Friday, 25 January 2013

Watercress or lamb's lettuce soup

I love this recipe but cocked up the other day and didn't realise a bag of what I thought was watercress was actually lamb's lettuce so I substituted that in instead and it was rather nice so either seems to work in this recipe (adapted from The Detox Cook recipe book.)

Serves 4

Heat 500ml vegetable stock in a pan.

Add 6-8 spring onions or an onion (sliced) to pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add 2 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced) and 900ml vegetable stock to the pan and simmer until the potato is cooked (20 minutes-ish.)

Add 4 bunches of watercress or a similar amount of lamb's lettuce (I used a bag) to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes

Turn off the heat and add 400ml soya or rice milk.  Stir well and leave to stand before blending the soup, reheating and eating.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Tetrapak wallets, upcycled tea-bag wallets and fireplace destruction

At last Dave started demolishing the fireplace in the front room in a frenzy of activity.  It takes a lot of space and although we do not want to remove the chimney totally, getting rid of the fireplace and having an extra little alcove to put stuff in will be brill.  At some point the slabs will be coming out too.  This is all in preparation for the electrics being done and the kitchen being moved.  When that work all starts in March we are going to re-do all the flooring downstairs and so the fireplace had to come out before that.
I did some upcycling with the kids using tetrapaks to make wallets (see above).

 There are loads of websites out there explaining how you make these wallets out of tetrapaks but I thought I would quickly explain here rather than directing you elsewhere.
Wash out any tetrapak juice carton, cut off the top and bottom sections and fold in the sides (as seen to the left.)  Then fold the carton into three sections.
Two of the sections are going to be the main body of the wallet and the other section is going to be the flap that goes over the top.  You need to cut off the front and side sections of the flap so that only the back of the tetrapak is left to fold over the wallet body (see to the right above.)  You then fold the remaining two sections together and staple them together (as can be seen in the picture at the top on the left hand wallet.)  The punch a hole in the flap and feed a rubber band through to use to close the wallet (see below.)

We finished the wallets above and then one of the kids decided to try and find other things that could be made into wallets of various different sizes.  To the left you can see exactly the same technique used on a cereal box to make a small document folder with the finished product below.

Then my favourite which is using tea packets to make tea bag holders that you can take with you in your bag to you always have your favourite tea with you.  I love these almost as much as the wallets.  And all you need is a staple or two and a rubber band.
I have finished the Horse Boy book and really enjoyed it.  Might add some quotes later.  I am taking the Total Immersion book with me to Center Parcs next week hoping that I will get some time to practice the next set of techniques.  I found finding my 'sweet spot' not too difficult so am now wondering whether I was doing it wrong.










Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bagels, boots, books and bathing

Bathing doesn't really cover the swimming stuff I am going to be trying to do over the next few weeks but I liked the alliteration of it all.  So I will start with the Total Immersion (TI) book - 3rd book down in the photo (link to Amazon for a copy at the side).  I have read the first 3 chapters of the book and have looked at the first few drills to start my total immersion swimming practice.  Here is a video that shows what I am heading for in the first few basic drills but here is the one that shows the 'sweet spot' which I will be trying to find on Monday when I go swimming.  I will be trying to practice it on both sides.
So the theory behind why I need to be doing all this is basically we need to reshape our bodies to be able to swim better.  It seems the 80/20 principle can be used here where the mechanisms of the stroke bring 80% of the performance whereas only 20% comes from the fitness of the swimmer.  TI advocates that your arm stroke has very limited impact on how fast you move through the water due to the fact that water is 1000 times denser than air thereby throwing a huge drag force against anyone who doesn't know the tricks of becoming 'slippery' or streamlined.  Cutting drag by improving body position is therefore the most important thing to do (as nautical engineers try to do with boats.)  This can be achieved by learning to glide as far as possible after each stroke by balancing your body correctly in the water, making your body longer in the water and learning to swim on your side (hence the sweet spot drill to learn to balance on both sides in the water.)  I'll try and let you know how it goes!!!  I am very happy however that I have read a third of the book already.
I have also nearly finished the Horse Boy (2nd book down and link to Amazon at the side) and it is a brilliant book which I would highly recommend.  It is about an autistic boy called Rowan who has an affinity for horses and how his Dad takes him to see some shamans in Mongolia to try and help with his autistic behaviours.  They filmed the whole trip so I am going to try and watch the film once I have finished the book.  There is a trailer here if you are interested.  So I am pleased that I have nearly finished this book and will be carrying on reading the Harville Hendrix one "Getting the Love You want" once I have finished.

