Friday 30 August 2013

Pull the other one pork

Sliders are awesome, no doubt about it. In case you don't know what I'm on about, I'm referring to those miniature burger bun sandwiches that usually come in a trio and are filled with delicious combinations like pulled pork, pickles and coleslaw. So, not the 90s sci-fi TV show about parallel universes with Vern from Stand by me? Er, no. Although that show was pretty awesome too.

These tiny culinary delights are nothing new. They're an American creation that was made popular ages ago by places like the burger chain White Castle, but it's taken us Aussies a bit longer to catch on. Initially a slow infiltration over the last few years into bars and restaurants, they're now everywhere. Forget about hotcakes and sliced bread, sliders are where it's at. They're popping up on more menus faster than you can say "Get in my belly!" and I'm mighty pleased about it. Slide this way you tasty bastards!

There's only one thing that's got me slightly annoyed - and that's the aforementioned, pulled pork. As one of the most common slider fillings, this term is currently being bandied about as much as Miley Cyrus and her twerk obsession. Sure, pulled pork is super tasty, but let's cut the crap. Nobody's pulled anything except the wool over the eyes of food snobs. I know it's slow cooked and all that, but really you've just taken bits of meat off a piece of pork like you'd do with a BBQ chicken. You don't hear anyone going around saying, "Hey come get one of my pulled chook sangers!" It's common sense. How else are you going to get the meat off the bone, suck it?

Pulled pork appears to be the latest craze of the food elite. Not content with sitting inside a slider, it's now also surfacing in salads and all kinds of other dishes. Pulled pork kebabs - why not? Pulled pork pancakes - you know it! Pull the other one.

My gripe is not with pulled pork itself, that stuff is delicioso. I just can't stand the fact that the food industry has decided it's cool and is now going to town on it. If you're an establishment that serves food and it's not on your menu then look out! Why can't places follow their own tastes and expertise, not food fads of the moment?

And while we're talking about restaurant wankerisms, here's some other menu items that have got my knickers in a twist:

Deconstructed anything
I do not want to see my meal either separated out like an anally retentive forensic scientist has been searching for DNA, or reinterpreted into some bizarre concoction that only resembles what I used to love. Lasagne comes in layers and should look and taste like lasagne. Quit the fancy.

Edible flowers
Flowers belong in the vase, not on the plate. They do not taste nice. Ever. Just because we can eat flowers, doesn't mean we should. I can eat poo if I really want, but I don't. So stop putting flowers on everything to make your plate look pretty people. I'm talking to you George Calombaris.

Anything - done multiple ways
Why would anyone want to eat just the one key ingredient cooked in a bunch different ways? I appreciate the skills involved in getting duck pancakes, duck liver pate and duck curry all on the one plate at the same time and at the right temperatures, but who wants to eat that? Duck off!

People just want to eat food that looks good, tastes delicious and fills them up (and hopefully doesn't make them sick). Restaurants, I don't think the Masterchef judges are sitting out there incognito waiting to pounce. It's time to get back to real food.

What dishes do you think are a load of pulled pork?

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Tuesday 27 August 2013

Life lessons from my toddler

I hate shopping at the best of times, so last week when I was forced to venture out to the mall with both kids in tow I wasn't in the best mood as you can imagine. I was rushing my errands so I could factor in a quick play for the boys at some indoor jungle thing before getting back home for lunch, when something happened.

My almost three year-old asked to stop and look at the water fountain. No big deal. But as we stood there, I turned my head for a second and when I looked back he'd climbed up and put his legs in the water - jeans, shoes, socks and all. I couldn't believe it. Instantly I got cross because we still had jobs and playtime ahead of us, and his pants and shoes were soaking. I was sure we'd have to abandon the mission and head home, but I was wrong.

My son didn't give a damn. Even an hour later after traipsing around with wet gear on, he couldn't care less. And suddenly I found myself having a reality check. If he didn't care, then why did I?

It was pretty painless when later I threw the jeans and socks in the laundry and dried his shoes out in front of the heater. So why did I jump into my Cranky Mum Pants so quickly when he did it? He didn't hurt anyone and didn't break any laws (that I know of), so why was I so annoyed? A big fan of fountains, he probably looked at the water and thought, "Yep, I want to put my feet in," and so he did. He didn't think about the consequences, he just went for it. He was living in the moment.

