Kicking the habit (and taking up new ones)

21 10 2011

So yesterday (last night, actually) was interesting.

I had a particularly nasty headache. All I wanted to do was get home ASAP after work (check) and have a lie down (that’s a negative) before driving to a restaurant in Blouberg for a friend’s birthday.

Once we arrived there, my Significant Other insisted that we should each have a cocktail. I managed to make it through two-thirds of my pineapple & blueberry daiquiri before we went home (almost three hours with one drink/ beverage).

The only thing the girls seemed to be able to talk about, was gym (the closest I get to this is doing 15 minutes on our elliptical trainer every night) and dieting (said person already being thin and taking headache medication that has weight loss as a side effect)…

…so I ended up ordering a salad (lettuce, red cabbage, a few green beens and slivers of baby marrow & cucumber, about 2 or 3 halved cocktail tomatoes, and a minimal amount of chicken strips)…

…and exercising for 10 minutes when I got home.

I exercise my BRAIN by reading a lot - does that count?!

To top things off, when we parked the car in the garage, my Significant Other leaned over, kissed me (as is tradition), and told me that he wanted to tell me something upstairs. Fair enough – I though he was just going to be all cutesy and say that he loves me. But no: when we were in the apartment, he started this odd little speech about how’s he’s been thinking about something over the last few days and that he’s made a decision, et cetera – enough to make my heart start pounding with anxiety and to feel a heavy weight dropping in my stomach (ah, nausea, you sure have great timing).

And what did he end up telling me?

That he only had one cigarette left (he took it out of the packet and showed me)… and that, after that, he was going to quit smoking!!!

Apparently I didn’t look/ seem as overjoyed as I was ‘supposed’ to. I don’t have a problem with him smoking. I am glad that he made this decision for himself and will thus support him, but if he starts smoking again, so what? It won’t be the end of the world. (Though it’ll be tough when we go visit his parentals, because pretty much his entire family smokes.)

Since he’s decided to kick the habit, I think it’ll be a good idea for him (or us, actually) to start taking up a few new ones. For one thing, he can start using the elliptical trainer again. We could even get weights, and/ or do those exercises his physiotherapist gave him long ago (which he thinks is boring… so I’ll have to work out a rewards system *laugh*) It’s also a good thing that summer is coming, because that means more fruit and salads 🙂

I’m just hoping that this ‘new’ lifestyle will include plenty of sleep!!

Have a great Friday/ Fried-day, everyone.

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Sunday lunch for the Parentals

11 10 2011

I love doing special things for other people – especially when it comes to my parentals.

My Significant Other and I (i.e. little old me) decided to invite the parentals for lunch/ dinner at our apartment last weekend. We initially had it set for Sunday evening, but due to ‘scheduling’, we moved it out to Sunday afternoon.

Cue myself worrying about what to serve… I’m obsessive-compulsive like that *laugh*

You have to understand: until a few months ago, we didn’t have (a) decent couches or, more importantly, (b) a dining room table. The parentals recently bought themselves a new car – did I ever tell you how some stupid girl rammed into their old car, wrecked it, and that they didn’t get much out of it? – so the fact that they now had their own transport made it even more ‘necessary’ for us to finally have them over for a meal.

The weather has been a bit strange over here. It’s supposed to be Spring, yet it’s only starting to warm up now – venturing between cold (about 15 degrees Celsius) for a few days, then uncomfortably hot (for me, at least, at 32 degrees Celsius) the next. This weekend was sunny, with the heat making me feel exceptionally headachy, and not really helping to keep the apartment at an acceptable temperature since I was busy cookin’ in the kitchen… But I survived. The fan helped to cool things off a bit… And at the end of the meal I ditched the dress I was wearing in favour of short shorts and a t-shirt 😉

We had a great afternoon, with plenty of feel good moments and happiness all around!

So, here’s what was on the menu – it wasn’t a five-star meal (definitely not the most impressive dishes), but it was very nice:

STARTER

– Pastry ‘bowls’ with sautéed mushrooms (my mum doesn’t eat mushrooms, so I made hers with a cherry tomato, bacon & yellow pepper filling instead)

MAIN COURSE

– Homemade rolls

– Roasted green beans

– Marinated chicken breasts

– Garden salad (incl. baby potatoes + bacon)

DESSERT

– Fruit cocktail

– Jelly (made in silicone cupcake moulds)

– Mini, star-shaped vanilla sponge cakes

– Chocolate mousse with sliced strawberries

[I made/ baked the pastry ‘bowls’, rolls and mini cakes myself!]

