Friday letters

Friday, Friday, Friday! I am so pleased you’re here! You would think after a four-day weekend I would be happy to do plenty of work this week, but in fact I’m really looking forward to the weekend. That probably makes it sound like I hate my job… I swear I don’t! But I’ve spent most of the week working on a single not all that interesting translation and I could use a break from it. Plus it’s looking like some fun things might be in order this weekend, and who wouldn’t look forward to fun things? I still have a full day of work to get there before that though. So for now let’s have some letters.

Letters

Dear scales. I very much appreciated you’re sticking to the same number despite all my indulgences in Berlin, but it’s been nearly a week now so it would be nice if you could start moving in a downward direction again…

Dear plants. I wish there was some way I could make you grow faster. I’m so excited for you to look all pretty on my balcony.

Dear Easter chocolate. I hope you know how much willpower it cost me to ignore you now that you’re half price in all the supermarkets! Please hurry up and sell out so I can no longer be tempted!

Dear home office. If I were to look up the word “chaos” in the dictionary I’m sure a photo of you would appear! I’m so sorry. One day we will find the right piece of furniture for you…

Dear Switzerland. In 5 days I will have been living in you for 2 years. Time flies!

Right, that’s it for today. Have an amazing weekend everyone!
p.s. Tomorrow is April’s photo an hour day with Jane and Louisa. Who’s playing?

 

March 2017 photos

I think April may end up being the fastest month of this year so far. Somehow it is more than half over already. How did that happen?! I’d better post my March photos before I blink and realise it’s June or something!

For those who don’t know, this is just a random post where I throw in all the photos I took during a particular month that don’t fit in anywhere else. Nothing particularly exciting, just an excuse to show off my photography “skills”.

Jan had a birthday, so I made cupcakes.

Once again, most of my photos were of birds.

Crows are very cool (although less so when they’re cawing on outside the window at 5 a.m.!).

I can never seem to resist taking photos of the birds on the balcony. *Sigh*. For those who have asked what a “lard ball” is, that would be the thing the birds below are standing on/eating. Also, notice the leaves on the tree (which was still pretty much bare in my February photos). It’s almost fully green now 🙂

I heard this next bird before I saw it:

Sadly the blackbird was not outside our window, but in a garden I walked past on my way home from town.

Our friend came to visit and we went to the animal park. I didn’t actually take many photos there, but I did grab one of the little red fox, all curled up in a ball. So cute… but so smelly!

fox

And that’s about it for March. Cupcakes and animals seem to have been the order of the month.

I have to say, the final photo is my favourite in this collection! How about you… any favourites here?

Recent doings #16

Another month has passed (it’s already April!), and that means it’s time to link up with Kristin and Gretch to talk about what I’ve been up to recently.

whats-new

Here are my March doings:

Reading. So many books. So, so many. First, I finished the bonus round for Erin’s challenge. Plus I read The Day of the Triffids intending for it to be my book for “a genre you rarely read” (science fiction), except then I had to change it because I didn’t have 5 previously chosen books on my list. And I read the next three books in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, two of them on the same day. That’s how much I love them! In total I read 16 books in March and started another.

Watching. Some film called “Planet 51” that Jan found while flicking through channels. It was cute. Also Come Dine With Me (guilty pleasure!) and I recently discovered the Father Brown TV series so I’ve been watching that occasionally, when I manage to catch it.

Learning. About Wales, but no Welsh yet because I haven’t got to the language portion of my OU course. Also to loom knit – my latest hobby. I have made a few practice hats that wouldn’t even fit a newborn and also one sock for myself. It is recognisably a sock and even fits me, but I haven’t made the second one yet because I ran out of wool – or I suppose I should say yarn now like people who know what they’re talking about.

Celebrating. Jan’s birthday, on the 1st of the month. Not that we celebrated much since he doesn’t care about his birthday (weird, right?) and went to work, but he got gifts and I baked cupcakes so there’s that.

Attending. Fasnacht stuff, including the fire parade in Liestal and the 4 a.m. parade (“Morgestraich”) in Basel.

Trump lantern
Morgestraich. Trump featured on quite a few lanterns…

Eating. Do you know what… you can just look here if you haven’t already. That’s basically our diet, with a few other dishes thrown in (three bean chilli, various soup/broth type things, curry, cottage pie…).

Drinking. I’ve kind of given up on the caffeine avoidance and been drinking a lot of ordinary black tea… I will get better at that again, but lately I’ve been so tired that a proper cuppa in the afternoon has been the only thing that kept me going long enough to actually make dinner!

