Cooking, Renovations and Fun Stuff

Sunday, December 23, 2012

FFF Final Check In

17-22 December

Managed to do four 45-minute sessions of swimming and daily foam rolling this week (although I had to miss out on some walks with Rob and TJ to get it all done since I also had a reasonably busy workload this week). I was dreading increasing my swimming time this week (as I find it so tiring) but I actually really enjoyed it. My fitness must be increasing.

So here are my final results

4th November 59.1

11th November 58.1

18th November 58.4 (period)

25th November 57.5

2nd December 57.3

8th December 57

16th December 57.2 (period)

23rd December 56.3

A total loss of 2.8kg over 7 weeks, or 400g per week.

I didn’t take an official ‘before’ photo – the most recent one is from when we were on holiday in late June, when I was about 58kg

24 June front

And here’s an ‘after’ from this morning

23 Dec 2012 2

Welcome back abs!

Here’s what I ate and how I exercised. My main goals were to lose a bit of weight, increase mobility in my spine and decrease my cholesterol.

On rising: Glisodin (antioxidant)

Foam rolling and dead bugs

Swimming and/or walk with Rob and TJ

Breakfast: fresh squeezed lemon juice with warm water; ‘muesli’ made with 1/3 cup oats, 1 Tbsp nuts/seeds, 1 Tbsp shredded coconut, 150g fresh fruit, cinnamon; 1 krill oil, 1 B complex

Snack: smoothie made with 1 cup Pura HeartActive milk, 200g (1 pottle) Jalna Proheart vanilla yoghurt, approx 75g banana, approx 75g frozen blueberries, large handful baby spinach, 4 tsp psyllium, 1 tsp probiotic powder

Lunch: sandwich made with 2 small slices grainy bread (80g total) spread with Flora pro-active Buttery (10g total), canned salmon (40g) or a boiled egg, and salad veg; carrot

Snack: 20g nuts

Dinner: 100g protein (measured raw) or 100g canned legumes, 1 tsp oil/spread, half a cup rice/pasta (measured cooked) or 150g potato/sweet potato, unlimited vegetables. Fish a couple of times a week and vegetarian meals a couple of times a week. Forty grams cheese (full fat) per week, usually spread over a couple of meals, eg parmesan cheese on spaghetti bolognese.

Indulgences: 4 indulgences (approx 450 kilojoules each) per week.  Usually wine or hot chocolate.

Other: If I had a particularly active day and I was hungrier than usual, I had a small snack after dinner. 

I haven’t had a chance to visit the doctor this week to arrange to get my cholesterol rechecked so no news there, but am happy with my weight loss and increase in mobility. Will keep on this path and see where it takes me…

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Change of Style

When we bought our house a couple of years ago, there was brown suede paint everywhere, which the previous owner had used to create a fussy ‘country cottage’ style.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing lots of painting to get rid of the brown suede paint.

Here’s a before and after of one room (previous owner’s dining room is now our TV room)



Still a few finishing touches to add, but am much happier with how it looks now.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Double Update

2nd December to 15 December

Over the last two weeks I’ve gone from doing lengths with a flutterboard to actually swimming, and this past week I did four sessions of 30 minutes instead of three.

Have really been enjoying the swimming but it does increase my appetite, and so does all the painting I’ve been doing (am onto the lounge now), and it being that time of the month doesn’t help either. So I’ve been eating more when I’ve been extra hungry – I want to lose weight but not kill myself doing it!

Had a planned Xmas BBQ to go to on Saturday 8th December so instead of weighing myself on Sunday the 9th I weighed in on the 8th instead.

4th November 59.1

11th November 58.1

18th November 58.4 (period)

25th November 57.5

2nd December 57.3

8th December 57

16th December 57.2 (period)

For the last week of the FFF I’ll try doing four sessions of 45 minutes swimming, but I really need to focus on my foam rolling and dead bugs as I’ve slipped a bit on these recently and they’ve got to be my priority for my back health.

Have a good week!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Birds in the Walls and F3 Update

We’re sleeping in the upstairs bedroom at the moment while I’m painting the downstairs bedroom. While I was moving some of our stuff up there I heard some scrabbling and chirping, and realised we had birds nesting in one of our walls.

Our roof tiler came out on Friday and climbed up above the upstairs bedroom to take a look. The room is above the dining room, which has a fireplace, and the flue runs up outside the bedroom upstairs. Apparently there was half a roof tile missing next to the flue and the birds had been getting in there and nesting in the walls.

