Why You Need To Have a Good Hedge Trimmer

Our plot is bordered on three sides by long leylandii hedges. On the plus side, they give us privacy and shelter our garden from the winds that can whip across the fens. On the downside, they do require a certain amount of maintenance. What we used to do was to “get a man in” to do trim them back and keep them under control, but this has become increasingly expensive so we have put it off. Of course now they are very tall and are spreading out. So much so that the farmer who owns the field next door has complained that two of our hedges are encroaching onto his land and are shading his brussels sprouts.

It is a huge job, but I figured that I have to start somewhere so I took last week off work and spent the time tackling the back hedge (which was by far the worst). My week of “rest” from work then was spent at the top of a ladder toiling away with a bow saw or, in the case of the biggest trunks, lugging my heavy chainsaw up the ladder.

By the end of the week I had successfully taken the top of the hedge (all 63 trees!) and trimmed it back under control. It now looks it bit brown and sad – I have read that you are not really supposed to cut back to the brown, but I didn’t really have a choice. We have had one of our hedges cut back that severely before and it recovered, so I am hoping this one will do the same. The top is somewhat…. well, undulating shall we say. But it’s done at least and the neighbouring farmer is duly appeased for now. Apart from that I have aches all over, scratches over my hands and arms and a new found respect for tree surgeons.

Do You Need Hedge Trimmer

Hedge Trimmers are powerful tools designed to make trimming hedges, shrubs, bushes and small trees easier. For years people simply used large, manual loppers to take care of this often tedious task, but now powered hedge trimmers are the new standard. These tools are indispensable for homeowners and professional landscapers. Anyone who has bushes or shrubs that have to be trimmed can get good use out of a quality hedge trimmer.

If your hedges are looking some what straggly, then the time has come for doing some pruning. If you want to keep your garden look great, then it is essential that you do proper maintenance and that include trimming your hedges and for this you will need a hedge trimmer.

Continue reading “Why You Need To Have a Good Hedge Trimmer”

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

I adapted my casserole from this recipe in Fix it and Forget it a crock pot recipe cookbook. If you like your crock pot as much as I do, you’ll love this book. Although, it has a lot of recipes that involve cracking open cans or boxes and mixing it all together in the pot. But they are usually pretty easily adapted to a more whole foods approach.

  • 10 oz pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
  • 4 oz jar cheese sauce
  • 4 oz can mushrooms, optional
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low 1 1/2 hours or until heated through.

As for me, I used our own frozen broccoli, I used brown rice, and since I don’t have any local celery, I didn’t add any. Instead of the soup I used homemade chicken broth. Instead of jarred cheese sauce I made my own with shredded cheddar and milk. I used fresh mushrooms instead of canned and fresh garlic instead of powdered. It was easy and turned out well.

My Aspirations – Using a Rowing Machine

So…I survived my long day at school and am now in my bed becoming inspired for my race by reading the last chapter of my favorite book, watching ultramarathon man the documentary and reliving my sessions with my clients. Lately I sometimes wonder if I get confused because I feel just as inspired by my clients as (I hope!!) they feel inspired by me. Seriously…they are amazing and always leave me in a reflective mood on Thursday nights.

For some reason I have been avoiding this post. I have no idea why. I think because putting things in writing is so final. Sure I have plenty of goals for school, life, running, etc….but usually in my mind. This feels so official and I want to push myself but am scared to overestimate my ability which I am scared will lead me to underestimate my ability. As a runner I need to be fit and do exercise regularly. I want to own a rowing machine as it is the best fitness machine. In this article I will be also discussing about the best rowing machine that you can buy in UK.

Why You Need a Rowing Machine

A Rowing Machine many times also called as indoor rower is a fitness equipment used to simulate the action of watercraft rowing that has the same benefits of rowing. It is also use to train those who want to learn rowing without actually getting into water. There are numerous benefits of a rowing machine apart from improving your muscles and stamina. It is best exercise machine for those who really want to improve their cardiovascular fitness.

rowing machine 2018
Indoor rowing is one of the most challenging forms of exercise as it works most major muscular areas of the body, as well as being an excellent cardiovascular exercise. Rowing machine rowing entails both high levels of aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, so the benefits can be great, but this comes with some risk of injury.

