Half-yearly goal recap

(Alternative title: Help, the year is half over already!)

3-sky
The sky’s the limit…

Now that we’re six months (plus a week and a bit) into the year, I wanted to take a look at the goals I set for myself back in January and see how I’m doing with them so far. Maybe decide if I want to change anything or add some new ones for the rest of the year. When I made my goals, I split them up into categories so I’m going to do the same again.

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

I have actually read 94 books already, so I think it’s fair to say I’m doing okay with this goal! I’m thinking of upping it to 150. Another 56 books by the end of the year seems reasonable. Of those 94 books…
– 1 was non-fiction (actually one and a half, but I don’t think the half counts…)
– 5 have been from the BBC Big Read list
– 28 were physically on my shelves (and therefore my to-read list) before 2019 began. I have also read some others that were on my Goodreads or ancient, pre-Goodreads handwritten to-read list but were only acquired in 2019. Having this as a goal has been a real motivator. Whenever I go into work, I try to pick a book that’s been around for a while to take with me… and being stuck on a train for ages also means I will actually start it if only due to a lack of alternatives.

Overall I’ve been doing pretty well on my reading goals… apart from that damn non-fiction one! I’m going to be trying much harder with that one for the rest of the year. And I will be taking Big Read books on the train with me from now on! I think should have enough trips to work before the ends of the year to be able to meet my goal of 12 books…

I’m also going to add one extra reading goal:

  • Re-read four books that I own and decide whether I actually want to keep them or not

In the past I’ve kept most of the books I read (with the exception of ones I really hated and a few that I forced myself to get rid of before we moved to Switzerland) but that means there are a lot of books on my shelves that probably aren’t really worth hanging onto. I decided to do this after re-reading a book that I couldn’t remember whether I had read or not and discovering that I actually had, it was just really forgettable. Since then I’ve re-read two books on purpose and ultimately decided they weren’t worth keeping (in fact, one turned out to be a Bookcrossing book so it really should have been re-released after reading anyway! Oops.) but now it’s been added on to the goals list it’s official ;-). Four seems like a reasonable amount to fit in between all the unread books I feel like I should be giving my attention to. I also want to re-read Good Omens before I watch the TV series (waiting for it to come onto the BBC) but I already know I will definitely not be getting rid of that one!

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

YES… I have actually been doing this! I did skip a couple of months during the renovation, but I then did an extra, almost month-long deep clean in June as I attempted to get all the dust off everything. And my new oven has a cleaning setting, which mainly seems to involve burning all the dirt into oblivion? I dunno… but result! It also tells you when it wants to be cleaned, which is fun. I am hoping that I can keep up with it for the rest of the year, but we’ll see…

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

Umm… *whistles nonchalantly*. Well, I’ve done okay at some of these. I drink enough water on most days and I’ve only rarely gone over the 2 cups of black tea limit (when I was really tired). Snacking is so-so… I have cut down on crisps and started snacking on dried fruit/nut mixes more often but I still definitely eat too much chocolate. But when it comes to my 5 a day… nope. I’m lucky if I eat five portions one day a week. I probably average around three (often all three of them in one meal) but I have to confess that there are days that I only manage one portion. And there have even been days that I haven’t eaten a single one. Those days are rare but do happen. So I really must try harder with this one. I will continue for the rest of the year and try to dream up some ways of motivating myself to eat more fruit and veg. Maybe I need to make myself a star chart like a small child?

So overall an okay first half of the year. Let’s see if I can make the second half more than just okay.

Did you set yourself any goals for the year? How are you getting on with them?

2019 goals

10
Random photo of healthy looking food because it seemed fitting…

Yes, I’m late jumping on this bandwagon because it’s taken me this long to decide on most of my goals for the year. Also, how is it that we’re an entire week into the New Year already? (For the record, I initially typed 2018 in the title so clearly my brain hasn’t caught up yet). My goals fall into three basic categories: reading, cleaning and healthy eating. Here they are:

Reading goals

  • Read 100 books (Good Reads challenge goal). Of these:
    • 10 should be non-fiction
    • 12 should be from the BBC Big Read list
    • 20 should have been on my to-read list before 2019 started

Cleaning goals

  • Deep clean once per month. To include:
    • Cleaning the bathrooms including mopping floors
    • Cleaning the kitchen including mopping floor and cleaning the oven (bolded because I will clean that damn oven regularly if it kills me! Gah.)
    • Changing bedding
    • Dusting
    • Hoovering, taking away recycling, etc. as needed (although I do those things regularly anyway)

Healthy eating goals

  • Eat 5 or more portions of fruit and veg on at least 3 days per week
  • Have nuts/fruit as snacks instead of chocolate and crisps
  • A maximum of 2 cups of black tea per day
  • Drink at least 2 pint glasses of water per day

My one other goal/wish/hope for 2019 is, of course, to get pregnant again and this time actually get a baby at the end of it, but that one is kind of out of my hands (thanks useless body!) and therefore doesn’t really belong here.