Pretty flowers to brighten up the table - my Significant Other bought them for me

The 'spread', excluding dessert

Starter: pastry bowl with sautéed mushrooms

Starter: pastry bowl with cherry tomatoes, bacon + yellow pepper

Homemade rolls... which had more of a scone-like consistency... oh well

A nice salad 🙂 My Significant Other's contribution to preparing the entire meal? De-shelling the hardboiled eggs...

Roasted green beans. Sorry the pic's a bit blurry

Grilled chicken breasts & baby potatoes

Desssert: fruit cocktail, jelly, choc mousse & strawberries. I forgot to add the star cakes to the plates...

This is how the dessert was supposed to look -- I took this pic yesterday

My Significant Other & my mum

My dad! ...and me, of course...





I can has cheezburger – FAIL

6 10 2011

Sometimes it’s funny how things turn out.

On Thursday, 22 September (i.e. two weeks ago), I decided to spoil my Significant Other and take him out for supper – why? Perhaps to show some appreciation; maybe simply to have a nice meal away from home. I prefer the answer: just because (yeah – because I can!! *laugh*) You don’t always need a reason to do something nice for someone else 🙂

We decided to go to Cattle Baron, which is practically just around the corner from where we stay. Their stuffed mushrooms are getting ever smaller, and the waiters have a tendency to seat you directly under the air-conditioning in the smoking section (then disappear for extended periods of time), yet the conversation is enjoyable and the food usually nice.

My Significant Other ordered a steak, which looked juicy and tasted great (I’ll take his word for it). Against my better judgement, I decided to order a ‘Louisiana burger’ – that’s a beef burger with bacon and cheese. This was extraordinary in itself, since I (a) am not fond of red meat, and (b) hardly ever eat hamburgers. In short, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The burger on my plate wasn’t much to look at. The bun looked like it had been sawed open and wasn’t very soft. The beef patty was tasteless.  They plopped a small piece of bacon on top of a smidgen of melted cheese… said cheese not even as much as one of those vacuumed packed slices you can purchase in grocery stores. The only way I was able to add some flavour to the d*mn thing was by putting some mushroom sauce on top of it (which my Significant Other ordered to go with his steak).

I shouldn’t be surprised. The place is a steakhouse, after all, not a burger joint. Yet given the usual standard of their food, I was hoping for something far more edible. Epic cheeseburger FAIL 😦

I wonder if LOLcats ever feel disappointed when, after asking for and dreaming about cheezburgers, they finally take that first bite and the cheezburger doesn’t live up to the built-up expectations.

Next time, kitties, we’ll go to Spur for their cheddarmelt burgers – then you can haz teh cheezburgers, and plenty of happeez!!

Branding on the place mats

A carafe of rosé, to share

My one and only 🙂

Stuffed mushrooms

The steak my Significant Other ordered

My Louisiana 'burger'...





R&R in retrospect

20 09 2011

Hullo again, dearest blog readers

I hope all of you have been just dandy – I’m ‘back’ after having a four-day weekend (which I optimistically have called a mini ‘vacation’… spent at the apartment) and I am not looking forward to going back to work.

Why?
Because I spent a good part of my time off thinking about work… and, yesterday,  my own stupidity… because apparently I didn’t fill in a courier form correctly (gonna’ blame it on the migraine I had on Friday) and processes at work have been delayed because of it. Aren’t I just going to feel like what the cat covered up in the litter box when I have to report to my manager…

So much for no worries.

In retrospect, I cannot really say that I feel rested after this extended period of repose. I feel tired. My headaches are worse. I feel listless… I was actually bored yesterday and today… blah, blah, et cetera.

But hey – that’s life.

I’m sure these few days have done me some good, otherwise I would have been working straight through until the end of December without having a breather (not that two leave days really count as being away from work for a sufficient amount of time so as to actually feel a bit more relaxed and less worried, but oh well). I saw my parents, I read a few books, I baked, I cleaned, I took lots of pictures of Smudgy… what more could a girl want? It’s like I said in my last blog post: “As long as I’m able to stay in bed if I want to, read a lot, and be with my Significant Other (and Smudgy!!), my time off from work will be worth it.”

Here are a few pictures showcasing my period of R&R. At least I got in a lot of sleep!

On Saturday, my Significant Other and I bought some materials at Spiro's so we could make a mosaic. I think it turned out pretty well.

Then we spent the evening watching X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

On Sunday we went to see my parents, had a late lunch at Mugg&Bean, and then I had some 'chill time' with Smudgy -- my S.O. spent the evening playing games

Lunch at Caffé Rossini on Monday; I had pastrami & avo on rye

Isn't she cute?? Smudgy spent most of her time with me while I was reading... she was lying around, sleeping

My S.O. and I played some good ol' video games 🙂

Monday at midnight (thus technically Tuesday): Smudgy in her new favourite spot -- the cooler bag!

