June 5, 2009

Back again

Originally uploaded by moonshae
It's been awhile! I've been busy with my birthday, applying for a new job, school and just... stuff!

I've gone back to Calorie King (again) and started c25k (again). I'm better with the c25k than I am with my calorie intake. I'm up to week 3 day 3 and I'm thinking of entering Run Melbourne at the end of the month and/or the Melbourne Marathon. Not sure about the Run Melbourne. It's so soon and it's 5km. I know that I could walk it if I wanted, but I'm a big fat wimp who currently does a route that's more like 2.5km. Also I'd be going on my own and I'm a big fat wimp.

I got the new job though. I start on Tuesday with the halls of residence at the campus where my Boy and the majority of my friends work. It's going to be nice. I'm not sure if I trust carpooling to get me there on time, but I think I'll try it for the first week and talk to new boss about it. They should be for it, surely, as it's saving them a car space and the environment and all that. If I end up being late with carpooling, I might take the bus in early and run there (if there are lockers so I can shower).

But soon I shall be full time again! Money!! But also, I'm going to be so busy! School on Monday nights and Saturdays plus work Mon-Fri 9-5. *gulp* Sunday will be my only free day. *double gulp* I'm hoping the Boy will step up to the plate a bit more in terms of doing housework, especially the washing. I'm not expecting miracles though and to make sure I have clothes beyond my PJs (which I had to spend the day in the other week) I'm going to splurge per-first pay cheque. Bad, but I think worth it in the initial readjustment phase, particularly since I'm already mostly out of underwear *head desk*
Mostly I'm worried about my school work. The other girls seem to be managing okay while working full time, so I'm sure I can do it but *gulp* I spent 6 hours lining up pleats on the weekend.

Quick review: HERBS Pizza, Koornang Rd, Carnegie.
This place was chosen as we wanted "basic" or "traditional" pizzas (in our opinion anyway) and they're walking distance. We got a BBQ chicken (which wasn't on the menu, they added BBQ sauce for us), a garlic and a margherita (with added bacon, don't ask me, that's what the boys wanted).
Conclusion? Too much sauce. Especially on the BBQ chicken where they seemed to have made their normal pizza then slopped on the bbq sauce. Tasty, but messy. The margherita was better, but still very "wet". The garlic pizza, by contrast was quite good. The Boys found it a little dry, but I liked it that way. Finding one the comes without cheese is also good.
Result: 7/10. Perfectly adequate, but meh.

May 20, 2009

My rock cakes

My rock cakes
Originally uploaded by moonshae
It was my birthday on Friday. I am now a venerable 28 years old. And I'm now eating gluten again for awhile. I've been having little bits in things like marinated tofu for about a fortnight and in honor of birthday I ate much Chinese food. And cake. And toast. And besides my sinuses flaring up (which they do without gluten too) I feel fine.

I went to visit a friend who's working in Albury on Saturday and she is obviously psychic because she bought me a cookbook that most people wouldn't buy the gluten intolerant - The Women's Weekly Classic Cake cook book. The blurry phone picture above is the result of my first try - rock cakes. I remember not liking them as a kid but these were great. Easy and only used stuff we already had except SR flour, which I (obviously) got special. While these were in the oven I also made a basic tea cake, though in a loaf tin as I have little baking gear anymore. It didn't really rise as much as I'd have liked, but as I didn't use an electric beater to cream the butter/sugar/egg combo I probably just didn't aerate it enough. I didn't try it - saving it for tonight.

I'm going to try and be good this gluten round. Every other time I've basically gone psycho and binged on anything gluten containing, the breadier the better. This time I'm trying trying trying to be better. I can't really afford to eat out, so unless I'm at a restaurant which someone else is paying for, I'm not allowed to buy gluten products just because (bread is the exception as it's for the household not just because I can have it). Pasta I think I'll keep gluten free at the moment. My cereal box is still pretty full and I have most of a rice porridge left as well. But once I'm out of muesli I'm going to try some wheat free stuff. Basically if I want it I have to make it. Pastry making will probably come up pretty soon because of that.
My goal is one bit of gluten per day which I completely failed at so far but now birthday celebrations are over I'm trying harder with less temptations around. I had a rock cake for breakfast as I was running late but lunch is entirely GF and dinner is tacos which is naturally GF. I was going to try some tea cake but maybe I'll just steal a bit of The Boy's instead just to see how it turned out.

