this is a photo of cupcakes

The 8 best things I remember from my childhood

It went so quickly, really. By age 10, I no longer felt like a child in many ways. Being a child was difficult for me. I am a very independent person and I hate being told what to do. I remember at age 7 when my parents told me that it was my bedtime. I had this thought of, “So…you guys get to go to bed at 10pm and I have to go to bed at 7pm? That is SO not fair!”

Why did I have to go to bed earlier? And more to the point, who were they to tell me what to do? I know, outrageous, right? I remember feeling a strong sense of injustice early on that I was not in control of the basic functions of my being. I was told when to sleep, what to eat, what to wear and how to do things. It used to drive me crazy.

Of course, the answer a child gets when they ask, “Why do I have to go to bed when you say?” is, “Because I am the adult and I work very hard. This is my house and I pay the bills. When you have your own job and your own house, then you can go to bed whenever you want. Until then, you go to bed when I say.”

This is totally fair, but it never seemed fair to me.

From age 7 or 8, I became obsessed with collecting my own money. I was probably given a few rupees a week as pocket money (at the time our Australian family was living in New Delhi) and I would collect extra money from my parents for doing small chores and things like that. I remember how proud I was once I had collected 100 rupees. That’s about $1.75 in Australian money today.  Back in the 80s, it was probably a decent amount.

So, thinking back to my childhood, here are some of my favourite things.

1. A new Barbie, fresh out of the pack

When Barbie arrives at your house, she comes in a plastic packet, tethered to her ‘scene’ by countless cable ties that are tricky even for an adult to remove. Within the first hour, I would normally have lost Barbie’s shoe, or her little mirror or comb. Years later, this would appear under a couch or table and by then Barbie was usually relegated to the back of the cupboard.

2. White bread, butter and Kraft cheese singles

Nothing beats a cheese sandwich, particularly one made on fluffy, white bread. Back in the 80s, kids could eat all sorts of great stuff without having to deal with ‘red light/green light’ nutritional guidelines and their parents being fined for giving them Ritz crackers. I loved cheese sandwiches, and I still eat them when I need comforting.

3. Wearing shorts and thongs

In Australia, a thong is a flip-flop, not a piece of underwear. As a little kid, I loved getting around in thongs and shorts and I hated having to wear itchy, stuffy, woollen clothes. I prefer wearing as little as possible at most times and uncomfortable footwear makes me depressed. I love the way heels make my legs look but I value my ability to get away quickly too much.

4. Being excited at Christmas and Easter

OK, I am still excited by these holidays but it’s nothing like the emotions I felt as a kid. I tended to like Easter more than Christmas as in Sydney there is a big event every year called The Royal Easter Show. It’s basically a huge community fair and you go there to see farm animals, arts and crafts and go on rides. I loved this as a kid. Read about The Royal Easter Show here.

5. Running without wearing a bra

Sigh. I practically have to wear two of them now! As a kid I loved running and I was quite active and I enjoyed climbing, building, playing, swinging and swimming. Once puberty hit, my hormones changed and I did NOT ever want to move. Luckily now I have changed this and I am active again but I miss the carefree days of going fast without having to strap myself into an uncomfortable over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder!

6. Watching cartoons

I used to love cartoons. Now I hate them. HATE them. I don’t care how good your next Pixar movie is, it’s still a cartoon to me? The movie Avatar? A cartoon. Didn’t like it. My mum said to me when I was a kid, “I don’t like cartoons,” and I was amazed. How could someone not like cartoons? By age 10, I had completely gone off them. B-o-o-o-o-ring.

7. Treats from grandma

What was better than a treat from grandma? My grandmother would let me eat fried Spam for breakfast and butter Morning Coffee biscuits for me. Grandmothers always let you do what your mother will not. That’s why grandmothers are really awesome.

8. Days that went forever

Time flies. The days go so fast! I remember being a kid and the days seemed to stretch out forever! A weekend would seem like a lifetime, now my weekends are sandwiched as full of activities as the weekdays, and if they’re not, I’m usually comatose on the couch. I miss being a kid and having that feeling of infinite time. My Great Uncle says that the older you get, the faster the time flies.

What do you remember about your childhood? Tell me! 

