50 Dangerous Things: 21

Number 21: Spend an Hour Blindfolded

This one came about while the boys were waiting for dessert one evening over the weekend. I’d been in the kitchen, and came out to find Tiny with a tea towel wrapped around his eyes, with Tall leading him around the lounge asking him to guess where he was.

He was giggling and I was surprised to see him so comfortable without his sight; he’s not a kid who panics easily, but he does have a tendency to want to watch someone else do something before he gives it a try.

50 Dangerous Things: 21 50 Dangerous Things: 21Back at the table, he ate his meringue and ice cream blindfolded, and we played a game of Guess the Fruit as well. It was interesting to see him instinctively searching for the edge of his bowl with one hand, with his other resting on the mat right beside it. After dessert, all three of my boys played a game of Guess the Toy, followed by Guess the Schleich Animal which Tiny was very good at.

Tiny’s thoughts:
“It was dark, but I wasn’t scared.”
“It was easy guessing the animals but [Pickle] kept telling me the answer which was silly.”
“I liked following the sound of your voice [from the lounge into the dining room].”

He didn’t spend an entire hour blindfolded, but we’re ticking this one off anyway.

50 Dangerous Things: 21 Spend an Hour Blindfolded – DONE

50 Dangerous Things: 01 Lick a 9-Volt Battery
50 Dangerous Things: 11 Throw Rocks
50 Dangerous Things: 15 Throw Things from a Moving Car
50 Dangerous Things: 28 Climb a Tree
50 Dangerous Things: 32 Change a Tyre

Reading and Reviewing: a BBC Top 200 update

A month-and-a-half ago, I had 25 books left to finish my BBC Big Read Top 200 challenge. Now, there are just 14 titles left to cross off the list, and I’m pretty excited to see the number reducing so quickly. It seems that leaving a lot of the young adult books to last was a wise move; I’m whipping through them at lightning speed, which is helping motivate me to achieve my goal.

Of the past 11 books, my favourites were Johnathan Livingstone Seagull’, which I read in an hour one afternoon while Pickle and Tiny had some quiet time – such an uplifting, interesting little fable, full of humour and inspiration – and ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’, which was fantastic. I loved the way it was written, the way it began (with the conception of the narrator, no less!), the way the story unfolded, the truths that were eventually uncovered, and the way the past was interwoven into the present.

I’ve already worked out where 13 of the last 14 can be found at the library; the last is proving quite difficult to find, but find it, I shall!

40 Days of Yoga – round 2 complete

Done. Another 40 days on the mat, every day on the mat, every day a little time to breathe, to connect, to forget, to remember.

I actually finished a week or so ago, but haven’t had a chance to think about it until now. My hubs has been away for the past eight long days, and I haven’t been on the mat at all during that time, and I’ve missed it.

Like the first time, I went through stages of mat-resistance, where the last thing I wanted was to do yoga, but I pushed through, and the desire to be on the mat always came back. I found my flexibility and strength came back quickly too, which gave me that extra motivation when I needed it most.

I did fall off the wagon when it came to posting photos on Instagram though…there are only so many yoga-selfies that one can take without hurting oneself!

For now, I’m looking forward to starting a new yoga class this week, and will aim to practise at home at least twice a week; I do find daily is a stretch (pardon the pun) at the moment when my boys are so little, but I could manage a couple of times a week until I feel like it’s time to do another 40 Days.

Progress Report: 40 Days of Yoga 2

I’m almost halfway through this round of 40 Days of Yoga – it’s going much faster than the first round, and I’m enjoying it much, much more. I have just come out of a few days of mat-resistance, but on each of those days, I still practised and allowed myself to not feel guilty about taking it easy. And I came out of that yoga-funk, and am back to loving it.

Plank1 Plank2 I’ve found my flexibility and strength have returned very quickly, and it’s very easy to over-extend myself…I have to remember that it’s been a good long while since I last practised so regularly, there’s no one here to adjust my form, and throwing myself straight back into intermediate level poses might not always be the best idea.

YogaKnowing that I’m doing this alongside Cat makes it even more fun, and seeing her progress on Instagram is great inspiration; knowing I’d be letting someone else down if I miss a day is all the extra motivation I need.

Decluttering: goodbye, stuff!

Last week I was inspired to get rid of some unnecessary stuff after reading Jess’ 50 Things I’m Happier to Live Without post. The decluttering has continued, and I think it’s safe to say I’ve gotten rid of over 50 items that we no longer need or want.

Things like shoes that have always been too big for me, but I’ve never wanted to give them up, or clothes I’ve clung on to, despite not wearing them in years, because of the memories attached to them. Toys, clothes and books that the boys have long-outgrown, or are surplus to requirements, to be passed on to an expectant friend. Handbags and blouses that are much to “corporate” for my current lifestyle. Cookbooks and parenting books that are gathering dust on the shelves; broken kitchen things, and bath toys that are clouded inside with black mould. Samples of moisturisers, and cat food for a cat we do not have; nailpolish that has never been opened and jeans with holes in the knees.

