Mind your mind

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Ever get that feeling that you can’t take a deep enough breath?  I do. A lot.

This is not something that happens to me after physical activity, really.  Actually i am getting a whole lot better at breathing while running – which sounds ridiculous, but, as i’ve come to realise, it is a skill in itself.

This feeling i am referring to comes from stress.  It starts with hunched shoulders and tight neck, and slowly works its way up to pursed lips and knitted brow, and before i know it, there goes my ability to take in a full lungs worth of air.  I can’t imagine i’m the only one who suffers from this kind of self-induced, panic-stations, fight or flight stress factor.  In fact i’ll bet more and more people feel this way every day, and many, like me, can’t manage to shut the mind-reel down for even a few minutes to re-centre and take an actual, useful breath.   Well…

This track has been flagged by scientists as the most relaxing tune ever recorded.  Mindlab International conducted the research, which must have been a very chill experience, and found that Weightless (by Marconi Union) was 11 per cent more relaxing than any other song (though, how many songs they tested it against remains a mystery), and induced a 65 per cent overall reduction in anxiety.
Having listened to the track i can attest to its meditative qualities – i’ve added it to my Rdio playlist for testing during the next particularly high-stress moment – but it made me wonder, does it have any more relaxation benefits than simply listening to your favourite song?  When i listen to Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’, or Otis Redding’s ‘Sitting on the Dock‘ i tend to feel a whole lot calmer.  Does the context of the track matter?

Try it and see –

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Full article here via the Daily Health Post

 

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I remember

I have the hurry sickness.  I am always in a hurry.   Even in my sleep.  I sleep fitfully and wake up on edge and tired again.

I remember when i didn’t have a phone in my hand while lying in bed at 6:45am.

I remember when i didn’t feel the need to check Facebook at least 10 times a day just to make sure that i didn’t miss anything super interesting or important.

I remember when i could miss a friends call and not be berated for my lack of availability.  When being unavailable to talk meant that i was busy, not just crap at multi-tasking.

I remember when the answers weren’t all at my fingertips and when i believed that my parents had a superior kind of intelligence.  They sure seemed to know a whole lot about a whole lot!

I remember when life was a bit slower, a bit less complicated.  Less dictated by the latest fad or social networking tool.

I remember when we only had one computer in our classroom and would get to use it once a week for learning games.

I remember when it was a novelty that i looked forward to, rather than an obligation i felt socially, emotionally and literally physically tied to every waking moment.

I remember when i could write words on paper without getting a cramp in my hand.  When my writing didn’t suck.  When people could spell full words, rather than hurried, simplified approximations of former words.

I remember when public transport wasn’t quiet.  When the hum of chatter and laughter wasn’t based solely on a bunch of one-sided conversations, whose context you have to deduce through loud, often abrasive fits and starts.

I remember when you could disappear for weeks and not be considered a social pariah or dimwitted ignoramus if you weren’t up on the latest Miley mishap/Yeezy dispute/Arctic Monkeys release/etc, etc, ad infinitum….

I remember meeting people and not knowing a thing about them if/when we ever reconnected again.  Not having perused their family album, assessed their favourite records and make assumptions based on their hometown/schooling/previous jobs/uninteresting updates.

I remember when life was wireless…..The first time.

About face

Exercise 2 of my writing book – the where/who/what/how/why of where you are right now….

Its a bright sunny, blue sky day, but the wind is harsh and crisp and feels fresh off the southern ocean.  The house is empty and silent save for the tapping of my computer keys.   I sit in our home office in amongst piles of press and paperwork marked To Be Filed – To Be Mailed – To Be Checked.  There is no done pile.  Bright Turquoise headphones beg to be placed on my ears to take me away to a world of Justin Timberlake and Michael Kiwanuka and Janelle Monae at the touch of a button.  The atrium outside the window is lush and green and waiting patiently for midday when it will finally have some sun.  A blow-fly has just arrived to run circles around the light and drive me slowly insane with its incessant buzzing.  My finger nails are a coral red and distract my eyes from the screen every so often.  I have not had my obligatory morning coffee and i am imagining how delicious and hot and frothy it will be when i finally succumb to the call.  A thousand TO DOs run wildly in my mind and i know that if i do not jot them down, they will disappear until they become SHOULD HAVE DONEs.  I get anxious just thinking about all the things i might forget.  The bejewelled elephant paperweight that sits on my desk with its broken trunk stuck hastily back together with blu-tac reminds me of the travels i can no longer do at a moments notice, and the thought makes my mind wander further.  I have made a list in my head of all the places i will go to when…..  The list is getting longer and longer.

