Challenge accepted week 8

So week 7’s challenge went well. I have actually managed to maintain a fairly clean desk at work. I fell into the post it trap yesterday, needing something to note down the many calls I was making and finding nothing to hand but a stack of post its.

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this is how I felt

So I sorted that out by getting a new notebook for all my calls and removing the temptation of the post it stack from my desk.

I tossed up a few options for this weeks challenge. Diet related challenge? Fitness? Something really challenging (like the no purchases with plastic one!) ?

I decided, given the past couple of weeks have been really full on at work, that I’m going to take 10-20 minutes each day to essentially do nothing.

Call it meditation if you like but my aim is to lie or sit somewhere peaceful and just relax each day with no distractions. I’ve been doing a little bit of this in yoga so I think I can apply it at home.

Which is why I’m ending this post now and going to bed. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Challenge accepted week 7.

(Just pretend I posted this on Wednesday! )

Week 6 was a success!

I had some pretty full on cravings for the chips and soft drink but I got through and by the end of the week it was easy.

My challenge this week is around my workspace. I generally end up with a really messy desk at work and it’s incredibly distracting. I’ve been finding it hard to focus with so much clutter so Wednesday I set aside some time and cleaned everything up.

Files sorted, desk organized, system for task management ready, client information board updated.

My challenge for this week is to keep that desk clean and tidy by putting everything away at the end of every work day and making sure filing gets filed. It might not seem like much but I’m a much more effective and efficient person when the clutter isn’t there.

Let’s see how that goes!

Challenge accepted week 6.

So the “no TV for a week” challenge was a relative success. I only watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday, as well as the organized exception of a movie with Gary. (We watched “Pain and Gain”. It was weird and I don’t quite know how I feel about it. Much darker than I thought it would be.)

Apart from that it’s been nice to just listen to music when I get home.

The week ahead is a massive challenge and it’s been less than 24 hours and I’m already struggling.

No potato crisps (or corn chips) AND no soft drink at all for a week. These two are major issues for me. It’s kind of an addiction, and for most of today I’ve been having intense cravings for them both. I’ve been going through a bag of crisps a day lately, and washing it down with a coke zero. I think a lot of it has to do with texture – I like super crunchy chips and the fizz is what I crave. Both are obviously pretty bad for me so I did the silly thing and decided to give both up at once for a week.

Strategies to achieve this challenge include making sure I’ve got something crunchy and/or salty on hand (e.g nuts or home made popcorn) and drinking water or orange juice, then going for soda water if I can’t stand the cravings for fizz anymore. It will be tough but I am determined to get through this week.

Let’s see how I go!

Challenge accepted week 5.

So as regular readers know, I’m trying to set myself a challenge each week for the whole of 2014. They can be anything – diet or exercise related, reading books, not using Facebook for a week, etc. One friend has challenged me to go a week without buying anything with plastic, and another has set a challenge of not using my bank card, only withdrawing cash from the bank when I need it.

If you want to look at past challenge posts just click on the tag “challenge accepted”. And if you have any suggestions please comment with them. Rules are pretty basic – it has to be achievable, keep within my vegan ideals, and also it has to be practical e.g I can’t do a week long vow of silence due to work. Each week I’ll post a review of the week gone and let you know what challenge I’m doing this week.

Last weeks challenge was to make a sourdough starter and bake a loaf of bread. I started this one early to give the starter time to develop before attempting bread. It’s gone really well!

I used the River cottage method. It’s a bit wordy on the link but really it’s very simple. I think I baked my first loaf a tad too early as the sour flavour was too strong. I made the sponge on day 6. For the next loaf I fed my starter (named Tim) as normal then made the sponge on the night of day 8 and let the bread rise all of day 9. It was better tasting, and the starter was smelling more yeasty and less acid – in fact on day 9 it smelt like beer!