Children have that amazing ability to be completely in the present without thinking about it, something which fades away and is much harder to achieve when we become adults. Life is just too complicated and busy right? I'm glad my son put his legs in that fountain because it gave me a much-needed wake-up call. I most certainly have not been living in the 'right here and now' of late. There's always some place to be, some job to think about or someone to worry about, and way too much emphasis on being a responsible and organised member of society.

I feel ashamed that I told my son off for taking a dip in that fountain. I don't want either of my children growing up too fast or thinking doing something is wrong when it's actually not. Obviously if he consistently ran around getting soaked ten times a day then that's not cool, but so what if he wants to do something a little crazy to satisfy his curiosity or get him closer to something he loves? I wish I was like that more often. I know I used to love sitting outside in the rain when I was a child, often without an umbrella, but it's been a long time since I've done anything like that.

Another childhood memory I often think about is when I spent an afternoon making daisy chains on my neighbour's lawn. When my mum came to collect me I recall her looking at the grass wistfully and saying she felt like sitting down and doing daisy chains too. I remember feeling surprised and excited, this was so unlike her."Well, why don't you?!" I said. "I can't," she sighed.

I distinctly remember feeling disappointed and determined that I was never going to be like that when I grew up - I would always have time for daisy chains. Ah, the blissful gift of childhood innocence and ignorance. Now I'm a mum myself, I know she probably had to make the dinner, help with homework, and a bunch of other boring adult jobs to keep the household running and everyone happy. It wasn't easy for her to be spontaneous, and to slink off for a whimsical moment would no doubt mean repercussions she didn't have the time or energy for. Spontaneity was for people without children.

I think about my life before being a parent and can't recall that many occasions when I really lived in the present though. Only one springs to mind, which was when my husband and I got engaged. We had a party to celebrate and a lot of people were lovely enough to give us expensive champagne as gifts. We carefully stored them all away in our wine rack and cupboards so we could drink them on special occasions. But only a few weeks after, one sunny Sunday a friend dropped by and we decided to crack one for no real reason. It was delicious. We quickly finished it and then moved on to another bottle, then another and so on. In the end I think we drank about $500 worth of champagne in the space of an afternoon. Talk about ostentatious! But it was thrilling and so much fun. My husband and I remember this as one of the best days we've ever had and do you know why? We were living in the moment. Sure we could have been sensible and saved the bottles, but what for? Tomorrow is never a certainty.

So how do you keep the balance between being a responsible adult who provides and protects, and being a carefree spirit who lives in the moment? It's so easy to get stuck in the day to day swirl of life's issues and duties, and before you know it they outweigh all the great stuff that comes naturally. Having children definitely narrows your ability to live in the present because you're always playing it safe, thinking ahead or up to your eyeballs in jobs. But children are also the key to reminding us to live in the present.

I think the trick is to know when to stray from the path - i.e. when the consequences are going to be insignificant (other than giving your soul a massive boost). Perhaps we only need to be responsible 90% of time. So, from now on I'm going to take a leaf out of my children's book. When the mood strikes me, the jobs can wait because I'm going to make daisy chains. 

When did you last live in the moment? What have your children taught you?

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Friday 23 August 2013

When my husband is out I do THIS

No, I don't fire up a porno - I watch scary movies. Horrors, chillers, slashers - call them what you want, but they're all welcome friends on a dark and lonely Saturday night. My husband hates them - too scary apparently. I used to be able to trick him into watching flicks I pretended were merely thrillers (when they were really so much more), but he's since cottoned on and so now I must indulge my love of scary viewing when he's not around.

It's not all bad though and sometimes I prefer it. Being solo when watching seriously scary movies (other than the sleeping children and cat on my lap), can amp up the fear factor big time. Especially when the movie has small kids in it or someone infiltrating the family home - bonus chills!

Actually, before I was married, I often used to go to the cinema at night by myself to see the latest horror flick. This was deliberate so I could make the experience even more frightening. What a rush! Ah, those were the days.

