Friday, June 29, 2012


(SYLC 25)

I vowed this year I would not continue at the pace I have been going at for the the past few years. I wanted to slow down, not get distracted by other people's agendas, take time out for me and reconnect with myself, and spend some time working out what my next steps will be. But for weeks now I've been running like a bull at a gate. Here I am again, driving at full throttle.

I did manage to have balance for a while. For a few months I was eating well, doing pilates, riding to work and even found time to knit a funky pair of hand warmers. Life was pretty good, I felt good and I really noticed progress in my health and wellbeing.

Then some stuff happened at work and I was the one that ended up picking up all the pieces. I slogged through twelve plus hour days to make sure things got done, and worked weekends to play catchup. I ignored the gym, my ride to work got interrupted and I was grabbing any food that was convenient. After a month I felt gross. I gained a little bit of podge, felt tired and had started to crave those sugary treats again. I felt disgruntled about work and resentful. I was being cranky with staff (sometimes justified mind you!).

How I had got here again? I pondered this when I was coming home late on the train. And then it came to me.

I'm an overfunctioner.

I remember this concept from Murray Bowan's family systems theory. He believed in relationships you can have under and over functioners. If overfunctioning is present you might see:
  • Doing things for others that they could do for themselves
  • Worrying about other people
  • Feeling responsible for others, knowing what is best for them
  • Having goals for others that they don’t have for themselves
  • Experiencing periodic, sudden ‘burnouts’
This is me to a tee. I have become overburdened by attempts to make things 'right' for my work and for others at work.

The problem is I don't know how to address this balance. I'm not the type of person to just let things not get done as I hate letting people down. But I also forget that in taking everything on I'm letting myself down. The reality is that I can't make other people care as much as I do, and that sometimes things just have to 'not get done' so the problems in the process get exposed and addressed.

So this week I'm going to really try and refocus on 
myself and my wellbeing, and work to a capacity that is reasonable. I will delegate appropriately and if things don't get done I won't take them on myself, I'll allow others to take responsibility. 

My responsibility this week is ME.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cooking for one with one chicken

Alot of the people I know who live alone rarely cook a nice meal for themselves. They feel unless they have a friend over or host a dinner party, a tin of tuna or a toasted cheese sandwich is all they can be bothered to with. I had one friend who actually told me she wasn't worth cooking a whole dinner for.

The problem with this attitude is you can end up eating alot of tinned tuna. Despite the potential mercury overload, it makes for pretty dull eating. If this is what I faced dining on often I think I'd start to gnaw my own leg off with boredom. 

You might not be sufficed with tuna and crave variety, but most of us can't afford to eat out every day. Nor do we want to. If you've ever had the experience of travelling or working away for extended periods staying where you can't cook, you soon get sick of restaurant food. It's really nice to do every now and again, but one can't live on it or takeaway. Plus, if you're like me - off grains and sugar - the options are pretty limited.

I like to cook. Actually, I love it. I'd love it better if I owned a dishwasher (or a Swede who did the dishes rather than sweep the leaves from my non-existent pool) but pretty much every night I find myself home alone I can muster up the motivation to whip up something. It might be a simple dish like a couple of snags and a salad, or some baked eggs with veges. If I have more time I might slow cook pork belly in milk with an apple crumble for dessert. And just to remind you - I'm talking cooking just for myself.

Lately I've become a little obsessed with Sally Fallon and her book Nourishing Traditions. It's a very thought-provoking cookbook and guide to traditional foods. While my nutritionist was the first to make me consider what so-called 'healthy' rice crackers really had in them, Sally has added quite alot of depth. 

So what I'm going to propose here is a multi-day menu for the solo-aboder to try, based using all natural foods and basic ingredients. I know it's a little more time consuming than ordering a pizza, but it's going to sustain you alot longer and will be a zillion times better for you. You'll also not waste a scrap, so it will be really economical. 

1 x organic free range chicken (always by the best ingredients you can afford)
1 x lemon
fresh herbs
3 x carrots
2 x zucchini
1/2 celery
1/4 pumpkin
1 x head of broccoli
Other veges/salad for a side dish
Plain flour (or almond meal + coconut flour if you are gluten free)
Dijon mustard
Vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
Single cream

Dinner one | roast chicken

Do this on a weekend night, or a night you get home early. It's important to do this first, as it sets you up for the other meals.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

1. Cut the lemon in half and put one half on the microwave for about 40 seconds.
2. Wash and dry the chicken. Put it in a lidded roasting pan.
3. Place the warm half of the lemon into the chicken carcass.
4. Mix 3 tbs of mustard with 1 tbs of cider. Brush over the chicken.
5. Sprinkle fresh herbs over the chicken, Season with salt and pepper.
6. Bake in the oven for 30 mins with the lid on.
7. Cut up the pumpkin and 1 carrot and place around the chicken.
8. Bake for another hour (or longer depending on the size of the chicken. Juices when pieced should run clear).

Serve chicken and roast veges with salad or steamed veges. Squeeze the other side of the lemon on the veges.

Pour the fat and juices into a container and place in the fridge. Put the leftover whole chicken in the fridge overnight. 

Dinner two | chicken pie

The next night, this great pie is on the menu. It will make enough for three meals. Take it for lunch!
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

1. Place 1 cup of flour in a food processor (or gluten free alternative).
2. Scrape the solidified chicken fat off the jellied juices and place in the food processor with the flour. Add a tablespoon of butter. 
3. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Blitz til you get breadcrumbs.
3. Add a dribble of iced water till the mixture forms a ball.
4. Put in the fridge.

