Friday sing-a-long


Wednesday Matinée


Keep Cup HQ


Sunday Update

I’m not sure if there is any nicer way to spend my Sunday mornings than eating a nice breakfast; grannying around the garden; talking to the rabbits; and typing an update straight into my Squarespace post window.

The cyclone Lusci is moving down the west coast of New Zealand. Here in Auckland we had blustery winds yesterday - lost one rabbit hutch roof and branch off the lemon tree - but all and all it felt like the worst failed to eventuate here in the eastern suburbs. Looks like the Nelson Bays and Christchurch are coping rain and high winds overnight and today. Hope not too much water falls on the already saturated Canturbury and overburdened storm drainage systems of Christchurch.

So today was supposed to be stormy and wet here in Auckland, but it’s turned out to be grey and still. The ground is wet, but the rain is staying away. Bunnies are out in the garden, pottering around as only they can. 

Garden visitors

We have quite a lot of birdlife in the garden. One of the big draw-cards for birds is the bird bath in the middle of what we call the rose garden. It’s only a ‘rose garden’ by the skin of it’s teeth. Mostly it’s a round of dirt currently looking more like mud.

Birds love to drink and splash about in the bird bathThis little fella has been eating bugs all morning. He’d smoosh them along the ground, this way and that, and as bits fell off he’d eat them. When he’d had his fill it was time for a wash. We’ve never sure why birds like this bath so much. I know so many other people buy expensive bird baths only to find they’re never used by the feathered fraternity.

I used to think the birds felt safe in this bath because once upon a time it was surrounded by tall, thorny rose bushes; but as those have pretty much all been binned, it must be the bath itself as well as it’s position in the garden. Birds have a great view of who is watching them here, which is why it’s a bit difficult to snap a photo of them about their ablotions as they see me and my camera through the dining room window and usually fly away.

Grooming my next petWe also get a lot of cats in our garden with only one of them being ours. They like to lie on the fencetops and imagine eating rabbit for dinner. Mostly Bailey, our Jack Russell dog barks them away (she likes the rabbits but hates cats), but I’ve taken a liking to this chap. I think he’s a stray, and I’ve been feeding him on the compost-heap wall for the last couple of months.

He’s not looking as scrawny as he used to and he’s chasing the rabbits less and less. Sometimes, early in the morning, I see him leaving one of the empty hutches having slept in the straw for the night.

I think I’m making progress with him. While I can’t get too close, he’s stopped hissing at me and started meowing. He waits on the roof of the shed next door for me to pour food out in the mornings and evenings. By the time our dear old fat 12 year old Trixie decides to stop waking up, I should have this one named and tamed.


Quitting sugar has made me rethink how and what food I eat. 

Poached egg on a bed of greens

It’s not unusal to have a cooked breakfast in the weekends. This morning I felt like a poached egg. The old me (pre-IQS) would have had two poached eggs on buttered toast and a cup of black tea with sugar. That used to be a very satisfying start to a lazy Sunday.

Poached eggs on a bed of greens - you get two pictures because it was so delicious.This morning I had one poached egg on a bed of wilted spinach, zucchini, and avocado with a drizzle of olive oil. I took my iron suppliment right before I start eating my greens in the morning. Usually there’s some vitiamin C in the form on lemons on the menu to help the iron absorption, but this morning I’m all out of them so am relying on the green veg instead.

I’ve replaced that carb base of toast with greens and try and get those leafy vegetables into my system as early in the day as possible. Some mornings during the week I’ve been having green smoothies which really get those nutrients into my digestive system toot-sweet. 

Coco-nutty cerealI also added a hand full of homemade nuts and coconut cereal to a bowl with a tumble of fresh blueberries and a splash of coconut milk. This combo breakfast is fantastic. Sometimes as I’m falling asleep at night I have a gleeful feeling because I know I get to eat that when I wake up in the morning. Coco Nutty homemade cereal tastes amazing and easily keeps me energetic through the whole morning.

