Cooking With Anna J #2

 

I’m not in the best of moods today, nor was I yesterday. After making the grand declaration about a month ago that ‘I was never EVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER dieting again’,   I decided to step on the scales to see if there was any damage. I already knew things were a bit off. Once the initial excitement of being able to eat whatever the hell I wanted for the first time in 40+ years, life then quickly disintegrated into

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I could feel myself getting heavier. Energy levels dropping. Mobility dropping. My face started to feel puffier and just kind of

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I’ve had to admit defeat and get back with the programme. Being the Princess-Fad that I am, I’ll be lucky if I make it past the weekend. I’ve got the sticking power of sellotape that’s been left in a moist and dusty atmosphere. I know there are some incredible women out there, breaking down barriers and squishing fat-shamers; I take my hat off to them. I support their cause and mission whole-heartedly. But for me, being this over weight is just horrid. I hate it. I don’t fit my skin … or rather my skin doesn’t fit  me. I don’t recognise the person I see in the mirror, so, here we go again.

I’ve jumped back on the Ketogenic waggon. Having tried everything else in my many years, it is the only thing that has any impact on me. And the only one that doesn’t leave me ready to eat my own arm although that adaption period can be somewhat ‘testing’.

Yesterday was actually fine. I expected the worst ( ravenously hungry as my brain started screaming out for glucose) but it was fine. I planned my meals,drank freakin’ gallons of water and got through the day without too much drama. Today I’m hoping  for the same. I’ve currently got some cauliflower cheese crusts in the oven. No clue how well they are going to turn out. I did my usual trick – looked at the instructions then ignored the instructions. If anyone wants a go:-

 

  1. Take one head of cauliflower. Grate or chop super fine in a food processor.
  2. First, create dish with raw cauliflower.
  3. Go back and read instructions, realise it should have been cooked. Microwave if you have a microwave, if not put into boiling water and murder it until it reaches a consistency of ‘meh, that should do’.
  4. Totally ignore instructions about squeezing out as much moisture as possible from the cooked cauli and plough on ahead.
  5. Place cauli mush in a bowl and add a cup or two of mozzarella cheese ( grated, obviously!).
  6. Add one egg.
  7. Mix
  8. Attempt to scoop up liquidy mess whilst swearing profusely and wondering what the hell you did wrong.
  9. Read instructions again and go back to #4. Repeat entire process again. This time squeezing.
  10. Preheat oven to  ‘hot as hell’ because you don’t have enough patience to cook it properly. Check intermittently ( as and when you remember basically) and turn down once the edges resemble charcoal.
  11. Pray
  12. Wander off and start blogging on the internet. Forget everything you’ve been doing.
  13. Suddenly wonder what on earth that burning smell is, and run screeching to the oven. Whip out Cheesy Cauli Crusts, preferably using the end of  the oven glove that does not have the gaping big hole in it.
  14. Remove from the non-stick pan ( oh how I am  laughing … and they are still stuck in the none stick pan).

Et voila.

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Yeah, I know ….

And here is what they should have looked like.

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Photo credits to The Iron You, where you can go and learn how to do them properly!

I’m going off to eat my burnt  cheesey lumps now.

Have a great one.

Anna J xXx

High Maintenance or Self Care?

High Maintenance or Self Care?

In no way shape or form could I ever be described as ‘high-maintenance’. Not even in my younger, thinner, prettier days. The bottom line is I’m just too damn lazy. The second to bottom line is I couldn’t afford it (or justify spending that amount of money on myself). Having children and being married (or as good as without the dress and piece of paper), meant that the bit of time I did spend on myself, kinda went out of  the window. It wasn’t helped by living with a partner who would regularly throw around accusations of affairs every time  I put on some slap and high heels. However, that was then and this is  now. Yesterday I talked about the mirror. So insignificant to most but a huge step for me. My mindset has definitely  shifted recently. A need to self-care again has risen from the ashes. When I look in the mirror I no longer see someone who is beyond help. Not worthy of help. I see a woman with potential; to be better and greater than she was the day before.

My world is beginning to feel quite alien. It’s scary but exciting.

So with this new perspective on life,  and myself, I thought the time had come to try and go a bit more high-maintenance. I awoke this morning full of the joys of spring and with many many plans for today. A transformation from a dowdy 44-year-old to middle-aged glamour puss (*Miranda style turn to camera* “…no sniggering … we all need dreams…”) was on the cards. I have a birthday coming up and it seemed as good a time to start as any.

It hasn’t gone  to plan  and it’s only eleven.