I have finished my first craft project which I am very happy about.  I adapted a pattern I found on Etsy by Holland Designs and made these feet warmer/sock/crochet shoe things.  They are very comfy and warm and I am very pleased with them even if I do say so myself!!!  Follow this link to see some of Holland Designs here.  I have bought most of the shoe patterns and will definitely be crocheting some more soon.

And lastly but not least-ly bagels.  Dave made some bagels yesterday and I had to share how amazing they were.  So much nicer than the bagels you get in the shop so much so that I ate 3 last night for tea!! Here are my lovely children modelling said bagels for you.  I think Indie might have a career in comedy modelling!!!








Tuesday, 1 January 2013

books, exercise - oh dear I have too much stuff to read and links to watch!!!

 After posting my last blog entry on facebook a discussion started about the movnat and other such movement stuff.  I thought I would therefore compose another blog entry with all the videos and stuff that I have found over the years about exercise, wild swimming, barefoot running, etc.  This prompted me to go and track down all the books I have about all these things.  However I realised that I had too many books so I just gathered together a few that I have purchased and never read (or started reading but never got very far!!)  Here are the main ones which are relevant to the links I am going to put here and are ones that are probably going to stay off the shelf and get read sometime soon (maybe!)

Whilst looking for the above books I found these other books that are going to be added to my books-I-need-to-read pile which has now gone beyond the 12 I said I was going to read this year - oh dear!!  Here are the ones I had already put on the list:
1. the moneyless manifesto - can be read here for free
2. the moneyless man
3. adapt: why success always starts with failure - read a review here
4. mindfulness for life - read about it here
5. six weeks to superhealth - see here
6. receiving love: letting yourself be loved will transform your relationship - would recommend any of his books - read about Harville Hendrix here
7. how to be an adult in relationship: the five keys to mindful loving - read about the author here

Anyway here are some links to the various physical things that I have found over the years:
Movnat is a physical education and fitness system based on training the full range of natural human movement abilities.  Here is the movnat youtube channel where there are lots of videos about movnat movements.  Here is a 48 minute talk by the founder of movnat and there are lots of other videos on you tube about this like this one or this one or this list.  Just search and you will find more.

A similar methodology is primal movement which is an approach to human movement that prioritises basic, natural movement.  Here are four workouts: workout 1 - the warm up, workout 2 - mobility and crawling, workout 3 - mirroring and interaction and workout 4 - putting it all together.  

And again here is an article about similar "our bodies have forgotten the movements we used to do" type idea.  Here is a list of the seven primal movements we don't do enough of any more - squat, lunge, push, pull, bend, twist and gait - with associated workout advice.

If you like kettlebells here is a primal movement kettlebell workout.  Here is a primal outdoor circuit done by a man with no top on to show off his abs!!

The Ready, Set, Go! book pictured above talks about a sprint 8 idea and the research behind it but basically  as mentioned here, Sprint 8 cardio exercise creates the maximal release of exercise-induced growth hormone by doing 20 minutes of exercise in a certain way three times a week.   This 20-minute protocol consists of a 3-minute walking warm up and a 2-minute walking cool down. The rest is 90 seconds of "active recovery" walking in between eight hard and fast 30-second cardio sprints.  The key is that the 30-sec cardio sprints have to be flat out otherwise you aren't doing it right.  If you can keep going after those 30 seconds at the same pace you need to be going faster.  This sprint 8 protocol can be done using any cardio exercise eg. swimming, rowing, knee-highs, you name it.