Some day…

Pie-O-Mine

Its officially winter, which for me means baking ALL THE TIME.  I can’t stop.  We still have leftovers from the last three delicious baked goods i’ve made and i want more!  Seriously.  This is a problem.  Ok, its a problem that has possibly the best ever ending.  Sweet treats!

Today i made these scrumptious little treats –

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I call them Pumpkin Pie Bites.  They are so delicious that half of them were gobbled up not 5 minutes after i retrieved them from the oven.  And i’m the only one home.  You do the maths….

Just for fun i made some heart-shaped ones with the extra batter because i recently discovered a heart-shaped muffin tray perplexingly in amongst all my scratched and faded old ones..  Blind-baking, blind-purchasing too!  Uh oh. 

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Anyway, these things are seriously yummo and are ready for eating straight out of the oven – although, maybe don’t take my word for this since i tend to throw caution to the wind when it comes to my bakery goods.  I’m not exactly patient and i often have the burnt tongue to prove it.

Honestly though, these things are sooooo easy! Really, i mean it.  Two tins of stuff with some spices and a whisk and you’re done.  Pretty much.   Ok, read on for the actual ‘How To’ and enjoy the spicey-sweet aroma of heavenly bites in less than half an hour!!

Pumpkin Pie Bites

What you need:

2 sheets shortcrust pastry – doesn’t matter if its sweetened or not, mine wasn’t.

One tin (350g – ish) of pumpkin puree – Disclaimer: i did the old-fashioned thing and cooked up some actual pumpkin then wizzed it in the blender for half a minute. It was ridiculously easy and probably cheaper, but the original recipe it worked from said a tin, so i assume they’re out there and people buy them….

One tin (330g) of sweetened condensed milk – i use a non-dairy variety since my guts don’t handle cows milk so well. If your tin has more than 330g in it, it doesn’t matter, just add in a little more pumpkin to even the score!

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2 eggs – on the larger side

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

What to do:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (celcius)

Lightly grease a 20 cup mini-muffin baking tray – actually you can use whatever you want. I split my mixture and put half in the bite-sized cups and half in the heart-shaped muffin tray (which holds only six).  It worked out just fine.

When your sheets of pastry are soft enough to mould, place them evenly into your chosen tray/s.  You don’t need lids for these so use it all in the cups. 

Throw your pumpkin, condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt into a bowl and whisk until combined and smooth.  

Pour evenly across each of your pastry cups (not quite to full as they will rise a little) and then place those babies in the oven.  

After around 5-10 mins turn the oven down to 160 and leave to cook for another 5-10 mins (this all depends on your oven and the size of the cups you’ve chosen – keep an eye on your babies and when you can stick them in the middle and they come out clean, you’re good to go!

Remove and leave for as long as you can muster before placing in your mouth on a cooling rack.  

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YUM! 

These can be stored in covered or in an airtight container in your fridge for a couple of days, and can probably be frozen, but in all honesty if you’re prepared to do that then i don’t think you appreciate just how delicious they are.  

Bon appetit!

 

A word on charity runs

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Somehow this year i have become a charity running fiend.

Just to clarify, i don’t run.  That is, i never did before, well, apart from way back in primary school, but i think we can all agree that was FIVE BILLION YEARS AGO.  (in primary school i could hang upside down on the monkey bars while singing the entire repertoire of NKOTB!  I mean, seriously!  Music tastes aside, what the hell happened?!)

It started with a 6km run/walk (RunGeelong – supporting the hospital where my son was born)  I was smug and cocky because i had only had my little boy 2.5 weeks earlier and felt that the fact i was even able to walk at all was pretty darn impressive. (not wrong, although i’ve since learned that there are actual, real people out there who run (RUN) the day after giving birth.  Who are these so-called ‘humans’??)

I didn’t actually run my first run until a year later.  I registered for the same event and felt the self-imposed pressure to out-do my previous years’ effort.  How hard could it be, right?

Holy crap.  That was HARD.

I ran jogged about half one-third of the course.  I had a stitch about 100 metres in and i had a minor moment of panic at the half-way point when my breathing started to resemble a smokers death rattle.  Not a good sign.  Thankfully my running partner, and new brother-in-law kept me moving, if only because i could not let him beat me.  I’m a teensy bit competitive that way.

We finished up the 6km in what we agreed was around 45mins.  Although neither of us had bothered to check the time at the start line.  I had conveniently forgotten my timing tag, so there was no pesky reality check to deal with later.

