August 8-9: Winding down at home

Coming home from holidays is always a mix of good and not so good, don’t you think? You’re happy to see friends and family and sleep in your own bed, but the adventure is over. Sadness.

This weekend we’ve been very low-key, getting back into the rhythm of ‘normal life’ and preparing for work tomorrow. Liliane’s mum, Hertha, went back to her house on Saturday – to prepare her for the shock of not having everyone around, we bought her some yellow roses to brighten up her living room. She is such a lovely and lively woman. I told her I’d visit soon, and hope Bruce the Töffli makes the one-hour trip with ease.

On Friday night, sitting around the pool, Rene asked if I’d been on Bruce yet, which I hadn’t. He then surprised the life out of me to say he’d had the bike serviced, with new spark plugs, while we were on holidays! Liliane had the keys to our house, and he remembered the jacket I always wear on the bike, so he put his hand in the pocket (it hangs with the other jackets near the kitchen), found the key and with help from Liliane and Lene they took it to the mechanics for some fine tuning. I was gobsmacked! I’d wanted to do it before we went on holidays but the mechanic wasn’t answering his phone. Gosh, I love our neighbours! Bruce looks all spruced up and clean too; I’ll add a photo tomorrow.

Saturday we mooched around the house and garden, I went for another swim and finished the book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review to come), had a barbecue dinner with the neighbours and played cards til about 10pm.

Today, the weather turned cold and cloudy, so it was the perfect time to finally write some blog posts! And watch the first episode of Montalbano again, so we could shout, “We’ve been there! We’ve been there! We haven’t been there!” 🙂

It’s also time to be a bit more focussed on ‘nutritionally fit’ again – Leo ate his weight in aranchini and I ate so much calamari and ice cream in Sicily – so despite being happy little piggies, it’s got to stop!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

June 9: Catch-ups and temptations

Today I went to the city for the first time in weeks. Weeks! It felt odd walking to the bus – everything’s growing and changing.

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The honesty barrel at the new self-pick flower field. There’s no moving that thing in a hurry!

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What’s growing and how much they cost

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Orderly rows. I don’t feel an affinity with it like the old flower field

It was a social day – I had lunch with Leonie and then Claudia invited me to dessert for her birthday. It’s such a strange custom in Switzerland and Germany, and maybe in other places too. When it’s YOUR birthday, you invite people and YOU pay, and YOU take the cake to work for the celebrations. In Australia, if it’s your birthday, YOU’RE invited out, someone else brings the cake and you DON’T pay. Do you live in a country where the birthday person is responsible for bringing the cake and paying the bill too? I’d love to hear more!

I felt strange watching Claudia pay for our treats but it was lovely to spend the afternoon with her. (I was good and had a bowl of fresh strawberries – high in natural sugar but a lot less than the yummy desserts I passed on! It was so darn tempting! Willpower!) We haven’t seen each other for a month. Afterwards, we went window shopping and strolled around the city.

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Claudia, the birthday girl, with her hot berry and ice cream dessert

My 30-Day Challenge (learning three to four new plant names each day) needs your help! There’s a small crop of black and white flowering plants growing near our house, which I saw for the first time today. I’ve searched the internet but come up with a blank.

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Do you know what this tall crop/plant with black and white flowers is called?

While I’m asking questions, do you know what this one is too? It’s in my garden under the hydrangea (which is getting flowers – it didn’t flower at all last year so I’m pretty darn excited to see what colour it will be!)

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Tiny purple perennial. Any ideas?

The third new plant is Dianthus amurensis ‘Siberian Blues’ (it’s more a purple than blue to me!) and the fourth (yes, today there’s a fourth!) is Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’. Both are growing in my garden. I love the blue colour of the latter and five-petalled flowers are a signature thing for me. I used to draw them non-stop.

The I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program is going along nicely. Leo liked the dinner tonight, so that’s good. I had a mixture of buffet salads for lunch with Leonia, without dressing, and the strawberries with Claudia. It was a bit of a shock to realise I was ‘under pressure’ to find alternative options to the program menu after only two days. You’re not ‘allowed’ to eat fruit in the middle part of this program, so I figured some berries on day two wasn’t too bad an idea for a celebration. Fruit is re-introduced into the plan slowly in the final few weeks, to see how fructose affects you too.

Here are some other photos from today. It was nice to be out and about. Time for a run again soon, I think!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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A flash of poppies, wheat and my favourite farmhouse in the distance

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Corn, doing its thing

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I started the 30-Day Challenge with one campunala in bloom. It’s going great guns now

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A cold and windy day today in our ‘hood

June 4: A bit of everything kind of day

Today was an achieving kind of day. So many lovely things happened.

I received my new second-hand phone in the mail and spent a few hours setting it up (but it still doesn’t seem to be complete). But, wow, does it work faster than the one I was using in the interim, after mine died. While this was loading, I spoke with my sister on the home phone for about 40 minutes. Thanks for calling, Judy!

Then I met my friend Leonie for lunch which is always a good laugh. And then I went grocery shopping, because from Monday next week I start the I Quit Sugar program.