Decluttering4 IMG_5178
All. Gone. Either given to friends, taken to an op shop, or thrown straight in the bin. Spaces cleared, friends and strangers made happy.

I thought I’d struggle to find 50 items to clear, but once I started, I couldn’t be stopped. I found it easier getting rid of my own things – clothes and shoes that didn’t fit were an easy choice, and I used this exercise as an opportunity to tidy as I went. Our walk-in wardrobe now looks very pretty indeed! I did clear out some things from the boys’ rooms when they were otherwise occupied, but I knew the things I was removing were items they no longer played with or fit.

If, like me, you are not a fan of clutter, I challenge you to follow Jess’ example and try this – it feels so good knowing we are lighter in stuff, and that other people have benefited from my clear-out.

A Casual Sunday Morning Stroll

Over the (pathetic-excuse-for) summer, a group of friends and I have been walking at least once a week while our biggest ones are at kindy. We bundle our not-so-little littlest ones into their buggies, load up with drink bottles, snack boxes and sun- and rain-shades, and go for an 8km power walk.

As the summer has gone on, those hills have gotten easier, and we’ve been getting faster. During the holidays, we even took double-buggies, each pushing more than 30kg of children and buggy up those hills. Okay, so we only did that once, but we did it, which is the point here.

Stadium to Surf Dunedin 2014
On Sunday, we participated in the Dunedin Stadium to Surf 10km fun run/walk, sans children. We crossed the finish line at 1hour, 40minutes, a time we were all more than happy with, given that it was 2km more than we were used to.

Stadium to Surf Dunedin 2014
Along the way, we saw Ms D’s partner and kiddies having their morning tea – Mr W had cut up orange quarters to offer us. We also had Mrs C’s husband, sister and kiddies drive past a few times, horn tooting, hands waving, car covered in signs saying “GO MUM!” and “Yummy Mummy Support Crew”. They made our day….and the day of many people walking near us.

Stadium to Surf Dunedin 2014Stadium to Surf Dunedin 2014

It was great fun, and a small personal achievement. I’ve often thought about doing a fun walk, but never actually did anything about it until this year. And who knows? Maybe I’ll run it next year.

Reading and Reviewing

I don’t make resolutions, but I do like to set myself goals for the year ahead. One of my goals for 2014 is to finally finish my BBC Top 200 challenge. At last count, I have just 34 books to go, and I think that’s perfectly doable in a 52-week period. I might just have to say a firm “No!” when someone suggests I read something off-liste (didya see what I did there??).

Currently reading:
The Master and Magarita (Mikhail Bulgakov), which is proving to be a surprisingly intriguing and enjoyable read so far. It’s a bit crazy, and a bit whimsical, but I like a bit of crazy whimsy, so it’s good.

Previously read:
Under the Tuscan Sun (Frances Mayes), which started off so well, and was really enjoyable…until the final few chapters where I got bored, and then confused, and then over it.

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), which I hoovered over our four-day holiday in Central Otago. It was so clever, well-written and intriguing, although I was slightly disappointed with the ending. Curiously, this was my Christmas gift as part of Advent Swap 2013, and when I checked my list of “Must Seek Out” books, this was on there. Whoop!

The Princess Bride (William Goldman) which was, for the most part, a lovely, beautiful story. I loved the movie (which was very true to the story), and was able to picture and predict many of the scenes, which only served to enhance my enjoyment of it. The only part I didn’t like were the “interjections”, which were irritating and in my mind, superfluous to the story. It was a great story to get lost in while sitting beside Pickle’s cot, waiting patiently for him to succumb to sleep after weaning.

The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco), which I nicknamed The Book of Snore. Seriously, it was so boring and unenjoyable that I shelved it for a few days before deciding to plow on through so I could review it for 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. Otherwise….it would have been gently recycled.

Forty Days of Yoga

Done. Just like that.

40 days. Every day – or night – on the mat, stretching and flexing, contorting myself into poses I thought my body would have forgotten.

The first few days were hard, physically, but I was amazed at how quickly my body remembered each pose, and how fluidly I seemed to move beyond my initial comfort zone.

It wasn’t always easy, getting on the mat every day. Some days, I was tired and I just did not want to be there. I wanted to pour a glass of wine and snuggle on the couch with my husband, watching mindless television and eating chocolate.

But I did it. Even if those sessions were shorter or gentler, I did it. The important thing for me was to still get on the mat, to do what I felt I needed, and to not beat myself up if my practise wasn’t very strong.

Some days, I was champing at the bit for my babies to go to bed so I could get on the mat. Those were the sessions that were the most energetic, the strongest and the most focussed. The sessions where I knew I could push myself just a little further.

