Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIAW #17 (Recipe #2)

Happy What I ate Wednesday Clanettes! Just a quickie today, to show our dinner this evening.. Jamie Olivers 'Turkish Flats, Shred Salad, Feta & Herbs' - my second recipe review from his '15 minute meals'..

I have no clue how to express how tastey these were! We don't eat lamb because I don't particularly like lamb, but Paul has a big day tomorrow, so tonight called for a treat.. Lamb.

If you are even tempted to try a new, middle eastern recipe and be blown away, try this one! I am assured it also works with quorn mince if you are veggie. I can't find the recipe online to share with you, which is annoying, but I can tell you to buy his book! (See amazon here)
After we had devoured our turkish flats, I had lashing of yoghurt, honey, and cinnamon raisons & apples for pudding. Great meal! (Yes, I enjoyed eating lamb!)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mermaid Tales #2

On Sunday evening I had the second of my six booked swimming lessons and I loved it! I looked forward to it all day (pleased I knew where I was going and what to expect this time!) and I wasn't disappointed.

I arrived nice and early and tried to take a sneaky pic for you Clanettes, the view from the entrance, so you could picture where I am when I'm talking about the lessons. Its a lovely pool, nicer than where I go to swim usually. You can see the two instructors - Chris is in the yellow top, he takes my group.
Because we had missed last week due to the snow, we spent the first part of this week refreshing ourselves on what we remembered talking about 2 weeks previously. Going in pairs, the instructor watched us swim all three techniques and then offered a critique of our style.

Then we picked up the floats to keep us from using our arms and concentrated on our legs for breast stroke, before looking at reach in front crawl and keeping ourselves floating whilst swimming back stroke.

I realised that I get most of my speed from my arms in breast stroke, and I should actually be propelling myself with mostly just my legs. I have altered my technique (hard to describe, but I now bring my feet to my bum and snap them out, rather than trying to form my legs into a circle.. yeah.. hard to describe!) and I can feel it is quicker, but man it is tiring! I went swimming last night (Monday) and practised both front crawl and breast stroke and could really feel where my muscles are not used to the new technique - I haven't felt so hideous in the water for a long time, and that was nice actually. Making a change felt good. I am going to have to just stick with practise for a while I think, and concentrate on making the suggested adjustments, rather than swimming for time or distance right now.

Anyway, I digress. So yes, the instructor is really good at showing correct form and with our goggles we are able to watch him demonstrate under the water as well as on top. Then we practise in our pairs and he critiques. Its really interesting to watch the others do it as well, what looks like great technique is often slow and with a couple of tweaks, its soon speeded up.

For front crawl I have realised that my breathing is all down to my reach (how far I push my hand into the water ahead of me), the longer my reach, the more time I have to turn my head.. and I need to just relax! I've been so scared of the breathing thing I have avoided the stroke! I'm learning to just kick for all I'm worth with my legs (tiring! particular after a killer turbo sesh!), but practise my three stroke breathing and just stick with it. Better form can come when I'm confident I won't drown and I don't end every length out of breath.

I'm hoping to get another swim session in this week, and I am already eager for lesson number 3.. Swim fast.. Be the dolphin..

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Mandala for January

On Saturday night Lucy and I drove to Holly's house for a Mandala and Moonlodge. We don't do it very often, but it is always right when we do. See the three previous Mandala's we have made here, here and here.

I had suggested we cut up magazines, a bit like the decoupage activity we did last Samhain (see here). And given that Paul and I are fanatical about cycling and triathlon.. We have A LOT of magazines floating around! Perfect!

The key to a successful Mandala is brain food... ahem..! Doesn't hurt though, right!
Then take two of your friends, and distract them.. (Lucy, take heart! I am publishing a photo of you where you aren't hot and sweaty!! Ha ha x x)
 With the shenanigans of a rather cute kitten, called Pebbles..
Then once everyone is suitably comfortable, begin your Mandala:
Given that we were cutting up magazines and gluing them to a circular surface (paper) the premise of the Mandala was rather lost, but its surely all in the making, so lets over look that!

