Tuesday, January 25, 2011


January is what feels like the longest month of the year but if you're Scottish you have January 25th to look forward to and the food and dancing that come with it. Today is Robert Burns' 252nd birthday... how old is America? Kidding.

Most American's I've spoken to are unaware that they "know" who Robert Burns is. He wrote "Auld Lang Syne" and many other poems and many many songs in his Scottish dialect. In fact the title of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men", is taken from Burns' "To a mouse" ("The best laid schemes o' mice an' men, Gang aft agley")

He's so celebrated that in school we have Burns competitions where we all memorise and recite Scottish poems prizes are given to the kids whose parents coached them the best - probably the Scottish equivalent of the American "science project" or "Rube Goldberg", or "Pinewood derby".

With his birthday being a national holiday and having statues of him all over Scotland it's probably not surprising The Bard's birthday is celebrated with a traditional meal. Haggis, neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes) will be served all over Scotland tonight.

It's days like today I get hungry for home.

You can see pictures of his home from when I visited here.
And here's a video too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Caitlin Grace

I mentioned it on Facebook already but today would have been my youngest sister, Caitlin's 18th birthday. Every year is difficult but with milestone birthdays it's different, harder. I remember being 18, how could it be my youngest sister's 18th birthday? I try not to imagine too hard what it would be like if she was still alive but I can't help but wonder. I wonder if she was still alive if my family relations would be better...

I don't know.

Food for thought... or maybe not.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

All Dressed Up: Blowing off some steam.

I'm a comfy dresser but today (for about 30 minutes) I decided to dress up just for All Dressed Up over at No Model Lady because I needed to take a little break from this hard, tough and difficult week.

This purple blouse is one of the reasons I decided to slim down. My mum sent it to me for my birthday but it was horribly tight over my chest and I struggled... ok, I had to have Stuart pull it off over my head in order to escape it. Don't pretend you've never got stuck in a blouse before! Today I managed to put it on and breath and I also managed to take it off without breaking a sweat!

Tshirt and jeans back on, water bottle filled, now back to work!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goals: Weight loss

Remember when Stuart and I went vegetarian for 3 weeks? 3 weeks turned into two months because we lost track of time and it was surprisingly a lot easier than we expected. It was the perfect kick start to our diet and weight loss plan.

Yesterday I reached my 20lbs weight loss marker - the first of a few 20's I think - and it feels SO good. Combined, Stuart and I have lost 46.4lbs. He's getting close to 30lbs off. We're pretty proud of ourselves.

I posted about it on facebook last night and everyone has been really encouraging. I thought I'd tell you some of the things we've been doing to help us reach our goals.

1. We did it together. I need someone there with me to encourage me. We lean on each other for support. We exercise together, talk about the goals, meals, future etc. It's made "getting fit" so much more enjoyable doing it together. We cheer for each other during weigh in. If we put on a little unexpected weight we give a pep talk and encouragement. When we reach our goals it's high fives all around. I love it. If you can't find that support at home you can try weight watchers or exercising with friends - Zumba anyone?

2. Make a menu plan with good healthy recipes found online. We then go shopping for the ingredients and bypass the "snacks" that were our weakness (Doritos). Just walk by them. Don't think about them, don't pick them up, just walk away. You don't need them, even if they are on sale.

The benefit of the menu plan is that you don't have to think about what's for dinner. You can write each meal on a calendar, know you have the ingredients on hand and that's it.

3. Make it a routine. In order to create a good habit you need to put yourself into a routine. Morning or evening is the best time to work out. Morning because it boosts your metabolism for the day and gives you those endorphins to keep you peppy. Evening you have energy to burn off and all the calories you've consumed through the day. We have dinner at 5 and exercise at 7 or 8, giving us enough time to wind down before bed at 10:30. If you can only manage to run for 10 minutes it's still exercise and it's a really great start - especially if you haven't been exercising for a long time.

Maybe in order to create a routine and to keep the pressure off yourself you can go swimming every Saturday with your kids? Keeping it fun is what keeps me going. I'm a fan of the Bollywood dance dvd's. Skipping (with a skipping rope) and hula hooping are two really good ways to burn calories. Even better you can put some music on get going skipping/hooping to the beat.

4. Start off slowly and take your body into account. There's no point pushing yourself further than you're physically able. Because of my back injury I often can't do more than 10 minutes a day. 10 minutes a day combined with healthy meals can make a difference. Be sensible.

5. Invest in exercise material that you love. Treat yourself to a sports bra, work out dvd, water bottle etc. as incentive to keep going. I know I've raved about it before but we invested in Wii Fit. We use it to track our weight and for the exercise routines. Stuart utilised this more than I did because I have to do low impact exercises for my back but Wii Fit gives you options for a whole range of different level impact exercises.

6. Set goals. The other thing we love about Wii Fit is that along with tracking weight we use it to set our weight loss goals. I always set mine for 2lbs in 2 weeks and have never missed a goal. Stuart sets his as 1lb in 2 weeks because he's scared of missing the goal - he always loses more. Underachiever. 2lbs in 2 weeks is an reachable goal. Sometimes it's REALLY close, like yesterday I hit it right on the nose down to the decimal but it works for me.

2lbs in 2 weeks is 15lbs (rounding)/ just over 1 stone in 2 months. Which is 6 stone in a year. Break it down so it feels like you can reach it and you'll feel less swamped by it.