Other than that I haven't really done much lately. I had one of those lingering cold/flu things for about a week seriously and then another week just sniffling. Led to many early nights and much slothing. School is moving along abruptly suddenly after many stops and starts. Couture finally has something of a rhythm which is good. I'm feeling happier about my design and I have had my fabric professionally pleated. I haven't looked at it because it's in a big roll of paper. I'm waiting for school on Saturday to look. I just hope that there's enough! Millinery has moved on to straw hats from fur felts. I finished my felt and while I like it, the odds of me wearing it around are pretty slim. Not only because it's basically a top hat but also because it would retail at ~$300. 22 hours of labour in that hat plus ~$100 in materials. Photos to come once it's been marked.

Tonight I'm going to be sewing tissue covers for my last Craftster swap for awhile - broke me does not get to send things all over the world for kicks. Plus, I've got enough other things to make and a newly recovered World of Warcraft habit to fill. I really want to finish a jumper to wear THIS winter but *shrug* I guess time (and RSI) will tell.

April 24, 2009

A picture of me

Originally uploaded by moonshae
I was looking at the photos of a party my friends had on the weekend. There were a couple of me (in my new op shop skirt of niceness) and I couldn't look at them. I looked so FAT. Which made me think about food. But what happened next really forced me into action... a friend emailed the one picture I particularly hated and the subject line? "I just found a gorgeous photo of you!"
Action? Fire lit under my large butt? oh my god yes!
I'm back on calorieking and tracking my calories each day. Next week's goal is to put in the recipes that I make alot (like sticky rice) and have accurate numbers for those as I'm sure I'm underestimating them. This week I was mostly concentrating on putting everything on there again and trying to stay below my calorie limit. Which I did, with help from my half hour walk to work and then back again three days a week.

I'm also joining my housemate and his friends on their Sunday morning training regime. The guy who leads it isn't a personal trainer, but is very fit and does much gym. He is helped by a girl who does a personal training session at least twice a week, so we're not doing anything horrifically bad for us. I went last Sunday and my muscles stopped hurting on Wednesday. Bleh! But good bleh I think. Well, I felt all nice and endorphiny after finished at least.
This Sunday will be the test though - cold and hailing the weather report says. And we train on the beach! Yay! I'm hoping we change at least to a part to do it. I don't want to cancel it, I don't want to lose momentum so early into starting, but the beach will be cold and just BAD!

Looking at my food on CK (calorieking) it looks quite strange because I put everything in my bento as lunch when technically I suppose half of it is snacks. Or I'm eating lunch from my 11am miso to my 3pm babybel cheese. But while the bento food looks a little odd, it's usually around 600 calories which is pretty darned good! It's when I get home after work that I run into trouble. I get home at 4, the time I used to get home from school and have a snack. Sure, I just walked for half an hour, I might be a little hungry. But if I snack then, then eat dinner and THEN odds are I'll have a little something after dinner too.
My new plan is to try and drink tea between home and dinner. Preferably herbal, but I'll settle for my usual white tea (it's not THAT many calories and milk is good, calcium and protein and all that) if necessary.
I also need to think about dinner a little more. Last night Boy and I were feeling lazy so we had pasta with pesto and mushrooms. I didn't weigh the pasta out, but I did divide it into three bowls and a container for later so I wouldn't just serve it all up. Perhaps I should have because I was HUNGRY all night despite dessert and even a coffee. Bleh! So lazy dinners definately need some work.

Pictured is an apple cosy I made for a swap on Craftster. I have three active swaps at the moment - I just sent for the Detective swap, am part way through making things for the Fill a Purse swap and am waiting for my partner in the tea/coffee swap. I've never done more than one at a time before. I'm enjoying them. They're helping me fill the free time I have. I really thought that this years couture class would be more full on from the get go, but not yet! We have ANOTHER day off tomorrow because of Anzac Day, so we've only had two classes so far. Which leaves me with two days a week of not much to do really. Hence, swap crafting and dice bags agogo.