I won’t ask what your goals are because I feel like everyone who isn’t me actually managed to decide and post theirs before the year was a whole week old!

Recent doings #29

Good morning! It’s that time of the month again where I link up with Kristen to tell you what’s new with me. June was a weird month – at the time it didn’t feel like it was going fast, but looking back I can’t believe it’s actually over already. Work has also been pretty busy recently, which is why I haven’t been around much on the blogosphere. I’m so sorry if yours is one of the blogs I never got around to commenting on! Anyway, let’s have a look at what I got up to last month…

whats new with you

Reading. The month started off relatively slow and I didn’t think I was going to read many books, but I actually ended up completing 18 again! One of those was started in May and I only read the last few pages in June, so I read 17 entire books in June. I also started two others, which I’ve now abandoned for Erin’s challenge because of course I have. Actually finishing what I started is overrated 😉

Watching. We’re still recording Young Sheldon each week and then watching it on a different day. And I’ve been watching football… way more than I would have chosen to watch if I’d been in charge of the remote 😉

Eating. Salad. Lots and lots of salad. We’ve also made use of the barbecue, so there have been quite a few sausages as well. Oh, and ice cream. It’s okay though… I kept breakfast/lunch really low calorie so I managed to fit it into my plan and even get the scales moving in the right direction. Although I put on half a kilogram when we went away for the weekend and it’s taken until today for the scales to finally be back where they were on Friday. *Sigh*

Going to. Like I said, we went away for the weekend. Jan hired a car and we drove to Vitznau on Lake Lucerne, where we spent one night. We went on 30 June and didn’t get there until early evening so most of what we did will be covered in my summary for July 😉 But here’s a picture taken from the car ferry that brought us across the lake

Lake Lucerne

The weekend before, we took a day trip to Wasserfallen, which is a short drive from us. We took a cable car up a mountain, walked around and saw some people returning from llama trekking. It looked so cool and now I want to take a llama for a walk!

Cross stitching. I stitched a smiley card for a Post Pals sibling and started a card for my friend’s son’s birthday. Need to start Christmas stitching soon!

Celebrating. A school/university friend’s wedding… the one we travelled to England for in May. Also a colleague of Jan’s birthday. Here, have a look at what I wore for the wedding:

wedding outfit

Baking. Biscuits, as you saw, for the aforementioned birthday celebration and then to use up the leftover butter cream icing.

Seeing/hearing. Jan had another performance – this time a project set up by someone from one of his other choirs – so of course I went along to see it.

Attending. A meeting with our housing association and some architects. Our building is being renovated next year and all the flats are getting new windows and new kitchens/bathrooms. It will mean a lot of disruption and a temporary shower for everyone on the ground floor, but we have the most annoying toilets so I can’t wait for them to be replaced. We will also be getting individual washing machines, so no more making appointments for the communal one only for people to steal them. Can. Not. Wait!

Buying. Umm… books, of course. Including two at the airport on the way back from England. I actually can’t think of anything else I bought in June, other than groceries, stamps… things that don’t count.

I think that’s everything that happened in June that I can actually talk about (so vague. So cryptic. So sorry). I hope you all had a great month. Tell me what you got up to… or come link up with the rest of us!

My scales hate me!

Okay, I confess, I didn’t exactly bother with healthy eating while I was on holiday. When faced with all the foods I love that are unavailable here, I don’t have much self-control. There were fish and chips, cream teas, Cornish pasties and crumpets. But there were also days we skipped lunch because by the time we had finished whatever thing we were doing it made more sense to go straight to tea (uh, that’s dinner to most of you). And there was walking along beaches and around botanical gardens for miles. Plus we went hiking three times in the Lake District. That’s three four-hour hikes, up and down mountains, clambering over rocks, squelching through bogs… so why do my scales tell me I’ve not only put on all the weight I had lost (which admittedly was only just over a kilogram), but also put on an extra kilogram on top of that? It just goes to show what I already suspected… when it comes to weight loss, exercise is of no use to me. The only way for me to get those scales to be my friend is to cut calories. And with a mere three months to go until I need to fit in a bridesmaid dress, it is a matter of some urgency! So no more crisps, chocolate, cakes and bacon for me… except as a special treat. Healthy eating starts now.

scone
This scone with clotted cream and jam was worth every calorie!

