Eel, tree and ginger / Jegulja, stablo i djumbir

Hello all! I hope you enjoyed the Bank Holiday weekend, especially Monday off, if you are in UK. I find it’s always harder to get back into a work routine after the longer weekend.

There was an Eel Festival weekend in Ely this Bank Holiday. Husband and I missed most of it, but we went for a late lunch on Monday, shortly before it ended. While eating our lunch we sat in a little covered area where they were doing cooking demonstrations. We were lucky enough to have caught the last one shortly after 3 pm. Emma Thorburn, a winner of Kirsty Allsopp’s Gingerbread Champion in 2015, made a gingerbread tree house with a fairy on a swing. It was great fun watching her do it in front of a small and friendly audience, telling us about trying out different recipes and eventually using one from a lady in Florida, talking about her experience in front of the cameras while trying the keep the dangerously hot caramelised sugar in a liquid-ish state. There was a little raffle with the demonstrated gingerbread cake as the prize. Now, yours truly never wins anything, because I rarely – read never – enter any competitions.  Then I heard Darren Brown’s voice in my head (sort of: you’ve got to be in it to win it) and decided to buy a raffle ticket last minute. At that time, I didn’t actually know that the prize was the tree house being made in front of us. And I won!!

Hearing other people’s reactions I always wondered why winners never say anything more original than “OMG I won!”, but I said those exact words myself. So much for originality in the heat of the moment. Here is a very shocked (naked faced and bad haired) me with Emma below.

Isn’t the tree house brilliant? The little Fairy kept going upside down on the swing, I think she wanted to smell the flowers. The roof is almost gone now, as we’ve been dipping it into our tea any chance we get. Yummy yum yum! Thank you very much Emma! If you need some gingerbread for any occasion, get in touch with Emma via her website Buns of Fun!

Scroll down for a few more pictures from the day Some are from Monday and some I are from the last year’s event, as it started raining so I had to put my camera away.

"OMG, I won!!"
OMG I won!
Gingerbread tree huose with a swinging Fairy
Gingerbread tree house with a swinging Fairy
Eel detail
Eel detail
Upside down Fairy smelling the flowers
Upside down Fairy smelling the flowers

 

Bok svima! Nadam se da ste svi uzivali u proslom vikendu (kod nas u UK je bio produzeni, pa se ljencarilo 3 dana). Ne znam kako vi, ali meni se uvijek tesko vratiti u rutinu nakon duzeg vikenda. Inace mislim da moji vikendi nisu nista specijalno, ali ovaj sam morala podijeliti s vama. Nastavite citati i vidjet cete zasto!

Prosli vikend je bio Festival Jegulja u nasem gradu, Ely, (Eel = jegulja). Nazalost, Muz i ja propustili smo dogadjanja u petak, subotu i nedjelju, ali smo uspjeli ugrabiti sat – dva prije zatvaranja Festivala Hrane i Pica i rucali s nogu . Dok smo se tako sklonili od kise i i zvakali nase pecivo s mesom u slasnom sosu, gledali smo demonstraciju Emme Thorburn, pobjednice of Kirsty Allsopp’s Gingerbread Champion 2015. Emma je radila kucicu na drvetu s vilom na ljuljacki. Muz i ja smo se bas zabavljali gledajuci Emmu valja komadice trave i listove, prica s voditeljem, drzi oko na vrucem seceru i zeza se s publikom. Rekla nam je da je isprobala puno razlicitih recepata za kekse od djumbira /malo tvrdji medenjaci) dok nije nakraju naletjela na ‘onaj pravi’ od jedne tete iz Floride. Sad se njih dvije medjusobno prate po internetu. Bas lijepo, sta ne? Imali su i tombolu s nagradom- torta koja je bila demonstrirana. E sad, ja nikad ne osvojim nikakve nagrade, uglavnom zato jer rijetko (citajte nikad) ne natjecem. Onda me u glavi poceo naganjati glas Darrena Browna, pa sam ga morala poslusati jer nije ni on blesav (moras se natjecati da bi nesto pobijedila/osvojila). U zadnji cas kupila sam jednu karticu lutrije bez da sam znala sto je nagrada, i nisam nista ocekivala.

I znate ono, kad slusate na radiju ili gledate tv pa cujete kako ljudi uvijek kazu OMG, pobijedio/la sam!! I uvijek sam se cudila kako ljudi ne znaju nista pametnije reci u tom momentu. Naravno, ja sam rekla potpuno iste rijeci. Toliko o originalnosti u tom trenutku. Evo i jedne slike gdje sam sokirana, golog lica i lose frizure koju sam pokrila kapicom. Sta nije super kucica od medenjaka? Vila se stalno okretala naopako, mislim da se htjela namirisati cvijeca ispred kucice. Krov je skoro nestao, jer ga mocimo u caj kad god stignemo. Njam njam! Puno hvala Emmi na odlicnom medenjaku!

