Everyday Small Things


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Everyday Small Things: hidden cool oasis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofHy9ld2bdk&feature=youtu.be

 

It’s really hot in London today, well high twenties, and very sticky. But I found this cool and peaceful oasis on my way home.

Can you hear the babbling brook? Hear the birds? See the dappled light? Stop. Look. Listen. Soak in the moment and enjoy it for what it is – a little oasis in the hot, sticky, never-ending concrete jungle.

I’m actually sitting in the late afternoon sun watching the bf play cricket (and get a wicket-well done hun)…after a day if Pilates… And Andy Murray won Wimbledon… Nope it doesn’t get much better than this! X

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Elimination Diet: day 4

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Today is day 4 of my elimination diet and luckily so far I haven’t really noticed I’ve been restricting so many food groups.  This shows me that I do eat well most if the time 🙂 it is the weekends that kill me however!

What am I eliminating? My aim is to explore tiredness, migraines and ‘angry’ joints (that inflame very easily and take a long time to settle- the kind that surprises professionals even). So having taken the advice of a nutritionist amount others I am excluding.., (hold your breath – no don’t really): all grains, dairy, legumes as well as the usual sugar and processed foods. 

What am I most nervous about?  Craving crisps when I have a migraine as they are such a comfort food for me, chocolate cos I love it and picking at eliminated food without thinking as I still have to cook for others in our house.

I am very grateful however that this weekend doesn’t really exist for me as I’m in an 8 day Pilates course! Starting Saturday. So I’ll be busy and distracted out of the house.  Also Pilates makes you feel amazing, clean and super in tune with your body.  I cooked all Thursday in preparation-THE KEY TO SUCCESS- to minimise falling off the wagon.

My first true test arrived last night with our pastry chef neighbour who returned from a festival with tray loads of temptation!  How do you stay strong in those moments?  If you know me at all then you’ll know that I am usually extremely weak when it comes to temptation! But yesterday- wasn’t difficult actually. They say on an elimination that if u mess up ONCE you may as well not make the effort at all! One of the reasons behind doing the elimination is to ‘heal’ your gut and thereby help your body ‘recalibrate’ its immune system (which gets heightened with an inflamed gut). Thereby helping joint inflammation and migraines etc.  I’ve gotten to the point of my Happy, Healthy &Strong journey in which it is time to take a good hard look at my diet. And more importantly am in a place in my life and self that I can. I am.:)

So all in all so far so good. Maybe for the first time in my life I’ve found the mental strength to not let any demons out to sabotage me in a moment of weakness. Maybe this is because my motivation to look at my diet is different than before (eg losing weight). I have to remind myself that this 30 days is not going to solve all my problems. But hopefully it’ll be a massive piece of the jigsaw puzzle. And at the very least I will learn something about myself. Happy days!

P.S. I will post the weekly menu plans I’m making too at some stage in case you’re interested. X


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How many muscles are in the human body? [Everyday Small Things]

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WOOP!  Such a nerd!  As you know I am studying to become a qualified Pilates instructor at the moment.  Part of my course requires me to learn a fair bit of anatomy and physiology.  Luckily I just so happen to teach (as a secondary science teacher) a lot of the physiology – phew – so that hopefully won’t require too much of my time.

The anatomy on the other hand may just need a fair bit more time devoted to it – especially all the muscles!

FACT:  According to Wikipedia there are at least 640 muscles in the human body (depending on who you speak to).

Luckily many of them work in pairs so that brings the list of names needed to know down to 320.  Saying that I am slightly daunted by this task is certainly an understatement.  So I have enlisted the help of two books:  The Concise Book of Muscles and an Anatomy Colouring Book.

I have always wanted an excuse to learn human anatomy.  Having studied zoology at university I could recognise all the bones of crocodile, koala or Panda’s skull at one stage, but never learned muscles.  Now is my chance.  Learning is something that I really enjoy.  It gives me a strong sense of accomplishment and improves my own self identity/confidence.  My aim is not just to ‘learn’ the muscles in order to pass the exam, but to truly learn (most) of them.  This will 1) satisfy myself that I have truly accomplished this challenge and 2) make me feel more confident understanding the relationship between the body and Pilates when working with clients.

As I teacher I gave myself a long, hard look in the mirror telling myself that I have an enormous toolbox of strategies for learning so I would be pretty (extremely) foolish not to use them.

