One FREE* Cat-Hair With Every Meal

*Terms and Conditions apply.

The Terms and Conditions go like this:

You live in a house with five cats? Five house-cats, yet. You have (let’s be kind) less than fabulous focus on the housekeeping front. And you think there’s only going to be ONE cat-hair in every meal?

*Sigh.*

This was SUPPOSED to be a post about food. My breakfast porridge, in fact (‘breakfast’ being a loosely-defined term meaning ‘first meal of the day’ which today I am still eating, stone cold, at ten to two in the afternoon).

I was feeling quite good about the porridge, which I cooked up with dried-apple pieces and cinnamon, then topped with mini marshmallows, sultanas and teeny chocolate stars. Here is my Breakfast of Champions:

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Nice, non? Rather chic in a limited-palette kind of way. And then I saw it.

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Yup. One Tinkerbell Special, delivered fresh to my cereal bowl. Mmm-mmm.

This didn’t put me off my porridge, you understand. When you live with cats, you either come to terms (not to mention conditions) with their constant impact on your environment, or you have them shot and stuffed and give them a good thick coat of varnish.

Some days, the varnish tin looks awfully attractive.

The Usual (Indeed, Only) Suspects:

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There is one other suspect, but the battery just gave out on my camera. Suffice it to say, if there WAS a photo of Reep, he would have the exact same expression of dubious, randomised “Whaaat?” as the rest of them. Except for Tiny at the top there, who as senior cat, is running with a more sinister “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to diiie!” vibe.

So, that’s my immune system’s daily workout sorted, then.

I sometimes wonder why I subject myself to all the irritating, messy, inconvenient, literal and figurative crap that goes with keeping animals. In fact, I have a lengthy, witty ‘bloody animals’ rant that will no doubt adorn this blog before too many more days have passed. Fact is, except when they’re being noisy, eating, shedding, fighting or being revoltingly incontinent, animals are FUN. Also way more rewarding than that last sentence makes them sound.

*Weak grin.*

Honest. Now, where did I put that tin of varnish…?

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Holy Crap, I’m a Wuss!

I’m starting to love my gym. It’s not an intimidatingly sleek, potted-ficus, air-conditioned mind body and spirit type of place filled with intimidating, sleek, potted-ficus, air-conditioned mind body and spirit type of people. On the other hand, it’s not like the (her words) crap box haunted by my pal Ethelthedean where the pipes drip on you while you work out.

My gym has the Goldilocks factor: it’s just right. Cheap-ish, quiet-ish, unpretentious, friendly, informal. I can breeze in any time of the day, say hi to whoever’s on the desk, drop my bag behind the filing cabinet and just get the heck on with whatever it is I want to do. Sure, there are TVs everywhere blasting out some godforsaken rap crap about bros and hos and mofos and all that …shizzle, but it provides a good strong bass beat for when you’re goofing around on the cross-trainer, and other than that I can pretty much ignore it. I’m strong in the Force in these matters, having raised three daughters to teenage and therefore being acclimated to a hideously wide range of musical styles. Let’s just say it would take a strong stomach to open the playlists on my MP3 player.

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Sweet Baby Jesus! What the mofo shizzle is on that thing?!

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I know. I know. James Blunt, Nickelback, Rihanna, Erik Satie AND Hannah Montana. *sobs*

The sheer volume makes conversation a non-starter, so that’s another plus. 🙂

I have recently passed over an invisible barrier, gym-wise. I have ventured where, I’m finding, ladies don’t tend to tread very often – into the free weights room. This is testosterone territory. It even smells different to the rest of the gym: sweatier, oogier, male-er. I have been strolling in and out for a few weeks, doing some upright rows and dumbell curls with as much nonchalance as I can muster, and every time, whatever men are in there always stop and look.

I mean, it’s not that I’m drop-dead gorgeous, ripped, toned and semi-naked; really not. Trust me on this. It’s simply that I’m female and middle-aged. They’re probably wondering if I’ve lost my way en route to the Zumba class.

So I feel as if there’s a spotlight trained on me as I shove the press-bench out of the way so I can do my pully-uppy things on the big bar machine. This morning, I went in early (7.30am, people!) to settle on an accelerated weights program to fit my last 4 weeks of training before the Highland Games start.

And yeah, I know I’m 47 and starting pretty much from scratch, but how lame does it feel to have to take away every weight plate but one? I’m bench-pressing 15kg, sweating like a sweaty thing doing landmines with a 20kg bar! I just feel like such a colossal wuss. I even had to ask the guy to take the weight down on the bar I’m using for back squats because I was seriously worried that I wouldn’t be physically able to do 5 reps.

I’m aiming at this:

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But I fear at the moment I’m more resembling this:

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Just so long as I don’t go too far and end up like this… human balloon animal, I think I’ll make it.

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Mike the Emergency Inflatable Life-Raft

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Holy facepalm. Shoot me first!