7. Keep a journal. This one is optional but helps me. I have Stuart take pictures of my in my sports bra and pants every few weeks. I post it on a private blog along with my stats (week #, date, weight, BMI, complete amount lost). The results are not going to be visible within the first 10lbs lost except in your face but it's encouraging to have a small group of cheerleaders who point out how much thinner your face is looking or how your ribs are looking less padded. People want to support you and we all know that weight loss is a big, personal goal that is easier with encouragement.

These are all things that have helped us. I still have a good long journey ahead of me but I'm driven and I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm healthier now, my back is still painful every day but I feel like I can handle it better now and I imagine once I shed more of my meat that it'll feel better.

Be sensible and eat properly. If you struggle in the beginning it won't last long if you have the motivation you need. It didn't take long for us to stop over eating. Your body wants to be healthy so it makes changes on its own once you stop packing it full of giant meals and junk food. I've heard people who drink fizzy drinks regularly and quit can lose a good deal of weight by doing just that. If you're drinking caffeinated drinks regularly your body will thank you for replacing those with water.

If you've been thinking about losing weight but haven't found the motivation I hope this has helped you. If I can do it, you can. Seriously. And if you are on a weight loss regime let me know how you're doing so I can be your cheerleader.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I thought after having a 2 week break from school I'd be ready to kick my last 2 semesters booty... I'm not. I'm counting down the weeks verrrrry slowly and torturing myself with how badly I want to be done. To make it harder the class I'm taking right now - Information Design - is extremely confusing. I just don't get it but I do know I only have 5 more weeks left. I can be confused for 5 weeks... I've done it before and sometimes for longer.

Also, to distract myself by how much I want to not be in school I've broken down the next 23 weeks like this:
February - Valentines Day
March - Wedding anniversary AND half way to June graduation.

If I can focus on those two things rather than my week by week count down it might go faster. I want to be DONE! I want to focus on earning money! I love what I do and I love the few clients I've had so far but I want to be able to focus on more clients, more designs. I want to create!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Love is a weed.

I'm British. I keep my emotions in check. I don't gush. I also don't participate in or encourage public displays of affection. I'm private. It might have less to do with being British than it does with being a quiet, shy child uncomfortable under supervision. Either way, I keep myself to myself, unless you're a good friend and then you probably wish I kept more to myself than I do when we're in private.

This is going somewhere, I promise. Just hang on.

It occurred to me as I was heading into the kitchen for a bowl of Reeses Peanut Butter Puffs that love is not like a flower (red, red rose). My love is actually like a weed. It's out of control, grows like nothing else, strangles anything that gets in it's way. It's powerful and unruly!

Then when I was putting my cereal box back on the shelf I thought about how regularly people will comment on how well Stuart and I go together. With how private I am it's kind of sneaky for anyone to actually see exactly how I feel about him but the truth is we are completely and utterly right for each other.

I obviously love him but what you don't know is that I struggle finding the right words to accurately express it to him. I get frustrated with "I love you". How on earth can those words be right when I love him a bajillion times more now than I did when I first said them?

Within my hard shell there's an extremely sappy core - literally and figuratively but I'm talking figuratively right now. I would do absolutely anything for that big lout. I get up at 6am to put his lunch together and set out anything he needs for the day whilst he's getting cleaned up and ready. I wave him off every morning and then sit for 10 minutes feeling sad that he's gone. When he is home I ask him every 30 minutes if he's ok and if he needs anything. If he needs anything I go get it, promptly and happily. We say "I love you" to each other about 47 times a day, randomly and the response is always surprised and gleeful, like it's the first time we've ever heard those words from each other.

He makes it easy to love him that much. When his alarm goes off in the morning he hits snooze and then curls up around me. He kisses me at least 3 times before he leaves the house. He waves vigorously as he drives off and three seconds later my phone buzzes and there's an "I love you" text. At night one of two things is likely to happen. 1) I fall asleep on the couch. 2) He has to study late and I need to go to bed. If I fall asleep on the couch I magically wake up in bed. He is magic. If I need to go to bed before him he takes me to bed, tucks me in and says a prayer before leaving. He's my anchor. We sometimes wake up holding hands. Even asleep we can't get enough of each other! How cheesy! I LOVE cheese!

He is it for me and I'm so confused about how it even happened, how I let myself become so dependent on someone else. I'm baffled by the amount of love I'm capable of how and how it keeps rapidly growing. He makes me so happy.

So I suppose I'm not really surprised by how obvious it is that we're perfect for each other. I don't think the love has anywhere left to go except out into the open, that's what weeds do. All this lovey-dovey stuff is certainly not to say that we don't argue or fight because we do, regularly. That crazy love is stronger though. We're both believers in constructive arguing and are on the same page when it comes to disagreeing - in the long run a lot of stuff just doesn't matter. That concept might entail a whole different post but I hope there's other people out there who have this same relationship with their lovers - I wish all of you do! Disagreeing and arguing isn't the end of it. Balanced compromise and love are fine solutions to disagreeing. Balance is so important. There's two on this team and we both share the load.

I love Love. I love us.

And really, who doesn't love dandelions?

Mindy Gledhill's song All About Your Heart goes perfectly with everything I feel about Stuart. It actually sparked this whole pondering of love off.