I know that I learn best through writing in context, use of colour, pictures and then verbalising.  What does this mean?  Well basically putting the information into my own words or format, using lots of colours and pictures where possible, then explaining to someone else.  Yes that requires more effort… but that is exactly why they work!  Hence the colouring book.  Plus you need to have some level of enjoyment to learn as this means that your brain is engaging in more areas and therefore greater learning is occurring!  So felt tips (textas) and coloured pencils are at the ready.  Watch out muscles… here I come!

Do you enjoy learning?  How do you learn best?


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Face ya Food: Chocolate peanut butter cupcake bites with peanut butter frosting

These cupcakes are based on the cake recipe that started me off on bean baking (baking with legumous beans as a gluten free, high protein alternative)– I’ve played it straight, messed with quantities, gone Black Forest, chillified it, red-velvet-and-cream-cheesed it, made it as muffins… it’s never failed me and it’s spectacularly easy.

Today being Independence Day, peanut butter cups seemed appropriate. Packed with fibre, protein and good fats, and super-cute to boot. Love.

peanut butter cupcakes

Chocolate peanut butter cupcake bites with peanut butter frosting

Makes: 40-50 cupcake bites

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20-40 minutes  – oven or cupcake maker

Dietary: Gluten and dairy free, contain eggs.

Before you start: These cupcakes are super-easy if you have a food processor, a bit harder if you’re using a blender, and can’t be done with a stick blender (or no blender at all). I adapted them, over several stages, from a cake recipe on another blog; I’ve made the cake several times as a layer cake and also as muffins and it’s always amazing. I’ve halved the quantities for these mini-mini cupcakes but just ask if you want the muffin/cake recipe.

These really are bite-size – the mini cupcake cases I got were so small I think they probably held half the capacity of my (brand-new-had-to-use-immediately) mini-cupcake maker’s pockets – if you find bigger mini-muffin cases they’ll easily be twice the size (though still dinky) and of course make half the quantity. For the sake of your sanity, do, do use cases.

Ingredients

Cupcake mix

  • 1 cup cooked OR ¾ can black bean, drained and rinsed very well
  • 3 small eggs
  • ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsps coconut oil
  • ¼ + 1/8 cup maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
  • 4 Tbsps cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsps natural peanut butter
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ Tbsp water

Peanut butter frosting

  • 80gm natural peanut butter
  • 80gm coconut oil
  • 100gm unrefined cane powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Tiny pinch sea salt
  • ½ Tbsp liquid – soy milk and/or lemon juice (I like a bit of lemon juice to make it a bit tangy)

 Directions

Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/170°C OR turn your mini cupcake maker on. Line mini cupcake trays or lay out cases beside cupcake maker.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, combine all cupcake ingredients.
  • Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.  The batter may seem thin, but that’s okay. Taste-test it before pouring:  add a bit more cocoa or a bit of extra black beans to your taste.
  • Use a teaspoon to carefully fill cupcake cases two thirds full and:
    • Oven: bake for 7-10 minutes on the middle rack until the tops are springy. Check them at 5 minutes in case your oven cooks fast. (Note: If your oven has a top element, place a tray or sheet of baking paper on the rack above them after 4 minutes to stop the tops from overcooking). Remove the cupcakes from the oven, cool for 5 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely before decorating.
    • Cupcake maker: carefully but quickly place a filled cupcake case in each pocket; close lid and cook for seven minutes, until tender and springy. Remove quickly with a silicone spoon and leave to cool, fill up the machine again and repeat until you run out of cupcakes.

Frosting

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Beat with an electric beater for five minutes then leave in the fridge until cupcakes are cool. Whip again quickly with a spoon to soften before frosting.
  • Decorate each cupcake with a small blob of frosting (blob, scoop, swirl or pipe it on!) – you don’t need much as the frosting is very sweet and not entirely necessary – they’re pretty tasty plain. If you prefer, just dust with a bit of icing sugar before service. Store in the fridge overnight. Note: you can also frost just before serving.

Please try these out and let us know if you think they are as fabulous as we do!


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Face ya Food (New Foodelicous Feature): Introducing Francis

 

I would like to introduce an incredible friend of mine who is going to do a regular recipe feature on EverydaySmallThings.  She has so much energy and I find her whole approach to holistic health really inspiring.  Try out her recipes and give us feedback – we’d love to hear if you love them as much as we do.  I could go on, but I think she can introduce herself…bio pic

I’m Frances, a lover of many conflicting things – food and fitness, eating thrifty but eating well, shopping local but eating around the world, and of course all baked things but not the muffin-top that goes with them…

Thanks to a terrifyingly wholesome upbringing, a chronic incapacity for sitting still for longer than an episode of Arrested Development and a strong stingy streak, I got into cooking. And thanks to the best purchase of my life – my first London bike – I got into fitness. The gym came next, and, inevitably, reviewing and revising my diet.

