blog but today's post will definitely be in that realm if any of my kids are reading. So kiddies if you do not want to go blind or have your brain permanently messed with, SWITCH OFF NOW and go watch a video of a cat doing something cute on youtube.

Poor little dears still think they were turkey-baster babies or at worst we had sex (under sufferance) only three times and only to procreate.

So yes - today's blog is about sex. Or actually the lack of it. Funny thing happens in a long-term marriage (and we are heading up to 26 years - hold the applause). In the beginning it's all hot and heavy and frequent. Then the years tick over and life gets in the way of a good time. Sleep becomes more attractive and some books are just too un-put-down-able. Frequency diminishes and you find yourself thinking - hmm, when did we last ...?

That was the thought that ran through my head on Thursday. And being a bit short on things to do this weekend, I thought that I should let Iven know it was time to perform his conjugal duty. But I'm not the kinda gal who can just say "Hey Hon, I'm a bit bored do you want to get it over and done with for the month?" I prefer a much more subtle and alluring approach. And this required some thought.

The newspaper gave me my inspiration. No it wasn't the photo of Barak giving Julia a bit of a shoulder squeeze. It was the horoscope section. I always read my horoscope - not because I believe in it but because it's a way I can waste work time. I decided I'd try a false horoscope on Iven.

He got home from work and made me a cup of tea and sat down in the work room to share some companionable silence - except that I broke the silence.

"Hey, Hon I was reading your horoscope today and yours was pretty interesting. Seems that Mars is rising which gives good vibes for intimate relationships this weekend"

His ears perked up. The thought seed had been planted.

Next morning I went into the lounge room where Iven was getting ready for work. He frowned at me when he saw me. "I pulled the newspaper out of the bin and my horoscope said nothing about intimate relationships. It said I could expect a bill in the mail."


It's Saturday now. And all the kids are going to be out tonight. But all of a sudden sleep seems more attractive - and I have a really good book...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Things That Amuse Small Minds

A funny thing happened to me on my run today. I'd decided to do a short easy run before my strength training and went on a 5k loop around the neighbourhood. I was in the last k and feeling pretty good (mainly because I'd had a long wait at the lights and then hit a downhill stretch). A group of boys from the nearby school were doing their fitness training - a run in the opposite direction to me and some of them were walking up the slope I was running down.

I felt a little superior - sure I was twice their age (okay, probably more like three times) but I'm just as fit. Maybe even fitter. So I started motoring down the hill when from out of nowhere (actually it was out of the bus shelter) I was almost taken out by an arm hailing a bus. My beautiful running form disintegrated to a dodge, weave and almost-tripping-but-just-managing-to hold it together-but-not-very-gracefully.

And I saw some of the boys laugh. Yep, I'd really impressed them.

And while I'm on the subject of small things that amuse small minds. Yesterday my dog Nelson had a piece of grass hanging out of his butt. I'm really puerile and decided to show it to Josh (who's as puerile as his Mum and also found it amusing) and Luke (who was eating his dinner and didn't think it was at all funny - the boy has no sense of humour I tell you!) My inner vet decided that I could attempt extraction - ie pull it out with a tissue. Well, it was like an iceburg! Only 25% was able to be seen. The rest was hidden below the surface. And the look on Nelson's face when I pulled it out? Confusion and surprise with a little doggy mouth puckering (as well as puckering at the other end of his anatomy. Now that was funny!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy 18th Luke

It's a little hard to put into words how lovely my weekend was. Two significant birthdays. Two birthday celebrations. Two birthday cakes. Way too much food.

It was my sister's 50th birthday on Friday. 50 on the 11:11:11. She had a really full day with her friends organising breakfast and lunch out. But we'd organised to have her birthday breakfast on Saturday morning at our usual cafe and it was an open invitation to anyone in the family who could make it. It was a full house - the only ones who couldn't be there were Luke (who had an exam on) and Lauren my niece. It was a table for 20. Lots of laughs and smiles and good food.

I'd made the cake. Julie is particularly partial to lemon so she got the Nagging Mother in Law Cupcakes. The cake worked out perfectly but I had a few issues with the frosting. It was a fluffy frosting which is basically an Italian meringue and I'd used the whisking attachment on my mixer for the first time. Let's just say it was a little too aerated. It had air bubbles through it and didn't have its normal glossy sheen. :( But the cake toppers hid the fact that they weren't perfect.

Julie's a bit of a dog person if you hadn't guessed. She has two dogs that she loves to bits.

