another day in Athens

Ok, its more than a day. I’ll be here another week in fact. But despite my historic dislike of the place and the heat, I’m enjoying catching up with some old school friends and family.

When I say old school friends I mean old as in junior school! That was quite a long time ago. Isn’t Facebook great sometimes?

As for family, I moved away from my home and family and have lived a ‘separate’ life for many years. I’m used to not having any family around in my daily life. But when I come to Greece and spend time with my cousins and people I pretty much grew up with I realise just how much I miss seeing them.

Its the never ending dilema of a person who grows up in two countries – compounded by the fact that they’re on opposite sides of the globe. Life would have been so much easier if dad had chosen to emigrate to England…

Anyway, I just wanted to touch base to let you know I’m alive and well, haven’t been run over by a bus cause I was walking on the road and looked the wrong way and I still haven’t given in to temptation. I did have a souvlaki tonight but still no sweets or sugar so that’s success in my book.

Pat myself on the back…

I have photos to share and I have some small projects I finished before I left to share too so the blog doesn’t turn into a total trip and diet thing. Don’t despair.

z

in transit and still being good

If there’s one thing you can say about international airports is that they’re not good for the ‘no sugar’ thing.

They’re full of duty free chocolate shops… or maybe its just me that sees chocolate everywhere…

I have to confess, I haven’t been 100% good. Yesterday I woke up feeling fluey and spent almost the entire day in bed. As a result of feeling sick and needing to nip it in the bud I’ve had more sugar than I’d like – in my throat lozenges, in the hot toddie’s I got Wayne to make me (honey, not sugar) and in the vitamin C gummies I’ve been chewing on since Wayne came down with the flu a week ago. (Thanks Wayne!)

Thank goodness it seems my flu shot paid off – I am better!

So, although I haven’t been GREAT, I’ve still been GOOD.

For instance I haven’t had a single sweet or chocolate. I didn’t touch my airplane dessert lamington and haven’t had sugar in my coffee or tea.

Ok, so I had one iced coffee… no cream but with a dash of caramel… I’m only human!

I think I’ll allow myself that small indulgence given all the other temptations I’ve let go by.

Other than that, the trip has been good so far. The first hop from Hobart to Melbourne was lovely and brief. The jump from there to Singapore not so much… three and a half movies later we had an an hour and a half to kill in Singapore walking up and down the gate lounge to get circulation back in my legs.

I can’t sleep on planes… times like this I wish I was a five year old again, able to curl up in the tiniest space… sigh.

Almost five hours in Dubai and honestly, there really isn’t that much duty free shopping one can do. Two coffees, two lovely chats with women from other parts of the world, and we’ll soon be boarding for the last leg to Athens.

By now I just want to BE somewhere. No longer on the go. This is such a long trip…

z

a quick and easy quirky pouch

You know what its like… you’re flat out busy, you have a To Do list a mile long and the phone never stops ringing.

And yet, suddenly, you feel the urge to make something.

pouch3

This little pouch wasn’t on my list, that’s for sure. I was thinking I needed a small ‘something’ to put some thread, needles, scissors and bits so that I could take them with me to places just in case I got the urge to create.

You know how that is, right? Its not just me?

pouch1

So, there I was, in the office/craft room/hive of creativity thinking “I have enough time to whip something up”.

I grabbed an offcut of blue fabric with white stars and worked out how to make a pouch out of it utilising the odd shape of the fabric as a feature. I thought the red with white dots would look great with it, so I added that. Added buttons and an elastic hair tie as a closer and voila!

pouch2

A cute, handy little carry pouch for small embroidery type supplies for that downtime when you get the urge to do something with your hands.

And a quirky shape to boot!

z

the post gets touched up

Remember the post that Wayne and I put in to stop people running into our retaining wall? Here it is after Wayne added his artist touch to it.

post1

Well… it wasn’t really visible, what with the grey post and the light blue paint… so I added a my own touch to it.

post

What do you think? Is anyone going to hit it now?

z

still on the wagon

 

Coffee without sugar?

yuck

Yuck.