I also applied for a couple of new jobs due to me feeling horribly poor. One is full time and I have an interview on Monday. It will be more money than I have ever earned. Ever. Which means I could pay back my savings all the money I've taken out due to moving and other stuff this year so far. I could save for a holiday somewhere overseas and awesome. I could buy CLOTHES as I have none really that fit properly. But what if school suddenly gets busy? What if what if? I think I want it, though I'm going to have to get uber organised if I get it. And The Boy is going to have to start doing some more housework a bit more regularly.

I'm feeling better mentally this week as well. Last night I even went out to a "craft night" which is mostly a hang around and chat night but you can bring knitting or whatever and not feel out of place. It was good. I got to hang with PEOPLE and got to see baby H who is in the "ooo moving colours and strange faces" big eyed stage. Very adorable. Even though I ended up ripping out all of my knitting because of losing count and grrr, it was nice to get out of the house. I spend so much time watching shows I don't like because I'm crafting and like to have something on while the boys are playing World of Warcraft. I was feeling a little crappy about it. But now I'm actively trying to get out and see people. Go me!

This weekend is therefore going to be a reward weekend, despite being very broke due to a HR pay issue (grr). I'm going to buy a new outfit for my interview (yay credit card!) and The Boy is taking me to the movies. The Dice guys are coming to pick up their order, payment to follow sometime next week hopefully. Exercise session on Sunday. But tonight? Tonight is Dr Who night!

April 22, 2009

Back on the wagon

I've been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember. I'm going to make another effort at not eating way too much of the badder things like processed foods and eat more veges. So hopefully this will decrease the size of my butt and make my bentos a little more exciting.

Today I logged back on to calorieking.com.au and started tracking my food again. Which is a good thing to combine with my visual lunch tracking on flickr. My flickr photos are showing a definite decrease in veges and variety and an increase in dried fruit and snackysnacks. Bad me!

If you want to help the world through your lunch have a look at this link -> http://www.missionvegan.com/happy-april-giveaway-time/ You might even win a prize! Which is great because a large chunk of why I started bento was to reduce waste in the kitchen.

April 17, 2009

Am I 80?

Basicpurple beginning
Originally uploaded by moonshae
I've been spending my nights very predictably since The Boy and I moved in with Housemate. The boys go and do some sort of WOW raid in the study and I sit on the couch and knit. The last couple of nights I've mixed it up and cut things out to sew - dice bags for an order, hand bags for a Craftster swap. But still, 9/10 evenings are spent with me sitting on the couch watching such high television quality as Bondi Vet, and even at times Neighbours, mostly because I can't be bothered changing the channel between The Simpsons at 6 and NCIS at 8:30.

While I do feel a little boring and am REALLY going to try and DO stuff (or at least watch better shows) I'm feeling quite accomplished! I am making myself a cardigan! I take a bit of string and two pointy sticks and CREATE! The photo is when I just started, I've finished that back section now, and the left front. I'm 3 inches into the right front now. Just that and the sleeves to go! Yay! The pattern is Basic Black which I found on Ravelry and I'm working on it with The Visual Guide to Knitting which is great because it's full of pictures. Sure, many websites can show me how to knit particular stitches, but my internet doesn't reach the couch.

I'm really getting into the 'making from scratch' ideal. My lunch today contains one processed thing, which is the miso for my soup and the chicken marinade. I'm already feeling SO much better after my gluten binge. I'm so much more with the moment!! And being with the moment I can go to a party tonight instead of saying I'm too tired. A party with friends who have bought me snacks so I can join in. One of those snacks? Popcorn. Simple, everyone can have it. My mother is good at making me food when I'm at a family thing, I ate well at Easter lunch. But there was a separate lasagna for me (an entire one, many leftovers!) and it made me feel a little weird. I can eat SO much food but I still get corralled off to one side. No one would even try my lasagna, I'm not sure if it was because it was "mine" or because it was gluten free. Or maybe they were full. Who knows? Yes, many gluten free packaged foods are bad. Dry, crumbly and utterly awful. You know what's good? The nibbles I brought as my part of the lunch. I could eat every bite of the rice crackers with double brie, the dried fruit, the basil pesto chunky dip and the pears wrapped in prosciutto.
If anyone is reading this that ISN'T gluten intolerant and has a friend/family member/work colleague that is, try to include them! Food is such a social activity and while it's nice that you thought of them and bought a packet of cookies or whatever, why not serve sushi instead of sandwiches at that work lunch? Or go to Crust or Pizza Capers for pizza as they can have a gluten free pizza and be part of the group.