Recently, Leo has mentioned (in a lovely way) my skin has been looking less than glowing, and I’ve also been feeling less than energetic (despite all the garden work). The I Quit Sugar blog and program has been on my radar for a long time – a long time – and until now I’ve never thought it would be beneficial had the nerve to attempt it.

But in the guise of 2015 being the year of fitfor15in15, I thought why not give it a try?! It’s another experiment, and it will be interesting to see if giving up unnatural sugars for eight weeks will make a difference to my energy levels, my moods, my skin and my general well-being.

I have been eating a fair bit of sugar lately (hello M&M Peanuts!), so after years of thinking about it, it’s time to have a go. A few months ago, I did the 5:2 Diet, which was interesting, and I did lose two kilos in that month, but it’s not so much the weight I’m worried about, it’s the sense of feeling good. And I hate counting calories – boring!

So, here’s to the new experiment. If it’s as good as all the testimonials say, then I’m looking forward to jumping out of bed in the morning and not having any afternoon slumps. (Maybe I should put down that phone first thing in the morning too!)

This afternoon, I started filling in all the holes in the lawn, where the weeds used to be. While in the back part of the garden, near the forest, I found this wonderful, small, empty, pale blue and brown speckled bird’s egg. I did an internet search, but am still unsure as to which species it belongs to. Do you know?

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Not the best quality, sorry. Can you identify which bird it comes from?

It was a lovely thing to find, while tipping and patting dirt into holes. I just hope the baby hatched of its own accord, and wasn’t eaten by a falcon! When my back was hurting after an hour of being in the garden, I lay down on the grass, looked up to the clear blue sky, and watched a falcon swirling overhead. They really are magnificent to watch … I just hope that baby bird lives!

When I called it quits in the garden for the day, I had a beer with our neighbour Liliane, sitting back and relaxing and enjoying the wonderful warmth. Alas the Alps were covered in mist and cloud, but it was still so lovely to be soaking up our wonderful surroundings.

And last but not least for today, I’m on a mission to learn new things.

With help and encouragement from Freda, I’ve decided to join the 30-Day Challenge, from zenhabits. Well, I haven’t so much as signed-up on that website, I’m just doing my own thing, so to speak. I like reading Leo Babauta’s blog, it’s one of the minimalism blogs I mentioned here.

My challenge is to learn the names of three to four new plant varieties per day. The goal is to be able to recognise and name more than 100 new plants, which is about 94 more than I currently know.

Freda was quick off the mark to help with yesterday’s post – they are white campunala and pink thrift or sea thrift.

The two new ones for today are the tiny creeping phlox ‘candy stripe’ which I have in a heavy pot as part of a mixed gathering of perennials (its flowering days are just about over for the year), and the tall and hardy crocosmia x crocosmiiflora which is in my little garden. I love the colour and its long, majestic, slender leaves.

Creeping phlox 'candy stripe' which flowers early spring

Creeping phlox ‘candy stripe’ which flowers early spring

Crocosmia which flowers July and August

Crocosmia which flowers July and August

It was quite fun typing things into Google, such as “perennial plant with long green leaves and red or orange flowers” and seeing what pictures came up. What would we do without the internet?! The creeping phlox I stumbled upon by accident (looking for another plant, which hopefully I can name tomorrow!).

Wishing you a wonderful day.

May 28: Caving for a craving

Another beautiful sunny day meant more outdoor work, and outdoor work without breakfast or lunch meant one hungry beast come dinner time.

Rene went to hospital this afternoon for a scheduled visit – he’s having an operation on his neck tomorrow afternoon. This is his sixth hospital visit/operation since I’ve lived here (three and a half years). The first four were for his hip – what a debacle that was. This operation will hopefully alleviate some headache problems he’s been having.

So before he left, there were things to do. (Hopefully he’ll be back by the middle of next week, touch wood). I spent four hours with the jet hose cleaning the stone tiles around the pool. Four hours – on one ‘small’ job! But it was needed to get rid of three years worth of grime. I’ll do our terrace and the back of the big farmhouse on Saturday.

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You can see where I’ve cleaned – the two and a half rows on the right

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And this is what it looks like now. Cream stones rather than green

I was soaked and covered in black grot by the end. I had little stones up my nose and in my ears and my glasses were smeared grey. My arms are also slightly sunburnt. Slightly …

That’s not the only thing hurting my arms. Have you ever used a Kärcher jet spray machine? Those things pump out some serious water and the nozzle weighs quite a bit when in action. My arms were still sore from scooping and snipping yesterday so they are going to weigh a tonne tomorrow! How will I get over that? By cleaning Liliane’s house, of course!