I’m told I’ll get used to it. In about 6 months or six years. Not sure which. But right now I’m wondering if I need caffeine that much… yuck.

I’m pretty proud of myself this week. I haven’t eaten any sweets, even though Wayne got into the chocolate biscuits and left an open packet with two mint slice bikkies on the kitchen table, just staring at me. I left them there for two days till they disappeared into someone else’s mouth.

hehehe.

Zefi 1 – Wayne 0

I haven’t had a single teaspoon of sugar in anything, not a single lolly has crossed my lips. I’ve eaten some plain crackers and sourdough wholemeal bread… I was really good till last night when we went to a quiz night and I ate 1.5 white bread sandwiches. Not too bad… I drank disgusting unsweetened coffee instead of coke and when Wayne won a box of chocolates I didn’t have a single ONE.

I look amazing. I’ve lost hundreds of kilos and millions of inches….

As if.

I look no different, though I may have felt what might be, possibly, the outline of my ribs when I lay down yesterday. But I could be mistaken. It has been a while…

I’m hanging out till the day before I leave for Greece to try on clothes (and swimsuits) I’ll be taking with me in the hopes that maybe I can fit into my thin person jeans.

As if 3 or 4 weeks of eating healthy will make up for 10 years of not. Ha.

But its good to have dreams.

And really, it hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. Except the coffee. That IS hard. Its almost like something clicked over in my brain and I have the willpower to say no. But its not that even. It doesn’t feel like willpower…

To me willpower would be to look at sweets and really really want one but say no.

I’m not feeling that. I look at them, and I can look at them and even think they look nice and know they’d taste nice, but I just don’t want them. I turn away and its not a struggle…

I can’t describe this feeling, it really is like I finally found the off switch. Which is why I think I’m staying away from all sweet things (except fruit) in case the switch goes on again and I can’t turn it back off.

Maybe the doctor was right and she ‘scared me straight’… maybe it was just time. Whatever, I wish I’d found this switch years ago.

z

no sugar

no-sugar-round-grunge-ribbon-stamp-clipart-vector_csp47417756

Hello. My name is Zefi and I’m a sugar addict.

I’m the poster child for sweet teeth, forget sweet tooth!

There have been days in my life where not only did I eat sweets, but I ate only sweets. In fact, there have been plenty of times I’ve disgusted myself.

I know that diabetes runs in my family, and yet I chose to live with my head in the sand. Like Tom Hanks (I love Tom Hanks!), I lived like life was a party and there was no tomorrow.

My last two few visits to the doctor went something like this: “You have high blood pressure. Not too high, but a bit of concern. You need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re healthy and all, but you need to lose weight and exercise more. You’re insulin levels are fine, at the moment, but you’re not exactly metabolising sugar really well, which is a precursor to diabetes… you need to lose weight and exercise more. Stop eating sweets and carbs. You need to lose weight and exercise more. ”

You get the picture.

The visit before last I began to walk. I’d take the boys for a 1 hour walk most mornings (a real walk, not an amble). But like most things, life got in the way. How do I make time to walk daily and still be able home on time groom? I need to work.

Last visit I thought ok, I really need to do something. Really.

So I decided to cut down on sugar.

Like, stop eating sweets. Like not stop sugar in my coffee, but not eat sweets. I can do that. Surely…

Then I realised that I actually have to be a bit more proactive than that. The problem is I’m so lazy when it comes to thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat. I’ve always worked on the “I’m hungry, I’ll grab something to eat” principle. And if what I grab is a ‘healthy’ sugar-filled muesli bar, or a slab of chocolate cake, well, I ate something

I always disliked all those ‘my body is my temple’ people who bore everyone to death about their diets and that, somehow, always seem to be sick…

body-temple-pile-deferred-maintenance-real-fixer-upper-quote-on-storemypic-38ee1

I don’t want to be one of those boring people: a ‘born again’ healthy person.