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20 tips to get over blogging fatigue

It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s pretty damn hard and takes a lot of commitment. Blogging. I have only been doing it for 12 months. I started this blog on November 15th, 2012 and in that first month I had 52 visitors. Fast forward to the end of last month, October 2013 and I now had 13 000 readers. This month, I should hopefully have even more

Do you have a blog yet? I think that everyone should have a blog but it helps if you like to write and or take photos. If you don’t, then blogging may become a chore. In the 362 days that I have been blogging, I have put up 210 posts – that’s a post every 40 hours or so, on average. I am certainly not sure whether I can keep up the pace. I feel drawn to this blog but I have other writing pursuits and blogging takes so much time and effort. . In less than 12 months, this website has had well over 60 000 visitors.

Some days I simply cannot write. That’s not true. I actually write on 6 days of every week, particularly as my job is as a copywriter. What I do every day is get large, often dull and incomprehensible documents and make them readable for a general audience. Language is tricky and some days I come back to what I have written and I think, “This doesn’t even make sense! What did I mean?” and on other days I come back to something I have written and think, “This doesn’t sound like me… who wrote this?” only to find that I was the author after all.

20 tips to get over blogging fatigue

  1. Go for a walk and take your wallet so you don’t buy Golden Roughs*
  2. Watch a random movie you’ve borrowed from the library
  3. Call your craziest friend and ask them how they are
  4. Smell some lavender
  5. Go to the dictionary – randomly choose a word and craft a post around that
  6. Type in “I wish I could” or “How to” into your browser and see what people are asking about
  7. Write an article on diets or weight loss. People can’t get enough!
  8. Write about something you hate
  9. Tell a story from your childhood
  10. Ask the person next to you what they’ve noticed recently in the news
  11. Interview someone cool
  12. Write a post on your favourite food
  13. Make a list of something unique
  14. What’s the worst book or movie? Write a scathing review
  15. Tell your biggest secret – under the banner of anonymity
  16. Research a banal product, like toothpaste, and find out weird things about it
  17. Call your mother. When all else fails – mum knows what to do
  18. When did you last hurt yourself? Tell the story
  19. Which celebrity are you most like and why?
  20. Take a break. But make it a short break
*this is a picture of an Australian Golden Rough with its sweet little partner, the Peppermint Pattie

this is a chocolate

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. What are your suggestions?

this is a photo of alyce in sunglasses

The 7 things that are really annoying me today

Some things are annoying me today. I have been having a fat day for the last few days. I have even written a post about this called 7 ways to fix a fat day. Some days I wake up and feel really blah. Blah blah blah. There could be many reasons why I feel blah today, so I thought I would share them with you.

1. My undies are too tight and are very uncomfortable

I know, I’m sorry to over-share like this, but you know how it is! I am not a fan of wearing underwear. I always, always have to wear a bra because I have big knockers and it’s uncomfortable not to but I do not like to wear underpants. However, I have recently started to do this and I feel that my life has improved. However, on days that I am feeling pestered, a pair of undies makes me feel more constricted.

2. It is windy

Ugh. IT is really windy in Sydney today. Being an air sign, I get really annoyed if there is too much wind. When I was young and dumb, I lived on the Gold Coast in Australia, this is sort of like Australia’s answer to Los Vegas or Jersey Shore. It is where you will find sun, surf, sand and plenty of blonde, tanned chicks, drunk dudes and car enthusiasts. I lived right on the beach which was nice, but too windy. I came to really hate the wind as it was a battle to get out of my house every morning. I felt like I was on the edge of the earth.

3. I had a bad night’s sleep

Blergh. I miss The Boyf when he is not at home with me and often I wake up drowsy and wonder where he is. I sleep a lot better with someone next to me, and many of us are the same. I have one dear girlfriend who used to get extremely anxious sleeping on her own. I think she was able to sort out the issue after some counselling which made her stronger. I have a male friend who used to be anxious at night but he had a good reason as his house has previously been broken in to. I am tough, so I don’t worry about it. Plus I own nothing valuable and I bite when scared.

4. My muffin was stale

Despite being constantly told by people that I am on death’s door because of my food choices, I still enjoy my McMuffin every morning. However, today it was stale and dry and served to me by a cashier that asked me too many questions and had a broken coke machine. These first world problems can really bring you down.

5. One of my friends is being annoying

It’s one I don’t see very often who I have previously written about. The post was how to deal with hurtful insults from someone you love. This person is constantly on my case about not being a good enough friend. I have loads of responsibilities at the moment, including family responsibilities so I don’t appreciate being pressured by someone who should know better.

6. I have bad hair

Well, it’s not that bad today but it’s not that great either. Paired with my jeans and boring shirt, I am not happy with my hair today. Plus as it is so windy – the hair is even worse. Bleeeeeergh – I hate having bad hair.