And instead of this breakfast being a satisfying start to a lazy Sunday; it’s now a satisfying rev-up for an energised Sunday. 

Rescue remedy

Twice now, since getting my new car, I’ve grabbed the wrong keys from the key rack by the door, and managed to lock myself out of the house and the car at the same time standing holding a key ring with none of the right ones on them.

At least the second time, I had my phone. I called my daughter, who just lives up the road and has a key to our house, but she couldn’t come around. Fortunately, my seven year old grand daughter has recently learned how to ride her two-wheeler. She was more than eager to come and rescue Grandma.

What an amazing kid and what a super-growing-up thing to do as well as another reason why living close to my children is a great idea.

This is what rescue looks like: Tandia biked over with the spare house keys.I have a few days off this week and am off to Melbourne to have dinner and a few drinks with friends. What a jet-setter!




Original version

We’re getting a lot of weather this weekend - so make sure you get to higher ground if you need to - and let’s just hope that Tropical Cyclone Lusi stays the hells away from beleaguered Christchurch.

Associated links:



Wednes Day Links


If you only listen to one thing today, make it this. Roderick on the Line podcast “A Mastiff of Spinach” episode.

Recommended podcasts syndicates - so much great content - go nuts:

  • Hookturn
  • Mule Radio Syndicate
  • 5 by 5
  • The Guardian
  • BBC


    I Quit Sugar and it's changing my life

    I’ve been completely preoccupied with the reprecussions of turning the food pyramid, and subsequently my entire life, upside-down.

    It all started with signing up for an 8 week programme to kick the sugar habit. Right up until the day the course started I was still saying “I don’t think I can do this.” Now I am past half way through and my whole outlook on food has changed - like I have woken up from a dozey sleep - I haven’t felt this energised or passionate or curious about anything since forever.

    I Quit Sugar

    Sarah Wilson is an Australian blogger who writes about how she has used her diet to wrassle her auto immune disease to a more manageable beast. I first heard of Sarah when Darren Rowse interviewed her for his bloggers series, and I was using the series to improve my sketchnoting. I can’t remember where I heard about Sarah’s I Quit Sugar 8 week programme, but as it didn’t cost very much, I signed up with the fallback that I wasn’t going to lose a lot of money when it didn’t work. 

    First of all, the programme is well designed for the web. She’s not bombarding me with emails, but I get my two per week and it keeps me focused and I can consume the information without having to put aside lots of time. 

    Secondly, the food on the programme is delicious, fast, and relatively easy. Sarah has us do some do-ahead stuff so we can pull things out of the freezer during the week so there’s less of a risk of turning to faster, sugar laden options. Also this isn’t like the kind of eating plans I’m used to: weighing and measuring, portion sizes, all that weight-loss jazz. This eating programme is about getting the sugar out of my system, while teaching me how to think about food in a world without sugar. Teaching me to cook again - which is something I really need to support this life change.

    Thirdly, it works! Holy moly, it works! I am sugar free. ME! 

    So wait, Michelle, it’s not that easy, is it? I mean, if you can go sugar free, it must’ve been an uphill battle, right?

    Well there were a few hard bits, like a few headaches, and a few physical aches and pains, but never enough to throw in the towel. Plus, get through the intense fourth week when there’s no dairy, gluten, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol - which honestly wasn’t even as bad as it seems, and kapow, something amazing happened: I got energy.

    You know when you’re dancing - like proper dancing; a waltz or something, with a good dancer who knows what they’re doing - and your partner has his hand on your lower back, leading you around the dancefloor? That’s what I am feeling like all day. Every day. Like I have a gentle but knowing hand pushing me through my day.

    I have never, ever, EVER felt this energised. EVER. Not even as a kid.

    I got fuelled

    Is it that simple? Quit sugar and have energy? Well part of it - but I think it’s connected to my anemia. I had read somewhere about different blockers to nutrient absorption. For instance, my sister finds that eating gluten gums up her digestive tract and she loses energy and health. I was wondering if sugar might be blocking my absorption of iron from leafy green vegetables and red meats.