Evo jos par slika koje sam uspjela snimiti prije nego mi se fotoaparat smocio. Neke su od lani kad je vrijeme bilo bolje, a neke su od ove godine prije kise.

 

Cookery_theatre_programme_EFDF-2016

Ely_Food_Drink_festival_2016

EFDF_approach

vegbox_EFDF

2_dogs_meeting

cathedral_EFDF_sign
E8_food_prep_2015

E8_lunch_2015

E8_menu_2015 saintr_sinners

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vegbox

 

 

 

 

My Cup of Beauty / Gratitude in the 2015

Gratitude
emmanueldagher.com

I hope you’re all well and settled into the New Year 2016 and that you had a good break over the Christmas and the New Year festivities.

I decided to start this year with a sort of a thankfulness post for all the good things in the year just gone by. It has been a loooong time since a whole year was that positive.

Thank you to all of my ‘old’ and new readers who are still reading my blog. I have been less active on the blog in the second half of the 2015. Thank you for still being here.

I am grateful that I was able to give and be a part of a wonderful volunteer team of lovely people from all walks of life in a local charity shop. It was a wonderfully satisfying and fulfilling experience and I also made fantastic new friends.

Helping old friends and business contacts helped me rebuild my confidence. They have known me for a long time, when I was at the very beginning of my career. They gently guided me, taught and mentored me, believed in me and saw my hidden potential that I myself didn’t believe I had. When after a long time they came to me for help, I was so honoured and proud to have been asked to help them, I did it with such a joy and lightness in my heart. And at the end of it, their many sincere thanks were completely unnecessary, because I was so grateful/thankful to them for uncovering all my long forgotten potential, belief and faith in myself.

It was great seeing my Macedonian friend from Germany when she came up to UK for a brief visit and meeting another lovely lady in London with her.

We finally got to have a holiday after exhausting few years. Slovenia was the chosen destination last year. I revisited places after many years (since ex-YU) and saw things with new eyes. It was a fantastic week. We’d definitely go back there again! I bumped into an old colleague there completely by chance and also met a lovely young couple starting a new life and a better tomorrow far from home.

A trip to Slovenia was like a little test for the Balkans, but very enjoyable and without all the pressures usually present when one travels to one’s home city. I might write a separate post about all beautiful things Slovenian, as those lovely people and places definitely deserve a separate post.

I finally went back to Croatia again after a few years. One of reasons for going was my high school’s 20th reunion. The main reason for going was really to make new, good memories and motivation for more frequent visits. Whenever we went there in the past (three times) we were traumatised for one reason or another, desperate for another holiday just to recover.

It was great making new memories, seeing old friends and acquaintances. After so many years I reconnected with my more distant family and it was great to share old memories with them. I also rekindled old friendships and relationships, people I haven’t seen for at least 20 years. This visit helped me rebuild myself, my life and my future on the solid foundations. It gave me strength to close a few chapters of my life and move on. You have to lay all the old ghosts to rest to be able to move on and be happy.

It was great meeting wonderful new people – my new friends <a href="http://bitchydust.blogspot.co.uk/" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://bitchydust find more information.blogspot.co.uk/’, ‘Bitchy’);” target=”_blank”>Bitchy and Zuba (which had started as a ‘virtual’/online friendship ), and Tanja et al. from the 4 City Windows.

Lisa Eldridge’s book Face Paint was finally published and I pre-ordered it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to London, to have it signed and see her in person. I can’t wait to start reading it properly when I cross a few more things from my ‘work’ list. For now, I’m just dipping in occasionally and enjoy all the gorgeous photos (practically salivating over them) and a few paragraphs at a time.

I did, however go to Brian Blessed’s book signing! He happily thundered around our Cathedral for a while and then he patiently signed his book for a tonne of people until stupid o’clock that evening. I also bought an extra pre-signed copy for my mother-in-law and an audio book CD, so I can read his book, and actually hear his voice! Really great treat!

I (almost) closed another career chapter and completed a challenging thesis write-up. I say almost because the viva still needs to be crossed off the list.