>Remember some rowing machines can be part of a multi-station gym and be designed to perform other activities. This makes the rowing machine a part of a whole station and therefore you may lose some performance in the machine.

Best Rowing Machines 2018

When you’re in the mood for a workout, you need a machine that can provide it with no problem. When we say ‘no problem’, we mean that the machine needs to feature multiple resistance levels, ergonomic sitting areas, and of course a sturdy frame. No one likes it when their exercise equipment falters or falls over as a result of basic use, and the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine seems to fit that bill for the moment. That being said, let’s talk about it for a bit.

rowing machine benefits

First of all, it is built from aircraft-grade aluminum and features a sealed urethane seat. In addition to that there are 44 inches of travel from the pedals, meaning that just about any user can utilize this device with zero issues. There are plenty of cardiovascular benefits associated with using a machine like this, and believe it or not there are people who will pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month to use a comparable machine at a gym! But guess what? You don’t need a gym! You can take advantage of this amazing home gym opportunity today and get in on these amazing benefits.

Rowing Machine Specifications and Features:

* BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine Sturdy Aircraft-Grade aluminum
* One air resistance setting
* Five magnetic resistance settings
* Adjustable console to track your time, distance, calories burned, and your heart rate
* Folds for easy storage

BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine Reviews:

Benefits are great, but what do the customers say about it? You’ll be glad to know that the majority of customers state that the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is an incredible product. The frame is indeed sturdy and may even last forever. There is one problem that some customers have noted however, though this may only be in a few isolated incidents.

The problem with this unit is related to the computer, particularly that the computer simply does not work properly. Is this the case with all of the units? Maybe, maybe not, but in the end it all comes down to whether or not you wish to rely on the computer. There are benefits to using the computer on the BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine, particularly the fact that it contains a number of different exercise programs.

You could create your own programs and follow them manually, but you will need to consult with an expert or perhaps find a decent routine online. In addition to that you will need to stick with the routine which can be particularly difficult if you are new to the exercise scene. Does that mean you can’t do it? Absolutely not. There are many individuals out there who exercise without a computer every single day, and for you the computer might actually work! With a lifetime frame warranty and the ability to store or place this item in any room of the house, you’re actually getting a fairly decent deal, and in the end you might be glad that you took a chance on this incredible exercise machine. You certainly have nothing to lose by trying, except maybe a few pounds here and there.

Now back to my aspirations

I know…I am being crazy but this has all been part of my avoidance today. Because they are things I want to aspire to -which does not sound as scary to me as goals for some reason. So here are some of my short and long-term goals in no particular order:

1. I guess most immediately comes to mind that I am running my second ever half marathon on Saturday…eeeeek! Nervous and PUMPED all at the same time. So my time goal for this half is to get my first sub 2 for a half…My last half was 2:10 and I hope to do this one in 1:55. A little nervous because my first half was 2000 ft elevation drop so maybe it is crazy to cut 15 mins off that time…but I am so determined and I have been training flat/hills ever since so I think I am ready.

2. Basically I hope to run one “big” race per month until my first marathon. So here are my goals for those: Canyonlands Half: 1:52, Ogden 30k: 2:37, Provo Half (?): 1:49

3. Which leads me to the marathon…The marathon will be a monumental moment in so many ways. First ever of course. A life long dream. But also it will mark one year since the start of my running. One year before that day I ran a 5k in 34 minutes (eek.) and I hope to do the marathon in under 4 hrs. I would love to get the 3:40 but for my first I am just hoping for 3-something 🙂 Continue reading “My Aspirations – Using a Rowing Machine”

What I’m Eating Lately Edition

I mentioned the other day that I wanted to share some AWESOME eats I’ve been enjoying lately. I’ve come a long way from my old restrictive self and I’m learning to love ALL the foods (lets say I’m a little proud of myself).

So in WIAW style lets talk about What I’m Eating Lately:

(Obviously there’s more I’m eating so I either (a) forgot to photograph it…which is very likely or (b) ate it so fast, ain’t nobody got time to take a photo of their food).

Chocolate Buttercup from Brisbane’s (well Australia’s) first 24/7 clean eating, raw food cafe Liquefy. The first two I had were amazing and then someone dropped the ball on the last one. It’s awesome because it has protein powder, dates and peanut butter in it!