And now to caving for a craving … I called Leo at about 5pm and asked if we could drive straight to McDonald’s when he got home from work. He was shocked – that’s not part of the fitfor15in15 plan! This is the first time I’ve had McDonald’s this year. It could possibly be the first time I’ve had fast hamburger food for an entire year. But he didn’t put up a fight and boy did we enjoy those babies! I was so hungry, I could have eaten my arm (if it wasn’t so burnt! 🙂 )

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Hello Alps! You’ve been hiding behind the clouds for too long! Taken by Leo at 6.30pm

Leo cracked me up when he took the photo, above, for me. My substitute iPhone4 is very, very, very slow and we’re still waiting to hear what’s happening with my iPhone5, which was sent for repairs last week following the black screen of death. Leo asked why I wanted him to take photos with his phone, and I explained the quality would be better. He then said, “You’re suffering from a bad case of missyourphoneia!” I told him that joke, in a language that is still sometimes foreign to him, deserved a hug (I suffer from misophonia). Very clever boy!

Wishing you a wonderful day.

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Missyourphoneia! Burgers! Yeah baby!

April 12: Lorena’s special day and bedtime yoga

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Lorena with her godparents

Today was Leo’s niece and goddaughter’s first communion (her name is Lorena), so we were near Zurich with his family. First up we had the service, then 23 of her nearest and dearest drove to Germany (doesn’t that sound hilarious?! We drove 40 minutes to Germany – still freaks me out) for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Erzingen.

Lorena’s extended family from her father’s side come from Sicily and all the relatives there today were Italian (and still are, surprise surprise!). Hence the choice of this restaurant because they know it has amazing food and brilliant red wine. I’d drive there regularly, too, if we lived so close.

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Lorena in her first communion dress. She looked like a princess

After four hours of eating, we drove home and made a beeline for the couch to watch four more episodes of “The Killing”. It’s now 10.22pm (22.22 for those who like numbers) and I am totally stuffed. Literally and figuratively.

It’s been a great week – I’ve consumed like a queen and been to France and Germany twice – but the time has come to say goodbye to eating whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it, in an attempt to shift a few pesky kilos and try a self experiment to see if food holds more sway than exercise.

Tomorrow I’ll do my first ‘Fast Day’ of the 5:2 Diet, which means I’ll eat 500 calories. Heaven knows what 500 calories looks like (I need to do more research on that) but I think a bowl of homemade natural muesli with seeds, nuts and natural yoghurt for breakfast will be a good start, and whatever lettuce leaves I can scrounge together might make a main meal. 🙂

Would it be superfluous to say I really, really … REALLY … don’t feel like exercising tonight? My body’s a lump of lead. So I’m going to do 15 minutes of bedtime yogaagain! – then send my weary lump to La La Land.

Wishing you a wonderful day.

March 29: 20-minute yoga workout and food dilemmas

What a lazy day it was! The wind was howling, it rained non-stop and the low-hanging clouds made it feel like it was dusk all day. It was hard to separate my arse from the couch. So I didn’t try much.

Now, it’s late and I need to exercise. Sadie Nardini comes to the rescue (again! Search for her name in the search tool on the blog and you’ll see some of her other workouts) with a 20 minute Booty Booster Flow. Seeing as mine had been flat all day, I figured it could do with a boost. Shake that booty.

Can someone else please do this and let me know if you sweated as much as I did? Maybe our heating is up too high? I had to strip off my socks, then my leggings, and then my t-shirt in order to get through this. How strange! Hopefully my arse will be awake tomorrow. But thanks again Sadie, for another good workout. (I did have to cut her short though, because for the first time, her constant talking really, really did my head in. I’m sure it’s because it’s late. I think.)

I’ve also been thinking about my diet, and by diet I don’t mean lettuce leaves and air but what I currently eat. The idea of changing my nutrition, which isn’t all that bad I don’t think, has always been part of the fitfor15in15 plan. But as I’ve mentioned before, things are slowly being changed in order to not be overwhelmed and fail everything at once.

After three months of daily workouts, an exercise habit has been formed. Once again, before the start of a new month, I think about when is the right time to tackle the nutrition side of things. It’s time to really start thinking about cutting out the crap. Even just for a short amount of time – say one, two or even three months.

Years ago, I did the Liver Cleansing Diet and felt quite healthy. By the end of three months, I even craved an apple instead of a chocolate bar as an afternoon snack. Unheard of for me! Now I’m thinking about encorporating some of those elements and additional things like smoothies and nuts and … oh it’s all so overwhelming!

Generally we eat quiet well (Leo jokes that he’s gained every gram of fat I’ve lost in the past three months) but it’s the snacks and treats which are the killers. Chips, chocolate, biscuits, pastries … mainly anything sweet and delicious. They’re not part of the everyday, but they’re definitely around a bit too much. It’s a constant battle against a sweet tooth.

Do you think it’s a good idea to try some sort of diet? Some kind of plan? I’m a bit loathe to do that, because buying new ingredients and making new meals every night is a bit overwhelming and tedious for me. I have a tendency to want to do things by the book or not at all, but the thought of all that time in the kitchen … ugh … I should be more positive about it, right?! Once again, I’ll keep thinking about it for a while longer. But I think the time has come to make a decision/change. Let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter!

Here are some photos from my trip to meet Claudia in Bern on Wednesday, that I said I’d post when the internet worked again.

And please stop by tomorrow when you can read the next guest contributor installment, from Sal Book, who has a lovely story about her change of heart from being a ‘never never’ to a ‘let’s do this’ exerciser.

Wishing you a wonderful day.