Saturday was Luke's birthday and he was lucky enough to have an 11am exam. And even luckier - it was his hardest maths subject. I hadn't seen him before he'd headed out for it so the first glimpse I got of my now-adult son was when he'd passed it (he's pretty sure). We'd given him his gift the night before when he was on a study break so he could have a little time to enjoy it. And for interested parties, we bought him a really nice watch.

Luke had asked for the caramel mud cake and I had an exciting brain wave (or was it a brain explosion). I would make it a tall cake and slice it in half and fill it with the gooey caramel then ice it with the fluffy frosting that I"d kind of stuffed up the day before. Well, nothing went exactly to plan. I used my cupcake recipe but didn't know how long to cook it as a big cake. The caramel went better than last time - it only caught just a little on the bottom and I didn't have to end up sieving it. But when I came to slicing the cake I realised it was a little overcooked. I almost called Iven to bring up the chainsaw - it was so tough. The caramel went on okay but when I went to put the top half on the cake started to fall apart and I had to make an impromptu corset out of paper just to hold it together.

And then I went to make the icing. My parents had arrived to give Luke his gift and had settled in for a cup of tea so I was trying to entertain while concentrating on making the syrup for the frosting. My multi-tasking skills aren't what they used to be and I ended up taking the syrup all the way to toffee and totally ruining it. Back to plan B - coffee buttercream.

We went out to dinner - Iven and I and the three boys and two girlfriends to a local Mexican restaurant. Luke went to the bar and ordered his first beer. The food was nice and we laughed and chatted and generally had a really nice time. Then we went home for the cake and a cup of tea. And it was then that I realised that the gooey caramel doesn't make a great cake filling. I'd had to put the cake in the fridge because of the warm temperature and this had made the caramel harden. That cake really didn't want to be cut. And when I finally got a piece cut the caramel seemed to glue to the knife and made it hard to get the knife out without destroying the whole thing. In hindsight I should have just handed everyone spoons and we could have just communally dug in.

But even though it wasn't beautiful, it tasted really good.

And even if the cake wasn't my best ever creation, the day was just lovely. Sitting around our dining room table listening to the kids' banter, laughing with them and at them, sharing a joke with the girlfriends (who are both truly lovely girls). My heart was full!

And apart from the birthdays there was the compulsory early long Saturday run. Coach Chris decided to make it a mystery run and he told no one the route - not even me! (I can usually wheedle it out of him) Talk about hilly! I think we ran up and down nearly every hill in the western suburbs. It was a challenging 14k (It was supposed to be 12, Chris!) but I finished it in better shape than I thought I would. Unfortunately my hip is still not in hill-running shape and it's been complaining a little louder since then. But I'm gradually rolling and massaging it back into submission.

But back from the running side track to the topic of this blog - my youngest-who-is-no-longer-a-boy Luke. I'd just like to share the story I wrote on his card. When I'd found out I was pregnant with him (not long after a miscarriage) I was reading the calendar (a scripture one) on the back of the toilet door. On the day I found out the reading said 'Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.' Then the next day it said that my 'cup would be filled to overflowing.' I took these to mean that I was finally carrying the girl that I'd always wanted and I was pretty disappointed when the ultrasound showed I was having another boy. But I can't imagine having any child that is nicer, more considerate and loving than my youngest is. He's bright (taught himself to read at the age of 4), musical and is such a blessing to me. The scripture verses were right.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Powerful Post-Run Euphoria (or how a good run overcame the effects of a bad client)

I had my best run for about four weeks today. It was a nice relaxed 10k and this week (as opposed to last) I didn't stop and walk three, or four, or maybe it was five, times. The difference was my mental state (no nasty emotional turmoil this week - life's pretty peachy) AND maybe because of my new strength-building regime.

I've been doing all my hard-core plyometrics and weights (okay maybe 5kg isn't exactly hard core but do enough reps and it can hurt) religiously for all of four weeks now and I'm noticing changes. Firstly I'm getting a little shape in my deltoids. My bicep no longer looks like a knotted piece of wool. I'm able to get a lot higher in my squat jumps. And I am getting a fierce hunger on the days I do this routine. That's got to mean that I'm doing something right, doesn't it?

Having a good run has made me happy, happy, happy! It's inspired me (I thought of two great Christmas ideas today). It's made my world full of rainbows and unicorns (maybe I DO watch too much Glee - but seriously, Brittany is hysterical)

And then one dark cloud came into my beautiful perfect bubble world. It came in the form of an annoying and difficult customer (thanks Aunty Carol for recommending me to her - you're officially off my Christmas card list). She came in with the pair of bathers I'd made her a year ago. She wanted me to 'guess' what was wrong with them. Sorry lady, I've got another client due any moment who HAS an appointment and a leotard I want to finish before the end of the day - I don't want to play guessing games.