7. I am not feeling very creative

Grumpy, grouchy and blurry. That is how I am feeling today. I have lots of work to do (as always) and lots of people to see (as always) but I am not feeling like doing it because I am so grumpy. My head hurts a bit too. I don’t really need you to feel sorry for me – but thanks if you do. I’ll be OK. It’s hard to be creative every day and my work pretty much calls for that. Yesterday I couldn’t sleep very well because I couldn’t decide which I preferred:

Do’s and don’ts

OR

Dos and don’ts

Technically, the second one is correct but it bothered me for hours yesterday. HOURS. OK –that’s enough out of me. Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

this is a photo of a pink and blue sky

5 ways to cope when things are crappy

Constant, crushing, paralysing pain. This time last year I was in a really bad state of affairs. I had been made redundant from a job I loved, my relationship was seriously on the rocks, I was working in a (new) menial job that was beneath me and very hard work, my rent was a huge pressure and (not to sound too trivial) I had no extra money to buy clothes or get my hair done. I was miserable.

“I felt like the world was ending”

All these external events led to a terrible state of mind. I felt as if I was treading water every day and I couldn’t see any land in sight. I knew though, that I had no other options. I had to keep going. What other options did I have? By far the worst thing that was going on was my relationship. I was miserable a million times over and I really didn’t know if I would ever, ever feel better.

Coping through the ups and downs of life

Today is my birthday and I am 35. It seems surreal to me, because of course, I feel the same as I always did – if not better. I bring this up because by this grand age I have lived though many crises. I have lost lovers, jobs and apartments. I have given things up, taken things up and gone through enormous amounts of pain. There have been times in my life that were so dark, I really can’t even bear to look back with my memory. I feel pain for the woman that was. Sometimes even thinking about what I have lived though fills mw with pain and dread.

But I can guarantee you one thing now: If you are having a crappy time, I promise this will change. It has to.

Dealing with change, graciously

Heraclitus of Ephesus, who lived approx 500 years before the birth of Christ, was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. He led a very lonely life and was known as “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”. Bit sad, really, but he did say one thing that has made his name live throughout the ages. Pretty nifty. Do you know what it was?

“The only thing that is constant is change.”

Throughout my lifetime, I have investigated this statement and I have found it to be true. Change is constant. Change is unending. Change occurs every second of every day. I am not the woman I was yesterday, and yet I feel just like her, but I have changed. We all change every day. This is both terrifying and heart-warming. We need to learn to embrace change. Change is inevitable.

Evolution and devolution

There is an esoteric principle of evolution and devolution. Everything has a peak and then begins to deteriorate. If this was not the case, I have been told, then one single plant would take over the universe. Things evolve and then they devolve. At least that is what I have read, and I cannot say for sure. One thing I do know for sure is that at one time I was younger and at another time I will be older. There will be a time when this body no longer walks this planet, and I’m cool with that. I can’t think of anything worse than staying the same forever.

Studying the beginnings of humanity

I won’t bang on about evolution and devolution too much because those terms seems to rile people quite a lot. I love this stuff. I have been reading lots about the beginnings of mankind, the new theories of evolution – or how evolution is evolving itself. I have been reading about the missing link and about Lucy the Australopithecus afarensis, a skeleton of an upward-standing primate. She was walking around 3.2 million years ago. I love this stuff and the best part about it is that there are always massive gaps in our knowledge of who we are and where the hell we came from.

Sew.

I am not quite 3.2 million years old. I am only 35. Hopefully I will have many more years to walk the earth – I still have lots that I want to do. If you are having a hard time right now, I feel for you. I hope things will get better soon. Because I have had so many crises in my life, I have found a few things that may make you feel better if things are really, truly very crappy for you:

How to cope when times are tough:

  1. Be nice to yourself, turn off your internal critic. “You are not your thoughts”.

  2. Stay in regular contact with those you care about. Try to meet up or talk on the phone, not just via social media.

  3. Pray and meditate. It doesn’t matter if you are not religious, you are a spiritual being who is being supported.

  4. Go somewhere every day. Never spend the whole day in the house. Shower and change your clothes.

  5. Do something new. Join a group, start a new job, take up yoga or some other healthy pastime.

“When I hear somebody say ‘Life is hard’, I am always tempted to ask ‘Compared to what?’” –Sydney Harris.