Next up i signed up solo for a slightly shorter course – Run4Kids.  I figured i’d be able to set my own pace and if i needed to stop, i had the baby in the pram – a foolproof ‘legitimate reason to stop’ in my mind.  Unfortunately, thanks to some poorly planned street closures and a thoroughly inaccessible area for those packing wheels (ie: prams, wheelchairs, etc), i was unable to make it to the starting line in time, so i decided it was ok in a charity run to just start from wherever i was.  (Before you judge – i was no more than .5km in and i had run its equivalent just trying to get to where i needed to be!).  Needless to say, this run was much quicker!

My greatest achievement thus far though was last weeks’ Mother’s Day Classic.  Or, as my nephew put it – ‘The Mother’s Day Special’ (which i much prefer).  This one was 8KM (GASP!) and i had actually done a little training for it.  However, come race day i had still NEVER run 8km consecutively before.  EVER.  Not even in primary school.

“Whatever” “How’d you get through it?” I hear you say? Two things:  Firstly, it was early morning and i promised myself the largest, most sensationally strong and hot coffee post-race.  And secondly, my brother-in-law was running it too, and he had done even less training than me.  Oh it was ON!  *

So, i guess what i’m trying to say is, charity is one thing, but it takes determination and an unhealthy love of winning to continually challenge yourself.

*the results are in, i managed a mildly impressive astonishing 30 SECONDS faster than the bro-by-lo.  Woot woot!  Not bad at all.  Also came in well under the hour i had hoped for and didn’t feel too shabby to have a coffee and a medal (participation only) in hand before breakfast time.  

Side note: my 6 year old nephew walked/skipped/frog-jumped his way around the 8km circuit too!  Mad charity skills, kid!  Well done!!

Here is another, far more succinct take on the experience (as told by a 6 year old):

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Now, isn’t that just so darn sweet?  Kids, bless ’em.

Everything should be chips

Seriously. Everything.

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Don’t look at me like that Matt Preston, i know you agree.  Chips are delicious and i won’t hear a bad word about them. BUT if your BUTT is suffering from over-indugence of the afore-mentioned deliciousness then consider this – Not all chips are bad for you. I KNOW. Sign me up, right?!

The following are some excellent examples of chips that tick all the boxes of goodness:
Healthy (at least much closer to healthy than regular been-there-ate-that potato chips) – CHECK!
Yummy – CHECK! CHECK!
Easy – CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!

As a bonus these chips are popular with the young and the old (probably. i mean, i assume the elderly would love the shit outta these fancy new ‘chips’, but i don’t have many octogenarian associates on which to test this theory. sorry)

So, without further ado, i give you:

YOUR WEEK IN SNACKING

Kale chips

What you need:

Kale (surprise!)

Olive Oil/Vegetable Oil (Save the Orangutans, no Palm Oil please)

Salt & Pepper

What you do:

Wash your kale.  

Give it a nice swooshy bath – these kinds of leaves have lots of creases and crevices and often have a lot of grub hidden amongst the folds.  I once found a whole living moth on a leaf destined for my homemade pizza, ’nuff said.

Dry your kale.  

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Soggy kale will not a crispy chip make!  Bung batches into a salad spinner if you’ve got one, or you can lovingly dry them off between two (clean) tea towels.  Just make sure they are as close to bone dry as you can.  Sorry for the extra work.  I promise you, this will make a difference.

Separate your kale.

 

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This is easy.  Take a sharpish knife and run it along the length of the stem (away from your body, FOR GOD’S SAKE PEOPLE!).  The leaves with fall off and then you can just cut them into bite-sized bits, this will depend on the size of your mouth….

Put your kale onto a baking tray.

This tray/s should be lined with baking paper.  It will stop the leaves sticking, and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll also enjoy removing the baking paper afterwards and not really washing the tray at all.  Hooray!

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Important note: make sure each bite-sized future chip is not touching its neighbour.  If you throw them all in together on top of one another they will rebel and sag like sullen teenagers.  What you want is CRUNCH.  And you can only get that if you give them space.  There’s a lesson in there for all of us i think….

ahem.

Oil your kale.  

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The key with these bad boys is to massage the oil into each future chip.  If this sounds labour-intensive, stay with me, it really isn’t.  I don’t mean go in for a full remedial, deep-tissue job, just a quick half-arsed going over with the oil (similar to what you would offer your partner at the end of a long day….i can’t be the only lazy one)

Season your kale.

Don’t go too nuts with the salt (i LOVE salt, but healthy chips can be made unhealthy – don’t be fooled like i was).  Go with your gut, unless your gut says “Make it snow! YAY, SALT!!!”  Silly gut…

Cook your kale. 