The Total Immersion is about learning a new way of swimming especially useful for outdoor swimming but also invaluable for any freestyle swimmer.  See a good description of what it is about here where you get to see a good example of the total immersion technique alongside a traditional freestyle swimming stroke.  I haven't read this book so will get back to you when I have!!  I do need to improve my freestyle stroke so definitely on my list of books to read.  [how many am I up to now? 16?]  There are other decent videos here and here and here that explain more and from other's perspectives.  It seems that these are well worth looking at if you are interested in swimming and you might be able to glean enough from the total immersion you tube channel to really help if this is your thing.  The trick seems to be to disturb the water less and a similar thing with Chi Running is to use gravity rather than battle against it.

The Chi Running book is something I bought before I bought my vibram barefoot running shoes.  Again I haven't read it other than skimming the pages although I did watch the following videos and try and implement some of the techniques in normal trainers.  Here is an interview with the Chi Running book Danny Dreyer and here is a video explaining the chi running technique and here is another one with diagrams.  There are other videos about barefoot running out there as well.  Like this one that gives you a brilliant illustration of changing foot fall to ball rather than heel and then changing posture.  There are some good drills in that video and some other ones in this video around the 2 minute mark.
So there is a bit about the stuff I have looked at over the years to do with improving the way my body works.  I think this has given me a kick start to look again at the sprint 8 as part of the movnat and primal body stuff.  Those different techniques seem to compliment each other as does the barefoot running and total immersion swimming.  So here's to a more natural body moving 2013.  [two posts in two days - who knew I could manage that!!!!]












Monday, 31 December 2012

New Year's Resolutions - paleo, movnat, crafts, books, super better and more

I had every good intention of keeping this blog up-to-date over the last year but it just didn't happen.  I am now in a dilemma as to what to do with it to be honest.  It was here for me to keep track on my Permaculture Diploma progress but to be honest I don't even know if I am going to try and get my Diploma anyway.  So I am thinking of just keeping it going as my ramblings about life and where I am heading on my own personal journey.  This journey includes permaculture so that means I can keep the blog title as is and just include other stuff along the way I suppose.

My other dilemma is that my blog doesn't have a specific purpose really such Attic 24's blog which shares her craft techniques and is well worth a visit if you want to do cool crochet things or my Dad's blog which shares his sermons.  My blog is much more stuff that I am doing whilst also teaching me about how to write a blog and add widgets onto the side like I have done here with the flickr pictures and on the left with the google ads widget.  So other than me writing about what I am doing and why and maybe sharing interesting things I have learnt along the way there isn't much more that that really.

Anyway the CKs (my collective name for me, my hubbie Dave and my 2 kids) have had a quiet festive season with a few days seeing family and the rest of the time just chilling about the house.  It was our first Xmas with a real tree which we are now deciding whether to keep for next year or chop and burn in our woodburning stove.

Dave got a planner/thicknesser for Xmas and is busily thinking up things to do with it.  He is designing some furniture for our new kitchen which is due to be started in March - woohoo!! Here is his first piece of planed/thicknessed wood.

Over the last 3 months I have been attending a local Rosemary Conley class.  It is the only weight loss class I would go to because it actually includes a fitness class as part of the fee.  I wanted a kick start to get fitter and have done this class before.  I am combining this with some paleo exercise ideas such as the sprint to lose weight idea which I have put to good use over the last few months using my treadmill and rowing machine.  I have also been looking into natural movement as a way to keep my body in balance.  I would love to do their training course in London in May but will probably just keep watching the you tube videos and incorporating some of the stuff into my every day life.  Chopping wood and moving it around for the fire has really helped but would love to do more.  I am still doing shovel glove movements with my sledgehammer whenever I remember and am sure this is having a positive effect on my muscle density and general fitness levels.  Going to have to buy Dave a sledge hammer of his own now though because he used mine for breaking up tree stumps and broke it (see above.)  I can still use it for my exercises though.  I am also still hula hooping although at the moment there isn't anywhere I can easily practice that is big enough.  The plan is to change the spare room into a gym/exercise room which will give me enough space to hoop to my hearts content.  This is a work in progress though but is getting there as Dave built these new shelves for me to put a TV/DVD player on and to store weights etc (see below in between the rainbow blinds.)  We are getting there slowly.