And yet, here I am. Working my way towards a holier than thou position if I succeed.

Its been almost a week with minimal sugar. I’ve resisted the licorice bullets on the table and the chocolate biscuits in the cupboard. I let Wayne finish the chocolates. Today I had coffee without sugar for the first time. I’ve been having tea without sugar for 2 days. I’ve snacked on cheese and crisp bread, I ate one slice of toast with my eggs instead of two, I ate one jelly snake and I had ice cream three times. (Ice cream doesn’t count…)

Ok. I’m not perfect! Its a work in progress!

Thing is, I don’t know how long I can keep this up or if I can even. So far it hasn’t been that hard, no bad withdrawals… but when it comes to reading labels at the supermarket and putting things back “cause that has sugar in it” … hm… and how do I live without bread and pasta?

The theory is that if I can get myself under control now, I won’t actually get diabetes and won’t ever have to deny myself sweets forever more. Right? Please tell me that’s right. I can still have an ice cream now and then if I don’t have ice cream 5 nights a week, plus 6 chocolate bars, 3 bags of lollies, a slice or two of cheesecake and 2 packets of biscuits…

Right?

Surely.

I hope.

z

 

a poodle portrait

I finished a commissioned poodle portrait the other day and realised that I hardly ever share any art on my blog. I mean, I share almost everything else I do, but art… not that often.

So I decided it was time to share a portrait I did a while ago and don’t believe I shared except on Facebook.

This is Andre, a gorgeous standard poodle.

andresmall

And this is my painting of Andre for his loving parents.

alex1sm

Its pastel on paper, which is the medium I prefer to work with.

I just love using my fingers to work the colours, I think that’s why I love it so much. Nothing between me and the pigments. Its not quite the same when using a brush, there’s a stick between me and the work.

Anyway, I’ll share the most recent portrait soon as it arrives at its destination. I don’t want to ruin the surprise.

I’ve also been working on another portrait, something completely different. No hints on that yet… its a secret!

So, what else has been happening? You may have heard about the awful floods around Hobart and the Derwent Valley. We got lucky this time. Unlike so many other times, we only had minor flooding in our creek. No lakeside property for us … yet… this year.

I’m preparing for my upcoming visit to Greece and getting excited. So much to do, so little time!

Why is it that we always feel we have to do everything before we go on a trip? Its not like I’ll be going away forever!

z

 

a bunny ear-phone holder

Have you seen the cutest little bunny ear-phone holder on Pinterest?

3acd760014be2f057bb0a85c959de686

Well. I had to try it. Its just so darn cute! (I’m not the only one who tried it. You can see other examples here.)

So, meet my bunny. I made him out of extra thick felt and put stiffener between the front and back on the body to make him stronger. The ears and tongue are made from  regular thickness felt squares.

bunny4

Pretend you don’t notice where I went off kilter with the sewing machine on the ear…

bunny5

I gave him a little something extra… a pom pom tail!

bunny3

And, I couldn’t make him without making him more ‘mine’… hence the button eye and the X eye. My little imperfect bunny.

Since I finished him I’ve also added a little clip to his side so I can now clip him to my bag. That keeps him from getting lost (falling out of the bag or falling to the bottom of the bag requiring me to empty to entire bag to find him), and keeps him handy.

I’m happy with my little bunny.

z

the post gets decorated

I went out to the car this afternoon and noticed the post we put in the ground this week had been decorated.

post2

post1

Ok, the colour isn’t perfect, its not exactly high visibility… but the design and idea is brilliant.

I love it!

It makes me smile and I love having things that make me smile around me.

z

so, what have you done lately?