Derrrr.  Oven – 180/200 degrees for not very long at all (5-10 mins MAX).  Keep an eye on theses babies – looking forward to chips, and then burning them is the definition of disappointment.

EAT YOUR KALE CHIPS!!!!

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They cool quickly so i usually end up eating most of them right off the pan.  My toddler gets involved too, but he wears a whole lot more than he actually gets into his mouth so i like to put a large bowl under his face so i can catch the crumbs and NOTHING is wasted.  I wish i was kidding.

You can fancy these up with a bit of creativity, but i tend to generally be too hungry to worry about that.  Here is a nice idea for those who have a bit more restraint – http://www.somastudio.net/2013/02/crispy-kale-chips/

Brussel Sprout Chips

Wait!  Don’t go!  I promise you these will change your opinion of brussel sprouts FOR. EVER.

What you need:

Brussel Sprouts – one bag of

Vegetable Oil/Canola Oil

Salt & Pepper

*Optional dipping sauce (RECOMMENDED!)

Mayonnaise – about 6 tbsp

Minced garlic – 1/4 tsp

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Flat-leaf parsley – 1 tbsp, finely chopped

What you do:

Wash your brussels.

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I shouldn’t have to tell you to wash your cruciferous vegies.  They are grown in dirt.  You do the maths.

Hung, drawn & quartered.

Quartered Brussels Sprouts

By this i obviously mean – dry your brussels and cut them into quarters.  I was trying to be clever and it back-fired.  You got me.

Oil & season, season & oil.

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I find it easier with these ones to just bung them in a bowl and splash a tbsp of oil on them, followed by salt & pepper to taste (remember to be kind to your blood pressure!).  Toss them around until they glisten with potential chippyness (you’ll see).

Lay those babies down.

On a baking tray, lined with baking paper.  And for the love of Jesus, Mary & Eric – GIVE ‘EM SPACE!

Cook.

My son’s favourite current demand.  So get to it!  They should only take about 15 minutes (at 180 degrees celcius) and will be golden and delicious, but napalm hot when you get them out.  You have been warned!

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While you’re waiting for them to cool/cursing your burnt tongue and impatience you could make this super simple aioli which absolutely LOVES your brussel chips!  Just throw all the mayo, garlic, lemon juice and parsley into a bowl together and make them one.  Thats it.

That didn’t take long enough.  You still need to wait.  Trust me, it will be SO worth it if you still have a few operational taste buds.

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Ok, so those are just two of about a bazillion possible healthy chip options you could make.  But i will say this – All vegetables are improved by oven-baking with a little olive oil and some seasoning.  ALL OF THEM.  EVEN THE SHIT ONES.

Happy chip-creating!

Top tip:

DON’T CROWD YOUR TRAY!

 

Other yummo chip ideas:

Sweet potato fries – always a winner, and more chip-like for the uninitiated

Cauliflower – oh it works.  Trust.

Zucchini – Wins for best texture.

Beetroot – Great colour!

….i could go on, but the possibilities are actually endless.  Get creative!

 

 

 

 

 

ARGH AT THINGS!!!!

Ever had one of those days where it seems as if everyone and everything is conspiring to get all up in your grill?  Every move you make is thwarted by some moron in a beanie* and every step you take is dogged by a grey cloud of FUCK YOU! …..Oh man.  I have.  A lot.  Maybe i get easily frustrated.  Maybe i am generally intolerant.  Maybe i am just a regular person and SHUT UP!  Whatever.

Anyway the point is these days happen and when they do its important to take a few quiet moments to get your shit back together.  After all, these are my people.  This is my world.  Basically i don’t have a hell of a lot of other options, do i?

This video or, more importantly, the words within are so clever and useful that i am resolved to keep them in my back pocket for the next time i am out in the world with people and it all gets a bit much.  I suggest you check it out and do the same.

Luck!

http://www.upworthy.com/the-earth-shatteringly-amazing-speech-that-ll-change-the-way-you-think-about-adulthood-4?c=upw1

*i don’t have a specific problem with beanies or their wearers in general.  But i do feel like there are a telling number of head-socked folk who get in my way.  Kinda like volvo drivers.  And patchouli-wearing flower children.  And slow-walkers.  And…..on and on

I typed 'get outta my way' into google and got this.... i'm not sure it illustrates my feelings but...i guess if i was mega rich this might be my reaction.  Thanks Kyles.

I typed ‘get outta my way’ into google and got this…. i’m not sure it illustrates my feelings but…i guess if i was mega rich this might be my reaction. Thanks Kyles.