Ninja Fingers

Just a quick update to the previous post: added bronzey-brown to the greens – it worked! Now, instead of looking as if I have an unfortunate case of fingernail fungus, I have Stealth Fingers (patent pending)… nobody will see them coming! World domination next week, provided I can remember how to get the top off the bottle…

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The Morale of This Story Is…

The moral of this story, just to make it clear right from the start to anybody who thinks I didn’t do that on purpose, is that I cannot resist a pun. Ever. Ask anybody who’s ever talked/Tweeted/emailed me and they’ll tell you. It’s tragic but true. There should be a 12-step group for this (There probably is. And I bet it’s got a funny name).

Aaanyway… today’s contribution: talking about morale. Oomph. Mojo. Get-up-and-go. Yesterday, for some mysterious reason, mine got up and went. It was a day when everything I attempted got overrun by something else (and hello once more, Accident and Emergency, mon cher amour), and nothing I needed to do seemed to get done. I struggled through the day feeling as if I’d left my brain under a cushion somewhere. Everything was effort. Everything was slow. Even the supposedly-super-zippy internet kept dropping the connection. I knew how it felt. My servers were not responding to DNS lookup. I needed to reload http://www.thursday.co.uk and try again. Or perhaps I should try turning off my router and turning it on again.

Like everything else, the gym got delayed, reshuffled, and eventually abandoned yesterday. This made me despondent as I’d vowed never to allow that to happen, and I pulled my trainer socks up and decided I was going, no matter that it was 8pm. But yet another child emergency popped up just as I was about to get changed into my trackies. By the time I’d retrieved a distressed teen from Tesco, fed it industrial-strength painkillers, wheeled it round in the Tesco wheelchair and then made it home again, my energy needle was jammed against ’empty’. *Sigh*.

So this morning – reload! Stuff yesterday. If I look back clearly, I did several things that needed doing. Today is going to be better. Hell, it’s already better because I’ve written and sent several important emails, made needful phone calls, fed children and pets, and removed last week’s knackered nail varnish.

Nail varnish is crucial to this post. It’s my fallback morale-booster. The habit started when I began producing babies. Believe me, when you go into hospital to give birth, you may as well check your dignity at the door, because it’s the first casualty once all the grunting and swearing starts. I read somewhere that painting your toenails could make you feel better about having half a dozen medical professionals gazing entranced up your jacksie, so I dutifully painted them before my due date. Weirdly, it worked. Then and now, painted toenails just make me feel more dressed somehow.

The laissez-faire attitude I exhibited in the delivery room may well have had more to do with clutching the gas-and-air mask for several hours, but what the heck. Joint honours.

So today, a new colour, and a departure in style – I’m going camouflaged!

Blame Rimmel, they brought out a khaki-green varnish called ‘Camouflage Chic’ that I spotted last night and bought on the spot, inspired, then decided to team it with something called ‘Misty Jade’. Not entirely sure where this combo would render my nails invisible – a bathroom tile showroom, maybe – but hey. I may go wild and add some brown later.

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The nail varnish has done its job: I feel ready to take on anything. Strange, but true.

More Culinary Torture!

What is it in protein shakes that makes them taste so indefinably, ineffably… WEIRD?

I bought Body Fortress vanilla last year and it tasted so wrong, I just shoved the giant tub to the back of the cupboard, appalled, and abandoned it. It’s still sitting there behind a stack of old egg boxes and assorted vacuum flasks and hot water bottles, whispering, “Thirty-two quid! I cost thirty-two quid!” in an accusing tone every time I open the cupboard. I’m thinking of nailing the door shut, actually.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered a way to beat the weirdy-protein-powder taste: add really strong-tasting stuff to it. A few people have asked since my gloaty food post below, so here, for your very much delectation, I present my method for making the Choca-Mocha Peanut Butter Protein Shake (patent pending).

First, get chocolate-flavoured protein powder. This gives you a head-start in the flavour stakes. Vanilla just leaves far too many taste-buds vulnerable to attack by the weirdy-protein-molecules. Unless you’re the sort of athlete who happily glugs down raw eggs and Worcestershire sauce, you still won’t want to drink this stuff unmodified.

Make a very small cup of very strong coffee. I just use my usual brand of instant, and make it extra-strong, but those of you who love espresso, feel free. Just don’t use too much water.

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You can follow my usual method and accidentally forget about the whole enterprise until the coffee is cold, or you can drop an ice cube in it to hurry the process along a bit. So long as it’s not hot-hot, it’ll be fine. My protein powder tub recommends 250-300ml cold water to two scoops of powder, so I use 250ml and let the coffee make up the rest of the liquid content.

Put powder into water. It will float. Do not panic. Add coffee. The powder-slick will go lumpy. Still don’t panic, OK, because we’re not done making a mess yet.

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Get two big dollops of peanut butter – smooth or crunchy, it doesn’t matter as you’re going to be blending this in a minute. Dump them on top of the mess in the jug.

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Now poke a stick blender into the jug (or use a bigger bowl to start with and use whatever electric whisk-like implement you like), and whizz until it’s smooth.

It’s possible at this point to add in a drop or two of vanilla essence if you like, or cream (but adjust the rest of the liquid content).

You should end up with a jugful of liquid that somewhat resembles this:

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Yes, the fulfilment of all my breakfast dreams: a pint, glinting gently in the early-morning sunlight!

And no hangover afterwards…