June 30: Didn’t that go fast?

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Clear blue skies today and …

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… the moon tonight. It will be a full moon in two days

Leo took this shot of the moon. I hope the skies are as clear on Thursday when it’s full. Loves me a good fullmaaaaoooooooon, I does! 🙂

Will keep this post short today. It was wonderfully warm and sunny, unfortunately a bit too hot for the work Pastora and I did – counting all the karate clothes and moving boxes and things while making the inventory. I rode straight home and jumped in the pool.

Still feel like a kid at Christmas on the bike, even if I was overtaken by an electric bicycle on the flat. (I keep telling myself the man had longer legs than me.) My niece suggested the bike should be named Brad, but I already have a Brad in my life and I’m well and truly over him. So far Bruce is still the leader (not hard seeing as Brad was the only suggestion!).

One of the two new plants, which I promised to mention today, has me stumped. The Celosia venezuela was easy to find because of its magenta prongs, but the second has me baffled. It’s quite tall and could possibly be another Campanula variety? The flowers are a beautiful blue and have very obvious petals. Any takers?

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New plant number one – Celosia venezuela – the magenta spiky one in front of the lavender

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And do you think this is another Campanula variety?

Can’t believe half the year has gone! How would you rate the first half of this year? I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far and hope you are too (and hopefully I’ll be struck by ‘exercise lightning’ tomorrow and be back on the bandwagon for the next six months!).

What will I do on December 31? I can’t very well keep a blog titled fitfor15in15 when it’s no longer 2015, can I?! Should have thought about that a bit harder.

I haven’t mentioned the I Quit Sugar program for a few days because I find it boring talking about food, but it’s going well (not perfect) and I’m really watching what goes in. As hot as it was today, I resisted the temptation for ice cream! That’s a win.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 29: Zoom zoom zoom!

The new bike, known in Switzerland as a Töffli (which I spelled incorrectly yesterday), proved to be a worthy stallion this morning and afternoon.

It takes 30 minutes to ride to work, which shaves 20 minutes off my commute time. I park at the top of those mega-steep steps, so I still get a bit of a workout. Maybe I should make a new goal to be able to run up those steps non-stop (at the moment, walking them without stopping would be a win!).

The wind was cool, the light was gloomy but the Alps were visible through the clouds, the seat was comfortable, the fumes weren’t too overwhelming and I just loved the buzz and hum of the straining engine.

Leo is slightly amused by my excitement over something that 14-year-old kids are allowed to ride to school. We also think there’s a rule here, that if you’ve lost your driver’s licence, you can still ride a Töffli. So maybe people will see me and think I’m a teenager, or a lawbreaker. I’m fine with either.

On the way home, I stopped at the shops, because I can do that now 🙂 and bought two plants to fill some holes in my garden layout, and some laundry liquid. They all fit wonderfully in that fetching plastic green basket on the back. If you missed it yesterday, here’s another angle 🙂

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I’m also particularly fond of the muffler rust, as you can tell

I overtook a few bicycles and was overtaken by everything else. There’s a long slow hill on the way into town, where I felt like running beside the bike to help with the speed, and on the way home, I was worried about the motor blowing up. S/he was flying down the hill!

Which brings me to my reader request. I think the bike needs a name. I’m quite partial to Bruce, because it’s old-fashioned and reliable. Very apt.

Do you have any suggestions for this gallant steed? Should it be male or female? I’m open to all suggestions. The bike make/brand is Alpina, s/he was born in 1983.

It’s been a day of good fortune today. This afternoon we discovered a loop hole in an electronics company’s advertisement. It said you could take all your working Apple smartphones and tablets back to them to recycle and you would receive money towards ‘Apple products’. What the advert failed to clearly state was it had to be another Apple smartphone or tablet, as if you were doing an upgrade.

So with a little bit of hassle we managed to make our point that even though one part of the ad said swap old for new, it didn’t actually say the new had to be a phone or tablet. Just an Apple product. I’m now the proud owner of a new wireless computer mouse, a green iPod Nano to carry when running (it has a workout app as well) and a CHF50 iTunes voucher. All for the grand sum of CHF16.

What’s also brilliant is we have now Kondo’d our electronics! We took in two iPhone3s (neither worked so we didn’t get any money), an iPhone4, my dead iPhone5 from earlier in the year (again, no money) and my old iPad. I have been wanting to get rid of those electronics and all the associated cables for a very long time. Clean drawer! Relief!