She did eventually show me what the problem was. The stitching was straining on the sides and in the back seam. It was SOOO hard to refrain from saying that it was probably because she'd gained 15 kilos. Personally I was impressed that the seam was still holding. I may or may not have mouthed some nasty words behind her back and I might have called her names that my mother would not have approved of when she finally left.

Usually I would hold onto my annoyance for the rest of the day BUT my the effect of my good run was more powerful than even the most annoying client in the universe and I'm back to feeling Damned Good!

I hope everyone has a really good run today!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Total Lack of Organisation

When do males finally learn organisation and foresight? I was greeted this morning by a slightly frantic son. Do we have any 2B pencils? I don't know if we have 2B pencils but I said I'd help look. It turned out that I wasn't exactly helping him look - he wasn't doing any looking. Apparently his faith in me is that great. And I did manage to find one lone pencil of the right variety so his faith wasn't misplaced.

So my question to him was why hadn't he asked me to buy him some a day or so ago? Why hadn't he just gone to the bookshop at uni and bought himself a couple? When I was his age I was totally organised. I would have everything I needed going into exams and spares just in case something went wrong. I still am organised. I write things in the diary so I know what's coming up and I pay bills on time. So he hasn't gotten this little character flaw from me. Could it possible be that he got it from his 'have you seen my keys/wallet/glasses/' father? And if so, is there any hope for him?

He turns 18 this Saturday. 18 means that he can drink alcohol, get married without parental permission, gamble and vote. If it wasn't for the fact that he'll be still in the middle of exams I'd be a little bit afraid - it could have been a Saturday night that he'd never forget.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Computers and Senior Moments

Today I'm going nowhere really quickly. I've been sitting here at this computer all morning and yet I've achieved nothing. Why? Because it's a brand spanking new computer. I have finally ditched my computer that was a Frankenstein monster of all of Josh's hand-me-down parts. It had decided that enough was enough and had taken to going MIA for a few days then starting back again as if nothing had happened. Well I could no longer stand for this. I value consistency and reliability pretty highly so I've junked it's lazy, fat arse and Josh has built me a new beauty - but all I want is for it to do what the last one did.

So today's been all about trying to remember what my other had on it and putting it on this one while trying to not get way-laid by videos of cute talking babies and searching for new ideas in cupcake making. I think I'm nearly there but there are a few things that I'll need a little help with.

This computer has been a work in progress for over a week. Josh told me he'd build one for me and he ordered the parts two Fridays ago. Then he went out for the weekend and I didn't get to hear that the parts were ready to be picked up till Sunday evening - even though they were available and could have been picked up on Saturday. Iven kindly picked them up for me and Josh quickly assembled it on Monday. But by quickly assembling it I mean he put all the pieces together in the case and it sat on the floor of his bedroom unable to be used for the best part of a week.

I didn't want to pressure him to get it finished so I started using my sub-conscious nagging technique to get things moving. This is a special technique that I've perfected over the years where you do lots of nice things for the person. Then you throw in a few choice words like 'computer' over and over in conversation. You even go into their rooms when they are sleeping and whisper the job that you require doing into their ear. And eventually they wake up and decide that today is the day that it's going to happen.

Unfortunately some people are resistant to this type of manipulation and I had to resort to bribery and nagging. The bribery was in the form of a beautiful cooked breakfast on Sunday morning (the nagging had started on Friday) and that got a little action happening. But not much. It was getting quite late and if I was to have a functional machine for this week I knew that another prod was required. So Josh made a bargain with me - I'd try to fix the less-than-professional bleach job that one of his friends had done on his hair and he'd get my computer to a usable stage.

He's regretting that request today. I can sew and I can bake and I can castrate a tom cat on the kitchen table but apparently I'm not much of a hair colourist. Josh's hair is covering the spectrum from brown through orange and yellow all the way to platinum blonde. Oops! My bad!!

But my computer's working :)

And on a total change of topic - Iven and I reached a new milestone in our 25 year marriage last weekend. It was the Joint Senior Moment. He was working so he took one car and said he'd meet me at the cafe for breakfast. I drove my car there and after breakfast we left mine there and went in his to buy fruit and veg from the markets. When we got home he drove his car into my empty side of the garage and that was the moment when we both realised that we'd left the other car sitting outside the cafe. Judging from how much we laughed, getting old is going to be heaps of fun!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Awful Runs Aren't Always Bad

I had another really AWFUL run today. Can I just admit that running wasn't all I did on the run - there was also walking and a little bit of socialising? It was just one of those runs where just being there was good enough and it doesn't matter about performance.