It turns out this high maintenance stuff isn’t as simple as I’d imagined. First disappointment was remembering I wasn’t going to be able to lose 60 pounds between breakfast  and dinner. The second disappointment was remembering that to lose even a single pound there could be no breakfast or dinner. Unperturbed, I whipped out my pencil and paper and commenced creating my to-do list whilst munching away on my fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free breakfast.

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  1. Dye Eyebrows -Kids have thrown away the box of dye I’d secretly stashed in the bathroom cabinet.
  2. Make hair look lush (Hair colour) -I can’t find the gloves, and no one applies Sebastion Cellophane without gloves. No one.
  3. Tidy up eyebrows – “… ya tweezers fell down the plug hole last week mum…”
  4. Nails –  No nails!! Probably should have stopped biting them last week in preparation
  5. Legs – I still have a pair. Possibly an orangutan sanctuary existing in ‘undergrowth’. (Half way through my shower I remembered new packet of disposables is still downstairs.)
  6. Face mask – Do Avon still do those peely ones? A bit like the glue we all painted on the back of our hands as kids but smelled of lemon. (Remembered I was supposed to do one an hour after my shower.)
  7. Exfoliation of entire body! (I remembered two hours after my shower. Fitness levels probably aren’t ready for this yet anyway. There  is a lot of body and a lot of exfoliation.)
  8. Feet – Urgh, I’m not ready to go there yet.
  9. Yoga work out on the Bastard-Ball –  The day isn’t over yet. It’s still a possibility. *Crosses fingers behind back.*

And so it goes on …

How do you girls do it?!!!

There is so much to think about and plan! It’s like having another full-time job on top of the full-time work that most of us already do! I’m going to need extra pages and columns in my diary if this has a cat in hells chance of working. I probably would also benefit  from a sugar-daddy / crowd-fund / Swiss bank account (full) / trust fund / lottery win. I’m thinking this high-maintenance would be so much less stressful if I could afford to hire a housekeeper to do my chores and look after the kids, whilst I pottered off to see a ‘lady wot does’ to get all the beauty stuff done.

I need to reassess how I can make this happen. Or bits of it at least.

Current High Maintenance Level Achieved: I’ve washed my hair. 😀

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Cooking With Anna J

We’ve all got one of those friends on Facebook. The one who casually whips up food porn for their meals and then posts photos. I’ve got one and he’s called Mr. P.  Him and his lovely wife Mrs. P ( who always reminds me of a beautiful exotic Asian Helena Bonham Carter) have  been responsible for my screen-licking activities on many occasions. Today I was blessed with a visit from them. Our meet-ups are always far and few between. Work, commitments, life etc. gets in the way, but the time I do get with them is always a joy for which I am grateful. No matter how our conversations begin, they follow a road that always leads back to food – and what a great place to end up! The by-product of this, is me, without fail, being left , after they’ve departed, with cravings that only a telephone call to the local Indian restaurant can cure, especially as my cookery skills don’t stretch out much further than oven chips and fish fingers.

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As I was feeling in such a good mood this evening, the sun was shining in through the French windows, the birds were singing and life felt generally good, I thought I’d be brave and try something new off the menu. It’s so important that we step out of our comfort zones whenever we can. I’m generally not a huge fan of Indian food. If I’m honest it scares me a bit because I don’t know what things are, or what is in them, but after a couple of hours talking about it, it was a bullet that had to be bitten.

I closed my eyes, pointed my finger and trusted in the Goddess of Lovely Food.

Jhinga Satay!

 I made the call. Placed the order. And twenty minutes later – Bish Bash Bosh. ( Don’t you just love living in the 21st century? )

It was with much excitement that I plated up and took my first couple of mouthfuls. Spicy but delicious. So delicious  in fact that I set to on Our Lord God Google to see if I could find the recipe. It took me a few minutes to track it down on a cookery site, mainly because I was also still filling my face … which was starting to feel a tad warmer …

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By the time I got to copying the ingredients down, although still with no regrets, I had officially concluded that this probably wasn’t a ‘novice curry’; but being the brave and courageous soul that I am, I ploughed on.

So if anyone wants to try this recipe at home, here are the ingredients.

I have made some slight adjustments using what little culinary knowledge I have, to ensure that the version I am sharing is as authentic as possible and also accounts for the build up of heat I experienced by the end of eating.

 

Ingredients.

1 lb – tiger prawns. Peeled if desired.

2 cups – Fresh volcanic lava. ( If you can’t get fresh, dried is acceptable however it should be widely available when in season.)