You know that amazing feeling when you have completed a very challenging project, met the deadline and a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders? I earned a giant/ roaring woo(p) of joy (pun intended) and I walked into a MAC store on the way home and treated myself with a fabulous red lipstick. Because I love myself. And then I strutted proudly and confidently out of the store wearing a satisfied lingering Ruby Woo red smile and boarded the train home exhausted, but so happy because I finally succeeded and won, despite every obstacle thrown my way in the past 5 years. And I sent a virtual kiss to all my cheerleaders who were a significant part of my journey.

Thank you to lovely Louise for giving me something to look forward upon the completion of my work: a day in London at the V&A. We thoroughly enjoyed exhibitions of Indian textiles and painful shoes. It was great thinking about and doing something different (= not hard-core science) and relaxing. Seeing fabrics and textiles and different footwear really makes you think about all aspects of life, past, present and future. It makes you think about life, processing of everyday objects that we take for granted most of the time. About different countries, natural resources, cultures, classes; about yourself and your place in this life and all the changes throughout history that brought us to the life as it is now.

Wishing you all the best in the New 2016!

Is there anything that you were especially grateful/thankful for in 2015?

Libraries and Balkan immigrant(s)

I’ve been in living in the UK for 15 years now. When I talk about Croatia, I don’t say ‘back home’ any more. I stopped saying ‘back home’ quite a while ago. UK felt like home just a few months after I arrived. I love living here. For so many different reasons. One of the things that stuck with me was that there was a lot of green. Green meadows, green hills, green parks (and Green Park). The grass really looked greener here, on the UK side, than back on the Balkans. No pun intended.

One of the first places I wanted to go to, if not the first place, just a few days after I settled into my new routine was a local library. I had no cassette/ CD player yet and was looking for something to read in the evening. And I was curious to see if ‘their’ libraries were any different than ‘ours’ ‘back home’.

File:Public library interior, Woking England.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Public_library_interior,_Woking_England.jpg

One day, I just went in, exchanged polite greetings with the librarians and just had a good look around. As far as I remember that particular small town library was only on one floor. Apart from just books and archives, there was also an audio book section, a CD section, a video section, magazine section, section with maps (A-Z) of different places in the country and a career section slimming supplements.

I never heard of any library having tapes/CDs and videos, let alone a careers section. Well, not a Balkan library in my hometown, anyway. Not that I’ve visited that many libraries ‘back home’, da se razumijemo (let’s make that clear). I haven’t even been to 10 different libraries, so it’s not like I’m an expert on libraries and what they should have and how they should look like. I just assumed they were all pretty much the same, in principle.

Without wanting to sound like a grumpy old woman, from what I can remember in my time, CDs and tapes were bought, and there were places where you went to rent a video. Not libraries. This just seemed rather different to me. A very good different.

When I asked if I could join the local library where I had lived at the time, I was told that I don’t need to pay any joining fee!!! I couldn’t believe my ears!!! I needed a letter from my host family (I was an au pair then), and a photo ID; to confirm who I was and where I lived. And the best part was, that I could borrow more than 2-3 books. I can’t remember now whether it was 9 books (15 years ago) maximum or more for not 2, but 3 weeks!!! I was shocked! That was just brilliant!! 😀 😀 😀 And that wasn’t all!

The libraries here (local ones) are government run. That explains the lack of joining and membership fees, because it comes out of our taxes. This has its limitations, as the budget belts are getting tighter and tighter *blows raspberry*. All the libraries in a county (zupanija) are connected, so you can reserve and borrow books from another library in your county if your local doesn’t have the book you need. If you’d like to return your books/items on loan out of working hours, there is a drop box available.

Libraries also have a fantastic little trolley where they were selling less popular or very slightly damaged books, for a superb price! Sheer heaven, I tell you, for a bookworm like me! These days you can now borrow e-books if you have the right (read: up to date) gadgetry / e-readers.

There are mobile libraries, too. I never needed to use them. It’s like a mini library on wheels for the areas without library buildings (small villages or some suburbs). Mobile LibraryMobile Library

http://my.stirling.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives/mobile-library-service?theme=MyStirling

The 'Marsh Mobile' library van at Burgh-le-Marsh Roman weekend. Credit: Joe Blissett
http://www.lincsmarshes.org.uk/news-and-events/mobile-libraries-are-roman-the-marshes

 

This is a pic from an old (2008) article, but I thought it would be funny to put it in here to illustrate the point of mobile libraries and their role in communities http://www.newsbiscuit.com/2008/01/11/isle-of-wight-tv-launches-pimp-my-mobile-library/

There are many other useful things in our (UK) libraries, like little exhibitions, careers service, council help desk, etc. But more about that next time, if you’re interested. This was intended as little teaser post to see if you (non-UK readers) would like to know more about my immigrant library experience(s). Or if you’re from UK, maybe you’d like to read about impressions of someone who likes your libraries for reasons different to you? I would like to know what our Balkan libraries are like now.