On that note, it’s time for bed. Tomorrow I’ll take photos of the two new plants – forgot to do that – as my 30-Day Challenge (which is sporadic at best!) continues.

I look forward to reading your bike name suggestions! 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 26: Feast or famish

Sorry I didn’t post this yesterday … busy having fun again!

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This is the photo I mentioned previously where the tractor driver stopped. I thought he was going to get mad at me for taking a photo, but he just wanted to talk about the good weather!

I’ve been forgetting/don’t have time in the mornings to make my breakfasts for the I Quit Sugar program, so for the past week I’ve been making do with a tub of natural yoghurt and a small sunflower seed bread roll on my walk to work.

At CHF2 from the supermarket, it’s not too hard on the wallet but it’s lacking in thrills. So tonight, after a good morning putting together an inventory of karate clothes at work with Pastora, and a few quick beers together at Cafe Pyrennes afterwards (fast becoming our Friday ‘welcome to the weekend’ ritual!), I was really, really looking forward to dinner with our neighbours and their friends at a nice restaurant in another village 10 minutes drive away.

A juicy steak promised plenty of song and dance but wasn’t all that entertaining – this time the Angus beef came from the property of one of the members of the Swiss band Yello (they had some big hits in the 90s, including Oh Yeah). Not really a smash hit this time ’round, despite plenty of veg to make it a feast, so our last meal there remains my favourite.

After dinner, Eve, Paul, Lotti and Fritz came back to sit around the pool with Liliane, Rene, Leo and I in the beautiful twilight (would be amazing to go walking in that light), and the men demolished (and yes, I am using this term with confidence) a bottle of Montenegro that Leo’s dad gave him for his birthday. We’re glad it’s gone! We don’t really drink hard spirits or liqueur at home, and the shelf in the lounge room is full. Maybe by putting the bottles on display, people think we enjoy it and they’re encouraged to buy more. Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere else to store them, apart from the cellar. Hmm … there’s a thought! 🙂

One thing I’ve really missed with consuming less sugar these past three weeks is a glass of elderberry cordial. They love it here (it’s called Holunderbluten syrup). Feeling adventurous? You can make your own cordial here, if you have access to a tree, or if that’s not quite your style, how about elderflower wine?! Hic!

So my 30-Day challenge plant name for you today is the elder (Sambucus). We have many trees growing around the property, but I’ve never made the syrup!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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The Aare river running through Bern. I cross this bridge to go to work

June 25: Stress … and relax

As soon as the boss goes on holidays, everything falls in a heap, right?

My new boss went on holidays today so of course the email system failed and the website wouldn’t work. Handy, huh! By 4pm it had all been sorted out (hopefully), but I hated having to send Marko an email to say, “Um, do you know how to fix this?”

I met Claudia for lunch and we wandered around the Botanical Gardens. There’s a palm building, nice and humid, which I didn’t know existed. Love being surprised in your ‘home’ city. So many wonderful plants – I didn’t know vanilla, originally from Mexico, was part of the orchid family!

Here are two which stood out for me (as part of my 30-Day Challenge to learn more plant names) – the Acalypha hispida and Victoria cruziana. In the pond with the Santa Cruz water lily was a turtle that bites, or so the sign said. We saw some other turtles at the cafe, sunning themselves. So very sweet. I would load a photo but the computer is going soooo slow – not having much luck with technology today! Oh well!

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Acalypha hispida – red hot cat’s tail or fox tail. The blooms were so soft

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So peaceful, and impressive. Victoria cruziana, or Santa Cruz water lily

This morning on the walk to the bus, a spotted a great photo opportunity – clear Alps, a corn field and a tractor approaching; a true summation of my Swiss experience. After I took the photo, the driver of the tractor opened his door on approach, and I felt a bit nervous. Was he going to get mad at me for taking a photo? No, he just wanted to talk about how amazing the weather was and how clear the Alps had been at 6am. Very un-Swiss, and a wonderful surprise!

Tonight, Claudia and Dani came for dinner, and by surprise Liliane and Rene joined us as well, on the terrace. We had a great laugh and Leo and Dani smoked their obligatory cigars together. Very funny. We hadn’t seen C&D since New Years – we better not wait another six months til next time!

The Junikäfer were out in full force – amazing how many come out at dusk. They really are a force to be reckoned with and Boy, the dog, loves eating them. They must be packed with protein! And it was hilarious watching Leo trying to swat them away – he’s really not a fan of flying insects!

