Saturday 17 September 2011

One Week

A sneak peek into my Saturday morning for you there...

So, one week ago I wrote this post and, judging by the comments, it seems that a lot of us have been having a bit of a rubbish time recently. Over the last seven days, though, I've followed my own advice and, touch wood, I feel so much better. I've been sleeping well, I've been eating better and I've been focussing on the positive and making plans for the future, rather than wallowing in the negative.

I have plans for virtually every single weekend right up to December. I've created a budget spreadsheet which, whilst not rock 'n' roll in the least, is a necessary evil and, strangely, it has given me a sense of control that I've been lacking all year. I've even developed a skincare regime so I must be taking better care of myself. Ridiculously, that was one of my resolutions at the start of the year and I wish I'd done it sooner. Liz Earle, where have you been all my life?! I'm using the 'Healthy, Beautiful Skin Kit' and it's revolutionised my face. Fact.

September 2011, it would seem, is a month of organising, cleansing and sparklifying my life. And I'm relishing it.

Miscellaneous things that have delighted me this week:

Fresh sunflowers // OPI's Miami Beet // Nakd cocoa orange bars // Clay pigeon shooting. I went with work on Wednesday and it was so much fun. BRAP BRAP // Dragonfly Morrocan Mint Green Tea // The return to my lovely little house, following a week of dogsitting at my parents' // Joe's Sausages (Slimming World ladies, have you tried these? Most of the products are syn free and they're amazing!) // Extreme Couponing. Ultimate guilty pleasure television // Skrillex - Ruffneck // A cinema date to watch 'The Skin I Live In'. With warm cider and Cadbury Nibbles. No spoilers, just watch it

And here's a bonus for you. Me looking confused by the GIANT courgette I managed to grow...

 Why yes, I am an idiot. Thanks for noticing.

Saturday 10 September 2011

The Girls' Guide To: Pulling Yourself Out Of A Funk

♥ Get a dog called Daisy. She will make it impossible for you to feel sad when she's around. She will leap on your knee, attempt to lick your face and make you feel like you're the most important person in the world. All just because you've come home from work

♥ Put your favourite music on full blast. Dance. Sing. Cry. Laugh. Just feel. For the last few months I've spent so long feeling numb. Anything is better than numb, for me at least

♥ Make plans. Plan weekends away, nights out, days out, holidays, dinners with friends. Make the effort to get in touch with people you don't see often enough. It's so tempting to hide away when you're feeling low but this will only result in you reaching for that second tub of Ben & Jerry's. That, my friends, is a COLD, HARD FACT

♥ Smile at strangers. Seriously. Some will think you're crazy but a lot will smile back. Sharing a smile with a complete stranger is one of my favourite ways to brighten up my day

♥ Put on your favourite dress and a pair of killer heels. Even if it's only to go to the shop in. Or even just to stay in, in. I hoovered in my favourite French Connection dress and a full face of make up the other day. Oh yes I did

♥ Have a party for one on your sofa. Get a DVD of your favourite TV series (fyi, Peep Show, Monkey Dust, Inbetweeners, Oz, Law & Order: SVU and The City all work for me), grab some nail varnish, a face pack, some snacks (crisps if I'm being bad, fresh berries if I'm being virtuous) and bask in the glory of a day spent doing nothing at all

♥ Run. Swim. Exercise. It never fails to make me feel better. If I haven't done any exercise for a while then I know I'm not in a good place because, for me, nothing lifts my spirits quite like feeling that I'm doing something good for me. A boozy dance off comes a close second though, obviously

♥ Go for a walk and take some photographs. Write a letter and fill it with glitter. Paint a picture and hang it on the wall. Bake a cake and give it to your friends or work colleagues. Creativity is an excellent funk-getter-outer-of

♥ Do some volunteer work. There's nothing quite like helping someone else to lift your mood and make you feel pretty damn good. Win-win situation

♥ And, finally... accept that it's ok to not be ok. Don't beat yourself up about it or feel like you're alone. You're not. If you need to wallow, wallow. But limit the wallowing. Give yourself an end date. 

Thursday 8 September 2011

Square Two?

Firstly, I just wanted to say thankyou for the lovely comments on yesterday's post. They have made me smile and cry in equal measure. You're all too kind. Truly.

Secondly, I feel I should clarify yesterday's post. I think it may have given the wrong impression, but I wanted to write it because I knew I hadn't been around much.

I know that I'm not as big as I used to be. Honestly I do. I know that the amount of weight I lost was a huge achievement and that I should be proud of myself. I also know that my weight shouldn't be the be all and end all of my happiness. And it isn't. Most of the time. Honestly, I thought I'd got to the point, back in January, when my weight was no longer an issue. For me or anyone else. I no longer felt like people saw me as "the fat girl." But I was wrong.

Wider issues that had lain dormant for a long while were triggered. And so on. And so on. Until a couple of weeks ago, when everything kind of imploded in on itself. Myself. When I'm feeling rubbish, my weight is the first thing to be affected. Because I eat rubbish. I wallow and I stop taking care of myself. I stop, shock horror, being hopelessly vain. I jest. I think.

As an example, I haven't enjoyed picking out clothes to wear for about five months. It's been a chore. I felt frumpy and fat in whatever I did choose, so I just stopped making the effort. I started wearing my glasses more. I started scraping my hair back into a ponytail. I started wearing whatever clothes made me feel least fat, whether they looked good or not.