Buying. Uhh… what haven’t I been buying more like? Books, wool (yarn), crafting supplies, a turtle necklace (too cute to resist!), a Mother’s Day gift for my mam. I have been very bad and I should feel bad, but I really don’t. Must curb my spending this month though…

Seeing. Or hearing? I’m never sure what to say when it comes to concerts! Anyway, we finally saw The King’s Singers, which I gave Jan tickets for at Christmas but the concert was only this month. Plus Jan performed with his choir so of course I went to one of those performances (but not all 4 because seeing the same concert four times would have been slightly excessive!)

Hosting. One friend who came to stay for the weekend just to see us and then four people from Jan’s former choir who came to watch him perform with his current choir.

And I think that’s all. At least nothing else comes to mind. It should give you a pretty good idea of how I spent my time in March anyway.

What have you been doing recently?

10 day 10-a-day challenge

I recently read a post by Kezzie in which she challenged herself to see whether she ate 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, based on recent news that scientists say we should actually be eating 10-a-day and not 5 as previously advised.  That post inspired me to take the challenge myself and see whether I manage 10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (although I was already fairly sure I wasn’t even reaching the originally advised 5!).

Coincidentally, I had read the news myself a few days before seeing Kezzie’s post and, after a discussion with Jan, ended up on the NHS website reminding myself of what constitutes a portion. Prior to that, I had assumed we were at least reaching the 5 on some days thanks to the amount of beans and chickpeas we eat, so I was horrified to discover that beans and pulses are only allowed to count as one portion per day no matter how many you eat! I had already decided then that I would need to start relying less on beans, but for the purposes of this experiment I stuck with our “normal” meals to give you an accurate picture of how we eat. So now you get to see just how awful my diet actually is…

Quick note: I’m not going to get into ridiculous fractions, so where an amount was less than 1 portion but more than half I will count it as half a portion. For instance, 7 cherry tomatoes is a portion so if I only had 5 I’ll call it half a portion.

I didn’t take photos of all my meals, so the collages are just a random selection. You can try to match the photos to the meals if you like 😉
I will also apologise in advance for the quality of my photography… I’m no good at food photos! Right, without any further ado, here we go:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Greek style yoghurt with honey and walnuts -> 0 portions
Lunch: Scrambled eggs with 5 cherry tomatoes -> ½ portion
Dinner: Tuna pasta bake containing:
– chickpeas and kidney beans (only allowed to count as one portion all together. Booo!) -> 1 portion
– Courgette -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> third of a tin, so maybe 1½ portions?

Total: 4 portions

Day 2:
(I was in the office on this day so breakfast and lunch were purchased on the way and Jan was in charge of dinner!)

Breakfast: Chocolate croissant -> 0 portions
Lunch: “Veggie” baguette with avocado and feta -> I think it was ½ an avocado, so 1 portion
Dinner: Bread with cheese and ham -> 0 portions
Snacks: Dried apples and berries -> ½ portion
2 mini cakes -> 0 portions
Capri-Sun (contains fruit juice but definitely doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 3:

Breakfast: Nothing (naughty!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover tuna pasta bake (see above) -> 3½ portions
Dinner: Chilli con carne made with
– Kidney beans (not allowed to count because I had beans earlier in the day) -> 0 portions
– Red pepper -> 1 portion
– Tinned tomatoes -> half a tin, 2 portions?
Served in whole wheat tortillas with cheese and iceberg lettuce -> hopefully ½ portion
Snacks: Sweet potato crisps (sweet potato counts as veg. but I hardly had any crisps) -> o portions
Orange juice (can only count once no matter how much you drink!) -> 1 portion

Total: 7 portions

Day 4:
(We had visitors this day and dinner was at a restaurant)

Breakfast: Toast with jam (fruity but doesn’t count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Sausage roll -> 0 portions
Carrot, orange and ginger smoothie -> 1 portion
Dinner: Pizza with courgette and aubergine -> maybe ½ a portion
Panna cotta with a few bits of fruit -> 0 portions

Total: 1½ portions

Day 5:

Breakfast: Bread rolls with jam and chocolate spread -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Bread roll with cheese -> 0 portions
Dinner: Roasted butternut squash risotto
– Butternut squash -> 3 portions (it was a big vegetable!)
– Leek -> possibly ½ a portion
Snacks: Magnum ice cream (and I regret nothing!) -> 0 portions
Apple with almond purée -> 1 portion

Total: 5½ portions

Day 6:

Breakfast: Toast with jam -> 0 portions
Blood orange juice -> 1 portion
Lunch: Some just-add-water couscous thing -> 0 portions
Mango -> 1½ portions (I think)
Dinner: Corned beef hash. I always make it with baked beans, and this time I added borlotti beans as well to stretch it a bit since there weren’t as many potatoes left as I thought. -> 1 portion
Snacks: Mini packet of gummi bears -> 0 portions
Chocolate chip cookie -> 0 portions

Total: 3½ portions

Day 7:

Breakfast: Porridge (apple & cinnamon flavour, but not enough apple to count!) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish with potato croquettes -> 0 portions
Dinner: Pepper stuffed with a quinoa/bulgar wheat mix and feta cheese -> 2 portions
Served with salad consisting of the remaining feta cheese plus:
Lamb’s lettuce -> ½ portion
Apple -> ½ portion
Avocado -> 1 portion

Total: 4 portions

Day 8:

Breakfast: Nothing -> 0 portions
Lunch: Leftover stuffed pepper -> 2 portions
Orange juice -> 1 portion
Dinner: Sausage casserole containing:
Cannellini beans -> 1 portion
Carrots -> 1 portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 2 portions?
Served with sweet potato mash (counts as veg. Yay!) -> 2 portions
Snack: Chocolate brownie (and now you also know why I’m failing to lose weight…) -> 0 portions

Total: 9 portions

Day 9:

Breakfast: Chia & cashew muesli bar (contains raisins, but not enough) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Lemon pepper fish (yes, again!) -> 0 portions
Crackers with hummus -> 1 portion
Dinner: Chicken enchiladas made with;
Kidney beans (don’t count because of hummus for lunch) -> 0 portions
Courgette -> ½ portion
Tinned tomatoes -> 1 portion

Total: 2½ portions

Day 10:

Breakfast: Crackers (what? It’s a perfectly good breakfast 😉 ) -> 0 portions
Lunch: Orange juice -> 1 portion
Leftover enchiladas. I had half the amount I’d eaten the night before but I then had the other half for dinner since Jan didn’t eat his before he left for the weekend soooo….
Dinner: Leftover enchiladas. Dinner + lunch enchiladas combined -> 2½ portions
I ate my dinner enchilada with an avocado -> 2 portions
Snacks: An apple with almond purée -> 1 portion

Total: 6½ portions

So, what have I learned? Well, nothing that I didn’t already suspect: most of the time I fail to get up to 5 portions, never mind 10! I actually managed 5 portions 4 times (less than half the days *sigh), and all of those days were actually over the 5 (although once it was only over by half a portion!). I came closest to 10 portions on day 8 – should have replaced that brownie with an apple 😉

In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that I drank more juice this week than I usually would because I bought for breakfast when we had guests and I needed to get it used up, so apart from on day 3 (when I had a small carton) every day that I had juice I would normally have had one portion less. Usually I tend to shy away from juice because I feel calories that are used for drinks are wasted calories (mostly I drink water and tea – the tiny bit of milk in tea doesn’t make much difference to my calories). Juice is an easy way to get an additional portion though, so maybe I should consider drinking juice every day and getting extra exercise to make up for it? I do sometimes drink smoothies

So, what can I do to improve my fruit and veg intake? Well, apart from consistently drinking a glass of juice, I need to replace some of my pulses with other vegetables since I now know hardly any of them are allowed to count. There goes my lazy tuna pasta bake that doesn’t require me to chop any vegetables *sigh*. I could also replace most of my snacks with fruit – in February I ate an apple with almond paste most days, and that’s something I should probably try to get back into. An apple a day and replacing half the beans in meal with another vegetable would add two an extra portions and hopefully push those days that I do exceptionally badly at least up to the 5 mark! Finally, during these 10 days I ate leftovers for lunch three times (because Jan had forgotten to take them to work with him – which is why I ended up being left with 2 day old tuna pasta bake!). So another idea would be to make enough dinner for both of us to have some the next day and have leftovers for lunch more often instead of shoving some fish in the oven or eating a convenience meal containing few or no vegetables.

Do you eat 10 portions of vegetables a day? Would you be willing to take this challenge?

Check out Kezzie’s post for an example of someone doing a much better job at healthy eating 😉
And if you’ve actually read all this please feel free to award yourself a virtual gold star!

Friday letters

Good morning! I am sooo pleased it’s nearly the weekend. This week has gone both really fast and really slow… I was surprised when it was Wednesday already, but then Wednesday and Thursday felt like they lasted at least 2 days each! Jan has choir stuff tonight and tomorrow, so I plan to use the time to relax and sleeeeeep! But right now I shall give you my Friday letters.