Good old Sydney is right. There is no alternative. You have to learn to cope with the crappy times. You are stronger than you think. Be brave. I promise things will get better.

this is a photo of a fat stomach

20 Obesity facts from around the world: how does your country stack up?

Obesity is everywhere. It’s an epidemic which means that it is a very wide-spread problem. Epidemics do not need to be contagious, but there are reports that obesity is, in fact, contagious. My blog alycevayleauthor.com is read by people in many countries, so I thought I’d check the obesity statistics of the countries that read this blog. How does your country stack up?

AUSTRALIA: This is my home country and yes, we are a nation of boom-bahs. There is a prediction that 30% of the Australian population will be obese by 2020, and 30 % overweight.

AUSTRALIA: The prevalence of obesity and diabetes – 16 times more in cities of over 10 million people than in the countryside.

SWEDEN: Although the prevalence of obesity in Sweden still is low in an international perspective, the prevalence of obesity in adults has doubled during the last two decades and is now approximately 10% in both men and women.

SWEDEN: Recent data from non-urban areas in the northern part of Sweden estimate the prevalence of overweight 10-year-olds to above 30%.

UNITED KINGDOM: In Birmingham, over 25% of the population are obese – the third highest rate in the UK.

UNITED KINGDOM: On average, being obese decreases life expectancy by nearly 10 years.

UNITED STATES: Annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity have doubled in less than a decade, and may be as high as $147 billion per year,

UNITED STATES: Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 35.9% (2009-2010) Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight, including obesity: 69.2% (2009-2010).

INDIA: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in India in the 21st century, with morbid obesity affecting 5% of the country’s population.

CANADA: One in four adult Canadians and one in 10 children are clinically obese, meaning six million Canadians living with obesity require immediate support in managing and controlling their excess weight.

NEW ZEALAND: Obesity is more prevalent in New Zealand, females from age 5 until the age of 34, at which time the males overtake the females in terms of percentage. After essentially coming in at a dead heat in the 55 to 64 bracket, female obesity becomes a higher risk for 65-74 year olds than it does for males, only to switch odds again after 75.

SINGAPORE: The latest National Health Survey shows the obesity rate has increased in Singapore, from 6.9 per cent in 2004 to 10.8 per cent this year.

GERMANY: The number of overweight people in Germany has stagnated between 1998 and December 2011. However, the number of truly obese people have increased. 67.1% of all men between 18 and 79 are considered overweight with a BMI of 25 or greater.

MALAYSIA: Malaysia is the fattest country in South-East Asia with its obesity rate on the rise. 5.1% of Malaysians aged 18 and above were suffering from obesity as of 2011.

ITALY: Believe it or not!! Overall, the Italians, along with the French and the Swiss, are considered among the slimmest people in Europe on average. In Europe, Italy was the only country where the average weight dropped.

GREECE: “Greece today is the EU state with the highest average body mass index and highest prevalence of overweight [people] and obesity,” says the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation report.

If you would like a recent list of how your country ranks, check this link here.

SOURCES:

 

this is a photo fo many potatoes

21 Cool things about potatoes

Don’t be afraid. They will not hurt you. Potatoes have next to no fat, they are low in sodium and you can eat one for only 130 calories. Why are people so afraid of potatoes? Since Atkins, we have been very cautious with our carbs. This is fair enough, I have noticed myself that proteins fill me up more quickly than carbohydrates and that carbs are very easy to overeat.

Some of my immediate family are afraid of potatoes, as are half my gorgeous girlfriends. Some of them will not eat a potato, piece of white bread, rice, pasta or even cous cous… a couple of them are even gluten free (incidentally potatoes ARE gluten-free). People fear carbs and fear them irrationally, if you ask me. Eaten in the correct quantities, carbohydrates are a useful thing to have on your plate or in your pantry. They are also cheap and a good source of fibre and energy.