Sugar and Spice and Tom Ford things nice…

Champagne_Tom-Ford_Counter_JarroldsI’ve written only one review of the MU / beauty sort of experience, and that’s not been published yet. So this will be the first beauty post I’m publishing. I am not sure how good I’ll be at this, but I’m giving it a try anyway. My Cup of Beauty is having an adventure!

A much as I love nail polishes and makeup, I’m not really obsessed with it and my life doesn’t depend on it. I enjoy using nail polishes (often) and makeup (when I can be bothered). I’m not a beauty expert or anything, but I thought I’d share my opinion. I hope you find it useful and share your thoughts with me.

If you read my post about a day in Norwich, you’ll know that I had a spur of the moment mani at the new Tom Ford counter in Jarrold store. I promised a post on those polishes and here it is.

I prefer a proper mani, when you can sit and relax for a while and have a breather, not worry if I’m going to be late for my next appointment or whatever is in my diary/planner. While this was a lovely impromptu mani, the Husband and I were in a rush.

This was only the 5th mani I ever had, but I did notice yet again my nails were filed as they shouldn’t be (in more than one direction). I am really careful about this when I do my own nails as they break in layers easily. The only time I had experienced ‘proper’ nail filing was by a French professional at a hotel spa in Monaco. Not surprising, considering the location.

Anyway…Christine from the TF counter said that the mani is complimentary and that there was no pressure of purchasing. Which was great as I really don’t like pressure selling and run from it like from the Plague.

I was looking through the selection of all the nail varnish bottles Tom Ford counter had and found it hard to make up my mind and choose one gorgeous colour. So I chose two colours instead: Ginger Fire and Black Sugar wikipedia reference.

Ginger fire is a gorgeous, shimmery, vibrant orange with a tiny hint of red. I think it would look great on both lighter and darker skin tones (my opinion, not evidence!).

Ginger-Fire

Black Sugar is a creamy, taupe base with just a hint of red shimmer. That hint of red shimmer is precisely that, a very subtle hint. It is more visible in the bottle than on the nails (even with three layers), which is a real shame.

Black-Sugar

Brush wasn’t ideal if you prefer wider brushes, like Essie (retail).

Both these colours were quite sheer and needed 3 layers for full coverage (after their base coat). With only two layers of Black Sugar, some uneven coverage was clearly visible. Very slight tip wear started on day 3 and by the next day, the tips were chipped, so I removed it. Rather disappointing for a costly price tag of £26 (12ml).

TF_mani_ginger-fire_black-honey

Would I buy these two colours? Not for that price tag and the hassle of three layers minimum. I can do without it. I’ll probably play with my Bourjois 04Taupe classy and OPI Die Another Day. I won’t get the same mix and texture, but I’ll have fun trying.

Have you tried any Tom Ford polishes? What do you think?

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

I rarely follow recipes when I cook. Even when I’m inspired by a recipe, I improvise massively, and just put in the pan whatever I reach for and think might taste good. We used to say as kids ‘what would happen if …’, so I ask myself if my meal would taste OK, or even better, if I put a little bit of x into y. So, I put all sorts of this and that into what I’m cooking, it turns out pretty delicious (Husband’s words not mine!) and he’s left guessing what’s on his plate.

Rijetko kuham po receptima, a cak I kad kuham inspirirana nekim receptima, masovno improviziram i strpam u recept stogod mi padne na pamet. I znate ono kad se djeca (nekadasnja) zamisle i kazu ‘ŠBBKBB (što bi bilo kad bi bilo…)’ ako dodam X u Y? Tako i ja kad kuham – i  onda ubacim svasta nesto, pa kako ispadne i onda Muz pogadja sto jede!

However, as I mainly cook northern Mediterranean style – which is what I grew up with – I followed this North African recipe pretty much to the letter, especially as The Husband is lurking nearby and he wants it ‘just so’ (although he usually eats whatever he’s served, because he’s absolutely starving from the wait!)

Medjutim, kad znam da nisam bas vicna u receptima nekih drugih zemalja, slijedit cu recept uglavnom kako pise; pogotovo ako je Muz u blizini i ja kuham ovako nesto ukusno, onda je i njemu stalo da se drzim recepta (inace on pojede sto mu se god servira, jer je jadan toliko gladan od cekanja!)