Blind Freddy could have seen that it was going to be bad even before I started. I'd had a disturbed night. Someone went to the loo (just next to our bedroom) in the wee small hours and the creaky door (I'm going to make sure that gets oiled) woke me up. I spent the next half hour debating with myself about my own need to follow suit. I should have just bitten the bullet and gone rather than pretend I could go back to sleep with a bladder the size of a basketball. I did go in the end but by that stage I was totally awake and couldn't get back to sleep for an hour or so.

When I woke up just after 5am I almost piked but decided that I'd beat myself up all day about it so I got ready. But just before I headed out the door I checked my phone and there was a missed call from Josh's girlfriend. Josh hadn't been really happy yesterday. I can pick up his moods the moment he walks into the house. He'd gone out to see his girlfriend and I was in bed before he'd gotten home. Seeing the missed call made me immediately think that something was wrong and I got this rush through my body - a flood of adrenalin. I told myself not to over-react but the damage was done. My heart rate was already up and my muscles felt a bit jelly-like (not to be confused with cellulity)

Let's just say my first kilometer was my best. There were a few little hills but nothing I couldn't normally manage. Today they felt like mountains. I made it just past the 5k mark and ran into one of my squad friends. Can't be rude, so I stopped and chatted a while. When I started back up I had lost any momentum that I'd had so I ended up run-walking the rest of the way home. My total run was 8.5k and I walked an extra 2k interspersed in those last 3k.

Normally this would make me feel a bit upset but today I'm just happy I got a bit of running done and I got out of the house and forgot to worry for a bit. When I made it home finally Josh was awake so I could talk to him about the missed call. He told me that he'd wanted to talk to me last night and had tried to ring but had ended up talking out his relationship worries with Catherine and was feeling a lot better about things. He also told me that he had a meeting at work today which he was worrying about. So I had my chance to tell him that knowing he's not feeling great and not knowing why is causing me a lot of angst so I need him to talk to me every day and let me know how he's going. It was so good to be able to talk openly and for both of us to share our concerns.

I've noticed that my running has a direct correlation to my worrying. If I'm worrying too much I run REALLY badly. If I'm in a good place - so is my running. But if I don't run at all I worry way too much so for the moment my running has to be relaxed and no-pressure.

The other place I get to vent a lot of stress, as you all know, is in my kitchen. And it's had a bit of a flogging in the last couple of days. I've created a cupcake that even I had to break my 'no cupcake' rule for. It's actually not really a RULE, it's because I'm not that interested in cupcakes. But yesterday's creation was just begging to be tasted.

First of all I made a batch of mini-cupcake brownies. Then I made toblerone cheesecake filling and refrigerated it till it could be swirled onto the cupcakes.

And then I dipped the top in melted chocolate. It. Was. DIVINE!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Training - Changing It Up

You might have noticed that I haven't mentioned running much lately. It's not because I'm not running. It's just because I've had to cut back a little. It's the end of the racing calendar (or at least my racing calendar) for the year. And I can't say I'm sorry.

It's been a tough running year for me. I've had too many health issues for my liking - two bouts of the flu/cold and sinusitis that lasted for 8 weeks and then there's the on-going hip injury. But I still managed 3 half marathons, a 10k and two 5k races plus, on average 50k training per week. I've missed more hill sessions than I've been to but sometimes that's the way things go.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my running. I was so keen to build up again this year and try to re-claim some speed but I only seem to be getting slower so I've had to re-adjust my thinking. So after having a long chat with my EP son and Coach Chris, I have a new plan for this next year.

Firstly I'm putting some strength training into my exercise program. Sam's given me a program that I'm doing twice a week which will continue to strengthen my dodgy hip but will build up my leg strength. I'm doing more squats, squat jumps, hopping up stairs and core work. The session takes about an hour and he's aiming to build up to more plyometric work.

I'm not fooling myself that I'll get faster from this but I'm hoping I'll build up a little more muscle because that's what we tend to lose as we age. I've done a food audit - not like the one the dietitian did at the beginning of the year where she didn't ask about quantities. I've actually looked at the amounts I eat and found that I was averaging between 20-30g of protein per day. I was having enough calories but they were mostly in the form of carbs. Everything I've read (thank you Dr Google) has suggested that I need upwards of 50g a day and that's just for an average inactive person. So I've revamped my diet a little. I'm having protein powder with my cereal and a decent serve of protein at lunch then my usual dinner (which was where I got most of my protein from before). At least now I know that my muscles will have what they need to get stronger.