He started pulling out one nest, then another, and another…

nests 1

He reckoned there were years worth of nests up there, and explained that birds usually come back to the same spot to nest each year. Once the tiler had removed all the nests, he put a new tile up next to the flue and sealed it off, so there should be no more birds in the walls!


25th November to 1st December

Most of my four indulgences this week have been of the chocolate variety: one of Rob’s students gave him some chocolate for a ‘Thank you’, so I had some of that on two nights, a hot chocolate on another night, plus a glass of wine. I also ate a bit extra on the days that I did sanding and painting. Progress so far:

4th November 59.1

11th November 58.1

18th November 58.4 (period)

25th November 57.5

2nd December 57.3

Just a 200g drop on the scales after this week’s efforts, so will increase my exercise sessions from three to four and see what effect that has.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

F3 Check In

18th November to 24th November

This week I upped my exercise intensity from three sessions of pool walking for 30 minutes to doing lengths with a kickboard (flutterboard) for 30 minutes. I also did a bit of extra physical activity in the form of sanding and painting our dining room.

My four indulgences this week were two glasses of wine, one hot chocolate and one homemade protein ball.  I also had a little extra for dinner on the two days I did the sanding and painting. 

All in all I must have got the balance about right as I had a pleasing drop in weight this week. Progress so far:

4th November 59.1

11th November 58.1

18th November 58.4 (period)

24th November 57.5

Will carry on the same this week and see how I get on.

Have a good week!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

FFF update

11th November to 17th November

Have been a bit hungry this week, as I usually am just before my period arrives. Made sure I had more carb-heavy dinners this week to stave off the carb-and-fat cravings I usually have at this time of the month.

Sun – Sweet potato and lentil cakes



Mon – Gluten-free beef lasagne



Tue – Lentil moussaka



Wed – Salmon, rice and salad with sweet chilli and ginger sauce



Thu – Baked beans on toast



Fri – Curried mince on rice



Sat – Salmon stir-fry


Indulgences this week were the same as last week: three glasses of wine and a hot chocolate.

In terms of exercise, I only did two of the three sessions of pool walking I planned for the week (too wiped out from my period to do the third) but did foam rolling and dog walking most days.

I’ve sorted out my not-filling-enough afternoon-snack issue by adding more psyllium and water to my morning smoothie, and having half for my morning snack and half for my afternoon snack (along with some nuts).

Having more carbs at dinner (and less protein) has helped reduce my snacking in the evenings as I feel more satisfied after dinner.

Briefly saw the 57s this week but weight this morning was up to 58.4 with period puffiness. So progress so far is

4th November 59.1

11th November 58.1

18th November 58.4 (period)

So far I’ve been doing low intensity pool walking, but will try moderate intensity this week and see what effect that has.

Have a good week!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

F3 Check In

4th November to 10 November

I've settled into a fairly good routine with my food this past week. Once I find a meal I like I'm happy to eat it every day until I get sick of it.

Breakfast has been a mixture of 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 6 chopped almonds and 1 Tbsp shredded coconut

I tried out the dairy products containing sterols and they seem to be OK on my tummy, so my morning snack has been a smoothie with 1 cup Pura Heart Active milk, a 200g tub of Jalna Heart Smart yoghurt, 1 smallish banana (around 75g) and some frozen blueberries (around 75g). I started adding in some greens too (we had a bit of silverbeet that needed using up), and some probiotic powder and psyllium when I remember.

Lunch is usually a sandwich, with sterol spread on the bread. This week the filling has mostly been pink salmon with capers, onion, cucumber, alfalfa and lettuce.

An afternoon snack usually consists of a handful of nuts (20g) and a carrot. Although this hasn't been keeping me full for that long...

Dinner has been getting earlier and earlier, since my afternoon snack hasn't been keeping me full for long. Dinner is the one meal that I vary each day. So we ate
Sunday: felafel wraps, wheat free tabouli
Monday: gluten-free lasagne, asparagus
Tuesday: lentil moussaka, salad
Wednesday: fish chowder, broccoli
Thursday: salmon and asparagus risotto, broccoli, salad
Friday: homemade baked beans on toast, salad
Saturday: stir-fried pork with green beans and mushrooms.