3 cups – Breath of a dragon ( flaming) If you can’t find this in your local store, we recommend checking out your local farmer market.

1/4 lb of the sun. It essential that you use a lump of the core. We’ve tried outer layers and it simply doesn’t burn through your oesophagus

Mixed chopped salad for dressing.

And apparently some sort of Asian plum sauce

Method.

Fry off the tiger prawns and arrange on plate. Don’t worry about presentation too much. In five minutes your sauce will have melted the crockery anyway.

Mix all the ‘spices’ together ( we recommend wearing protective equipment whilst doing so. Safety, Safety, Safety! That’s the motto in the Anna J kitchen.) 

You can either pour the mix directly from the bowl, over your seafood, or simply hold the bowl above the prawns and wait for it to corrode through and drop down anyway.

Arrange salad as desired.

Put the Asian plum sauce back in the cupboard and save for another time because I have no clue when it’s supposed to be used.

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And there we have it. My new favourite Indian dish. Next week I shall be blogging about my visit to the plastic surgeon to have my princess-mouth rebuilt.It seems I have taste buds that are grown from fairy wings and dew drops. And the next time I decide to get all brave with things I have absolutely no knowledge of, I shall ensure I have an expert to hand. And probably a fireman. And a plastic surgeon.

Enjoy xx Anna J xx

Mildly Dramatic Light Bulb Moment Strikes.

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I have a lot of lightbulb moments. Some of them are lasting, and some of them have got a bit of dodgy switch which leads to intermittent flickering and eventual failure. However, I think, I hope, that this morning’s one, was of the more permanent kind.

I struggle with I’m Not Good Enough Syndrome.

It’s common amongst the female side of the species, and sadly, I think in recent years, has grown dramatically amongst the guys too. So much social and media pressure, 24/7. Unless you have a self-esteem that is made from anything less than steel and Teflon, it’s a difficult little fucker to avoid. However, mine didn’t come from that. We didn’t have the same pressures when I was a kid; in fact, most of my childhood was spent staring at posters of John Taylor from Duran Duran.

Mine came from my father.

I was a high achiever with a ridiculous amount of ability until high school at least. He encouraged me in the only way he knew how. By yelling at me and telling me that I could do more. Achieve more. Be better. Reminding me every single day that what I did, who I was …wasn’t good enough.

I wasn’t enough for him.

And there it was.  The message took root and evolved into my own personal nemesis. A self-belief that fused with every atom that made up the person I was. Am. With no conscious awareness, I spent my adolescence choosing  both friends and boyfriends who would re-enforce the message; and in return, I would play up to the person everyone ( and I) thought I was. Over the years I learned to flick away compliments like a highly skilled tennis player returning serves. I’ve shied away from doing things, going places and meeting people, all for fear of rejection of what I can bring to the table. i.e. Me.

I’ve held  back emotions for the same reason. To evade the possibility of rejection. To sidestep any chance of being told, either by word or deed, that yet again, I wasn’t good enough.

” I will never be enough.”

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I’ve worked on it continually as I know many do. Reading  the self-help books, watching the videos on YouTube, clicking ‘like’ on the trillions of memes that travel around facebook. Tried losing weight, tried gaining weight. Grew hair, cut hair, grew hair. Like a sticking plaster, the difference was always temporary because they only affected my thoughts and not my feelings. No matter how many times you go over a mantra, if the emotions behind the facade remain the same, we will always return to type. Eventually.

So what changed? 

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am Abraham Hicks’s biggest fan (these days), and it was hours and hours of listening that finally got a new message (and method) to sink in.

Life isn’t supposed to feel shit.

I started taking responsibility for my own emotional well-being. Made a decision that whilst I couldn’t stop life chucking things at me that made me feel yukky, I could choose to walk away from those that made me feel anything less than good. And I have been. Where ever possible. And the number of those ‘possibles’ appears to be growing.

It’s getting easier to say ‘No’ to that, and ‘Yes’ to this.

Shit things don’t just feel shit anymore. They feel wrong. That’s a big difference. A huge shift in perspective.  And this is what led to this mornings lightbulb moment. A conversation online with an old friend who happens to be abroad. Discussing what different people are attracted to (potential relationships). An old friend who also happens to be incredibly confident, and good looking.

“I’m generally only attracted to confident people,” He said. “even if I was initially attracted, without that confident element it wouldn’t last. Not with me.” Or words to that effect. It was open and candid, as our time together generally is. It’s one of the  things I love about out  friendship. And I was in agreement. Being around people with low self-esteem can be tiring. It’s exhausting having to constantly prop up another human being.