I have managed to lose half a stone with the Rosemary Conley class but more interesting (and satisfying to me) is that I have lost 3 to 4 inches from my waist, hips and widest parts (as designated by Rosemary Conley.)  One of the fab things that you get when you join a Rosemary Conley class is this tape measure seen here with these fun clips.  You get a big clip which is your starting measurement and then you move the corresponding coloured little clip when you re-measure yourself.  It gives you a fantastic indication of where you have come from size wise and is a much better evidence I think of increased fitness levels and weight lose (via inches) than purely the scales.  You can get one of there magic measures direct from Rosemary Conley here for £3.50.

Anyway I thought I would share my New Year's Resolutions here as another gauge to see how well I do keeping on top of the things I am trying to do.  I have decided to break it down this year so that I have more of a quantifiable set of resolutions so here goes:

Finish 10 crafty projects - with the emphasise here on finish.  I probably have more than 10 unfinished crafty projects already on the go so this should be an easy one to achieve if I can actually keep on top of it.
(To the left is the start of my skywalker shawl that I am doing via one of the craftsy online classes.  These people are well worth a look as they have some great cheap online classes here and you can get money off if you like them via the knitting club on facebook here.)

Read 12 books (and don't buy any more until I have finished at least 12 of the ones I already have.)  Again I probably have at least 12 books I bought this year that I haven't read as yet so again this could be quite easy if I actually manage to stick to it.  I am thinking that I need to pick the 12 books and put them on a shelf somewhere to remind myself that that is my task.

Reach a healthy BMI score which I reckon for my height is 154 pounds which is 11 stone.  Well I am 12 and a half now so that should be doable although a challenge for a chocolate loving, cake loving foody like me but it is always nice to have something to aim for and I told you all now so I will be more likely to stick to it.  I am also using the Super Better website to help me here.  This is well worth a look for anyone who tends to procrastinate or who likes goal setting.  You can set anything as your super better goal and add your own 'bad guys' (things that stop you achieving your goal), add your own 'allies' (friends or family who will help you) and there are quests and boosts and stuff much like in a computer game to help you along the way.  The lady who designed it gives a great TED talk here to explain why she created it and it is free so all good.

I then have a whole set of puzzles that I got years ago as part of one of those weekly subscription magazine deals and I haven't even opened most of them.  I resolve to sort them out so I can keep the ones I want to use as part of my Maths tutoring business and I will get rid of the rest.

There are then other vague ideas like buy a woodland, get the house sorted, de-clutter more, set up my Maths tutoring business, etc., etc., etc. but I will leave those for another blog post I reckon.

Anyway here's to 2013!!






Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Update - my degree, my hair, my house and my kitchen


I always seem to start my blog posts with such things as “so much for keeping on top of blogging” and “so much has happened.”  Well a lot has happened and no – I haven’t kept on top of my blogging.  I have however sorted out my degree with the Open University and will be finishing my degree in June 2015.  It will be a open degree in Maths, Computing, Business and Design.  I am taking a break from the studies whilst I help my Dad market his new book – go here to have a look. My next course starts in Feb and is about sustainable design, followed by one in investigating entrepreneurial opportunities and finishing with 2 courses in teaching statistics and analysing data.  

I passed my PTTLS teaching course and I am hoping that I can start working as a Maths tutor as soon as my house is sorted.  We have had a family living with us since July whilst they are trying to find somewhere to live in York so space is at a premium in our house as the moment with 8 people living in a 4 bedroom house!!  This should all be resolved by Christmas when I am hoping that our kitchen extension will also have been completed.  It reminds me of the book A Squash and a Squeeze and I am looking forward to having the space and ability so that I can properly re-arrange and re-zone the house as part of my Permaculture Diploma.  A lot of this re-zoning hinges on the kitchen being re-designed so fingers crossed that gets done as soon as possible.