The task we set was to create something feminine out of a few rather masculine cycling and tri magazines..
I could waffle on about my portion, talking about the feminine in cycling, enjoying being one of the few female riders at predominantly male sportives.. But the truth is I really struggled!! I could not relax into the activity and I looked through magazine after magazine without inspiration and I was feeling more pressured as Lucy and Holly created their designs out of the same magazines with relative ease. So in the end I stuck with what I felt comfortable with. Cycling!
And actually it does fit. So the other two stuck to the brief and created something feminine out of the predominantly masculine magazines, but still my portion fits in.  I feel like there is a hidden lesson there.. something glaring at me.. I like to cycle.. I like to be feminine.. It also seems to suggest that I can't think about anything but cycling at the moment, even when withdrawing from events.. Inspiring (in the end!) as ever!

Thank you for hosting Holls x x

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sum it up on Sunday - January round up

This has been a week of emotional highs and lows for me. On Monday I had the first of 2 interviews this week and I didn't get offered that job. On Tuesday I baby relayed with Vikki and Elle, and shared lunch. Wednesday I spent some time with Lucy and she was witness to a hideous telephone interview that went appallingly and I fretted over it, but on Thursday my parents, my sister and my nephew visited and Niamh and I were taken out for lunch, and I was simultaneously offered a second interview on the back of the telephone interview (and was somewhat dumb-founded).
After 5 days of deliberate rest from exercise, I came to the difficult decision on Friday, that my Back is not physically strong enough to start training for an 86 mile sportive in April. The Back sage continues to grumble on and I have ummed and ahhed and decided that the best thing I can do for myself physically right now, is pull out. It has messed with my a head a bit, I'll be honest. I feel like I have quit, you know? I feel like I haven't even given the training a chance and that come April I will regret the decision. But on the other hand, I am relieved because I can't actually do it right now. How can I simultaneously be disappointed and relieved over training that I can't actually, physically do..?! The mind is a weird thing.

So having decided to withdraw from Aprils race on Friday, I was a rather frustrated on Saturday morning. What else could I do, but push myself to my limit and complete a killer turbo session with the help of The Sufferfest and a specific turbo training video called 'Hell Hath No Fury'. It was hard! I have lost a lot of bike fitness (and was sad to realise that I haven't run in over a month now. ARRGGGHHHHHHH!) as my cadence monitor shows, but I hope to keep improving on the turbo so that when I am well and healed, I can go out on my bike and enjoy it for what it is.

Paul is of the opinion that a concentrated hour and 15mins on the turbo is the equivalent to double that on the road, because when you are on the road you aren't constantly putting effort in - there are downhill stretches etc. And I have to admit that I worked much harder on the turbo yesterday then I would have done had I gone out and done my 15 mile loop, which would have probably taken me a similar amount time.

On Saturday night Lucy and I went to see Holly, and I briefly saw Rachel too. We did a Mandala (see previous Mandala's here). I will do a specific Mandala post over the next couple of days.
(Can you gues which portion of the Mandala is mine!?!)

Sunday, of course, was an early morning gym session with Lucy - 10k on the bike, 30mins on the elliptical trainer and 10mins uphill walking. Tonight I have my second swimming lesson (last weeks was cancelled because of the snow).

Exercise Summary:
W/E 27/01/13
Cycle: 20 miles
Run: 0

Elliptical trainer: 1 x 30min session
Swim: 2nd swimming lesson

Exercise Summary for January:
Cycle: 90 miles/144km
Run: 0

Elliptical trainer: 7 sessions
Swim: 1.97 miles/2.5km

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A leek story!

I harvested the first of my leeks this morning, and I am so absolutely thrilled with these long onions that I thought I would share the journey of them from seed to plate. 
The teeny red dots of seeds were planted on my window sill last April (I never said this was a quick process!) and I marvelled at how the shoots seemed to unfurl and stand up.
The pencil thin leeks went into the veg patch last June, I was so worried for them because the process of 'dibbing in' (see here, this is a lovely veg patch blog) seems to make them so vulnerable.
 Yet here they are, 6 months later and they are the last things to still be standing proud out there.
 Today I pulled the 3 fattest leeks
 Washed them
 Trimmed them, and then made leek and potato soup for our lunch.
I'm not the worlds best veg patch keeper, I have a tendency to let the weeds take hold and sometimes my crops fail. But there is absolutely nothing better than the fulfillment of growing something, however long it takes, and then making a meal out of it. Despite our fast paced lives, it reminds me of our connection to the earth.
I am eager for this growing season to get under way!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lady boss

Soooo. I had an interview yesterday, an interview for the position of Clerk to the Governors at a local school. I didn't get the job, and I have to say that last night I was disappointed, but I learnt a lot yesterday and I thought I'd share my day with you.