I snacked on extra fruit in the evenings a couple of times during the week. For my four 'indulgences' this week I had three glasses of wine and a hot chocolate.

In terms of exercise, I did the three sessions of pool walking I planned for the week, as well as the daily foam rolling and dog walking, so am pretty happy with that.

My start weight on the 4th was 59.1kg and after this week's efforts I am down to 58.1kg.

My aims for this week are to repeat the exercise, have a more filling afternoon snack and try and choose vegetable snacks rather than fruit snacks in the evenings.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Festive Fitness Focus

I’m joining in Sara’s Festive Fitness Focus for the seven weeks leading up to Christmas.

What I'm committing to:

On rising every day: foam rolling and dead bugs (for mobility and core strength). Three to four days a week I will do 30-60 minutes pool walking, focusing on bracing my core. No weight training as yet as my back still isn’t up to it. Daily walking with Rob and TJ.

My plan is to focus on including foods to help me reduce my total cholesterol (currently 6.4):

Sticky fibre such as oats, barley, psyllium, fruit, vegetables, legumes etc.


Foods containing plant sterols, or a supplement. (Undecided as yet  - I need to try the milk and yoghurt containing the plant sterols to see if my stomach is OK with the lactose content. Also, I like to eat a mostly organic diet, and these foods aren’t organic.)

Calorie goal: about 1400-1600 (guestimate). Plus four ‘indulgences’ per week, eg four small glasses wine.

Rob is doing ‘no junk food until Christmas’ so that helps me out a lot. The only time I really eat it is if he brings it home.

Glysodin (antioxidant) 1/day
Krill Oil 1/day
Activated B Complex 1/day
I’ve been having spirulina most days, so will continue that or a greens powder, and probably add in a probiotic (had antibiotics recently for my tonsil infection).

My goal is two-fold: reduce my cholesterol, and lose a little more weight. I’ve been sitting at 58kg for almost six months, so I should be OK to try and push a bit lower without a rebound effect. I’m aiming for 55-56kg. So that’s 2kg (minimum) to lose in seven weeks. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Word of the Day

Machicolation: A gallery or parapet built on the outside of fortified walls and towers of castles with openings in the floor through which to drop boiling oil or molten lead or to shoot arrows.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Water Under the House 3

We had two plumbers out today to deal with the problem we have with water collecting under the house.

Because the old cracked terracotta stormwater pipes run under the paved entertaining area and driveway (and we didn’t want to go digging those up), the most simple solution was to stop the flow of water out of those pipes and under the house. Well, I say simple, but we also had to account for future renovation work we want to do, which involves putting in support columns and concrete pads under the house, so the plumbers had to avoid those areas too…

So, the plumbers chopped off the bottom of the old stormwater downpipe, so it no longer directed the water to the underground terracotta pipes (white cap over old pipe connection can just be seen at bottom of photo, covered in dirt). They then put in a PVC connector, cut a hole in the bricks, and rerouted the downpipe through new PVC pipes under the house

drain in

The new PVC pipes are attached by brackets to the floor joists, and run along the back of the house…

drain 1

around a corner at the end of the house…

drain 2

and down to the downpipe near the front of the house…

drain 3

Then out of the brickwork and into another new PVC connector and down the stormwater drain…

drain out

Hopefully that’s the end of our troubles with water under the house. Now that there’s no more water leaking out of cracked pipes, the water under the house should dry up fairly quickly.

Word of the Day

One of the things I like about my job as an editor is that I’m always learning new things. Authors all use words differently, and sometimes use words that I haven’t come across before, such as Brobdingnagian, which means ‘marked by tremendous size’.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Water Under the House 2

Earlier in the week I blogged about the problem we have with water collecting under our house.

Today was a lovely sunny day, so Rob decided to do the food colouring test to see where the water was coming from.

He put blue food colouring down the stormwater drain at the back of the house and then poured lots of water down after it, to see if the water was going down into a cracked stormwater pipe that runs under the paved area near the house and out to the driveway.

After about half an hour Rob looked under the house but there didn’t appear to be any change in the water, so then he went and looked in the inspection hole in the driveway and voila, blue water. So we thought the water was passing down the stormwater pipe OK and that it was just surface water under the house.