What do you do when you have some lovely fresh organic or preserved lemons, brown or black olives, full spice rack, lots of fresh ginger and coriander in the fridge and the cupboards? This is one of my favourite recipes from my frequently used Mediterranean cookbook I decided to share with you. Thank you to Zubin blog for inspiring me after I emptied some of the dusty corners of my cupboards.

Sto napraviti kad imate friske ili prezervirane limune, crne masline, policu punu zacina, friskog djumbira i korijandar u spajzi? Ovo je jedan od mojih omiljenih recepata iz moje omiljene kuharice koji sam odlucila podijeliti s Vama, inspirirana Zubinim blogom, te praznjenjem spajze i/ili kuhinjskih ormarica.

Chicken with Lemons and Olives
From: Mediterranean Cooking by Jacqueline Clarke and Joanna Farrow, Hermes house, 2003
“Preserved lemons and limes are often used in Mediterranean cookery, particularly in North Africa where their gentle flavour enhances all kinds of meat and fish dishes.”
I used the quantities as in the recipe which are enough for 4 people. There were only Husband and I for the evening, but there was plenty of leftovers for some more (light) meals later in the week. We stored the sauce in a glass container separately from the chicken.
So here is the recipe:
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground cinnamon /cimet
2.5 ml / ½ tsp ground turmeric /kurkuma prasak
1.5 kg /3-3½ lb (pounds) chicken / kokica
30 ml/2 tbsp olive oil /maslinovo ulje za kuhanje
1 large onion, thinly sliced / veci/veliki luk
5 cm /2 in piece fresh root ginger, grated/ naribanog cimeta
600 ml/ 1 pint/ 2½ cups chicken stock
2 preserved lemons or limes, or fresh ones, cut into wedges /ukiseljena ili svjeza limuna ili limeta izrezanog na kriske
75g pitted brown olives – I used pitted black olives in brine in/from a jar / crne/smedje masline bez kostica
15 ml/ 1 tbsp clear honey
60 ml/ 4 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and ground black pepper
Coriander sprigs to garnish
Tbsp = tablespoon
Tsp = teaspoon

LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices LEMON-&-OLIVE-CHICKEN_spices-2

Preheat oven to 190°C/ 375F/ Gas mark 5. Mix the ground cinnamon and turmeric in a bowl with a little salt and pepper and rub all over the chicken skin to give an even coating. (Imagine you’re in a beauty salon and you’re giving your chicken a facial with gorgeous smelling creams etc. You’re enjoying yourself immensely with relaxing music and so is your chicken!)

Pregrijte pecnicu na 190°C. Pomijesajte cimet i kurkuma/indijski safran u posudi s malo soli i papra i utrljajte dobro u kozicu po cijeloj kokosi. (Zamislite da kokica lezi kod Vas u beauty salonu dok joj Vi njegujete kozu najdivnijim I najmirisnijim preparatima uz relaksirajucu muziku I u tome uzivate I Vi I Vasa kokica!)

Note: wash your hands REALLY well after chicken facial (handling your chicken) like you would after handling any raw meat or fish. Use forks or other handy utensils for your next step (putting your chicken into the pan) or WASH YOUR HANDS AGAIN if you’re doing it with your fingers!
Chicken_facial-2Chicken_facial-1Heat the oil in a large sauté or a frying pan and fry the chicken on all sides until golden. Transfer the chicken to the ovenproof dish.
Add the sliced onion to the pan and fry for 3 min. Stir in the grated ginger and the chicken stock and bring just to the boil. Pour over the chicken, cover with lid and bake in the oven ‘sunbed’ for 30 min.

Zagrijte ulje u tavi i isprzite kokicu na svakoj strani dok ne pozlatni. Prebacite tako zapecenu kokicu u tepsiju. Dodajte narezani luk u tavu i przite/kuhajte 3 min. Dodajte naribanog (ili sitno nasjeckanog) djumbira i kokosju juhu (kocka rastopljena u vodi) i promijesajte. Kuhajte dok ne prokljuca. Maknite s ‘plamena’, prelijte preko kokice, poklopite posudu / tepsiju (moze i s aluminijskom folijom, ako Vam je tepsija otvorena) i strpajte sve u pecnicu (citaj solarij!) na 30 min.
Tanned_chickenAdded_ginger Chicken_bath_prepChicken_se_toca
Remove the chicken from the oven and add the lemons or limes, brown olives and honey. Bake uncovered for 45 more minutes, until the chicken is tender.

Izvadite kokicu iz pecnice, dodajte limun ili limet (zeleni limun) izrezan ‘na barcice’, crne masline i med. Pecite nepokriveno jos 45 min dok kokica ne omeksa.