Well Naturally sent me some goodies to try, and oh my god. I LOVE. My favourite is the fruit & nut and creamy, only because I couldn’t eat much of the Dark Chocolate….whether that is a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide.

I also had my mother- queen of all things chocolate try. She is not a dark choc fan at all so was not into that but like my Mother in law, Father in law and fiance, she found Creamy Milk to be her favourite. Let me give you the lowdown in dot point form:

  • Tastes like chocolate
  • Texture is different from chocolate- it’s softer, which didn’t bother me at all.
  • The pieces and block size is smaller, and I’m sure this is more exxy than your typical chocolate…but with good reason- better ingredients and better for you.
  • No artificial sweeteners or sugar so it is sweetened with stevia (no bitter aftertaste whatsoever either)
  • There are NOT a million freaky ingredients like some typical ‘healthier’ treats can have.
  • Unlike typical chocolate this actually satisfied my tastebuds and cravings- although I wanted to, I couldn’t eat much of it at a time (and even less of the dark choc). So for those of you who struggle to moderate I’d definitely give it a try.
  • Very low carbs! Listen, I’m a carb fan fo’sure but at night I try to reduce my carb intake as I eat more carbs during the day (around my training) so to be able to eat this chocolate post dinner was so rewarding. I’m just sad it’s gone :(

 

I had my first Acai bowl from Liquefy also (yes I have no idea how to pronounce Acai so that was embarrassing) and it was really refreshing- I loved the fruit, muesli, cacoa nibs and acai base!

 

I was also lucky to try out Harvest Box snacks and goodies. I’ll be honest and say that I typically veer away from purchasing these sorts of mixes because they don’t last long around here and then I end up consuming way more than I intended. BUT I knew I had to try out more because after travelling to Wagga Wagga,Harvest Box was my fall back guy when I needed healthy snacks whilst travelling (and most petrol stations stock them!).

I’m a stickler fror dried fruit and I loved the yogurt balls too so surprisingly the Strawberry Milkshake was a huge hit. The Power Mix had dark choc pieces, awesome assortment of nuts and seeds which satisfied my need for all the things.

On top of the snack packs they also sent me a Harvest Box that you can get delivered to your work or home. I love this concept because it portions it out for you and you can mix & match your flavours. I got these flavours:

  • Cape Tribulation- A refreshing mix of honey dew melon, macadamias, pepitas and cranberries. [This girl really liked!]
  • Totally USA- Cranberries, roast almonds and lightly salted peanuts. [I loved this one also]
  • Cherry Bomb- Cherries, dark chocolate, roast almonds & coconut slivers. [Probably my favourite- chocolate makes everything better right?]
  • Seville- Natural orange, dark chocolate & roast almonds [I ate this one last because I wasn’t keen on the dried orange, and I was right. Love the other two components though].

 

I love this Almond & Chia spread by Naturals by Melrose. I find my spoon likes it too and takes extra spoonfuls even after the Pink Lady apple is gone…

I really wish a Sumo Salad would open up for dinner time. I LOVE their salads and find it’s the perfect healthy takeaway. My favourite is a lentil & tabouli, couscous & pumpkin, chicken & avocado leafy salad, and Moroccan vegetables with chickpeas.

 

Grill’d now offers low carb super buns (refer to above comment about my carb intake throughout day/night), which is made primarily from almond meal. I loved this and finally got to try it. I didn’t miss the bun at all because honestly- it’s all about that beef burger patty right. Plus I was treated to Zucchini fries! I didn’t expect the batter to be honest which makes me think what’s the point of ‘zucchini fries’ then…. but still tasty.

I was honestly stuffed after dinner but someone wanted to go to San Churro Chocolateria so I had to accompany this someone. I was so appalled at the $25 Fondue For Two that I tried to convince him to go elsewhere, but as stubborn as he is he stayed put. So I made sure he didn’t leave till it was all eaten- I had a bite of the churro and dipped my finger in the chocolate and whilst it was good I was still so blooming full (however, churros in general are overrated, I’d rather a donut!). I guess he got his money worth though after eating most of it…and feeling very sick after!

My always delicious but always ugly Protein Pancakes. Everyone always comments on how good they smell! Mmmmmm, this makes breakfast my favourite meal!