The reason I decided to change things up was because I was looking at some running photos. This one is from about 4 years ago.

And the next was two years ago when I finally had to admit that all was not well. My sister remarked that I looked wasted and when I compared it to the first pic I kinda had to agree. I'd lost a lot of muscle mass especially in my legs. It may be a little late but I'm going to try to build it back up.

I'll just be running three days a week for the next month or so and then, hopefully it'll be back to four. I'm excited about my new regime. It's going to be an interesting year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two Dirty Little Secrets

There are two dirty little secrets that I've been keeping hidden at the back of my closet. Way behind my Winter coat that's been stored in mothballs because it's way too hot. Behind my wedding dress wrapped in the acid-free paper and folded neatly in a big box. And even behind my old violin that's covered with dust because it's been there untouched since we moved into this house.

Secrets aren't good things. My Dad had a secret son for 16 years. Finding out that secret damaged our family down to the core and two years after finding out this secret we're only just finding our equilibrium and moving on now.

So in the interest of full disclosure (and I'm a full disclosure kind of person) I'm going to air my dirty linen.

I've fallen in love. Poor Iven doesn't know he's been usurped in my affections. He may suspect just a little but he hasn't let on that he knows for sure. And it's not that I've been trying really hard to hide it - it's just that Iven can be a little oblivious about things.

It's my new electric mixer. It's everything I dreamed of and more. I just turn the dial and I can feel the power. My old mixer had to have the beaters and the bowl scraped down all the time - but my new beauty has a beater that has scrapers incorporated into it. It has to have been designed by a baker. I've used it three times now and each time it's performed over and above expectation.

I'm not going to take my new love for granted. I'll never try to beat up thick caramel in it like I did with the last one (and that's what led to its untimely demise.)I clean it till it sparkles every time I use it. I say nice things to it - lavish it with compliments. I've even bade it a fond good night (and I haven't done that to Iven for a while now. My bad!)

My other secret is that I'm a Feeder. I offer up gifts of baked goods to anyone who comes near. I walk around with teaspoons filled with caramel or cake mix or frosting and I force it into any available mouth I can find. I just realised this yesterday as I was walking down the hallway with a spoon that I'd dipped in caramel and coated with the cake that I hollowed out of my cupcakes. But it tasted so good that I need to share the experience and the calories.

I think I've become a Feeder because it's a really easy way to make new friends, get people to visit you and, in the case of the gooey caramel I made yesterday, it's a great way to get the garrulous and slightly boring to shut up. Plus I get vicarious enjoyment of what I've made (cause I actually don't eat that much of it). And by feeding someone who enjoys what you've created, my ego gets fed.

Both secrets are a little sad and a little sick but I'm not going to change!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walmartians and Pessimism

You only have to spend a little time at a public hospital to realise just how good you've got it. How attractive, slim and intelligent you are compared to the general population - or at least the population that spends time at a public hospital. If you've seen any of the Walmartian pics that get frequently sent to my in-box you'll know what I mean.

One of the other patients having hand surgery on Monday was one that had just a few functional synapses in his head. He'd managed to break his hand fighting (a real person, not a toilet door like Josh) They'd put his hand in a cast until his surgery but because it was a very temporary cast they only used the old-fashioned plaster of paris type. These casts can get a little hot, apparently and this boy had a brain-wave when his hand got too warm over the weekend. He plunged his plaster-of-paris-covered hand into a slushy. Ten points for ingenuity but a plastic bag over the hand may have stopped the cast from being ruined.

What I couldn't believe was the number of OBESE (not just cuddly - I'm talking about lumbering, sweaty and panting-just-walking-up-the-corridor obese) nurses and doctors that I saw. They do realise that being overweight is a main contributor to a whole host of diseases, don't they?

And the smokers!!! The hospital staff in uniform out the front having a long drag on their fags (a fag is a local term for a cigarette and I just realised that the expression I used could be really misinterpreted by the more smutty-minded of my readers) Again a major contributor of disease.

Sam recently read a study which said that the majority of the population will think of unpleasant possibilities in an optimistic light. That is - if you are a smoker and have the disease-potential of your habit pointed out to you, you will choose to believe that it won't happen to you. I had always believed optimism was a good trait but I'm starting to think that the world needs a lot more pessimists.