Talking about my Applied Diploma in Permaculture Design the not-washing-my-hair thing did not work as planned.  My hair never “righted” itself like others did so I resorted to using bicarbonate of soda but it still wasn’t enough for my hair.  So I tried using egg and vinegar and still not great so I have compromised and started using Faith in Nature shampoo again but only once a week or so with bicarbonate of soda in between.  I am going to keep trying experimenting with different alternatives as not happy using shampoo even if it is ecologically sound stuff.

The zopa loans lending scheme is still working out well for us and am I really pleased with it.  I would highly recommend this service or others like it to anyone wanting to cut the bank out of the financial equation.  You can borrow money or lend it via these types of schemes and the extra interest goes to the lender and the borrower pays less than they would to a bank.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Edible hedge here we come - stage 1

Well I have had a brilliant day today because I spent the majority of it in the garden doing some major renovating whilst the children had fun with their friends.  As part of my master plan for a big portion of the garden to become a forest garden, Dave bought a large selection of new hedge plants.  The hedge that is at the end of our garden and all the way down the LHS as you look down the garden is horrible.  It is overgrown, ugly, and too thick, doesn’t encourage wildlife and doesn’t produce fruits or anything else edible.  Also no one has any idea what it is!!!!  Luckily for us our neighbours who share the hedge hate it too and so they are happy for us to pull it up and replace it with edible hedge plants.  So today we began!!  And this picture shows how much hedge Dave removed and the newly planted (very small) hazel, june berries and blackthorn plants.

Whilst Dave was busy digging and planting I was chopping up the old hedge for kindling and logs or disposal.  The kids got involved, our neighbours got involved and we even had a visit from the neighbours at the bottom of the garden to investigate what we were doing.  They unfortunately didn’t want us to take down the hedge at the bottom of the garden so we have had to slightly change our plans.


We had some box hedge which we decided to keep but having planted over the kids hedge hole to get from our garden to next door we had to make them another way in so they weren't tempted to trample Dave's newly planted hedge.  Here is the new way in wonderfully modelled by my next door neighbour and cunningly positioned to match the climbing frame!!!  Obviously that was totally planned that way and not just lucky.


We have loads more to do but I am very happy with the start.  I now have one of the huge cardboard boxes that the hedge plants came in full of kindling ready for the winter and some great bigger firewood.  Even more fantastic was the fact that all the kids who dropped in during the day were asking about what we were doing so we could tell them that hedges can grow food,  be productive and encourage wildlife.  Hopefully in the coming years they will be able to see that for themselves and enjoy some of the harvest.  


Here's hoping that these little plants grow to be productive, attractive hedges and make a wonderful border to our ever growing forest garden.  And that we can pay the neighbours back for their help with fruits and nuts on their side too!!!
It was good fun and a brilliantly productive day.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Skydive, allotment and ransom

Yep - that is correct - I did a static line solo parachute jump last weekend for a laugh.  I did injure myself (see below) which is a laugh as I had more injuries from the bramble clearing on the allotment the previous week! Thought it was quite funny that clearing the allotment is more dangerous than jumping out of a plane so thought I had to share.
Anyway the allotment clearing went well so we had a bonfire there last night with some neighbours.  We had s'mores and I took pens and paper so that people could write their wishes and/or things that they wanted to forget on paper and burn them.  It was good fun with lots of laughter, running, giggling and acting round the bonfire (see the collage photo to see the fun.)
Toasting marshmallows and Indie in the trailer ready to be cycled home.
So today I thought I should get on with planting my ransom which arrived in the post from a lovely friend yesterday.  I had always planned that it would go under the trampoline but that meant that some clearing needed to be done (as can be seen from these photos.)

I got going though and the result can be seen below with a large stack of kindling ready for the woodburning stove so I am very pleased.  I also had very happy chickens who got all the cleared vegetation.  There is still more to do but I am very happy with the start.


It was very therapeutic sitting under that trampoline clearing wood and planting ransom.  Can highly recommend it!!
Happy Spring everyone