Last week, I watched a new frightener called Dark Skies. In a bizarre twist the hubby was actually with me (I swear I didn't know it was that scary!). Even so, it made me remember why I shouldn't watch movies about aliens - and I ain't talking about no Men in Black. This film was scary enough to make me double lock the back door (yeah like that will stop them), and read something light for an hour afterwards before even attempting sleep. And my husband was home, mental.

It was totally awesome though, and did get me thinking about what it is that makes a movie crazy scary.

Obviously the experience is different for everyone and depends on what you believe. For example, if you don't believe in aliens, then films with extraterrestrials aren't going to register any scare factor. But if you do, may not sleep again.

It also comes down to really good direction, storyline, acting, props and music - without that chances are it's not even going to raise one goose pimple.

So how can you tell if it's really, really scary? Well, I reckon these are the telltale signs as to whether a movie's rattled your sphincter or not:

1. You jump in fright at least five times and/or let out a scream
2. You really want to, or do in fact, close your eyes at some point
3. At various times all your body hair stands on end
4. You get up during the film to check the doors are locked
5. Afterwards you have trouble sleeping or have to sleep with the light on, and are too scared to get up to use the bathroom
6. You have nightmares about the movie for the next few days or week
7. Since watching the movie you don't do something you used to do (like night swimming at the beach after Jaws came out)
8. Months or even years later, if something from the movie pops into your head late at night you can't sleep and just lie there praying for morning

You know the type of movie - we've all got at least one stained forever into our memories, even if you think you're a hard nut.

So which movies are the scariest? After thinking about the above criteria I've worked out my personal shit list - i.e. the movies that made me want to crap my pants.

But before I go into that let's be clear on one important rule: scary movies must be watched only at night, with the lights off and the sound up, and with minimal interruptions. If you're not doing that, then you're not watching them properly and I don't want to know you.

Ok, here's my top five and what exactly it is that makes them so scary (be warned, some spoilers ahead if you haven't had the pleasure of watching these yet):

1. Communion (1989)
Here it is - the first alien movie to scare the bejeezus out of me. The scariest thing about this is not Christopher Walken, it's the fact it's based on a 'true' story from a dude who wrote a book about his abduction experience with others to back it up. The bit where the kid talks about the Blue Doctors is the worst.

2. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I know what you're thinking, lame. Not lame! When this sucker came out it was TERRIFYING. The shaky handy cam filming style was new back then and camping became the most dreaded leisure activity of all time. That scene at the end where the guy is just standing in the corner of the house facing the wall is outrageous.

3. The Descent (2005)
I'm not normally so scared by humanoid monsters that aren't of the vampire/werewolf/zombie variety, but this flick breaks the mould. In fact, the first half of the movie is scary all by itself just by having a bunch of people stuck down some underground caves, but it really heats up when they realise they're not alone.

4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
I've got chills and they're multiplying just thinking about this movie. Believe the hype, this shit is scary! Ghostbusters this ain't, there is no escaping these evil spirits. Again with the self-recording film style, but it works so well. Best freak out moments are when we see the footage of her just standing there watching her boyfriend sleep, and also the bit where she finds the photo in the attic. Eeeeek!

5. Insidious (2010)
From the crazies that brought us Saw, this is so much better and shedloads more scary. As a parent, all the weird stuff happening on the baby monitor went straight to my freak-o-meter, but the story itself about a child who projects astrally into creepy worlds when he's asleep and gets stuck there, was so original and the key hair prickler for me. Oh, and the small dead child dancing in the room to old records. Fun!

What's the one movie which scared the living crap out of you?

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Tuesday 20 August 2013

When gluttony becomes necessity

I am carnivore, hear me roar.

In case I'm not being clear enough, I love eating meat. I absolutely can't stand anything from the sea, so to make up for what I'm missing out on there I go nuts on tasty turf tucker. Burgers, ribs, steaks, roasts, chicken wings, sausages, schnitzel - you name it, if it's meatastic I'm all over it.

Not surprisingly my favourite type of restaurant to frequent is a steak or grill house - you know, the kind where you get a giant wooden board instead of a plate; cutlery that looks like medieval weapons; and a sexy bib to wear so you don't mess up your clothes? Lately I've been thinking about them even more though because of this horrible elimination diet I'm on at the moment. Planning my first meal out after it's over has become an obsession. I can't wait to get the green light and pick up the phone and make a booking for date night.