And then I remembered that I am one of those people, lusting after people like him. 

<Cue my brain caving in.>

I begin reminiscing about how it’s always been ‘my issue’. I could feel the childhood stories backing up inside. Tales of woeful romances that had fallen by the wayside because of ‘my issues’. In previous times this would have continued until I’d all but brought myself to tears; at which point I would shuffle off into a corner, faceplant some cake and ice-cream, and berate myself for hours for not being enough, or good enough. Resign myself to eternal singledom because no one was ever going to love someone so broken as me …. that no one should ever have to carry that burden of carrying me.

Seriously. By the end of the first tub of Ben & Jerry’s, it was not a pretty sight.

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But today was different.

I have no clue when the penny dropped. But something had changed. I had insight.

I recognised that I was talking myself down, and not only that, I was doing my darndest to get my friend to join in too. Subconsciously trying to get other peoples validation of how horrible a person I was. Am. IS THAT CRAZY OR IS THAT CRAZY!?

Not content with my own constant self-punishment, I’d decided I needed some reinforcement! Thank god it was with someone who not only won’t play ball but who also won’t hesitate in telling me to ‘shut the fuck up and get off the train bound for Pity-Ville’ … but today it wasn’t needed.

I spotted it. Felt It.

That horrid sickness that accompanies self-loathing and sneaks into your gut like a grey sticky shadow … it stuck it’s head through my door and I smashed it right back out.

“I don’t like talking about how crap I am!” I announced. The words fell out. “It’s making me feel even crappier about myself and I don’t like feeling like that anymore. I’m off to do some Yoga Ball.” And I did. And the bad feeling went away.

It was that easy! After all these years of wrestling!

It felt bad so I walked away. It. Is. That. Simple.

Only we can stop the rot. Only we can be responsible for what we allow or don’t allow. The hardest part about all of this, is learning just how easy it is.

I could go on forever and waffle people into a coma on the subject of Abraham / Ester Hicks these days, but I won’t. So if you’ve managed to get through this fuelled only by the power of a couple of coffee’s, then well done. Your prize is in the post.

Till tomorrow.

Anna J ❤

 

People, We Need To Talk About Balls.

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I’m not talking chocolate salty balls, or the sort we have to grow in pairs to push out of our comfort zone. I’m talking Yoga Balls. Or Balance Balls. Or, as I have already come to name mine, Bastard Ball. 

I had a few sessions with a fabulous trainer a couple of months ago. Circumstances have altered since then, making any more impossible for the foreseeable future at least, but everything he showed me, is logged in the old grey matter. I have to take my hat off to the guy. I can’t believe he gets clients any less fit than me, but he didn’t raise an eyebrow as I puffed and panted walking ten yards on the treadmill. Nor did he flinch as I wailed at the 2kg dumb bells he handed me, and to my horror, couldn’t control in a safe nor lady-like manner. “Not a problem,” he said; and handed me some 1kg weights instead. I wailed again. “Still not a problem,” he reassured me and handed me a couple of peapods instead. The workout went well from that point, once we’d established exactly what my level was.

I probably didn’t burn more than a 100 calories that day, but I walked out of the gym feeling 10 feet tall and empowered, and my mood was elevated for days. One of the other things he introduced me to was the Bastard Ball; and in a bid to recapture that incredible jubilant feeling, I finally purchased one to use at home.

“Simple!” Thinks I.

Buy it, blow it up, work it. Slinky Dinky Rejuvenated Me!

As with many great plans ( especially mine … and I do have many… on an hourly basis), things didn’t quite go as I expected them to.

Blowing it up. Let’s start there! The box said ‘Pump Included’. Hastily I ripped open my new toy, pulled out a flaccid rubber item ( the ball folks!), and then this thing drops out after it. Something akin to what you might find in a Christmas Cracker. A Cheap Christmas Cracker. That was the pump.  After much examining of pointy plastic bits, chin rubbing  and sucking in air, I still hadn’t figured out how to make it work and deftly handed it over to The Captain and The Colonel to deal with. In all fairness, they did well. It only took them an hour, two punch ups and one tantrum / storming and  I had my ball.

“Great!” Thinks I. “I’ll just read the instruction leaflet to make sure I’ve got everything covered.”  In teeny print at the bottom it read ‘leave ball for 24 hours to get used to its new expansion’.

Que?

