I haven’t been around this blog for a while due to personal and health reasons. Remember when I wrote briefly previously of a loved one’s poor health? Sadly, things have not been going too well and while there’s glimmers of hope yet, it’s been a long hard slog this 2015. I thought I’d touch base to let you know that while things have grounded to a halt on The Salonniere’s Apartments, it’s not the end yet and I look forward to the day when I can come back to you with good news and good health. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to check in from time to time, reply to comments and occasionally put up a post or two so please check by every now and then. Thank you!
When I was a child attending mass at church on Good Friday, we used to say it rained every Good Friday, the weather in keeping with the gloomy occasion. I dimly remember how long a traditional Roman Catholic Good Friday mass was, how often we had to stand and kneel over and over again as the priests and various others read aloud the parts of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, the disciples and the Roman guards while us parishioners read aloud the parts of the crowd in the events of the Passion. I always remembered the mass ending in silence (so unlike the usual Sunday morning masses which ended in song and a certain glee as us kids made straight for the exit – and for slushies at the local 7-11) and the altar left bare and in darkness, and I would always remember walking away in the gloom (Good Friday mass was an evening mass) and in the rain. Because it always rained on Good Friday or at least that’s how I remember it in my dim memories as a child.
Easter Sunday, however, was supposed to be a day of lightness and joy, harking back to its origins as a festival day of spring and the German dawn goddess Eostre, a day which was eventually absorbed by the Christians in their celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus. It was Easter – coloured eggs and bright sunshine and funky pastels!
Fast forward 15 years, though, and things have changed. I’ve spent this Easter at work and nursing a hangover after a late night at a jazz club (sorry, Mum! I’m a total lapsed Catholic these days) and furthermore, we’re in Australia and it’s fall, not spring. The weather has been in the complete reverse. Good Friday dawned bright and light and cool, a perfect day for the beginning of a four-day long weekend. Saturday was another beautiful day which almost felt like summer but by Sunday the weather was cool and crisp with a little early winter snap to it. By Monday afternoon, after a girls’ lunch over wine, beer, chocolate and some delicious tapas at Salt on the Beach, I found myself walking along the beach with my friend and her little son, in defiance of the grey skies overhead and a cool salty breeze whipping our hair. And by Monday night we were curled up at home with the heater on and a light rain splashing down outside in the darkness. Autumn has shrugged off her golden summer dresses and laid on her grey silk wraps.
Now it’s Tuesday and the sky has been London grey all morning, the buildings shrouded in drizzle and fog, making me think of the Twilight Bark in 101 Dalmations. The whole of Australia has been rolling out of bed with a groan and donning on rain jackets as they prepared to trudge back to work after the hedonism of the long weekend.
With the cool weather and the need for some vegetables after the indulgence of wine and chocolates this Easter weekend, I thought it was the perfect time to brew up a comforting bowl of leek and onion soup. Something light and healthy but still hearty enough for this cool, grey autumn weather.
I’ve been having a love affair with leeks throughout the summer and it hasn’t abated. I love their light spring minty colour and I love how easy they are to prepare and to cook and I love their light delicate taste, reminiscent of both the tanginess of an onion and the green freshness of spring onions but with a mild sweetness that is uniquely leek-esque. Yup, I said leek-esque.
I’ve been using leeks as a side vegetable to dishes – mainly roasts – but now it’s time for the leek to be the star of its own show. I wasn’t sure how much flavour leek soup would have but as it turned out, once you’ve caramelised the leeks and onion in butter beforehand, it was full of flavour. Especially if you prepare the soup a day or two earlier before reheating the leftovers. Flavour just bursting in your mouth, sweet and euphoric and just perfect for a cool grey day.
Leek and Onion Soup (serves two; double portions for four)
- Three leeks
- One white onion
- One generous pat of butter (and when I say generous, I mean generous. Don’t get shy now!)