My second loaf was superior in taste however I made it a little too sticky and didn’t prove it in a tea towel lined dish as recommended. This meant that when I wanted to remove it, it stuck to the (floured!) bowl and I had to handle it too much which knocked some of the volume out. So it was a little more dense than it would have been.

I’ve achieved the lovely crunchy crust I wanted so I’m pretty happy. I will continue my adventures in sourdough.

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Lil’ Timmy version 2.0

so, for the week ahead… I’ve spontaneously set this weeks challenge, pushing aside another challenge because I feel I need this one more.

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Unfortunately, this is not the case. I am saying I have been watching too much Doctor Who.

I need a bit of a Doctor Detox. I finally decided to get off my butt and watch some of it and I’m four seasons down in a week and a half. There’s plenty more to go so it’s time for a break. I used to read the books multiple times when I was a kid so I’m familiar with the book Doctor, I just hadn’t seen any of the show yet (although the “geek” category on Pinterest keeps me well up to date with it… And supernatural… And Sherlock… None of which I had seen).

I would like to point out that I use my tablet all the time to watch things off my hard drive while I’m cooking or cleaning or whatever. But it’s usually things I’ve seen a gajillion times before (eg Game Of Thrones) and I can just listen – it’s background noise for me. But being that I haven’t seen this before it’s incredibly distracting and instead of washing dishes I’m standing there holding the same plate for 40 minutes.

So my challenge this week is no Doctor Who. And in fact, no TV with one exception – if Gary wants to watch a movie with me on the weekend.

Let’s see how I go!

Challenge accepted week 4.

Whoops. I ended up missing week 3.

There’s no excuses really – work was flat out, I felt unwell and unmotivated and it just didn’t happen.

So back on the horse for week 4. My challenge actually started yesterday so it’s kind of the Monday and Tuesday of week 3 and then all of week 4.

Which works well as my challenge is to grow a sourdough starter and then bake a sourdough loaf. This may take up to a week to develop the starter. Given the forecast heat for the week – high 30s and low 40s it may not take that long.

Meet Tim:

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apparently it’s bad luck not to name your starter

I started with about 100g of plain flour and enough (filtered) water to make it the consistency of thick paint. I let that sit most of yesterday to activate then added 100g fresh flour and water to maintain consistency this morning.

Then it’s a matter of refreshing it daily for up to a week by discarding half and adding fresh water and flour each day until it’s ready. Then I can start baking!

I love the idea of sourdough as it’s making bread with just flour, water, and a touch of salt. The starter ferments and grows the natural yeast in the air and that’s what makes the bread rise. It’s vegan in the sense that there’s no animal products involved and great because there’s no additives unless I put them in. Mind you, the starter is often considered to essentially be alive and people refer to feeding it and looking after it. Kind of like making yourself a little bread friend… And then eating it…

Anyway, creepiness aside, it sounds like a fun challenge! I’ll try and report every few days and let you know how Tim is going.

Challenge accepted week 3.

Week three starts today.

For this week I’m going to eat at least one piece of fruit a day.

Might seem easy, but I’ve never really been a fruit person. Veggies yes, but not fruit. Which I feel means I miss out a little. Fruit is great – full of natural sugars too! Also plenty of different nutrients. A vegan diet should include as much variety as possible so I really should get some more fruit into me.

I’m starting today with an apple. They are always a great place to start. I’ll let you know how things go at the end of the week.

Things that make me happy: Tuesday.

You know what makes me really happy?

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This guy.

Because he’s all classy in black and white and stuff.

He’s also a wonderful person. Gary is a hard working guy who isn’t afraid to be silly with me. He tells me how pretty I am and always appreciates my cooking. He gets my weird references to obscure things.

He is happy to join in my silliness, and my philosophical ponderings. He built me a garden. He gives me massages and they are wonderful. I could go on forever about just how wonderful he is, but you don’t have the time to read it all.

I love him very much and even when he drives me nuts he still makes me happy.