Lemon_honey_olives_cry-faceOven_stage1

IMPORTANT:
To check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, use a skewer or a knife and pierce deeply through the thickest part of the meat (needs most/ longest cooking). If the meat is thoroughly cooked, the juices will run clear, NOT PINK. You can also use a thermometer. When the temperature reaches 75°C, it is thoroughly cooked.

VAZNO: Provjerite da je meso dovoljno peceno cistim nozem ili vilicom, ubodite u najdeblji dio mesa/kokice. Ako je ‘sok’ bistar, a NE roskast ili svijetlo crvenkast, meso je dovoljno kuhano. Ako imate ‘termometar za kuhanje’, opet ubodite kokicu u najdeblji dio, gdje bi temperatura trebala doseci 75°C ili vise.

Oven_stage1_results

Stir in coriander and season to taste. Garnish with coriander sprigs and serve at once. I usually have couscous, bulgur wheat, rice or boiled potatoes, and green beans or peas with it, but obviously you can eat it however you like. Buon appetite!
Coriander_spices-3Oven_stage-2_resultsUmijesajte nasjeckani korijandar. Zacinite i dodajte malo korijandara na vrhu po zelji. Servirajte odmah. Ovakvu kokicu najcesce jedem uz kuskus, rizu, bulgur ili kuhani krumpir. Sto se tice povrca, grasak ili mahune ili sto god mislite da bi islo uz to. Ako Vam se ne jede povrce uz ovaj recept ne morate, kako god Vam pase. Dobar tek! 🙂

Serving_suggestion

If the whole chicken is too much for one mealtime, separate the remaining meat from the bones and put the meat and sauce in separate airtight containers in the fridge. I prefer a glass bowls or jars with good lids, but plastic boxes will also work – or whatever else you have. Store the meat and sauce in the fridge as soon as they have cooled. I eat my chicken leftovers within 3 days.

SAFETY:

Surfaces: clean well before and after, use separate surfaces for meat and other types of food.
Tools: knives, cutting boards etc. – use separate ones for meat and veg.
Amounts / aliquots of sauce to reheat: aliquot it before reheating. Make sure it’s reheated thoroughly (reheat the daylights out of it!). Same for the chicken, reheat only once. So, only reheat what you will eat.

What are your favourite lemon recipes (I don’t mean baking with lemon)? Have you tried this or similar recipes? Share your experience of cooking with lemons!

Koji su Vasi omiljeni recepti s limunom? Kuhate li s limunom (ne mislim na pecenje kolaca) ili samo koristite limunov sok? Podijelite Vasa iskustva i/ili eksperimente!

Black Friday

colourful-bags I don’t think the UK had a Black Friday before 2013. I asked The Husband where the name Black Friday comes from. He said it must have something to do with accounts and banks: if the state of the account is good, black ink is used; and debt is typically written in red ink. Of course, it means retailers’ accounts, not consumers’ accounts. Then I googled it, and discovered it has something to do with Philly cops during the 1950s and 1960s and the problems they were facing with pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Today’s start was a ‘cheerful’ one for me by hearing the ‘surprising’ (not!) news on the radio about the shopping disasters around the country. Mustn’t miss the 6 o’clock news tonight: what fun, I thought, to watch shopping madness and ‘rioting’ around the country from the comfort of my own living room!

The word ‘black followed by a name of a day sounds a bit dark and pessimistic to me. Especially if I think about shopping. Am I the only one who feels like this? Shopping and I have a love-hate relationship dating back to my ‘socialist’ childhood. I remember seeing newsworthy queues in front of small local food shops before they opened. My older cousin and I would queue for milk and bread in one shop. Our granny for something else in a second shop, and my mum and uncle for yet other essentials in a third shop.Roblox Robux Hack 2017

I remember standing in one queue for bread and my cousin (3 years my senior) in another queue for milk. When my queue came half-way towards the bread counter, a nice lady standing behind me suggested I go ahead and ask if they ran out the bread I needed to buy, so I wouldn’t waste my time and stand in the queue for nothing and she would save my place in the queue. Off I went, only to be told off by a very scary and unpleasant (to a little girl) ‘older’ man not to be trying to jump the queue because he wasn’t born yesterday and how dare I even think about trying such tricks! I got rather scared and got back to my place in front of the nice lady who was very cross with the ‘bully’ man, but decided not to do anything about it because things could have become ugly. What a character-building experience!