- One smaller pat of butter
- Two cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Sea salt
- Two cups of chicken stock
- One chorizo sausage of small to medium size
- A small dollop of sour cream
- Olive oil
Wash and trim leeks and chop into small pieces. Peel onion and chop up into thin slices as well. Peel and chop the garlic into small pieces but don’t worry about mincing it as you will be blending it up in the soup later.
Place your soup pot over medium heat and add the generous pat of butter, making sure to coat the entire base of the pot as the butter melts. Add leeks and onions and toss well to coat with butter. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring well, before adding the garlic, smoked paprika, a generous swirl of freshly cracked pepper (or less, depending on your taste) and just a few grains of sea salt for taste. Mix well and let cook for another couple of minutes before adding the chicken stock.
Reduce to a low heat and let simmer for five to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While soup is simmering, heat your second, smaller pat of butter in a pan on medium heat. Chop up your chorizo into thin slices and add to the pan. Stir well to ensure chorizo is well coated with butter and let cook for a couple of minutes or until chorizo is crispy and hot. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
Remove soup from heat and blend until smooth, using either a blender or stick blender. (You might need to add a little water to thin out if the consistency of the soup is too thick. I kept half a kettle of freshly boiled water on the side just in case and I only added a very little water to get the right consistency).
Spoon soup into serving bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a quick drizzle of olive oil and top with chorizo slices. Curl up on the sofa and enjoy while listening to the rain.
This week has been a cardio week! Or should I say, a week of runs!
I had plans to hit the gym for some Body Pump and Body Combat but I’ve been having some car troubles so I haven’t been able to get to my classes! Boo! On the flipside, I’ve been able to get it at least four runs this week and built up on some of that endurance.
It’s been alternately hot and rainy this week as Cyclone Olwyn travelled along the WA coast so I’ve been stopping by the gym on the way home and doing treadmill runs. Treadmill runs can be rather boring so I’ve been changing it up with some fartleks this week. I’m such fan of interval runs now!
As you can see from the chart above, this is what I’ve been aiming for with my intervals. I start off with a five minute warm up walk, then get my body into the groove with a limber 10 minute run at 8.5km/hr. All of this happens on a 1.5 gradient to simulate outdoor/wind resistance conditions.
After this, I switch things up a bit with some speed intervals! I alternate between a fartlek of 10.5km/hr run for two minutes and recovery of 8.5km/h for two minutes, repeat three more times (so in all I do this four times.) Then I recover with a 5.5km walk for a minute before starting my hill intervals.
With hill intervals, I raise the gradient to a 5.5 incline and run this for two minutes at 8.5km/h before alternating with a 1.5m gradient for recovery. Then I repeat this three more times. By this time, I’m already pretty tired so occasionally I’d walk for about 30 seconds to a minute during my recovery two minutes as well. By the end of this, I’m chaffing for a bit more speed so I do a quick 9.5km/hr run for a minute before I start my five-minute cool down. Then I’m done!
So what I do looks kind of like this:
I followed this formula twice this week, with a few modifications here and there, running at a higher speed/gradient for longer when I felt like it, and slowing down to recover for longer when my body starts to fatigue, but overall this is what I’ve been aiming for on my treadmill interval runs. Intervals definitely make the time go by a lot faster and keeps things from being boring on the treadmill – I highly recommend it for anyone who’s finding it hard to keep focused on treadmill runs! I’m also looking forward to changing things up even more in the future by increasing my speed and incline levels.
Now to spend what’s left of this weekend chilling and watching the F1 on TV. Have a nice weekend, everyone!
March 9th to 15th:
- Monday: Rest Day
- Tuesday: 6km treadmill run
- Wednesday: Rest Day
- Thursday: 3km treadmill run
- Friday: 6km treadmill run
- Saturday: Rest Day
- Sunday: 7km run
I was so very sad to hear that Discworld author Terry Pratchett died this week. And I’m definitely not the only one as the Internet is swamped with tributes from readers and fellow writers for Pratchett. As Pratchett himself wrote, “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world fade away.” Rest in Peace, Sir Pratchett.
P.S. I love this: folks have begun a petition at Change.org, asking Death to bring back Terry Pratchett. If nothing else, this alone shows just how much Pratchett is loved and will be missed.