Now that my 40 days are over, I’m having a few days off. I don’t think I’ll go for another 40 days in a row without a break, but I will continue to make getting onto my mat a regular part of my week. I feel too good to not carry on – mentally and physically. I’m regaining the tone I lost from my arms and legs, and I just feel stronger.

I’d like to do five days a week if I can, which gives me the flexibility to have a glass of wine or blob on the couch or just do something else if I feel like it. But I will keep up a home practise, because I have loved it more than I thought possible.

(If you’re on Instagram, you can see my yoga journey in pictures here)

Forty Days of Yoga

I haven’t been to a yoga class or done any serious yoga since I was about 22 weeks pregnant with Pickle. That was over a year ago, and I miss it. So much.

I miss the way it makes me feel physically: strong, flexible, toned, fit.

I miss the way it makes me feel mentally: calm, relaxed, capable, sharp.

I miss the way it makes me feel emotionally: in-tune, settled, balanced.

I miss the way it makes me feel as a parent: like I can cope with all the new challenges thrown at me daily. The way it makes me strong enough to stop, breathe, think, listen, respond. Not shout and react, as I’m doing all too often right now.

At the moment, I feel like something essentially me is missing, like I’m not operating at 100%. Part of that is tiredness, and breastfeeding a hungry 10-month-old, but when I do yoga, none of that is an issue.

I’d like to go back to classes, but they’re not cheap, and are often on at awkward times. I have DVDs, but I find them quite distracting when my pace of breathing through a sequence of asanas is slower/faster than theirs. I’ve been meaning to start a home practise for months, but always felt that I didn’t have the knowledge, or the discipline, or the time to do it. But the thing is, an internal practise (ie: one led by me) is the only way I can overcome the barriers my mind sets for me; an external practise (ie: in a class or following a DVD) only serves to cover up those mental barriers for a while.

IMG_3560When I heard of Forty Days of Yoga, I knew that if any book could get me out of that mindset, this would be the one. A good friend of mine knows the author, and she said it was likely to be a really good book.

What an understatement.

The book is amazing. Inspiring. Encouraging. From the first page I was hooked. I was nodding silently in agreement with everything she was saying. I felt as though she was talking directly to me. Everything she described, the reasons why people don’t start a home practise, the reasons why they should…it all made sense.

So here I am, about to embark on my forty days of yoga. And then, hopefully, I’ll choose to do another forty days…and another, and another, until it’s no longer a choice…it just is.

IMG_9961The rules are simple: miss a day, and you start back at day one.

That’s motivation enough in itself, but if I feel my resolve start to falter, I’ll just look at my husband and our boys. This is for me and it’s for the three of them. They are all the inspiration and motivation I should need.

(The images here have nothing much to do with yoga…they just serve as a reminder about beauty in the small things around us x)

Smart Shopping

At the dinner table last night, conversation turned (inevitably at the start of a new year) to money. We were discussing the pros and cons of owning an old house; after some very heavy rain and the discovery of some broken tiles, there are some unforeseen unwanted repairs we might need to have done sooner rather than later.

Then we ended up discussing how much I spend on the groceries each week. I was feeling rather proud after a cheap (around $50 less than normal) shop on Sunday, and Tall was interested to know where that extra money would normally be spent.

IMG_1917I’ve never been very good at budgeting when it comes to meal planning and grocery shopping. I tend to peruse my recipe books and decide on the recipes I want to make, write my shopping list accordingly, and toddle off to the supermarket to get everything we need. However, this method has a tendency to backfire, when I decide I want something out-of-season, and end up paying through the nose for it. Like eggplants, which I crave during winter when they cost ridiculous amounts.

Tall wasn’t suggesting that I should be spending less all the time (we eat well – very well – and it’s important to us that we have varied, healthy, tasty meals which will offer our boys the chance to try different flavours), but he decided to throw down a bit of a challenge. A challenge we shall call “Cheap-As Tuesday”.

The premise? Create a meal for four (me, Tall, Tiny, and leftovers) for under $10 every Tuesday. Of course, I accepted immediately (our relationship began with a challenge involving a whole pineapple…but that’s a story for another day), and I’m quite looking forward to it.

It helped that this Tuesday, I’d already planned on a cheap-ish meal, but I’ve already got my thinking cap on for next week. I wish I’d kept the receipt from the groceries so I could work out exactly how much tonight’s meal will cost, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be around that magic $10 mark.

On the menu this week:

~ barbecued honey-soy pork ribs with coleslaw and new potatoes
~ lasagne*
~ Cheap-As Tuesday: barbecued sausages with salad, sweetcorn and new potatoes*
~ grilled chicken teriyaki with rice and stir-fried vegetables
~ portobella mushroom quesadillas*
~ proscuitto and rocket pizza*
~ slow-barbecued lamb with salads

* with the potential for leftovers for Tall’s lunches, saving even more dosh.

Are you good at sticking to a food budget? Do you have any suggestions for a Cheap-As Tuesday meal I can try?