About an hour after pouring the water down the drain, Rob went to shut the manhole under the house, and decided to have another look. He thought he saw something, so had a closer look, and there was blue water there too.

under house 14 Oct

So it seems like some of the water is going out to the driveway, but the underground pipe must be cracked and allowing some water to pass through the ground and under the house. Because there’s no drainage under the house, there’s nowhere for the water to go. So at least now we know where the water’s coming from and we can do something about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gluten drug could allow normal diet

Thanks to Dad who directed me to this article in the New Zealand Herald.

A new vaccine that could be the world's first cure for coeliac disease is being tested in New Zealand.

Clinical trials are under way in Christchurch to test the jab that stops the body reacting to a protein found in most breads.

Coeliac sufferers can't eat anything that contains gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is in in everyday products such as pasta, biscuits, beer and sausages.

Sufferers are at increased risk of osteoporosis, infertility and bowel cancer if they do not stick to a gluten-free diet.

But the experimental United States drug, which has had one clinical trial, could enable them to enjoy a normal diet.

Coeliac New Zealand development manager Sue Clay said a vaccine would change lives.

"We're very much keeping our members in the loop. It's a very credible, well-funded study that looks promising but it is only early days and there is a long way to go yet."

The vaccine is designed to "reprogramme" the body's immune system, restoring coeliac patients' tolerance to gluten and returning the intestine to a healthy state.

Coeliac disease

* An intolerance to gluten, which is found in wheat, oats, barley and rye.
* Mostly genetic. It affects 1 per cent of New Zealanders.
* Causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Water Under the House

When we bought this house a couple of years ago we were advised that there was ‘substandard site drainage’. There was a lot of water sitting on top of the ground with nowhere for it to go, so Rob and his mates put some drainage in just before we moved in.

14August2010 002

That has really helped, but we still have a problem with water collecting under the kitchen end of the house, especially after a lot of wet weather. We’ve had a plumber and a landscaper look under the house and neither was sure what to do. Last week we had another plumber come out and take a look and he was much more helpful.

The pic below (where we are playing petanque) shows the kitchen window. Below that is where all the water collects under the house. We know the water isn’t coming from the household plumbing, as there’s no movement in the water meter when the taps are off.

new years eve 03

There’s a downpipe and stormwater drain to the right of the steps on the right side of the photo, so the plumber suggested putting some food colouring down the drain and following it up with lots of water, to see if the drain that runs under the paved area and out to the driveway (behind the gate in the left of the photo) is cracked and leaking water under the house.  If it is, then the coloured water will show up under the house. If no food colouring shows up, then it’s likely to just be surface water collecting under the house (we live at the bottom of a hill so it’s possible that the water runs down the hill and collects under the house).

If it looks like it’s the stormwater drain, we have a couple of options. In order to avoid pulling up all the pavers, the plumber can put CCTV down the drain to see where it’s damaged. If it’s badly damaged, he can suspend the rear stormwater drain and reroute the drainage so that it comes out near the front downpipe.

If it’s surface water, he suggested installing a sump pump under the house, which will pump out the water when it collects under the house, so that it will stay dry and we won’t have problems with rising damp.

So the next step is for Rob to put the dye down the drain and see what it does…

Monday, October 8, 2012


It turns out that the sore throat I had about a month ago (and which never really went away) was a tonsil infection. My tonsils felt so swollen on Friday that I ended up going to the doctor and getting some antibiotics. I think my body has been working so hard to make my lower back better that my defences have dropped in other areas, hence the infected tonsils.

I’m feeling a lot better since starting on the antibiotics and my appetite is coming back. I’ve been craving solid food rather than the smoothies I’ve been having for the last three months or so.

Do you still have your tonsils,  or did you have them taken out when you were younger?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Little Visitor

Rob had the day off work today so we had a plumber over to give us some advice about the pool of water under our house. While we were outside a whippet came trotting down our driveway. It had a name tag (Jet) with the owner’s phone number so we left a message letting them know we had their dog. In the meantime we took Jet into the back yard and enjoyed watching him run around with TJ




He was a lovely little chap, very friendly and full of beans. I was sorry to see him go when he was picked up. Apparently it was the first time he had gotten out. He was due to be desexed later in the day. He must have had an inkling…

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Meal Plan 3 (Spring)

Friday – steak with asparagus (my first bunch of the season!), onion rings and baked potato

3 steak potato


Saturday – kangaroo burgers with gluten-free toast, lots of salad and homemade chips

3 burger spread 3 burger 

Sunday – roast chicken with roast carrots and sweet potato, sage-and-onion stuffing (made with gluten-free bread) and peas