I was intrigued to hear of Book Stops, a free community library that operates out of bus stops. One just opened here in Perth where bus commuters can ‘check out’ the books available at certain bus stops. I think that’s such a great idea! Who has not been bored sitting at a bus stop waiting for a bus or on a particularly long bus journey? And it’s all part of a wider book-sharing scheme known as Book Crossing, where you can borrow books or donate a book and even track its journey in the wide world beyond. READ MORE
Let’s talk eye care!
I’ve been lucky in the fact that my sister and mother both instilled in me from a very young age the importance of looking after your skin. Since my early to mid teens, I’ve been using a moisturiser and, later on, eye and hand cream, and now that I’ve hit the big 3-0h, I think it’s made a big difference in fighting the wrinkles!
Eye cream, in particular, is a minuscule but very important part of looking after your skin! The skin around (and particularly under) your eyes is so delicate, it’s so important to look after it. I’m particularly conscious of this because I use contact lenses and I’m always pulling at the skin around my eyes whenever I’m putting on and taking off my lenses. Plus, contact lenses dries the eyes out in a really bad way so I’m constantly rubbing at my eyes – a really bad habit because rubbing your eyes is so, so, so bad for the surrounding (fragile) skin area. It’s probably my number one beauty vice! READ MORE
A week or so ago I blogged about my struggle with creating quick, easy meals in the kitchen, particular stir-fries, that are in keeping with the household’s new strict low sodium regime. Avoiding sodium is so difficult as so many prepackaged sauces and seasonings come with hidden salt content! But I firmly believe that it is possible to whip up a quick and tasty meal without using salt and I’ve been hard at work coming up with some recipes to prove my point! I’ve already posted the first recipe, curried roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, and this will be my second! READ MORE
Happy Women’s Day!
Last weekend, I finally got around to using the Lorna Jane gift voucher I got for Christmas. I’ve been dying for some new workout gear so I was super psyched! The only problem I had? Trying to decide just what to buy. I wanted to buy everything in the shop!
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a huge Lorna Jane fan from the beginning. The fit of the clothes is so flattering and while it’s a little pricey, I don’t mind paying because I know that I’m getting good quality which will last me ages.
This time around, I got two pair of running shorts – the Sally kick shorts (they don’t seem to have them on the website anymore but this was the closest I could find) and the LJ Run Shorts, both in black), the Dion Excel Tank in fluro orange, the Holiday Sports Bra and one of LJ’s seamless intimate sports bras in hot pink (I prefer black, but they didn’t have any left in my size). And as it turns out, it was a good day for shopping because with each purchase of $200, you also got a pair of black tights worth $90 for free. Talk about a bargain!
Now I can’t wait to work out in my new gear!
Workout-wise, this week started out with a sluggish 3km run/walk but soon picked up. The first week of autumn still felt like summer so I forced myself out of bed early on Thursday and Friday to beat the heat and go for a run. I managed to get in both a 7km and 6km run and I was pretty happy with that! Plus, I think those speed and hill intervals on the treadmill in the past couple of weeks have paid off as I was definitely tackling slopes with a lot more fortitude than usual. Hooray!
I finally rounded the week off with a Body Pump class on Saturday and a well-deserved rest day on Sunday.
Have a great weekend, everyone! x
March 2nd to 8th:
- Monday: 3km run/walk
- Tuesday: Body Combat
- Wednesday: Rest Day
- Thursday: 7km run
- Friday: 6km run
- Saturday: Body Pump
- Sunday: Rest Day
Today I want to share some of my hair care secret weapons!
As my hair is quite long and fine and I colour it regularly, I really need to look after it and to condition it frequently to prevent it from becoming dry, tangled and unmanageable. So I’ve become kind of an expert in finding great conditioners. For me, it’s all about conditioners – I think they make such a big difference in your hair, more so than any shampoo!
First up is the Goldwell Kerasilk Ultrarich Keratin Care Daily Mask. READ MORE