I'm a fan of the lolcats, and I've been sending this particular one around to everyone I know who has a birthday. It's not Plummet, though the colouring is similar. It's just some random cat from the infamous icanhascheezburger collection. Actually, while I'm at it, I also have especially enjoyed the stranger end of the lol-phenomenon: loltheists, lolpilgrims, loltrek, lolcthulhu, lolgrammar, lolbible, lolcode...
It are indeed my birthday and I've been baking. I've made lemon yoghurt cupcakes in my new rose-shaped silicon muffin pans. The recipe is from this month's Delicious magazine, and they were for afternoon tea today with a couple of friends. They were good - quite dense and moist, and very lemony. I also made Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness cake, from her book Feast, to take to work tomorrow. I'm not completely happy with that one - the Guinness cake has sunk a bit in the middle. But I've tipped it upside down and iced it, and it looks good enough.
I'm not as good at baking as I used to be. I'm out of practice. Since I've been trying to lose weight, the baking of cakes, biscuits, puddings, pies & tarts has had to be quite drastically curtailed. And I'm not sure I ever quite adjusted to the speed of this oven, even though I've been here for 5 years now. Just how much does one reduce the temperature to compensate for the fan forcing? It's all very well with roast dinners, but baking is more sensitive.
Anyway, I've been away down to Solar Springs in Bundanoon, for a girlie weekend with my mates Belinda and Beth. It was heaps of fun, though with a few minor annoyances. The service tended to the production line in style; it was not quite the pampering we were expecting. The mealtimes got to be quite wearing, as the dining room was very noisy. It did have a gorgeous view out over the mountains, though, and the food was good - healthy, and really fresh and well made - brilliant salads at lunchtime; nicely done steamed veggies at dinner. It's unusual to find vegetables at a buffet in a bain marie that are actually still crisp and fresh; all kudos to the cook for that. I was especially taken with the sesame, sweet potato & spinach salad; and the whole baked salmon en croute. I think it would be quite hard to lose weight there, despite all the walks and swims and gym classes - the food is just so appealling, and the little bicycle shop cafe down the road is so delightful (and has cake).
While I was there, I had a really good massage, a fitness test, two bushwalks, a sauna and spa, and a go at archery. I also had a "face and feet" treatment which I did not like, and a mud wrap, which I did enjoy. The mud was soothing and warm and relaxing, as well as rather silly. I'm not sure what was wrong with the face treatment, but I ended up feeling really twitchy and uncomfortable and had to go wash the stuff off. It was all supposed to be hypo-allergenic, but I ended up with a big rosacea flush, so maybe it wasn't.
I've put on about a kilo in the last month, having been too sick to exercise most of the time, but not too sick to eat. Now that I'm feeling a lot better (though still not at 100%) I should be able to start up the exercise again. My fitness test was not too bad - glucose, cholesterol & blood pressure good; flexibility OK; weight & body fat definitely too high; and my aerobic capacity not so good. I really noticed how much of that hard-won fitness I'd lost in the last few months when I was walking back up the hill from the glow-worm glen. It was very rough, a lot harder than when I walked up Mount Ainslie just before I got sick for the first time this season.
I have a number of special events with food temptations coming up. Today is my birthday; tomorrow is the work morning tea; Friday a dinner out with the choir; on Saturday the bloke's due back, and not too long after that we'll have my belated birthday dinner; it's a friend's birthday in two weeks... Clearly I need to have an action plan to get back on track. There are too many opportunities to eat a lot of rich food. So my plan is to give in to temptation at these designated events - though ideally in small tasting amounts rather than big pig-out amounts - and make sure I eat very healthy for all the rest of the time, until I go overseas. And exercise. Right, that's sorted.