Butternut squash and chorizo hash

29 Apr

A few weeks ago I surprised myself by falling headlong into a crush.  A deeply passionate affair, with lots of fire and gasps of pleasure.  Ahem.

I discovered duck eggs.  In particular, I discovered fried duck eggs.

I’ve long maintained a strong anti-egg stance.  After several miserable experiences with boiled and fried eggs as a child, I have long held a belief that eggs were best suited to being baked into cakes.  At a pinch, I’d eat scrambled eggs or an omelette, but you would never, ever catch me eating a boiled (soft or hard), poached or fried.  So what changed?


A few weeks ago, Dave broke his collarbone while playing football (soccer) with Lucas.  Bear with me, I’m getting there.  I ended up dashing into the supermarket to buy something, anything, to get change for the hospital (horrendously expensive) carpark.  I grabbed the first thing I saw and a few hours later I found myself staring in bewilderment at a bag of pre-chopped swede (rutabaga across the pond, neeps to my fellow Scots) and carrots.  After scratching my head for a while I remembered seeing a root vegetable hash somewhere on the internet and decided to make that.  And since hash is accompanied in just about every recipe by a fried egg, I decided to add one to my plate, too, despite loathing them.  (I think my brain was truly scrambled by stress.)  To my utter surprise, I found myself enjoying the egg!  And the next day I picked up a carton of duck eggs at the supermarket and reprised the precious night’s dinner with even better results.  Duck eggs are awesome!  I have discovered the joys of poking at a wobbly yolk and watching liquid gold pour over cubes of crispy-edged vegetables.  Fantastic.  My conversion to the church of fried eggs is vastly amusing all of my friends and family.  I’m keeping my eye out for goose eggs (even richer?) and after watching a nature documentary the other day, I’m pondering how I’d get hold of an ostrich egg…

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Excalibur! (A comic book decoupage)

24 Apr

Q: What do you buy the man who has everything for his birthday?
A: You don’t.  You make him some artwork featuring one of his favourite things!

Last year I struggled to find a birthday present for my husband, Dave, and then foolishly gave away the one good idea I’d come up with to his parents who were also struggling.  So, I decided to make him the comic book canvas I’d been thinking about making for ages.

Since this was going to be a fairly lengthy project and thus hard to hide, I figured that I should probably tell Dave I was doing it, and also since it was for him, it would make sense to ask him which comic or superhero to feature.  I’m not sure who I expected him to choose, but I was quite surprised when he said Excalibur.  In retrospect, it is less surprising as Alan Davis is one of his favourite artists!  With that weighty decision made, I started to trawl eBay for second-hand comics (with Davis on pencils) and picked up the rest of the supplies from Hobbycraft where I was thrilled to discover that they now sold Mod Podge.

I coated the edges of my box canvas with some black acrylic paint so that I didn’t need to worry about trying to do neatly folded corners, and it also makes the finished canvas ‘pop’ nicely against the wall.  I also like to think that it looks professional—am I kidding myself?

The hardest part of creating the canvas was deciding how best to layout the images.  When I initially Googled for comic decoupage-work to get ideas I’d seen a few canvases where people had just laid things out in neat horizontal lines, so I tried that.  And it looked rubbish.  And then I tried to create an Exciting and Dynamic layout which didn’t really work for me either.  The only thing that I knew for certain was that I wanted to put a large team ‘photo’ in the middle.

So, one morning when I had the house to myself I stuck someSuperman: The Animated Series DVDs on for inspiration, collected up my pre-painted canvas, Mod Podge, and all my neatly snipped panels and just went for it.  I think that if I had spent any more time trying to create the perfect layout I would have been paralysed by indecision for weeks.

Once I had about 90% of the canvas covered I started snipping out lots of action words from panels.  My idea was to enhance the overall comic (and give it a bit more depth) by layering POW!, WHAM!, BAMF! over little gaps and corners.  It also came in handy for brightening up the occasional area which felt a bit too dark.  I couldn’t have done this without my tiny super-sharp scissors!!

You can see this layering really well in the above picture of the top left corner of the canvas.  I love the PIP! and WHUMF!

Despite the odd wrinkle here and there, I’m really pleased with the end result and I’m pretty sure Dave is, too, since he’s been keen to show it off to everyone!  It really does look awesome on the wall in our comics room and I’m planning to make a couple of smaller canvases to go beside it as I found some fantastic old ads for Airwolf and Top Gun toys in the old comics!

Kitty Pryde phasing through the canvas

Tales from the scales #11

22 Apr

Gah, I really must start blogging more frequently!

I have to confess to a carb-laden comfort eating week, driven by stress but mostly by weakness.  I have managed to bully myself into two days of solid Primal eating and feel much better for it.  All the Easter eggs have either been chucked away or eaten by Other People so that’s a blessing.