    The food plan on Sarah’s IQS programme is full of greenery for dense nutitional bulk. We have some protein and fat, and hardly any complex carbohydrates, and hardly any fruit. I eat when I’m hungry and keep eating until I feel full, and then I stop. 

    That’s quite an amazing sentence because it means that:

    1. I know when I’m hungry
    2. I can feel when I’m full
    3. I can stop

    I learned hunger

    My brain can hear when the switch flips in my belly now. I had never (really) let myself be hungry before IQS. I always ate because it was breakfast time (you must have breakfast, right?) then at 12pm for lunch (three meals a day) and then dinner in the evening (meat and three vegetables, plus dessert, plus wine) - never mind all the louise slices/snacks in between. So my stomach was always working, never being heard above the munching to say “hey we’ve got enough food down here, carry on and do something else.”

    But now, if I’m not hungry in the morning, I’ll take my breakfast to work with me and eat it when I am. And if I am still full from breakfast at lunchtime, I just keep on going until I’m hungry again - sometimes it’s not until dinner. Mostly though, I’m waking up earlier and with energy so I am eating my breakfast in the morning and lunch at midday and dinner in the early evening and my brain can hear the switch flip on (eat) and off (full) and so portion control is done between my ears like a NORMAL person.

    I got going

    Now I’m moving lots more. In fact, I have a bit of trouble *not* moving. This hand that’s pushing me around has got me taking the stairs over a lift; has got me walking down the path to the beach without groaning at the idea of walking back. It’s getting all my chores done; it’s cleaning the house; it’s making my bed every morning; it’s made me so tolerate - my temper and (sometimes) moodiness has gone.

    But the biggest thing, besides the energy is the controlled and focused concentration that is kicking in for longer periods. At work I first noticed that people had come to my desk to say something to me and I could completely block them out and continue working and they’d just wander off until I got back to them later. First it was around 15-20 minute blocks, then it grew to 40 minutes or so. I’m clocking just over an hour of concentrated focus and quality work now - and remember I’m only in the sixth week of this programme!

    Oh my goodness I’m so excited I think I’m going to bust a blood vessel!

    I got retested

    Late last year I got some bloodwork done, and my doctor was very concerned about my low iron levels. He put me on a course of iron tablets which I took for two months without feeling any change. The last month I’ve continued to take the tablets but embarked on the IQS programme. In the last few days I’ve had my blood tested again and hope that the results have changed.

    Of course, I’ve changed a few things so it’s going to be hard to pinpoint what worked, but I’m hoping that my iron levels will show a more positive result. I’m also being tested for Celiac disease - not because I have any symptoms - but just to see if I have those antibodies that can mean gluten is a problem for me. My blood is also being tested to see if the hormone related to pre-menopause is present. I’ve been experiencing hot flashes since the detox week of IQS and I wonder if I’ve knocked that process off with all this stripping the sugar from my system.

    The test results should be back in the next few days and I’ll let you know how that goes.

    I’m still baking

    Today I baked my first ever batch of gluten free food. Mostly it’s because it’s part of the programme, but these pumpkin and chia seed muffins are really quite dense, but delicious with some cashew butter. I’m learning lots of new ways to cook, and foods to eat, and tasty combinations. 

    IQS Pumpkin and chia seed muffinsMy life feels vibrant, and bright, and in control, and just gorgeous. Being only a few weeks in with these changes, the skeptic in my says it can’t last but holy moly, I’m just loving right now!

    Let me know if my enthusiasm has encouraged you to look at kicking sugar to the curb? Maybe you did it ages ago and continue to live the benefits? or do you think I’m in a full blown, pre-menopausal midlife crisis and I’m turning into the thing I’ve feared the most: a hippy?


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    PS: photo at the top of the page is the rainbow salad I took to work last week. From the bottom up it’s raw beetroot, grated carrot, grated cauliflower, broccoli pesto, walnuts, roast chickn, feta cheese. Booya: delicious!