I have a collection of 'work' clothes, I'd like to say they are classic pieces.. the kind that don't really go out of fashion.. But in reality, its just a suit and a couple of smart jumpers that I hung onto when I finished work for maternity leave in 2008. They are indeed classic. They are indeed still in fashion. They are also indeed 4 sizes too big for me.  Dilemma! When I heard of the interview last week, I thought no probs, I'll hit Tesco or M&S this weekend and sort something. Then the snow arrived and made it impossible for me to get out. So then friends rummaged in their wardrobes for me and I was kitted out. 

Me being me though, I worried that I didn't look like 'me' and so I took inspiration from my secret celeb crush.. Kim Kardashion..!
With her in mind.. I tried on Paul's work suit trousers, and then nearly fell over when they not only fit me, but I felt quite good in them! A bit like a boss in fact!
So this is me, working it like a lady boss, with my lady crew, being papped by the boy Lochie.. or something! Forgive my hair, I was trying on outfits before I got ready and I had Lochie take photos to email to my nearest and dearest for opinions.

The interview was at 1.45pm, so Vikki had Niamh for me, and Emma collected the biglets from school for me so I was in no rush to get back. Working it like a lady boss, feeding your youngest beans and wearing an apron to protect your interview clothes taught me about making enough time to get ready beforehand.. Then I had to trudge through the snow in my wellies and waterproof trousers, with my heels in a rucksack on my back and then when I got within sight of the school I morphed into my boss like self.

The interview actual was my first in over 7 years and just to mix it up, it was a formal panel interview with 3 ladies.. daunting!! I think it went well, I came away positive I couldn't have done anything better.

I was called later the same day to be told I hadn't been successful, and the lady was very nice and positive. She said she couldn't fault my interview, but another candidate had closer matched experience.

Ah well. Pipped at the post. So yes, I was disappointed last night, but Paul was great, sorted dinner and treat me to chocolate roses.. What more can a self indulgent lady boss ask for?

Onwards and upwards Clanettes. Least I've got an interview under my belt now! The next one won't be as daunting surely, and I also know what I'll wear now too.

Thanks so much for every ones support and special mention to my sister. Em, you have been amazing with my phone calls and help with applying and prep for all the jobs over the last few weeks. Sadly, it doesn't stop here just yet! Love you xx

Thanks for reading x x x

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sum it Up on Sunday

My parents visited during the day, on their way to the new forest for the week. They are very excitingly have a new kitchen fitted and decided to move out whilst it was done. Good plan!
Monday night ladies swim, 40 lengths in 25 mins.

Gym with Lucy - 10 min (1k) brisk walk on the treadmill, 20 min (1k) on the elliptical trainer and then 30 mins (10k) on the bike.  

I needed to get the biglets some plimsolls for school - you know you need to sort your children's P.E kit when they come home with a hand written sticker on their jumper saying 'Mummy, please can I take my P.E kit into school tomorrow.' So I met up with Vikki and headed into town. Plimsolls and a new dress later, and I was shopped out!
 'Rest' day - Sound therapy and massage in the evening.

'Rest' day - osteopath. I had thought to turbo in the evening, as per my training plan, but after a pre-snow tesco shopping trip with Lucy, after Osteo, my back was tired and I decided to rest.. Yes, yes, I rested peeps!

Snow day - school was closed, Paul didn't make it into work.
I did a great 1hr turbo session and cycled 10 miles. 10 min warm up, 10 min sustainable effort, then 10 mins of 2 mins on and killing it, 1 min easy pedalling, 10 mins sustainable effort, then another 10 mins of 2 min on and killing it, 1 min easy pedalling, followed by a 10 min cool down.. GREAT SESSION!

'Rest' day, my back was tired so I listened to it and gave myself the day off.
In the evening Elle and Johny came for dinner. Vikki was babysitting Elle's daughter Mia, but Mia wanted her Mummy, so after we'd eaten Vikki brought Mia over and we all had a drink!
Paul cooked ultimate pork taco's (another great recipe from Jamies 15 min meals), Johny was great company and at the end of the evening, after a tad too much wine, Elle and I decided to paint our nails...