1. Add 1/2 the jellied juices to a frypan.
2. Dice a carrot, a couple of sticks or celery, and a zucchini (keep the vege craps). Sautee in the juices.
3. Remove all the chicken meat from the carcass. Put the carcass to one side.
4. Cut up two cups of chicken meat and add to the sautéing veges.
5. Stir in 1/2 cup cream and one tbs of mustard.

6. Pour the mixture into a small casserole dish.
7. Get the pastry out of the fridge and rollout between 2 sheets of baking paper.
8. Lie the pastry on top of the pie (I sprinkle with sesame seeds), place in the oven and bake for 25 mins.

Serve chicken pie with salad or steamed veges. Sprinkle the veges with a little cider vinegar and mustard whisked together.

If you don't plan to make the soup straight away, freeze the remaining chicken meat.

Chicken pie with kale slaw

Meanwhile... make the chicken stock
1. Place the chicken carcass, vege scraps, a stick of celery and 8 peppercorns in a slow cooker or dutch oven with the remained jellied chicken juices. Cover with water
2. Cook on low (overnight in slow cooker) or for 2-5 hours (the longer the better) on the stovetop with the lid on.
3. Strain the stock from the solids. Throw the solids away, freeze the stock in 2 cup batches. If you're over chicken by now, freezing the stock means you can make the soup at a later date. 

Slow cooker stock
Dinner three | chicken soup

The final meal is chicken soup. 

To make the soup:
1. Add 1 tbs butter to a large saucepan (or dutch oven).
2. Add diced carrot, zucchini, celery. Sautee until translucent.
3. Add the remaining chicken, chopped.
4. Defrost the chicken stock in the microwave, add to the pot with some salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 mins.
6. Add roughly chopped broccoli and fresh herbs. Cook for another 10-15 mins.
7. For a chunky soup, serve as is or stab a couple of times with a stick blender. For a smooth soup, blend until smooth.

There you have it. Three delicious meals (actually more!) from one chook and some veges. You could substitute with lamb or beef. I've done the same with a whole fish also. 

So solo people, reject John West. Get busy in the kitchen - because you're worth it!

Home detox

(SYLC 22-23-24)

I've been pretty quiet here these last few weeks. Work has been really full on, as has my extracurricula life. The last few challenges have been about cleaning out the clutter and preventing it from building up. As I'm definitely not a clutter person I didn't feel bad about lapsing for a while.

In saying that, I have been reading Deb's posts and have found some great tips. A couple of months ago I wrote about about letting superfluous stuff go from my life. Yes, even we anti-horders need to take stock once in a while. Most of our lives are overstuffed.

I engaged in a slow process of re-decluttering, reviewing what I have room by room and asking:
  1. Do use it/admire it regularly?
  2. Does it work for me/do it's job properly?
  3. Am I REALLY likely to need it in the VERY NEAR future?
  4. Can it be purchased again at relatively low cost if I do need it again? 
  5. Can it be digitised? (ie paperwork, old photos)
  6. Is it sentimental but of no use or tucked away? (I take a photo of it)
  7. Does it have a home?
I'm not blitzing through this - I do it when I have pockets of time. But no area of my life is being spared. I need to create space for the change I can feel is coming. This means artwork that I no longer love and clothes that no longer fit with who I am now are going out. Even my hair which has been long for such a long time is about to get a big chop.

To prevent clutter from coming into the house, when shopping I try and consciously consider 'does this work for me?' When choosing things I think about what items in my life have helped me the most, or I've loved the most, or where the gaps are. For example, my house is quite chilly, therefore inside I like to wear jumpers like hoodies that keep my neck nice and snug. Buying a low neck sweater for house wear would just sit in my cupboard. I try and ask myself this question even when I'm grocery shopping, so I don't impulse buy things that will get wasted.

I hope these questions and considerations help those who struggle with clutter. I know quite a few people who find it difficult to cull, it can be upsetting and unsettling for these people. If you are one, be kind to yourself in the process. If you are the partner of one, be kind and patient with them. Tiny steps are important. And another tip, don't bring new stuff in as a replacement unless its really needed. Now is the time to break the cycle.

Removing the clutter from your life really does simplify it. It makes life much easier - less choices about what to wear, what to eat, less piles to look under to find due bills. It creates space for other more important things in life like spending time with the people the people you love and doing the things that make life wonderful.

Apartment therapy

(SYLC 21)

When I read that this week was 'Home Audit' week I rejoiced. It's exactly what I needed to do. When I moved into my apartment 16 months ago I got right in and ripped out the curtain furnishings, painted the walls and the kitchen, put down new carpet and ordered some new blinds...

...then it stopped. No paintings got hung. No decorating was done. I formulated a few half hearted ideas as to what I wanted to do but I just haven't got around to doing anything further. Knowing these things take time I wasn't in a rush. That was until I spent the month of March mooching around in Europe.

I've always loved Scandinavian design - the light, the clean lines and their cleverness with small spaces. I got so totally inspired in Stockholm and for the first time in my life I was itching to get restarted on my own place.

Hence the home audit. Now I can't say I've finished this as I've been super busy of late, but I did start and put it all in my super GTD app Omnifocus. I plan to finish this after the June madness has ended.

But as I write this I feel restless. I've written a couple of times recently that I feel some big changes coming on, a wave that started earlier in the year. I don't know where it will take me, or where I'll end up. I definitely feel that there's more travel involved. We'll see.

But in the meantime, I plan on giving my apartment some love and making it more of a home. It's winter afterall, a time for hibernation and cosiness. I might as well put the darkness hours to good use.

For some great Scando inspiration, check out:
A Swedish designer a day
Stockholm Street Style
Copenhagen Style Chic
Scandinavian retreat 

Kitchen before
Kitchen after

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