20 October 2014

Tahuna Torea reserve

We've been living in New Zealand for over three years now, and we're still visiting new (free) places. The other day we made our way to Tahuna Torea reserve where we had a lovely walk in the spring weather.

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18 October 2014

The usual state of our home

The other day I came across this old blog post this old blog post of our home in its usual messy state. When I saw it I immediately hopped up, grabbed my camera and photographed our home in the state it was at that moment. (If you're wondering why I did so, read my blog post about photographing your messes and why you should do so.)

So, this post is for those of you who think my house is always tidy (you know who you are!) It definitely isn't.

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17 October 2014

Fashion Friday and latest Blurb offers

This is what I wore to church.

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Black dress: thrifted (SaveMart)
Polka-dot jacket: thrifted (SaveMart)
Fishnet tights: Sainsbury's
Shoes: Shoemarket
Faux pearl earrings: Sainsbury's

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15 October 2014

Beware the half-leg tan when choosing walking clothes

As you know (after all, I've done a whole series of posts about it), I've been walking just about every day since January. That's a lot of time outdoors in all sorts of weather. For most of the time I've been wearing these walking clothes:

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Yup, those are cropped leggings. They are super comfortable but now that spring has arrived and I'm wearing knee-length skirts more often, I've noticed that the lower half of my calves are slightly less pasty than the upper halves.

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Grant says I'm wasting my time posting a picture as you can't really see it, and says he can't really notice it in person either, but I can definitely see it. I notice it in my what I wore photos in which I'm wearing skirts too.

I'm glad that it's not that visible in person and want to correct the problem before it gets worse. As you can see in the photo above, I've taken to folding my cropped leggings up to knee length. Not the best look! I really need to get some new walking shorts as summer approaches.

So take this post as a warning - if you tan more readily than I do, beware the half-leg tan and either use sunscreen or wear walking clothes that won't result in your legs looking like a Top Deck.

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13 October 2014

How I quit sugar

I was hard-core addicted to sugar. I would crave it every day. The prospect of dessert had me giddy. When I started eating something sweet I wouldn't be able to stop, going back for more and more. And when I say I was addicted to sugar, I don't mean that lightly. I mean that I was actually addicted. Here some classic signs of addiction:

"Tolerance - the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect." I definitely felt like it took more sugar to get the same "hit".

"Withdrawal happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior." Um, yes. Sugar gave me a "high" and I'd be very low afterwards, or when craving it.

"Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior." Absolutely. Cutting down was impossible. I would simply crave sugar more and more until I gave in again.

"Social, occupational or recreational activities becoming more focused around the addiction, and important social and occupational roles being jeopardized." If you mean planning get-togethers with friends around eating treats, or my role as a good mother being jeopardised by moodiness and low energy from the effects of sugar, then yes. 

"The person becoming preoccupied with the addiction, spending a lot of time on planning, engaging in, and recovering from the addictive behavior." Do you want to know how many baking recipes I have bookmarked?
"Changes in energy – unexpectedly and extremely tired or energetic." Sugar sure does a number on your energy.

"Weight loss or weight gain." Guess which one.

"Seeming unwell at certain times, and better at other times." I knew sugar was making me feel unwell, but felt powerless to stop eating it.

"Secretiveness." What, do you mean my hidden stash of chocolate?

I'll stop there. In summary: I felt like I was a slave to sugar and I hated it, especially because it made me feel so crummy.

The good news is that sugar has now lost its power over me, and I'll share with you how I broke the addiction. My methods may not work for you, but I wanted to write this post to give hope to anyone who is horribly addicted to sugar: if I can break free, so can you!

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Tip 1: Avoid carbs in the morning

My first tip is to avoid carbs in the morning. I'm not saying you need to go on the Atkins diet, but I would strongly suggest you base your first meal of the day around protein and vegetables. I'd even limit fruits to start with, or stick to low-carb fruits such as berries and apples.

Simple carbohydrates are essentially sugar. Call it fructose (naturally occurring in fruit) or lactose (naturally occurring in milk) or glucose (naturally occurring in honey, dried fruit, flour) - if it ends in "-ose" it's sugar. Yes, it's natural, but no, it's not good for you if you are wanting to cut out sugar. Sugar is sugar and it will begin the addiction cycle of craving, indulging, crashing, and craving.

The sooner I started eating carbs in the day, the sooner my sugar / carb cravings began. I found I could have relief from cravings for longer the later I started eating carbs each day. This meant that cereal, toast, waffles, pancakes, muffins, in fact any baked (or traditional "breakfast") goods were a no-no for breakfast for me.

Fruit may or may not trigger the cycle in you - experiment see how you do. I found I was okay with fruit in the morning; it didn't trigger the cycle.

So what to eat? You want some veggies - whatever takes your fancy - and you want some protein (from eggs, meat, beans, cheese), and include fruit if you can handle it. Here are some examples of breakfasts:

Omelet with goat's cheese and fresh tomato (from our garden) with some sauteed ham; a little melon.

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On omelet - I stir-fried some finely-chopped onion and yellow pepper, adding garlic and half a diced tomato towards the end. I put it into a 2-egg omelet with some Parmesan cheese and sprinkled it with salt and pepper.