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin with mint

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin with mint can be served as antipasto and is especially good in the warmer weather. If you like pumpkin and enjoy the sweet and sour taste, or ‘agrodolce’, you will love this. The only problem I can see is in cutting up the pumpkin. I just make a small batch and leave the skin on. Cook it a few hours ahead to allow time for the flavours to mingle. Serve it at room temperature with rustic Italian bread.

Sicilian sweet and sour pumpkin

You may find it helpful to lightly dust the pumpkin slices with flour before frying.

Serves 6

500g pumpkin, any type peeled or not
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp sugar or to taste
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp red or white wine vinegar or to taste
a small bunch of mint
sea salt and chilli flakes or freshly ground black pepper

Cut the pumpkin into about 5mm thick slices. Press down on the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife to break them. There is no need to chop it, just remove the skin.

To fry the pumpkin, heat a wide pan over medium heat with half the olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and pumpkin slices in one layer. Remove and discard the garlic when it becomes golden. Fry the pumpkin slices on each side until golden and tender. Lift out of the pan and set aside while you cook the next batch. To speed this up you could have two pans on the go at the same time.

Arrange pumpkin slices in a shallow dish and scatter torn or shredded mint leaves between them. To make the dressing, stir the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, salt and chilli flakes or black pepper into the frying pan or into a small saucepan and cook for about a minute. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour the hot dressing over the pumpkin slices and leave to marinate for an hour or two. Serve at room temperature garnished with fresh mint sprigs and leaves.

Variations

The pumpkin slices can also be char-grilled though the end taste will be different.

To make a larger amount, cut the pumpkin into 1cm slices, toss with olive oil and roast in the oven. Heat the dressing ingredients and the garlic in a small saucepan and pour over the roasted pumpkin and mint.

In a recipe from an American Gourmet magazine from the 1970s the pumpkin slices (1cm) were dusted with flour and deep-fried. A teaspoon of minced thyme and rosemary were used instead of the mint. It was dressed as in the roasted variation above.

Healthy Slow Cooker Dal Makhani

Some one turned a bit more wiser today, yep , that would be me. I am 30 years old today. For the last few days I have been trying really hard to feel anxious or depressed about turning 30. I have seen so many of my friends behave like 30 is the end of life that I found my own personal experience quite different.

May be its got to do with this little guy, keeps me on my toes all the time. No wonder I feel my birthday came and went like a breeze :)

Whatever it is, I am embracing 30! All I expect for all this positive attitude is that life conveniently throws a good job in front of me, Neil starts sleeping better, I magically lose all the excess weight and I think that will be all. No qualms, really ;)

Moving on,

somethings are mum’s absolute best friend like coffee, white noise machine, baby monitor and slow cooker to name a few among other things. I mean really slow cooker is one of the best invention ever. Throw together ingredients and you have dinner waiting for you after an exhausting day of baby care. I have been scouring the internet for good slow cooker Indian recipes and disappointed to find very few of them. So I picked the few available online and try them with a few modifications obviously.

This first recipe I tried is Daal Makhani literally meaning lentils in a buttery sauce and when I mean butter I mean a couple of sticks of butter. No Good. My version is healthy (only 1.5 tbsp of butter), can be veganized (add earth balance instead of real butter) and so hearty.

 

Slow Cooker Dal Makhani

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black lentils dry (Black whole urad) Urad is a type of lentil easily available online. If not found, you can substitue with brown lentils too.
  • 1/3 cup kidney beans dry
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 Thai chilly or jalapeno
  • 1 can of diced tomato.
  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock/water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander  You can also use about 1.5 tbsp of mild curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%, to makes this vegan you can use almond milk or coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp honey (sugar can be used too)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro fro garnishing.

Directions:

Soak dry urad dal (lentils) and kidney beans overnight or at least for 6 hours.

After soaking, thoroughly wash them.

Assemble the crockpot and spray a bit of cooking spray before you begin (makes clean up much easier,since food does not stick much)

Add, lentils and beans, onion, chilly, spices, bay leaf and cinnamon.

Add the vegetable stock. Don’t add the salt and tomato at this point. 

 

Let sit on low for about 8 hours.

After about 8 hours, when the lentils are cooked through, crank it up to high and add the tomato, butter and let it go for another 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes add, salt and finally the milk and honey

Garnish with cilantro!

I served mine with quinoa.

Let me know if you try this recipe!

Do you have any favorite slow cooker recipes? I’d love to hear about them!