I have one major problem though. The last time I went to a grill joint it made me sick. Really sick. And it wasn't just me.

My husband and I both ate like maniacs and then blew up like Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After rolling ourselves home and assuring my mum who was babysitting that I wasn't pregnant, we dosed up on peppermint tea to try and stop the tummy aches, but unfortunately for me it wasn't enough. A few hours later I was looking at a re-run of my dinner in the toilet. Agh.

So who or what was to blame for this? Me the glutton, or grill house the provider? I'm pinning it on the restaurant but not for the reason you're probably thinking.

It's true, we both ate like pigs when we could have controlled ourselves. Initially we got stuck in because the food was so darn tasty, but then we couldn't stop eating even though we felt sick, simply because we couldn't bear to see the food go to waste. I couldn't stop thinking about the animals that had died to be on my plate. Yes they were delicious, but they were all going to be scraped into a bin because I couldn't fit everything in. Or could I..?

These grill places have a reputation for serving up monster meals to rival caveman days - it's their trademark gimmick right? At first I thought it was awesome - wow check out how much food! Now I know better. It's not cool on a number of levels.

Starting with the portions, they're all WAY too big. Even the so-called petite steak or half-rib options are still massive, and you never order those anyway because you've been sucked into the 'bigger is better' meat-fest you've walked into. But unless you're Andre the Giant, you're never going to get through that much meat.

I shudder thinking about the amount of food that is thrown out at the end of the night at these establishments. I bet it's at least double or triple the usual restaurant amount. What about the poor animals that died for no reason? What about the starving millions in the world? What about the impact on landfill? What about our wallets??!

They of course also charge a beastly arm and a leg for these sasquatch meals, which leads me to think it's all about mega profit for these restaurateurs. A name around town for ridiculously huge meals and...ker-ching!

Shame on you, you naughty, irresponsible, wicked, but oh so delectable, steak houses. Tone it down in terms of size and cost and I just might forgive you. Just.

So back to my restaurant date. What do I do? Book in for a grill session and risk getting mocked when I go halvers with the hubby? Or maybe I should boycott it altogether and go Mexican instead. Whatever the choice, at least I know there'll be some kind of meat on the menu.

Grill houses - awesome and delicious, or wasteful and expensive?

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Friday 16 August 2013

Are TV talent shows messing with kids?

I have a love / hate relationship with reality TV shows. There are WAY too many of them out there and most are complete and utter crap; but, every now and then I admit I'll quite happily flick over to watch some amateur chefs or wannabe singers have a crack at the big time. It's fun to see some incredibly talented people come out the wood works, but, the part I actually like best is watching all the hopeless ones fail massively on national TV (c'mon, you know it's funny).

With a new round of musical talent shows on the go at the moment though, it's made me realise there's something not so hilarious going on that I don't like seeing and no one else seems bothered by it. I'm talking about the kids. I don't mean the children performers or contestants (that's another giant bag of issues I'm not going to get into right now). I'm referring to all the children brought onto the show to watch from the sidelines as their parent or sibling fails to make the cut in front of the nation.

I know it's all about ratings and telling a story for each person - having your children with you as you go for it on TV makes you more sympathetic to the audience, right? But what happens when your dreams are crushed in front of hundreds of thousands of people and your child's got a backstage pass to the embarrassing moment and a camera on their face?

I blame the producers, 100 percent. They interview the children to pull a few heartstrings, pumping them full of excitement and making them feel like stars themselves. They make out their mum is going to be bigger than Susan Boyle but then it's, "Sorry, we don't think you have the X-Factor" and cue close-up on the poor woman's kids looking bewildered and crying their eyes out as they're led out the back door by the host.

As a parent myself, I worry about the impact of this on those children. Often their faces show such shocked looks of incomprehension. Do they even really understand what is going on and just how many people are watching? Will the clip be replayed over and over at family gatherings? And what happens to the older ones at school - are they given a hard time because their sister or dad didn't have a good enough voice?