I’ve given up waiting on the other photos to load. I’ll add them in tomorrow! Night night.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

P.S In loving memory of an amazing Kiwi friend, Annie, who was beaten by the cancer demons tonight. She made a lasting impact. Words can’t really do her justice.

June 24: Mixed bag of goodies

I’m typing this again, because, for some reason, my original post went missing! Arrggghhhh! Not what you need at 11pm!

Didn’t fall asleep on the couch this afternoon, because I didn’t sit on it!

Came home from work, put on my daggy clothes and helped Rene in the garden. The two new front wheels for the lawnmower arrived last week, but the weather’s been terrible so no chance until today to put them to the test. Many trips to the compost were made, because the grass hadn’t been cut for two weeks (since I broke the front wheel).

After whipper-snippering around the edges, I finished off the mowing. Then I weeded around the garage (damn nettles!), dead-headed Liliane’s roses and the pots around the pool, and then I thought I’d have a rest. Sat on the terrace for two minutes and saw a plant which I really don’t like the look of, and never have, so I pulled it out. Then I had to give the soil a bit of a scratch to patch up the hole, then I thought I ‘mose well weed that garden bed too. Oh and why not my main garden bed as well, while I’m in the swing of things?! All up today, three hours in the garden and one hour of walking. Not too shabby.

I managed to snap a few pictures in Bern’s Botanical Gardens. After yesterday’s 30-Day Challenge plant name, my eye was drawn to another Allium strain, Allium fistulosum. In German it’s common name is Winterzwiebel, or winter onion. In English, it’s the Welsh onion. I thought the stems would smell oniony, but nothing.

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The Welsh onion in Bern’s Botanical Gardens

Even though I really didn’t feel like it, I cooked another I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program dinner and finally flopped on the couch for two episodes of House of Cards. Didn’t eat a sweet thing all day! After 2.5 weeks of much less sugar than normal, I’m finding it easier and easier. The natural yoghurt for breakfast seems sweet enough. Never thought I’d say that! Berliner doughnuts were on special today in the supermarket – six for the price of four – and I walked straight past (while shooting daggers at the man who grabbed a packet so nonchalantly!)

All up, a nice mixed bag of goodies today. I hope you achieved too. And as always …

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 23: Easy does it

After yesterday’s meltdown of gigglical proportions, I feel better – but not enough to actually do any exercise! Part of me thinks ‘start afresh on July 1’, another says ‘just start now and stop moaning’. I wanted to do more than walk to and from the bus today, but once again, I fell asleep on the couch for an hour this afternoon. I really don’t understand why I’m so tired? Probably because I’m not moving enough!

One thing I have taken on board from all the lovely comments and suggestions (thank you) is to take it easy. Not only with putting the wheels back on the wagon but with myself. Sometimes I can be a hard taskmaster and have to learn how to expect less to achieve more. Or does that sound self-defeating?! What I’m trying to say is baby steps chasing that carrot.

On the walk home from work I saw this wonderful hummingbird hawk-moth. I’ve only seen one twice before, in my garden, in three years. The first time, I was convinced it was a hummingbird! Ha! They’re amazing to watch, and incredibly hard to photograph well on a phone because they’re so fast.

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The best of 15 attempts!

The light had a really nice glow to it this afternoon, after heavy rain overnight and this morning.

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Chickens on the loose in Oberwohlen

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Lovely colours at the farmhouse with the chicken run

Had a productive day today and I’m looking forward to going again tomorrow. Marko is on holidays from Thursday-Tuesday so I’m trying to soak up as much as possible in case orders come in while he’s away.

Kevin Spacey has been on my mind a lot lately, because I’m thoroughly enjoying him in the series House of Cards. Does any current actor have better facial expressions than his? He really conveys emotion so well with just the slightest lift of an eyebrow, a glance, a breath. I find him mesmerising!

It’s nice to immerse yourself in a television series now and then. We seem to be doing it quite a lot lately (to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever watched so much television in my life!). But at least it’s quality, and without the dreaded commercials! The irony of that comment is I used to make those commercials! Bwahahahahahah.

I’ve fallen behind on my 30-Day Challenge, learning plant names, but I’ve found a new ally. The Dojo is very close to Bern’s Botanical Gardens, so I intend on spending time there tomorrow, pen in hand. But for now, how about some Allium shoenoprasum, or chives as they’re commonly known. I have some planted with the thyme and rosemary and love the purple flowers.