Elle had seen this video on YouTube..
So we tried it and actually it worked! Kind of! Probably something to try another time when slightly less tipsy.
Anyway, it was hugely entertaining - if very messy!!

And lastly, but by no means least, Elle painted me a set of 4 wine glasses as part of a 'craft it forward' gift on face book. This is the premise you put as your status:

'My turn to pass on the creative love! I am doing the 2013 Creative Pay It Forward. The first five people to comment on this status will receive something from me in the next year. It may be a handcrafted item or something yummy made in my kitchen or it may be a creative idea just especially for you...a surprise! There will be no warning as to when you will receive your gift other than it will be before the end of the year - let me have your address now please so as not to ruin the surprise. The catch? Those five people must make the same offer on their Face book status, pay it forward peeps!'

And then you fulfill.. Given that this was only last week, Elle was uber organised! 
Look what she made me!! As I opened the box, she was quick to point out that she hadn't actually made the glass, she had 'just' painted them.. 'JUST' I shrieked... You 'JUST' painted them? Totally love them x x
Its fair to say I wasn't on top form today!! Over-indulgence ahoy!! I fell into bed just after 1am and Niamh came through just before 5am.. I'm not used to so little sleep these days, or lots of rich food and wine!
Fresh snow was settling, the gym was closed, my swimming lesson had been cancelled, so after a hearty and stodgy lunch of jacket potato, tuna and beans, I braved the turbo.. I admit I was half hearted in my session today - but I figure getting out and doing it, is better than not! 10 miles later and I trudged through the snow, back into the house, relieved to have done it.

Exercise Summary:
W/E 20/01/13
Cycle: 26 miles
Run: 0

Elliptical trainer: 1 x 20min session
Swim: 1 swim 40 x 25m - 2nd swimming lesson at the uni cancelled due to the snow

Saturday, January 19, 2013

S N O W!

A few of my favourite shots from the last 24 hours, when the world turned white. I have never seen so much snow in Southampton. I remember deep snow from my childhood in Sheffield, but never this much in the South.
Vikki and the husky toddlers!! Vikki's youngest, Livvi, is swaddled in the connecta on Vikki's front.
 Lochie and Bebe made a snowman with Emily, Vikki's eldest step-daughter.
View from my turbo trainer in the shed!

Love a bit of snow, its a great distraction... Now its time to melt please.. hate the snow!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The short term plan

Two things to note as this week comes to an end (under a blanket of snow!) - my training for my first big ride of the year starts now that I am BACK in the game... and I have two interviews for separate jobs next week!! YIKES!!

I have been applying for jobs in earnest since mid December. No easy feat really, as I want part time, ideally term time only and I want to be paid LOADS. Joke. Anyway, I have had several disappointing 'no thank you's' and then out of the blue, a formal letter arrived in the post yesterday inviting me to an interview on Monday, and another via email telling me of a telephone interview next week... I won't say more than that right now, because I believe in the power of jinx. But I also believe in the power of positivity, and actually, universe, just so you know 'I WOULD LIKE EITHER OF THESE JOBS PLEASE' although I am grateful for the interview practise if that is all this is. It goes without saying that I also believe in the power of grayskull.

Moving swiftly on.. My training plan! (Ironically, we only joked last night that I might not have time to find a job for the foreseeable future at least and all these polite no thank yous might not be such a bad thing..) Yes, I plan to cycle an 86 mile sportive in April, and given that my last real cycling was last October.. I have some work to do. Paul has written me a comprehensive training plan that involves me beating the turbo into submission and going out for a longer rides at the weekend.

I don't know if this is big enough for you to see, but this is THE PLAN. We have found a great turbo website 'The Sufferfest', and believe that a killer turbo session for 1hr is the equivalent to 2.5 on the road.. So if I work really hard at it, I should be fine. (Another positive, how many do you want? But another positive is that it doesn't involve any running)

Good news really, because I want my cake and I want to eat it. I really want to get a job AND cycle/Tri my hardest, in between and without detriment to all my Mummying and life stuff.

Thanks to for this image