Some might argue it's inspirational for children to watch a family member go for their dreams, and that it's healthy to see failure in action (OK, correction - not being number one), but on national TV? And with multiple camera close-ups? Not cool. I think it's fine to have family members there for support, but do they really need to be filmed and part of the show? Nope.

So listen up all you reality TV producers: stop bringing the kids into it. If someone wants to go on national TV knowing there's a chance they might totally embarrass themselves, well great. But leave their children out of it - please.

Reality TV - are the kids alright or not?

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Tuesday 13 August 2013

I'm not as green as The Hulk - but...

I've always been into recycling and being mindful of the environment, but I'm ashamed to admit my intentions are far greater than my actions. And the older I get, the more 'green' I want to become (probably because it's playing on my conscious and now that I'm a parent I also feel a responsibility to set a good example and do my bit to help slow down the self-destruction of the world).

I constantly feel guilty about all the environmentally-unfriendly things I do on a regular basis (like using disposable nappies for my kids and driving an old V8 that spits out more fumes than a sick dragon), and even though I try to be better I know there's always more I could do.

So, sick of beating myself up lately, I decided to take a closer look to see exactly how 'green' I was, if at all. On the random day I chose to self-scrutinze, here's a list of all the 'green' things I tallied up before hitting the hay:
  1. Walked to the Kindy and back (twice) with the boys in the pram (instead of driving the car)
  2. Used cold water to wash a bunch of clothes (instead of warm/hot)
  3. Dried all the clothes on the clothesline (instead of using the dryer)
  4. Diverted a huge pile of stuff from landfill to elsewhere:
    1. Vegie scraps, egg shells, used tissues and tea bags to the compost
    2. Paper and bottles/containers to the blue/yellow recycling bins
    3. Soft plastics and packaging to the bag to take to the Coles plastics recycling bin
    4. Poo from one of my kids' nappies into the toilet
  5. Researched where to drop off an old TV, old mobile phones and other e-waste for recycling (I've been doing some cleaning out lately)
  6. Used stale water left in a glass overnight to water an indoor plant
  7. Reused a swimming nappy for the fourth time on my youngest (instead of using a new one)
  8. Reused the swimming towels from last week that were dry and not really dirty (instead of using washed ones)
  9. Bought a small loaf at Baker's Delight (because I know the large one will go stale before we can eat it all)
  10. Everyone in the family, including the kids, drank from our reusable stainless steel drink bottles (instead of bought drinks or plastic bottles that have a short life-span)
  11. Refused a plastic bag at the shops (the pram could carry it fine)
  12. Made a new dinner out of leftovers (instead of cooking something new or getting take-out)
  13. Didn't put the dishwasher on until it was a full load
  14. Turned off and unplugged a bunch of appliances before going to bed
I'm sure there were many more things I subconsciously did or incorporated into the day that could be added to the list above, but this was the stuff that instantly came to mind without deliberately trying to be good. I also know that some days I'm much greener than this (and others less!), but I wanted to pick a random day to see how I fared.

The result? I'd say I'm not green, but I'm definitely a faint lime.

I guess I'm pleased that I have at least more than a few things on my daily green list. I'm pretty sure it doesn't offset all the environmentally-unfriendly things I do, but at least I'm not doing nothing and am aware I need to lift my game.

Every day I do try to be more green, and thanks to handy tips from people like my mate Jo at Down To Earth Mother, I am getting better.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll become a nice lawn or forest colour. Here's hoping!

How green are you, really?

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Friday 9 August 2013

8 things I've learned since becoming a mum

There are many things people tell you about parenthood before you join the club. Usually it's tips, stories and sage advice from family, friends and colleagues who have been there themselves. You get given so much information from everyone covering everything you can possibly think of, but even then it's not enough - you're still in for some surprises.

Here are a few things I discovered after entering motherhood that NO ONE told me about:

1. Epidurals don't always work
I'd heard so many stories about women not asking for pain relief early enough or arriving at the hospital too far along in labour to get the good stuff, but it not actually working when given in time? Nope! Talk about a crock. You can read my story all about that here on Mamamia.