My cousin came back from her queue and waited with me because I must have looked rather frightened, so her protective instincts squashed the ‘beat up the younger annoying sister/cousin’ instincts momentarily (because siblings with that age difference always fight at least until they are well into their teens). The bread we wanted was sold out, so we went into a third queue to pay. For a usually ‘obnoxious’ older cousin, she was really nice that day (or at least for that part of the day!).

shopping-bags-and-legsI somehow can’t see myself queuing for a flat screen TV or whatever else at stupid o’clock and then stampeding around, or being stampeded over, just to get a bargain. I think if I did that, I’d turn into a very ugly shopping monster flattening whomever happened to be in my way. Don’t come between The Bitch and her bargains, or else!!! I know I’d get like that, and that would take any joy out of shopping for me and anyone who is with me, or anyone who happens to have the misfortune to cross my path. I like my shopping experience to be a treat and not a battle for life and death. I taught myself to shop differently and remove any stresses I could from shopping. And I am not judging those who do.

I’ll go bargain hunting throughout the whole year to try to avoid any sales stresses, monsters and stampedes. I usually find the best bargains when I least expect it and sometimes in surprising places. We try to only replace things if they’re broken or well past their ‘best-by’ date (I don’t mean food!). Husband puts it very nicely by saying that the sales are days when things are more realistically priced. I think he’s right.

If you like your Black Friday and other sales, make sure you’re fit, well padded, mentally and physically prepared and that your peripheral vision is 20:20. Maybe footwear with steel-capped toes and a helmet, too. And a mini First Aid kit just in case. Luckily not all sales are as bad or newsworthy.

I’ll be writing another post about shopping and sales with no character-building memories, with more fun and wonder when I discovered shopping in the UK as a newly arrived immigrant from the Balkans. Until then, I wish you good luck with your shopping and bargain hunting, Christmas presents shopping, etc!

Food for Thought

Like many people, I have a few extra kilos. Between 2010 and 2012, I ‘collected’ some more and reached about 70kg. And I’m a fairly small person (163 cm). So I could really feel gravity at work, pulling my stomach, bottom and lower back towards the ground. Of course the extra kilos don’t ever go where I would want them to – on my boobs. I had a bit of a backache (lower back) and my shoulders were slouching. I looked pregnant and definitely wasn’t.

In fact, in 2011, while on holiday, I met a lovely and friendly hotel maid – a Serbian lady working far from home to provide for her family. We chatted nicely on a few occasions. She once congratulated me and asked when I was due. As in: when do I expect my baby to be born… So I smiled widely from ear to ear, waved my hand and just said: “Oh, I’m not pregnant, I’m just fat!” She was embarrassed, but I really wasn’t offended and thought it was really hilarious. We had a good laugh together at my expense. You mustn’t take yourself too seriously. Trust us Balkans to think something and come right out and say it! *laughs loudly and snorts by accident* They do it in a more subtle way in the UK, but that was one priceless moment I will treasure forever. I was giggling for the rest of the day. (This really DID happen.)

But, all jokes aside / šalu na stranu. My wardrobe was half full of clothes I couldn’t fit into (not past my thighs, anyway), and the other half was filled with clothes I was nearly bursting out of (my intestines and stomach felt awkwardly displaced). So, you can imagine the hubby’s reply to I need some more clothes: “But you have sooooooo much to wear!!!” And I was looking only at my face in the mirror.

I still kept thinking about my Dad (died in 2010). And my uncle, his non-identical twin died (2005). And pancreatic cancers that killed them before time. And how excessive weight around my vital organs isn’t helping my prospects….

1961 Michelin Guide to France

1961 Michelin Guide to France

Walking up the stairs, felt like climbing the north face of the Eiger. I had to stop halfway up and have a rest. I was out of breath. I was tired and sluggish for various reasons, but my extra Michelin tyres didn’t help. I kept saying that I really want to lose some weight and get fit and healthy. And no fad dieting. I had to do it right. I knew I had to be in it for the long haul. Not like very familiar words of somebody I know well: “Od sutra sam na dijeti (I’m on a diet from tomorrow)!” I used to hear that often in my childhood.

All of you know that diet is serious stuff. And I don’t mean the fad (a few weeks/months) diets that don’t really solve anything and can even make things worse. Food we put into our mouths affects so many things, starting from our digestion, immunity, mood changes (friendly, with unpredictable doses of ‘THE BITCH has arrived!!!!’), hair, skin and nails, concentration, body odour… I could go on forever…. It’s about my life and my lifestyle, not a fashion trend of size zero and heroin chic.