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Ham and egg breakfast muffins - recipe here.

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Think outside the box - it doesn't have to "a breakfast food" to be breakfast. Click here for another post I did about starting your day right with breakfast.

Tip 2: Cut it all out, don't try to cut back

I mentioned the addiction cycle. It can be triggered by the smallest amount of sugar, although the amount will vary from person to person. Happily, fruit doesn't seem to trigger my cravings or addiction cycle, and I concentrated my recovery on avoiding anything baked or made with flour, and processed sugar. These were my nemesis. Your experience may vary, but I urge you to completely avoid the foods that trigger your addiction. You won't see a heroin addict in rehab having "just a little" heroin. You can't quit something you are still using.

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I know this sounds a bit idealistic - you may be thinking, "Just cut it out? If it was that easy, I wouldn't still be addicted to sugar!" Boy, do I know how hard it is. But if you ever hope to overcome the hold that sugar has on you you have to go hard out in your recovery efforts. In my experience, weaning off it doesn't work. It's cold turkey, baby. I promise that if you stick to it then the cravings will go away - not just for sugar, but all cravings. Just hang in there for 2-3 weeks and the worst will be over.

I also avoid artificial sweeteners at all cost. They are no good for you and the sweet taste can trigger real sugar cravings. Google for more information.

Tip 3: Indulge in other ways

I find the easiest way to deal with cutting something out is to replace it with something else. You have to fill that void. When quitting sugar, I'd treat myself in other ways to avoid feeling deprived. I'd eat savoury treats (cheese - but no crackers! - chips, biltong) or fruit I'd not normally buy. I'd try new recipes so I had something to eat that I could get excited about and look forward to.

Tip 4: Deal with chocolate cravings

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I used to hate dark chocolate. It grieved me that it was even called chocolate. But now I enjoy it - I really like Whitakers brand. I find that when I was having chocolate cravings I could appease them with one or two blocks of dark chocolate. It has a low enough sugar content that it doesn't start the addiction cycle for me. If you don't like dark chocolate, try a few different brands - you might be surprised to find one that you enjoy.

I've also heard that if you crave chocolate it's because you need magnesium. Taking 300-600mg of magnesium daily can take care of chocolate cravings.

Tip 5: Banana milkshakes

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Again, this may not work for you if fruit, especially high carb fruit like banana, triggers sugar cravings or an addiction cycle, but thankfully I seem to be okay with it and banana milkshakes were a lifesaver when I would get cravings for something sweet in the afternoon. If I made them with cocoa powder then it took care of any chocolate cravings too. Click here for more information on how I make healthy banana milkshakes - I now like to add peanut butter to mine too. I like the taste, and the protein helps keep my blood sugar stable.

Tip 6: Keep your blood sugar stable

If you are letting yourself get too hungry you will trigger cravings. If you are eating food that causes blood sugar spikes and dips, you will trigger cravings. Try to eat small meals / snacks throughout the day (I eat every 3-4 hours, like a newborn) and try to include protein with each meal or snack.

Tip 7: Drink lots of water

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Drinking lots of water will make you feel better overall, keep you occupied and feeling a little full, and prevent you from getting dehydrated. It really does help when trying to beat sugar addiction.

Tip 8: Delay gratification

If you're really, really craving sugar, promise it to yourself at the end of the day. This helps in two ways: First, you might find that by the evening your craving has abated, especially if you're sated from a good meal. Second, if you do indulge, you're closer to bedtime and don't run the risk of going on a sugar binge all afternoon like you would if you partook of sugar earlier in the day.

For me, once I started eating sugar I couldn't stop. If I had something sweet at lunchtime, you can bet I'd be riding the up-down blood sugar rollercoaster all afternoon and evening, and reaching for more sweet snacks as the cravings overwhelmed me. I'd also give into the "well, I blew it" mentality and write off the rest of the day, resolving to try again the next day, resulting in giving myself free reign to indulge for the remainder of that day.

By having a little dessert (or, let's be honest, even a big one) after dinner I could much more easily call a halt to the binge by going to bed.

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Tip 9: Check for hidden saboteurs

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Let's say that you are doing all you can to avoid sugar or sugar-like foods. You've gone cold turkey and tried the tips above, but are still having cravings. You need to investigate your diet more closely for hidden sugar which can be triggering your addiction.

I'm not talking about burgers made out of cupcakes and brownies like the picture above - I'm talking about sugar in salad dressings, peanut butter, baked beans, even milk (lactose = sugar). You may be ingesting more sugar than you realise, which means that your addiction is still being fed. Try to eat a diet that is as unprocessed as possible. You may be able to go back to eating those foods in the future, but to break the back of your addiction you need to clear them out.

I think that how much sugar to eat overall is a personal decision to make. I allow myself some toasted muesli almost every evening, and also eat fruit yoghurt occasionally, which contains sugar. I sometimes bake wheat-free treats using a little coconut sugar, which has less of an effect on blood sugar. Some may not regard my diet as sugar-free, and I don't claim it is: what I claim is that I am no longer addicted to sugar and haven't been for months now. When I find myself leaning more towards sugar then I pull right back - I am so afraid of becoming addicted again.