2. Breast milk can look neon
I got the shock of my life when one night I expressed some breast milk and looking into the container saw liquid as bright yellow as a highlighter staring back at me. Understandably I freaked until I worked out I'd had a multivitamin that morning - who knew it could not only turn your urine fluro but also your breast milk? Lucky the bub didn't notice!

3. Your boobs will deflate like sad birthday balloons
So much for motherhood leaving me with bouncing big fun bags. Once the breastfeeding is over it's goodbye Pamela Anderson chest, hello Double As - and I ain't talking about batteries or copier paper. Your baby literally sucks the life out of your breasts, leaving them like two tiny, hollow pikelets with raisins on top. From speaking to other mums though it seems this curse is only reserved for naturally small busted women like me. So unfair! Can't I at least keep the boobs I had before?

4. The bathroom is the new party destination
I knew that kids love following you around everywhere you go, including the loo, but I really didn't realise just how much everyone loves to hang out in the bathroom. My youngest loves a good smash and grab when he can, which basically involves opening any drawer, cupboard, bin or shower door that's not locked and strewing the contents everywhere. That's if, he's not trying to get in the shower with me, shadow watching his brother be toilet trained or trying to shut the toilet lid on anyone that's going about their business. Forget the bathroom as a time of solitude, usually every member of the family is in there doing one thing or another. Even our cat comes in to check out what all the commotion is about!

5. Kids without sleep are PSYCHOS 
Everyone bangs on and on about your sleep before you have a child, as in "you'd better sleep now cos' you're not going to be getting any for a while!" But no one talks about what can happen if children don't get enough sleep, particularly during the day. I'll tell you - they are mentalists. Overtired little lunatics who act like they've taken some bad drugs. Prevention is the key here, and if you find yourself with one crazed maniac, just pop them in bed and wait until they pass out. 

6. Toddlers can have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Every day my eldest develops something new to add to his daily routine that must be done the same way every time, i.e. his way. And if not, well, hell breaks loose. This could be anything from the hand he holds to cross the street (has to be the same one every time) or the way the letters are taken out of the letterbox, to what cereal he has in the morning or the climbing ritual he does to get into bed. I know it's their way of being independent but seriously, sometimes I think I've got a mini Jack Nicholson from As good as it gets on my hands.
7. Weekends don't exist anymore
I'm not completely clueless, I knew once little people entered our world we could kiss goodbye weekend lie-ins, relaxed breakfasts at cafes, spontaneous outings, wild house parties, etc. - at least for a good while anyway. But, what I failed to realise was that once you become a parent the actual concept of a weekend is a goner. Most of the population have that two day affair where you get a break from whatever it is you do during the week, but for parents? It doesn't exist. Stay-at-home mums and dads don't get time off on Saturdays and Sundays, and those working the 9-to-5 grind leave the office behind not to relax but help with the kids and chores. There is nothing to signify the end of the week because parenthood really does equal no 'breaks.' When the children are babies it doesn't matter so much but as they turn into toddlers and become more demanding, this realisation really sinks in. In fact, my husband has only just started to accept it. I'm sure weekends start to be reclaimed once children get older, but then comes the joy of football and ballet runs and so on. Ah it never ends. Just remember, you signed up for this!

8. Being a parent is BLOODY, BLOODY HARD!
As with the point above, I knew this one to some degree but not the full extent. Yes, I knew having children was going to be hard (being a huge life change with masses of responsibility), but I couldn't wait to be a mum and thought I was prepared for the challenge ahead of me. Turns out it's not just hard, but so much more difficult than I ever imagined. And I am someone who has healthy, happy kids; a decent household income; and a loving husband who helps out (sometimes). I used to think I was a patient person, but children test you to the absolute limit. Of course, I'm right in the thick of toddler territory with a one and almost three year-old (if I have to clean poo off the walls one more time this week I'm going to scream), so talk to me again in a few years and I might have a different view. But by then I'll probably be on to the next difficult phase, and I know they never end as long as you live (I'm sure my Mum is still losing sleep over my sisters and I). It is of course all worth it though, and having children is every bit as wonderful as I knew it would be despite it being so hard. And thank goodness for that otherwise the human population would die out, definitely.

What hard truths have you learned since becoming a parent?