I’m lucky (and I know it!) because aside from not really liking milk,  I have no real diet issues – I’ll eat pretty much anything, but while I don’t adhere to any particular eating plan, I usually choose to cook healthy. And with friends who run the range of allergies and food preferences, I’ve also learned a fair bit about cooking (and baking!) around people’s diets.

Basically, it’s a challenge, and it’s fun. Face your food. Try to make it better. Bake with beans. Experiment with egg substitutes. Pack protein into a breakfast muffin and bring a spare to work for a friend who didn’t have time for breakfast. Eat treats that will actually do you good. Happy days.


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Everyday Small Things: Fresh Orange Juice

Orange juice 4 Orange juice 3 orange juice 1

Our friends in Bristol last weekend came home with a whole box of juicing oranges which meant that we of course came back home with an esky (that’s an ice box for you non-Aussies out there) full of oranges!!!

In Bristol we had gotten all the kids around the table and juiced by hand what felt like hundreds of oranges and had freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast!  We were all covered from head to toe in orange juice stickiness – hilarious!  The oranges were super sweet with just a tiny tangy hint so the juice was just divine.  D.I.V.I.N.E.  The juice tasted so much better after labouring through the sweat of juicing them all!

So what was I going to do with our box load of oranges?  Well I could make them into some sort of dessert or make preserves… there were plenty of options.  But I am starting an elimination diet today (I will fill you all in in another post shortly), so these were the last things I wanted in my house.  So I thought I’d also make juice and use them all up in one flash move!

Another positive was that the tennis match of the year was on TV – Andy Murray vs Fernando Verdasco – it was the final fifth set and I had run out of ‘jobs’ to do in front of the TV.  So I thought I’d bring the juicing to the match.  I got the bath mat (actually freshly washed) in  front of the TV and set myself all up.  Perfect!

I managed not to drink (too much) juice before dinner so it was a really special treat to share with the BF!!!  I love getting your hands dirty making something as you enjoy it so much more afterwards!  My mother always said “the dirtier you come home, the more fun you’ve had” and this is so true! (You can read all about why I think Mum’s are special here).

Orange juice 2My little set up in front the of tennis!  Life is good to me too often!


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Everyday Small Things: Window shopping Wishlists & Reading

Weekly wishlist links_1

Here are some links for some interesting reading this weekend or window shopping:

If you are new to blogging, this article can be really helpful by Michael Hyatt.

Feel like trying out a new recipe?  Try the Moroccan Chicken Tagine from The Paleo Network.  Every recipe I have tried from this website has been super quick and super duper tasty!

What to learn more about Vitamin A?  The Paleo Network had another interesting article on this topic – click here.

For another quick and easy Paleo recipe (that I’m actually going to go an cook up right now), Swiss chard with raisons, pine nuts and porkito go to this page on Nom Nom Paleo.

I’m getting into wearing natural waves in my hair more often, so this post came at just the right time from How-to-Hair Girl.

Daily Fitness Inspiration what you need?  I love Mark Raynsford’s Daily PT.

Interested in learning how to keep your body the well oiled machine it evolved to be?  Go to Mobility WOD (workout of the day) and learn how to look after each joint in your body.  Kelly posts a new 10 minute video each day so there is a huge library of information to look through if you are looking for specific treatments.

Here are the links to my Window Shopping pictures above:

1.http://www.puloma.com/en/style/classics/evening/turquoise-flat-clutch.html – have had my eye on this bag for a while now.  The website supports local French designers!!
2.http://www.toms.co.uk/kitty-tortoise/e – I really agree with Tom’s philosophy.  When it comes to glasses, for every pair you buy they do an eyesight saving operation.  A brilliant excuse for a new summer pair of sunnies!
3.http://www.johnlewis.com/john-lewis-heritage-sewing-machine-limited-edition/p231671150 – really missing my sewing machine in Australia at the moment.  Thinking of getting a simple cheapy to satisfy my creative urge.
4.http://www.fitnessfoodie.com.au/?page_id=20 – I’m just salivating looking at this recipe!
Have a great day! xx


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Everyday Small Things: Best Friend Gifts & Happy Tears

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Look what came in the post today… a belated birthday present from one of my oldest and bestest friends in the world, Kate, from back home in Tasmania, Australia!

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I’m actually crying!  Happy tears of course!  Kate was always renowned for taking photos, covering her entire bedroom walls with photos (that’s right floor to ceiling on all four walls) and making the best cards with these photos.  And that is what she made me!  We’ve known each other for over 20 years, having lived across the road from each other until we finished school.