I've really noticed the effects. I no longer have the horrible blood sugar crashes and moods. My brain is less foggy. Food tastes better. I've lost weight. My cardiovascular health is improved. I'm less obsessed with food. I don't have cravings. I have more of a sense of wellbeing - I don't feel poisoned anymore. I haven't been sick once this year, and it's September now, which means we've gone right through winter and into spring. That's at least 9 months of no illness, not even a little cold, which is remarkable to me, considering I am still suffering from adrenal fatigue. I put it down to quitting sugar and exercising daily.

I feel relieved to have shed the shackles of sugar addiction, but like any addict I am very aware that I'll never really be free and that I could slip back at any time. It makes me very vigilant as I never want to be in that place again. Although I do indulge in a little sugar, as mentioned above, I keep a strict limit on it and watch like a hawk for any signs of cravings, blood sugar instability, fogginess and obsessive thoughts about dessert. It's no joke to me.

If I can reach this place of peace and freedom, so can you! If you are wanting to quit sugar, I urge you to go for it. Believe in yourself and push through the first two weeks and you will be well on your way. Good luck!

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11 October 2014

What I ate in a day

I thought I'd do another what-I-ate post. My dietary guidelines right now:
- no wheat, corn, or potatoes
- limit sugar
- protein, veg and complex carbs with every meal / snack

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Two scrambled eggs, a sliced tomato, and three homemade sesame spelt crackers.


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Quinoa salad with broccoli, spring onion, a little leftover chicken, roasted butternut, and balsamic dressing.

Afternoon snack

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Two sesame Ryvita crackers with cheese and half an avocado.


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Roast chicken, steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and green beans, mashed sweet potato, and gravy.

Evening snack

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A third of a cup of toasted muesli with a little fruit yoghurt.

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10 October 2014

Fashion Friday and latest Blurb offers

This is what I wore to take Noah to the orthodontist.

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T-shirt: Matalan
Skirt: thrifted
Bracelet: made by me
Shoes: eBay (new)

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8 October 2014

Tiny dandelion

“There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time but, unless we go into every room every day, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person.”
– Rumer Godden

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6 October 2014

How to sew a maxi skirt

Although I have sewed dresses before, they are a bit of a hassle with the darts or panels, sleeves, neckline, facing or lining, and fastenings. They are hard to fit while I sew since I don't have a dressmaker's dummy. If I find an affordable dress (retail or thrift) I will likely buy it.

But I refuse to buy skirts unless they are super cheap at the thrift store. They are just too easy to make! I thought I'd share with you one of the easiest skirts to sew - a knit maxi skirt.

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Start off with a piece of knit fabric that is as wide as you'd like your skirt to be at the bottom. You'll need two layers.

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Fold the two layers in half.

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Now choose a skirt that you know is about the right shape and size, fold it in half and lay the fold along your fabric's fold. I used my black maxi skirt that I made - I had traced it off a rust corduroy maxi skirt when I made it. It doesn't need to be exact, but you'll want something in about the right shape so you can follow the hemline's curve.

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Now cut your fabric to follow the skirt - if you're afraid of cutting the skirt, first trace it and then remove it before cutting. Don't forget to add seam allowance! I also wanted to make my blue skirt slightly longer so I added an inch and a half to the bottom. Feel free to make the sides flare wider by cutting wider than the example skirt, or remain narrow (if you want a narrower skirt than the skirt you're tracing off, fold the skirt and follow the new shape).

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Open the skirt shapes out. With the right sides together, sew the side seams (indicated in red). Because knit won't fray you don't even have to overlock (serge) or zig-zag the seams to finish them - just straight stitch and you're done.

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Now for the waistband. I chose broad black elastic as it's comfy and easy. I wear hip-length tops over maxi skirts so the waistband won't show.

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Sew the ends together.

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Flatten out the ends and zig-zag them down.

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Put the seam at the side and pin the opposite side where the fold is. Then turn the band so that the seam and the pin line up in the middle, and pin the sides again.

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Do the same with the skirt except you won't have to pin the seams. You just need reference points to line up the elastic in case the skirt is slightly bigger than the elastic.

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With right sides together put the elastic and the skirt together, lining up the pins and then pinning the elastic and the skirt together at those points. Mine lined up perfectly this time, but sometimes there is extra fabric between the pins. Don't worry about it.

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Sew all around with a zig-zag stitch. You need to use a zig-zag so that it can stretch with the elastic without breaking. If you have extra fabric between the pinned points, stretch the elastic out as you sew so that it lines up flat with the fabric - pull the fabric / elastic behind your needle as you sew to compensate for the pressure in front.

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Voila, you're almost done.

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Now all you need to do is hem the skirt! Put it on and then decide where you want the hem to be. I do a rolled hem by folding the fabric up and ironing it ...

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... then folding it up again and stitching it.

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All done! How easy was that?!

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I had to laugh when I went to edit these photos. I'd left my camera on the tripod in the lounge (where I take my outfit photos) and when I went through the card later I found these pictures on it:

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And my personal favourite:

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