I was fairly certain they weren’t referring to the balls spiritual progression, but a threat of possible splitage or explosion, that risk I suspect being much greater when about to be plopped on by a female such as me with  ( to steal a phrase from Plenty of Fish) a few *cough* extra pounds. Despite much reassurance from my FaceBook tribe, I decided to err on the side of caution and leave the grand christening until today.

Despite the period of grace I’d given it to adjust, it was still with some trepidation that I leaned across it this morning, fully expecting one almighty bang as the last ounce of my full body weight succumbed to the ‘power of the ball’.

There was no bang!! I have no idea what witchcraft they use to make these things, but it held my weight!! 

I pressed start on the YouTube Yoga Ball for Beginners video I’d found.

“How hard can it be?” says I. Outloud. “It’s only ten minutes long.”

Well, let me tell you, it could be very sodding hard, and it was. I didn’t even know I could travel across my bedroom, horizontally, at that speed. But seemingly, I can. And that was only whilst I tried to get into the correct position for the back stretch.

The whole session swiftly disintegrated into me, playing ‘ball-boy’ for half an hour. How do people DO those positions and movements without the bloody thing shooting out from beneath them like a pinball machine?

And then we need to talk about the issue of boobage. Seriously.

I’ve tried pushing them up, pushing them down … even attempted one either side of the Bastard Ball at one point. I’m only left with two options now. Sucking them in, or tying them up behind the back of my head. It’s really painful!! I’m sure the guys wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about playing football if they had to have their knackers clamped in a vice for the entirety of the match.

I crawled out of the room a sweaty, but triumphant, mess. Not sure how much I’ve actually benefited from it exercise wise, but I smashed the Ghost of Procrastination in the bollox and that will always be a great achievement.

I may try again tomorrow, or I may not. I’m undecided. The last piece of fitness equipment I bought, that stands neatly behind my bedroom door, is near to reaching it’s full capacity of how many clothes it can hold. Additional storage may be required.

I’m never going to love exercise, but I’m working on not hating it.

 

First World Problems:Long Hair

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The reality of having long hair is a bit like sex and the movies. On film it’s great. Romantic. Dramatic. Perfect. And frequently accompanied with a great backing track. The reality is somewhat different; usually involving some awkwardness, probably a bit of cramp, general emotional disappointment and a backing track of noises that we most definitely didn’t hear coming out of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis, in that scene in Top Gun. In fact, that film has a lot to answer for regarding romance / my expectations after it heavily influenced my vulnerable and innocent young mind. (Family and friends can leave the room at this point if you are unable to stop sniggering).

Anyhow, I digress. Hair. I was brought up on Timotei adverts and White Snake videos. It set the bar high. Think Rapunzel tresses, strolls through golden fields of corn on sunny days; a perfectly behaved grey horse, casually wandering along beside me as I smiled and laughed at nothing, whilst flicking my super long locks every thirty seconds without so much as a hint of whiplash.

So, as I ran to the bathroom in the early hours of last night for an emergency wee (caused by new fitness fad of drinking heaps of water … not by tired old bladder moving into the realms of night-time incontinence) with not only a set of headphones tangled up in the birds nest but also the laptop still attached too, it was a far cry from those heady days of childish daydreams. Apparently going to sleep listening to music when wearing headgear that also has a mouth-piece arm, is reserved only for the brave and the foolish.

<Queue Village Idiot’ess stage left>

A wave of horror swept through me as I attempted to remove said attire and found that I couldn’t. Despite numerous firms tugs and a prayer sent up to the God of Ablutions, there was no way my toilet necessities were going to wait. It was either cut the hair, snap the headphone set or…. carry half the electrical content of my house to the loo with me.  I chose the latter. I’m happy to report that twenty minutes and a near panic attack  later, I managed to release myself. To celebrate my newly found freedom, I jumped back into the safety of my bed and deftly trapped my hair under my own armpit and almost ripped my head from my  shoulders.

Long hair comes with responsibilities that, in all honesty, I’m  not sure I’m mature enough for yet. As it’s grown, so have the hurdles.  Meal times – attempting to serve / eat without consuming some keratin-spaghetti. Accidentally dunking it into gravy or whatever saucy pleasure is on offer. Clearing out the plug hole in the bath has become a task that requires courageous and sturdy excavating skills, and don’t even get me started on what it’s like trying to handle a windy day whilst wearing lip-gloss.

Yes, I know there are such things as hair bobbles, but I’m fairly certain my hair trained with Houdini. And besides, I am at heart, a hopeless romantic and I’m sure that if I hold out long enough, one day I will catch the wind in the right direction and get my Timotei moment.