The photos and her words reminded  me of so many happy days growing up.  On the weekends we used to get up at the crack of dawn to produce and rehearse a show on our bikes for our families!!!  We learned to row together, made tree houses and did all the cheeky things you do as teenagers for the first time together!

I moved around a lot as a child so forming solid, long-lasting friendships was sooooo important for the development of my own identity and sense of worth!  Since living on the other side of the world I’ve relied on Kate’s friendship through some really tough times and for that I can never repay her!

Kate thank you so very much for our wonderful 20 years together!  Your present was such a beautiful gift from your heart!  Hand-made gifts are the best.  I feel very loved.  Thank you for giving me this moment today to remember lots of good times forgotten and how much my friendships mean to me!  Thank you for re-motivating me to foster my friendships daily – today I will get in touch with those people I have been meaning to for months!  Thank you for just being you!

Do you work daily on your friendships?   What do you do to foster friendships?  What magic things have your friends done to make you feel loved?  Do you make presents as gifts?


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Weekly goal setting & Reflections

Reflections

Last week I got food poisoning! Ugh!  So most of my goals went down the drain.  I also did not do my Pilates every morning for my Pilates course, but my inner core muscles were certainly getting a workout (need I say more – not nice).

On a positive note I didn’t stress about not getting them done.  I also got to watch a lot of Wimbledon, so really I couldn’t have picked a better week!  I also reflected on recent goals I had set myself, such as the mile a day month I started in Australia, but had to stop two weeks in because of my knee!  I wrote here about my fear it would not hold up when I set myself some new FitnessFreak goals!

This week’s goals

This week I am hoping to get organised to start a 30 day Elimination Diet.  I am still deciding which to follow.  If you have any suggestions, recommendations or advice I would love to hear from you!  I am nervous writing this up because it is going to make me accountable.  I am not good at following tough dietary regimes.  In Australia however I spoke with a nutritionist who gave me some really good reading around the links between diet, inflammed joints and migraines.  So I am going to give this a go.  I am very fed up with falling of the Fitness wheel too often because of a joint-issue that just doesn’t go away.

I will do my daily Pilates as the second half of my Pilates Instructor Course continues on Saturday,.

Next week I will revisit my fitness goals.  But I must remember one thing at a time – I think I will make this my motto this week:

Do everything really well – just do them one at a time!

Can you recommend any sites or resources or programs or experiences of Elimination Diets?  I would love to hear from you!


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Everyday Small Things: Beach day!!! Weston-Super-Mare

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We got fresh donuts!  Yum!! And the seagulls wanted them!

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Grand Pier – I’ve learned to love the British seaside for its attractions and bunting!

Weston super mareYesterday we were visiting friends in Bristol. The sun was shining so we bundled their kids and our sore heads (from the previous night) into the car and headed off down to Weston-Super-Mare.  What a great name!  I wanted to make a short home movie of the trip, so mostly took short videos but ran out of storage (mental note for the future to be more prepared!).  So these are a few of the pictures I took.  And I got sunburnt!!!!  I thought I had enough sun cream on for the soft British sun, but apparently I have been living in Europe (out of the strong Australian sun) for six years!

I thought the name might mean something to do with it being a brilliant seaside… but it actually means ‘Settlement on the Sea” according to Wikipedia.  I think I like my version more!

Here are five fascinating facts about Weston:

  • There is one of the largest tidal ranges in the world here, so when the tide goes out… out it goes for a whole mile!image
  • The locals therefore lovingly called it:  Weston Super Mud!  🙂
  • During the 19th Century it became very popular with the Victorians.  Here is a photo I took off the wall in the restaurant from 1897:
  • Grand Pier apparently ‘accidentally’ burned down in 2008.
  • There is a huge gaming archade at the end of Grand Pier.  We went twice because we got to play some wicked ‘modern’ games, but also some really traditional British archade games.  In particular I had always wanted to tick of a Coin Pusher machine.  If you don’t know what I mean Click here.  We just used 2 pence coins and ended up winning quite a bit twice (and then losing it all….).  Bucket list item #52:  tick.  Done.
  • There are donkey’s you can ride on the beach!  Gotta love a donkey!
  • You can get fresh donuts everywhere!!!  And ice cream!!  And lovely fish and chips!

I think Weston-Super-Mare might be my favourite beach in the UK (not quite the world).  That title would have to be held by my local beaches at home in Tasmania, Australia!!!!  If you are ever in this corner of the world I definatley recommend a trip here for a great day out!  Could be a romantic destination or ultra-kid-friendly!!!!

Where is your favourite beach in the World?