21 cool things about potatoes

  1. Potatoes were eaten by 19th Century English and Spanish sailors to fend off scurvy.
  2. Potatoes are good for your bones! A Spanish study found that manganese (found in taters) helped prevent bone loss in rats.
  3. Potatoes are nutrient-dense, meaning you receive many nutrients for the amount of calories they have.
  4. They might help to control your blood sugar too. They have a high-soluble fibre content. Should you be eating your potatoes COLD? Some researchers say that “When potatoes are chilled after cooking, some of the gelatinised starch is converted into a more solid, crystalline form of starch that can’t be digested, called resistant starch.” Resistant starch is supposed to be better for your bowel. Not sure if I believe this one, personally!
  5. There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide.
  6. Potatoes as a good source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, potassium, manganese, and dietary fibre.
  7. A new study by an Agricultural Research Service plant identified 60 different kinds of phytochemicals and vitamins in the skins and flesh of 100 wild and commercially grown potatoes. That’s more than in broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts.
  8. Researchers at the Institute for Food Research in Norwich have found blood-pressure lowering molecules in potatoes called kukoamines.
  9. The ORAC value (a measure of the total antioxidants in 100 grams) for a medium baked potato with skin is a healthy 1,680, while that of a baked sweet potato with skin is 766. Compare those with the values for carrots, either cooked (317) or raw (666).
  10. A single baked potato will provide nearly 12 per cent of the daily recommended amount of fibre, giving similar levels to whole grain breads, pastas and cereals.
  11. With the exception of vitamin A, white potatoes have just about every nutrient, including vitamin C. However, since we do not eat potatoes raw, most of the vitamin C is lost due to the heat of cooking…bummer.
  12. In addition to potatoes, researchers looked at tomatoes since they belong to the same plant family—Solanaceae—as Lycium chinense.
  13. A banana has 9% of your daily potassium needs, a baked regular potato has twice as much, 20%
  14. Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on the variety.
  15. The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru.
  16. The United Nations FAO reports that the world production of potatoes in 2010 was about 324 million tonnes.
  17. Want to make Alyce’s favourite creamy potatoes? Of course you do! Here is a link to the Best Potato Recipe you will find today.
  18. Also – ROSTI is one of my favourite ways to eat potatoes. I have been very, very lucky to have someone cook me rosti a few times and it always makes me smile and dance. Make your own rosti at home.
  19. In Australia, we call French fries “chips” and we call potato crisps/chips “chips” as well. If you come to Australia, you need to specify if you want hot chips or regular chips. It’s usually down to context, anyway.
  20. Chris McCandless is thought to have died from toxic potatoes. I urge you to read about his story. They made a movie about it, but basically, in 1992, the decomposed body of Christopher McCandless was discovered by moose hunters just outside the northern boundary of Denali National Park. He was a rich kid who disappeared into the wilderness, and has a very interesting story.
  21. Vodka is made from potatoes. I don’t much like vodka – but it is an interesting fact.

30 irrational things I do when I get PMS

Here is a list of irrational things I do when I get PMS. I get very bad premenstrual syndrome. I get this every single month. I feel that this has been getting worse as I get older and at age 34 I find myself quite irrational and hyper-sensitive for about one and a half weeks every month. If you are one of my male readers – I urge you to push on with this post. Come on, man up! It’s just a little blood, right? Shouldn’t scare you if you’re a big, strong dude.

There are lots of resources that point to the idea that periods do get worse as you age. This seems to be because of changes in hormones. Great, so I am not going crazy. For your amusement, here is a list of crazy stuff I do when I am experiencing PMS.

  1. I like to be squeezed, even harder than usual.
  2. I get very impatient, even more than usual.
  3. I like to eat a lot of bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
  4. I will eat Nutella with a spoon from the jar.
  5. I will cry at TV commercials.
  6. I will start to get mad about stuff that happened ages ago.
  7. My back really, really hurts.
  8. I wear my stretchier jeans because I’m too impatient to pit on my tight ones.
  9. I get extra hungry and eat nearly twice as much as usual for about a day and a half.
  10. I crave salty things like miso soup.
  11. I crave spinachy things and dark green vegetables.
  12. I think about eating a steak but I never do.
  13. I get tired and worn out. I need extra rest.
  14. My fingers swell a bit.
  15. I wear bright colours to cheer me up.
  16. My hair looks tired.
  17. I crave sex, even more than usual (in a committed, loving relationship, that is!)
  18. My boobs swell and get bigger.
  19. I get very grumpy for next to no reason. Life begins to annoy me. Did I just drop my pen? GRRRRRRRR!
  20. My skin looks a bit different. I never get pimples but a few little ones appear now.
  21. I want to lie down. Right now.
  22. I decide I want new clothes but get really annoyed when trying them on.
  23. I might yell at someone (not about clothes!)
  24. I get more annoyed at work. I wonder why there are no napping pods
  25. I get more hungry in the morning, less hungry at night.
  26. I want a cheeseburger.
  27. I want cuddles now. Right now. Oh I feel so sorry for myself.
  28. I get very thirsty. I like watery juice the best.
  29. I imagine what it would be like to be a man. I would like to have a penis for one day.
  30. Then I remember why I prefer being a woman.

Anything I’ve missed here? How does PMS effect you? Men (if you’ve made it this far!) can you share your experiences too?