For the last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get anything done in the yard (I won’t call it a garden cause right now its far from pretty) and been feeling a real need to tidy it up and prepare it for winter. You know. Cut things back, pull up deal annuals, deadhead… etc etc.

And mow. We’ve had odd weather lately: cold, wet, windy. Then sunny and gorgeous. So the lawn (or the weeds I call lawn) has been growing like crazy, then its too wet to mow… Then Wayne lets the horses into the yard to eat the grass and they trim back things I don’t actually want trimmed and poop all over the place…

Well, we finally had a couple of sunny dry days in a row and I was able to get stuff done.

I know, you’re fascinated. My life is so exciting.

abit

I only managed to weed and mulch two tiny garden beds. The pretty daisy bush above was a nice round shape till one of the horses ate the middle out of it…

wall

Believe it or not, there’s a narrow garden bed in there, just below the wall. The alysum has spread out of it and totally covered the little footpath. Its pretty though so all I did there was cut back the dead lupins.

trellis

I finally managed to cut down and remove the two banksia roses I had climbing the trellis above. Yes, I love pale yellow banksia roses, but only if they actually flower! Those bushes have been in that spot since pretty much the year we bought this place and they grew and grew and grew but never flowered. Ever. I’d get one sprig with a few tiny buds. What they did do, though, was get a powdery mildew-ey tpe of disease on the leaves every single year. I decided they needed to go. Well, to be moved. I’ve taken cuttings. Fingers crossed. The cut back plant/roots need to be dug up next. I don’t know how they’d take to being moved, but if they make it great. If not, hopefully a couple of the cuttings will take.

The trellis looks so naked without the banskias.

Meanwhile, one small area of the embankment is looking pretty with the two different shades of cosmos flowering.

cosmos

And I love the autumn colours of the ornamental grape vine I put in a couple of years ago.

grapevine

Unlike some parts of the world, we don’t have a lot of red autumn colours in Australia. Most native plants are evergreen, but here in Tasmania we have a lot of poplars that go golden in autumn like these on one of the walking tracks in New Norfolk.

tynwaldpark

The story goes that these poplars were brought over from England and first planted at a farm in the Derwent Valley, then were used as windbreaks by most farms growing hops in the area.

Other than playing with plants, I spent a little time finding a home for the bird cages I bought at the tip shop last week. I normally put plants in these but for now I just wanted to put them somewhere till spring. I’ve hung them on the side of the grooming room.

cages

I managed to bash my middle finger with the hammer while doing it. The same poor finger I almost decapitated a couple of years ago. sigh…

The other thing we managed to do (we cause this was a two person job, not to mention a lot more people if they were available) was put this lovely big HEAVY post into the ground. Please note the little plant in the top of it. Theoretically that plant will grow and cover the post with flowers…

post1

So, what’s with the post? Well… See that retaining wall? It was hit TWICE by customers dropping off or picking up dogs. The first time someone hit it it knocked the end of it out of wack. The second time it was hit the sleepers were knocked off the small post entirely.

And neither time did anyone say “Hey, I’m so sorry, I just ruined your retaining wall”

post2

You know… I appreciate that people trust me to groom their dogs, but this is sort of beyond rude. I know a low retaining wall is hard to see over the back of a vehicle, but really? Why would you not say something?

Hence the huge post.

We might be going straight to hell for this, but the reasons are twofold:

  1. its harder to miss something that’s only a smidge shorter than me
  2. if someone hits this, they’ll know it… and it’ll give them something to remember it by!

Bwahaha!

(As I said, me, Wayne, hell…)

I have no idea what this thing was originally. We have two of them, both lying in our top paddock. They’re galvanised metal on the outside and filled with concrete except for the top area where I put the plant.

We’re talking SOLID. Not easily pushed over!

Ok. Now the plan is to paint it to make it stand out even more than it does so there’s no reason anyone would ever run into it. Red or red and white stripes comes to mind, but I’d like something more fun and imaginative. Ideas anyone?

z