Postkasten

Dear Britain. I still can’t believe you actually went through with the “Brexit” thing. Even though we have two years, I’m already in mourning for my freedom of movement in Europe and a home country that didn’t hate foreigners. R.I.P GREAT Britain… there’s nothing “great” about isolationism and xenophobia 😦

Dear hair. I will never understand how you can be fine with a shampoo for weeks and then suddenly decide to become immune to it or something and feel sticky/greasy while I am washing you. I can’t keep switching shampoos halfway through a bottle so please sort yourself out!

Dear self. If you stay up two hours past the time you were planning to go to sleep because you can’t put a book down  you then forfeit your right to complain you’re tired the next day. You can be well rested or well read, not both!

Dear trees. You are looking very pretty right now all dressed in your spring colours. (Well, most of you… some are still looking a bit bare!).

Dear sparrows. You are cute and always a welcome visitor to the balcony but how can something so small be so loud?! I would very much appreciate it if you wouldn’t sit out the bedroom side of the building chirping on and on and on for half an hour at half five in the morning!

I can’t think of anything else. have a great Friday and an even better weekend everyone!

Friday letters

Wow… is it really Friday again? This week seems to have gone incredibly fast – although, bizarrely, March seems to be taking longer than January and February did. Not sure what that’s all about… I have also been a bit absent from the blogosphere this week because work has been CRAZY, so apologies for only getting round to responding to your comments today! Anyway… let’s do some letters…

letters

Dear mam. In case you’re reading… Happy Mother’s Day for Sunday!

Dear spell checker. Mam is a word, you silly thing!

Dear sleep. I haven’t had much of you this week and I miss you! I hope I can catch up with you next week (the weekend is going to be busy. *Sigh*).

Dear London. Such awful news coming from my home country this week. You are in my thoughts – we will never let terrorism win!

Dear daffodils. I’m so happy to see you all whenever I leave the house. You’re such happy looking flowers!

Dear office. I promise one day it will be your turn to get new furniture so I don’t have to close your door to hide the mess every time visitors come!

Dear boxes. How is it I have so many of you yet when it comes to sending something none of you are the right size?!

Right, that’s it for today. Happy weekend everyone!

A Photo An Hour: 18 March 2017

I almost missed the photo an hour link up this month! Luckily I went on Twitter and saw that Sharon was doing it. As a result, my first photo was not taken when I got up, but half an hour later… and I ended up doing photos on the half hour instead of the hour. I took part on Twitter this time, but I also wanted to record it on my blog.

Jan had to go into work for a special project/organisation meeting thing, so I was alone all day! Here’s what I got up to:

10:30 a.m. Starting late means my first photo is not tea! Shower time.

11:30 a.m. It looks grey and miserable outside, but I need to go to the post office and food shopping, so out I go.

12:30 p.m. Shopping done, heading home through the park. But where are all the children? It might have been grey, but it wasn’t raining or all that cold! DO people here take the midday quiet time that seriously?

1:30 p.m. Aaah, there’s the tea that no photo an hour would be complete without! (Well, a cup that once contained tea anyway.) Lunch done, cuppa drank. Now what?

2:30 p.m. Thought I’d better actually do a bit of my OU course while I didn’t have any other commitments. Discovering Wales and Welsh for those that were interested. It’s a not for credit short course that you have 6 months to complete. I want to do a proper Level 1 course, but the Europe price is way too expensive!

3:30 p.m. Enough studying for a Saturday! Another cuppa while I leaf through cross stitch magazines for card inspiration.

4:30 p.m. Suppose I’d better do something useful! Emptying the dishwasher.

5:30 p.m. Writing to a pen pal. Spring paper seemed appropriate 🙂

6:30 p.m. Watching Come Dine With Me – my guilty pleasure TV show. It’s total trash, but I love it. The narrator makes it for me!

7:30 p.m. Another episode of Come Dine With Me. (And an awful picture! I forgot to take one with my camera and the computer refuses to acknowledge my phone so I had to re-download this one from Twitter!)

8:30 p.m. I had been waiting for Jan to let me know whether he wanted tea, but he apparently got stuck talking and forgot to message me. By 8:30 I was starving so I decided to just cook anyway!

9:30 p.m. Pyjamas time! Also note the confetti that is somehow still in my flat even though I’ve hoovered several times since Fasnacht!

10:30 p.m. In bed with a book. Once I’ve read this I’ll have completed the bonus round for Erin‘s reading challenge!

11:30 p.m. I’m off to sleep! There’s just time for one more photo of the view from my bed… purely to preserve symmetry, obviously 😉

And that’s it for this month. How was your Saturday? Did you do anything interesting?

Linking up with Jane and Louisa, as always.