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Tuesday 6 August 2013

Don't take that cup of tea for granted

I'm on a low-chemical diet at the moment and it completely and utterly sucks big, giant hairy ones.

After years and years of constantly feeling a bit sick and bloated I finally decided to do myself a favour and see a dietitian. I was expecting to be put on a gluten-free or lactose-free diet to see if they were the cause, but she thinks it's more likely to be chemicals and so here I am, on a low-chemical elimination diet. Me the girl who's never been on a diet before in her life. Party time, excellent - I think not.

In case you're like me and don't know anything about science, there are chemicals in almost all foods as well as everything around us - a combination of natural ones (like glutamate found in tomatoes) and fake, nasty ones (like flavours and preservatives). This diet means you cut out anything that's got a high chemical content that might make it's way into your body. So right now I can't eat any fruit except pear; only a few vegetables like cabbage, brussel sprouts, potato, celery and leek; no processed meats - goodbye ham and sausages; no chocolate; no alcohol except vodka, gin or whisky; no tea or flavoured drinks; no olive oil... the list goes on. I also have to use a chemical-free/no flavour toothpaste; sensitive washing detergent; special herbal shampoo and body wash; only certain moisturisers and can't even light scented candles or use air freshener in the bathroom.

Basically if anything has a strong flavour or scent, it's out of here. My life right now is literally vanilla and I'm only on day five, so I've most likely got weeks (possibly months) ahead of me to go before I'm allowed to start reintroducing things back onto the menu. The hunt is on for the culprit chemical that I'm intolerant to and until it's exposed, well life is miserable. Because I'm someone who LOVES my food. And drink. And toothpaste. Blessed with some pretty good genes, I've never had to worry too much about watching what I eat - that is, of course, until I got on this diet.

I know it could be worse, I could have been made to cut out the gluten and dairy on top of the chemicals, but I'm really struggling. What I wouldn't give to have a solitary cup of green tea... or heck, even just hot water and lemon juice! This diet has made me realise I've been taking food and drink for granted, big time. So when I'm finally off this thing I'm going to cherish everything I consume, whether it's a cold beer, banana, bacon sandwich or just some freshly ground pepper.

Of course I'll most likely discover a few things I'll have to avoid having too much of in the future, and that's ok (unless it's chocolate!), but I really am going to consciously enjoy and be grateful for every meal and drink I have, instead of just throwing stuff down the hatch.

So for all you non-dieters out there, for my sake please stop what you're doing and head to the nearest cafe to gorge. Or at least put the darn kettle on. You deserve it you lucky bastards.

What crazy diets have you ever had to go on?

photo credit: bitzcelt via photopin cc

Friday 2 August 2013

Why am I so annoying?

Confession time - I've formed a habit. A bad one. And I can't stop doing it.

Basically it involves me singing any song, and I mean ANY song, in a high pitched, posh English voice - kinda like the Queen. Terrible.

It can be anything, from "I like big butts" to the theme tune for "Bananas in pyjamas." No melody is off limits to the Queen treatment.

Why do I do this? I have no idea. I must love it otherwise I wouldn't keep doing it. But it is SO annoying! And if I find myself annoying, god help everyone else. Luckily throughout the day it's only the kids or cat that have front row tickets, and at night my husband usually ignores me when I do it. I'm pretty sure one of them is going to tell me to quit it soon though. I would.

At least this is a fairly new habit of mine, developed since I became a stay-at-home-mum, I think. I can't recall doing it beforehand, so it must be a One Woman Circus side-effect. 

I do know another equally annoying habit of mine though that's been going on since well before motherhood - another singsong affliction I'm afraid. Basically if I hear a word or phrase in a conversation I sing a song associated with that word. So for example, if chatting in a group someone says the word diamond, I might sing out a few bars of "Diamonds are forever" - groan. WHY?!

I also make up songs about anything and everything on a daily basis. But, on an unrelated singing note, I also recently couldn't stop saying "totes mcgotes" non-stop for about two weeks so my annoying streak does go beyond the musical. Luckily this has ceased - well, let's just say reduced. The Queen and her singing buddies haven't been so successful...yet.

Do you sometimes annoy the crap out of yourself? Let it out here

photo credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones via photopin cc