3 roast chicken 

Monday – stir-fried chicken with onions, mushrooms and broccoli (on basmati rice)

3 chicken stir-fry


Tuesday – Chilli beans with capsicum and onion, topped with cheese, shredded lettuce and guacamole (on basmati rice)

3 chilli beans


Wednesday – Thai red curry salmon (on basmati rice)

3 salmon curry


Thursday – Thai-style salmon and noodles

3 salmon noodles

3 noodles

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gluten-Free Meal Plan 2 (Spring)

Spring veg and fruit:
14 Sep

Friday – Thai Red Curry Salmon with bok choy and carrots (basmati rice):
salmon curry
Sunday brunch – Silverbeet and Mushroom Squares
Sunday dinner – Roast chicken with roast beetroot, broccoli and potatoes
Monday - Leftover roast chicken taken off the bone and made into a stir-fry with broccoli and carrots (basmati rice)
Tuesday – Chilli beans with grated carrot and zucchini, topped with avocado and shredded cos lettuce (basmati rice):
chilli beans
Wednesday – Salmon and zucchini frittata with corn on the cob
Thursday – Chickpea and sweet potato curry (basmati rice)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gluten-Free Meal Plan 1 (Spring)

7 sep
Here’s what we got in the way of fruit and veg last Friday and what I ended up making with it:
Sat: Chilli beef mince with green capsicum and zucchini (basmati rice)
Sun: Roast chicken with corn on the cob, cauliflower and potatoes
Mon: Leftover roast chicken taken off the bone and made into a stir-fry with bok choy and carrots (brown rice)
Tue: Dal with broccoli and spinach (brown rice)
Wed: Frittata with silverbeet and mushrooms, sweet potato on side
Thu: Sardine and anchovy pasta (I used San Remo gluten-free spaghetti) with broccoli on side
I haven’t used the cos lettuce yet so that may go in a smoothie or three. The avocados have been going in chocolate mousse.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Feel Crap

Let me count the ways…

1. My bad back, though better, still doesn’t allow me to sit comfortably

2. I have my period

3. My tonsils are sore and it hurts every time I swallow

4. I have an upset stomach. My bad back doesn’t like it when I vomit.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spring Decluttering Week 1

This week I've been following along with the decluttering and organising tasks in the
The Organised Housewife

Here's what I've done
Day 1
Declutter: the kitchen bench
day 1 bench
Organise: under the kitchen sink day 1 under sink
On the left is orange oil for the bench tops, on the right are liquid soap and detergent refills, dishwasher tablets and steelos etc. I mostly use microfibre cloths for cleaning.

As I have a bad back and don’t want to be bending down to get stuff from under the sink all the time, the dishrack, brushes, detergent and soap all live up top (no, I still haven’t chosen tiles for the splashback behind the sink)
day 1 sink
Day 2
Declutter: bedroom surfaces
Organise: top drawer of bedside table
This was easy – our bedroom is tiny so we only have room for a stool on each side of the bed. TJ loves a freshly made bed.
day 2 bedroom
Day 3
Declutter: laundry pile
Organise: create a laundry routine
Our dirty laundry lives in the laundry cupboard.
day 3 laundry
One load per day: sheets; towels; dog towels (Rob gives TJ a towel dry when they come home from a walk so he doesn’t track mud in the house); dark home clothes (the clothes that are covered in dog fur are washed separately), dark work clothes, whites.
day 3 laundry tubs
Day 4
Declutter: magazine collection (recipes I’ve torn out of my magazines but haven’t made yet are all in plastic pockets in a ring binder)
day 4 magazines
Day 5
Declutter: out of date food
Organise: pantry
day 5 pantry
This is the day after doing the shopping. Not many processed ingredients since we are gluten-free, and I don’t tend to ‘stockpile’ things.
Top: coffee and tea, coffee cups, vitamins, smoothie ingredients
Under that: oils and vinegars, legumes and rice (in BPA free containers), regularly used herbs and spices
Under that: dog treats, potatoes, onions, lactose-free milk, nori  wrappers, canned ingredients (tomatoes, legumes etc)
Under that: irregularly used herbs and spices, baking ingredients, cooking alcohol (wine, sherry, port etc)
Under that: dog food bowls, punch bowl, ice bucket, spare drink bottles, fizzy drinks