In my first review for a long time let me happily say I've found a new place that will deliver me pizza that isn't Crust, whom I haven't gone back to (they may have gluten free bases, but their toppings are labeled ambiguously, or were at the time). PIZZA CAPERS are a Queensland chain that have recently expanded to Victoria and there's one in Malvern somewhere (near Central Park I think). I have no idea where, I just know that a kind friend got their menu in the mail and thought I'd like it. Oh yeah. The bases remind me of the GF burgers at Grill'd, sort of corn like in flavour, which is different than what you'd remember pizza tasting like, but still good. They aren't a crisp pizza though, which makes me sad, but that's the only real flaw that I can see. I particularly like the antipasto pizza.

And finally, the easiest food wanky recipe ever - Pear with Prosciutto:
Slice up pear into thinnish slices, wrap with some prosciutto. Repeat until you're out of ingredients or the plate is full. Eat! I used Buerre Bosch pears at Easter lunch and they were very tasty.

April 15, 2009

Experiment failed

Originally uploaded by moonshae
I've been quiet lately because I was doing some gluten eating. And it seemed to be going fine! Every so often I would feel the familiar brain woolliness but rarely enough that speculation began about me being sensitive to something else. MSG maybe, or that calcium propinate stuff found in bread. But then BAMN. It hit me. So now I'm in gluten hangover mode. It's not tooo bad, but bad enough that I actually do feel hungover and all I want to do is drink tea and eat fattening things on the couch. Which is different to my usual desires I swear (well, sometimes it is).
So I'm back in the non-gluten diet thing and I'm not overly upset by it. Sure, it was great to eat chinese dumplings and have a pie, but it feels like I had a nice holiday, but am now back home.

The picture for this post was taken last weekend. I put it in because the black bag in it, my bento handbag is no more. Because I SOLD IT! I spent much of my weekend hanging out at Conquest (a roleplaying convention held at Melbourne High) and I sold many dice bags to gamers and the dice company there (Dice by NASM). But I also sold my handbag, the one I was actually using, not once, but TWICE! I have never sold my stuff before and it is such a confidence boost. Maybe a career in making things is a possibility after all. Though not in dice bags, those things are BORING to make en masse.
So I have profit! I think, I didn't really cost things particularly well, especially my time spent making them, but I think I made profit. And I might splurge on a new bento box, just in time for my birthday next month.

It did give me a very busy easter "break" though which has left my pantry a little bare. My bento lunch today was some rice (a mix of brown and white) from the freezer, a 1-egg tamagoyaki (slightly failed, due to a smaller egg I think), some carrot sticks for lunch break eating. For snacks I have some craisins and dried apricots, some nut/seed mix and a mini jelly pudding, a babybel swiss cheese and, my current favourite 11am snack - a miso soup "ball".
The miso ball idea is something from my fav bento site, justbento, and all it is is a teaspoon or so of miso paste along with whatever you like in your miso soup in a little package. I used a silicon muffin cup as it was secure in my box. If it was in a bigger box (or loose I suppose) I'd wrap it into a ball in some glad wrap. I have tofu and spring onion with mine. Yum! A nice, cheap, EASY protein hit that kills off those morning munchies as well as being nice and warming on this windy day. I'm going to try and get a little more adventurous with my miso snack as it'd be a great way to sneak a few more veges into my day and shore up my immune system.

March 26, 2009

See my hat!

Felt hat assignment
Originally uploaded by moonshae
The picture is me making my first felt hat in my millinery class. I was kind of nervous about the class, as it was expensive and to justify it to myself I had to pare down my couture sewing class to part time. Which starts on Saturday so *fingers crossed*
But HATS! I don't care if I never wear this hat (it's also in a mousey colour I've never ever worn because the supplier was waiting on a shipment but I had to get started) because it was FUN! I can block felt good! Whee! Am I too old to be jazzed about getting compliments from teachers? Apparently not!