Last week: 17st 4

This week: 17st 6

Gain of 2lb

I have visions of waking up in a few weeks to find that I’m tipping the scales at 18stone (or worse) again, so I need to refocus my efforts and get back to the business of losing weight.  The weather is supposed to be horrendous all week, so I shall unearth Wii Zumba or a Leslie Sansone DVD and get some exercise in at home.  I need to make sure that I do lots of stretching afterwards as I pulled a calf muscle last week 😦

Aside from eating myself into a gluttonous food coma, I have been doing loads of organising and tidying at home.  I’m rather pleased to have gotten rid of a few big bags of clothes and to have helped the school raise money at the same time.  I’ve also decluttered, cleaned and tidied the kitchen and managed to keep it in a state of glorious serenity for over a week!  I can’t help but smile every time I walk into the kitchen now and it makes cooking so much easier, too.  I really wish that I’d taken before and after pictures so that I could show off a little.  On the other hand, I’m secretly grateful that no one has seen my horrendously messy kitchen!!


Tales from the scales #10

13 Apr

So, um… I’ve been a bit quiet of late, haven’t I?  It turns out that I can get through the Christmas holidays and my birthday unscathed, but Easter is a different kettle of fish.  Last week I gained 2lb and fell headlong into a vat of bread, pasta, chocolate and sugar.  Needless to say, I was feeling absolutely dreadful by this Wednesday, so I girded my loins and started eating properly again.

Last week: 17st 5

This week: 17st 4

Loss of 1lb

I’m really happy with losing a pound; it’s bloody brilliant for just two days of primal eating!  I’m hoping that I’ll feel back to normal after a week of eating well… I still feel very bloated and achey.  Oats really aren’t my friend!!  When school starts again on Monday I should be able to slip back into my usual routine and start walking again, too, which should help shift this extra pound and lose me some more, too.  One day soon the scales will say 16st something 🙂

Meal Planning Monday #5

2 Apr

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve managed to get it together enough to write a menu plan.  Well, most of a menu plan!

M: Chocolate chilli, sweet potato fries and sauteed Brussels sprouts

T: Pad Thai, Asian cucumber salad on the side

W: Moroccan meatballs, cauliflower pilaf

T: Chicken risotto (with some roasted chunks of butternut squash tossed in as it (a) needs to be used up and (b) I am apparently out of frozen peas and I refuse to go back to the shops again!!)

F: Leftover (and much improved by a day or two in the fridge) Moroccan meatballs, cauliflower pilaf

I haven’t thought much about food for the Easter weekend.  I did spot some large lumps of lamb in the freezer but I haven’t the faintest clue what cuts they are, so I might slow-roast the biggest lump with loads of garlic and rosemary for Sunday.  I guess it depends on whether we’re descending upon the in-laws or not!  If we are… I am baking a paleo chocolate cake!!  I miss baking and it’s so much safer for me to bake when I have a willing horde of locusts to polish everything off for me.

Tales from the scales #9

30 Mar

What a week!  Dave broke his collarbone last Friday so we’ve had a weekend of hospitals and sleeping very badly.  I really need to get back to meal planning properly, but despite not having anything written down we’ve had some awesome meals lately and I’ve done a lot of walking.  It’s now the Easter holidays so I am going to try and get Lucas excited about walking and drag him out for a daily walk as I’ve been enjoying soaking up the sun and all the exercise seems to be having a positive effect…

Last week: 17st 6

This week: 17st 3

Loss: 3lb

This takes me to a total loss of 3st 2lb (44lb) since the middle of October!  I am beyond thrilled.  This is the most successful I’ve ever been at losing weight and it really is sustainable for life.  I love eating Primal!!

I’ve popped an updated progress photo on my progress page.

Songs for the road

28 Mar

Here is my walking buddy posing in the valley behind our house.  Isn’t he a cool dude?

We’ve been clocking up the miles together on the school run (well, walk) since I decided to follow in the hairy footsteps of those brave hobbits and walk from Bag End to Rivendell.  It’s been really lovely, especially as the sun has been blazing away beautifully.  We’ve been able to roam around the valley and marvel at the bluebells, primroses and exceedingly fat bumble bees and talk about nature and the seasons while walking home.  (I’d walk in the mornings, too, if I was awake enough.  So not a morning person.)

Today we indulged in a grand hobbit tradition and sang as we walked home.  If anyone was in earshot… sorry.  Here’s our current favourite!

I’m currently on mile 27 of my walk, which puts me almost at the end of a very long road which rolls up and down.  I’m looking forward to reaching the next milestone from the book and ‘seeing’ something more interesting than this road!!  I should probably do more than 1.4 miles a day unless I want to take a year to walk to Rivendell but I’m proud of myself for getting off my arse and walking every day!