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!

2017 aims (or something)

basel-rhine

As I mentioned, today is a public holiday in the part of Germany where I work. However, it is not in Switzerland (or at least not in Basel – I don’t know about other cantons), so I took advantage of having the place to myself to get rid of the chaos of Christmas. The decorations are down and have been put away, as have the Christmas papers, ribbons and other embellishments I was using for my cards. I’ve found homes for the last few gifts and even took away some of the glass recycling, which is usually difficult because both my lunch break and the time I finish for the day are during “quiet hours” when you’re not supposed to use the glass bins. Most productive use of my time.

With the final reminders of the holiday period gone, it seemed like a good time to finally start looking forward to 2017. I’m not making resolutions as such, but I do have a few aims… or maybe guidelines… that I want to bear in mind this year. So here they are. By the way, the photo at the top has nothing to do with anything, I just thought the post needed a photo…

  • Get regular exercise, even if it’s just walking into Basel more often instead of taking the tram (I did this today actually, so I’ve started well!). After spending all of October and part of November hobbling around, I was starting to feel a bit sloth-like, so this year I want to try and get out there and move!
  • Eat healthily most days. I don’t want to obsess about it, and if there happens to be cake on the days I have to go into the office I will definitely be having some! But I do want to try and fit in some vegetables every day and try to have some healthier breakfasts on hand (or eat breakfast at all!). My aim is to experiment with more vegetarian recipes at the beginning the year when I’m still motivated so I hopefully find a few quick and easy ones for later on when I can’t be bothered. A simple way of getting into the routine of having vegetables every day 🙂
  • Try not to stress over things I have no control over. What will be will be, and obsessing over things doesn’t make life any easier.
  • Spend more time with Jan without any screens being involved! Most of our evenings seem to end up with us either watching something (be it on TV or a DVD), Jan on his laptop doing more work or both of us sitting in the same room, but mainly looking at our respective devices. I want to try and have at least some time this year where we’re both in the flat and not looking at a screen! I think I’ll start by suggesting we try to eat at the table once or twice a week and go from there.

That’s basically it. Apart from that I plan to continue exploring Switzerland, keep cross stitching, read lots and basically just try to enjoy myself in the moment. With all the terrible things that happened in the world last year and that are set to continue this year (and I don’t mean celebrity deaths! There were many scarier things going on than that last year!) I want to try and keep my little corner of the world positive and happy place. Here’s hoping for good things this year!

Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2017? I hope it’s a fabulous year for all of you, whatever your plans.

Spiced apricot couscous salad

Couscous salad with smoked salmon fillet
Couscous salad with smoked salmon fillet

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, so here’s what I had for tea last night. This tastes best if you use fresh apricots, but if you plan on making it any time soon you’ll need to use dried ones or tinned ones (if you’re lucky enough to be able to find the type that are in juice instead of syrup!).

This amount serves around 2-4 people, depending on appetites and what you serve with it (probably 2 if you just have the salad by itself, 3 or maybe 4 if you have something substantial on the side).

It’s really more of a dish for summer, when fresh apricots are around, but it was still pretty tasty with the dried kind.

Spiced Apricot Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

180g couscous
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cumin and ground ginger
80g apricots
1 small red onion
15g fresh mint
Approx. 15g fresh ginger
Handful of cashew nuts
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook the couscous in accordance with the packet instructions. Add the spices, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then fluff slightly with a fork and set it to one side to cool. Either place the pan lid on or cover with cling film while cooling.

    Spiced couscous
    Spiced couscous
  2. While the couscous is cooling, chop the onion, mint, fresh ginger and apricots and juice the limes.

    Chopped ingredients
    Chopped ingredients
  3. Add all the chopped ingredients plus a handful of cashew buts to the couscous. (I chopped the cashews in half, but you can leave them whole).

    Add the chopped ingredients to the couscous...
    Add the chopped ingredients to the couscous…
  4. Stir everything in well, then add the lime juice and stir that in as well. Taste test the couscous and add extra salt/pepper/spices to taste.

Tada – done! So quick and easy. I served mine with smoked salmon fillet, but it also goes well with grilled salmon or other types of fish. Chicken would probably be good with it as well, although I’ve never done that. And obviously whatever vegetarian/vegan alternative suits you.

For variations, you could add sultanas as well as the apricots (this is really nice – I just didn’t have any last night), replace the cashews with pine nuts or even add in pine nuts as well as the cashews. It’s really quite a versatile dish 🙂