This past week has had me stressing out about money. Suddenly my credit card is higher than I like, my hat supplies cost me more than I thought they would, The Boy booked as in to see Tim Minchin at the Comedy Festival without asking (though he said he'd pay - which makes me feel pretty crap, but well, I _do_ want to go) and on and on. The bond cheque from the old place went directly onto my credit card which meant new winter clothes (and boots) have to wait. And on and on. So I sat down and played with the budget. And according to it I'm okay. Not great, but fine. I just need to accept that I'm a student again and that means that yes, at the end of the pay cycle I might be down to my last $20.
But despite it being payday and therefore a time to stress less, I've been poking at the internet about being frugal, which I have done in the past and discovered the same things I usually do - I'm already pretty frugal (mostly) and being frugal in America is really different to frugality in Australia in certain respects, especially in the most popular tip - cancel cable tv. Almost all website suggest giving up cable tv to save money. Easy done as I've never had it. The Boy's parents have it as His dad got it free as he installs it. So if I really want to watch 4 hours of cooking shows I can when I go there (and I did that over Christmas. Yay for The River Cottage!)

Most of the other suggestions I was looking at were food related. Eating gluten free can be expensive and, well, I have expensive tastes at times (mmm duck). But since I started thinking more properly with The Boy over the whole gluten free thing I think we've actually started spending less on food in general. Lately our grocery bill has gotten higher (eep) BUT we are feeding The Housemate as well now AND we're not eating out nearly as much (due to people moving away).

Things I think are the big money savers on our food bill:
-Rice - Thanks to bentos and The Boy's love of making curry rice has become our starch of choice and that's pretty cheap. And freezes! which I never realized before (http://lunchinabox.net/2008/06/20/inarizushi-with-toppings/) which is a big help when making lunches quickly.
-Carrots - I've been having carrots almost every day lately in some form or another. Carrot sticks are a good snack, with or without a dip. Stir fry quickly in some tamari, chilli flakes and sesame oil to get kinpira (Just Bento). Tomorrow I'm going to try carrot rice which was on justbento.com a little while back because I have a cold and the vitamins the better IMO.
-Eggs - I used to think I didn't like eggs. They ruined my bacon and toast when I was a kid. I'm an adult now and have rediscovered them. While I avoid buying bread now as GF bread is never the same, full of calories and damn expensive, I'm still trying to eat eggs. They're cheap protein, keep well and are very handy to have in the kitchen. My first bentos often had hardboiled eggs in them. Then I went to tamagoyaki, japanese omelette. Lately I've been eating the quiche mum made for my aunt's birthday party.
-Spices - sesame oil, tamari, chilli, garlic and sesame seeds. These things are staples frequently used nowadays. I never used to be much of a spice girl, I think because I usually baked cakes etc when I was a kid, not "real" cooking. Sick of carrot sticks? Carrot kinpira instead.

Most websites told me that going grocery shopping without a list is a recipe to waste money. You should shop with a list and never deviate from it. Sure, I shop with a list, but not deviate from it? The Boy would fall over. He hates the meal planning mentality frugal websites advocate. It's too locked in for him. Instead we work out how many nights we'll be at home, if there's a night when only one of us is home the one at home eats leftovers (as does Housemate as we do the cooking). Then we consider what meals to make. Sure, this sometimes leaves us with some strange assortments of ingredients and leftovers to work with, but that can lead to taste sensations. White corn tortillas (Diego brand are the only GF tortillas I've been able to find) but nothing to fill them with? What about leftover potato and chickpea curry? OMG were those good!

Does all this rambling end with a point? I guess it's don't be locked in to a "poor," "frugal" or even "gluten free" mentality. Instead, be creative, get out there and experiment with what you have! No chilli? try that strange chilli/capsicum relish someone gave you for Christmas. Google "substitute IngrediantA" for suggestions on what to use instead. Dig in the back of your cupboards for inspiration.

In further food experimenting news, I attempted steamed pork buns. It was a mixed success. I used my staple "bread" mix, Safeway's Freefrom pizza mix. The filling? Pork mince cooked in the last of the strange tamari hoisin sauce I had (which The Boy dislikes so it won't be back).
The steaming didn't really give me a cooked result, still sort of doughy and I couldn't be bothered steaming them more. They'd had 30minutes, I was over it considering I could only cook 4 at a time. So I got out the muffin tin and baked them instead. The steamed then baked ones were a little gluggy tasting. The just baked ones were quite nice. A meat scone kind of taste (not surprisingly). The Boy was underwhelmed. The Housemate consumed with gusto.