And it all starts in the head. With your brain and thought processes. Because, if you want a change to be permanent and transform your life, you have to come up with a really god strategy that works for you. You have to know yourself, your faults and your strengths, your habits, emotions, reasoning and above all you have to be honest with yourself. You have to love yourself and forgive yourself, because you’re only human.Why we eat

Over the years I’ve watched a lot of health programmes on telly, something that probably help me gain my tyres in the first place! But it’s not as simple as that, as I was reminded of a few years ago in a lecture from the ‘obesity clinic people’ in Cambridge <a href="http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www find out this here.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’, ‘http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html’);”>http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/services/clinical/ims/obesity/obesity_index.html

I talked to somebody from where I used to work who went on a diet and lost a lot of weight and looked fantastic. I also talked to another lady who had a surgery done (a gastric bypass, I think). And then I talked to my stepmother-in-law. About all this. And more.

So I took a lot of thoughts from these programmes, and people I knew and started going way back with my food issues. Memories. Feelings. Habits. Adopted and inherited, consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to get to the bottom of my problem and work out a strategy for myself, to change things effectively and change my lifestyle permanently. To be healthier and happier, and hopefully live longer.

 

How and where we eatI asked myself:

  • When and why do I eat? When I’m hungry, thirsty, sad and depressed or bored? Sometimes I feel like I’m hungry, but I’m actually thirsty, so when I have a drink, the hunger feeling goes away.
  • What do I eat on these occasions? Good and healthy stuff or any shit I can get my hands on, like: crisps, chocolates, biscuits and such ‘delicacies’?
  • How do I feel before and while I’m eating? Am I stressed, angry or doing something I shouldn’t be focusing on (like eating at my desk while working on the computer)? How did I feel after I ate? Satisfied for a second and then wanting to binge of my favourite junk? Or do I feel happily full and my appetite sated? What was the benefit of that meal? Comfort, ‘inside hug’ or acquiring nutrients? How long does the ‘happy feeling’ inside me last?
  • How do I eat? Chew slowly and enjoy every mouthful or gobble it up because I’m in a hurry or I do I just eat fast for no reason? Are all my senses employed and enjoying the eating experience?
  • Do I snack and when? Am I keeping it a secret?
  • How varied or boring is my menu? Eating the same stuff during each season?
  • Where do I shop? Supermarkets, markets, health food shops or a bit of everything? (Of course this depends on budget and the availability of shops and foods.)
  • Am I hungry or not when I’m food shopping? I tend to choose a lot of meaty and fishy things if I’m shopping hungry!
  • What are my eating patterns? Do I eat regularly or do I not eat (because I don’t feel like it, for whatever psychological reason) and then binge on something (usually some sugar/salt/ butter loaded junk mentioned above)?
  • What is my food history?
    • And my role models – good and bad? For cooking and eating.
    • What are my memories and earliest experiences? Of certain foods and meals and the atmosphere while eating? Is an unpleasant feeling or memory causing me to avoid some foods or eat only certain types of food and nothing else?
    • What are my traumatic food experiences? Yes, I have those, too.
  • And let’s not forget the all important bowel movement! How often, how much, shape, colour and consistency. I’m not joking. *shrugs shoulders / slegne ramenima and smiles apologetically*
  • And since I mentioned the bowel movement, I shouldn’t leave out the kidneys, either. Am I hydrating myself = drinking enough? Or is my urine concentrated, because the water needs to reabsorb back into the body? (Kidneys are your filters, so make it easy on them and drink enough!)
  • What do I drink and how much? Water, juices (home-made or bought), coca-cola, tea (with or without sugar/honey), fizzy drinks?
  • And how much alcohol you drink and how? Binging some days? (I rarely drink alcohol, so I nearly forgot about that one).
  • What do I buy to eat? Ready meals, tinned food or raw and fresh or frozen ingredients? Or a combination of those?
  • How do I prepare my food? Steam, fry, deep-fry or overcook it until it’s all dead? How much time do I have to prepare it, if any?
  • When and where do I eat breakfast – the most important meal of the day?

What and when we snackWhat we buy and how we prepare it

Answers to the above questions provided me with a wealth of information. I knew what I was dealing with, how I needed to tackle it and approach my lifestyle change and what I needed to change.

If you remember at the start of the post, I said 2012. It’s now 2014 and I’m still at it. I was in a really bad place and shape when I started my lifestyle change. But I didn’t expect miracles. It’s been a long road to recovery. I had my moments of frustration and impatience, but I persisted. I hope your journey and your changes go well. And remember to take small steps. Know your goals. Don’t start your journey with a run and stop halfway through. Be patient. Take your time, making GRADUAL changes, allowing you body to adjust. You will get there eventually. Love your body, the temple of your soul and it will reward you.

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