For me, my weight and eating habits are an indication of my happiness. My increasing waistline has been a symptom of my decreasing joy and bombastic Helenism.

But there is light. This morning I woke up, put on a ridiculous pair of tights, donned a playsuit and heels and skipped off to work with a smile on my face. The playsuit is too short. It's too low cut for work. But for the first time in months, I feel like myself.

I've said that before, in hopes of forcing myself to feel like, well, myself. But this time I really do.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Square One

Right. It's time to 'fess up.

If you're a long time reader of CYH you may have realised that I've really not been myself this year. It's fairly easy to tell when I'm not feeling great. I stop posting pictures of myself. I stop posting altogether. I hide away. So, yes. I've not been feeling great. It's not something I want to discuss in any detail, suffice to say I don't really know what's happened to me this year. I seem to have lost myself. After C I promised myself that I would never let my happiness be defined by someone else.

And it worked. I got thin (ish) and happy. Happier than I'd ever been. That picture up there? Lady decadence? That's a Markus Lupfer dress and I bought it because ohthedecadence is my Twitter name. The phrase came about years ago, during a very drunken evening with friends. The word decadence entered our vernacular and we used it to excess. I became known as Decadent Helen. To me it meant happy, exuberant, joyous in the extreme. But I never really felt like that... not until last year.

Then I met a boy at the start of this year. And I kinda liked him. And, inevitably, it went tits up. There were subtle hints about it, if you knew what to look for. Here and here, for example. And definitely here, which was a direct quote from a conversation between me and S. Anyway, my confidence ended up getting crushed in a fairly horrific way and, for some reason, I just never really recovered from it. It brought up old issues from the past and they grew bigger than I could cope with, resulting in some not-so-great happenings.

I'm fairly ashamed to admit it, to be honest. I'm fairly ashamed to admit that I started to hate the way I looked. That I started to avoid looking in the mirror and certainly avoid taking photographs of myself. Towards the end of last year I actually loved the way I looked. Call me vain if you like but I did. I even felt... sexy. Which had never happened before. I felt confident and attractive and so happy. So I'm more than fairly ashamed that I let that get ruined and that I've let it affect me so badly. My state of mind has been pretty bad for the majority of this year and I'm not proud of that. Not at all. Self doubt is a terrible thing and, for me, when it creeps in it affects everything, resulting in some fairly erratic behaviour.

I just wanted to put this out there, really. To show that there is a very real reason why I've not been around so much and why the content of the blog has been disjointed at best. I rejoined Slimming World last night, in an effort to lose the monumental amount of weight that I've gained back due to the Extreme Sadness Anti-Diet (tm). I'm not sure if I've ever really posted on here about my issues with food. About the demons that have haunted me for the best part of 15 years. I don't think I have and I don't intend to now but, if you are interested, the whole warts 'n' all story can be found on my other blog. It doesn't make for pleasant reading, just to warn you.

I am on my way back, it just might take me a little while to get there. Until then, have some photographs of a girl who was learning to love the body she had...

Thursday 1 September 2011

Clear Your Plate: Mutton Fast Slow Stew

Vegetarians, look away now.

I was contacted by the lovely Kathryn at The Blackface Meat Company and asked if I'd like to receive some of their 5 year old mutton, to cook up into a delicious meal. As anyone who knows me will tell you, meat is one of my big loves* so I was hardly going to say no, was I? So 1kg of mutton duly arrived at my door, ridiculously well packaged and extremely prompt. Along with the mutton, I was sent some recipe ideas and I decided to make the Mutton Fast Slow Stew, with a few variations.

Blackface is a small family business, run from their farm in the South West of Scotland and they do a huge range of different meats, including venison, grouse, lamb, pork and haggis. They also do a range of seasonal boxes which I'm dying to try so if someone would like to buy me the Small Packages (snigger) box then please FEEL FREE. If you like meat, and you have the money, then get yourself over to the website now and get meated up. You won't regret it. Delivery is included in the price and if the delivery is anything like mine, it'll be at your door by 9am. Amazing service.

  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 1kg diced Blackface mutton
  • Chantenay carrots, peeled and chopped (I didn't weigh these, just used a decent amount)
  • 2/3 pint vegetable/beef stock
  • Balsamic vinegar (a few good splashes)
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • A sprig of thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Ground pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 


Heat half the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and sweat for eight to ten minutes, until softened. (I always use a piece of baking paper, just placed over the top of the vegetables, to assist in the sweating)

Add all the spices to the vegetables and fry for a few more minutes before transferring to tagine or casserole dish. Turn up the heat under the (now empty) pan and add the rest of the oil. Brown the meat quickly and add to the vegetables. Pour over the stock and the balsamic vinegar, ensuring that the meat is just covered. Add the herbs, pop on the lid and place in a low oven for 3 hours.

    Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans and DIE with joy when you taste how incredible that meat is. Seriously. So so good. It melts in your mouth.

    Notes: The recipe called for "good" stock but I used Oxo cubes (two vegetable and one beef) and it worked just fine. I ommitted the apricots from the original recipe as I can't bear fruit in savoury dishes. Instead I added the carrots to bulk it up a bit and it was perfect.

    *The others? Gin, cheese, a really nice pert bottom and Mark Owen. The last two are not mutually exclusive.