Tuesday lunch at Pete's Diner - I had bacon, egg & cheese on rye. Not the best sandwich I've ever had.

To stave off boredom (if only for a short while), I baked a carrot cake. Nothing fancy, but it tastes nice

To bring my mini vacation to a (bitter)sweet ending, I bought us some mini cheesecakes for tonight. The choc chip one is for my S.O., of course 😉

I also took the time to read the CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness. They're quite lengthy, but thoroughly enjoyable! If you liked THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy, you're sure to like these books!





Oats-n-raisins squares

14 09 2011

This is a recipe I got from the Summer 2010/2011 edition of the Sarie Kos (Sarie Food) magazine. I absolutely LOVE these cookies/ squares! They’re tasty, chewy/ fruity, and are a good substitute for breakfast – if, like me, you’re not really into eating in the morning.

I’ll admit that I reduced the amount of raisins called for in the original recipe, since 350 g sounded like waaay too much. Of course, even with my reduced amount, you could substitute about half of it for chopped nuts/ cranberries/ dried fruit, if it tickles your fancy.

[This recipe was originally printed in Afrikaans, so I had to do a quick translation in order to give it to you :-)]

–Ingredients–

200 g margarine, soft

140 g (175 ml) brown sugar

140 g (175 ml) soft brown sugar

5 ml salt

2 eggs

250 g (445 ml) cake flour

200 g raisins

240 g (750 ml) oats

 –Method–

Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Take a medium-sized mixing bowl and cream together the butter, brown sugar and salt until it’s soft and creamy.

Add the eggs one at a time and ensure that you mix them in thoroughly.

Add the flour, raisins and oats…

…then mix well.

Line a baking tray with foil/ baking (wax) paper and spray it with non-stick spray.

Spoon out the mixture and place on your baking tray – you can do it with an ice-cream scoop, then press down on the balls so they form cookies that are 1cm thick; OR you can do what I did and spoon everything into your baking tray (note that mine has more depth than a standard tray), then pat it down evenly. If you use this method, try for a thickness of a few centimetres (and make sure that it’s packed tightly together!)

Bake your cookies/ squares-in-the-making for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and allow the cookies/ getting-there-squares to cool down sufficiently.

If you’re going for the squares option, now would be a good time to cut that big old block into (duh) squares.





Easy cupcake recipe

12 09 2011

Here’s the recipe I promised you when I blogged about those Rainbow Cupcakes last week.

Just remember that after you’ve mixed up your batter, you need to divide it into bowls, add the food colouring, and then place a spoonful of each into the paper cups.

Have fun!

Easy Cupcake Recipe

–Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

225g castor sugar

225g soft margarine/ butter

5ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder

4 eggs

45ml (3 tablespoons) water [or 3 tablespoons of the juice and grated peel of one orange/ lemon]

Method

Set the oven on 180 degrees Celsius.

Place all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until the batter is smooth – it should have a light yellow colour to it.

Spoon about a dessertspoon’s worth of batter into each paper cup.

Place the paper cups on a baking tray or in a muffin/ cupcake pan, then bake for about 15 minutes or until the cupcakes are golden brown.





Go ahead – eat a rainbow

5 09 2011

Friday evening – it might have been just after eleven – I was in the mood to bake something. My mother-in-law would be celebrating her birthday the next day, and I wanted to come up with something special. Something out of the ordinary…

…which is how I ended up making rainbow cupcakes!!! 😀

I’ve always wanted to try it, and though I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, I was determined to be creative. I simply used my regular old cupcake recipe, divided the batter between four bowls, then added food colouring. I then went on to place a spoonful of each colour into the cookie cups: first blue, then yellow, then green, and finally red.

The result?

Well, see for yourselves. All in all, I think it came out pretty awesome! I promise I’ll share the recipe soon.

[My younger sister Addy has already placed an order for her 21st birthday next year. But I think I should try and work on it a bit more – there’s only so much one can do with an oven that doesn’t even heat properly…]

After dividing the batter into 4 bowls, I mixed in the food colouring

Tada! Hmm, nothing like the smell of cupcakes after midnight...

Fresh, colourful and delicious

Icing made with icing sugar and lemon juice

An explosion of brightness

And the pattern on the cookie cup looks just as nice

Delivering some happiness + sprinkles to my mum and sisters

Just look at that - Nyan cat would be pleased 😉 Haz a happee - eat teh rainbows!!