The I Quit Sugar program is going well, but perhaps that’s what’s making me so tired at the moment. I have been pretty good but tonight I couldn’t resist two small chocolates from one of Leo’s birthday presents. They were so small, wafer thin, I possibly couldn’t … say no.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 22: The wheels are falling off

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Our house in the morning light

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At long last, the Alps are visible again! Taken on the walk to the bus this morning

Ok, I’m going to be totally honest here. I haven’t done any exercise for a very long time. I’ll say that again, with em-PHA-sis, so I feel bad. A verrrry loooooong tiiiiime.

Walking to the bus and weeding the lawn for four days does not count (although I do think the lawn was the straw that ‘broke my back’, figuratively).

This blog is all about being fitfor15in15. Along with being mentally and nutritionally fit, I want to be physically fit with a minimum 15 minutes of EXERCISE a day. That was my mantra. That IS my mantra, but it’s all gone pear-shaped and I’m trying to work out why.

I’m surrounded by friends who are fit and healthy, who love to run or walk or go to yoga, and I know the benefits, yet I’m suffering from a severe lack of WTFC. Who The F*#$ Cares. I should care! I do care! So why is it so hard to actually get up and do it?

Freda from livesimplysimplylive has been totally succeeding in her 30-Day Challenge to do a ballet class every day for a month – she’s passed day 21! – plus, to top it off, she’s taking swimming lessons. I dip my hat to Freda for really sticking to her guns on this one. Some people love a challenge more than others and I’m in awe. I’m flailing!

Today should be Monday Runday. I came home from work (ahaha, how good does that sound) and had full intentions of putting on my sneakers. But first I sat on the couch. Then I lay on the couch. Then I fell asleep. Then Leo woke me up at 5.30pm. Oops.

Could it be a case of half-way mark burnout? In just over one week, it will be six months of fitfor15in15. I have no problem writing everyday (sorry for all the waffle) but for the past month I have had serious issues with actually exercising. Even for just 15 minutes. My brain says “neh”, which is a cross between “meh” and “nah”, so that just shows you. how. bad. I’ve. got. it.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board. It’s time to start again. There’s no shame in admitting a slight defeat – oh ok, a big defeat – and putting the wheels back on the cart. Or the donkey in front, instead of behind. Or a carrot in front of the donkey.

Light bulb moment! That’s it! I need a carrot … I’ve lost interest in my goals because they’ve been reached. Now that I’m happy with my weight, I’ve fallen for the age-old trap of becoming complacent. Why keep exercising when I’ve lost the weight I wanted to lose? Why keep going when I’m feeling healthy and more aware of what I eat?

Because it’s too easy to fall back into old habits. I don’t want those old habits returning – too much couch time, not enough active time. I can feel the lethargy creeping in after just one month. If I focus on how bad I felt last year, and how much better I feel this year, then the road to redemption will be much easier to handle.

Have you ever turned a positive into a negative then back into a positive again? Was it hard? Am I on the right track? Do you have any suggestions or handy hints to get the wheels, and body, in motion again? Should I set challenges, when I’m not very good at following them through to completion? Or should I just start with a fresh set of easy to achieve goals, rather than trying to bite off more than I can chew?

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 18: A ceremonial swapping of the tools

The Kärcher is being replaced by the computer tomorrow.

Finally, the concrete around the main farmhouse AND our Stöckli is now clean. Another four and a half hours with that powerful jet spray machine has knackered my wrists again. But the end result, and knowing I won’t have to do it again for another two years, is nice.

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Clean as a whistle!

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The cement in front of the house didn’t scrub up as well as the terrace

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My little garden, just because …

It feels like I’m having a ceremonial ‘swapping of the tools’ – the yellow Kärcher beast is all packed away, and now I’ve taken out the travel case for my computer. It’ll be coming on the bus with me tomorrow for my ‘first day’ on the job. I wonder how many hours a week it will involve? All will be sorted out soon enough, I imagine.

Fell off the no sugar bandwagon this afternoon and ate … *gasp* a cherry tomato!! They just looked tooooooo good to not try one.

We’ve started watching House of Cards on Netflix which I’m really enjoying. Kevin Spacey is brilliant. Just brilliant! It’s definitely adding to my mental fitness.

My plant for the day is another herb. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is my favourite because it goes with lamb. Mmmm lamb. (I love how the thyme was vulgaris and this is officinalis. How official!)

Time for bed. I actually have a very good reason to get up early tomorrow! Yahoo!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 17: Possibilities?

One of my friends from German school, Iva, is married to Marko, who is a karate Dan. He has a karate Dojo and wellness centre on the Aare river in Bern. I’ve mentioned it before, when I did a yoga class there earlier in the year.

Marko has asked me to do some work for him on one of his websites, enso-shop.ch which deals with the selling of karate gear. On Friday, I’ll go in and learn the ins and outs of the website from him, and then eventually, I’ll be responsible for all things to do with the site. Neither of us are sure how much work this will involve, but he wants to push the site more than he’s been able to, because he’s so busy teaching.

This means I’ll be working in the office with Pastora as well, which will be fun. She works there five mornings a week. This could be my chance to get back into the swing of things and help promote his website, which thankfully is mostly in English. I’m very excited and hope I can do enough to make the orders soar! Learning more about how websites work will keep me mentally fit, too. I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, that this could be a job with possibilities.

Being in the city today (to meet Marko) made me realise how much I’m missing sugar. I’m in week two of the I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, when we can’t eat any fruit either. I was bombarded with people eating ice cream, Berliners and other sweet stuff that normally I wouldn’t think twice about buying. Grocery shopping, and seeing all the lovely bananas and watermelons etc was even harder. They’re healthy! But I’m committed to giving this sugar cleanse a real go. In week six, fruit is reintroduced. It was a dumb time to buy that cherry tomato plant – they’re all looking so ripe and yummy, Leo will have to eat them all!

Here are some other photos from my walk to the bus and time in town.

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More corn growing near us, with my favourite farmhouse on the hill

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This looks like silverbeet perhaps?

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A close up of the silverbeet?

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Healthy geraniums at a house on the way to the bus

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A lovely veggie garden on the way to the bus

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How cool is this bug? Love the colour!

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This is the path I take down to the river on the way to the Dojo

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The building on the right side of the river is where I’ll be doing some work

I use a running app on my phone, called MapMyRun. Today it sent me an email to remind me I haven’t been running in a month. A month! Oops! How did that happen? (Well, um easily – busy in the garden, raining, lack of motivation!) Will try to fix that asap.

The 30-Day Challenge with the plant names has also taken a backseat. I think I had a bit of burnout, searching the web for the plants I have in the garden, not knowing where to begin other than a generic description of what the plant looks like – the images always offered up so many options. I’m learning some Latin herb names now, starting with thyme – Thymus vulgaris.

Rather than searching for three to four each day, I’m going to scale it back to one from now on – I’d bitten off more than I can chew! Hopefully that isn’t the case for the website job with Marko!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 13: The first swim of summer

Fitfor15in15 could have some new workouts in the pipeline – the pool is finally reading for swimming, and today, after Leo took the robot cleaner out, I made the most of the sunshine (and 23 degree Celsius water temperature).

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The juxtaposition of a Swiss flag and a pool always makes me smile. I don’t think of pools when I think of Switzerland but I’m very grateful for ours

Of course, Leo was there to prove I didn’t just get my ankles wet. Normally, our neighbour Liliane’s friend Lotti is the first to swim every year, but she’s on holidays in Tuscany and I couldn’t wait until she got back. We won’t tell her, ok?

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Go!

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So refreshing!

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Happiness is a pool on a warm day

I did about 15 minutes worth of freestyle laps. I only breathe twice on each lap, because the pool is about eight metres long (I think). Looking forward to more days like this in the next few months.

Before the swim, I baked a chocolate cake for Pastora and Leo’s birthday (our married friends who were born on the same day in the same Spanish hospital; Leo three years before Pastora) but I won’t be eating any at the party tonight. The I Quit Sugar program would frown upon that! (I may have licked one of the beaters … normally I would have licked both.) 🙂

And now, we’re off to the celebrations. Party! Vamos!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

p.s The wasp bite is getting better. Not as red and angry as yesterday, thanks to some cooling gel we bought to bring down the heat. Phew. Still can’t squat down properly though – feels like the skin behind my knee will split! – and it’s still ever so itchy. Grrrr.

p.p.s Big addition of plant names for the 30-Day Challenge coming on Monday or Tuesday. Hopefully 🙂